I have to admit, I never felt like Brady Quinn got a very fair shake in Cleveland, or in Denver for that matter. He never really got the support a young quarterback needs to have a real chance at success in this league. To add insult to injury, he has taken his licks on the field and in the tabloids, so it really was something to see the former Notre Dame star lead his team out on the field in the wake of tragedy, play the game of his career and then step up to the podium afterwards and hit all the right notes in his post-game comments. I think it is very appropriate that he gets to follow things up with a trip back to Cleveland. With the Raiders and Colts after that, it wouldn’t surprise me if he plays better than he ever did for the Browns the next three weeks. Regardless, he showed that true leadership is sometimes about more than just winning football games. If you haven’t had a chance to catch his post-game comments I urge you to do so when you are finished reading this. It was a pitch-perfect message for all of us, especially as we head into the holiday season.
Now that I’ve said that, let’s get to the real reason you are reading this. The fantasy playoffs have finally arrived. Hopefully you’ve gotten to the promised land and are ready to make some noise this week in your respective leagues. It’s that time of year again to start keeping track of the weather reports heading into Sunday. Now onto this Week’s list.
Russell Wilson, SEA – Wilson was tops on our list to start the year back in Week 1 and since then he has definitely exceeded expectations. He has tossed 11 touchdowns versus 1 interception over his last five starts and has silenced the early skeptics for good. He should be owned in all leagues at this point, as a high-end QB2. His playoff schedule puts a little damper on his upside as the Seahawks face the Cardinals this week, which is a tougher assignment for a QB than you think, and then draws the 49ers in Week 16. The Bills in Week 15 is a nice match-up, but bear in mind it’s still a mid- December game in Buffalo.
Carson Palmer, OAK – Palmer’s ownership numbers are higher that most of the names listed this week, but he’s out there in enough shallow leagues to merit a mention based on his playoff schedule. He get the Broncos, Chiefs and Panthers the next three weeks, and the Raiders will continue to air it out with their running back injuries.
Jake Locker, TEN – Ind – Locker has been another favorite of the report this year, and part of the reason has been an injury marred season that sent the promising second year QB to the wire in many leagues. He’s still shaking off the rust, but the Titans finally started to open things up last week under new OC Dowell Loggains. Hopefully you’ve got a more trustworthy option for this week, but if not a trip to the dome in Indianapolis figures to be a high-scoring affair. In two quarterback leagues, Locker could put you over the hump this week.
Ben Roethlisberger, PIT – Big Ben is scheduled to return to action this week against the Chargers, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you should rush him back into your lineup if you have a better option at your disposal. While I would never doubt his tenacity or toughness, it still doesn’t mean I’d feel comfortable betting my season on him if I didn’t have to.
Brandon Weeden, CLE – Weeden makes a return visit to the report thanks to a generous playoff schedule that provides back-to-back home games against the Chiefs and Redskins. Both teams can be thrown on, and Weeden can do enough damage to be a solid desperation start in deeper formats.
Nick Foles, PHI – Like Weeden above, Foles benefits from the schedule-maker with the Buccaneers this week followed by the Redskins again in Week 16. Both of these guys are start worthy in two-quarterback leagues.
Brady Quinn, KC –You read the intro.Hey, they could absolutely build on the wave in KC.
Tim Tebow, NYJ – Greg McElroy took over for an ineffective Mark Sanchez last week, opening the door for Rex Ryan to finally give the fans what they want, and that is a little Tebow-time to close out a lost season. If you are in a real deep league you could take a shot and see what happens next.
Week 13 Update:
Colin Kaepernick, SF – The Kaepernick express hit a little speed bump last week, which is a nice reminder that he is still learning, and fantasy owners should be cautious of trusting him too much, too soon. A little home cooking should help get things rolling again.
Chad Henne, JCK – The parade of injuries in the backfield has taken a little wind out of Henne’s sails. He’s worth hanging onto as a backup, especially if you are looking for some insurance at the position in Week 16.
Sam Bradford, STL – I highlighted Bradford’s favorable playoff schedule last week, but there is no denying he has a much better chance of success with Danny Amendola in the lineup. Keep that in mind when considering your options going forward.
Alex Green, GB – I had originally planned on writing up James Starks and Green together, and was surprised to read the breaking news out of Milwaukee that Starks could be done for the season with a knee injury. With Cedric Benson also done for the year, that suddenly thrusts Green back into a feature role. Green was dumped in a ton of leagues after he lost the starting job, and was basically benched coming off the team’s Week 10 bye. He’ll be the top grab of the week now if these reports are confirmed.
Jonathan Dwyer, PIT – Back in Week 10 we talked about the crowded situation in Pittsburgh, and how you all parties were worthy of owning until the smoke cleared. Well, it’s gotten clearer that Dwyer is at least at the top of any committee, likely for the rest of the year. Redman still will gets 10 touches or so, but Dwyer will get the bulk of them as well as any in close and that makes him a borderline RB2/Flex the rest of the way.
Montell Owens, JCK – I advised you last week to make sure to get your roster set up for the playoffs, especially as it pertained to RB’s. That means you maybe took a stab at a Montario Hardesty or Evan Royster. Owens is in line to get the start this week if Maurice Jones-Drew isn’t ready and Rashad Jennings is still slowed by a concussion. It will be one and done for Ownes, but if a RB is starting at this time of year, he is worthy of owning. Perhaps you just want to keep him off of someone else’s roster. If he starts he’ll be flex-worthy.
DeAngelo Williams, CAR - Williams will likely draw another start this week while Jonathan Stewart continues to heal. Unfortunately, Cam Newton will keep his value capped by stealing carries and stealing touchdowns. Flex him if you must, bench him if you can.
Joique Bell, DET – Bell has worked himself back into flex consideration with a pair of 10 point weeks. The Lions like to use him in their quick-tempo offense, especially when they are in comeback mode, which seems like a pretty good bet heading up to Lambeau this week.
John Kuhn, GB – I mentioned Green above, but Kuhn will also benefit as he will surely get more work, especially in close.
Ben Tate, Hou – I know, I am getting to be a broken record on Tate, but he finally made it back on the field and you just know the Texans might sit Arian Foster in Week 16. If you haven’t already got him, just do it already. Justin Forsett deserves a mention as well, because he’s likely locked himself into the third down back role no matter what happens.
Bilal Powell, NYJ – Powell has gotten double-digit carries three weeks running, so at least you can flex him with more confidence heading into some decent playoff match-ups.
Week 13 Update:
Bryce Brown, PHI – Somehow the guy is still un-owned in a bunch of leagues. Granted not many leagues the regular readers of this column likely play in, but still take a look and help push those ownership numbers up where they belong.
Knowshon Moreno, DEN – Moreno got twenty carries for the second week in a row, and now gets to exploit a tasty match-up against the Raiders. Start him with confidence this week and worry about the Ravens game if you survive this week.
Chris Wells, ARZ – While I said last week that Wells needed to be owned everywhere, I can now at least safely go back to my Week 12 observation that relying on him in the fantasy playoffs will be a very risky proposition. Of course, if you drafted him you probably don’t have to worry about that now do you.
Top Handcuffs – Just like last week, here is another reminder list of guys you want to grab as playoff handcuffs in case of injury to irreplaceable stud RB’s: Shane Vereen, Robert Turbin, Toby Gerhart, Bernard Pierce, Cedric Peerman, Evan Royster, Montario Hardesty, Brandon Jacobs, Daryl Richardson,
Josh Gordon, CLE – Gordon finally got back in the end-zone last week, and thanks to the Raiders posted his season high in catches (6) as well as his first 100 yard game. He has become the clear No. 1 receiver for Weeden, and can take advantage of the same juicy schedule the next two weeks.
Chris Givens, STL – Givens was mentioned in the DD section last week, and took advantage of Danny Amendola’s absence to vacuum in 11 passes on the day. That kind of volume is hard to overlook with Buffalo on deck and Amendola still not practicing.
Mike Thomas, DET – Ryan Broyles tore his ACL (again), which was a blow to anyone who spent big on him last week. With Titus Young banished to injured reserve, Thomas will now be the latest to assume the plum assignment of starting opposite Calvin Johnson. It makes him roster worthy at the very least.
Golden Tate, SEA – Tate could very well be the most interesting option sitting on your wire right now. Wilson loves him in the red-zone, and that makes him a threat to score each and every week.
Rod Streater, OAK- Denarius Moore apparently got benched during the loss to Cleveland, which allowed Streater to be the recipient of a long touchdown grab as a result. Don’t be fooled into thinking it will happen again soon.
Jason Avant, PHI – Avant took advantage of the loss of DeSean Jackson to get back into the action with a 79 yard day. As we mentioned with Foles, the schedule sets up well for this offense, at least making Avant a quality bench option.
Eric Weems, CHI – You know things are tough in Chicago if the Bears are forced to run Weems out there opposite Brandon Marshall. The team is likely crossing their fingers that Alshon Jeffery can somehow make it back this week to lend a hand.
Week 13 Update:
Pierre Garcon, WSH – Garcon was everywhere against the Giants, and looked healthy and spry in the process. If you held onto to him, this is what you were waiting for. Hopefully you lasted long enough to take advantage of it.
Mario Manningham , SF – Manningham unfortunately injured his shoulder a week after I mentioned the emerging chemistry between he and Kaepernick.
Jacob Tamme, DEN – Tamme has been getting more looks as the injuries mount in Denver. He was Peyton Manning’s favorite target last Sunday, and could be in for another high-vloume day against the Raiders. If he can somehow find the end-zone, consider it a bonus,
Tony Scheffler, DET – Scheffler will get a big boost in snaps and targets this week with Broyles and Young no longer around. He a great start inleagues that start two TE’s
Jared Cook – With the Titans throwing the ball more, Cook has finally shown some life again. He and Locker made some music in Nashville this time last year, so perhaps they can do it again.
Week 13 Update:
Rob Housler, ARZ – I made the mistake of mentioning Housler for a second time, and he flopped again. Fool me once shame on…..well you know the rest.
Cleveland – Cleveland is not giving up too many points, thanks to a determined running game and a much improved run defense. Kansas City is still the same mistake prone squad they have been all year. The fans will be fired up to boo Peyton Hillis every time he touches the ball. Hopefully they will give Brady Quinn a warmer welcome.
Alex Henery – The last few weeks I have hit on a few K’s I like for your playoff run. If you are looking for a little one week magic, why not give Henery a look. The way Bryce Brown is running the ball, the FG opportunities will be there.
Follow Ryan on Twitter @ryanpcarey