Knocked out of the playoffs already?
It happens. Especially when big time injuries bite you like Andy Dalton and Thomas Rawls.
But have no fear, football fans.
For there is a savior on the horizon. And he goes by the name of Chaz Whitehurst.
He's so majestic (even though he's unlikely to start this week with Matt Hasselback listed as probable. But, hey, at least he's somewhat relevant again).
With the playoffs still going and likely a decent chunk of money at stake, it's not time to hold back. So we didn't with our picks this week. And neither did Enes Kanter with this shot...
Introducing: the worst full court shot attempt ever, by Enes Kanter pic.twitter.com/YOr600iSMV
— Rob Perez (@World_Wide_Wob) December 17, 2015
So let's jump right into all the action this week with our starts and sits. As always, good luck this week.
Javorius Allen, RB, BAL (vs. KC) - The matchup isn't great (Chiefs are a Top 5 defense vs. fantasy RBs), but more about volume and situation for Allen. Matt Schaub will hopefully be under center this week and the Jimmy Clausen experiment could come to a close and now Allen doesn't have to face the stout Seahawks defense this week. Plus, his volume has been out of this world since he took over full-time for Justin Forsett in Week 11. In the last four games, Allen has received 59 carries and 32 targets in the passing game (catching 26 of those). The Ravens figure to keep feeding Allen again this week and he is especially valuable in PPR leagues. (Tony Andracki)
John Brown, WR, ARI (@ PHI) - Brown has been an enigma all season, entering the year as a serious sleeper candidate and then promptly scoring in Week 1. But then he turned in pedestrian totals before a big 10-catch, 196-yard performance in Week 6. Then he battled a hamstring injury, put up a couple goose eggs and now has posted four straight good - but not great - games in a row. Expect this week to be a "great" outing, as the Eagles give up the most fantasy points to WRs this season. Brown is a must-play. (Andracki)
Jay Cutler, QB, CHI (@ MIN) - Cutler is coming off one of his best games of the season and finally has a relatively healthy group of weapons available. Tight end Zach Miller has been a revelation this season (even better than Martellus Bennett) and Eddie Royal has also returned and is another week along from a knee injury that cost him more than a month and a half. The Vikings have been torched pretty good by the pass the last couple weeks, so I'm expecting a 20+ point day from Cutler this week. (Andracki)
Tim Hightower, RB, NO (vs. DET) – It’s Tim Hightower’s backfield now in New Orleans, with his 28-carry performance last week as a good indicator that you’ve got a workhorse on your fantasy roster. Now he gets a Lions defense that been had against the run he’s a smart play. I also like Willie Snead (see below) as I think the Saints will be airing it out, but 28 carries last week says a lot. You want a high floor this week, and it’s Hightower’s backfield. Feel comfortable starting him. (Mark Strotman)
David Johnson, RB, ARI (@ PHI) - What's not to like about Johnson? The Cardinals offense is incredible and Johnson has been the biggest beneficiary since CJ2K going down. Andre Ellington isn't reliable at this point and Kerwynn Williams won't pass D. Johnson on the depth chart. Johnson also has major value in the passing game and against the Eagles, Johnson should feast. In a week filled with RBBC and other tough matchups, Johnson is a guy you must start. (John "The Professor" Paschall)
Matt Jones, RB, WAS (vs. BUF) – We’re on to the semifinals in standard leagues, meaning I need to find guys with high floors. I’m not trying to go boom-or-bust with my picks, as the potential rewards don’t outweigh the risk. You’ve gotten this far because you made level-headed decisions, and with Matt Jones receiving 18 and 19 rushes the past two weeks he’s a good bet to at least tough high single-digit points. The Bills are anything but an easy defense to run the ball against, but as long as Jones gets carries (and a few catches out of the backfield) you’ll enjoy his FLEX points this week. (Strotman)
Tyler Lockett, WR, SEA (vs. CLE) - I know Doug Baldwin has stolen the spotlight right now but how about Lockett lately? 13 catches for 194 yards and two touchdowns in his last two games is pretty good. He's also always a threat to take a punt return back for a touchdown. While you should never count on return TDs when you start guys, it's clear Lockett has a big time role in the offense now and against a horrible Browns defense that doesn't even have its best corner, Lockett should be in for another huge game. (Paschall)
Willie Snead, WR, NO (vs. DET) – In line with keeping guys with high floors, the targets Snead has seen (eight or more in four of his last five games) make me feel good about Snead at the very least having a chance. He made good on that chance last week, catching seven passes for 122 yards against Tampa Bay. He hasn’t scored since Week 9 in that wild shootout with the Giants, but that could change in what should be a high-scoring Monday night affair against the Lions. (Strotman)
Matt Stafford, QB, DET (@ NO) - It's the classic "Start the QB against the Saints" move. But it's valid with Stafford who has the weapons to put up big numbers. Monday Night also brings out the best in most players and I'm thinking this one will be a shootout. Megatron will rebound off an awful week last week and Stafford will be in a TD war with Drew Brees. If your QB was Dalton heading into the playoffs, Stafford is the perfect replacement this week. (Paschall)
Travis Benjamin, WR, CLE (@ SEA) - Top receivers don't do well against the Seahawks. It's not like the Browns have a lot of options to help distract the Seahawks away from Benjamin. It should be a long day for Johnny Football on the road and Benjamin won't provide much help. The speedster has had a nice year but this is a nightmare playoff matchup for fantasy owners. Stay away. (Paschall)
Dez Bryant, WR, DAL (vs. NYJ) - Revis Island. Matt Cassel. Bad foot. It's a recipe for disaster. Bryant has been awful since returning and it's really hurt fantasy owners. Don't let him hurt you again this week in what should be an awful matchup for Bryant. (Paschall)
Martavis Bryant, WR, PIT (vs. DEN) – I don’t feel great about this sit, but I can justify it because he’s going up against a Broncos defense ranked first against the pass. He didn’t show that big-play capability last week against Cincinnati, catching seven passes for just 49 yards. This game will have a grind-it-out feel, which could limit the Steelers’ vertical passing game. If you need to start Bryant, go on and do it. The dude is capable of going for 6 on any play. Just know the Broncos are for real and won’t make anything easy for him. Tough call here, but I may try and find someone with a higher floor. (Strotman)
Amari Cooper, WR, OAK (vs. GB) - Pick a number, any number. Your guess is as good as anyone else’s about how many fantasy points Cooper will put up this week. In his last five weeks he’s gone: 10.4, 0.9, 17, 8.2 and 0. Now he gets a Packers defense that, even with the Matt Cassell factor, limited Dez Bryant to one catch for nine yards. With Michael Crabtree emerging and Cooper dealing with a minor foot injury, it’s probably best to leave the rookie on your bench as you look to advance in the fantasy playoffs. (Strotman)
Frank Gore, RB, IND (vs. HOU) – Father Time is undefeated, and Gore hasn’t topped top carries since Week 9. He also hasn’t scored since Week 9 and has tallied double-digit points once in that span of four games. That doesn’t do enough for me to feel good enough on an offense led by Matt Hasselbeck facing that terrifying Texans defense. Gore had success against Houston in Week 5, but that was with Andrew Luck under center. Things have changed since then, and I’m not feeling good about Gore doing much with his 13+ carries. (Strotman)
Jeremy Hill, RB, CIN (@ SF) - The Niners have allowed the most fantasy points to running backs this season. But...almost all of that has come on the road. As The Professor pointed out to me this week, the Niners are actually pretty solid against the run at home (surrendering only 21.67 pts/gm compared to 35.3 pts/gm on the road). Hill is just so untrustworthy that you have no idea what to expect from him and there's a strong chance you wind up with a one- or zero-point fantasy day from him. Do you want that in the playoffs? I didn't think so. (Andracki)
Ronnie Hillman, RB, DEN (@ PIT) - The Steelers are almost as good as the Jets at limiting fantasy production from running backs (see below). The Broncos are STILL struggling to get their running game going and Hillman can't find any success lately (averaging just 3.0 yards per carry the last three games). With C.J. Anderson returning to health and the poor matchup, it's not worth gambling on Hillman this week. (Andracki)
Ryan Mathews, RB, PHI (vs. ARI) - Saying he's the best running back in Philly is nice and all, but when will he start playing like it? The Eagles backfield is such a mystery between Mathews, DeMarco Murray and Darren Sproles that I don't know if there's one running back I can trust this week. Add on the tough matchup against the Cardinals and Mathews is heading to my bench. (Paschall)
Darren McFadden, RB, DAL (vs. NYJ) - Just don't start running backs against the Jets. Don't do it. Seriously. In three separate games this season, running backs have failed to combine for even 10 rushing yards against New York (Patriots RBs in Week 7, Dolphins RBs in Week 12, Titans RBs in Week 14). Oh yeah, and the Jets have allowed one rushing TD to RBs this season and none since Week 3. If you had Adrian Peterson going up against the Jets, sure, play him. But an inconsistent Darren McFadden playing amidst a pathetic Cowboys offense? Nooooo thanks. (Andracki)