The Panthers are one of fantasy's worst teams against RBs, which is perhaps why they rank in the top five against QBs and WRs. Teams are just running out the clock on them from the start. It should be a healthy dose of the running game, but you should still keep Big Ben and Ward active in your Super Bowl. Miller is a sleeper in his return from a concussion, because the Panthers are sixth-worst in fantasy against TEs. This should be a blowout where the D/ST and kicker star for you, too.
SIT Panthers RB Jonathan Stewart, WR Steve Smith, WR David Gettis, QB Jimmy Claussen, D/ST, K John Kasay, TE Dante Rosario, WR David Clowney, WR Brandon LaFell, RB Tyrell Sutton, TE Jeff King
Stewart is the unfortunate one of this bunch. He has finally gotten it going, but he draws the Steelers defense, which is the best run defense in the NFL by far. Expect him to carry 15 times for 45 yards without a score. Claussen could hardly move the ball on the woeful Cardinals; they won't do anything against the Steelers. Sit all Panthers.
Steelers WR Mike Wallace, WR Emmanuel Sanders, WR Antwaan Randle El, RB Mewelde Moore, RB Isaac Redman, TE Matt Spaeth
Wallace and Sanders were the surprises last Sunday against the Jets, but it should be hard to trust them week to week. The Panthers are fourth-best against WRs and these guys are more useful as alternatives for the Steelers and your fantasy team. Go ahead an ride those hot hands if you must, but they are just as likely to get three catches for 40 yards. The backup RBs might come into play on the short week and in an anticipated blowout, if you are somehow really desperate.
INJURY WATCH Panthers RB Mike Goodson (flu) -- He should be available, but you don't want any part of him at Pittsburgh.
Steelers S Troy Polamalu (ankle) -- The Steelers don't win or play great pass defense when he is out, which he will be. But, these Panthers pose zero threat.
We don't see a real reason to sit any of these Cowboys. Kitna has fallen in love with Witten and the running game -- Jones between the 20s and Choice in the red zone -- takes on the second-worst team in fantasy vs. RBs. The Cardinals also have allowed the most points to kickers in fantasy this season, which makes Buehler interesting. And the QB-helpless Cards have allowed the fifth-most points against D/STs.
Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald
He has finally come to play, posting a big week against the Panthers, who have been one of the better teams in fantasy against WRs. The Cowboys are the absolute worst and this could evolve into more of a shootout as Dallas puts points up early and often. You gotta like Fitz's garbage-time prospects for your fantasy Super Bowl.
SIT Cowboys WR Sam Hurd, RB Chris Gronkowski, TE Martellus Bennett
Hurd got more passes thrown his way with Dez Bryant done for the year and Roy Williams ailing, but Williams looks like he could play in this one. All of these guys are just not involved enough right now.
Cardinals RB Tim Hightower, RB Beanie Wells, K Jay Feeley, QB John Skelton, D/ST, WR Stephen Williams, TE Ben Patrick, RB Jason Wright
The running game laid an egg against the vulnerable Panthers and Hightower and Wells are still splitting duty. That makes them both difficult to trust if you made it through last week's playoff with their pitiful efforts. Skelton did one thing right in the offense last Sunday -- finding Fitz nine times -- but that's all he did right. If you're looking for a prayer this week, maybe use Hightower. He will be the receiver out of the backfield if the Cardinals need to pick up the pace against the offensively potent Cowboys.
INJURY WATCH Cowboys RB Marion Barber (calf), WR Roy Williams (groin) -- They should be considered non-factors.
Cardinals WR Steve Breaston (knee), QB Derek Anderson (concussion), RB LaRod Stephens-Howling (hamstring) -- Breaston is the unfortunate one. He has been banged up and unproductive with Skelton under center.
The Browns are middle of the pack across the board. The good news is the Ravens passing game, which was stymied by Saints No. 1 secondary, should have a lot easier time this week. That means stick with Boldin and Flacco. It is also a very good idea to take Ray Lewis' defense against a rookie QB.
Browns RB Peyton Hillis, TE Ben Watson
You can start this duo, but you cannot like their matchup. RBs and TEs are what the Ravens are best at stopping. Hillis has earned his stripes for you, though, so dance with the one that brought you. It is just unfortunate these guys don't have a more favorable matchup for you as your big waiver surprises of the season.
SIT Ravens WR Derrick Mason, WR T.J. Houshmanzadeh, WR Donte' Stallworth, TE Ed Dickson
Dickson came through with a score last week, but Heap could return and affect his chances this Sunday. Look elsewhere for a sleeper TE. While the passing game should have a much better time in Cleveland, it still won't be promising enough to trust Mason or Housh in most leagues.
Browns QB Colt McCoy, WR Brian Robiskie, WR Josh Cribbs, RB Mike Bell, K Phil Dawson, D/ST, WR Mohamed Massaquoi
McCoy is coming off injury and one of the better games of his career but you don't want to risk him against the Ravens. Robiskie did some nice things, too, but it will be tough to trust him to have another big game here.
INJURY WATCH Ravens TE Todd Heap (hamstring, RB Willis McGahee (illness), RB LeRon McClain (illness) -- They could play, but they shouldn't be used in crunch time.
The Bears are a top 10 unit vs. QBs, RBs, WRs and TEs, making most of the Jets offensive options low end. Why Holmes? Well, he is still their big-play threat, despite being the secondary option last Sunday. The Jets defense should have another big week against a Bears team that is fourth-worst in fantasy vs. D/STs. Expect another big road win for the Jets, which means Folk could be busy putting up points through the uprights.
Bears K Robbie Gould
The running game for the Jets is solid, but the fact both Green and L.T. are in a 1-to-1 time-share makes them both a bit too difficult to trust in crunch time. The Jets will try to pound the ball after getting mediocre results against the No. 1 Steelers, though. If you have to use one, use Greene. You shouldn't trust Edwards to have another big week. It was pretty apparent the Jets game plan last Sunday was to use the physical WR with the Steelers' defensive leader at safety out. Edwards could as easily go catchless this week.
Bears RB Matt Forte, QB Jay Cutler, D/ST, TE Greg Olsen, WR Johnny Knox, WR Earl Bennett, WR Devin Hester, WR Devin Aromashodu, RB Chester Taylor
Forte was able to find room against the Vikings, but the Jets are second to just the Steelers against RBs. It makes him a tough play if you have a decent alternative. Cutler has been productive with his replaceable parts at WR, but this Jets defense harasses the QB too much for you to really trust him, especially in wintry conditions. Expect this Bears game to be closer to the one against the Patriots than the one against the Vikings, especially with one less day to prepare and the division title wrapped up.
INJURY WATCH Jets None.
The Bills are especially vulnerable to RBs and TEs and the weather conditions should lead to busy days for the Patriots at those positions. Hernandez is coming off a huge week and is a nice play, but so is Gronk in this one. The Bills are third-worst against RBs and TEs. It should be a busy day for BGE, Woodhead and the kicker.
Bills WR Steve Johnson, RB Fred Jackson
The Bills only hope in this one is to pound the ball on the ground with Jackson and keep the ball away from Brady. Good luck with that. Jackson is a decent start if you need an RB, but Johnson is the potential real star in this one. You should love speedy, shifty receivers in snowy conditions. They are more difficult to keep up with.
SIT Patriots WR Deion Branch, D/ST, WR Brandon Tate, RB Sammy Morris, WR Julian Edelman, RB Fred Taylor
If you read last week's column and the above line on Johnson -- and are a Branch owner -- you are likely a little ticked off right now. Branch had a great game in the snow against Chicago and laid an egg last week against the Packers. Let's explain: The Bills are not a great defense like the Packers, but they do have a solid secondary and are a top-10 team in fantasy vs. WRs -- not to mention you learned the hard way the Pats like to play Brady-receiver roulette with the game plan.
Bills QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, WR David Nelson, RB C.J. Spiller, TE David Martin, K Rian Lindell, D/ST, TE Jonathan Stupar
Fitzpatrick draws the team that has allowed the third-most points to QBs, but still isn't enough to trust him. The weather will be in the teens with snow in the forecast. This game will be played closer to the vest than most of the ones where Fitzpatrick did his damage. You shouldn't trust the passing game outside of Johnson.
INJURY WATCH Patriots None.
Westbrook isn't a workhorse, but with the extra days of rest, he should be more effective this week. He is a threat to score in this one. Also, Morgan has become the go-to WR, somewhat surprisingly. The Rams are in the bottom half of fantasy vs. WRs, too.
Rams RB Steven Jackson, K Josh Brown, WR Danny Amendola
In a must-win division game, expect the primary guys to be relied on heavily this week. Jackson has been a consistent force all season and Amendola has developed into the go-to guy in the passing game. He is a nice sleeper if you need a WR. Brown is in the ideal situation for a kicker: At home in a dome for a good running team with a young QB that struggles to throw TD passes. That all adds up to frequent FGs.
SIT 49ers TE Vernon Davis, D/ST, WR Michael Crabtree, QB Alex Smith, QB Troy Smith, WR Ted Ginn, K Shane Andrus
The Rams are one of the best teams in the league against TEs and they are a fairly disciplined team that avoids turnovers, so the defense isn't a great option. Davis likely already frustrated you to no end last Thursday. Crabtree should be getting the passes Morgan gets, but the shaky QB play makes him a low-end option in crunch time -- no matter which Smith takes the snaps.
Rams QB Sam Bradford, WR Denario Alexander, D/ST, WR Brandon Gibson, WR Laurent Robinson, WR Marty Gilyard, TE Daniel Fells, TE Billy Bajema, RB Keith Toston
Bradford is coming off one of his more disappointing performances in an otherwise solid rookie year. He shouldn't be trusted in fantasy in a big spot. The same goes for the rest of the offense here. The defense is mildly intriguing against Smith at QB, but you likely have better options available to you.
INJURY WATCH 49ers RB Anthony Dixon (ankle), RB DeShawn Wynn (ankle), K Joe Nedney (knee), WR Kyle Williams (finger) -- Dixon says he will play, but you shouldn't trust him or any of these guys.
Rams RB Kenneth Darby (ribs), TE Michael Hoomanawanui (ankle) -- They are worthless even if they play.
Miami has a solid defense all-around against all of the positions in fantasy, so Megatron is the only player you should really feel confident about with the Lions. He is coming off a huge 10-catch performance and will be targeted heavily again, no matter who plays QB.
Dolphins RB Ronnie Brown, WR Brandon Marshall, WR Davone Bess
It is a fireable offense to give Brown just 10 carries against the vulnerable Bills last week. The staff had to learn its lesson. The Lions are also in the bottom five in fantasy vs. RBs. This will be the week Brown stars. Marshall and Bess were used heavily last Sunday and are good enough to run back out there against the mediocre Lions. This is pressure to get this offense in the end zone after last Sunday's debacle.
SIT Lions RB Maurice Morris, RB Jahvid Best, TE Brandon Pettigrew, RB Aaron Brown, WR Nate Burleson, K John Hanson, D/ST, WR Bryant Johnson, TE Tony Scheffler
Morris is coming off a 100-yard effort, but the Dolphins do a good enough job stopping the run, you shouldn't trust him to duplicate that performance here. Miami is quietly among the elite defenses against RBs, behind only the Steelers, Jets, Packers, Giants, Ravens and Falcons. That is some company. Morris is this week's wasted waiver pickup that should sit. The rest of the Lions offense in a mess, but Pettigrew could be interesting if you are confident in whatever QB the Lions start. That problem there is the Dolphins are No. 3 in fantasy vs. TEs.
Dolphins K Dan Carpenter, D/ST, RB Ricky Williams, QB Chad Henne, TE Anthony Fasano
How in holy heck can anyone trust Carpenter? He missed four FGs and the Lions are a top-10 team in fantasy vs. Ks. Williams, Henne and Fasano just aren't factors this time of year in fantasy either.
INJURY WATCH Lions QB Shaun Hill (finger), QB Drew Stanton (shoulder), QB Matthew Stafford (shoulder) -- Hill looks like the QB this week, but avoid that position this week here.
This trio is pretty obvious right now. Britt has become the go-to man in the offense and Bironas goes as Johnson does. Both are hot right now.
Chiefs RB Jamaal Charles, WR Dwayne Bowe, K Ryan Succop, RB Thomas Jones
Charles and Jones remain the focal point of the offense, because Bowe is just so lonely in the passing game. It is easier to scheme out one WR than it is those two backs. Bowe remains a must-start because you have to dance with the one that got you here. He has had some huge weeks after some quiet ones, so cross your fingers. Succop should be busy as the Chiefs pick up FGs against a Titans team that has allowed the second-most FGs in the NFL.
Collins is proved ageless last week, but this is a tougher matchup for him after taking aim on the weak Texans secondary. Moss is a joke -- he is just not getting used as the Titans take a look at their younger talent -- and the Chiefs are third-best behind just the Pats and Jets against D/STs.
Chiefs QB Matt Cassel, D/ST, WR Chris Chambers, TE Tony Moeaki, WR/RB Dexter McCluster
The problem with Cassel is not his talent -- or even his system. He just has one true threat to target. Teams lock down on Bowe and it makes life difficult for the passing game. Cassel is a low-end option with a very slim chance of having a better-than-average game. The Chiefs defense isn't great either, especially since the Titans figure to have a more efficient offense with Collins healthy.
INJURY WATCH Titans None.
The Redskins are in the bottom 10 of fantasy against TEs and WRs. These guys are all coming off a productive week in Indy, too. This should be another high-scoring affair in good weather conditions in north Florida.
SIT Redskins QB Rex Grossman, WR Anthony Armstrong, RB Keiland Williams, TE Fred Davis, D/ST, WR Joey Galloway, K Graham Gono, RB James Davis, RB Roydell Williams, RB Chad Simpson
You couldn't have seen Grossman coming. Maybe Mike Shanahan knows what he is doing after all. Grossman gets another bottom five team against QBs and WRs after abusing the Cowboys last week, but if you know anything about Rex, you know he can wreck everything. Putting your fantasy championship in Grossman's hands isn't good for business, regardless of his huge week and favorable matchup. Armstrong was a surprise last week, too, but you have to assume the Jags win this must-win game and they do it by slowing down the Redskins passing game. Keiland Williams is only an option if Ryan Torain is ruled out. He won't be.
Jaguars RB Rashad Jennings, D/ST, WR Jason Hill
Jennings has been productive of late, but Maurice Jones-Drew is getting healthier and should assume a larger percentage of the load in a must-win game. The defense isn't a great option in a game you should expect to see a lot of points and yards roll up.
INJURY WATCH Redskins RB Ryan Torain (hamstring), WR Brandon Banks (knee) -- You likely need to use Torain if he is healthy enough to go. Banks is worthless.
Jaguars RB Maurice Jones-Drew (knee), QB David Garrard (hamstring) -- Use MJD with confidence and avoid Garrard.
Brown had a breakout performance last Sunday and he draws an opponent in the bottom 10 against RBs. Wayne is healthier with a week more to heal, so he and Garcon should be the go-to WRs with Austin Collie (concussion) shut down for the season. The Raiders actually have a shutdown corner, so there could be a few less TDs and a few more FGs for Vinatieri on the road.
Raiders RB Darren McFadden, RB Michael Bush, K Sabastian Janikowski
McFadden and Bush have been productive and have to remain active against a Colts team notoriously vulnerable to the run. The numbers support the common thought, too, because Indy in seventh-worst against RBs in fantasy. A strong running game and a bad QB makes for good FG position, so keep the kicker active as well.
SIT Colts WR Blair White, RB Javarris James, D/ST
The Colts actually have a pretty decent secondary, standing fifth-best against WRs and having held the No. 1 spot against TEs for most of the first half of the season. Don't trust these fringe options this week.
INJURY WATCH Colts RB Joseph Addai (neck), TE Jacob Tamme (knee), RB Mike Hart (ankle) -- Addai likely won't play and you shouldn't use Hart. Tamme is a must-use if he plays. The Raiders are bottom 10 in fantasy vs. TEs.
Foster said he could have finished last Sunday's game if it wasn't a blowout, so expect him to play and star against a Broncos team that worst in the NFL against RBs. It is an ideal matchup for your horse that is likely to win you your league. The Broncos haven't played great in the secondary, so keep Schaub active. And Daniels returned to health last Sunday and draws the fifth-worst team in fantasy vs. TEs.
Broncos WR Brandon Lloyd
Lloyd's owners have a dream matchup for their Super Bowl week: Houston has been the worst team in fantasy against WRs all season (although the Cowboys jumped below them last Sunday). The question is whether the passing game will be the same after the QB change. It only mustered 138 yards last week, although most of it went to Lloyd.
SIT Texans WR Jacoby Jones, WR Kevin Walter, RB Derrick Ward, RB Steve Slaton, D/ST, WR David Anderson, TE Joel Dreessen
Jones and Walter were productive in garbage time last week, but you should assume there will be a lot less garbage time against the struggling Broncos. Ward could factor if Foster doesn't (but you should assume the latter will).
Broncos QB Tim Tebow, RB Knowshon Moreno, RB Lance Ball, WR Eddie Royal, D/ST, TE Daniel Graham, RB Correll Buckhalter, Laurence Maroney, WR Jabar Gaffney, K Steven Hauschka
Moreno is a question mark and likely isn't promising enough to use in a crucial spot for fantasy owners. That makes Ball and the other RBs equally avoidable. Tebow made noise in his first start and draws the very favorable matchup here, but it just isn't a good idea jumping on that bandwagon in Week 16. Tebow could get held under 100 yards passing or worse: get blown up in the running game. Avoid as many Broncos as you can afford to.
INJURY WATCH Texans None.
Broncos QB Kyle Orton, WR Demaryius Thomas (ankle), K Matt Prater (groin) -- Avoid them.
You won't sit Rivers, but cold and snow should concern you and a team used to balmy Southern California weather. This is the reason both Tolbert and Mathews (finally) are advisable starts here. McMichael is expected to continue to carry the torch for Antonio Gates and Jackson was just too awesome last week to sit.
Bengals WR Chad Ochocinco, RB Cedric Benson
The Chargers are No. 2 in fantasy against WRs, but Ochocinco gets a boost with the loss of Terrell Owens (knee) for the season. Keep him and Benson active. Benson should get a heavy workload in wintry conditions this weekend.
SIT Chargers RB Darren Sproles, WR Seyi Ajirotutu, WR Kelley Washington
These guys have had their moments, but Week 16 of the fantasy season is not the time to trust them in your lineups. Washington, though, has looked more capable of being a factor in really deep formats.
Bengals QB Carson Palmer, D/ST, TE Jermaine Gresham, K Aaron Pettrey, RB Bernard Scott
Palmer's bust of a fantasy season concludes for you with Owens out and the Bengals facing the No. 1 team in fantasy against QBs in the Chargers. That spells as much bad news as the weather report: freezing temps and snow. The Chargers have been much tougher on opposing D/STs after a slow start to the season, too.
INJURY WATCH Chargers TE Antonio Gates (foot), WR Malcom Floyd (hamstring), WR Patrick Crayton (wrist), Legedu Naanee (hamstring) -- Floyd is likely the only one who will be useful to you down the stretch here. Use him and keep the others out of your lineups.
Bengals RB Brian Leonard (ankle) -- You don't need a reason to avoid him.
The Bucs are a bottom 10 team in fantasy vs. RBs and Lynch has almost completely stolen the RB duties for the Seahawks after the midseason trade. He is a solid option in a must-win game. Williams is coming off a very good week against the Falcons, so he should remain active as well.
Buccaneers RB LeGarrette Blount, WR Mike Williams
Forsett and Hasselbeck have almost completely fallen off the fantasy radar, so don't consider using them on the road -- even if it is a must-win game in good weather conditions. Avoid the rest of this replacement parts, too.
Buccaneers D/ST, TE Kellen Winslow, QB Josh Freeman, RB Cadillac Williams, WR Michael Spurlock, WR Arrelious Benn, K Conner Barth, RB Earnest Graham, WR Sammie Stroughter
The Seahawks are bottom 10 in fantasy vs. D/STs, but you likely have a more productive option than the Bucs to use in crunch time. Winslow showed some life last Sunday but the Seahawks aren't an especially favorable matchup, ranking in the top 10 against TEs.
INJURY WATCH Seahawks WR Brandon Stokley (hamstring), WR Ben Obomanu (hand) -- These guys shouldn't be counted on in fantasy crunch time, even if they play.
You have to be selective with the Giants you use this week against the stout Packers defense in a must-win game. Nicks is the easy one, Bradshaw and Manningham are likely good to go to. Bradshaw will be a factor in the screen game after the Packers stuff the run as always. Boss draws the most favorable matchup, getting the fourth-worst team in fantasy vs. TEs. Tynes had some big misses and a big make the last time the Giants went to Green Bay.
Packers WR Greg Jennings, D/ST, K Mason Crosby, WR Donald Driver
The likely return of Aaron Rodgers makes Jennings and Driver must starts. The defense draws a favorable matchup against a mistake-prone Giants offense and special teams. This will be a hard-fought game all the way through and the importance of it makes it likely to be a shootout, despite the caliber of defenses here.
SIT Giants RB Brandon Jacobs, D/ST, QB Eli Manning, WR Derek Hagan, WR Michael Clayton, TE Travis Beckum, RB Danny Ware, WR Devin Thomas, WR Duke Calhoun
Jackson is coming off a productive night in New England but the Giants are among the elite in fantasy against RBs. They took out a much better one against the Eagles last Sunday. Jones and Nelson had their moments with Flynn at the helm, but that should have been expected with the backup QB. They also like throwing to their fellow scout team WRs. Rodgers return should put the ball back in the hands of the primary targets.
INJURY WATCH Giants None.
Packers QB Aaron Rodgers (concussion), RB Dimtri Nance (concussion) -- Rodgers looks ready to return and should be active in this must-win situation. Nance is worthless.
You can't stop them; you can only hope to contain them. The Giants did it for 53 minutes, but that remaining seven minutes showed everyone why these guys should be starting in fantasy crunch time. You need a real high standard of a replacement to sit any of these options. Anyone of them could go off for a huge week.
SIT Vikings RB Toby Gerhart, D/ST, WR Percy Harvin, WR Sidney Rice, K Ryan Longwell, TE Visanthe Shiancoe, WR Bernard Berrian, WR Greg Lewis, QB Joe Webb, WR Greg Camarillo
The Eagles stymied the Giants running game, so Gerhart shouldn't be expected to produce if he gets the bulk of the duty. Webb is not a real threat in the passing game either, so avoid Harvin and Rice if you have viable alternatives. The rest of these guys have long been too frustrating to trust in fantasy.
Eagles WR Jason Avant, RB Jerome Harrison
There are actually some Eagles not worth using in fantasy? Even these guys could factor when the Eagles get up four TDs early. You likely shouldn't trust them, though.
INJURY WATCH Vikings RB Adrian Peterson (thigh), QB Brett Favre (shoulder) -- No one could have guessed Peterson would sit and Favre would play Monday. You should expect that to reverse this week. Peterson should be available to start again for fantasy owners.
Eagles WR DeSean Jackson (foot) -- The buzzer-beating punt return TD last week in a pinch shows his foot is just fine. The question you have to ask yourself is will the Eagles limit him to get him healthy for the postseason? The guess is not this week with the division to be sowed up.
It is a rare week to be selective with your Saints fantasy starters. This is a big game for them and they could really come through, but this is the only three you should trust going in. They are a great offensive team still, but the ball just gets spread around too much.
Falcons RB Michael Turner, WR Roddy White, QB Matt Ryan, K Matt Bryant, TE Tony Gonzalez
The Saints have been one of the worst teams in the NFL running the ball and the Falcons are one of the elite teams stopping the run. The rest of the offense is status quo in that you cannot predict where the targets will go outside of Colston. The defense is a bad, bad play against a Falcons team fourth-best in fantasy vs. D/STs.
Falcons D/ST, WR Michael Jenkins, WR Brian Finneran, WR Harry Douglas, TE Justin Peele, RB Ovie Mughelli, RB Jason Snelling
The Falcons defense gets its toughest test of the season, having passed the one a few weeks ago against the Packers with flying colors. The Saints just don't figure to turn the ball over in such a big game. The WRs all have bad matchups and the backup RBs just won't get the touches as the Falcons try to ride their horses to the division title.
INJURY WATCH Saints RB Chris Ivory (hamstring) -- He is a must-sit even if he plays. There are too many RBs now and the matchup is too tough.
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