The playoffs are here! Well, for most of us. Even if you haven't begun your second season, chances are this week's slate of games has quite a bit of meaning for you and your fantasy squad. It began Thursday night with an AFC South matchup that had a fair amount of production. Look for that to continue through the rest of the week. This is where you make hay people. Let's go!
Analysis: It doesn't matter who it the starting quarterback for the Vikings, the only Purple People you're really trusting this week are Adrian Peterson, and (maybe) the receiving duo of Greg Jennings and Cordarrelle Patterson. Although you're only going with that last pair if you're short on options. We've said repeatedly that Ray Rice is a matchup-based option. This is another one of those good matchups. Get him in your lineup as a RB2 or flex choice. Joe Flacco and Torrey Smith should combine to also produce well for fantasy owners. Dennis Pitta could return this week, but it's too risky a play -- even against the Vikings.
Analysis: Andrew Luck has struggled lately, and that will likely continue this week against a tough Bengals defense. While Donald Brown is the Colts rusher of choice, both he and Trent Richardson could struggle to find running room. Similarly, T.Y. Hilton might have another difficult week getting open. Don't expect a big week from Andy Dalton, but he should post respectable totals. It could be a big week for A.J. Green, however. Fantasy owners could continue to have consternation over Giovani Bernard and BenJarvus Green-Ellis. If you could combine the two, you'd have a nice day. But apart, their numbers could be mediocre at best.
Analysis: There could be a lot of offense in this one. Matt Ryan's up and down season could be on the upswing this week. It should help Harry Douglas' value, and could spill over to the resurgent Roddy White. Speaking of resurgence, Steven Jackson should continue to bounce back this week. Matt Flynn will likely get another start, but never fear -- he won't be as bad as he was on Thanksgiving. That's particularly good news for Jordy Nelson, who has appeal as a WR2 this week. Eddie Lacy is a particuarly quality start against a bad Falcons run defense.
Analysis: It's anyones guess who's starting at quarterback for the Browns this week. But Josh Gordon's hot streak means he's worth starting, regardless of the signal-caller. However, Willis McGahee could have deep-sleeper appeal against a run defense that has been gashed recently. Tom Brady could once again have pedestrian numbers, but Julian Edelman is worth starting considering his recent run of success. It goes without saying that Rob Gronkowski should be in your lineup, but if you're scanning elsewhere on New England's roster, Shane Vereen has become a trusted option for Bill Belichick and company.
Analysis: It's not likely that you're going to start Matt McGloin, but he has a nice matchup against a poor Jets secondary. Look for Rod Streater to have some nice numbers as well, and Andre Holmes has deep sleeper potential. Beware of Rashad Jennings against a tough run defense. You can start a Jets receiver, if you can find one worth playing. Chris Ivory's matchup is good, but not great. He's a mid-level RB2 this week. If you're into streaming defenses, the Raiders are worth a look this week.
Analysis: Hear ye! Hear ye! Start your quarterbacks in this matchup. Both Nick Foles and Matt Stafford should be fantasy studs this week. Look for their primary pass catchers to excel as well this week. That's particularly good news for Riley Cooper owners. Don't chase the points this week with Brent Celek. For anyone streaming kickers, Alex Henery has a very favorable matchup this week. Things are also pretty nice for both primary running backs, although LeSean McCoy is in a better spot than Reggie Bush.
Analysis: Lamar Miller has had some nice opportunities lately, and this matchup is yet another one. Don't consider him anything more than a RB2, but he has definite value. Stay away from Ryan Tannehill, but take a flex chance on an extra motivated Mike Wallace this week. Brian Hartline also has appeal as a WR2/3. Le'Veon Bell has a fantastic matchup this week and should be started without hesistation. The same can't be said of Ben Roethlisberger and his wideouts, who could face problems against the Miami secondary.
Analysis: Just when you thought it was safe to start C.J. Spiller again, he has a matchup with the Bucs. He'll be hard to trust this week, as will Fred Jackson. If you dare start EJ Manuel (mostly in two-QB leagues), you could have respectable production. That makes Stevie Johnson and Robert Woods sleeper picks this week. In deeper leagues, Bobby Rainey has RB2 appeal, but beware against a Bills run defense that has been fairly tough on running backs. This could be a chance for Vincent Jackson to regain his fantasy luster -- even if Mike Glennon is fairly mediocre this week.
Analysis: This has the makings of a fantasy festival. Jamaal Charles could be the high-scorer of the week against an awful Washington run defense. Look for Dwayne Bowe to continue his push back toward fantasy relevance. Alex Smith has frequently failed to exploit good matchups, but he could be a sleeper option this week. Robert Griffin III has been a good option in recent weeks and should once again be a nice start for fantasy owners versus a reeling Chiefs defense. Alfred Morris and Pierre Garcon should also be along for the fantasy ride. Get both of them into your lineup.
Analysis: Few fantasy QBs have matched Ryan Fitzpatrick over the past month and his success could continue against the Broncos. The same goes for Chris Johnson, who has found his legs over the past month. Kendall Wright remains a nice WR2 option -- especially in PPR leagues. There's no way you're seriously sitting Peyton Manning, but temper your expectations this week. Give Knowshon Moreno a long look because he should have a productive day. Montee Ball also has a little sleeper appeal. If Julius Thomas is back, he deserves a spot in your starting lineup as well.
Analysis: This is a matchup that could be heavy on defense. Zac Stacy has been very good since taking over the starting job, but he might be stifled by the Cardinals defensive front this week. However, Jared Cook is a nice sleeper facing the league's worst defense versus tight ends. There aren't any other Rams who have been consistent enough to warrant playing in this matchup. Carson Palmer has been hot lately, but temper your expectations this week. Nonetheless, both Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd should remain in your lineups. Consider Rashard Mendenhall as a flex option this week.
Analysis: This is a matchup that favors Eli Manning and his receivers, but it's hard to trust any of that group besides Victor Cruz and Rueben Randle. Even then, they're on the lower end of the scale. Brandon Myers is a low-end TE1 thanks to his recent production. Roll with Philip Rivers and give Keenan Allen a shot as a WR2/3 this week. Danny Woodhead is a flex choice at best. If you're looking for a defense to try, the Chargers have a nice matchup against the turnover-prone Manning.
Analysis: This is another matchup that screams defense. If you have a better option than Russell Wilson or Marshawn Lynch, start 'em. Chances are, however, you probably don't. Percy Harvin won't play, which means any of the Seahawks receivers are a crapshoot. This isn't a matchup you want for Colin Kaepernick. Leave him on your bench. Frank Gore warrants a look, but expect his numbers to be depressed this week. Beyond that, Vernon Davis is the only other 49er that should seriously be in your lineup.
Analysis: Add one more defensive matchup to this week's list. Cam Newton is about the only Panther you can start with any degree of confidence this week. DeAngelo Williams is the running back of choice for Carolina, but he'll have a tough time getting going against the Saints. Similarly, only Drew Brees and Jimmy Graham are worth any serious starting consideration. If you're forced to start anyone else, it might be Pierre Thomas or Darren Sproles in PPR leagues.
Analysis: The week ends with a game that should make fantasy owners smile. Tony Romo has a chance to rebound from some tough weeks with a nice matchup against a beaten-up Bears defense. That gives added value to Dez Bryant and Jason Witten. Things look very good for DeMarco Murray to succeed in the running game this week. Have no fear in starting Josh McCown this week, while both Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery have big chances for success. Matt Forte should continue his run as one of fantasy's most consistent producers.
Marcas Grant is a fantasy editor for NFL.com. Follow him on Twitter @MarcasG