So you may have noticed last week there was no fantasy column (for those of you that even care to click on this blog anymore). That was not some grand editorial statement about the NFL and its problems, it was just me getting lost in the Thanksgiving shuffle. And I paid dearly for the mistake... take a wild guess as to how. Anyway, the past is the past. And because this week is the start of the fantasy football playoffs for some of you, or perhaps the last week of the regular season for the rest, we're going with extra help this week. Extra recommendations as to who to start and sit, and a little more than you normally get here are on the way. Not just because last week I had the brainfart of all brainfarts, but I feel I owe you as December has come and the business end of the fantasy season has too.
Start of the Week: QB Philip Rivers (LAC) vs. CLE
He showed on Thanksgiving against the Cowboys that he's still got it, and now that he and his team have found their stride, there isn't much stopping them. Certainly, it won't be the Browns defense that does that, even though their defense has played a little bit better of late.
Who to Start:
QB Kirk Cousins (WSH) at DAL THU: Lost in how lost the Cowboys offense looks without Zeke Elliot is how lost the defense has looked all season, especially now that their main offensive gameplan has gone out the window. Even though Cousins struggled in the first meeting between the two in the slop, this game is indoors, and Cousins has been good against Dallas in the past.
QB Tyrod Taylor (BUF) vs. NE: Why the hell did Sean McDermott bench him, again? No one in the world has any clue, and it would be particularly like the Bills for that Chargers game to cost them a playoff spot. Regardless, the game against the Pats is favorable for Taylor even though New England's defense has rounded into form. If you need a streamer this week, he may be a great option.
RB Jamaal Williams (GB) vs. TB: Even though every single Packers running back is hurt, it's hard to not start the last one left standing this weekend against the Bucs. He'll get plenty of volume in terms of snaps and touches, and the Bucs were gashed last week by Tevin Coleman. In the "Bay of Pigs", expect Williams to sail through with good fantasy numbers.
RB Jordan Howard (CHI) vs. SF: He was on the wrong end of a lopsided score when the Bears got levelled by the Eagles. But don't fear. The 49ers are not the Eagles, and therefore Howard should be able to establish himself on the ground. He has been a bit feast or famine fantasy-wise, but this should be a feast week.
WR Robby Anderson (NYJ) vs. KC: He's come out of nowhere to be an incredibly viable WR2 in most leagues because of his big play ability, but he's also getting plenty of short yardage catches too. Kansas City's defense has fallen off a cliff, so Anderson is a must start this weekend.
WR Cooper Kupp (LAR) at ARZ: Starting him should be pretty obvious at this point, as he's lest matchup dependant than ever, especially after a monster performance against New Orleans. Arizona's defense played well last week, but the Rams offense is another level compared to Blake Bortles.
WR Devin Funchess (CAR) at NO: Who said the Panthers made a bad move in trading Kelvin Benjamin? OK, I did, but that doesn't change the fact that Funchess since that move has been awesome in fantasy land. New Orleans' secondary is ravaged by injury, so Funchess could have another monster outing.
TE Julius Thomas (MIA) vs. DEN: It's not really a "revenge game" at this point in Thomas' career, a few years removed from Denver, but he is playing a lot better of late as Matt Moore has turned to him as a safety blanket. The Broncos have also struggled to defend tight ends this season, so this is a promising matchup for Thomas.
TE Jared Cook (OAK) vs. NYG: The Giants are laughably bad at almost everything, but especially defending opposing tight ends. Cook hasn't done much of late, but this should be the week where that changes.
DEF Tennessee vs. HOU: This defense hasn't been very flashy, but has been incredibly solid of late. That doesn't necessarily bode well in fantasy land, but this week it could against Tom Savage and the turnover happy Texans.
DEF LA Rams at ARZ: Arizona's offense looked remarkably solid last week, but consider the revenge game factor and then some of what has occurred doesn't look so surprising. This week, the Rams defense is a much more formidable test.
Sit of the Week: QB Ben Roethlisberger (PIT) at CIN MON
Ben's performance against the banged up Packers at home left a lot to be desired, and now he has to head out on the road where he does not play well. The Bengals also tend to hold him in check in the Queen City, so he's not someone to risk starting Monday night.
Who to Sit:
QB Matthew Stafford (DET) at BAL: How serious his ankle injury is or not, this is not a good matchup for Stafford and the Lions. Baltimore's defense is seriously underrated even though they haven't beaten anyone good, so Stafford's penchant for making a few mistakes could cost him here.
QB Alex Smith (KC) at NYJ: It's not as if the Jets defense is that amazing to be fair, but Alex Smith has been downright awful the last four weeks, which makes him someone to avoid starting in fantasy everywhere this week. Until he proves that he's back on target, you can't assume that he is.
All Eagles running backs at SEA: Each and every one of them. Running back by committee is a fantasy player's worst nightmare, and the Eagles are firmly in running back by committee territory. So for owners of Jay Ajayi, Corey Clement et al, don't bother.
RB Jerick McKinnon (MIN) at ATL: It seems that Latavius Murray is taking over more of the snaps in the Minnesota backfield of late, which is not a good sign at all. Because of this, even against a less than impressive Atlanta defense, avoid starting McKinnon this week. He's a flex play at best.
WR Emmanuel Sanders (DEN) at MIA: He's had one notable fantasy performance this season and that's it. Considering the Broncos QB situation is a tire fire, it's hard to start any Bronco on offense this week, even against the Dolphins, and Sanders falls into that category.
WR Martavis Bryant (PIT) at CIN MON: He had a wonderful performance against Green Bay, but that was against a weakened defense and without JuJu Smith-Schuster stealing targets from him. The Bengals defense isn't any slouch either, so Bryant may be someone to avoid on Monday.
WR DeVante Parker (MIA) vs. DEN: He was pegged to be a breakout fantasy star this season, and that hasn't quite panned out the way that everyone hoped. Against a still stout Denver secondary, and with Matt Moore as the signal caller, there's not a lot of hope here for fantasy owners.
TE Cameron Brate (TB) at GB: He's losing targets to OJ Howard rapidly, and his snaps are decreasing as well. This is not a good combination, especially with a bad matchup against Green Bay on the cards.
TE Tyler Kroft (CIN) vs. PIT MON: As a matchup starter, Kroft has been a really valuable fantasy asset of late, but that has been very matchup dependant. And Pittsburgh's defense, well it's not a good matchup for opposing tight ends.
DEF Buffalo vs. NE: You'd know better at this point to start any defense against Tom Brady and company, but you may be tempted after what Buffalo did last week. You shouldn't be.
DEF Carolina at NO: Playing the Jets and the Saints are entirely different propositions from a fantasy perspective, and that is certainly the case when considering the Panthers defense. It's not as if they're a terrible option, but they're not a great one either.
4 Super Sleepers:
QB Brett Hundley (GB) vs. TB: You know what, he played a lot better last Sunday in Pittsburgh than many of us expected him too. That's a good sign going against the porous Tampa Bay defense, which has been way worse than expected. If you need a streamer and are desperate, Hundley isn't a terrible option.
RB Orleans Darkwa (NYG) at OAK: We're plumbing the depths at this point, but with Geno Smith at QB, Giants running backs suddenly become an OK fantasy option. It's not exactly something I entirely recommend, but it's not a terrible option if you're desperate either.
WR Corey Davis (TEN) vs. HOU: Tennessee's offense has been brutal from a fantasy perspective this season outside of the running backs, but perhaps this is the week they find their feet again. Houston's defense has been very poor of late, so it may be high time for Mariota et al to kick it into gear.
TE Vernon Davis (WSH) at DAL THU: Without Jordan Reed, Kirk Cousins has been turning to Vernon Davis more often, and that's a positive sign heading into the Thursday night game in Dallas. Not exactly the best option, but in a pinch, Davis could give you just what you need.
QB Derek Carr (OAK) vs. NYG: Against the hapless Giants, you should be starting every Raider, right? Well not necessarily. The Giants defense has been fairly OK against Kansas City and Washington of late, so it's not exactly a crazy strong matchup for the Raiders and Carr in spite of what you may think.
Good luck in Week 13, and sorry for the brain cramp last week!