Week 14: Start 'em
To most of you still reading, this might be the first week of your playoffs. If so, congrats on making it this far. At this point in the season there are very few free agents sitting around waiting to be picked up, so you probably will have to go with what you have on your team. If you have some starters on your team that are dinged and you aren't sure what to do and you have any of the players below, you might want to give them a chance and make sure they are active in your lineup.
Before last week, most people had never heard of Fred Jackson. After last week's performance - 151 total yards to go along with 4 catches vs. the Washington Redskins - most of you now know about the former Division 3 RB who spent all last season on the Bills' practice roster. Jackson got the start because of injuries to starter Marshawn Lynch and his back up Anthony Thomas. While there are reports that Lynch is improving and might be able to play this week, there is still a good chance the Bills will error on the side of caution and hold Lynch out one more week. If Lynch is out and Jackson does get the start, he will make a great flex option going up against the Miami Dolphins, who are giving up a league's worst 150 yards per game on the ground. Monitor the Bills' running game closely and if Lynch is out, Jackson is a great start this weekend.
Well it only took 13 weeks, but Thomas Jones finally got into the end zone scoring his first TD of the season last weekend vs. the 0-12 Miami Dolphins. Jones has been up and down this season having some decent rushing games, but failing to put up big fantasy points because he couldn't get into the end zone. The fact that the Jets have struggled this season, only winning 3 times, means they have had to abandon the run early in games, making it hard for Jones to put solid fantasy numbers. Like last weekend, Jones has another good match up this week when he faces the Cleveland Browns at home (who are giving up an average of 131 yards per game on the ground). After seeing how the ground game helped the offense last week, look for the Jets to pound the ball early with Jones, giving him plenty of carries and plenty of opportunities to get the Jets' offense going early on. Keep him active this week.
It was only two weeks ago that rookie Kolby Smith got his first opportunity after Larry Johnson and Priest Holmes suffered injuries. In that first game he busted out for 150 yards and 2 TDs vs. the Oakland Raiders, while being held to only 83 yards last weekend vs. the Chargers. This week, Smith goes on the road to face a Denver Broncos' defense who have been giving up 149 yards per game on the ground. For Kansas City to have a chance to win this game, they will need to control the clock and the best way for that to happen would be by establishing the run early and staying with it. Kansas City's offense is built around a solid running game, so look for Smith to get plenty of action. Over 100 yards and a TD are definitely not out of the question.
Mike Furrey was one of the many surprises of last season, Many of those who drafted him this year expecting the same thing have been somewhat disappointed, especially since rookie Calvin Johnson and free agent acquisitions have stepped in taken away many of the balls that went to Furrey last year. With starter Roy Williams done for what looks like the rest of the season, Furrey steps back into the starting lineup and should see plenty of action. Furrey is especially good in point per reception leagues, because he very often catches many balls but doesn't break them for big yards; so if you're in a point per reception league, he should definitely be started this week. After Williams went down last week, Furrey caught 7 balls for 57 yards. Activate him and watch him catch many balls.
Alge Crumpler was Michael Vick's favorite target and when Vick was suspended for the season, Crumpler's stock took a huge hit. With the struggles the Falcons have had at the QB position, Crumpler has been inconsistent at best and has not warranted being in the starting lineup very much. That changes this week for 2 reasons. One is that he faces the New Orleans Saints and the second is that the Falcons might start their 3rd different QB this season. The New Orleans Saints' defense has had trouble stopping anyone this season, giving up 250 yards per game through the air, allowing Crumpler plenty of opportunity to get open and make plays. Last week starting QB Joey Harrington was benched late in the game in favor of Chris Redman, who threw for 172 yards in that short time and Crumpler finished the game with 7 catches for 65 yards (both season highs). If you need a spark in your lineup and your TE isn't doing it for you, time to finally give Crumpler a chance.
It's hard to tell why the 49ers' offense has sucked so much this year. Is it Alex Smith? The loss of Norv Turner? Injuries and inconsistencies to the offensive line and Frank Gore? The lack of consistent wide receivers that can be counted on to make catches and come up with the big play when needed? Or is it the injuries and inconsistencies of 2nd year tight end Vernon Davis? Most probably it's a combination of all those things, one leading to another and compounding upon itself. If you have Davis on your fantasy team and you aren't sure what to do with him, then keep him active this week. He is playing at home vs. the worst pass defense in the NFL - the Minnesota Vikings - and if the 49ers have any chance at staying in the game, they will need to use Davis and his big play ability. If you need a TE or are in need of a Flex option, Davis has a great match up, so keep him active this week.To view our weekly rankings for all offensive positions, visit our who to start rankings.