Start or Sit - Week 14

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My friends, the playoffs are here.

One wrong decision can bring your season to a crashing halt.

One right decision and your championship ring will be awaiting you.

That's where we come in with our weekly start or sit column.

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: molsen@chicagosuntimes.com

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

And while we're at it, over at Top Ten Chicago Sports we've unveiled our Top Ten Fantasy Football Busts of 2008 list. Nothing wrong with a shameless plug every once in awhile right?

Otherwise, good luck this weekend.

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

Start

Aaron Rogers - Packers vs. Texans - The Packers may be losing some close games and putting a playoff berth well out of reach, but that doesn't matter in fantasy football.

What matters are Rogers' eight touchdowns in the past three games and a remaining schedule that sets up beautifully for the fantasy playoffs.

Against the Texans Rogers will be feasting on the league's 15th ranked pass defense and is an automatic start whenever he's playing in Lambeau Field.

Brett Favre - Jets vs. 49ers - The ol' gunslinger looks like he's hung up the six shooter and picked up a BB gun to play with on the weekends. Mangini has taken the freedom of improvisation away from Favre and the Jets are a better team because of it.

But that does irreparable damage to your fantasy team.

This week Favre will rediscover that touch with a couple touchdown passes against a slowly improving 49ers defense led by Mike Singletary. Expect running back Thomas Jones to have a good showing as well.

Matt Cassel - Patriots vs. Seahawks - I dogged Cassel last week because of his propensity to pick on weak defenses and struggle against even average ones. And my criticism was on the money. Cassel finished the day with 169 yds, 0 TD and 2 INT.

But now I'm loving him because of this matchup against the Seahawks and their league worst pass defense. It's going to be a big day for the Patriots receivers, so start 'em if you got 'em.


Sit

Phillip Rivers - Chargers vs. Raiders - This team is on the verge of imploding and nobody can stop it from happening. I have no doubt that they'll win this game tonight against the Raiders, but it won't be because of Rivers.

This night will belong to only LaDainian Tomlinson and no one else.

Jason Campbell - Redskins vs. Ravens - Talk about taking a step back, Campbell is literally in danger of losing his job as the QB for the Redskins.

This team's success is predicated upon the ground game and a banged up Clinton Portis against the league's third best run defense isn't going to help Campbell one bit. If he can't move the ball in the first half, you might be seeing Todd Collins take over for Campbell.


Kerry Collins - Titans vs. Browns - Run, run, run.

That's all the Titans will be doing against the Browns and their pitiful run defense. Not to mention the fact the Browns' third string quarterback Ken Dorsey will be under center against the viscous Titans defense.

Collins can just sit back and appreciate how fortunate he is to have such a great team around him. No heavy lifting required and no reason to have him in your lineup.

Running Backs

Must starts: Adrian Peterson (Min), Steven Jackson, Frank Gore, LaDanian Tomlinson, Michael Turner

Start

Joseph Addai - Colts vs. Bengals - I know you're disappointed in him and you have every right to be. This dual threat out of LSU was supposed to be destined for big things in 2008 and hasn't been able to deliver.

This week he will and you shouldn't hesitate to put him in your lineup.

Addai has a very nice playoff stretch run against the Bengals, Lions and Jaguars and if he can get on track this weekend, you may very well be riding him to the championship.

Chris Johnson - Titans vs. Browns - This kid impresses me more and more each week. He was unstoppable against the Lions, seemingly breaking off runs of 20-plus at will.

While the Browns certainly are somewhat better against the run than the lowly Lions, Johnson owners won't have to worry. Jeff Fisher wants this team to get back to the ground and pound offense that is designed for cold weather and the postseason.

Big day for CJ.

Steve Slaton - Texans vs. Packers - The Packers run defense has been embarrassingly bad this season and Slaton has to be drooling over getting a chance against them.

His shifty running style and breakaway speed will be nearly impossible for this defense to contain. Expect at least 120 combined total yards and a TD.

Sit

Clinton Portis - Redskins vs. Ravens - Let's see.

A running back with three different injuries trying to run against the league's best run defense that hasn't given up a 100-yd effort since Clinton was in office.

Portis has been a workhorse this season and will play a factor moving forward. But this isn't the week to take a gamble on him, it's just too risky of a play during the playoffs.


Darren McFadden - Raiders vs. Chargers - The man everyone tabbed as the next Adrian Peterson has been anything but in his rookie season. But you have to realize how insane not only Adrian Peterson is, but this entire rookie class has been.

Steve Slaton, Matt Forte, Chris Johnson, Jonathan Stewart and even Kevin Smith are apart of perhaps the best rookie running back classes of all time. McFadden factors into that list, but gets lost in the shuffle because he's stuck on such a hopeless Raiders franchise.

He's a player I'd definitely consider keeping moving forward, but for this week, make sure you consider keeping him on the bench.


Marion Barber - Cowboys vs. Steelers - Dislocated toe or not, Marion Barber has a tough task ahead of him and he knows it.

I'm pretty sure my love for all things Steelers defense is well known around these parts, and with good reason; they boast the league's best run and pass defense.

Barber is learning how to deal with that injured pinkie toe and the Steelers will make him a non-factor this weekend.

Wide Receivers

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

Start

Randy Moss - Patriots vs. Seahawks - As long as Moss doesn't drop another easy touchdown this weekend, you should be in line for big points from him against the Seahawks.

Again, the Seahawks have the league's worst pass defense and Moss will run wild on them all day. Expect Wes Welker to chew up the middle on Sunday and is a great play for those of you in PPR leagues.


Marques Colston - Saints vs. Falcons - I pretty much love everyone in this game, but none more than Colston.

He's shown signs of getting ready for that breakout fantasy performance and this is the week it comes.

Enjoy.


Dwayne Bowe - Chiefs vs. Broncos - He struggled just like we predicted last week against the fantasy kryptonite that is Nnamdi Asomugha.

And while you may worry about the return of Broncos shut down corner Champ Bailey, I implore you not to worry. Bowe was able to manage 85 yds against Champ last time these two squared off and those numbers will only improve this weekend.


Sit

Domenik Hixon - Giants vs. Eagles - With all the excitement over Hixon taking over for Plaxico Burress, you may be inserting him into your starting lineup without a second thought.

You'd be wrong.

The Eagles are a different animal entirely and Hixon will have his struggles. Eli won't be throwing very much and head coach Tom Coughlin will try to control the clock on the ground. Hixon will be a force to be reckoned with and he's a great waiver wire pickup, but patience is a virtue my friends.

Sit him.

Bobby Engram / Deion Branch - Seahawks vs. Patriots - They've been huge disappointments coming back from injuries and things won't change much this week. Both were prime waiver wire targets once Matt Hasslebeck was healthy, but that hasn't done much to improve their performance either.

Until they show any signs of life, keep them on the bench.


Roy Williams - Cowboys vs. Steelers - Since joining the Cowboys, Williams has tallied 161 total yds receiving and a single touchdown.

Stop playing him based off of name recognition. I thought he'd excel in Dallas just like you did, but it's time to face facts. Jason Witten and T.O. get the ball in this offense, Williams is just there for decoration and jersey sales.

Tight Ends

Must starts: Antonio Gates, Kellen Winslow Jr., Owen Daniels, Tony Gonzalez, Dallas Clark

Start

Zach Miller - Raiders vs. Chargers - Miller's the only person on the roster who can consistently get open and make a catch for the Raiders. In Week 4 against the Chargers, Miller had his best day as a pro with 95 yds and a TD.

He's a great play this weekend.

Sit

Greg Olsen - Bears vs. Jets - Until this Bears offense awakens from its hibernation, sit him and any other player on the team not named Matt Forte.

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30 Comments

Matt and Ricky,

Thanks for your weekly start and sit column. Unfortunately, I don't own any of the players you had mentioned this week. As such, I'd like to know which of my players you would start this week.

1) RBs (pick 2):
- Thomas Jones
- Tim Hightower
- Warrick Dunn
- Jamal Lewis

2) WRs (pick 2):
- Lee Evans
- Jerricho Cotchery
- Davone Bess
- Amani Toomer
- DeSean Jackson

3) And, which player (pick 1) would you pick as your flex option from the above RBs and WRs?

Thanks,
Jeff

Olsen responds: Let's start with your backs.

Thomas Jones has earned the right to be considered an every week starter on your team and should have been included on our automatic start list. This week's matchup against the 49ers bodes well for Jones' punishing running style and he will deliver you RB1 level points.

As for Jamal Lewis, I'd stay as far away as possible. The Titans know the Browns won't be throwing the ball because Dorsey is under center and can stack the box like no other in an effort to slow down Lewis. That Titans defense is going to eat him up all day and make Dorsey beat them.

But your second back should be Tim Hightower against the Rams. I'm sure it's tough putting any kind of faith in Hightower after he's compiled only 42 rushing yards the past four games.

Yet, this is a matchup you cannot pass up because of how bad the Rams are against the run and Hightower's success against them earlier in the season (22 carries, 109 yds, TD). Whisenhunt knows that and will take advantage of Hightower's abilities throughout the game.

Dunn is going to be what he's been all season. About eight to ten points, the definition of mediocre and consistency at the same time. He's your safest flex play option on the roster.

Go with Lee Evans as your WR1, he's the closest thing you have to a premier wideout and his track record against Miami is out of control (8 career TDs vs. Dolphins).

The decision for your second wideout is solely between Cotchery and Jackson.

DeSean finally found the end zone last weekend and is undoubtedly McNabb's number one target. But this matchup against the G-Men scares me and their physical style of play could mess up the timing between the two of them.

Cotchery has a cake matchup against the 49ers and will take advantage of their weak secondary. With Favre picking them apart and Thomas Jones gashing them for big chunks of yards, Cotchery will get open for at least one score.

So I'm thinking TJ, Hightower, Evans, Cotcher and Dunn as Flex.

Good luck.


Need help

need 2
WR
T.O.
Lance Moore
Bernard Barrian
Antonio Bryant

need 3
RB
Peyton Hillis
Frank Gore
Micheal Turnner
Chris Johnson
Derick Ward

need 1
QB
Eli
Mcnabb
Cassel
Matt Ryan

Olsen responds: Could you really bench T.O. at this point?

I don't think you can, but if you were ever going to do it, this would be the week. That Steelers defense made Randy Moss look pedestrian last week and the very same thing could happen to T.O.

Looking at your other options, the upside is much higher for T.O. than any of them, so you roll with him.

Ignore Antonio Bryant for the second pick, Moore and Berrian have much better matchups. Moore is going to be involved in a shootout, while Berrian and his Viking counterparts are going to be involved in a bloodbath at Detroit.

Go with Berrian. He's the only legitimate downfield threat the Vikings have and with the Lions stacking the box trying to stop A.P., Frerotte should find him streaking down the sideline at least once.

That's a nice group of backs you've got there, but I could see how deciding between them could prove to be easier said than done.

Hillis, Johnson and Turner are locks, no question marks there. Gore has been way too inconsistent and despite having a hiccup against the Broncos last week, the Jets defense is strong against the run.

As for your QB, I'd go with Cassel. This is the matchup he was made for, not to mention a game the Pats need to help secure their place in the playoffs. Expect Belichick to pull out all the stops and watch as Cassel gets back to 300-plus yards and a few scores to go along with it.

I'd like to know which of my players you would start this week.

1) RBs (pick 1):
- M. Jones-Drew
- Fargas
- Warrick Dunn

2) WRs (pick 2):
- C. Johnson
- B. Marshall
- L. Moore

2) TE (pick 1):
- Shockey
- Z. Miller

Thank You

Olsen responds: Last week the Bears got absolutely flattened by Adrian Peterson and three weeks ago, Packers back Ryan Grant did the exact same thing.

The Bears are a tough team to figure out defensively. One week they hold the Titans potent rushing attack to 20 total yards, and the next they give up 145 yds to Grant.

But I still think MJD is the play here. The kid has got a nose for the end zone and more importantly, is extremely effective in the passing game. One of the most effective ways to attack this Bears defense is over the middle and running back screens. And MJD can do both.

You have to start Brandon Marshall, that's a lock. But your second WR is trick because I'm not entire sure which C. Johnson you're talking about.

Calvin or Chad?

If it's Calvin, go with him and Marshall all day.

If it's Chad, go with Moore and Marshall.

Shockey has looked better as of late, but until he comes up with more than 50-something yards and actually finds the end zone, leave him be on your bench.

Miller's the only thing they got through the air and the Raiders depend heavily on his services. And so should you.

who would you start?

RB: need 2,
L.T.
Larry Johnson
Leon Washington
Lron Mcclain

WR: need 2
T.O
Andre Johnson
Wes Welker
Issac Bruce
Ted Ginn jr.

Flex???
welker
issace bruce
ted ginn
Leon washington

TE:
Antonio gates
Vishante Shiancoe

K:
Matt Stover
David Akers

Olsen responds: Hopefully you already started L.T., I apologize for not getting back to you sooner. Somehow I overlooked your comment. And your other back should definitely be LJ.

I hate T.O.'s matchup, but you've got to start him, along with Johnson.

Use either Welker or Le'Ron as your flex. Welker would be the guy that if forced to choose, I'd take over T.O. if you were to sit him. For what it's worth anyways.

And Stover.

Hey, looking for some help this week with playoffs starting:

WR (Starting 3... need to decide on one):
Roddy White (lock)
Brandon Marshall (lock)
Donald Driver
Antonio Bryant
Braylon Edwards
Steve Breaston

RB (Need to start 2)
Thomas Jones
Marshawn Lynch
Peyton Hillis
Steve Slaton
Steven Jackson

DEF (only 1)
Chicago
Arizona

Other players: QB-Jay Cutler, TE- Kevin Boss, K-Matt Bryant (locks)

Thanks for your help

Olsen responds: I'd say go with Donald Driver. He's a great possession receiver and you can be sure the Texans are focusing in on trying to stop Greg Jennings. He'll end up with a score.

Go with TJ and Hillis, both have great fantasy playoff performances ahead of them.

And I'd play any defense going against the Rams.

Good luck.

Alright, I see your reasoning for saying to start Addai. But I don't think match ups are the problem. I think he is loosing touches to Rhodes. Point and question is in a wild card spot, do I start Addai against Cincy and let Rhodes get all the tds, or Garrard in freezing Soldier Field?

Thanks in advance


Olsen responds: He's been losing touches to Rhodes for two reasons. He's still working his way back from that injury and the Colts offense as a whole has been in a funk.

The entire team disappointed last week and didn't fair well against the Chargers a week before either.

But the cure for what ails you is a great matchup like this one against the Bengals.
Peyton will have an easier time moving the ball and in effect, Addai will find running lanes among the league's 26th ranked rush defense.

The Jacksonville offense is still searching for answers after starting the season with such high hopes. If you watched that Monday night game against the Texans, you saw a team without an identity and there are whispers of players believing their teammates gave up.

Not what you're looking for when you are heading into a frigid affair against the Chicago Bears.

Good luck.

My team sounds like an all-star cast but im only 7-6 however i won last week so im in the final 4 of my league..can you suggest any changes that will benefit my squad?

QB=Warner, RB's=LT,LJ, WR'S= Marshall,Jennings,AJohnson, TE=Gates Bench= RB= S. Morris,J. Stewart, WR=K.Curtis, TE= Keller

Mainly is Keller worth using over Gates now? Antonio seems to be in a funk

Trevor Gish

Olsen responds: That is a great on paper squad you've got there Tyler.

But the disappointing seasons of L.T., LJ and Gates is the reason you've struggled.

Anywho, onto your question.

Gates has the best matchup out of the two this weekend and after that, Keller is primed for a nice run against the Bills, Seahawks and Dolphins. The 49ers are the league's second best defense against tight ends and Favre will look more towards Coles and Cotchery to shoulder the load.

But depending on how Gates plays against the Raiders, you may want to use him next weekend against the Chiefs.

So, here's what I'm going to tell you.

Gates tonight, and drop me a comment next week and I'll help you out again.

Good luck.

I have an issue though it is a good one.

Who do I start?

Chris Johnson
Ladanian Tomlinson
Peyton Hillis

I would love to start all three...

Olsen responds: Yikes, that is quite the quandary Jared.

Based on recent performances, you'd have to say Johnson and HIllis.

Based on the past, you have to drool over L.T.'s tonight.

But, I'm sure you're already aware of all that and there's really no easy answer to this predicament.

Going with my gut here, I'm going to say L.T. and Chris Johnson. There's no statistical evidence to back this up, nothing on tape. Just a good old fashioned hunch, but Jared go with your gut.

Or take my advice so you can have someone to blame it on if you're wrong.

Good luck buddy.

Need Help

QB's (Pick 1)
-Romo (against steelers in snow)
-Matt schaub

RB's (pick 2)
-Turner
-Forte
-Fargas

WR's (Pick 3)
-Cotchery
-Bowe
-Antonio Bryant
-Kevin Curtis
-Matt Jones

Olsen responds: You hate to sit your studs, but it's tough to suggest you start Romo.

A hobbled Marion Barber playing in the freezing cold against a brutal Steelers defense will make life difficult for the Cowboys offense. Most notably Romo.

Schaub, on the other hand, is playing in the frozen tundra where they're expecting a high of 17 degrees on Sunday. Coming off an injury, playing in the freezing cold with a raucous Packers crowd will be difficult to overcome.

You have to roll with your number one in this situation, that's why you drafted him.

The running backs are pretty simple, Turner and Forte. Both are set up for success this weekend.

Wide receivers are a little more intriguing, but not much.

It sounds like Champ Bailey will play this weekend, normally a huge red flag if you're planning on starting a wideout against him. But I think this actually works in Bowe's favor. Start him with confidence.

Cotchery is a go against the 49ers, a team that is extremely susceptible to the long ball.

The last decision should come down to Jones and Bryant.

Bryant is the safe play and will end up in the neighborhood of 50-70 yds and possibly a TD. But remember, in Week 2 against the Panthers Bryant had a single catch for 13 yds. That was also Garcia's first start of the season, so you can attribute some of that to his rust.

Matt Jones is an interesting proposition because the Bears can be beat through the air. A big receiver like Jones always causes matchup problems, but he'll likely be tied up with Charles Tillman all day.

He's got the bigger high point potential, but a much higher degree of risk.

If you think you need the big points bad enough, Jones is your guy. The safe play is Bryant. I'll let you choose.

I need a high score to get past the first round of the playoffs. Which two of the following RBs would you start?

- Tomlinson, Thomas Jones, or Matt Forte

Thank you

Olsen responds: Forte and Thomas Jones have blown away L.T. this season and are both great plays this weekend.

But L.T. is way overdue for one of his classic fantasy performances. Can't ignore that fact.

Thomas Jones and L.T.

Good luck.

QB (pick 1)
-M.Ryan
-K.Orton

RB (pick 2)
-M.Lynch
-M.Forte
-K.Faulk

WR ( pick 3)

- Cal.Johnson
- B.Edwards
- Des. Jackson
- E. Royal
- A. Toomer

TE (pick 1)

- A. Gates
- V. Shiancoe


Olsen responds: Ryan without question. He's been a stud this year and against the Saints, there's no way you could justify sitting him.

Your backs have to be Lynch and Forte, no question there either. Lynch is finally punishing defenses like he did a year ago and Forte finds a way each week to deliver fantasy goodness even if his team plays like garbage.

Calvin Johnson is a great play this weekend, Culpepper is going against his former team in an extremely familiar environment. He's been too good to ignore. Bench Braylon and don't look back. He's been terrible no matter who's been under center and Dorsey doesn't exactly inspire much confidence in the fantasy realm.

Start Eddie Royal against the Chiefs. They'll be so focused on stopping Brandon Marshall that the Broncos will run Royal on underneath routes and won't find much resistance.

And I'd suggest going with D-Jax over Toomer. The Giants are going to be trying their best to dominate with the run game behind Brandon Jacobs in an effort to take the pressure off of Eli Manning.

The Eagles, on the other hand, are dependent on the passing game and that's where D-Jax comes in. He's McNabb's most explosive target and he'll need to have a big game for them to have a chance at beating the defending world champs.

Last, but not least, start Gates. Look through the comments, you'll be able to find out why I like him tonight.

Please help Week 1 of playoffs for me.
Pick 2 and return yrds count.
Westbrook
Portis
Larry Johnson
Pierre Thomas
Rohdes
I have westbrook and Thomas selected to start right now but LJ went off on Denver in the beging of the season. Your thought? Thanks

Ricky responds: LJ vs. Thomas is a really tough call. If you want to start Thomas, by all means, go for it. Deuce McAllister is suspended now and Bush is still hobbled, so Thomas should get tons of carries.

Need some suggestions:

RB (pick 2)
M. Turner
D. Williams
B. Westbrook

I cant seem to make a decision on this. Williams and Westbrook both against strong D's.

Thank you

Ricky responds: I'd probably start Turner because he's awesome and the KC D is pathetic. Both DeAngelo and Westbrook have been really good lately so that's a toss up. If you have a gut feeling one way or another, go with it. I'd probably pick Westbrook though, just because you never how many carries John Fox is going to give Jonathon Stewart.

We have a short league season (14 weeks) and the winner is based on record then points. There is currently a 4 way tie, but I am leading by 10 points. I really need a big win this week. Who should I start?

QB (pick 1):
A. Rodgers
M. Cassel

RB (pick 2): I am stacked here, so its tough.
Thomas Jones
Matt Forte
Steve Slaton
Steven Jackson
Peyton Hillis

WR (pick 3):
Brandon Marshall
TJ Houshman
Antonio Bryant
Michael Jenkins
Santonio Holmes
(I can also pick up Bess on waivers)

Defense:
Packers or Colts

Olsen responds: That's an interesting league format Greg, I'm always intrigued to learn of new styles.

Rogers has been very consistent lately and would serve you well this weekend if you chose to play him. Though in reality, I don't think you should.

Like I mentioned previously, Cassel has the fortune of playing against the worst pass defense in football.

Say it with me:

"The worst pass defense in football."

That's too perfect when you've got Randy Moss and Wes Welker at your disposal when trying to exploit it.

Speaking of wide receivers, Brandon Marshall is a lock and looks good against the Chiefs. And I'd roll with Housh and Bryant. Although if you want to pick up Bess, I'd say drop Jenkins to make the move possible. The kid's got 171 yds receiving in the two games he's played and was targeted by Pennington a team high 10 times last week. He's not a fluke.

Start the Colts. That's the ideal matchup for the playoffs against a team that has absolutely nothing to play for anymore.

And we save the best for last.

I think you've got to ride the hot hand and start Hillis. The Chiefs are the second worst run defense in the NFL and have given up 20 rushing touchdowns this season. Mike Shanahan has finally found a back he can trust and will use him as often as possible. The problem with the Broncos early on was that they relied on the pass too much, something completely out of the norm for a team under Shanahan.

And as much as I love Slaton, I don't think that cold weather will be doing him any favors. He's going to have a great game, but I think either TJ or Forte will outdo him.

Jones has been scorching hot as of late, scoring double digits in every game since Week 4. He's scored six touchdowns in the last four games and is the engine of the Jets offense.

Stick with the hot hand.

Jones and Hillis.

Good luck Greg.


Greetings, playoff help would be much appreciated :)

RB - need one. (Thinking L. White)
WR - need two. (Was considering L. Moore ande W. Welker)
Flex - need one. (Do I go with MJD, D. Ward or take a shot at a reciver?)

Roster:
Clinton Portis
Maurice Jones-Drew
Derrick Ward
LenDale White
Lance Moore
Wes Welker
Kevin Walter
Ted Ginn
Davone Bess

Olsen responds: All the way from Denmark? Thanks for stopping by Thomas, hopefully we can help you out.

You hit the head about LenDale White, he needs to be started, along with MJD at the flex. Whenever I'm in a league that has a flex spot available, I do whatever I can to fill it with a back. Especially one that has a nose for the end zone like MJD.

Again, I agree with you on your wideouts. Moore has been so hot lately that there's no way you can justify letting him sit this one out. Welker is still a PPR monster and looks to be ready to play despite nearly being killed by that hit last week against the Steelers.

I like the remaining wideouts on your roster, just not as much as I like those two.

Good luck Thomas, let us know how you did.

Need some suggestions:

RB (Pick 2)
T. Jones
C. Portis
W. McGahee
W. Parker

WR (Pick 3)
L. Evans
S. Holmes
S. Breaston
R. Williams
T. Ginn Jr
M. Jones

Thanks!

Olsen responds: If you would have shown me that list of running backs before the season started I would have wondered if you somehow rigged the draft.

It's amazing how much can change so quickly isn't it?

As I've been saying, Thomas Jones is a lock all day. He's been killing it and could possibly be considered the most consistent back this season.

Your other choices are much tougher. Portis is hurt. McGahee gets 20 carries one week and four the next three weeks. Parker gets hurt every other weekend.

What to do?

Go with Parker. Neither of the other two can be trusted this weekend and at least you know that Parker is looking healthy and will play.

Lee Evans is a must start, he owns the Dolphins no matter who's throwing to him.

I had such high hopes for Santonio Holmes this season, thinking he was the reincarnate of Plaxico 'Chedda Bob' Burress in Pittsburgh. Only he's not and he's not getting any better. Sit him.

Go with Jones against the Bears. He'll probably get at least one score on the fade route to the corner and win the jump ball with Charles Tillman or Corey Graham.

And last, but not least, start Ginn. He's been consistent for the Dolphins and should find success against a mediocre Bills secondary.

Good luck.

Need help in the flex position this week. Need to pick one out of following:
W.Parker
M.Moore
K.Walter
D.Bess
S.Holmes

Any help would be appreciated.

Thanks

Olsen responds: Your two best options are Parker and Bess.

I'm of the belief that running backs are the way you'd like to go simply because of the number of looks they're going to receive. If a wide receiver is targeted ten times it's considered an anomaly and anything around five is average.

But a running back - even one that's kind of in a RBBC situation - like Parker is going to get at least 15 touches on Sunday. That's guaranteed yardage and you increase the probability that said player will find the end zone.

Bess' potential is tough to dismiss, but neither is Parker's involvement in a ground and pound Steelers offense playing at home in the cold.

Fast Willie it is.

I can only start one RB. I have to decide between Brandon Jacobs or Peyton Hillis in Week 14 to keep my number 2 ranking in my league. What do you recommend?

Thank you


Olsen responds: Brandon Jacobs has been an absolute beast this season. He's punishing anyone who gets in his way and turning every run into a scoring opportunity.

Hillis is the 'it' guy of the moment. He's gone from a nobody to a top five fantasy back in the span of a few weeks. Every time I've doubted him, he's proved me wrong and now I'm not sure what to think. Shanahan is even considering using Hillis as a tight end in some formations.

Huh?

I like Hillis' matchup against the Chiefs much more than Jacobs' against the Eagles. Granted, Jacobs did clear a hundred yards and scored a pair of touchdowns the last time these two teams met.

But Hillis also doesn't have Ward and Bradshaw around to steal carries and the defense he's playing is the second worst in the league.

Based on matchups, I'm saying Hillis.

Please help me out with my playoffs roster:

QB (need 1)
E. Manning
T. Thigpen
D. Garrard

Flex (need 1)
A. Bryant
T. Hightower
S. Morris
D. Bess

K (need 1)
M. Crosby
J. Feely

Thanks for your suggestions.

Olsen responds: Throw out Garrard, it comes down to Eli and Thigpen.

Eli is the polished player. He won't bog you down with turnovers and missed opportunities. He's solid and will deliver mid range double digits week in and week out.

Thigpen is the wild card. He threw eight touchdown passes in three games before crashing back to earth with a garbage performance against the Raiders.

With that in mind, I'd go with Thigpen in this case. Everyone wants to get all jumpy over the fact that Champ Bailey is coming back to save this horrible Broncos secondary. Bailey is one of the best, but he's not at 100-percent and Dwayne Bowe will take full advantage of his weaknesses.

The Broncos are currently the 27th ranked defense against the pass. Do you honestly think Champ Bailey can improve it that much? Even as a healthy and rejuvenated Larry Johnson is gashing them up the middle?

Definitely Hightower as your flex. Check out the previous comment to see my feelings regarding what position you want your flex player to come from.

And give me Mason Crosby in Lambeau.

You won't believe my RBs...It's a good problem to have, but I am always torn because I can only start 2!

Thomas Jones, Portis, Turner, Adrian Peterson! Which 2?? I am leaning towards Jones and Peterson, what do you think? No idea how I got all of those in the draft!!!!

ALso, my receivers are Boldin, Driver, B. Marshall, Calvin Johnson with R. Williams, Chad Johnson on the bench.

Also, last thing, PIT def or GB? The matchups are making it hard for me to choose. Thanks

Olsen responds: Of all the questions and comments I've received this year, that's the most stacked RB core I've seen.

That being said, the decision is easy: All Day with AP and Thomas Jones.

I love Turner but against the Saints you'll see Matt Ryan trying to keep up with Drew Brees, thus limiting the scoring opportunities for the Burner.

And Portis is playing hurt against the Ravens. Yikes.

Boldin, Marshall and Calvin Johnson. You don't sit those guys in the playoffs regardless of the matchup.

And I'm taking Pittsburgh. The Dallas offense may look in sync now that Romo is back, but they've yet to play a good defense, let alone the best in the NFL.

Expect one of those T.O looking at Romo like he's stupid looks at least once on Sunday.

No questions to ask. Just wanted to say what a great job you guys do answering questions with so much depth and knowledge. Thanks for the blog, you rock!

I'm wanting some advise about whether or not I should make in changes with my starting lineup for this week, this is what I have as of now:
QB:
Peyton Manning
Aaron Rogers

WR:
Steve Breaston
Donald Driver

RB:
Leon Washington
MJD

TE:
Jason Witten

W/T:
Ted Ginn Jr.

W/R:
LenDale White

My bench includes:
Dustin Keller
Matt Ryan
Kevin Walter
Devin Hester
(Justin Fargas - but he's already played this week and is unavailable)

I have Neil Rackers kicking and have Minnesota as my Def. for this week.

Thanks so much!


Olsen responds: Eleven player starting? That's pretty sweet, although I wonder how many guys are in your league. If you're at ten, that's got to be a very deep league with a bone dry waiver wire.

You're probably glad that Fargas already went, spared you from having to make that decision. I'd love to see what that kid could do on a half decent team.

But I think that's the lineup you want to go to war with.

The only position I might debate is your second quarterback. Aaron Rogers should have a good day and I think it's the right play. But just knowing the possibility of a shootout in Atlanta is tough to ignore.

Go with your gut instinct, it usually serves you best. Both will probably finish in the same neighborhood, points-wise, so you'll be fine.

Good luck.

week 14......start andre johnson or lance moore?


Olsen responds: Lance Moore has been an extremely pleasant surprise this season, but not enough to displace Andre Johnson in your starting lineup.

Stick with Andre Johnson, especially now that Matt Schaub is coming back at just the right time.

Rookie looking to go deep in the playoffs... I could use your help!!!

RB's (pick 2)
-Slaton
-Barber
-Hillis
-LJ

DEF (pick 1)
-Cowboys
-Giants
-Vikings (sitting on WW)

TE (pick 1)
-Keller
-Boss

Any help is greatly appreciated!

Olsen responds: Welcome to the madness that is playoff fantasy football. Hopefully we can help you get to the next round.

For your tight end I like Boss. As I've mentioned previously, the 49ers are have allowed the fewest points to tight ends this season and this just seems like a game that will be dominated by the WRs and Thomas Jones.

I'd pick up the Vikings defense and insert them into the starting lineup. The Cowboys are going to have a tough time stopping the Steelers offense at home and now that Marion Barber has been declared out for this affair, the offense won't be able to sustain long drives.

Keep the G-Men on the roster and get rid of Dallas for good. They've got a brutal remaining schedule and aren't too productive in the first place.

And I'm suggesting you ride with Slaton and LJ.

Having both your starting running backs in the same game is a risky proposition. It's rare to see a game in which both starting backs have very good fantasy performances. Spread out your players a little bit, there's only so many chances. Slaton will get plenty and LJ is as good as gold against the Broncos.

Good luck rook.

I have both Favre and Romo. I understand I'm supposed to stick with my studs, but I don't like that matchup. I have Favre starting. Also, I benched Barber in favor of MJD. THoughts?

Olsen responds: RG, I couldn't have said it any better myself.

I agree with both opinions, and now the running back situation isn't a question mark because Barber has been ruled out.

I'd start Favre, the matchup is much better and you'll see Romo struggle to get his offense in gear against the NFL's best defense.

Good call.

So i need to pick one this week for WR:
I have Roddy White and Lance Moore starting, but i cannot decide whether to start cotchery, driver, or mark clayton. For RB's what would you rather chose peyton hillis, willis mcgahee, or derrick ward and i only need 1 for RB since LT played. And what are your predictions for Bo Scaife this week in his match up.


Olsen responds: Clayton is too risky to have in your lineup for the playoffs. He's not been consistent enough to warrant the start and even though Flacco may be playing much better than anyone anticipated, he also cannot be trusted.

Start Hillis with confidence, he'll do very well against KC's league worst run defense. The running back situation in Baltimore is too unpredictable and there's no way to tell who's going to get the lion's share of the carries on any given Sunday.

I don't necessarily feel strongly about Scaife one way or the other. He'll end up somewhere in the neighborhood of four or five catches for fifty to sixty yards. He's only got two touchdowns on the season, so don't count on one from him this week. Consider it a huge bonus if he does score, but I would go into the weekend expecting average yardage and not much else.

And I'd recommend Drive at home against the Texans. There's something about Driver in the cold at Lambeau that makes him bring his game to another level. Jennings will be the focal point of the Texans defense and Driver will be able to pay dividends in the red zone.

Good luck.

My team is stacked with potential playoff fireworks or disappointment. Im going up against a team that has been on fire lately and Im torn who to start. Could you help me out please?

QB (1)
Peyton Manning
Matt Ryan
Tyler Thigpen

RB (2)
Chris Johnson
Larry Johnson
Tim Hightower
Joseph Addai

WR (3)
Anquan Boldin
Eddie Royal
Calvin Johnson
Marques Colston
Justin Gage

TE (1)
Dustin Keller
Dallas Clark

DEF
Tampa Bay
NY Jets

K
Joe Nedney
David Akers

Olsen responds: Start Clark and Manning. They should hook up plenty of times on Sunday and give you the kind of production you're looking for.

LJ and Chris Johnson are who you should be starting. I do think Addai is going to have a bounce back performance, but eliminate the risk of getting burned by him if he does struggle or lose too many carries to Rhodes.

Boldin, Johnson and Colston, for sure. That's one heck of a trio of receivers to have in the playoffs. Boldin is a touchdown machine, Johnson would find a way to be productive with me throwing him th ball and Colston is due for a big day.

Trying to pick a kicker is an imperfect science. It's such a crapshoot and completely unpredictable. That being said, I'd go with Akers. The Eagles should be able to move the ball, but may struggle to score once inside the red zone. That will give Akers a few chances to score, but I can't guarantee anything.

The 49ers are a bad football team and the Jets will be able to handle them after struggling so much with the Broncos at home. That entire affair was out of the norm for that Jets defense and I don't anticipate seeing a repeat performance out in San Fran.

Good luck.

Hey I am second in my league and would like to win my fantasy pool and the $500 :) I am in a ppr league and please tell me if i should make any alterations to my team

Starting lineup
QB- Kurt Warner
WR- Larry Fitzgerald, Greg Jennings
RB- Maurice Jones Drew, Steve Slaton
TE- Dustin Keller
W/R- Bernard Berrian
K- Rob Bironas
DST- Chicago

Bench

WR- Kevin Walter, Steve Breaston
RB- Le'Ron McClain,
K- John Carney
DST- Arizona

Olsen responds: Nope, looks good to me Kamil.

Good luck.

Absolutely limping into the playoffs. Benched Vincent Jackson on Thursday and he lit up the field. Good times. Need 2 RB, 2 WR, and 1 Flex. Have Thomas Jones and Reggie Wayne. What combination should round out my 5:

RB
Faulk, Kevin
Choice, Tashard (own Marion Barber)
Arrington, J.J.
Booker, Lorenzo (if Westbrook somehow does not play)

WR
Bess, Davone
Jones, Matt
Amani Toomer
Gaffney, Jabar
Stuckey, Chansi

I am leaning towards Faulk, Jones and Bess. If somehow Westbrook or Welker don't play, that may change. Any help would be appreciated.

Thanks!

Olsen responds: You've got to start Choice now that Barber is out. And I like the combo of Jones and Bess because both are the big play potential for their respective clubs.

Good luck.

What 2 should I start out of these RB's? Also what 3 wr's should I start?

RB's=

Derek Ward
Ricky williams
Jamal Lewis
Sammy Morris

WR's=

T.O
Reggie Wayne
Santana Moss
Ted Ginn Jr.


Olsen responds: I'm going to keep this short and sweet because it's Sunday and we don't have much time.

Lewis and Morris, T.O., Wayne and Ginn Jr.

Good luck.

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Matt Wood is a web editor for suntimes.com and editor of CenterstageChicago.com. 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 4, 2008 8:41 AM.

Waiver Wire Pickups - The Playoffs Edition (Week 14) was the previous entry in this blog.

Injuries to monitor through the weekend is the next entry in this blog.

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