Fantasy Football

Bear trap set for Leshoure in Week 17

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John Halpin

John Halpin has been a fantasy contributor for FOXSports.com since 2007. He has written and co-hosted webcasts about fantasy football for FOXNews.com, and managed websites for the NHL, the U.S. Olympic Committee and USA Network. Listen to his "Fantasy 15 Podcast" on FOXSportsRadio.com and follow him on Twitter.

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It’s championship week if you’re still playing, and our Position vs. Fantasy Defensive Points Allowed tool can help one more time with tough matchup calls.

As always, please remember that the players listed are mostly meant to be borderline guys, who need reasons for you to play or bench them. You won’t see recommendations to start Adrian Peterson, Calvin Johnson and Drew Brees, because you should always start Adrian Peterson, Calvin Johnson and Drew Brees.

SAY ALOHA

Peyton Manning will make an appearance in Hawaii. Who will join him? See the full rosters

Notes:

1. The fantasy points per game (FPPG) referenced below are from FOXSports.com standard leagues.

2. At tight end, the difference between the best and worst defenses is just 4.6 FPPG. As usual, the points-based recommendations for that position likely aren’t as helpful as they are for QB, RB and WR.

3. Wherever it says how a defense is ranked, it applies to the position being discussed.

Quarterbacks

Stay away: Sam Bradford, Rams (at Seahawks)

Bradford has thrown for 12 touchdowns over his last seven games, and has averaged 236 passing yards over that time. Unfortunately, he’s got a road matchup with the Seahawks’ league-best fantasy defense (12.7 FPPG to opposing QBs) on tap. Your best bet with Bradford is to hope that he throws a lot in a blowout loss, and that’s not a good gamble to take.

Also:

Joe Flacco faces the fifth-ranked Bengals’ fantasy defense (14.9 FPPG to opposing QBs), and we don’t know if he’ll get some rest with his team having clinched a division title. Avoid Flacco if you can.

Are you still starting Ryan Fitzpatrick? You probably shouldn’t against the Jets’ eighth-ranked fantasy defense (15.5 FPPG). This unit has done OK without Darrelle Revis, huh?

Play, play, play: Eli Manning, Giants (vs. Eagles)

Is it time for Eli to step up? Of course, and the bet here is that he’ll do so against the Eagles’ 29th-ranked fantasy defense (22.1 FPPG allowed to opposing QBs). Andy Reid’s troops have improved in this department over the past few weeks (455 passing yards allowed in their last three games), but Eli and the Giants are desperate. Maybe that’s the Giant fan in me talking.

Also:

Chad Henne and the Jaguars visit the Titans’ 25th ranked fantasy defense (21.1 FPPG allowed) in their season finale. Henne figures to once again be without Maurice Jones-Drew, and if he comes close to his average of 42.5 pass attempts in his last four games, he should be able to post strong numbers.

Remember when Philip Rivers was a must-start quarterback? He’s far from that now, but has a good matchup coming with the 26th-ranked Raiders (21.4 FPPG to opposing QBs).

Michael Vick is back! WOOOOOOOO! OK, he’s not the fantasy stud he used to be, but he’s got a friendly matchup with the 22nd-ranked Giants (20.6 FPPG to opposing QBs) waiting for him. Have you watched the Giants’ pass defense lately? It’s so awful that even Vick should be able to pass against them, and we know he can produce fantasy value with his legs, too.

Running Backs

Stay away: Mikel Leshoure, Lions (vs. Bears)

Leshoure has been fine from a workload standpoint, averaging 14 carries per game and never dropping into single digits. His nine touchdown runs are pretty solid, too. On the downside, he’s run for more than 70 yards only twice, and has a home matchup with the second-ranked Bears (13.2 FPPG to opposing RBs). If you’re on the fence about Leshoure, stay on the “sit” side of it if you have options.

Also:

The Packers figure to return to a three-man backfield committee now that Alex Green has recovered from his concussion issues. In timeshares spread this thin, you can’t really trust any one guy against a defense as solid as Minnesota’s (ranked eighth, 16 FPPG to opposing RBs).

Play, play, play: Shonn Greene, Jets (at Bills)

Do you still need to be told to play the underrated Greene, who’s a top-15 back in many formats? Greene isn’t spectacular, but he should have a strong day against the Bills’ bottom-of-the-barrel run defense (23.4 FPPG to opposing RBs).

Also:

Jonathan Stewart looks iffy one more time due to an ankle injury. DeAngelo Williams had just 19 yards on 10 carries last week, but had a 76-yard TD run taken away because of a penalty. You should be ready to roll with Williams against the Saints, who rank 29th with 21.9 FPPG allowed to opposing backs.

Jackie Battle carried 19 times for 49 yards last week. Not so great, right? In Week 17, he should have an easier time against the soft Raiders, who rank 28th with 21.6 FPPG allowed to opposing backs, and have permitted an eye-popping 18 TDs on the ground. Sometimes, matchups can mean almost as much as talent.

Wide Receivers

Stay away: Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals (at 49ers)

Brian Hoyer is the latest participant in the Cardinals’ quarterback derby, and shouldn’t be expected to help Fitzgerald any more than his compatriots. The fourth-ranked 49ers’ fantasy defense (17.7 FPPG allowed to opposing WRs) will be trying to clinch a division title, so Fitz owners should expect tight coverage in addition to another day of balls sailing over his head or bouncing five yards in front of his feet.

Also:

Remember two weeks ago, when we all thought Josh Gordon was a real fantasy find? Since then, he’s caught four passes for 34 yards in two games. This week, Gordon will face the Steelers’ fifth-ranked fantasy defense (17.9 FPPG allowed to opposing QBs), and might be trying to catch balls from practice squad QB Thad Lewis. No, thanks.

Danny Amendola has a date with the Seahawks’ top-ranked fantasy defense (16.7 FPPG to opposing WRs) right after posting a two-catch, five-yard game against the Bucs. Amendola gets a lot of targets, but this matchup and his inconsistency mean he can’t be trusted, especially in standard leagues.

Play, play, play: Brandon LaFell, Panthers (at Saints)

LaFell started to get back on track against the Raiders, with five catches for 38 yards on seven targets. Remember at midseason, when Cam Newton was looking for LaFell a lot? He’s doing it again, just in time for a matchup with the Saints’ league-worst fantasy defense (28.3 FPPG to opposing WRs).

Also:

Hakeem Nicks might not play this week, and his hobbled state has made Domenik Hixon an increasingly important part of the Giants’ offense (11 receptions, 146 yards, two TDs in last three games). Hixon’s matchup with the 25th-ranked Eagles’ defense (23.7 FPPG) is a pretty good one, and since they’ll probably sell out to stop Victor Cruz, Hixon should get plenty of looks.

Tight Ends

Stay away: Kyle Rudolph, Vikings (at Packers)

Rudolph’s nine touchdowns make him look like a fantasy stud, but he’s only 15th in receptions (51) and 22nd in yards (473) at the position. This week, he’ll face a Packers’ D that ranks second with 6.1 FPPG allowed to opposing tight ends. You can find a better option than Rudolph, even at this wasteland of a position.

Also:

After a midseason burst of production, Oakland’s Brandon Myers has slowed waaaaaaay down, with just six catches for 32 yards in his last three games. It’s hard to know if Myers’ fortunes will improve with the Matt Leinart/Terrelle Pryor duo under center, and his matchup with the Chargers’ fourth-ranked fantasy defense (6.2 FPPG to opposing TEs) is a tough one.

Play, play, play: Antonio Gates, Chargers (vs. Raiders)

On the other side of the ball in San Diego, Gates will run routes against the Raiders’ 26th-ranked defense (8.6 FPPG allowed to opposing TEs). Gates’ season has been very disappointing, but he has TD receptions in each of his last two games. He’s not a great option, but he’s not bad.

Also:

If you need to reach deep, consider Jacksonville’s Marcedes Lewis against the Titans’ 29th-ranked defense (9 FPPG allowed to opposing TEs). Lewis had single-digit yardage games in Weeks 14 and 15, but perked up a bit with four catches for 27 yards (on six targets) in Week 16. That’s a little bit of progress, right?.

Thanks for reading all season. Good luck in Week 17!

Tagged: Bills, Lions, Packers, Raiders, Rams, Vikings, Saints, Giants, Jets, Eagles, Seahawks, Panthers, Jaguars, Cardinals, Chargers, Drew Brees, Adrian Peterson, Antonio Gates, Eli Manning, Marcedes Lewis, Domenik Hixon, Calvin Johnson, Brandon Myers, Shonn Greene, Brandon LaFell, Sam Bradford, Mikel Leshoure, Kyle Rudolph, Alex Green

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