At this late stage every game is important, whether you're trying to fight your way into the playoffs or are just jockeying for position. The difference between extending your year or moving onto a long offseason could be just a couple of points, so let's try to maximize your output in this all important Week 13 and throughout the playoffs in the new Thursday edition of the Fantasy Football Mailbag.
Four are coming off excellent weeks and have decent matchups. The best of these seems to be Robinson, who goes up against one of the league's most porous pass defenses in Arizona. He's a lock. Right with him is Cruz, who, incredibly, ranks only behind Steve Smith, Calvin Johnson and Wes Welker for the year. He'll have another great day in a come-from-behind effort against the Packers. Lloyd has a touchdown in four of his last five games and has scored at least 13 PPR points in his last half dozen games. On the outside looking in is Fitzgerald, who has the worst matchup of the bunch against a Cowboys pass rush that will keep intense pressure on John Skelton (or whoever else is behind center for Arizona).Fitzgerald's sheer ability has let him overcome the Cards' shortcomings at quarterback, and while he should be someone you pencil in every week, you have too many better options. And Johnson, fresh off his Plaxico-Burress-mocking, dropped-pass-fest against the Jets, is too fragile to use against Tennessee's instigator on defense, Cortland Finnegan.
This is another solid group of receivers. Robinson is again the top option after having caught seven touchdowns in his last five games, securing his role no matter when Miles Austin returns. Like Cruz, Nicks is in great position to produce for a Giants team that has struggled to run the ball and is most likely going to have to turn to Eli Manning to air it out to stay competitive against the perfect Packers. Nelson does nothing but produce, having scored the second-most touchdowns in the league. That leaves Green (one catch three weeks ago, albeit a 36-yard score, against the Steelers) and Holmes (much like his quarterback Mark Sanchez, he's had a roller coaster of a season with a few peaks but many more valleys) on the outside looking in.
An interesting choice based on opponents. Palmer faces a Miami team that had a three-game streak in which they did not allow a passing touchdown until Tony Romo and Robinson ended it on Thanksgiving Day with two scores. Further, Palmer's receiving corps has been hammered by injuries. Ryan faces the Texans, who rank as the second-best team in fantasy passing points allowed, but that's misleading when you consider they've faced fantasy non-starters Kerry Collins, Chad Henne, Blaine Gabbert (twice), Colt McCoy, Josh Freeman, Matt Hasselbeck and Joe Flacco in eight of their 11 games. Ryan, with Tony Gonzalez, the red-hot Roddy White, Julio Jones and Harry Douglas at his disposal and riding a 10-game TD pass streak, should fare much better even with the game in Houston.
I like Green-Ellis a lot this week against the Colts, who have allowed a league-high 15 rushing touchdowns and a league-worst 150.6 rushing yards per game. He totally outclasses the rest of your options. As for receiver, I'd have to ride the hot hand of Robinson, although I wouldn't be surprised to see Decker have a big game as well against the Vikings.
As little as I like Spiller, a deep look at Jackson's situation makes you consider taking a chance that Buffalo's new lead back can have a breakthrough against the Titans. The Niners haven't allowed a 100-yard rusher or ground touchdown all season. In fact, LeSean McCoy, courtesy of a five-yard reception, has been the only runner to score any kind of touchdown against the league's elite unit.
Given my above comments it should come as no surprise that I'd side with Washington against the Bills over the disappointing Spiller. Yes, Washington was held to just one catch last week as Matt Hasselbeck spread the ball around to Lavelle Hawkins and Damian Williams, but he'll get back on track in Buffalo.
This is a loaded question. I'll give you the best this season, in my opinion, regardless of matchups this week or quarterback issues:
1. Calvin Johnson, Lions: Virtually unstoppable.