StrategyDecember 11, 2007

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Tuesday Morning Quarterback – Week 14

By Michael Stephens

One down, two to go. If you had the good fortune of managing a well-drafted and healthy fantasy team all season, then chances are your team enjoyed some time off in week 14. If you were not so fortunate but were able to survive a terrible performance by one of your high-upside stars with great matchups, you are now in the same boat. It’s all about the “W” and if you moved on, the playing field is now leveled. You have two more tests to pass before basking in the glory of ultimate fantasy success. To pass them you must continue to follow the three basic tenants of fantasy playoff lineup adjustments:

• Start your “studs” – They got you to this point, don’t bench them now (Even if T.O. burned your team. You wouldn’t have benched him against the Lions, would you?).
• Play the matchups when necessary – If you are thin at a position and have to gamble, do so in way that maximizes your gains.
• Lastly, Get lucky!

Coverage of all the week 14 games will follow, including risk/reward considerations, injury updates, and potential sleepers. Plug in your go-to guy and make the right read. It’s time to start the Tuesday Morning Quarterback!

Redskins 24, Bears 16
Everyone thought that the emotionally distraught Redskins were going to roll over and die in this game, and that was with Jason Campbell playing quarterback. Instead, Campbell left early in the second quarter with a season-ending knee injury, and backup Todd Collins filled in with 224 yards and two touchdown passes. Clinton Portis struggled mightily in the run game with 36 yards against a soft Bears front seven. He was able to add 86 receiving yards, but I would not expect a repeat of his 6 catch performance against the solid defenses of the Giants and Vikings. He has averaged 2.6 yards per carry in the last four weeks, and these two stout run defenses will do little to help him change that. Chris Cooley caught five balls for 93 yards and is the only Redskin that I would trust in any playoff lineup.

The Bears quarterback carousel will continue this week with Kyle Orton getting the start against the Vikings after Rex Grossman also lost his season to a knee injury (much to the chagrin of his three loyal fans across the country I’m sure). Though Orton sports a 10-5 career record as a starter and will face a Vikings pass defense that is allowing a league-high 274 passing yards per game, do not forget his career 59.7 passer rating and 13 interceptions in his 15 starts. His playing only cements the fact that all Bears pass receivers belong on your bench this week as they cannot be entrusted with your title hopes. All Bears running backs are a must-bench this week against the Vikings run defense. Robbie Gould could have a big game here, but you have to sit all other Bears in week 15.

Jaguars 37, Panthers 6
Jacksonville has emerged as a legitimate team playoff power in the AFC, and they are doing so by following a blueprint that is nothing but old hat for them nowadays. Sound defense and a solid running game have always been a staple of Jaguars football, but when you add the nearly perfect play of quarterback David Garrard into the mix, you have a team that can really make some noise come January. Fred Taylor turned his 22 touches into 166 total yards and a touchdown, and is clearly the Jaguar running back worth playing (as long as he leaves his “fragile” alter ego at home on Sundays). Taylor has eclipsed 100 yards in three straight games and I look for him to get mighty close against a Steelers defense that allowed Thomas Jones to top the century mark. I would not trust Taylor as my big gun this week, but he is certainly worth a start as your second back or flex player. If you can survive this week and he stays healthy, the Jags draw the pathetic Raiders in week 16. Cross your fingers! Garrard was his usual efficient self in this game, but I do not think he can repeat his performance of 230 yards, 2 touchdowns, and no turnovers against the Steelers defense. Any Jaguar other than Taylor is a very risky play next week, even in the deepest of leagues.

Watching the Carolina Panthers try to run offense is kind of like watching your parents kiss. You know it has to happen sometimes, but why should you be subjected to viewing the act? This team has been plagued by erratic play from all quarterbacks not named Delhomme and they can’t find a way to get the ball to their main play maker more than six times a game. Steve Smith is a dynamic talent and you probably spent an inordinately high draft pick on him, but he now deserves a spot on your league’s waiver wire. He has 249 yards and no touchdowns in the last six games he has played. There is not enough web space on the Cafe for me to list the guys that have outproduced Smith over that span, but I can bet that he is just a few catches ahead of Art Monk in the last month and a half. Please, please do not even consider starting any Panthers in your fantasy playoffs!

Cowboys 28, Lions 27
Every Cowboy fantasy superstar got in on the act in this ridiculous comeback. Oh yeah, except for Terrell Owens! The Cowboys game plan of first half futility and late game heroics was focused on Marion Barber and Jason Witten all game. Owens was only even targeted 4 times by quarterback Tony Romo and he caught three measly balls for 21 yards and ZERO touchdowns. If you were able to somehow survive this virtual doughnut by Owens, he should make up for it this week against his former Eagles compatriots. Although Romo was unable to find Owens all game, he did find Jason Witten 15 times for 138 yards and the game winning touchdown en route to 309 passing yards and two scoring tosses. Barber chipped in with 103 total yards and three touchdowns in easily his best game of the season. He is a bit riskier play this week against a good Eagles run defense, but you have to start Barber alongside Romo, Owens, and Witten in week 15.

The Lions could have shocked the world again and kept their playoff chances very much alive with a win in this game, but it was not meant to be. Kevin Jones was able to top 100 total yards and scored twice, but he cannot be trusted in a Lions offense that abandons the run and turns in negative team rushing totals more often than any other team. John Kitna has not topped 300 yards in three weeks and only has three touchdowns in the last month. He is only worthy as a playoff starter in leagues that start multiple quarterbacks, and even then I think you can do better than his matchup with the Chargers this week. Shaun McDonald is not a prototypical outside receiver, but he has been able to produce solid numbers all year. If you are desperate for a number three or four receiver, you could do a lot worse than McDonald going forward.

Packers 38, Raiders 7
Raise your hand if you saw this one coming. The Packers laid a whooping on the Raiders with a balanced offensive attack and superlative defensive and special teams play. The Packers ran the ball 36 times to only 23 passes in this game that was well in hand early on. Ryan Grant was the main benefactor with 29 carries for a career high 156 yards and a touchdown. He has 703 total yards and five touchdowns in his last seven games and is looking better and better every week. He is a must-start against a Rams defense that will struggle with the Packers spread offense. Brett Favre topped 260 passing yards and added late scoring tosses to Greg Jennings and Donald Lee, further cementing the fact that all three are must-starts going forward. With the Packers fighting for home field advantage and the Rams on their number three quarterback, the Green Bay defense looks to be a great play again this week as well.

How long is it going to be before the Raiders start auditioning fans to play a couple of snaps under center this season? Josh McCown started this game and threw an early touchdown to Jerry Porter before leaving with an apparent injury that forced Andrew Walter into service. Walter is like Kyle Orton without the winning record and should be avoided (along with anyone else the Raiders start at quarterback) next week against the Colts. The Raiders are in for a beat down of the ages and I don’t think you can even justify starting Justin Fargas in this one, no matter how reliable he had been in the last month. I would suggest dropping all Raiders other than Kirk Morrison and look for better options for the rest of the year. They will probably be forced to try out JaMarcus Russell again in the weeks to come, and their offense is likely to look brutal as a result.

Chargers 23, Titans 17 (OT)
The Chargers slow start might be just what the doctor ordered for LaDainian Tomlinson owners (as long as they were able to survive the first six weeks of the season). Tomlinson topped 170 total yards and two touchdowns for the second straight week and will look to be in every game until the end as the Chargers fight to keep their playoff spot down the stretch. With the Lions on the docket, I look for LT to at least match the performance of Marion Barber last week with around 155 total yards and multiple touchdowns. Philip Rivers threw two late touchdown passes to Tomlinson and Antonio Gates en route to 228 passing yards. Speaking of Gates, did you see what Jason Witten did to the Lions last week? Simply put if you didn’t, start Gates. Outside of Gates and Tomlinson, I would start Rivers in deeper leagues as he has played much better of late. He has seven touchdown passes in his last four games and should continue to see moderate success against the Lions.

The Titans really let this one get away from them late, blowing a 14 point lead with seven and a half minutes left in the fourth quarter. Their early lead and consistent running game were the main reasons for decreased production from the Titan’s passing game that saw Vince Young throw 21 passes for only 121 yards. Justin Gage was a disappointment as a result, and though he is a sneaky play against a Chiefs team that was lit up early and often by Brandon Marshall, he represents a huge risk in a playoff semi-final game. LenDale White gained 137 yards and scored on 32 touches in a workman like showing. He is a worthy play in deeper leagues because he gets all of the touches at the goal line and is turning his 25 plus carries into 100 yards more often than not. Rob Bironas has been shaky and unspectacular after his 26 point outing in week seven but I am forecasting a solid performance from him this week. Just a hunch…

Giants 16, Eagles 13
The Giants dodged a 57 yard bullet of a kick from David Akers to improve their record to 9-4 as Eli Manning continues to do just enough to help this team win. Plaxico Burress had his best game in two months and Brandon Jacobs returned from injury with a promising showing. Burress caught seven balls for 136 yards and Manning’s lone touchdown pass, while Jacobs saw 25 touches and topped 80 yards. Starting Jacobs here would have been risky (and his two fumbles killed his average yardage totals), but he showed that he is healthy and will be a solid start against the Redskins and Bills in the next two weeks. Jeremy Shockey has disappointed his owners with 12 catches in the last month after a 12-catch game against the Cowboys in week 10. He is barely start worthy alongside Manning, and it would really be a gamble to start any Giant other than Jacobs, Burress, and the team defense going forward.

Brian Westbrook was passed by LaDainian Tomlinson for the number one running back in fantasy after only gaining 154 yards a score on 25 touches Sunday. That point speaks not only to the greatness of Tomlinson, but to the consistently amazing performances of Westbrook this season. The notoriously fragile Eagle has already scored 12 touchdowns this season and has only failed to top 100 total yards in two games (in both of which he was still able to score touchdowns). He will produce no matter who quarterbacks for this team, and is the only Eagle worth a start in the 2007 fantasy playoffs. Keep an eye on Reggie Brown this week because if he can get on the same page as Donovan McNabb, he draws the porous Saints secondary in week 16.

Texans 28, Buccaneers 14
The Texans started their number two quarterback and number four running back against one of the best defenses in the league and scored 28 points? I sure didn’t see this one coming, but Sage Rosenfels impressed me by completing 75 percent of his passes and throwing three touchdowns to three different receivers. Andre Johnson caught an early touchdown and totaled 9 catches for 82 yards in his third great game since returning from injury. He is a solid play against the Broncos next week as I think Rosenfels will find a way to get him the ball. Kevin Walter and Owen Daniels also caught touchdowns in this game, but are risky plays going forward. I would only recommend using them in situations where desperation is your only choice. As for the number four tailback, Darius Walker carried the ball 16 times for 42 yards and now draws a Broncos defense that shut down Kolby Smith to under one yard per carry in a similar circumstance last week. I would not risk starting anyone other than Johnson unless you have to plug in Rosenfels as an emergency starter this week.

Luke McCown threw for 266 yards and led the Bucs on two impressive scoring drives that were capped off by Earnest Graham touchdowns in this game. Unfortunately for the Bucs, their special teams allowed a kickoff return touchdown and their defense was not able to stop the Texans’ passing game in the short fields given to them by Tampa Bay turnovers. Graham was the star of this game for Tampa Bay, topping 100 total yards and both touchdowns. He has six touchdowns in his last seven games and will look to pile up more yards against the Falcons, 49ers, and Panthers to finish up the season. Graham is a good bet to score every week and get you 90-130 total yards – easily worth starting in any league. Joey Galloway continued his resurgent season with six catches for 87 yards and he will look to improve on those numbers against a Falcons secondary that was torched by the Saints on Monday night. Jeff Garcia should return this week, and his efficient play will help the numbers of Graham, Galloway, and the Buccaneers defense in week 15. Start them all with confidence.

Bills 38, Dolphins 17
Anyone who started Trent Edwards in this game is as smart (and crazy) as Brian Billick thinks he is. If you were able to pull the trigger on Edwards, you got a performance topped by only five other quarterbacks in the league. The Bills’ rookie signal caller threw four touchdown passes on only 23 attempts as the defense and running game of Buffalo was just too much for the league whipping boys. Marshawn Lynch (23 carries) and Fred Jackson (15 carries) were both able to top 100 yards on the pathetic Dolphins defense, and now draw a Browns defense that allows plenty of yards on the ground as well. Lynch is a good bet to get the majority of carries and is likely to score in week 15, but if you are in a deep league and would rather chew on your own tongue than start Kolby Smith again, you would be justified in starting Jackson as your flex. Lee Evans caught two passes for 79 yards and a pair of scores. I like him as well in deeper leagues against Cleveland as a defensive struggle is unlikely.

Samkon Gado (yes the same one that seems to weasel his way into significant fantasy playoff value every season) made the most of his 14 carries, gaining 93 yards and scoring twice against the Bills. The Dolphins play the Ravens next week and look to be almost completely shut down, but if they are to score a touchdown it is a good bet Gado will have something to do with it. He is only worth a start in the most desperate of times, but he has more value than the aforementioned Jackson, much less a guy like Kevin Faulk or Kolby Smith. I will not officially recommend starting any Dolphin for the remainder of the year but I will advise you that taking a flier on Gado could save your season if you are at rock bottom for backup running backs and are willing to gamble. Just don’t come to me if it doesn’t work out…

Bengals 19, Rams 10
Those of you who had the stones to start Rudi Johnson after all that he has put you through, were rewarded with his 92 yards and a touchdown on Sunday. I have been preaching the Bengals soft playoff schedule all season long and Rudi is finally looking healthy. The Bengals draw the 49ers, Browns, and Dolphins to close the season and will look to salvage an 8-8 season with a balanced attack against these soft defenses. Johnson has scored in three straight games and will have a legitimate shot at six straight by week 17. He always plays better down the stretch, and if you were able to be patient with him and survive his rough start/injury he will reward you in the playoffs. Carson Palmer laid an egg with his 189 yards and two interceptions, which undoubtedly ruined the seasons of many an owner who were banking on top five production from him. If you were able to survive his three point performance, I think you have to roll with him against the 49ers next week. Chad Johnson and TJ Houshmandzadeh remain must-starts, but I will advise you to temper your expectations. Chris Henry is absolutely not worth starting in week 15 after posting six catches in the last three weeks.

If there is one thing that we know about the Rams, it is that Torry Holt and Steven Jackson are remarkable players who are able to succeed regardless of quarterback play. Brock Berlin did his best Brock Berlin impression by throwing for only 153 yards and turned the ball over twice against one of the worst defenses in the league. Holt grabbed 8 passes for 90 yards and represents this teams’ only true threat to score through the air on a weekly basis. Jackson gained 117 yards on 22 touches and is clearly the centerpiece of this offense when he is healthy. The Rams are most likely going to get blown out by the Packers next week, but Jackson should get enough carries and catch enough dump-offs to be worthy of a start as your number two running back. No one other than these two are worth a consideration going forward.

Vikings 27, 49ers 7
Boy did Adrian Peterson pick a horrible time for his worst outing of the season, or what? Peterson gained THREE yards on 14 carries against an unspectacular 49ers defense, and likely doused the playoff hopes of many of his owners in the process. I look for him to bounce back next week against the Bears however, so if you had a bye or got lucky and won with him in there, look for a big game for Peterson’s Vikings as they face divisional foe Chicago. Chester Taylor picked up the slack for Peterson and collected 124 total yards on just 11 touches, including a long touchdown run. Taylor has proved that he is a worthwhile flex start even with Peterson in the lineup, and I don’t think that will change next week either. While Tavaris Jackson is playing very well and not making many mistakes, he is too inconsistent numbers-wise warrant a start unless you have nowhere else to turn. Sidney Rice (2 catches, 21 yards) reminded us that hot rookie receivers disappear as quickly as they surface and that they should not be trusted in crunch time. Start Peterson, Taylor, and the Vikings defense and leave it at that next week.

Trent Dilfer helped the 49ers out of the game in just 14 seconds by throwing a pick six to Vikings defensive lineman Kevin Williams. Dilfer continued to stink it up before leaving midway through the game with a head injury, giving way to Shaun Hill. Hill completed just under 80 percent of his 28 passes for 180 yards and a touchdown. Before you get too excited, don’t forget about that 274 passing yards per game that the Vikings allow. Hill will likely start against the Bengals in week 15 but he should not do the same for your fantasy team. I think he will do just enough to keep the 49ers in the game and help Frank Gore’s numbers, but that is about it. Gore topped 100 total yards for the third straight game and will look to continue that streak against the Bengals. He is the best bet to score on this team and I can see him getting in the neighborhood of 140 total yards and a touchdown on Saturday. Arnaz Battle has scored in three straight games, but you’d be crazy to expect anything more than 40 yards and a shot at the end zone on a weekly basis.

Seahawks 42, Cardinals 21
Seattle locked up their fourth straight divisional crown and home field advantage in the first round of the playoffs with this drubbing of the Kurt Warner-led Cardinals. Matt Hasselbeck turned in his best outing of the year with 272 yards and four touchdown passes, and he really has this offense clicking. Four different receivers caught touchdowns from Hasselbeck, and his play is making Deion Branch, Bobby Engram, and Nate Burleson worth starting on a weekly basis. Shaun Alexander and Maurice Morris struggled to gain yardage but made just enough plays to keep the chains moving. Both are risky starts next week against a Panthers defense that doesn’t allow many yards or touchdowns to running backs, and with Baltimore looming in week 16 you might have to bench them for the rest of the year. Start Hasselbeck, his three main wide receivers, and this defense with confidence at Carolina on Sunday.

Kurt Warner turned in a decent fantasy performance with 337 yards and three touchdowns, but he also added a career-high five interceptions into the mix (3 of them to Marcus Trufant). With no consistent running game from Edgerrin James and the Cardinals struggling offensive line, Warner will continue to have to force the ball down field for Arizona to have a shot to win games. Larry Fitzgerald was on the receiving end of six passes for 79 yards and added a touchdown catch in garbage time. With Anquan Boldin out, I think Fitzgerald is the only receiver on this team that you can really trust. Jerheme Urban had a big game with 123 yards and a score, but he wouldn’t be the first guy to torch Kelly Jennings and then disappear the next week (see David Patten, Kevin Curtis, and Bernard Berrian as previous examples). Bryant Johnson is probably the better start as your number four wide receiver, but starting him does not come without its risks either. Warner and Fitzgerald are the only sure-fire starts next week against the Saints. Anyone else could make or break you. Do you really want to risk it?

Patriots 34, Steelers 13
Who needs guarantees as motivation when you have Tom Brady and company on your team? The Patriots reasserted that they are in fact, the best team in the league with this beat-down of the Steelers. There is not much to say about this team that I have not already said. Tom Brady is a good bet to throw three or more touchdowns every game and Wes Welker and Randy Moss are likely to catch most of them. All three of these guys remain absolute locks for your starting lineup, as they have been all season long. Avoid all Patriots running backs like Tom Brady would avoid Tara Reid, and only start Jabar Gaffney and Ben Watson if you are desperate and you should be good to go. Stephen Gostkowski is always good for between 8 and 12 points too. His consistency should not be overlooked as he is about as low risk as a kicker can be.

Willie Parker further proved the facts that you can run on this team, and that it doesn’t really matter. Parker rushed for 124 yards and appears to have curbed his fumbling problem going forward. Like I have said before, I don’t see him scoring more than once for the rest of the year but the yards and carries will be there for him. Ben Roethlisberger looked confused for most of the game as he couldn’t get the Steelers passing game on track. He threw one touchdown pass to Najeh Davenport but was unable to find his favorite targets against an inspired Patriots secondary. Hines Ward is a must-start next week as the Jaguars give up a lot of big plays in the passing game, but I would wait another week before plugging in Santonio Holmes. Heath Miller might again catch a touchdown pass, but he will sadly have to do it from your bench. He is too much of a gamble if you have another serviceable option at tight end.

Browns 24, Jets 18
While only Jamal Lewis made good on my guarantee for fantasy playoff super stardom, all of the Browns play makers other than Kellen Winslow delivered useful fantasy production. First of all, I cannot pat myself on the back enough times for projecting Lewis’ increased production in the second half of this season. He was able to gain 137 total yards and scored twice against the Jets, and now he is even catching passes out of the backfield! Braylon Edwards caught 3 passes for 63 yards and yet another touchdown from Derrick Anderson. Anderson threw for 185 yards and 2 touchdowns, which might not have pushed your team over the top, but it certainly didn’t hurt you either. Winslow was the second leading receiver for the Browns with 4 catches, but he only tallied 34 yards in the game. I look for him to bounce back with a big game next week and he should be started alongside Anderson, Lewis, and Edwards for the rest of the season. In the Browns offense you must trust!

Thomas Jones rushed for over 100 yards for the fourth time this year and is now rewarded with a decent match up against a Patriots team that has allowed back to back 100 yard rushers. Jones is worthy of a start as your number three running back if you have nowhere else to turn as I would expect him to improve upon his 42 yards on 11 carries in the “Spy-gate” game against the New England earlier this year. Other than Jones’ good game, the only other noteworthy Jet was Jerricho Cotchery. In a surprise return from an injury that many feared would end his season, Cotchery caught six passes for 119 yards. Many have forgotten about Cotchery this season, but you shouldn’t. He is a solid option in PPR leagues and will catch a lot of passes for solid yardage totals as the Jets continue to struggle to stay in games. His return can only help the production of Laveranues Coles as well. Consider both as solid number three wide receivers going forward as they gain confidence in Kellen Clemens.

Broncos 41, Chiefs 7
All of the Broncos’ big guns played well against a Chiefs team that was literally stuck in reverse for most of the game. Jay Cutler threw a career high 4 touchdown passes to go along with his 244 yards and he was able to find Brandon Marshall early and often. Marshall caught 10 passes for 115 yards and two touchdowns in this game and I consider him a must-start against the sloppy secondary of the Houston Texans next week. Though Travis Henry scored the lone touchdown on the ground for the Broncos, it was Selvin Young who stole the spotlight with his 17 carries for 156 yards. Every time he touched the ball it looked like he was going to break a big run, and I think Young further cemented himself as the deserving starter for this team. Both Henry and Young are worth starts as your flex players next week alongside the obvious must-starts of Cutler and Marshall.

How many of you wish that the Chiefs would start selling Kolby Smith voodoo dolls? I know he was a virtual unknown going into the game, but he had posted two solid outings against the Raiders and Chargers, and then he drew the poor run defense of the Broncos. The history was there; the matchup was perfect; the running back and his offensive line simply did not show up. After his 12 yards on 13 carries, there is no way that I can recommend starting Smith for the rest of the playoffs. Hopefully Larry Johnson is able to come back healthy for the Chief’s week 16 tilt with the Lions, because other than that, there isn’t a back on this team worth starting in the next three weeks. Brodie Croyle was announced as the starter earlier in the week, which meant that Tony Gonzalez was going to disappear and Dwayne Bowe was to have a good game. Apparently Croyle decided to play opposites with fantasy owners and virtually ignore his previously favorite target (Bowe) in order to get ten passes to Gonzalez for 76 yards and a touchdown. Bowe is simply too risky to start going forward (though I would definitely hold onto him in keeper leagues), and Gonzalez continues to be the only weekly play for this team.

Colts 44, Ravens 20
Indianapolis needed only 334 yards of offense to hang 44 points on a Ravens team that looked flat and frankly terrible after their choke against the Patriots last week. Peyton Manning threw four touchdown passes in only 17 attempts as he involved most of the fantasy stars of the Colts in this game. Rookie wide receiver Anthony Gonzalez had the game of his life, catching six passes for 134 yards and two touchdowns. Though I do not think he will repeat this performance against a solid Oakland secondary next week, he is still a good bet for 60-90 yards and a touchdown in Marvin Harrison’s continued absence. The Colts offense looks more comfortable as a unit and they got a big day from Joseph Addai with 81 total yards and three touchdowns in just under three quarters of work. Reggie Wayne caught Manning’s other touchdown pass and is an obvious every week start alongside Addai, Manning, and Gonzalez. Dallas Clark has to be in your lineup, but the emergence of Gonzalez as a reliable option on the outside will limit his touches somewhat going forward.

This team is in absolute disarray. After a 13-3 season and an impressive playoff showing in 2006, the Ravens appear to be lost at sea without any wind in their sails. Kyle Boller did the best that he could but the Colts defense is just too good. He will have better games than 132 yards, one touchdown, and four turnovers, but he will not be fantasy relevant at any time this season. Against the Dolphins this week, he should be able to get Derrick Mason more heavily involved. Look for Mason to catch seven or eight passes for 90 yards and a touchdown next week in Miami. Willis McGahee was shut down to the tune of 52 total yards and he saw his consecutive games with a touchdown streak end at seven when Troy Smith scampered in for a score in garbage time. Look for McGahee to bounce back alongside Mason against the Dolphins next week. The Ravens’ D/ST is certainly worth a start against a Miami team that turned the ball over five times and allowed five sacks and a touchdown against Buffalo last week.

Saints 34, Falcons 14
Drew Brees rolled up 328 passing yards and three touchdowns against a hapless Falcons team with very little to cheer about. Brees found Marques Colston (92 yards, 2 touchdowns) and David Patten (122 yards, one touchdown) nine times each in this game as the Saints stayed alive in the NFC playoff hunt. Colston is the only New Orleans receiver worth starting every week, but Patten would not be a bad start with the Cardinals coming to town next week. Aaron Stecker was forced into the starting role at running back and he turned his 20 carries into 100 yards on the ground. Don’t look for him to produce much against an Arizona team that has been tough against the run, but he will get 20 plus carries and is a starting running back for a good offensive team. You could do a lot worse if you are in need of a spot starter at your flex position.

Not much has changed in the Falcons’ story this season. Lets look over the facts: Michael Vick has doomed this franchise to a future of struggles and quarterback changes. Roddy White is a legitimate down-field threat and a blossoming third-year talent at wide receiver. Warrick Dunn is getting older and slower and lacks the punch necessary to start at running back in the NFL. Jerrious Norwood is an explosive back that deserves more touches in this offense. And Bobby Petrino needs a mulligan on his career path. Chris Redman posted good numbers with 298 passing yards and two touchdowns, and will look to do just enough to make both White and Michael Jenkins fantasy relevant. White caught three balls on seven targets (a week after catching ten passes on twenty targets) but still managed 75 receiving yards and a touchdown for the third straight week. Jenkins on the other hand, turned 14 looks into 9 catches for 83 yards and a touchdown. Both make for interesting starts against Tampa Bay next week, as the Falcons will likely be trailing and throwing early in this game. I’d give the nod to White as my number two receiver because of his superior skill set and defense-stretching speed, but Jenkins is worthy as a number three receiver or flex play if you need him.

That wraps up my coverage of the action from Week 14. It’s time to ice down that throwing arm and hit the research until Thursday. Hopefully you were able to advance in the playoffs and have soft matchups this week. I wish you all luck and hope that you have a shot at the title come next Tuesday morning! Feel free to PM me with any comments, questions, or suggestions!

Michael Stephens is an avid fantasy sports enthusiast who writes for the Cafe. He hails from the Pacific Northwest and is a die-hard Seahawk fan to the core! You can find Michael in the Cafe's forums where he actively posts under the name of WaCougMBS.
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