It’s win or go home time. You’ve spent months working your way to this point and now you’re here. Congratulations on making your fantasy football championship! The first thing you need to remember this week is to start your studs, the guys who got you to this point. Don’t over-think a decision that will end up costing you a championship. The second thing I would recommend is starting any of the players listed below. The third thing (and most important) is not to take this week too seriously. Fantasy football is, after all, a game. Sometimes we get too caught up in its competitive nature and forget why we started playing in the first place – to have fun and camaraderie with friends and family. Don’t let a loss ruin the joy that comes with the holiday season. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year you degenerates!
Nick Foles @ Dallas
This one’s for all the marbles, folks. The winner of Sunday’s game between the Eagles and Cowboys will decide the 2013 NFC East champion and could decide your fantasy football league champion. The match-up for Foles could only be better if he was playing the Vikings. Dallas is the second worst fantasy defense against quarterbacks at 26.6 fantasy points per game (FPPG). The 31 touchdowns and 4,572 yards they’ve allowed are also only second to Minnesota. That’s an average of over 300 passing yards and two touchdowns per game. Foles should be considered a Top 5 QB going into the final week of the season.
Matthew Stafford @ Minnesota
Stafford may seem like an obvious start, but he’s been horrendous the last three weeks, throwing a combined one touchdown and five interceptions in that span. It’s been a month since Baby Face has thrown for 300 yards and multiple touchdowns in one game. I say he turns the tide this week against the worst fantasy defense against quarterbacks. The Vikings allow 27.4 FPPG, surpassing the Cowboys for most in the league. The Lions had a disappointing 2013 season, falling short of the playoffs. Look for them to take their anger out on Minnesota.
Andrew Luck vs. Jacksonville
Hogwash is an appropriate word for the Colts resting their starters in the final week of the season. They still have the second seed to play for. If the Patriots lose to Buffalo and the Colts win against the Jaguars, that first-round bye will belong to Indianapolis. Therefore, there is no reason for you to not start Andrew Luck, especially when the Colts play the third worst fantasy defense against Luck and his counterparts. The 24.1 FPPG the Jaguars allow is third most behind the aforementioned Vikings and Cowboys. What’s even more attractive about this match-up for Luck is that Minnesota has given up a league-high five rushing touchdowns to quarterbacks. He’s an easy Top 10 QB option in Week 17.
Eddie Lacy @ Chicago
Christmas has come and gone, but Eddie Lacy still has a present waiting for him in the Chicago Bears. All-Pro linebacker Lance Briggs returned to the Bears’ lineup only to see his team give up 289 total rushing yards. On the season, Chicago has allowed 2,107 rushing yards, an average of 140 yards per game and 276 more yards than the next highest team. From a fantasy perspective, 29.2 FPPG are what the Bears give up to running backs. Lacy has been on some kind of hot streak, scoring four touchdowns in his last three games. I consider him a Top 5 running back option for championship week.
Knowshon Moreno @ Oakland
While most of the talk coming out of Denver has revolved around Peyton Manning, Knowshon Moreno has put together an admirable season himself. He has quietly rushed for over 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns while adding 55 receptions, over 500 receiving yards and two touchdowns through the air. The deserving Pro-Bowler should continue to pad those stats against the league’s seventh worst fantasy rush defense. The Raiders have surrendered 26.4 FPPG to the position, including six receiving touchdowns – second most to running backs behind the Cowboys. Do what you should have been doing all season and start Knowshon Moreno.
Andre Brown vs. Washington
Remember when you first found out that Justin Bieber was “retiring” from music? I can only assume that’s how Andre Brown feels going up against Washington this week, like he’s on a “Cloud 9” of sorts. The Redskins have allowed the most rushing touchdowns in the league (20), greatly aiding in the endowment of 27.5 FPPG to running backs. It’s a nice match-up for Brown after two games with a combined 57 yards on 27 carries. With Eli Manning having the worst season of his career and the Giants’ receiving corps banged up, it would behoove the Giants to rely heavily on Brown… and it would behoove you to put him in your lineup this week.
DeSean Jackson @ Dallas
Believe it or not, the Cowboys are now only the fourth worst fantasy defense against wide receivers, surrendering 38.3 FPPG. Jackson was a relative no-show last week against the Bears as the Eagles built a huge lead and just ran almost the entire game. Sunday has the makings of a great bounce-back opportunity for Jackson, who leads Philadelphia in targets, catches and touchdowns. Jackson should be relied on heavily this week with the Eagles’ playoff hopes on the line. He’s easily a Top 10 WR.
Julian Edelman vs. Buffalo
Over the past five weeks Julian Edelman has seen at least 10 targets each game. The one week this didn’t happen, he was targeted nine times. Needless to say, he has become Tom Brady’s go-to guy in the Patriots’ passing offense. It’s been five weeks since Edelman hasn’t scored or totaled at least 70 receiving yards. Odds are that streak will continue this week against the Bills. Buffalo allows 36.5 FPPG to wide receivers. Look for New England to pass early and often with a shot at any of the AFC’s top 3 playoff seeds on the line.
Cordarrelle Patterson vs. Detroit
It was an extremely slow start for Cordarrelle Patterson in his rookie season, but he’s been making up for lost time in recent weeks, seeing at least five targets in each of his last six games while averaging 7.5 targets per game during that span. He’s been a nightmare for opposing special teams as well, leading the NFL in kick return yards and scoring twice. In fact, Patterson has scored more on kick returns and rushes combined than he has receiving (4 to 3). The Lions have given up the second most touchdowns to receivers this year (18). You probably have better options than Patterson at WR if you’re in the championship, but at least he’ll make for a great flex start.
Martellus Bennett vs. Green Bay
Bennett reasserted himself as Jay Cutler’s safety blanket last week, catching five passes on eight targets for 85 yards against the Eagles. Expect the Bears to pass just as much, if not more, as they did last week with Aaron Rodgers coming back for the Packers. Rodgers’ return should only benefit Bennett and the Bears’ passing game. Green Bay gives tight ends 14 FPPG and is tied for fourth in touchdowns allowed (9). I consider him a Top 10 tight end this week.
Charles Clay vs. NY Jets
It has been a ROUGH couple weeks for Clay and his owners. He’s totaled just five catches on nine targets for 37 yards; a far cry from the 20 targets, 177 yards and two touchdowns during the two previous weeks combined. He should be able to get back on track this week against a Jets defense allowing 13.9 FPPG to tight ends.
Titans vs. Houston
The Texans have been abysmal offensively in 2013 and have only had success in the passing game since Arian Foster was lost to a season-ending injury. The Titans are a stalwart against the pass, allowing the second fewest passing touchdowns this season (one per game).
Dolphins vs. NY Jets
Right behind the Texans in points allowed to defenses are the Jets, who have turned the ball over 29 times in 15 games. As long as Geno Smith is still quarterback, the Dolphins should be a nice start this week.