Before we get started, check out my Week 14 NFL picks. Also check out this week’s Fourth & 1 Debate as we discuss unheralded players who will step in up this week (click here for the article).



Time for another edition of Fantasy Football Out on a Limb. I scour the rosters to select a player who I feel will outperform a higher profile player in that given week. I base my decisions on matchups, how the players are trending, and the ever-important hunch. To mix things up I’ll occasionally do some two on one matchups or even pit RB or WR duos against each other. Sometimes I’ll spot a player some points.

Scoring
6 points for rushing or receiving TD
4 points for a passing TD
0.1 points per yard for rushing or receiving
0.05 points per passing yard.

Last Week
Philip Rivers over Drew Brees:  Loser Rivers 26.65, Brees 28.95
Matt Forte over Ricky Williams:  Winner Forte 15.6 Ricky 8.1
Jonathan Stewart over Ryan Grant: Winner J-Stew 18.6, Grant 4.1
Jeremy Maclin over Larry Fitzgerald:  Loser Maclin 8.3, Fitz 20.3
Austin Collie over Chris Chambers:  Winner Collie 7.8, Chambers 1.1
SS:
Mike Thomas over Terrell Owens:  Loser Thomas 2.5, T.O. 3.1

Regular Picks:  3-2
Super Stretch Picks:  0-1
Overall:  3-3

Season Record
Regular Picks: 30-32-1
Super Stretch Picks:  4-11
Overall: 34-43-1

Week 14 Picks

Quarterbacks
Vince Young Carson Palmer
Vince Young over Carson Palmer
VY is facing a St. Louis team that ranks 25th in total yards allowed (363.7) and 28th in points allowed per game (26.2). They are actually middle of the road in passing yards allowed per game (217.5), but VY is a unique athlete that can contribute with both his arm and his feet. I just don’t see the Rams containing him. Meanwhile, Carson Palmer takes on the Vikings, who are coming off a bad loss, on the road. Jared Allen failed to record even a tackle last week so you just know he’ll be looking for redemption. I wouldn’t want to be in his shoes.

Ben Roethlisberger Tom Brady headshot
Ben Roethlisberger over Tom Brady

This is a battle of multiple Super Bowl winners that find their teams in a free fall. I think they’ll both win this week, but I like Big Ben to put up better fantasy numbers. Big Ben plays Cleveland’s 26th ranked pass defense (246.1) The Browns have allowed 18 passing TDs on the year. Brady faces Carolina, who ranks 6th in passing yards allowed (192.4) and 5th in passing TDs allowed (12).

Buffalo Bills 2009 Football Headshots Denver Broncos 2009 Football Headshots
Ryan Fitzpatrick over Kyle Orton

Fitzpatrick has looked good at times.He as least has shown the ability to get the ball to T.O. and Lee Evans. He has a favorable match-up this week against Kansas City who ranks 28th with 250.6 passing yards allowed and 24th with passing TDs allowed (21). Orton takes on the Colts in Indianapolis. The Colts rank 4th with 11 passing TDs allowed.

Running Back
Kansas City Chiefs 2009 Football Headshots Matt Forte
Jamaal Charles over Matt Forte +2

Who would have guessed coming into the year that I’d be spotting Matt Forte 20 yards in a head-to-head match-up with Jamaal Charles? Charles has averaged nearly 100 total yards and a score the last four weeks and has a juicy match-up against Buffalo’s league worst run defense (172.1 ypg). Forte takes on Green Bay’s 4th ranked run defense (97.2). The Pack has allowed just 4 rushing TDs.

Wide Receiver
Kevin Walter profile Antonio Bryant
Kevin Walter over Antonio Bryant

Walter has played decent over the last four games averaging five catches for 60 yards. He takes on Seattle who is 25th in passing yards allowed (243.5) and 28th in passing TD allowed (22). Bryant will have to deal with Jets shutdown corner Darrelle Revis. Have fun Antonio.

SUPER STRETCH
Baltimore Ravens 2009 Football Headshots Brett Favre profile photo
Joe Flacco over Brett Favre

Flacco hasn’t been nearly the same QB that he was earlier in the season. Things could change this week as he takes on Detroit’s league worst pass defense (274.8 yards, 28 TDs). Favre has struggled the past few seasons in December. He forced a couple of passes last week, which he’s avoided for most of the year. I’m afraid that he’s opened Pandora’s Box and he could do more of the same this week. He faces Cincinnati who ranks 12th in passing yards allowed (211.5), 8th in passing TDs allowed (13), and 6th in INTs (14).

Before we get started, check out my Week 14 NFL picks.


Putting the final piece of your fantasy football puzzle together

I’ve uncovered some guys you can plug in if you are dealing with an injury or tough match-ups.

I told you about the guys who could struggle this week (click here for the article). Now, let’s look at some guys you can plug into your fantasy lineups as you look to advance in the fantasy playoffs.

Alex Smith, QB, San Francisco 49ers
Smith has thrown eight TDs the past three weeks and faces Arizona’s 30th ranked (257.8 yards allowed per game). Vernon Davis is having an unbelievable year and Michael Crabtree is developing into a big time WR. They are going to have to throw to keep up with Arizona making Smith a nice sleeper play for the opening round of the fantasy playoffs.

Joe Flacco, QB, Baltimore Ravens
Flacco has regressed after starting the season off with a bang. He should be able to relive some of that early-season glory this week as he faces Detroit’s league-worst pass defense. They have allowed more passing  yards (274.8) and passing TDs (28) than any other team.

Vince Young, QB, Tennessee Titans
Who would have ever imagined that Alex Smith and Vince Young would be viable fantasy options in Week 14 when the season started? They couldn’t even beat out Kerry Shaun Hill and Kerry Collins respectively. VY faces St. Louis this week and he should produce with his arm and his feet. They just don’t have the athletes to keep up with him.

Jamaal Charles, RB, Kansas City Chiefs
Charles has produced every week since taking over the starting gig. He should continue his strong play against the league’s worst run defense (172.1 ypc). The Bills are also 30th in the league with 16 rushing TDs allowed.
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Before we get started, check out my Week 14 NFL picks.

I’m going to look at the matchups each week and pick five fantasy starters that could be in for a tough week. Here’s a look at players who could struggle this week.

Brett Favre, QB, Minnesota Vikings
Arizona made Brett Favre look human last week. It won’t get easier when he takes on Cincinnati’s 13th ranked pass defense this week. In his nine December since 2007 Favre is averaging 198.0 yards with 10 TDs and 15 INTs. Compare that to the 257.0 yards, 66 TDs and 27 INTs he had in the 35 September/October/November games, and you have an alarming trend.

Marion Barber III, RB, Dallas Cowboys
The Cowboys take on the red hot San Diego Chargers. They’ll likely have to turn to the air to keep up with the Chargers’ high-scoring offense. Dallas will probably be tight because if they drop a second consecutive December game, the heat will be on. Plus, Barber is splitting carries making him a unattractive start for the opening of the fantasy playoffs.

LaDainian Tomlinson, RB, San Diego Chargers
I didn’t look far for the other RB I think will struggle this week. LT faces Dallas’ 9th ranked run defense. He’s averaging just 3.3 yards per carry and 62.7 total yards per game. He’s made up for it with nine rushing TDs. That is the Cowboys’ strength though, as they have allowed just five rushing TDs all year. Plus, he’s no longer used in the passing game. When you stack up all the strikes against LT this week, he looks like a marginal fantasy play this week.

Antonio Bryant, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
I know Bryant went on a ridiculous run last year around this time. I know he had 91 yards and a score in Week 12 and 116 yards in Week 13. However, I also know that he faces shutdown corner Darelle Revis this week. He’s been murder on #1 WRs this year, and I would hesitate to test him in the fantasy playoffs.

Reggie Wayne, WR, Indianapolis Colts
I know you can’t bench Wayne, but I would expect a decrease in production this week. He has only seven receptions for 67 yards the past two weeks. Meanwhile Dallas Clark has 88 yards, Pierre Garcon has 199, and Austin Collie has 88. Peyton Manning will hit the open man. With Champ Bailey draped on him all day, more often than not it won’t be Wayne.


Putting the final piece of your fantasy football puzzle together

I’ve uncovered some guys you can plug in to your lineup if you are dealing with an injury or tough matchups.   Check back following the games to see the stat line of guys profiled.

QB
Matt Cassel
- Cassel let a lot of teams down last week against the Steelers, but if you have the moxie to stick with him this week against Seattle, you should reap the rewards. 
Stat Line:  26 of 44 for 268 yards, TD, 7 carries for 14 yards

RB
Pierre Thomas
- Well, you know Deuce is out of the picture thanks to his water pills.  Bush is back, but I see Thomas getting a good share of the work, especially at the stripe. 
Stat Line:  16 carries for 102 yards, TD, 1 catch for 7 yards, TD

Kevin Smith - Originally I said Smith would be a good play, but the Williams’ Wall appears to be playing. If they do, look elsewhere. If the NFL wins the appeal, he should have running room.
Stat Line:  22 carries for 63 yards, 2 catches for 27 yards

WR
Bernard Berrian - He has been hit or miss for the Vikings, but I do like his chances against the stinkin’ Lions. 
Stat Line:  3 catches for 29 yards

Anthony Gonzalez - Gonzalez has an off-week against Cleveland with two catches for 13 yards.  He darn well better do better than that against Cincinnati.
Stat Line:  3 catches for 27 yards, TD

TE
Owen Daniels -One of my usual suspects for opposing Tight Ends,  San Diego, played Thursday and the other, Minnesota, figured out they are better off using a DB to cover TEs.  Daniels has averaged just 20 yards a game the last four weeks since Matt Schaub went down.  He should be back, and so should Daniels’ fantasy relevance.
Stat Line: 6 catches for 65 yards, TD  

K
Jay Feely
- Despite allowing just a FG to Lindell last week, San Fran has still allowed the most Kicker points.  Had Lindell not uncharacteristically missed two FGs, we’d be talking about another 3 FG game allowed.  So I’m picking on San Fran yet again.
Stat Line:  2 PATs

DEF
Arizona
- The last time they played the Cardinals had 2 Sacks and forced 3 turnovers.  They even took an INT to the house.  This time they are playing in Arizona.  I fully expect another multi-sack/multi-turnover game.
Stat Line:  1 Sack, 2 Fumbles, 1 INT, TD

Time for another edition of Fantasy Football Out on a Limb.  I scour the rosters to select a player who I feel will outperform a higher profile player in that given week.  I base my decisions on matchups, how the players are trending, and the ever-important hunch.  To mix things up I’ll occasionally do some two on one matchups or even pit RB or WR duos against each other.  Sometimes I’ll spot a player some points. 

Scoring
6 points for rushing or receiving TD
4 points for a passing TD
0.1 points per yard for rushing or receiving
0.05 points per passing yard. 

Last Week
Jay Cutler
(25.65) beat  Matt Ryan (18.05) WHICH I LOST.
Chris Johnson (25.4) beat Clinton Portis (3.7) WHICH I WON.
Matt Forte (18.5) beat Darren McFadden (6.3) WHICH I LOST.
Antonio Bryant (13.6) beat T.J. Houshmandzadeh  (6.4) WHICH I WON.
Roy Williams (6.4) beat Dwayne Bowe (2.7) WHICH I WON. 
   
Super Stetch:  Kevin Faulk  (12.1)  beat J.J. Arrington (1.0) WHICH I LOST.

Regular Picks:  3-2
Super Stretch Picks:  0-1 
Overall:  3-3  

Season Record
Regular Picks:  41-24 (.631)
Super Stretch Picks:  5-7 (.417)
Overall:  46-31 (.597)

Quarterback
  
Matt Ryan
over Philip Rivers
Last week I took Matt Ryan against Jay Cutler and lost.  I’m picking the rookie up, dusting him off, and throwing him back out there.  I love his matchup with New Orleans.  I figure he’ll have to produce some solid numbers to take down the Saints.  Rivers faces Oakland, and I am counting on LT to be the force behind a Chargers’ win. 

Running Backs
  
Larry Johnson over DeAngelo Williams
Larry Johnson has been playing solid since he got his head screwed on straight.  The stability Tyler Thigpen brought to the QB position also helps.  LJ has a nice matchup this week against Denver.  Meanwhile DeAngleo Williams is coming off a four-TD performance against Green Bay.  The other Bay (Tampa) won’t be such a pushover.
  
Kevin Smith over Clinton Portis 
If the Williams Wall (Kevin & Pat) remains down, Smith should have a solid day.  Even if they do get their suspension delayed, Smith still should be able to produce at a higher clip against the Vikings than Portis vs. Baltimore. 

Wide Receiver
  
Donald Driver over Terrell Owens
Now tha Romo is back, so is T.O.  Too bad he has to face Pittsburgh this week.  I’m not expecing big things from the big mouth.  Driver should have a solid game against Houston in what should amount to a shootout.

  
Marvin Harrison
over Santana Moss
Marvin has to share with Reggie Wayne, Anthony Gonzalez, Dallas Clark, and Joseph Addai, but after Peyton’s dismal performance against the Browns, I expect him to bounce back against the Bengals.  Santana Moss faces a tough Baltimore team.

SUPER STRETCH 
  
Matt Cassel
over Tony Romo 
   
I expect Cassel to bounce back after his poor performance against the Steelers.  The Seahawks should be the perfect remedy.   The Steelers have played one of the toughest schedules I can remember.  They are still succeeding.  I think they make life uncomfortable for Mr. Jessica Simpson this week.

I’m going to look at the matchups each week and pick five fantasy starters that could be in for a tough week. Here’s a look at players who could struggle this week.

Quarterback
Tony Romo
- Romo will be put to the test this week as he plays the Steelers in Pittsburgh.  They will bring the heat and I imagine he’ll get knocked down several times.  It would be hard to bench him since it’s likely your fantasy playoffs, but if you have a better option, you may want to go with it.

Running Backs
Frank Gore
- Gore is another one that will be hard to bench, but has a tough matchup against the Jets.  He produces with both his legs and his hands though so he may be alright.  If you’re expecting him to carry your team, be prepared for a letdown.

Clinton Portis - CP makes a back-to-back appearance on the Pitfalls list.  Last week it was the Giants, which he struggled in as I predicted .  This week he faces Baltimore.  You’ve got to play your studs unless you have a very capable replacement.  I’m just preparing you to lower your expectations for Portis. 

Wide Receiver
Steve Smith
- Again, you can’t bench him, but be prepared that Jake Delhomme could be on his back much of the game, which would seriously hamper Smith’s production.  Additionally, Ronde Barber has the goods to slow him down.

Terrell Owens - I am certain that Pittsburgh’s game plan involves slowing down #81.  Not only will the blitz Romo to shorten T.O.’s routes, but they’ll likely provide Safety help.  T.O. could be crying for the ball again after this one is over.


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