Week 15 Rankings UpdateFriday, December 12, 2008
Rankings were updated Friday evening. Joseph Addai., Ray Rice, and Brandon Jacobs are no longer on the list. There is a still a slight chance Addai plays. Frank Gore and Marion Barber remain ranked, but are iffy to play at best. They are ranked just in case. See you Sunday morning on The Fantasy Fix (Presented by Absolut Vodka!). Good luck this weekend.
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Football is the sport we understand least; that's one reason to love it. It is the sport with the biggest gap in knowledge between player/coach and fan. We don't know the assignments on each play, and it takes years to learn how to evaluate line play and other in-game minutia. Bill Belichick will freely admit he's learning every week; that's one reason why he loves it. Can LenDale White, he of minimal yardage, 14 touchdowns, and colorful nickname suggestions, continue to produce like a quality fantasy starter?
The Sunday game setup doesn't help; we have a nation of talking heads that can't watch most games because they are on at the same time. The analyst that pretends to have all the answers is a phony.
Each season is a learning process and trying to close the information gap is Rotoworld's mission. Like the game strategy and our churning news page, fantasy value doesn't stay still. It evolves. It's been a pleasure to track all of it for you as this 2008 season nears its end. Thanks, as always, for reading. Now let's try to use some of this season's lessons to set the rankings and answer questions as we head into fantasy's final four weekend.
Houston's offense will keep the game close against Tennessee, which could limit White's attempts, but Tennessee should move the ball well on the ground. Physical teams like Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Minnesota, and the Titans pushed around Houston the first time around. LenDale pilfered two touchdowns in that game and is a good bet to score again Sunday.
After throwing for 414 yards in freezing Lambeau field, should Matt Schaub's receding hairline ascend back into fantasy lineups?
Tennessee's defense deserves maximum respect, but don't go crazy. Houston's offense is just as good, ranking third in the league. This is Houston's Super Bowl and Tennessee doesn't have a lot to play for. Schaub may not be a top-five option this week, but he deserves to be in most lineups, along with the rest of his merry band of Texans
Can the calcifying Patriots defense hold up for another week?
It's a bad sign when every defensive stop against the Seahawks feels like a small miracle. Much depends on the status of Vince Wilfork and Ty Warren. If the Patriots linemen are hurt again, Justin Fargas could run all over a depleted front seven forced to play recent retirees in key positions.
Will the Seahawks finally matter?
John Carlson is a quality starting option this week. Deion Branch is back in play. Seneca Wallace is even an option for the desperate.
Is the Steelers run defense overrated?
They have given up 307 yards from scrimmage on 56 touches in the last two weeks to Kevin Faulk, Sammy Morris, and Tashard Choice. It is still a great defense in every respect, but the strong-willed Baltimore rushing game will test Pittsburgh. Le'Ron McClain remains an option in TD-heavy leagues.
Will Tarvaris Jackson and J.P. Losman render their teammates irrelevant?
Bernard Berrian and Lee Evans have great matchups on paper, but there should be serious doubts whether their quarterbacks are up to the task of getting them the ball. Marshawn Lynch's strong late-season run also could run into a Kris Jenkins-sized wall.
Are Frank Gore, Marion Barber, Joseph Addai, Brandon Jacobs, and Clinton Portis healthy enough to start in fantasy leagues?
Each case is different. Portis has the right matchup and motivation to use without reservation. My gut says the Giants will play it safe with Jacobs, but that's just speculation. If you own Jacobs and Derrick Ward, I'd root for Jacobs to sit out anyway. Addai sounds unlikely to play. Gore looks like a game-time decision with a 1 PM. start. I'd use him if he starts. Marion Barber could be a game-time decision in a tough matchup against the Giants. Tashard Choice showed his value, so the workload could be split. Barber's owners may not have the luxury to wait until 8:00 PM Sunday night. The players are ranked below as if they'll start; you know what to do if they aren't.
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Week 15 Quarterbacks
|1||Peyton Manning||vs. DET|| - |
|2||Kurt Warner||vs. MIN|| - |
|3||Aaron Rodgers||at JAC|| - |
|4||Jay Cutler||at CAR|| - |
|5||Drew Brees||at CHI|| - |
|6||Donovan McNabb||vs. CLE|| - |
|7||Matt Cassel||at OAK|| - |
|8||Tony Romo||vs. NYG|| - |
|9||Shaun Hill||at MIA|| - |
|10||Matt Schaub||vs. TEN|| - |
|11||Philip Rivers||at KC|| - |
|12||Eli Manning||at DAL|| - |
|13||Tyler Thigpen||vs. SD||Keep eye on wind |
|14||Brett Favre||vs. BUF||Ready for rebound? |
|15||Matt Ryan||vs. TB|| Shakier than usual|
|16||Kyle Orton||vs. NO|| - |
|17||Seneca Wallace||at STL|| - |
|18||Jake Delhomme||vs. DEN|| - |
|19||Chad Pennington||vs. SF|| - |
|20||David Garrard||vs. GB|| - |
|21||Ben Roethlisberger||at BAL|| - |
|22||Jeff Garcia||at ATL||Questionable(calf)|
|23||Kerry Collins||at HOU|| - |
|24||Jason Campbell||at CIN|| - |
|25||Marc Bulger||vs. SEA|| - |
|26||Tarvaris Jackson||at ARZ|| - |
|27||J.P. Losman||at NYJ|| - |
|28||Joe Flacco||vs. PIT|| - |
|29||JaMarcus Russell||vs. NE||Probable(ankle)|
|30||Ryan Fitzpatrick||vs. WAS|| - |
|31||Ken Dorsey||at PHI|| - |
|32||Dan Orlovsky||at IND||Probable(thumb)|
QB Notes: Tyler Thigpen can't hit the long ball very well, but the matchup is right for another solid effort. A big reason the Chiefs haven't lit it up the last two weeks is a ridiculous time of possession deficiency. The Chiefs went four wide against Denver, the worst rush defense possible, so you know they won't go with a run heavy approach against San Diego. Thigpen can put the ball into tight spots on the run. He's more talented than you think. He may not have the high ceiling of some of the quarterbacks in front of him, but he's a safe 200 yards and a touchdown. That feels weird to write. … I received a lot of emails from Jay Cutler owners this week, concerned about the Carolina matchup. Anyone watch Monday night Football? The Panthers have given up over 600 yards and five touchdowns the last two weeks through the air. I wouldn't be scared of this matchup at all. Denver won't even bother to run. My only concern is that the Panthers hold on to the ball for 38 minutes because the Denver defense can't get off the field. … It looks like the Williams wall will be able to play against Arizona. You can't bench Kurt Warner, but that's too bad. I don't think Arizona will have that much trouble throwing against Minnesota anyway.
The weather was just as big a factor in Tony Romo's meltdown as the Pittsburgh defense. This is a tough matchup, but the conditions are right. The New York secondary can be vulnerable if Romo can just buy some time in the pocket. He should be in almost all lineups. … The Steelers have trouble protecting Ben Roethlisberger against average defenses. Baltimore is a nightmare matchup for Pittsburgh; stay away. … Was it the Patriots defense that made Seneca Wallace look competent? The return of his running ability and a choice matchup make him a decent option for two-QB leagues, but don't go crazy. … Matt Cassel's father sadly passed away this week. Keep an eye on his status. Cassel is coming off a great comeback performance where he through the ball well under blitz pressure. I couldn't believe when I saw that he's already over 3,000 yards on the season. He's come a long way quickly and is a safe option if he starts. … Shaun Hill has a similar matchup this week to last. The 49ers moved the ball at will on the Jets. The Dolphins are not great when you spread them out and the 49ers figure to go with a pass-heavy approach yet again if Frank Gore is at less than 100%.
I'm hedging my bets with Matt Ryan this week. He's improved leaps and bounds since his Week 2 disaster in Tampa. He improvises and uses his legs better every week. Atlanta also uses the hurry-up offense very well at any point in the game. With that said, it's still a tough matchup. After Monday night's performance, Atlanta will try to control the game on the ground. Look for a mediocre line from Ryan, even if he plays well. … Drew Brees throws for a lot of yards on the road, but the Saints don't score nearly as much. Cold weather won't help him Thursday night, but he's still too good to bench. … Throw out Eli Manning's weather-induced disaster last week. Dallas is much easier to attack through the air than on the ground. He's a borderline QB1. … Donovan McNabb is a very safe play Monday night. The only slight worry is that Philly gets up early and takes the air out of the ball, although that isn't really Andy Reid's style. … Matt Schaub has earned the right to be a QB1 in many lineups, even against Tennessee. Houston is the number three offense in the league and can move the ball on anyone.
Brett Favre didn't play well last time at the Meadowlands, but the Bills are a dead team. They have struggled defending the short passing game all year, Favre's new bread and butter. … The fall of Jason Campbell has been sad to watch. He's not much of an option, even against the Bengals. Washington figures to focus on the running game.