Start or Sit - Super Bowl Edition

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Super Bears, Super Bowl!

Whoops, okay, not so much.

The most important weekend of the year. To those of you playing in the Super Bowl this weekend, we wish you luck and to help, here's this week start or sit list.

Like I tell you every week, you probably won't find your stud players on this list. Guys like Adrian Peterson, Kurt Warner and Larry Fitzgerald should always be started, regardless of who they're playing so it's a waste of time to even mention them.

Send your questions to:

and between Ricky and myself, we'll do the best we can to help you out.

Or, leave a comment. We'll answer EVERY one of your questions.

Also, check out our Top Ten Most Despised Green Bay Packers list over at Top Ten Chicago Sports if you're looking for something else to occupy your time at work.

We won't tell your boss.

Otherwise, good luck this weekend.

Must starts: Tony Romo, Drew Brees, Kurt Warner, Peyton Manning


Matt Cassel - Patriots vs. Cardinals - Each week this kid has found a way to impress me. To be able to come back only a few shorts days after your father passed away and still perform at the highest level is truly remarkable.

With the Cardinals heading out West, you can't like their chances very much against a Patriots team that desperately needs a win to get into the playoffs. Not to mention this little tidbit from Newsday on December 14:

"Seattle, San Francisco, San Diego and Oakland are a combined 1-12 in games played at least three time zones eastward this season. Throw in the Arizona Cardinals and it's 1-15."

Cassel, Moss and Welker should be in line for a very productive day in the most important week of the season.

Shaun Hill - 49ers vs. Rams - If you've been waiting for the perfect time to unleash Hill after he's sat on your bench for weeks, the time is here. I know it's asking a lot to start a quarterback for the first time during championship weekend.

But this is the fantasy matchup you dream of at this point of the year and I suggest you take advantage of it. Last time Hill faced the Rams he delivered a solid 217 yds and a pair of touchdowns.
What I like even more about this situation that interim head coach Mike Singletary has this team playing hard for the first time in a long time. They seem to be buying into the system and won't just go through the motions against the lowly Rams.

Brett Favre - Jets vs. Seahawks - Going up against the league's worst pass defense has got to have Favre feeling just a little bit better about himself after the stinkers he's put up lately. They're calling for snow on Sunday in Seattle and if there's one thing I've learned about Favre in all these years is that this is setting up for a classic Favre-ian performance.

So dust off the old gunslinger and get him into the starting lineup.

Other quarterbacks with favorable matchups: Aaron Rogers, Chad Pennington, Matt Schaub, Jeff Garcia (if healthy).


Eli Manning - Giants vs. Panthers - With Brandon Jacobs set to return this weekend against the Panthers, you can hear Manning's sigh of relief all the way out here in Chicago.

Losing Plaxico Burress hurt this offense more than anyone could have anticipated and Manning needs a dominant run game to help open up the passing game. Unfortunately for Jacobs and Manning, the Panthers have been playing like a team possessed, winners of six out their last seven games. Julius Peppers is back to terrorizing opposing quarterbacks and it'll be a long day for Manning in the Meadowlands.

Sit him.

Jason Campbell - Redskins vs. Redskins - I have officially given up on Jason Campbell.

I don't' care who or where he's playing because in my eyes, he's a must bench each and every week until he can deliver against a team as bad as the Bengals. That was embarrassing for him and me last weekend because I recommended starting him.

Never again.

Matt Ryan - Falcons vs. Vikings - Everyone was sure that Kurt Warner would torch the Vikings average pass defense. What happened?

270 yds, TD, INT.

Not the stat line you're looking for in the Super Bowl and may be an indicator of what you can expect from Ryan. The only thing that may prevent Ryan from having his worst game of the season is the abilities of Michael Turner and the loss of Vikings run stuffer Pat Williams.

The Falcons need this game to keep playoff hopes alive, but the Vikings need it to clinch the NFC North crown. It's going to be ugly folks.

Other quarterbacks with unfavorable matchups: David Garrard, Joe Flacco, Jake Delhomme, Kerry Collins.

Running Backs

Must starts: Adrian Peterson (Min), Steven Jackson, LaDanian Tomlinson, Michael Turner, Clinton Portis, Brian Westbrook, DeAngelo Williams, Steve Slaton, Thomas Jones


Pierre Thomas - Saints vs. Lions - Is it really necessary for every fantasy football prognosticator to declare this the 'Super Bowl clinching starter' for this season?

Thomas is playing the Lions, did it really take you that long to dream up a scenario where he has a great game against them?


I give you guys more credit than that.

Matt Forte - Bears vs. Packers - You've gotten this far with the rook out of Tulane, so don't change anything now.

The Packers secondary is respectable, but their run defense is indefensible, if that makes any sort of sense. All reports sound like that sore toe of Forte's shouldn't be a problem moving forward and he'll be ready to go on Monday night.

Let's just hope this team has something to play for. If the Vikes' win the Bears are goners.

Go Atlanta!

Ronnie Brown - Dolphins vs. Chiefs - The Pro Bowler down in Miami should have a field day against the reeling Chiefs. Last weekend the Chiefs absolutely self destructed against the Chargers, putting an exclamation point on one of the most disappointing seasons in team history.

Brown will only add to that misery with a pair of scores as the Dolphins' playoff hopes stay alive for one more week.


Clinton Portis - Redskins vs. Eagles - Earlier this week, a reader named James wrote in with the following question:

"Is Portis becoming too risky?"

The answer is a resounding yes.

Last week was the ideal opportunity for not only Portis to have a great game, but for the entire team. Instead the Redskins failed miserably and lost to the Bengals.

Let that one sink in for a minute. The Bengals.

It's hard to talk yourself into sitting a guy like Portis, I understand. But you can't overlook what's been a miserable downward spiral for him and the Redskins.

Chris Johnson - Titans vs. Steelers - This kid has been amazing as a rookie and will be one of the top backs taken in the 2009 fantasy draft. But look elsewhere this weekend as Johnson goes against the dominating Steelers defense.

If you look closer at Johnson's numbers, one thing becomes abundantly clear: he's piled up the stats against bad teams and struggled to do much of anything against the good ones.

Combined record of teams Johnson rushed for over 100 yds against: 8-47-1 (Bengals, Chiefs, Lions, Browns).

Average production vs. teams with a .500 record or above: 53.6 yds per game, with only three total touchdowns in those seven affairs.

So what does that all mean to you my fantasy friend?

The Steelers defense will have its way with CJ and you should stay far away.

Larry Johnson - Chiefs vs. Chargers - Putting my personal disdain for all things LJ to the side for a moment, let's just take a look at the numbers.

 Hasn't run for 100 yds since Week 4
 One TD in last six games played, going back to Week 5
 3.43 yards per carry over the last three games
 Miami run defense ranks 11th vs. the run

Give him a rest; there are better options out there.

Wide Receivers

Must starts: Brandon Marshall, Larry Fitzgerald, Anquan Boldin, Reggie Wayne, Andre Johnson, Roddy White, Calvin Johnson, T.O., Greg Jennings, Steve Smith, Antonio Bryant


Vincent Jackson - Chargers vs. Bucs - It's obvious that L.T. can't run the ball anymore, so it's up to Rivers and Jackson to keep this team's slim playoff hopes alive against the Bucs. This is a do or die game for both franchises and Jackson will be the primary target of the Chargers offense and has the ability to deliver.

While I don't think the Chargers win this game, it won't be because of Jackson.

Isaac Bruce - 49ers vs. Rams - I subscribe to the theory of placing high expectations on a guy facing his former team and this week Isaac Bruce falls under that category.

He's developed a nice connection with Shaun Hill and will be determined to find the end zone inside the dome where Bruce made a name for himself as a member of the Greatest Show on Turf.

Lance Moore - Saints vs. Lions - Last week, I told you that:

"He's quickly becoming the forgotten man in this Saints offense. Moore's been amazing this year, especially in the second half of the season. But right now there's not enough of the ball to go around, making Moore the odd man out."

Well now you can forget all about that. With Reggie Bush on the shelf for the rest of the year with a bum knee, Moore will assume his duties on the short routes and will pick up right where he left off.


Terrell Owens - Cowboys vs. Ravens - You're not going to sit him, and frankly, I probably wouldn't either. But this is the worst possible timing for T.O. to go up against one of the most feared defenses in football. Ed Reed patrolling the secondary with DeMarcus Ware Ray Lewis terrorizing Tony Romo in the backfield does not bode well for the temperamental talent that is T.O.

This may end badly for the Cowboys, who are playing to the keep their playoff hopes in tact. But, my friends, so too are the Ravens and you know what they say: defense wins championships and not streaky offenses.

Santana Moss - Redskins vs. Eagles - See Jason Campbell, Clinton Portis. What a waste that team was in 2008.

Lee Evans - Bills vs. Broncos - Ditto for Evans. Although I don't think it's his fault.

Torry Holt - Rams vs. 49ers - Whatever happened to Torry 'Big Game' Holt? Such a shame considering this will be the first time since 1999 that Holt will finish with less than 1,000 yds receiving.

Tight Ends

Must starts: Owen Daniels, Tony Gonzalez, Dallas Clark, Jason Witten


John Carlson - Seahawks vs. Jets - This kid is getting better each week and has evolved into the offense's most trusted and frequented target.


Visanthe Shiancoe - Vikings vs. Falcons - Do you really trust Tarvaris Jackson in the fantasy football Super Bowl?

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I don't know if it is a good thing or a bad thing that everyone of my players shows up in your start listing. You have given great advice all year so hopefully that continues this week.

Olsen responds: Bretsky huh?

You know, that's funny because I have a cousin Brett that once took advantage of me as a child and traded me a Dan Hampton card for my Frank Thomas rookie card. I've never gotten over that day, knowing that my Hampton card was probably worth more as a bookmark than anything else.

Good luck Bretsky.

One is a DEF/ST issue:
Houston or Dallas. Houston is going up against the raiders, and Dallas has the Ravens, who really haven't been lighting it up lately. No idea, I've been switching defenses all year.

The other one is a receiver issue, I need three:
Kevin Walter
Vincent Jackson

Thanks for your help.


Olsen responds: I think I'd advise you to run with the Texans this weekend. At this point in the year, what do the Raiders even have to play for?

The Texans have been averaging in the neighborhood of eight fantasy points per contest the past couple weeks and the Raiders have been in the spirit of giving all year. Raiders coaches are jumping ship, players are making travel plans for the offseason and I just think the Texans are so motivated to finish this season on a high point that it makes too much sense not to start them.

I will acknowledge the fact that the Cowboys defense, led by DeMarcus Ware, have been shredding offensive lines to pieces as of late. But can you honestly anticipate how that game's going to shape up?

Good luck to you, let us know how you did.

Super bowl baby! Good luck in yours!

My line up:

QB: M. Cassel
Flex: MJD (14 points - no TD's hurt a little)
RB: C. Portis
WR: W. Welker
WR: K. Walter
TE: D. Lee or J. Stevens?
K: S. Gostkowski
DsT: Bears

RB: D. Ward, L. White
WR: L. Moore, D. Bess, S. Breaston

Whats your take on my RB position? Its hard to trust Portis, but L. White aginst Stl is hardly the solution. D. Ward's not that sexy either.

I se you've "forgiven" L. Moore. I'm reluctant to trust him. Was looking at K. Walter's stats it seems every second week he goes of. But is this just foolshope talking? Wich WR would you plug in there?

Need to score a lot I think. Up against:

QB: P. Rivers or T. Thigpen
FLEX: T. Jones
RB: B. Westbrook
WR: L. Fitzgerald
WR: D. Avery
TE: D. Clark (16 points)
K: K. Brown
DsT: Vikings

Olsen responds: I think you've made the right decision to go with Walter instead of Moore. The fantasy assassin Nsadi Asomugah will be matched up against Andre Johnson all day and Walter should see increased looks as a result. I think he finds the end zone at least once on Sunday.

For your tight end, I'd recommend using Jerramy Stevens. The Chargers are the most fantasy friendly defense against tight ends and with Jeff Garcia supposedly back under center, I like Stevens' chances.

Good luck Thomas, thanks for reading this year.

M. Olsen

Why is DeMarcus Ware going to be terrorizing Tony Romo? Does he want a piece of Jess Simpson?

Olsen responds: Would you be surprised if he did?


This is the championship game for my league! Your tips have helped me get here. 2 questions:

WR: Braylon Edwards, Cotchery, Bernard Berrian, and Vincent Jackson. I can start 3.

Tampa Bay or Baltimore Defense?

Thank you!

Ricky responds: I'd go with Braylon, Cotchery, and Berrian.

Hey guys,

Final week and I'm very appreciative of all the help you've given me throughout the season! Just a few questions on who to start in my standard scoring league:

QB - Kurt Warner or Matt Schaub?

WR - Steve Breaston or DeSean Jackson?

DEF - NY Jets or Minnesota Vikings?

Again thanks again and i look forward to doing this again next year with your advice!

Ricky responds: I'd go with Schaub over Warner because New England needs to win and Arizona has nothing to play for. Go with Desean against a floundering Skins team. I'd take the Jets D against the woeful Seahawks as well. But hey, as always, if you have a strong gut feeling one way or the other, go with it. It's gotten you this far.

Hey Mr. Olsen. Did you win your Super Bowl? Mine's not decided yet. I'm trailing 102-89, my opponent's done and I still have Bears defense left. Whats your prediction, can the Bears seal the deal for me?

Cheers and happy hollidays

Scoring rules for defense:
2 points for every Interception
1 point for every Sack
2 points for every Fumble Forced
1 point for every Fumble Recovered
4 points for every Safety
6 points for every Defensive TD
10 points when Points Allowed is 0
7 points when Points Allowed is between 2-6
4 points when Points Allowed is between 7-13
1 point when Points Allowed is between 14-17
-1 point when Points Allowed is between 22-27
-4 points when Points Allowed is between 28-34
-7 points when Points Allowed is between 35-45
-10 points when Points Allowed is 46+

Olsen responds: Thomas, you have no idea the amount of effort it took for me to write about fantasy football after getting absolutely destroyed this weekend. I'm in mourning at the moment, my season is dead.

But hopefully yours is not.

I just looked up the weather in Copenhagen, Denmark and it's a manageable 40-degrees.

Here in Chicago, however, we're experiencing the reintroduction of the ice age. It's going to be around 10-degrees, with wind chills going as low as 15-degrees below zero gusting 10-20 mph.

So do you have a chance Thomas?

You have a heck of a shot my friend, let me know how it goes down.

Im sorry to hear that you got destroyed. I dont envy you having to write about fantasy when you just got burned.

Well the Bears made me 4 points. Thats along way from 14 i needed.

Oh well in my first three years of fantasy I've only managed to win 4 games each yars so runner up is a nice change og pace :)

Thank you for all the advice

Oh and are you gonna keep a segment on keepers?


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Matt Wood is a web editor for and editor of He is also a contributor for satirical sports publication The Heckler. Have a fantasy question? E-mail him.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Matt Olsen published on December 18, 2008 11:32 AM.

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