Are you struggling with match-up decisions or dealing with an injury-depleted roster? Here are my sleeper picks worthy of starting for your team this week.
Chargers vs Broncos: Montee Ball; A surprising game all-around that likely led to a lot of playoff heartbreak for any Bronco not named Peyton Manning. Ball was a call that was made for all the right reasons only to be upended by San Diego’s ability to string long drives and keep Manning off the field. If Ryan Mathews (29|127|1TD) is able to stay healthy through the rest of the season, he should remain an intriguing value pick in the middle rounds.
Bills vs Jaguars: Jordan Todman; A great debut to the tune of (25|109; 4|44) that was only missing a TD. Denard Robinson got the goal-line carry but literally fumbled away the opportunity. Maurice Jones-Drew may not return next week against Tennessee, so those who survived and started Todman in the playoffs may have another matchup in line for Week 16. E.J. Manuel could be an sleeper QB pick for next year’s draft.
Bears vs Browns: Chris Ogbonnaya; Apparently a cushy matchup against the league’s worst run defense isn’t enticing enough for the league’s worst rushing offense with the Browns only rushing 17 times on the day. Recently-signed Edwin Baker (8|38|1TD; 4|46) was the workhorse for Cleveland, and their backfield situation is unlikely to become any clearer until the offseason. Josh Gordon owners sure love that garbage time score. The Bears offense is going to be full of high draft picks in fantasy leagues next year, including Jay Cutler.
Texans vs Colts: Colts D/ST; Boo-yah.
Patriots vs Dolphins: Daniel Thomas; What’s more surprising: the Dolphins victory or the fact that no RBs from either team scored a TD? Miami definitely game-planned to take Shane Vereen out of the Patriots’ offense, so definitely some fantasy disappointment for those expecting a big day (which was everyone). Consider me a believer in Miami’s offense next year who may be full of underrated bargain players like Ryan Tannehill and the always-frustrating to own, Mike Wallace.
Eagles vs Vikings: Cordarrelle Patterson; Matt Cassel sure loves Greg Jennings, and it’s amazing how much having a quarterback with the ability to throw down the field opens things up for Minnesota. Also, it appears the Vikings half-year experiment of rostering Josh Freeman proved to be needless and unnecessary. For anyone beating themselves up over not picking up/playing Matt Asiata, puh-lease. And anyone still riding that Riley Cooper train? I didn’t think so.
Seahawks vs Giants: Brandon Myers; Just a sad, uninteresting game all-around. If you’re intending to take a QB late in next draft, does Eli Manning even surpass the likes of Tannehill or Manuel? The Giants are sooooooooo bad.
49ers vs Buccaneers: Bobby Rainey; A game where Mike Glennon was forced to pass more than 25 times and he barely completed over 50% of his throws. Tampa is headed for a very interesting offseason. Colin Kaepernick looks to be living up to his preseason expectations, but continues to be set back by low passing volume. With an aging Frank Gore entering the final year of his contract in 2014, it will be interesting to see if Kaepernick’s rush attempts see an uptick next year.
Redskins vs Falcons: Kirk Cousins; Cousins started hot but cooled off considerably in the second half of the game. Pierre Garcon owners were happy to see him be involved in the gameplan beyond WR screens and Alfred Morris will be nothing more than an RB2 with upside next year. This was an unspectacular game with very little in the form of fantasy takeaways.
Jets vs Panthers: Panthers D/ST; The Panthers RBs are super frustrating and if Cam Newton owners survived last week’s less-than-stellar performance, well, welcome to more fantasy heartbreak. Greg Olsen should remain a good, budget TE amongst the muckety-muck of next year’s selection of TEs.
Chiefs vs Raiders: Rod Streater; Streater just barely beat out Andre Holmes in receiving yards, but it was Holmes who got the TD. Rashad Jennings continues to be a surprisingly productive RB2 and how much can be said about Jamaal Charles’ performance?
Packers vs Cowboys: Matt Flynn; Again, is the quarterback really good or is Dallas’ defense just that bad? Different QB, same historically-stinky D. Eddie Lacy is a top 10 RB next year, although a part of me worries about the effects of his workload on his rookie legs. If DeMarco Murray stays healthy? It depends on how you view the younger backs
Saints vs Rams: Rams D/ST; Definitely a reach that paid off. Every time I believe the Saints are sure-fire Super Bowl contenders, they throw a stinker like this into their schedule. Drew Brees owners in the playoffs are a sad lot today.
Cardinals vs Titans: Delanie Walker; Anyone ever wonder why they don’t just run Chris Johnson out as a WR? Will Rashard Mendenhall maintain RB2 value next year with Andre Ellington still in the mix (and vice versa)? Do the Titans make a run at Jay Cutler, draft a QB, or stick with Ryan Fitzpatrick?
Bengals vs Steelers: Emmanuel Sanders; Only missing a TD. Antonio Brown (WR1), Le’Veon Bell (low-end RB1) and Giovani Bernard (high upside RB2, depending on Benjarvus Green-Ellis status) are who you’re targeting next year.
Ravens vs Lions: Joe Flacco; Justin. Tucker. Detroit found a way.
Always remember: Start your studs, play the match-ups, and don’t be afraid to make the trade!