You may have already started your playoffs or this weekend’s game might be the first round for your league. Either way, this is the semi-finals. At this point in the season, you are either very sad or very nervous. You are either sad because you have to wait until next year for your next fantasy matchup or nervous because you understand the importance of winning this weekend. For those of you still in the game, congratulations and good luck this weekend. Hopefully, we can provide some helpful information on your top players. It might also be worth claiming a bwin bonus before the next round of games, and get yourself a bet on!
5. Philip Rivers (San Diego Chargers)
Philip Rivers was on fire at the beginning of the season. Then his stock went flat. Now he is back up. Last weekend he threw for 249 yards and three touchdowns. He currently sits at 3882 passing yards on the season. This weekend he should easily be able to break the 4000 yard plane. He is going up against the Denver Broncos in what is sure to be a shoot out. The Broncos field the 28th ranked passing defense and they are ranked 7th against the run. The Broncos should be able to stop the Chargers’ running game, and when they do, Rivers is going to be forced to put some air under the ball. Look for him to put up a lot of passing yards this weekend and a couple of scores.
4. Matthew Stafford (Detroit Lions)
Matthew Stafford has been a top three quarterback ever since Aaron Rodgers went down. This week he is going to drop a space for a couple of reasons. His week fourteen performance was very uncharacteristic; only throwing for 148 yards, no touchdowns, and causing two turnovers. This is one of those performances that will kill a fantasy owner. However, this was mostly due to the horrible weather conditions in Philadelphia. Whenever a stadium turns to the North Pole due to heavy snow, it can be expected the quarterback is going to have to start handing the ball off more. So there is not much need for concern over his statistics from last weekend because a below average performance was to be expected. The major reason Stafford’s position was dropped is because of the way Cam Newton has been playing recently. Stafford should be able to have a better performance this weekend against the Baltimore Ravens. The Ravens have a much better pass defense than the Eagles, but the Lions are playing at home in a dome. If Stafford has a repeat of last week, there will be absolutely no excuse for it.
3. Cam Newton (Carolina Panthers)
Cam Newton has been one of the best quarterbacks in fantasy football over the past three weeks. His week fourteen performance was not as impressive as the two previous outings, but it was still enough to put up a decent amount of fantasy points. Newton is leading the league in rushing yards and touchdowns by a quarterback. Russell Wilson trails him in rushing by less than 50 yards, but Newton has fumbled far less times. In the first two years of his career, Newton was knocked by critics as a player who could put up some crazy stats, but could not lead a team. This year is doing just enough to win the game. He is playing smarter football and it is showing in the number of turnovers he has had over the last few weeks. The Panthers are going up against the Jets this weekend. The Jets have a strong run defense, but have been unable to stop the pass. Newton will put up a good number of fantasy points through the air, and there is no reason to think he will not be able to add a nice little extra two or three on the ground.
2. Drew Brees (New Orleans Saints)
After two relatively poor weeks for the Saints’ Drew Brees, he definitely bounced back in week fourteen. Brees threw for 313 yards and four touchdowns. He is one of two quarterbacks to have already passed the 4000 yard mark and the 30 plus touchdown mark. There is no reason to think he will not have a good game this week either. Sure, he is not playing in the comforts of the Superdome, but he is taking on the St. Louis Rams’ defense. The Rams do not have enough weapons on defense to cover all of Brees’ options. One of the Saints’ receivers is going to have a big game and that just means Brees will too.
1. Peyton Manning (Denver Broncos)
So we all know Peyton Manning is the best. We really do not have to even go into his insane stat line. Instead, we should talk about whether or not John Fox is going to rest him before the playoffs. The major concern of fantasy owners is that he is not going to play in the two most important weeks of the season. As of right now, Fox has not said whether or not he will bench Manning. If Peyton has anything to say about it he is going to play and if he is on the field he better be in your starting lineup. It looks good for fantasy owners this week as Manning and the Broncos are going to face the San Diego Chargers. The matchup is definitely favorable and looks to be a high scoring game. Manning should play this weekend. The Broncos have not clinched home field advantage throughout the playoffs. Do not expect Fox to sit Manning until this has happened. The only team that has a shot of taking home field advantage away from the Broncos is the New England Patriots. The Broncos lost to New England on the road earlier this season. If there is one thing Manning does not want, it is to have to go up against Brady on his home turf for a chance to go to the Superbowl once again.
5. Marshawn Lynch (Seattle Seahawks)
After a bust performance in week thirteen, Marshawn Lynch put up a good stat line in the fourteen week of the NFL season. He ran for 72 yards and a touchdown; stats any fantasy owner would be happy with. He also did this against the strong 49ers’ defense. He has yet to go over 1000 rushing yards this season, but he should be able to surpass that mark this weekend against the New York Giants. The Giants field the 11th ranked run defense, but fantasy owners can expect a similar stat line this weekend to the one they got in week fourteen.
4. Adrian Peterson (Minnesota Vikings)
Normally, we would not put Adrian Peterson on the list due to his injury. However, nobody knows whether or not he will be playing against the Eagles. This uncertainty is driving fantasy owners crazy. Coach Leslie Frazer believes Peterson will suit up for practice on Friday and should be able to play in Sunday’s game. The chance that Peterson is going to play keeps him on the list because when he is on the field, he is one of the best running backs in the game. He does have to drop a bit though because of the injury and the uncertainty. If he plays, he should be considered a top three running back. It is just the headache of the whole situation that is bringing his value down. If Peterson will not play, do not attempt to start his backup. There are more proven options out there on the waiver wire.
3. LeSean McCoy (Philadelphia Eagles)
LeSean McCoy was the top running back of week fourteen. He ran for 217 yards and two touchdowns. The heavy snow forced Nick Foles to hand the ball off more than the norm in the Chip Kelly scheme. This is promising for the remainder of the year. When the Eagles play at home they will want to run the ball more because the weather in Philly does not look to be letting up any time soon. Unfortunately, the Eagles will be on the road this weekend. There are playing in Minnesota in a dome. There will be no weather concerns that will allow McCoy to receiver a higher than average number of carries. The good news is the Vikings have a terrible defense. So even though McCoy might not go off for another 200 yards, he still should put up a high number of fantasy points.
2. Matt Forte (Chicago Bears)
Matt Forte is having one of the best seasons of his entire career, but he is not getting the respect he deserves. Whenever people talk about the best running backs, they talk about Peterson, Lynch, or Charles. Forte needs to be mentioned in the conversation. This season he has already nine total touchdowns and over 1500 yards from scrimmage. These numbers will just continue to improve. Last week, the Bears were led by a great day from backup quarterback Josh McCown. It appears Jay Cutler will be back in the lineup this weekend. If this is the case, expect a big day from Forte. The Bears will not want to push Cutler too hard in his first week back and instead, they will give Forte the bulk of the offensive load. Cutler will also need a minute to readjust to the speed of the game, which means he will rely on Forte to catch some passes out of the backfield. If Cutler is not in the lineup, a strong performance from Forte would be in jeopardy. The Browns are one of the best overall defenses in the league. Without an extra amount of touches, it is hard to see the Bears’ running back repeating his 175 yard performance from last week.
1. Jamaal Charles (Kansas City Chiefs)
Jamaal Charles is making a very strong case for being the most valuable player of the year in fantasy football. He has rushed for 1162 yards, 10 touchdowns, and added 460 yards and three touchdowns catching the ball out of the backfield. Last week, the Chiefs’ offensive centerpiece did not disappoint fantasy owners. He had 159 total yards and two touchdowns, making him the second most valuable running back of the week next to LeSean McCoy. This weekend the Chiefs are playing in Oakland. The Raiders have a poor pass protection and an above average run defense. Jamaal Charles will once again put up a big stat line because the Chiefs will be forced to rely on him in both the run and the passing game.
5. Antonio Brown (Pittsburgh Steelers)
Antonio Brown is a pass catching machine. He led the league in receptions for most of the season and now only trials Andre Johnson. He has already amassed 1240 receiving yards and has scored seven times. He has been finding the endzone much more in the past couple of weeks than he was at the beginning of the season. Last weekend he caught five passes for 137 yards and a touchdown. It is becoming very clear he is the only receiver who has earned Roethlisberger’s trust. Big Ben will try to get Brown the ball a lot this weekend in a tough matchup against the Bengals. Brown should not be expected to reproduce his stat line from last weekend, but he definitely should not be riding the bench either.
4. Brandon Marshall (Chicago Bears)
Once again, it can be argued either Brandon Marshall or Alshon Jeffery is the number one wide receiver in Chicago. Jeffery is more than deserving of a top five spot, but in the end we have to give it to Marshall. Brandon Marshall has been much more consistent than Jeffery. When starting Marshall, a fantasy owner knows what to expect, whereas with Jeffery it is more of a gamble. One of the two will have a huge game this weekend. The Browns are one of the best defenses in the game and have a terrific secondary. Due to the recent performances of Alshon Jeffery, it would not be surprising to see him attract the double coverage as opposed to Marshall. Marshall will get a lot more looks from the quarterback, especially if Jay Cutler is under center this weekend.
3. Demaryius Thomas (Denver Broncos)
Demaryius Thomas is a strong performer every week. He is one of those players that fantasy owners can count on to produce a good stat line and sometimes he may end up as one of the best wide outs of the entire week. The Broncos have so many weapons that it is difficult to say who is going to get the most fantasy point for a particular week, but it is always a good bet that Thomas is going to produce a stat line worthy of a top three fantasy wide receiver. He did just what fantasy owners expect from him last week; 88 receiving yards and a touchdown. Eric Decker has been the major target for Peyton the past couple weeks, but this could change at any minute. This week, the Broncos will be without Wes Welker. Thomas and Decker will have to pick up the slack. Demaryius Thomas is going to do wonders with a few extra looks from Manning.
2. Josh Gordon (Cleveland Browns)
Josh Gordon has been the best player in fantasy football over the past three weeks. He went over 150 yards in each game, and in two of them went over 200 receiving yards. He has also scored at least one touchdown in each matchup. He now leads the league with 1400 receiving yards. This weekend, the Browns are going up against the Chicago Bears who field a top ten passing defense. There is no reason to think Gordon will not have a good game. One of the major rules in fantasy football is always run with the hot hand. At this point in time, Josh Gordon’s hands are one fire.
1. Calvin Johnson (Detroit Lions)
Early this year, we stated Calvin Johnson was going to be the number one wide receiver every week for the rest of the season without question. Well, his top position can be disputed right now. Josh Gordon has been a monster, but at least for now Calvin is still the man. Johnson has caught 75 passes for 1348 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns. Last week, he only caught three passes for 49 yards, but that was because the heavy Philadelphia snow forced the Lions to run the ball more. This weekend will be different. He will go back to being the Calvin Johnson we are used to seeing. The Ravens have a good defense, but good is not enough when it comes to stopping Johnson. Expect big things. By the way, there definitely will not be any snow to slow down the Lions passing attack this weekend.