I spent last weekend in Boston Massachusetts and for those of you who have never been it’s a pretty amazing city. I grew up being taught to hate everything Boston related, Celtics, Red Sox, Bruins, Patriots; you get what I’m saying. Going there and interacting with the people I grew up understanding were the enemy gave me the chance to see that rivalries can be a beautiful thing. It allows you a chance to see the pride they have in their own city and how they willingly share that love with those who visit.. Don’t get me wrong, you won’t see me wearing a Gronkowsi jersey any time soon but I appreciate the rivalry more now that I may have before. Moral of the story is if you have a chance to visit your rivals’ parks, stadiums, and cities, DO IT.
• (HOU) QB Case Keenum vs. Oakland Raiders –.In 3 games, Keenum has thrown for 822 yards and 7 TDs with no INTs. That’s really good and he also seems to have a viable connection with WR Andre Johnson. With Arian Foster now on Injured Reserve and Ben Tate not capable of surviving even a half of an NFL season, Keenum should be asked to carry the load which he seems capable of doing. Look for low end QB1 numbers against a Raiders team that can’t put anything together.
• (ATL) QB Matt Ryan vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Ryan and the Falcons as a whole have been a massive disappointment in both fantasy and reality. The loss of Julio Jones and Roddy Whites injury woes haven’t helped and neither has Steven Jackson who has been terrible when healthy. Tampa on the other hand is just as bad, and their defense has been iffy at best. Even without Ryan’s favorite weapons the Falcons rank 6th in the NFL in passing. Expect Ryan to put together a good performance against a team that will crumble here in the last few weeks of the NFL season.
• (ARI) RB Andre Ellington vs. Jacksonville Jaguars – Ellington has been surprisingly effective in Rashard Mendenhall’s absence. Other than his 3 yard performance against the Seahawks, Ellington has put up FLEX or better numbers including a monster 154 yard effort the week after getting shut out by Seattle. Jacksonville’s defense doesn’t scare anyone and Ellington should be looking for another week of FLEX or better results.
• (CHI) WR Alshon Jeffrey vs. Baltimore Ravens –Jeffrey would be an ROY candidate if had earned more playing time at the beginning of the season. At 6’3 216 he is a tough cover and when he’s on the opposite side of Brandon Marshall. It’s even more difficult for the defense to keep the two of them out of the end zone. Though Marshall seems to be the red zone target, Jeffery has been able to collect four 100 yard receiving games in his last 6. He also had 18 targets against the Lions. Cutler won’t be back this week, but Jeffery’s owners should be riding this kid as he doesn’t play a good pass defense until week 15 vs. Cleveland. Look for High WR2 this week and for the rest of the season.
• New York Giants DST vs. Green Bay Packers – The Packers will be without Rodgers, Cobb and Seneca Wallace, which leaves them with Scott Tolzien as the starting QB. Tolzien threw for 280 yards and a TD along with 2 INTs after coming in for Wallace who like Rodgers the week before was hurt on the opening drive for the Packers. That being said, you have to hope the Giants will be able to come out and play aggressively. The Giants rank 11th overall in defense and should be looking to scare Tolzien into bad decisions which should lead to turnovers.
Less Appealing Options
• (KC) Alex Smith vs. Denver Broncos – Smith is matchup QB to begin with. This is not a matchup that I like. Yes the Broncos are only rated 23rd in defense, but they are 4th against the run. That’s what Andy Reid loves to do, run. Jamal Charles should be a stud with the amount of touches and short passes coming his way, but Smith will need to better his 124 yard effort vs. Buffalo in week 9. Look for Denver to send a lot of blitz packages Smith’s way.
• (SF) Colin Kaepernick vs. New Orleans Saints – 16 75 yards passing, 9TDs, 6INTs, 3 rushing TDs. Those are Keep’s stats through the first 10 weeks. That is not going to get it done for most fantasy owners. Kaep has been like a roller coaster at 6 flags for his owners this year. In his last 2 weeks Kaepernick’s stats are as follows: 91 passing yards, 1 INT, 8 sacks 16 rushing yards, 0 TDs. That is simply horrendous. Yes the Saints are not as strong a defense as what they saw last week vs. Carolina but this is more about Colin retrieving some confidence for himself and his offense more than it’s about matchups. Look for Kaep to forgive some passing plays and keep the ball on the ground to try to wear out the Saints D. Don’t expect this to be the week he breaks his recently downward trend.
• (NE) RB Stevan Ridley vs. Carolina Panthers – Okay this one is very simple. Ridley is about to lose his job to Shane Vereen who is finally coming back from the short term IR. Vereen was the “joker” in the Pats offense as he ran for 101 yards on 14 carries and caught 7 passes for 58 yards. He is the Patriots version of New Orleans Saints back Darren Sproles. Vereen was somewhat of a sleeper when the year started and I expect him to be a big piece of the New England offense from here on.
• (NO) WR Marques Colston vs. San Francisco 49’ers – Colston has been an afterthought until last week against Dallas. Let’s remember that Dallas ranks last in the NFL against the pass. The 49’ers rank 8th against the pass and Colston is losing reps to the up and coming receiver Kenny Stills. Jimmy Graham is finally healthy and Darren Sproles is coming back from his concussion. Bench Colston this week. I’m pretty sure last week was a fluke.
• Kansas City Chiefs DST vs. Denver Broncos – This is a match up nightmare for what has been one of the best defenses in the NFL this year. Even IF Peyton Manning’s ankle isn’t fully healthy, he could pick apart virtually any D you could throw at him. Manning is the rare breed of QB that can read everything the defense is doing so that he can change the play at the line and create a match up or wide open receiver. As a defense… what are you going to do? How do you practice for anything and everything? Obviously they will be leaning on the tendencies of the Broncos offense thus far but this is without question the toughest matchup Andy Reid will get his team ready for. He will have to make sure that his team raises its level of play even higher this week. All I can say is good luck. Manning is have a MVP like season and will continue to tear defenses apart, including Kansas City.
Now, let’s talk about the Giants vs. the Packers at 4:25. The offense as a whole has struggled all year long. The only game Eli threw for more than 300 yards was in a loss against the Eagles. By the way the Eagles are the second to worst pass defense in the NFL. The Giants will get Andre Brown back to try to give the running game a much needed boost but, their offensive line has been the real culprit all year long and that hasn’t been fixed. The Packers are loaded with problems themselves. No Aaron Rogers, No Randall Cobb, No Jermichael Finely, The Defense has also had some losses but nothing like the offense. Scott Tolzien was actually very effective in his time against the lowly Philly defense. This will be a tougher test for him. The Giants rank 11th overall in defense and also 11th against the pass and run. Weird Stat right? Expect Jordy Nelson to get a lot of attention and Eddie Lacey should be licking his chops. This is exactly the kind of game the Giants need to win. Facing a better team that is hindered by injury and simply unable to play like themselves. Let’s go Giants!