It's ultra-important to examine key statistics and how they apply to your strategies and outlooks as you look towards a potential fantasy Super Bowl berth. Scott Engel of RotoExperts.com features hot and cold performers of note for Week 15.
Playoff payoffs?: These players have positive statistics following them into their fantasy playoff matchups for this week.
Laurent Robinson, WR, Dallas
Stat: Robinson has eight TDs in his past seven games.
Analysis: Many fantasy owners still don't seem sold on Robinson as a top starter, possibly because of his lack of production in the past, and the fact that Miles Austin is back. Yet Robinson still will be a go-to guy for Tony Romo in key situations, especially near the end zone. Keep him locked into your lineup.
Johnny Knox, WR, Chicago
Stat: In his last meeting with the Seahawks, Knox had five catches for 120 yards.
Analysis: Knox is a sleeper for quality WR3 production this week. His slithery moves and open-field gears are the types of attributes that can give the Seattle CBs trouble.
Chris Johnson, RB, Tennessee
Stat: Johnson has averaged 98 rushing yards per game in December during his career.
Analysis: Johnson has rushed for 100-plus yards in three of six road games this year. He rushed for 34 yards on 14 carries versus the Colts in Week 8, but he now is in a better rhythm with his offensive line and is playing much better since the holdout-generated doldrums have worn off in recent weeks. Expect him to rip up the 30th-ranked Indianapolis run defense this week.
James Jones, WR, Green Bay
Stat: Jones has a TD in three of his past four games vs. AFC teams.
Analysis: Jones obviously steps into a more prominent role with Greg Jennings out, and the Packers should continue to sling the ball at will against the Chiefs. Jones is a quality WR start this week, but also keep a watch on rookie Randall Cobb, as he may get more involved in the offensive flow, too. The loss of Jennings means more potential playmaking opportunities for Jones, Cobb and TE Jermichael Finley.
Lance Moore, WR, New Orleans
Stat: Moore has five TDs in his past six games.
Analysis: Moore remains a top-scoring target for Drew Brees, no matter how much he spreads the ball around. The Vikings have allowed an NFL-high 26 TD passes, and this matchup appears to be tailor-made for the Saints WR. You can start Moore with a lot of confidence as a WR3 this week, as the Saints should move the ball into scoring position with ease.
Rex Grossman, QB, Washington
Stat: Grossman is aiming for his fourth consecutive game with 295-plus passing yards against the Giants.
Analysis: Grossman seems to be the preferred value play at QB this week given the fact that he faces the Giants' 29th-ranked pass defense. Grossman is indeed a gunslinger who won't hesitate to try to attack New York's vulnerable secondary. But Grossman's long history of erratic play always makes him a risk, and he surely could crumble even when the matchup looks good. With so much at stake in the fantasy postseason this week, do not get too cute and start Grossman over a QB who has been much more consistently productive.
Carson Palmer, QB, Oakland
Stat: Palmer has thrown for 633 yards in two home starts in 2011.
Analysis: Palmer is coming off an awful game at Green Bay and has been dealing with lots of injuries at WR. He is simply too experienced and respectable to stink it up two weeks in a row, and could have to throw often to keep up with Matthew Stafford this week. You could do worse than Palmer this week, so do not rule him out as an option if you do not have a top-shelf passer to use in Week 15.
Shonn Greene, RB, New York Jets
Stat: Greene leads the NFL with four rushing TDs in December.
Analysis: Sure, there have only been two weeks in December so far, yet the above stat gives us a chance to sneak in analysis about Greene that goes deeper than the numbers. Greene is running with a lot of confidence right now, and as a true rhythm RB, he should keep producing well as the Jets continue to give him consistent opportunities. Greene is a must-start as a fantasy RB2 right now.
Postseason rebounds?: These players have some negative numbers following them into the new week.
Mike Wallace, WR, Pittsburgh
Stat: Wallace does not have a 100-yard game since Week 7.
Analysis: Wallace has not scored in three of his past four games, but he is capable of exploding at any time. The 49ers can be thrown on, as they rank 18th against the pass. Do not entertain any thoughts of reserving Wallace at this very important time of the year.
Anquan Boldin, WR, Baltimore
Stat: Boldin has one TD catch in his past seven games.
Analysis: He also does not have a 100-yard game since Week 8. The Ravens face the Chargers' sixth-ranked pass defense this week, and Boldin has not been dependable even though Joe Flacco continues to target him on key downs. Boldin is capable of breaking out when you least expect it, but he is too much of a gamble during the fantasy playoffs.
Plaxico Burress, WR, New York Jets
Stat: Burress has one TD catch in his past four games.
Analysis: Burress nearly is useless in fantasy football when he is not scoring, as he does not have more than 79 receiving yards in a game this year. The Eagles have allowed 23 TD passes this year, though, so you can consider using Burress in larger leagues this week.
Willis McGahee, RB, Denver
Stat: McGahee has one TD in his past five games.
Analysis: McGahee had two of his four rushing TDs in one game this season. He rushed for 34 yards in Week 14. Yet you still have to give him strong starting consideration, as McGahee is capable of approaching the 100-yard mark in any given week. The Patriots allow 107.3 rushing yards per game.
Peyton Hillis, RB, Cleveland
Stat: Hillis has 70 rushing yards in his past two games.
Analysis: Hillis also has not scored since his return to action in Week 12. The Cardinals rank 18th against the run and have allowed 13 rushing TDs, but Hillis is not in tune with his offensive line and has missed too much time this season to get into the proper flow. The matchup looks good, but play it safe and reserve him.
Ahmad Bradshaw, RB, New York Giants
Stat: Bradshaw has averaged 36.5 rushing yards per game in eight career games vs. Washington.
Analysis: Bradshaw might run angry after Tom Coughlin disciplined him and made him sit out the first half last week. Bradshaw is still a key cog in the New York offense and should provide his owners with at least respectable rushing totals.
Ryan Grant, RB, Green Bay
Stat: Grant is averaging 33.4 rushing yards per game this season.
Analysis: Grant finally showed some signs of renewed life last week, rushing for 85 yards and two TDs. He does face the Chiefs' 26th-ranked rush defense this week. Yet Grant must show he can keep up the momentum in back-to-back games before you realistically consider him for a flex spot in Week 16.
Dez Bryant, WR, Dallas
Stat: Bryant does not have a 100-yard game in 2011.
Analysis: Bryant has one 100-yard game in his career. He has nine games of four or less catches this year. Yet Bryant is a TD machine to the point that the other less-than-ideal stats can get overlooked in the final analysis. He has scored in four of his past five games.
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