With only one spot up for grabs in the NFC playoff picture and 2 spots open in the AFC, there are a lot of teams with little to play for and this week is a bit of a mess. This is exactly why leagues should all be finishing on week 16. You should talk to the commissioner about next season if it is not.
Cam Newton, QB, CAR – They have been out of the playoff race for a long time so it’s not like the motivation is gone for Newton, who wants to continue to expand on the records he has already eclipsed in this incredible rookie season. New Orleans’ defense thrives on generating pressure, which is hard to do when the QB can just take off running. Newton will be able to score points against this defense and maybe even a win if Brees and the rest of the Saints’ starters take some of the game off.
Hakeem Nicks, WR, NYG – When the game is on the line, Eli is going to look towards Nicks. Victor Cruz might be the new talent but this game is no joke; win the game and win the division. Dallas’ secondary is not going to contain these two and it will be up to Romo to outscore Eli. Both Giants receivers are good starts this week.
C.J. Spiller, RB, BUF – People were quick to call Spiller a bust as he sat behind Fred Jackson but ever since he has taken over for Freddie, he has improved on a weekly basis. Statistically and fundamentally, Spiller has made progress with each passing game. He is learning to hit the pocket quickly and get up field and his ability to be an impact in the passing game makes him a very versatile threat. Buffalo has a tough choice going into next season about who to start but fantasy owners do not, Spiller has to be out there.
Steve Johnson, WR, BUF – Johnson faces the league’s worst pass defense and is playing what is potentially his last game as a Buffalo Bill. He would like to impress as he heads into an off season where he is a free agent to help drive up the size of his next contract, with whichever team that may be.
Marshawn Lynch, RB, SEA – After being dead wrong about how Lynch would perform against by far the best rush defense in the league last week, there is zero chance that I would make the same mistake twice. Consistency has always been the downside with Lynch. He has however been consistently phenomenal the 2nd half of the year and is very likely to go as a top 10 RB in next season’s draft.
Ben Roethlisberger, QB, PIT – Ben is likely to take it easy this week, should he play. He faces a Browns defense that is stout against the pass and weak to the run. Expect a heavy dose of the ground game and less of an emphasis on the aerial assault.
LeGarrette Blount, RB, TB – I think the Buccaneers will still look to Blount first but they showed last week that he is on a short leash and you should expect them to yank him out of the game if he has any more fumbling problems. He is just too risky for a start this week in my opinion.
Andre Johnson, WR, HOU – Even if he comes back, he isn’t an auto-start. The Texans aren’t likely to push him back and I expect him to see limited snaps. He is a flex play at best on talent alone. There still aren’t many red zone targets in the league and I would think that is where they would hope to use him the most.