By: Zac Bellman
Special to the Tribune
Start: Sam Bradford (Rams) vs. the Buccaneers – If you have Brady, Brees, Rodgers, RGIII, Newton, Romo, or Peyton Manning, start them. However, if you don’t like the matchup with your current QB take a look at Bradford. He faces the worst defense in the league against the pass, and he has Danny Amendola, his favorite target, back from injury.
Sit: Andy Dalton (Bengals) vs. the Steelers – Dalton is on a steady downward spiral over the last three weeks, throwing only three touchdowns while being intercepted three times and fumbling twice. The matchup doesn’t get any easier this week with a desperate Steelers team that is number one against the pass in the NFL. Ike Taylor, who held AJ Green to one catch in their previous meeting, will not play, but it’s still not worth starting him unless you have no alternative.
Sleeper Start: Colin Kaepernick (49ers) vs. the Seahawks – This is a very tough matchup for Kaepernick heading into Seattle, but many said the same about him heading into Foxboro last week against the Patriots. He rose to the occasion on the national stage, throwing for four touchdowns and over 200 yards.
Start: Stevan Ridley (Patriots) vs. the Jaguars – Ridley was pulled from the game after a fumble in the third quarter of their game against the 49ers. This was more due to the fact that the Patriots like to use Danny Woodhead as a receiving running back in passing situations, which they were stuck in for much of the game. They will not find themselves in as many of those situations against the Jaguars, and Ridley should get back to his normal 20 touches against Jacksonville.
Sit: Mikel Leshoure (Lions) vs. the Falcons – Atlanta is firing on all cylinders following a 34-0 blowout of the defending Super Bowl champions. They also still have the first seed to play for, so don’t expect them to lay off the pedal. The Lions will be forced to pass to stay in this game, which will limit Leshoure’s touches. The Falcons are also averaging less than 100 yards a game on the ground over the last four as their run defense is playing inspired with the playoffs within reach.
Sleeper Start: DeAngelo Williams (Panthers) vs. the Raiders – Cam Newton has targeted Williams out of the backfield the last two weeks, giving him 50 receiving yards and a touchdown in back to back games. Williams’ touches have increased to about 20 a game as well, meaning he will get the chance to put up points against the Raiders. Raiders also average almost 31 points given up to running backs when a team rushes at least 25 times. The Panthers have averaged 28 rushing attempts a game this season.
Start: Eric Decker (Broncos) vs. the Browns – A week after getting shelled by Kirk Cousins, the Browns take on Comeback Player of the Year candidate Peyton Manning. Decker has caught eight passes in back to back games, and Demaryius Thomas will likely get the majority of the Browns’ attention. Look for him to see a lot of beatable single coverage in this game.
Sit: Brandon Marshall (Bears) vs. the Cardinals – Marshall was able to fight off double coverage most of the day against the Packers to score a 15 yard touchdown, but the Bears offense struggled to get many first downs. A matchup against Patrick Peterson looms large in week 16, and although he gave up ten catches for 121 yards to Calvin Johnson, he was able to keep Johnson out of the end zone. The Cardinals defense also tallied two pick sixes in that game as well, so Cutler may struggle to get Marshall the ball this week.
Sleeper Start: Miles Austin (Cowboys) vs. the Saints – Austin caught seven passes last week against the Steelers as Tony Romo looked to exploit Pittsburgh corners on a lot of button hooks. Dez Bryant is still taking away some of his red zone opportunities, but Austin still has a solid matchup this week and will produce against the Saints.
Add: Colts Defense (Owned in 7% of Yahoo! Leagues) – If you are playing the matchups in your game this week, there are few matchups on the waiver wire better than the Colts against the Chiefs. The Chiefs played a below average Raiders defense last week and got shut out, not even recording a first down until the second half.
Add: Rams WR Danny Amendola (Owned in 63% of Yahoo! Leagues) – Amendola returned to action after an extended injury absence and caught six passes for 58 yards and a touchdown. It appears him and Sam Bradford have not skipped a beat.
Drop: Chargers RB Ryan Matthews (Owned in 92% of Yahoo! Leagues) – Matthews broke his left clavicle and will likely be placed on injured reserve. He missed the first couple games this year with a broken right clavicle, so this serves as an unfortunate end to a disappointing season. Curtis Brinkley will likely carry the load for the remainder of the season.