Fantasy Friday: Week 17

December 26th, 2008 - 10:56 am

Here’s this week’s look at good and bad fantasy matchups.

Note: I try to pick less obvious players. I’m not going to tell you to play Peyton Manning or LaDainian Tomlinson or Randy Moss. No kiddin’, Sherlock.

Warning: I’m not immune to accidentally suggesting a player that might be injured and out for the week — or even the season. As much as I follow the game, mistakes can happen. If it does happen, just give me a polite jab and I’ll correct myself.

Thumbs Up

The following players should have favorable matchups this week. Their chances of success are greater due to tendencies by the opponent’s defense.

Quarterbacks

Jay Cutler, Den vs. San Diego
In a game for the AFC West championship, nothing will be left on the table. These two quarterbacks who dislike each other personally will try to outplay each other professionally.

Philip Rivers, SD vs. Denver
Ditto what I said under Cutler. Rivers has a vendetta that he was snubbed for the Pro Bowl and he had said earlier this season he was hoping and praying the Chargers would get a second chance at defeating the Broncos in a meaningful game.

Other favorable matchups: Tyler Thigpen vs. Cincinnati, Brett Favre vs. Miami, Chad Pennington vs. NY Jets.

Running Backs

Ryan Grant, GB vs. Detroit
The Packers have a lot of pride and won’t go down easy, as won’t the Lions, which makes this game a meaninful one. The Packers will exploit the Lions’ league-worst run defense.

Cedric Benson, Cin vs. Kansas City
Benson had 171 yards on 38 carries last week against Cleveland and will face a much worse Chiefs run defense this week. His ankle is a little sore, though.

Other favorable matchups: Bucs RBs vs. Oakland, Willie Parker vs. Cleveland, Matt Forte vs. Houston.

Wide Receivers

Andre Johnson, Hou vs. Chicago
Johnson had a bad week against the Raiders, but he is one of the league’s toughest receivers to cover and he should get plenty of touches against the Bears.

Vincent Jackson, SD vs. Denver
Jackson has been on a tear the past month emerging from the pack of even-talented receivers to become Rivers’ go-to guy. He should get a lot of looks this week for the division championship.

Other favorable matchups: Cardinals WRs vs. Seattle, Brandon Marshall vs. SD, T.J. Houshmandzadeh vs. Kansas City.

Tight Ends

Anthony Fasano, Mia vs. NY Jets
For the AFC East championship, the Dolphins will try to exploit the Jets’ No. 29 pass defense. Fasano had two touchdowns last week.

Tony Scheffler, Den vs. San Diego
Expect Scheffler to take a more active role in the passing game this week as Cutler’s checkdown guy.

Other favorable matchups: Owen Daniels vs. Chicago, Donald Lee vs. Detroit, Chris Cooley vs. San Francisco.

Kickers

Matt Bryant, TB vs. Oakland
In a game that means everything to the Bucs, they should work hard to get plenty of chances for Bryant.

John Carney, NYG vs. Minnesota
The Vikings will likely be playing harder than the Giants and could stop New York from getting into the end zone, allowing the league’s No. 2 kicker to pad his stats.

Other favorable matchups: David Akers vs. Dallas, Rob Bironas vs. Indianapolis, Robbie Gould vs. Houston.

Defenses

Minnesota Vikings, Min vs. NY Giants
The Vikings have everything to play for in this one and they should do a decent job against one of the league’s top offenses.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers, TB vs. Oakland
Tampa Bay needs to win to get into the postseason and they have a home game against one of the worst offenses in the league.

Other favorable matchups: Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Cleveland, Green Bay Packers vs. Detroit, Philadelphia Eagles vs. Dallas.

Thumbs Down

The following players should have unfavorable matchups this week. Their chances of success are worse due to tendencies by the opponent’s defense.

Quarterbacks

Tony Romo, Dal vs. Philadelphia
In Week 14 against Pittsburgh, Romo struggled against the Steelers’ Top 3 pass defense. In Week 16, Romo again had trouble against the Ravens’ Top 3 pass defense. Now he gets the Eagles’ Top 3 pass defense. Bad week.

David Garrard, Jac vs. Baltimore
With the Ravens fighting hard for a playoff spot, I don’t see Garrard doing much of any good this week.

Other unfavorable matchups: Donovan McNabb vs. Dallas, Shaun Hill vs. Washington, JaMarcus Russell vs. Tampa Bay.

Running Backs

Giants RBs, NYG vs. Minnesota
It’s unknown at this time whether Brandon Jacobs will play this week, but it’s likely he’ll sit. Earth and/or Wind and/or Fire will probably struggle against the top run defense this week.

Steve Slaton, Hou vs. Chicago
The Bears are fouth against the run and should limit what the rookie Slaton can do.

Other unfavorable matchups: Jamal Lewis vs. Pittsburgh, Maurice Jones-Drew vs. Baltimore, Cowboys RBs vs. Philadelphia.

Wide Receivers

Braylon Edwards, Cle vs. Pittsburgh
Chances are, if you’re still in your league’s playoffs, Edwards isn’t in your lineup anyway. But this week against Pittsburgh looks awfully bleak.

Desean Jackson, Phi vs. Dallas
Jackson and the other Eagles receivers will struggle against Dallas’ No. 4 pass defense.

Other unfavorable matchups: Jaguars WRs vs. Baltimore, Bernard Berrian vs. NY Giants, Calvin Johnson vs. Green Bay.

Tight Ends

Bo Scaife, Ten vs. Indianapolis
Scaife has been a reliable target for the Titans all season, but with nothing to play for this week and against a tough Colts pass defense, he shouldn’t do much if he plays at all.

Zach Miller, Oak vs. Tampa Bay
Miller has been a pleasant surprise this year as he is currently No. 8 on the list of tight ends with 54 receptions. But the Bucs have a solid pass defense and a lot to play for this week.

Other unfavorable matchups: L.J. Smith vs. Dallas, Vernon Davis vs. Washington, Jeremy Shockey vs. Carolina.

Kickers

Adam Vinatieri, Ind vs. Tennessee
With nothing to play for in this game, it shouldn’t be a very high-scoring game.

Sebastian Janikowski, Oak vs. Tampa Bay
I just don’t see how the Raiders can keep up with the Bucs when Tampa has so much to play for.

Other unfavorable matchups: Nate Kaeding vs. Denver, Jason Elam vs. St. Louis, Kris Brown vs. Chicago.

Defense

Carolina Panthers, Car vs. New Orleans
With neither team having anything to play for, the Saints should put big points on the scoreboard at home.

Denver Broncos, Den vs. San Diego
I really think the Chargers will gain a measure of revenge in this game and they’ll do it in convincing fashion. Don’t have anything to do with Denver here.

Other unfavorable matchups: Seattle Seahawks vs. Arizona, Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Baltimore, Miami Dolphins vs. NY Jets.

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