Booms, Busts, Breakouts (Week 14): Start Mason, Sit Foster
Each week, fantasy football guru Michael Green slaves over statistics and trends to bring you the best fantasy advice this side of Bristol. Read on for the players to start (and players to sit) this week at each key position.
Take it away, Mike...
Derrick Mason (WR) - Ravens @ Texans
There are three things you can count on in life: death, taxes and Houston’s secondary being a goldmine for opposing offenses. The obvious starts for this week are Joe Flacco and Anquan Boldin. But look for Derrick Mason to also show up in a big way after calling out his offense last week.
Earl Bennett (WR) - Bears v. Patriots
Jay Cutler and Earl Bennett have developed a connection worthy of match.com over the last two weeks. The duo has combined for 160 yards and two touchdowns during that span. Cutler and Bennett will need to keep up with a high-powered New England offense this week and should find success against the Patriots’ secondary.
Fred Jackson (RB) - Bills v. Browns
Steady Freddy has been an underappreciated fantasy commodity all season. But Jackson will be getting plenty of action this week against the Browns. With cold weather in the forecast for Buffalo, both teams figure to keep the ball on the ground. The Browns have not given up a lot of running scores this season, but the yardage will pile up in what figures to be a ground n’ pound game.
LeGarrette Blount (RB) - Buccaneers @ Redskins
The former Oregon Duck will celebrate his alma mater’s BCS championship berth in a big way this Sunday. Blount goes up against a Redskins defense that has struggled to stop the run all season. With Mike Shanahan’s recent decision to send Albert Hayneworth on an early vacation, the front line in Washington only figures to get worse.
Cassel has quietly performed like a top 10 fantasy quarterback during the second half of the season. But Tom Brady’s former clipboard holder showed he is far from being an automatic weekly start last Sunday against the Denver Broncos. The Chiefs’ signal caller could only muster one touchdown pass against a Broncos defense that has given up the third most aerial scores in the league.
The going won’t be any easier this week against the Chargers. San Diego’s dynamic secondary will build a moat between Kansas City’s Cassel and the end zone in this one.
Arian Foster (RB) - Texans v. Ravens
Foster has conquered defenses with Caesar-like efficiency this season. The former Tennessee Volunteer has single-handedly carried many fantasy owners into the playoffs. But the Ravens' defense should make you think twice before reaching for a tall can of Foster this week. Ray Lewis and friends are hungry after a tough loss to Pittsburgh and will keep Houston’s ground game at bay.
Brandon Jacobs (RB) - Giants @ Vikings
Since being named the starter in Week 12, Jacobs has carried a bigger load for the Giants than New York City’s subway system. But a resurgent Minnesota Vikings defense will force the bruising back to make frequent stops this week. New York figures to rely heavily on the pass against the Vikings, which may also mean that Big Blue features more of Ahmad Bradshaw in this contest.
Larry Fitzgerald (WR) - Cardinals v. Broncos
The unmitigated mess that is the Arizona Cardinals will likely start rookie fifth round pick John Skelton this week against the Denver Broncos. This, believe it or not, is likely to be a downgrade over Derek Anderson at the quarterback position. Fitzgerald will also be covered by Champ Bailey, who successfully held Dwayne Bowe to zero receptions last week, for a large portion of the game.
James Starks (RB) - Packers @ Lions
It’s not very often that a University of Buffalo product plays his way into fantasy relevance, but Starks should be on everybody’s radar right now. In his first action of the season last week, Starks was Green Bay’s leading rusher. His 18 carries for 73 yards dwarfed incumbent Brandon Jackson’s four touches for 13 yards. The Packers’ coaching staff appears to be enamored with Starks and you should be too before he appears on everybody’s waiver wire wish list.
Anthony Dixon (RB) - 49ers v. Seahawks
With everybody expecting Brian Westbrook to be the biggest thing in San Francisco since sliced sourdough, Dixon emerged from the depth chart to claim a timeshare. The rookie rusher has the build to be a true goal line force for the 49ers. And with Seattle’s woeful defense coming to the Bay this week, Dixon should be in line for several goal line opportunities.
Alex Smith (QB) - 49ers @ Jaguars
It’s not so much that the 49ers merit two fantasy football sleepers in one week, as much as the Seahawks’ defense screams scoring opportunities. Alex Smith is inexplicably getting another chance to prove that he is capable of completing passes in the National Football League this week. While one of the greatest busts in the last decade will undoubtedly show his true colors over time, Smith should be in line for some decent production against Seattle’s 30th-ranked pass defense.
Brandon LaFell (WR) - Panthers v. Falcons
Jimmy Clausen and his one career touchdown do not inspire much confidence in Carolina’s passing game. But the Panthers will likely find themselves down big and early against the Falcons. David Gettis has been a disappointment as the team’s No. 2 receiver in recent weeks, which will open the door for LaFell. It’s getting to be that time of the year when the Panthers need to find out what their 2010 third round pick is made of.
To reach staff writer Michael Green, click here.
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