What we are talking about:
A pretty good start
Numbers not good
City of Atlanta
Seriously, a new field?
Giants quarterback Eli Manning will return to San Diego for the first time since 2005. You remember, the year after he spurned the Chargers in one of the NFL's biggest tantrums since John Elway basically ended the Baltimore Colts franchise. And it's just ridiculous to me.
I mean, that would be akin to Gal Gadot rejecting the offer to play Wonder Woman in the Batman vs. Superman movie because she was really hoping to play Talia al Ghul. And for the record, I really like this casting for Diana. I'm not really familiar with Gal's work, but the limited exposure I've had to her has been rather good.
Oh yeah, she hasn't played any other superheroes in movies, either. That's really my big thing. I mean, I like Ben Afleck and I don't doubt he can play a pretty good Batman. But he's already Daredevil. I'm sorry the studio butchered the film for you Ben, because that character could be really cool. However, you're the one who signed on the dotted line. It's not like you were drafted to play the part.
Which brings me back to Eli. I know a lot of you will say that these poor college kids should have more of a choice of where to play, but I don't believe that. The way the NFL works now, it's like the league is one big corporation with 32 different branches. And a lot of us who work for major corporations know we could be moved at a moment's notice. It's not fair, but the alternative is to not work for that company. Similarly, if you want to work for the NFL corporation, you need to start where it sends you when you're immediately out of college.
Honestly, if Eli's dad hadn't played in the NFL, he would have played for the Chargers and had a wildly mediocre career there. But I guess that all doesn't really matter to fantasy. I was at that Giants vs. Chargers game in 2005. Eli and the Giants were brutalized by the Chargers but Eli had a pretty good game.
In fact, Eli is 0-2 against the Chargers during his NFL career, but his passer rating is 107.2, his second-highest among all opponents. He has thrown four touchdowns and no interceptions against San Diego. He's a nice little sleeper option, but I've played Eli as a sleeper in favorable matchups in the past and have been burned. Similarly to the way the Chargers were burned by him in 2004.
Incidentally, I wrote a Monday column for NFL.com back in 2003 during Eli's senior season, and I at first felt the Chargers would be better off with Eli. But then when I really put my mind to it (and watched Pitt's season), I felt like Larry Fitzgerald would have been a much better option. As I wrote after Week 17 of that year, "The Chargers would have a pretty formidable offense if they gave [Drew] Brees a guy like Fitzgerald to go with LaDainian Tomlinson."
I don't get paid to make those decisions, however. And I was once the guy who thought John Dutton was going to make a credible NFL quarterback. Though in my defense, he was a good pro quarterback.
And without further ado ...
Lynch has scored at least 22 points in two of his last three games. The 49ers have allowed at least 100 rushing yards in five consecutive home games. So he's the musty starty of must starts.
Wilson is 2-1 against the 49ers with five touchdowns and three interceptions. He has struggled with a 79.8 passer rating during those games.
Newton has also scored eight total touchdowns in the last three games, so it's hard to bench a guy who has played so well recently. Sometimes your studs have tough matchups.
ImageSuperman III has been on the movie channels lately. I like it a lot. Richard Pryor is magical. But why is one of Superman's evil things straightening out the Leaning Tower of Pisa? One more note: My favorite part is when Robert Vaughn, in explaining how rich he is, says he's never worn the same pair of socks twice. That's a baller.
ImageHere's a great read on why Wonder Woman should not be a sidekick. And it's true. If you read any of her titles in the New 52 from DC Comics, you would know she is one of the most compelling characters in her own right, and really isn't just an afterthought in the DC universe.
Good news for Tom Brady -- the Browns have allowed 19 pass TDs since Week 6, which is tied with the Buccaneers for the most in NFL during that span. Brady has at least 340 passing yards in three of his last four games.
Josh Gordon has back-to-back games with 200-plus receiving yards. The Patriots haven't allowed a WR to go over 121 receiving yards this season. Bill Belichick has never allowed a WR to gain 200 yards against him in a game.
Alshon Jeffery has turned himself into a must-start guy in all fantasy formats. I'm still smarting I didn't get him off the waiver wire after Jason Smith dropped him in our "experts" league.
Robbie Gould might be my new kicker of choice because I didn't realize he was bald, too. That's my rule for kickers, you have to be bald to kick for me.
Nick Foles has had the most fantasy points among quarterbacks in the last month, and he's had 13 passing touchdowns in the last five. There are few guys I would start over him. Only Peyton Manning, actually.
DeSean Jackson has seen his fantasy points decrease in three consecutive games. I blame the matchups and I like him this week against the Lions, who were tough on the Packers, but still give up a lot of yards through the air.
Danny Woodhead didn't have a great game against the Bengals in Week 13, but he's still a guy who figures prominently into the Chargers' offense. He has 61 receptions and five receiving touchdowns to lead all NFL running backs.
Julian Edelman has had 23 targets and at least 100 receiving yards in back-to-back games. He has been the team's leading receiver in the last two games.
Shane Vereen has become the running back to play from the New England Patriots, as we predicted in the preseason on NFL.com. He's had at least 70 scrimmage yards in each of his four games this season.
Boasting about being Matty McGloin's favorite receiver would be akin to boasting about being Chumbawamba's chief song writer. But Rod Streater has been targeted 21 times in the past three weeks, and has had at least 80 receiving yards in two of those games.
Alex Smith has scored at least 21 fantasy points in four of his last five games. He's had seven touchdown passes and two interceptions in the last three games. The Redskins give up a ton of points to QBs.
For all of the Patriots receivers making Brady's life miserable this year, Gronkowski has not dropped a pass (61 targets). He has a receiving touchdown in four consecutive games, with at least 11 points.
Joe Flacco would be an interesting play this week. The Vikings have allowed the second-most fantasy points to quarterbacks over the last month. I don't hate this too much. He might even be a sneaky play.
Robert Griffin III has been a lightning rod of controversy over the past month. But you know what? He's had at least 21 fantasy points in three of his last four.
DeMarco Murray has scored four scrimmage touchdowns in the last month. He's had at least 85 scrimmage yards in three consecutive weeks. And seriously, Chicago Bears defense. We can't stop anybody on the ground.
Mike Wallace has scored a touchdown in back-to-back games. The Steelers have allowed the fourth-most points to receivers over the last month. Oh yeah, and there's the revenge factor. I like this a lot.
Donald Brown has scored a touchdown in three of his last four games. He's had at least 12 fantasy points in three of those four games. Oh yeah, and the Colts didn't have to waste a first-round draft pick on him.
Russell Wilson is a riskier play because of the matchup. The 49ers D has played well in recent weeks, as they have allowed the second-fewest points to quarterbacks over the last month. But I'm still going to stick with Wilson in the playoffs.
Ryan Fitzpatrick has scored at least 15 fantasy points over the last month. Which isn't bad for quarterbacks in standard scoring. The Broncos have allowed the third-most points to quarterbacks over the last month.
Joique Bell has scored two rushing touchdowns in his last three games. He's had at least 95 scrimmage yards in two of his last three, with at least 15 points in those games.
Kendall Wright has scored at least six fantasy points in eight consecutive games. He's had 39 targets in his last four games.
Matthew Stafford has 11 touchdown passes in the last four weeks, the second-highest total over the last month. The Eagles aren't as bad as they were earlier in the year on D, but it's still a nice matchup.
The Panthers defense has an interception in five consecutive games. The Panthers have allowed only one rushing touchdown in eight straight, and nine red zone touchdowns this season (fewest in the NFL). That could bode well for Garrett Hartley.
Until last week, it was the Saints and Seahawks who looked like the two best teams headed for a collision course and it became an utter disappointment. I hope the same doesn't happen for "Sons of Anarchy" and "Homeland" since both series are absolutely at the top of their game right now.
ImageSome might have questioned Kurt Sutter for all of his extended "Sons of Anarchy" shows this year, each at over 90 minutes. But it's been nothing short of fantastic. I never saw an episode once this year, and felt, "this went too long." I wanted more and this week, its two hours!
Image"Homeland" had some rough patches (kind of like Foles) but is probably better than it ever has been. As Rich Eisen put it, the show has been gripping and Dana Brody-free. Though, didn't she change her name?
It's time for Bobby Rainey to get back into the mix. The Bills have allowed the fifth-most points to running backs over the last month. The Bills have allowed five rushing touchdowns in the last three games.
Jordy Nelson has been targeted at least seven times in the last three home games. Don't worry about this week. The matchup was tough against the Lions. But the Falcons don't have that front-four to harangue Matty Flynn.
Pierre Garcon and Antonio Brown are the only players in the NFL with at least five receptions in all 12 games this season. Since 1960, only Jimmy Smith has had at least five receptions in all 16 games.
Calvin Johnson has 962 receiving yards in his past six games, which is the most in NFL history for a six-game, in-season span. For the entire season, just 12 players (excluding Johnson) have more than 962 receiving yards.
LeSean McCoy has 1,523 yards from scrimmage this year, most in the NFL.
Michael Floyd has at least 95 yards in three consecutive games. He leads the team with 18 receptions in his last three games.
Giovani Bernard has at least 85 scrimmage yards in three of his last four games, and has also scored three touchdowns in those games.
Kaepernick has the second-worst fourth-quarter passer rating in the NFL this season among players with at least 50 attempts, behind only Ponder. Wow, if you're looking up at Geno in any category, that's saying something.
ImageBTW 49ers, what's the deal with your letter to the fans imploring them to wear red and be loud? Way to call out your fan base for being really horrible. It's basically a letter that says, "Hey, you don't know how to dress and you don't understand football."
It's December, do you know where Tony Romo is? The guy kills it in November, but he has struggled during his career in December. He's really tough to play this week, even with the matchup. I see the Cowboys running heavily against the Bears.
I have Romo in our league on NFL Fantasy Live and thankfully I have a bye this week, but I'm not sure I can play him against the Packers next week, either. That's why I've gone and added A. Smith to my lineup.
BTW, since Tony Romo once went out with Carrie Underwood, he must shoulder the blame for "The Sound of Music" remake. I really wish I hadn't been about six belts in after the Jags game because that looked truly awful.
The Bears have allowed the sixth-fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks over the last month. Romo himself has struggled against the Bears with two touchdowns and seven interceptions in his last two against us.
Romo has also had less than 240 passing yards in three consecutive games and he's had few than 16 fantasy points during the stretch.
Ryan Tannehill had 331 passing yards and two touchdowns against the New York Jets, and it was one of his best games of the season. His passing yards have increased in five consecutive games. But I just can't pull the trigger in the fantasy playoffs. But I'm a brand name, bargain shopper.
And then there's Andrew Luck. (Yeah, I know it's weird to have Luck not in a row with the other two big names, but it's like a comedy lineup where you sandwich in a lesser guy between the big guns. I should know, because I'm typically that lesser guy.)
Anyway, Luck has scored more than 14 fantasy points only once in his last four games. He's topped 275 passing yards only once in his last 10 games. Over his past four, two touchdown passes and five picks.
Philip Rivers has scored more than 15 fantasy points only once in his last four games. While he has done well against the NFC traditionally, this is going to be a tough matchup for him.
The big one I'm worried about is against the Broncos next week. It's going to be below freezing next week in Denver and I'm worried about Rivers and Manning in that one. Load up on your running backs.
Let's have some real talk with Eric Decker. I must apologize for having him in the dislikes last week. The numbers suggested it. He had done poorly historically against the Chiefs. But he was simply amazing.
The Titans have allowed the fewest points to fantasy receivers over the last month. While they have allowed a ton to running backs. I just have a hard time believing Decker has another great week. On the plus side, me putting Decker over here might motivate him once again. We were that tight.
Carson Palmer did reasonably well against the St. Louis FC, who have allowed at least 300 passing yards in two games against the Birds. Palmer has thrown at least two touchdown passes in five consecutive games.
But like a lot of quarterbacks, Palmer is tough to recommend. He was fine against the Eagles last week, but nothing Earth-shattering. I don't think this is what the Birds had in mind when they traded for him.
ImageSpeaking of trades, memo to the Lakers. Please don't trade for Carmelo Anthony. I don't even like the idea of signing Melo once the season ends, either. The one redeeming thing about the Lakers this season is the players play hard. We don't need Melo to come in and ruin all of that.
ImageI'm not sure how Carmelo would deal with Kobe Bryant, either. Bryant doesn't care for guys who don't seem to try hard. Which is why Dwight Howard is being mediocre in Houston right now and not playing with the Lakers. You need to be a little bit better.
ImageI would say if the Lakers were to make a Melo trade, it would rival the Trent Richardson to the Colts trade as one of the worst in sports history. Actually, nobody in Cleveland is upset about that Richardson trade right now.
ImageAnd before I let this Palmer topic go, what's going on with the USC fans? Steve Sarkisian is a pretty nice hire. The Washington Huskies ranked eighth in total offense in the NCAA and you know USC will get better players. This is a nice move. Much better than getting Jack Del Rio.
ImageOhio State sure is sweating out its BCS berth right now. And I kind of like that. Ohio State does deserve to be in the title game. But now you know how it felt for Boise State to be left out in the cold all of those years.
ImageHonestly, Boise State's latest slide could be tied to the BCS not allowing the Broncos to make it to the title game when they clearly deserved a chance. Sure, Boise State got a lone Fiesta Bowl invitation. But come on, the team lost a bundle not being able to play for a championship.
ImageFor the record, I don't really blame Chris Petersen for leaving. I mean, after all of the success Dan Hawkins and Dirk Koetter had post-Boise St., he'd be crazy not to.
After a hot start to the season, Andy Dalton has cooled considerably. Dalton had a passer rating of 99 in Weeks 1-8, but it's dropped 40 points to 59.8 during Weeks 9-13.
Dalton opened the season by throwing 16 touchdowns and seven interceptions through Week 8. He has thrown six touchdowns with nine picks since.
Ben Roethlisberger is on pace to be sacked 48 times, which would be the second-most of his career. But he hasn't been sacked in his last two games. This is the first time in his career where he has gone consecutive games without being sacked.
BTW, that last stat just illustrates how much the Steelers offensive line has struggled over Roethlisberger's career.
There are some teams which are going to have to make decision on a quarterback. The Bengals, Texans and Cardinals will be in the mix. The Browns will be, too. And the Browns have a pair of first-round picks to shop around. The Texans will be near the top of the draft. But the Bengals are going to be one of those teams very close.
I heard somebody say the Bengals should trade Dalton and a first-rounder to the Texans for a chance to get a bright young quarterback. But to me, Dalton is like Matt Schaub all over again. I mean, he's a nice quarterback, but does he seem like championship material?
A team that's going to be in really good shape in the draft is the Falcons. They aren't going to need a quarterback to replace Matt Ryan. And if they lose (like they should), then you get one of those top two defensive studs who could be available in the draft.
Ryan has a decent enough matchup against the Packers this week, though I wouldn't play him. However, if he does well this week, it looks good for Romo the next. Ryan has the Redskins next week, which could be good for him.
Mike Glennon has been great this year. He's given some hope to the Bucs in the future. I just don't play him this week against the Bills, who have allowed the fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks over the last four weeks.
I'm just waiting for C.J. Spiller to ruin my fantasy season. I was so excited to get him late in the first-round this year. And it has been a huge disappointment.
Spiller, as we said last week, had a monster game against the Falcons. Now everybody is hyped on him. But the Bucs have allowed the eighth-fewest fantasy points to running backs over the last month. I just don't like it.
Chris Johnson is also in this category. He doesn't have a rushing touchdown in eight of his last nine road games. The Broncos have allowed one rushing touchdown or less in 24 consecutive games. And he has Arizona next week.
Time for some more real talk. You probably can't afford to sit Spiller or Johnson. Which is too bad. It would be a gutsy call if you had options. But with the running back position so thin, you're often forced to play guys you dislike.
But just to reiterate, we can't really afford to sit Spiller or Johnson, and maybe even Gore. We can't start any Raiders running backs.
ImageThis kind of reminds me of the John Cena vs. Randy Orton stuff going on in the WWE right now. Both these guys are at the top of the card. And while I wish they were buried in the mid-card as the carnival attractions that they are, we would be better off.
Honestly, RAW had a bunch of killer matches this week. I love The Shield and the Wyatt Family stuff. Goldust is somehow getting better as he gets older. Would it kill you to end the show with good wrestling instead of a contract signing? That was your main event. That would be akin to the NFL holding the Pro Bowl draft at the start of the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl.
Here is your weekly plea to go read Brandon Stroud at With Leather for his Best and Worst of RAW. He's got more room to explain this stuff, but every time I read it, I can't help but agree. It's like I'm nodding and saying "Word" after every paragraph.
Remember my buddy Timmy Wright? Yeah, he's scored more than two fantasy points once in his last four games. Obviously didn't have a touchdown in any of those games. Maybe this week against the Bills, but why risk it?
Marques Colston has one TD reception in his last 10 games. Kenny Stills has more than 90 yards just once in 12 career games. Lance Moore has gone over 35 yards only once this year. You can't trust any Saints receiver.
Andre Holmes seems like a situation where you would be chasing fantasy points. He had 11 targets against the Cowboys. And Matt McGloin has certainly looked at Streater a lot. But the matchup is really nice.
Trivia time. Guess who holds the Chargers record for most receptions as a rookie? If you don't want to look it up, hit me up on Twitter and I'll give you the answer.
Poor Stevan Ridley. He was a healthy scratch against the Texans in Week 13. He's lost a fumble in three consecutive games. He's had fewer than nine fantasy points in back-to-back games. Yet, he's still owned in 96 percent of NFL.com leagues.
But this seems like the kind of game Smith will "ice up" on, and will come out with a huge play. And it will be wasted on my bench. Ah, who am I kidding? I wouldn't have drafted the guy.
ImageIf you saw the Redskins quarterback fall on his keester last week, I have to ask, what the (expletive) is up with that field? If the actual playing surface won't get you, the sidelines will. My guess is the Redskins get a new stadium before we build one in Los Angeles.
Time for my Curtis Axel All-Stars (the worst Perfect Challenge team with big-name players): Andrew Luck, Frank Gore, DeAngelo Williams, Steve Smith, Anquan Boldin, Jordan Cameron, Denver Broncos, and Blair Walsh.
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 100,000 followers, and Fabiano has 100,000. Me? Just four. See, the odds are better I will answer your question, so hit me up both via Twitter or via Facebook. And if you follow him on Sundays, he'll quote "The Wolf" from "Pulp Fiction" and then it's game on! Although, it's tough to catch me on Facebook. Twitter is your go-to. Also be sure to catch the latest "Dave Dameshek Football Program."