Williams remains starter for CAR
Welcome to let's-not-get-cute territory, otherwise known as the fantasy playoffs. Many leagues of at least 10 teams will jumpstart the playoffs this weekend, and perhaps the best advice to be offered to anyone playing a do-or-die matchup is simply to keep things simple. Although the Texans are second against the run and have allowed the fewest rushing scores this year, that doesn't mean you bench Stevan Ridley in favor of Vick Ballard, who happens to draw a weak Tennessee defense that he's already scored on once. That goes double for a player like Bryce Brown who has to travel to the top-ranked Bucs run defense. He's only been the starter in Philly for two weeks, but it's safe to say he's one of the best options at the position this week. Even if LeSean McCoy comes back from his concussion, Brown has to be in lineups. So clearly, the point is to start your best players.
If you have lineup problems, though, due to late-season injury, or you're in such a large league that one or two studs carried you to the playoffs and you're left piecing together the other slots, then here are some of your better options. But it should go without saying that you don't bench Frank Gore versus a tough Miami run D for DeAngelo Williams against a weak one. Of course, there are some close calls, like the surprisingly consistent Danario Alexander against the stingy Steelers or Anquan Boldin facing the sloppy Redskins pass defense. That is why it's important, as always, to note matchups, recent trends and overall production and pedigree of the players you're considering. However, in the case of a receiver question like this, consider the quarterback as strongly as the wideout. Who else wouldn't be surprised if Philip Rivers is awful versus the Steelers? Even without veteran Ike Taylor (leg) at corner, Pittsburgh may beat the tar out of the Chargers offense.
1. DeAngelo Williams vs. Atlanta - With Jonathan Stewart sporting two sprained ankles, expect Williams to remain the primary option out of the backfield for at least one more game. Although Atlanta has improved some versus the run the last couple weeks, it still allows 4.8 yards per carry. D-Will posted one of his best games on them in a narrow Week 4 loss with 49 yards and a score, and coming off a 5.6-yards-per-carry performance, it seems he still has enough left in the tank to be a useful flex until Stewart returns.
2. Mike Williams vs. Philadelphia - Philly has given up nine passing scores in the last three weeks and has forced just 17 incompletions over that stretch. That means Williams, who saw a season-high 12 targets last week, may be in line for his best game of the season.
3. Anquan Boldin at Washington - The Redskins are one of the top teams versus the run, which will likely translate to the Ravens consistently looking to take advantage of Washington's dreadful pass defense. Boldin has seen a boatload of targets recently with 32 in three games, and that trend figures to continue, as Joe Flacco will want to find his burly possession target to keep the chains moving and keep Robert Griffin III off the field.
4. Justin Blackmon vs. New York Jets - Blackmon vanished last week as he struggled to hang on to passes in a heavy rain that fell in Buffalo. He should bounce back, however, against a Jets team that Chad Henne is familiar with from his days in Miami. If Cecil Shorts is held out with a concussion he suffered last week, that could mean a ton of targets for the rookie. If the weather is righteous in Jacksonville, Blackmon may bounce back in a big way.
5. Alex Green vs. Detroit - Only so many running backs receive 20-plus touches in a week, and with the news that James Starks may need to go on IR with a knee injury, the door has reopened for Green to be one of those backs. For a three-week stretch before Starks was healthy enough to make it a timeshare, Green saw at least 20 carries and registered at least 60 total yards in each. With the Packers line suffering so much, expect Green to take plenty of handoffs to help protect Aaron Rodgers from getting hit. His efficiency improving over his last three contests (33 carries for 141 yards), a career day could be just around the corner for Green.
6. Jeremy Maclin at Tampa Bay - Maclin is still the top receiving option for the Eagles, and it's only a matter of time before rookie Nick Foles and he establish a better chemistry. With a matchup on tap versus the league's 32nd-ranked pass defense in a game that figures to see Philly throwing a lot from behind, there may be no better time for the two to get on the same page.
WEEK 14 FLEX-PLAY RANKINGS
*Check injury status.
1. Adrian Peterson MIN vs. Chi
2. Calvin Johnson DET at GB
3. A.J. Green CIN vs. Dal
4. Reggie Wayne IND vs. Ten
5. Dez Bryant DAL at Cin
6. Demaryius Thomas DEN at Oak
7. Doug Martin TB vs. Phi
8. Marshawn Lynch SEA vs. Ari
9. Trent Richardson CLE vs. KC
10. Arian Foster HOU at NE
11. *DeMarco Murray DAL at Cin - Foot felt fine after Sunday's return - had 23 carries, too.
12. Wes Welker NE vs. Hou
13. Victor Cruz NYG vs. NO
14. Brandon Marshall CHI at Min
15. Roddy White ATL at Car
16. Marques Colston NO at NYG
17. Jimmy Graham NO at NYG - Only six targets on Thursday night.
18. Vincent Jackson TB vs. Phi
19. Knowshon Moreno DEN at Oak - Still getting the bulk of the carries and snaps, though Hillman was less of a ghost against the Bucs.
20. Chris Johnson TEN at Ind
21. *Bryce Brown PHI at TB - Will retain a role in the offense even when McCoy returns. Meanwhile, McCoy is in Stage 3 (of 5) of the NFL's concussion protocol.
22. Ahmad Bradshaw NYG vs. NO
23. *C.J. Spiller BUF vs. StL - 'Weather' and 'flow of the game' changed Chan Gailey's usage plans for Spiller. Sure they did.
24. Ray Rice BAL at Was - Just 12 carries for Rice last week, compared to eight for Pierce.
25. Alfred Morris WAS vs. Bal
26. Jason Witten DAL at Cin
27. Brandon Myers OAK vs. Den
28. Andre Johnson HOU at NE
29. *Pierre Garcon WAS vs. Bal - (Foot) Superb game Monday night.
30. Greg Jennings GB vs. Det
31. Hakeem Nicks NYG vs. NO
32. Julio Jones ATL at Car
33. Steve Smith CAR vs. Atl
34. Steven Jackson STL at Buf
35. *Matt Forte CHI at Min - Made it through his ankle injury unscathed.
36. Jamaal Charles KC at Cle - Charles ran wild again, but once again Peyton Hillis vultured the goal line carries.
37. Mikel Leshoure DET at GB
38. *Jonathan Dwyer PIT vs. SD - Getting another start - no surprise here.
39. Tony Gonzalez ATL at Car
40. Brandon Pettigrew DET at GB
41. Randall Cobb GB vs. Det
42. Danario Alexander SD at Pit
43. Michael Crabtree SF vs. Mia
44. Golden Tate SEA vs. Ari
45. Torrey Smith BAL at Was
46. Frank Gore SF vs. Mia
47. *Darren McFadden OAK vs. Den - (Ankle) Expected to return Thursday after being a near-miss last week.
48. Reggie Bush MIA at SF
49. Darren Sproles NO at NYG
50. Lance Moore NO at NYG
51. T.Y. Hilton IND vs. Ten
52. James Jones GB vs. Det
53. Jeremy Maclin PHI at TB
54. Mike Williams TB vs. Phi
55. BenJarvus Green-Ellis CIN vs. Dal
56. Stevan Ridley NE vs. Hou
57. Michael Turner ATL at Car
58. Vick Ballard IND vs. Ten
59. Ryan Mathews SD at Pit
60. DeAngelo Williams CAR vs. Atl
61. James Starks GB vs. Det - Had the Packers' fourth rushing touchdown of the season against the Vikes.
62. Fred Jackson BUF vs. StL
63. Aaron Hernandez NE vs. Hou
64. Jermaine Gresham CIN vs. Dal
65. Kyle Rudolph MIN vs. Chi
66. *Denarius Moore OAK vs. Den - Benched for poor play last week, though he's expected back in the lineup this week.
67. *Steve Johnson BUF vs. StL - Injured his hamstring in the win over the Jaguars - expected to play, but watch the Friday practice report.
68. Malcom Floyd SD at Pit
69. Justin Blackmon JAC vs. NYJ
70. *Miles Austin DAL at Cin - (Hip) Made it through without any setbacks, though still a little sore.
71. Eric Decker DEN at Oak
72. *Sidney Rice SEA vs. Ari - Will go through the concussion protocol this week, though Rice has said that he's fine.
73. Anquan Boldin BAL at Was
74. Andrew Hawkins CIN vs. Dal
75. *Brandon Lloyd NE vs. Hou - Might get more work with Edelman out, though that wasn't the case last week.
76. Nate Washington TEN at Ind
77. Riley Cooper PHI at TB
78. Emmanuel Sanders PIT vs. SD
79. Davone Bess MIA at SF
80. Josh Gordon CLE vs. KC
81. Shonn Greene NYJ at Jac
82. *Montell Owens JAC vs. NYJ - The latest to start at RB for the Jaguars by default, with Jennings suffering a concussion and MJD still 'very questionable.'
83. Beanie Wells ARZ at Sea - Just 22 yards on 15 carries. Every move Whisenhunt makes turns to lead.
84. Jacquizz Rodgers ATL at Car
85. Daniel Thomas MIA at SF - Just five carries against the Pats.
86. Bilal Powell NYJ at Jac
87. Shane Vereen NE vs. Hou
88. Owen Daniels HOU at NE
89. Heath Miller PIT vs. SD
90. Greg Olsen CAR vs. Atl
91. Dwayne Bowe KC at Cle
92. *Mike Wallace PIT vs. SD - Dealing with a sore knee, could be limited in practice, but should play this week. Saw fewer snaps than Sanders last week.
93. Kenny Britt TEN at Ind
94. Larry Fitzgerald ARZ at Sea
95. Santana Moss WAS vs. Bal
96. *Brandon LaFell CAR vs. Atl - Injured his foot in the loss against the Chiefs, also dropped a deep ball early in the game.
97. Donnie Avery IND vs. Ten
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