NFL Football Column: Fantasy Impact
NFL Week 15
Last week: Straight up: 11-5; ATS: 6-10
The Bengals will attempt to bounce back from what they hope does not prove to be a costly defeat when they visit the Eagles on Thursday night. The Bengals and Steelers are tied in the division, but Pittsburgh holds the tiebreaker by virtue of its win at Cincinnati. The two teams trail AFC North leader Baltimore by two games. Suffice it to say this is a must win for the Bengals. Last week Cincy's receivers couldn't catch a cold. This week, A.J. Green and company will hang on to the ball and make enough big plays to outscore the Eagles.
ATS: Bengals -3.5
Adrian Peterson continues to roll, and he has a chance to eclipse the 150-yard mark again on Sunday. With Christian Ponder struggling, expect close to 30 touches for Peterson. The Rams did indeed steal a road win last week, and are still in the playoff hunt. The emergence of Chris Givens along with a solid running attack gives the Rams a chance in any game they play. A must win for both teams, I'll give the slight edge to the home team.
ATS: Vikings +3
The Bucs just let one get away last week, and now must face Drew Brees. Since NO can't run the ball on TB, it's not out of the question for Brees to hang 400+ on Tampa here. A mammoth game from Doug Martin is the Bucs' only chance.
ATS: Saints -3.5
The Dolphins are clearly the better team, but this is still an in-state rivalry type game. Expect the Jags to find a way to keep it relatively close, but Reggie Bush makes the difference for the 'Fins.
Houston is not as bad as New England made them look. They just need to forget about that game and move on, as the Texans still control their own destiny for that #1 seed in the AFC playoffs. Expect a huge day from Arian Foster as Houston gets back to basics, with Ben Tate adding some nice yardage. Andrew Luck will do his part ot keep it close, but the Texans' defense will keep Luck from having the monster game.
While Robert Griffin III continues to improve after sustaining what appeared to be a much more serious injury last weekend, it remains to be seen if he'll suit up Sunday. I expect he will. Either way, the Redskins will try to win five straight for the first time in seven seasons and continue their playoff push as they visit the suddenly red-hot Browns. While the Browns have surely spent plenty of time preparing for Griffin, they could also have their hands full with Alfred Morris. The rookie back is coming off his third consecutive 100-yard effort, rushing for 126 yards and a touchdown against the Ravens. His 1,228 yards on the ground rank fourth in the league. For Cleveland, Trent Richardson scored his eighth and ninth rushing touchdowns last week to tie Hall of Famer Jim Brown's franchise rookie record. The bruising back is tied for third in the league with 10 TDs from scrimmage. Trent is a force, but the 'Skins keep rolling.
The surging Packers look to clinch the North with a sixth consecutive victory over the archrival Bears on Sunday at Soldier Field. Green Bay has succeeded while playing without defensive back Charles Woodson for the last six games and star linebacker Clay Matthews the last four. While Woodson has been ruled out, Matthews has a chance to play this week. Jordy Nelson likely will not. Chicago hasn't been nearly as effective in overcoming its health issues. With linebacker Brian Urlacher out for the regular season, the Bears lost kicker Robbie Gould this week to a season-ending calf injury. Veteran Olindo Mare will take his place. Jay Cutler has thrown four TDs and five INTs in the last four games. He has seven touchdowns and 16 interceptions while posting a 53.1 passer rating in going 1-6 against the Packers as a Bear. Brandon Marshall leads the NFL with 101 receptions and is second with 1,342 yards, but was held to two for 24 in the loss at Lambeau Field. Quite simply, the Bears do not match up well with the Packers. It will take a monumental effort by the Chicago D to pull this one out.
Denver is the hottest team in football. Peyton Manning has done everything in his power to will his team to victories, but it will take more than that this week. The Ravens still have talent on offense. There was just no talent in their OC. Cam Cameron is out and Jim Caldwell is in. Expect a heavy dose of their main weapon Ray Rice in this one. A turnover-free game by Joe Flacco gives Baltimore an excellent chance to pull off the upset at home.
The Falcons are slumping, while the Giants remain in must-win mode. Ahmad Bradshaw may or may not be a go for this one. Enter David Wilson. We finally got to see last week what this exciting rookie is capable of doing, and Atlanta just doesn't pose a threat to stop him. Matt Ryan must play mistake-free and make the big plays to Julio Jones to keep the Falcons close. I don't see that happening this week.
The Panthers are averaging 397.3 yards over their last four games, and Cam Newton has keyed the improvement following an inconsistent first half of the season. Newton has compiled 1,363 yards of offense and 11 total touchdowns in the last four weeks without a turnover. Yes, he's been hot, but this is a tough matchup for Cam and the Panthers. San Diego's Philip Rivers played well against Pittsburgh, matching a season high with three passing TDs and only being sacked once, though his 37 sacks are the second-most in the league. The Chargers' recent revelation has been receiver Danario Alexander, who caught seven passes for 88 yards and two scores last week. Perhaps Rivers can put two nice games together. I know that's a stretch, but I'll back him for this one.
After the Seahawks sent a message to their opponent and to the rest of the league last week, Marshawn Lynch may want to do the same to his former team. Lynch and the Seahawks try for their fifth victory in six games Sunday as they head to Toronto to face the Buffalo Bills, who appear bound to miss the playoffs for the 13th consecutive season. Although the Bills' ground game has been strong thanks to C.J. Spiller's emergence, Lynch has turned into one of the league's most consistent backs since Buffalo traded him to Seattle. With apologies to the other Fantasy-relevant players on each team including Russell Wilson, expect alot of Lynch and alot of Spiller in this matchup. The advantage goes to the better defense.
While the Lions attempt to snap a five-game skid Sunday, the Cardinals will again rely on Ryan Lindley at QB to avoid matching the franchise's longest single-season losing streak and bounce back from one of the most lopsided defeats in NFL history. The Lions, meanwhile, are hoping to fight off some key injuries to avoid their longest losing streak since six consecutive defeats to end the 2009 season. Defensive tackle Corey Williams was placed on injured reserve Wednesday (knee), and tight end Brandon Pettigrew (ankle) and defensive tackle Nick Fairley (shoulder) are being evaluated this week. The secondary might also be thin if Louis Delmas (knee), Chris Houston (ankle) and Jacob Lacey (foot) can't go. While Houston and Lacey played through their injuries last week, Delmas sat out as the Lions gave up at least 24 points for the fifth straight game. Even playing shorthanded, the advantage goes to Detroit, as Mathew Stafford and Calin Johnson will be the best players on the field. This line is inflated as a result of last week's debacle, but there is no way I could possibly take the Cards again in 2012.
Riding three consecutive 100-yard games, Jamaal Charles looks to help guide Kansas City to its ninth victory in its last 10 visits to Oakland without top receiver Dwayne Bowe when these AFC West rivals meet Sunday. Darren McFadden, who ran for a season-high 114 yards in the first meeting, rushed 11 times for 52 yards before tweaking his already injured right ankle in the fourth quarter of last Thursday's 26-13 loss to Denver. Word is that DMC will be in the backfield for the Raiders, and they will need him to pull out a close win.
Dallas benefitted from the Bengals' case of the dropsies last week to get a cheap win. Now they return home to a stadium that has proven to provide anything but a homefield advantage. The Cowboys will face a strong Steelers team that will show no mercy after last week's loss. Expect a nice game from Ben Roethlisberger, Mike Wallace and Antonio Brown. Pittsburgh rolls.
ATS: Steelers -1.5
Potential Super Bowl preview. The Patriots offense is on cruise control, but Tom Brady and company must solve the best defense in the NFL. For the 'Niners, Colin Kaepernick must continue to make plays with his legs, and Vernon Davis must again become the focal part of this passing game. If not, all the defense in the world will not be enough to pull out a win in Gillette. Still, I expect San Fran to keep this one closer than Houston did.
ATS: 49ers +5.5
The Jets are still in the playoff hunt, but must win out to have any chance. Look for solid games from Bilal Powell and Shonn Greene. The Titans will ride Chris Johnson and the arm of Jake Locker. The key is to not make any mistakes, as the Jets have a way of making teams pay. A dud of a Monday Night game, the team with the most on the line is New York.
ATS: Jets +1.5
Previous Fantasy Impact column Recent NFL columns
NFL Player News
Shaun Hill QB - DET: May 17, 7:14PM: Shaun Hill...
Moise Fokou LB - TEN: May 17, 6:58PM: Moise Fokou...
Rob Gronkowski TE - NE: May 17, 5:49PM: Gronk's back...
Jordan Cameron TE - CLE: May 17, 5:21PM: Cameron, Davis...
Chris Kluwe P - OAK: May 17, 5:02PM: The Oakland...
A.J. Jenkins WR - SF: May 17, 4:43PM: Opening at No. 3...
Stansly Maponga DE - ATL: May 17, 4:36PM: Falcons sign...
View All Games
Classic Draft Lobby
Mock Draft Lobby
- MLB Commissioner (FREE)
- NHL Playoff Commissioner
- NBA Playoff Commissioner
- NFL Commissioner (FREE)
- NCAAF Commissioner (FREE)
- PGA Commissioner (FREE)
- NASCAR Commissioner (FREE)
- NHL Commissioner (FREE)
- NBA Commissioner (FREE)
- Premier League Commissioner (FREE) (Beta)
- Bundesliga Commissioner (FREE) (Beta)
- La Liga Commissioner (FREE) (Beta)
- Serie A Commissioner (FREE) (Beta)
- Ligue 1 Commissioner (FREE) (Beta)
- MLS Commissioner (FREE) (Beta)
Join League (FREE!)