by Thomas Russo and Jason Li
**Disclaimer: We are not affiliated with the NFL in any way and this article simply contains the opinions of select students.
This is it. It all ends this week. A season’s worth of effort all leading up to this. Who do you start to win your League?
We have the answers.
Start ‘Em, Sit ‘Em
Top 3 QBs to Start:
Philip Rivers vs. Browns: Philip Rivers has struggled mightily this season, which could work to your advantage. Odds are Rivers’ owner got tired of him and sent him to the waiver wire. Go get him and plug him in for this week, as the winless Browns have been unable to stop anyone. With the number of weapons at his disposal in the passing game (see Tyrell Williams, Dontrelle Inman, Antonio Gates), and no Melvin Gordon to carry the running game, expect River to win many championships this week.
Marcus Mariota vs. Jaguars: Alrighty. The murderer’s row of Denver followed by Kansas City is over, and we can return Marcus Mariota to the ranks of every week QB1s, just in time for the championship. While the Jaguars aren’t the league’s worst defense, the matchup is good enough to trust Mariota, who has thrown for at least 2 TDs in 10 of 14 games.
Jameis Winston vs. Saints: It’s a simple formula. If you play the Saints, you’re going to score points. A Cardinal offense that had been absolutely dormant prior to last week, and it exploded for over 40 points. Now the Bucs, who have been playing solid football, roll in with Mike Evans waiting to tear apart the secondary, which bodes well for Winston’s outlook
Top 3 QBs to Sit:
Carson Palmer vs. Seahawks: To all those who think that last week’s revival of the Cardinal offense means Carson Palmer is getting back on track, don’t. Palmer has only cracked the 20 point Mark 4 times in 14 games, and last week’s game was against the Saints. This week the Cardinals travel TO Seattle, where one of the top defenses in football is waiting, and holding opposing QBs to about 14 points a week. That won’t win you a championship.
Alex Smith vs. Broncos: Do you want to lose your Fantasy Championship? Then go ahead and start Alex Smith against a Bronco defense holding opposing QBs to about 11 points a week. Go ahead and start Mr. “One 20 point fantasy outing all season” Smith. For those who want to win, stay as far away from Alex Smith as possible. Don’t even think about him. Forget he exists.
Colin Kaepernick vs. Rams: There was a point where it appeared Colin Kaepernick may be regaining is 2012 form. Then he went and threw for 4 yards against the Bears. 4 YARDS. 4! FOUR! Against the 3-11 CHICAGO BEARS. Are numbers like that going to win you a championship against a better Rams defense? I didn’t think so.
Top 3 RBs to Start:
Latavius Murray vs. Colts: Did you know Latavius Murray has run for at least 81 yards in his last 3 games? Murray’s averaging a robust 14 points a week, and will face a Colts rush defense allowing almost 20 points a game to opposing RBs. That bodes well for Murray, in a game that could very well turn into a shootout.
Doug Martin vs. Saints: First reason to start Doug Martin: he is playing a Saints defense allowing almost 22 points a game to opposing RBs. Reason number 2: Martin is the lead back in an offense that starting to really gel. Reason number 3: You want to win your Championship game.
Todd Gurley vs. 49ers: Yes, I realize Todd Gurley likely has lead to nothing but disappointment and frustration for many. After being as high as the first overall pick in many drafts this year, the horrible Rams offense finally caught up with Gurley. But here it is. The matchup of your dreams. Todd Gurley, against a 49ers defense that is dead last in the league in rush defense, and giving up almost 29 points a game to opposing RBs. 29!!!! They have given up career day to backs far worse than Gurley this year, so dust Gurley off and ride him to a championship.
Top 3 RBs to Sit:
Carlos Hyde vs. Rams: On the flip side of the matchup of dreams, we have thee wildly inconsistent Carlos Hyde going up against one of the top 5 defensive fronts in football. Don’t be surprised to see 8 man fronts for Hyde, as the Rams will dare the 49ers to try and throw it. Which they can’t. And that means Hyde won’t be able to run it very much either.
Thomas Rawls vs. Cardinals: After going Beast Mode 2.0 against the Panthers 2 weeks ago, Rawls has disappeared. Next up is a Cardinals team which boasts the second best rush defense in the league, allowing only about 15 points a game to opposing RBs. There are far safer options to trust on Championship Sunday than Rawls.
Jay Ajayi vs. Bills: It seems like a lifetime ago when Jay Ajayi had back to back 200 yard games and became a household name. Unfortunately, with that comes 8 man fronts, as opponents know you aren’t gonna throw it downfield. Expect more of that to come now that Ryan Tannehill is done. The Bills will load the box, and Ajayi will have a tough time bouncing back from 3 straight single digit outings.
Top 3 WRs to Start:
DeSean Jackson vs. Bears: What? The Redskins are fighting for their playoff lives? And they are playing a Bears defense allowing almost 22 points a game to opposing WRs? AAAAND DeSean Jackson is coming off back to back 100 yard games? AAAAAAAND you want to win your Championship? Hmm, we wonder what you should do.
Mike Evans vs. Saints: We don’t know how many times we’re going to write this, but we know that I’m gonna write it at least one more time. Mike Evans is good at football. The New Orleans Saints defense is not good at football. Add those together and what do you get? A league championship.
T.Y. Hilton vs. Raiders: Take away last week’s nightmare matchup against Xavier Rhodes, and Hilton would be coming off back to back 100 yard games.The Raiders defense is improving, but they still are struggling to stop the pass. With the Colts needing to win to stay in the AFC South race, Hilton will have extra incentive to show up.
Top 3 WRs to Sit:
Larry Fitzgerald vs. Seahawks: While it pains me to write this, this is the championship. Sentimentality must be removed from decisions. This is not the same Larry Fitz we have come to love. Fitz has only 4 double digit outings in 14 games this year. And now he gets to go dance with his friend Richard Sherman. No thank you.
Jeremy Maclin vs. Broncos: Well, we have learned Maclin’s year last year was a flash in the pan, as an injury plagued season has flung Maclin back onto the scrap pile. He has 2 bobble digit outings in 10 games, and now gets a Bronco defense featuring Aqib Talib, Chris Harris, and less than 13 points a game to opposing WRs. Nope, nope, nope, nope…..
Demaryius Thomas vs. Chiefs: Meanwhile, on the other side of the field will be Demaryius Thomas, who is still acclimating to life after Peyton Manning. While Trevor Siemian has bombarded Thomas with targets, that might not be a good thing when Marcus Peters is covering him. Peters may end up with as many catches as Thomas this week. Yeah…no.
Top TE to Start:
Cameron Brate vs. Saints: Ladies and gentlemen, let us introduce you to Cameron Brate. Brate is currently dominating in the red zone. If a tight end can score touchdowns for you, you want it, cause that’s usually the only way a tight end can score you points. Oh yeah, Brate is also playing the Saints. I did tell you about the Saints, right?
Top TE to Sit:
Ladarius Green vs. Ravens: From a football purist standpoint, this week’s matchup between the Steelers and Ravens on national television is the perfect Christmas present. AFC North on the line. Two historically defensive franchises going to do battle in the trenches. That usually doesn’t bode well for the already thin tight end position. So don’t look to Green for help this week.