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Like/Dislike: A.J. Green ahead of Megatron's pace

What we are talking about:

  • Amish Rifle

    Good start this week?

  • Eli Manning

    Elite, but not this week

  • Ryback

    Dolph is right

Beyoncé is going to be your Super Bowl halftime entertainment this year. And we could really kick this off by bemoaning the fact that Van Halen, Foo Fighters, and Iron Maiden have once again been passed over for the gig, but it's cool.

It reminds me when my old barkeep Paulie predicted Beyonce was going to be one of the biggest stars of our generation. And this after her turn in "Austin Powers in Goldmember," back when she was a star and the hot girl from Destiny's Child (or the hottest one). We all liked her, but not everybody was onboard with that statement back in 2002.

But he likes to take pride in that prediction, and I get a similar feeling when I talk about A.J. Green. He was my No. 1 fantasy receiver heading into 2012, this when everybody was head-over-heels for Julio Jones (who I liked).

So I take in Green and I went back to check his numbers after six games compared to Calvin Johnson's first six games last year. Green has the edge in receptions (43 to 36) and yards (628 to 545), but trails in touchdowns (6 to 9). Still, Green is on pace for 16 TD receptions this year. He's the best fantasy receiver this year.

Let's get to the likes and dislikes.

Likes and dislikes are in bold, for those of you who don't want to take the 88 minutes required to read this column. (But it's the weekend: What better way to cruise through it than by checking out my thoughts on fantasy football, comic books, wrestling, TV and music?

A big hand to stats maven Bill "Sudsy" Sudell for dropping the knowledge.

And without further ado ...

This might come as a shock to you, so I understand if you want to sit down, but Eli Manning isn't a great start this week. What? That's right, not a great start. "But Rank, the Redskins have allowed the fourth-most points to fantasy quarterbacks this year, this is a great matchup." You aren't wrong. And good for you for keeping up with the trends. But if you want to take a look inside the numbers of this matchup, let's dig a little deeper.

In 15 career games against the Redskins, Eli has managed more than one touchdown pass only once. He has 12 career touchdowns against the Skins. Eli has thrown for more than 300 yards once in those 15 games. Eli has failed to throw a touchdown in three of his last four games against the Redskins. Including a huge fantasy playoff game in 2011. In that game, he threw three interceptions. It's a huge, huge risk to play him.

Let's also consider the Giants are coming off a huge win over the San Francisco 49ers on the West Coast. This is easily a trap game for the Giants. In fact, I picked the Redskins to win in the Pick 'Em Challenge.

And ease off, Giants fans. I'm not trying to insinuate Eli isn't elite. He's still a part of the Fantasy Illuminati. But this is a risky play this week. You've been warned. And if he kills it, you can come make fun of me.

Has New York ever had two more polar-opposite athletes than Eli Manning and Alex Rodriguez? Manning, for all of his detractors, has come through when it's counted the most. Rodriguez isn't even starting. And for the record, A-Rod's home run off Brian Feuntes in the 2009 American League Championship Series would have been a harmless F-9 in every other stadium in America.

ImageAlthough, I won't condemn Alex Rodriguez for passing a note to a bikini model during a game, which is not cool with Torrie Wilson still around. It's better than drinking beers, eating chicken wings and playing video games in the clubhouse while his team is getting escorted from the playoffs. But the world does seem like a better place today with the Yankees out of the playoffs.

I said to sit Alex Smith and Russell Wilson on Thursday night. How did that work out for me? No seriously, I'm asking because I turn this piece in on Thursday afternoon. But the way my colleagues were talking on "NFL Fantasy Live" on Thursday, I was afraid they were going to jinx this into being a high-scoring game.

Jay Cutler is an interesting play this week. If you look at the numbers, he's got a decent matchup against the Lions (the defense has given up 16 touchdown passes in its last six road games). And playing guys on Monday night is one of my favorite things to do. But if you look at Cutler's numbers against the Lions, Detroit has found a way to harness him. Cutler has just two touchdown passes in three games against the Lions.

Cutler has also put together back-to-back credible fantasy weeks. You want to know the last time he's had three consecutive great fantasy productive weeks? You have to go all the way back to early 2009 (Weeks 2-4). Let's just say we are due for a Cutler meltdown.

Plus, do you want to play a hunch on Cutler and have him deliver the bad game we thought he was going to have against the Cowboys? That would be awful.

Ben Roethlisberger is another troubling quarterback this week. The Steelers can't run the ball. All of the talk about being a running team went out the window once the offensive line (David DeCastro) was stung by injuries. So Roethlisberger is going to have to throw the ball a ton. The bad thing is, Roethlisberger has struggled in the past against the Bengals.

So which trend do you trust the most? Recent history against the Bengals suggests you sit Roethlisberger. But the Bengals have allowed the 11th-most fantasy points to quarterbacks. Roethlisberger is a risky play to me. He's better than Matthew Stafford, Tony Romo, Carson Palmer, Josh Freeman and Cutler. But he's just outside QB1 status in 10-team formats.

Roethlisberger also left practice this week after getting his right ankle stepped on. It's probably nothing. But something to think about.

This is an unscientific data, but in leagues where you play the hot hand and the matchup and go with a guy like Alex Smith or Christian Ponder in your lineup, it only works six percent of the time. All right, a slight exaggeration. But playing the matchups isn't always the easiest thing to do. I like to do it when you have problems with injuries or bye weeks, but don't go nuts and do wild crazy plays. Unless you have a gut feeling. I would never tell you to go against your gut.

Christian Ponder has scored at least 16 points in four of his last five fantasy games. I don't like him this week against the Cardinals, who have allowed the second-fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks this season.

Josh Freeman is a nice sleeper. The matchup is nice, as the New Orleans Saints have allowed the sixth-most fantasy points to fantasy quarterbacks in 2012. Freeman does have six touchdowns and no interceptions in his last four games against the Saints.

I'd start Freeman over Joe Flacco this week. Flacco hasn't been good on the road, he's had a touchdown or less in seven of his last eight road games and he's had fewer than 235 passing yards in five consecutive road games. If Flacco is able to get over on the Texans, though, it would be time to move the caution tape from around Houston's defense.

Freeman's more of a guy to start if you have one of the bye-week guys like Matt Ryan or Peyton Manning. And really, have things changed at all in Denver? The defense bails out the offense, but Manning gets all of the headlines for his epic rally. Yet, if it wasn't for the defense taking that fumble back for a touchdown late in the third quarter, the comeback might not have happened.

Manning is getting way too much credit. This was a perfect Manning game. Once all of the pressure was off him, he could go into "all good" mode as a guy who racks up yards in garbage time. And really, all of those fantasy points would have been in garbage time had Dante Rosario turned the correct way on the deep ball the play before Rivers' big turnover. At that point, it's 31-7 Chargers and the game is finished.

BTW, where is the list of game-crippling interceptions thrown in the fourth quarter? Manning has to be up on that list, too. Just asking.

How many of Manning's comebacks came against the AFC South? Doesn't seem fair those should count. I tried to look up Alex Rodriguez's game-winning hits, since I figured they were similar, but every time I search for that, I get Raul Ibanez.

Fred Jackson has a great matchup this week. The Titans have allowed the sixth-most fantasy points to running backs. But Jackson has scored only one touchdown in his last eight games, and has failed to produce more than 85 yards in five consecutive games. I get it with the bye weeks.

Alex Green had 65 rushing yards against the Texans, but he might have a tough go against the St. Louis defense, which has allowed 1.8 yards-per-carry over the past two games.

Shonn Greene is coming off a nice game, but the Patriots have allowed fewer than 100 rushing yards and no touchdowns in three consecutive games. I expect the Patriots to take an early lead, and force the Jets to throw the ball a ton, which would take Greene out of the game.

ImageFor the record, Michael Cole, I know you are trying to pump up John Cena's appearance as the Jets' honorary captain on Sunday. But let's not call it the Jets' "big win" over the Colts. I'm a wrestling fan and I'm willing to suspend belief to enjoy the product, but you're really pushing it.

ImageMy only wish is Cole did a similar job in pushing some of the WWE developmental talent. He did more to get the Jets win over than he's even done for guys like Heath Slater, Drew McIntyre and some of the others.

BenJarvus Green-Ellis hasn't scored a touchdown in three consecutive games, and has scored fewer than eight points in four consecutive games. The Bengals have just three rushing touchdowns in their last 12 games against the Steelers. The Bengals are going to need to put the ball into the air in this game.

Steven Jackson has no rushing touchdowns in his last nine games, and only one in his last 15 games. In fact, Sam Bradford has the only rushing touchdown for the St. Louis FC. Boys, you need to be better than that for your Los Angeles return. You know, if that were to happen.

People have asked me, Rank, who do you want to return to Los Angeles, the Rams or the Chargers? It's the Rams. Yes, the Chargers started in Los Angeles in 1960, but they are San Diego's team. The fans in San Diego have been apathetic during the entire Norv Turner era. But make no mistake, the San Diego market would be enthused for a great Chargers team. The fans were robbed in 2006 when Marlon McCree refused to just fall on the damn ground. Now it's been star-crossed ever since.

The Chargers could have possibly received backing for a new stadium, too. But the San Diego Padres ruined that by holding out for a ton of money for PetCo Park and then dismantling a pretty good team. I love Angel Stadium, but PetCo is my second-favorite park and the atmosphere outside the stadium is second-to-none.

Mikel LeShoure is the top running back for the Lions, but he doesn't have a great matchup against the Chicago Bears this week.

Don't worry about starting La'Rod Stephens-Howling or William Powell this week against the tough Vikings' defense. Nothing is going to happen from the Cardinals' running game. I keep thinking the Birds should just throw the ball on every down. And then I remember their quarterback is going to be John Skelton. Patrick Peterson is the closest thing to a Bobby Boucher-like player, because their best chance at offense is him returning the ball on an interception or punt return.

BTW, was there any doubt Jay Feely was going to miss that gimmie at the end of the Bills game? The way he ran onto the field to encourage Peterson on the punt return was the kiss of death. I get it, dude, you just nailed a 60-yard field goal to tie the game. But chill the (expletive) out. You're still the kicker.

Steve Smith is a big-name guy who has seen his production go down. Smith has had no touchdowns in his last six home games. And remember, the Cowboys have allowed the fewest points to fantasy receivers this year. But we all were touting those stats when the Bears rolled in there on Monday night. So you are probably going to need to start Smith, but you don't have to like it. But if you have a lot of receiver depth and can afford to bench Smith, the numbers support that.

Jordy Nelson is another receiver who falls into the same category. The numbers say this could be a rough outing for Nelson. The St. Louis FC has allowed the second-fewest points to fantasy receivers this year. Nelson is much better at home, and not on the road. But you saw him go crazy against the Texans last week. So what do the numbers really mean? If you're thin at receiver, don't go crazy and start Greg Little over Nelson for the matchups. But if you have an embarrassment of riches at receiver, the numbers say this isn't going to be a big week for Nelson.

Somebody asked me if you should play Gordon ahead of Dre Johnson this week because of the matchup. And you can see why people are disappointed in Johnson because he has only two touchdowns in his last 11 games, and only one game over 100 receiving yards in the last 10 games. But man, I have to imagine a scenario where you're not playing him. I would start Johnson over Brandon Lloyd, Anquan Boldin and Brandon Gibson, for instance.

Hasselbeck is having trouble getting the ball to Nate Washington, who is the third-best receiver to play from the Titans. But Washington did have nine targets last week and the matchup is good. But you'd have to be desperate because of injuries and bye weeks to play him. (I'm playing him in my league of record vs. my lifelong friends from Corona, Calif. But I don't like it.)

If Washington does score this week, please don't send in a #thathelpsnoone because it will be helping me.

If you want to end your relationship with Jermichael Finley, please, don't let me stop you. Finley has five or fewer targets in the last five games, while also going without a touchdown. It's time to pull the plug.

ImageSpeaking of which, we'll miss you "Animal Practice." A show with a monkey as a doctor didn't make it? I'm shocked. We haven't had hearts this heavy about a show which featured a simian being canceled since "B.J. and the Bear" went off the air. Sad day, but one predicted by Dave Dameshek on "The McRanklin Group" this week.

Jimmy Graham is unlikely to play this week, just make sure you are checking your lineups. I accidentally dropped Kyle Rudolph this week because I figured I wasn't going to need a tight end again. I don't particularly care for Rudolph's matchup this week. I wouldn't start him over one of the top-name guys. He's an injury replacement only.

Should you pick up Tim Tebow this week? Rex Ryan has discussed the possibility of him playing running back. I believe he was serious. You can probably wait this one out.


For the record, you can submit your fantasy questions to NFL Fantasy Live, Michael Fabiano or me on Twitter. But realize, NFL Fantasy Live has 70,000 followers, and Fabiano has 60,000. Me? Just 13. See, the odds are better I will answer your question, so hit me up both via Twitter or via Facebook (oh wait, I told you to stop going to Facebook). Go instead to Google+. Also be sure to catch the latest "Dave Dameshek Football Program."

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