By Ed Ryan
When the Patriots host the Dolphins Dec. 30, Tom Brady’s fantasy football owners don’t want to risk watching Ryan Mallett under center for three quarters in a glorified preseason game.
If your league is run properly, that scenario and many like it are avoided by starting a three-week playoff beginning with Thursday’s Raiders-Broncos matchup.
You cannot count on anything meaningful occurring during Week 17, the last week of the NFL’s regular season, so fantasy football business is typically completed following Week 16.
I backed into the playoffs in one of my leagues, so I’m fully invested. Let’s play the matchups and advance.
Brandon Weeden, QB, Cleveland: If you need a quarterback, Weeden is a solid option against Kansas City. The Chiefs have allowed the most touchdown passes in the NFL and Weeden is coming of a 364-yard effort against Oakland.
Kenny Britt, WR, Tennessee: When a coach says he needs a certain player to get the ball more, the owners of that player should take note. In this case, we’re referring to Tennessee coach Mike Munchak, who said following the Titans’ loss to Houston that Britt needs to be more involved. With Tennessee facing a below-average Colts pass defense, Britt should be in your starting lineup.
Mike Thomas, WR, Detroit: The Lions’ depth at receiver has taken a hit. Titus Young has been benched because of his attitude and Ryan Broyles is out for the season with a torn ACL. Thomas will now be starting opposite Calvin Johnson. Brian Robiskie, a journeyman, may get a chance, too.
Philip Rivers, QB, San Diego: I dropped Rivers this week, and during the postseason I’m going to play either Weeden or Russell Wilson, depending on matchups. Rivers has one touchdown in his last two games and is unlikely to flourish in Pittsburgh against the Steelers.
Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Arizona: The Cardinals are wasting this Hall of Fame talent by trotting out one incompetent quarterback after another. Fitzgerald has amassed 6 fantasy points in his last three games and has almost no chance to succeed against Seattle’s defense.
Miles Austin, WR, Dallas: Against a physical Bengals secondary in Cincinnati, Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo will be under pressure to get rid of the ball quickly. Dez Bryant has been Romo’s primary target recently and will likely be the recepient of Romo’s quick strikes.