Michael Fabiano: I have the exact same conundrum in one of my 10 fantasy football leagues, and I am going against the matchup and sticking with Vick. Yes, it's hard to pass on Roethlisberger when he's facing a vulnerable Bills defense. But is Vick's opponent, the Bears, really that good defensively? Sure, this unit has given up the fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks this season. But let's break down the opponents. In their first 10 games, the Bears have faced Matthew Stafford and Shaun Hill, Tony Romo, Aaron Rodgers, Eli Manning, Matt Moore and Jimmy Clausen, Matt Hasselbeck, Donovan McNabb, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Brett Favre and Tyler Thigpen. I would consider Romo and Rodgers the lone elite fantasy quarterbacks on that list -- and they combined to score 37.5 fantasy points on NFL.com. So are the Bears that stout against signal-callers, or have they just faced a lot of mediocre players at that position? I would argue the latter, which is the reason I am sticking with Vick -- as much as I like Roethlisberger.
M.F.: Johnson has gone from an undrafted fantasy wideout to someone who needs to be starting week in and week out in all leagues. He proved that again in Week 11, posting eight catches, 137 yards and three touchdowns in a win over the Bengals. Holmes, who faces those same Bengals on Thanksgiving night, has been on fire over his last three games and should remain active. That leaves the final decision between Austin and Boldin, and I'd go with the former. If we look at the numbers, it's pretty evident that Boldin has not been very consistent. In fact, one-third of his overall fantasy production came in just one game (Week 3 vs. Browns). Austin has seen fewer targets in recent weeks, but he has still scored three touchdowns in his last two games. What's more, Thursday's game against the Saints should be a serious shootout at the Jerry Dome.
Which quarterback should I start this week: Jon Kitna or Fitzpatrick? At running back, I need to start two of Frank Gore, Maurice Jones-Drew, LeGarrette Blount and BenJarvus Green-Ellis. And at wide receiver, I need to start two from Bryant, Austin, Reggie Wayne and Dwayne Bowe. Thanks! - J. Greenwood, Canada
M.F.: I would go with Kitna over Fitzpatrick at quarterback, based on what could be a high-scoring game on Thanksgiving. The Saints defense has been very tough on quarterbacks overall, but Matt Hasselbeck did rip them for 366 yards and a touchdown last week. At running back, I would start Gore and Jones-Drew. Your wide receivers are solid, but Bowe and Wayne are the best options. Bowe has been dynamite for much of the season, and Wayne is still too valuable to bench in favor of Bryant or Austin.
Hi Michael, I have a question about Vincent Jackson. I added him in my 12-team fantasy leagues and was thinking of starting him as a No. 3 wide receiver, but I worry about whether or not he'll see enough playing time to make an impact. What do you think? - M. Brazelton, Tucson, Ariz.
M.F.: If you were lucky enough to add Jackson off the waiver wire (or you've held onto him since the draft), I would get him right into your starting lineup. The Chargers have activated him from the Roster Exempt List, and reports out of San Diego suggest he's remained in great physical shape despite not playing a game to this point. With Antonio Gates, Malcom Floyd, Legedu Naanee and Patrick Crayton all dealing with injuries, Jackson could be the top option in the pass attack for Philip Rivers in Week 12. And if we have learned anything about Rivers, it's that he can make any wideout valuable in fantasy circles. Imagine what he'll do with Jackson! The two already have an established rapport on the gridiron, and I don't see any reason why Jackson can't step right into a starting role and put up good numbers in the team's passing game.
I listened to your sage advice last week on Nate Washington, and he rewarded me with a solid game. I was all set to start him this week against what has been a terrible Texans pass defense, but now I'm worried about Washington's value with Rusty Smith at quarterback. Would you bench Washington in favor of Nate Burleson (another one of your sleepers from last week) or Sidney Rice? - N. Giovanno, Bronx, N.Y.
M.F.: Glad to help, my friend. I am also in the position of figuring out what to do with Washington this week. He would have been one of my top sleepers if Vince Young or Kerry Collins were under center, especially against the Texans. But I'm not so sure I hold the same viewpoint with Smith at the helm of the offense. In fact, I'd start Burleson and Rice ahead of Washington. Burleson has been hot in recent weeks and has a good matchup against the Patriots, who have allowed the seventh-most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers. Rice, who saw 10 targets last week, also has a favorable foe this week -- the Redskins have been dreadful against the pass.
Which quarterback should I start this week: Matt Schaub or Brett Favre? I'm in the hunt for one of the last two playoff spots in our 12-team league and really need to make the right move. Thanks! - W. Spaulding, Syracuse, N.Y.
M.F.: You might think I'm nuts, but I would go with old man Favre. I know, he's a turnover machine, but hear me out. Schaub has been a colossal disappointment, and this week's matchup against the Titans isn't exactly a favorable one. On the flip side, Favre faces a Redskins defense that has surrendered the second-most fantasy points to quarterbacks this season. I also think Favre and the rest of his Vikings teammates will play an inspired game now that Leslie Frazier is the interim head coach. He is well respected in the locker room, and I'm sure the Vikes will put forth a great effort after being embarrassed by the Packers last week. It's a risk, but I'd roll with Favre.
Great call on Mike Tolbert last week! I won my fantasy game by five points starting Tolbert over Beanie Wells. Anyways, this week I need to start two running backs from Tolbert, Wells, Blount and Green-Ellis. Who should I choose? - N. Neilson, England
M.F.: Glad to help. Tolbert is actually scoring all the fantasy points I expected to see from Ryan Mathews back in the preseason! Oh well, you win some and you lose some. On to your question -- I would stick with Tolbert (assuming Mathews is out again) based on a favorable matchup with the Colts on Sunday night. I would also start the Law Firm, Green-Ellis, against the Lions and their wretched run defense. This unit has surrendered the third-most fantasy points to opposing running backs this season.
I have running back depth in our keeper league with Gore, Arian Foster and Peyton Hillis, but I can only start two of them each week as our league has no flex option. Should I bench Gore and just start Foster and Hillis the rest of the season? Gore killed me last week! - T. Kiefer, Trenton, N.J.
M.F.: Gore was a massive disappointment last week in a loss to the Buccaneers, but I do expect him to rebound and produce a nice stat line against the Cardinals on Monday Night Football. Their defense has been horrible against the run, allowing an average of 23 fantasy points per game to opposing running backs in 2010. Still, I don't know how you can bench either Foster or Hillis. Both runners have proven to be matchup-proof, posting solid numbers even against a tough run defense like the Jets. Overall, this duo makes up for two of the top three spots (based on fantasy points) among running backs on NFL.com. Hillis, undrafted in a lot of leagues, even has more points than Chris Johnson! You won't see me advising most people to bench Gore -- especially when the matchup is this good -- but in your case, it's the move to make.
Which quarterback should I start this week between Tom Brady and Eli Manning? Manning has a better matchup, but I'm worried about his level of production with Steve Smith and Hakeem Nicks out. Also, is it time to cut Jahvid Best? Outside of his first two games with the Lions, he's been awful! - M. Freeman, Bangor, Maine
M.F.: I would definitely start Brady ahead of Manning. You're right that the latter has a better matchup, but Brady facing the Lions is a nice Thanksgiving treat as well. With Smith and Nicks both out of action, Tom Terrific is also the safer option. As for Best, I wouldn't cut him outright unless you're in a smaller league and there are some nice alternatives on the waiver wire. He's clearly not 100 percent due to a nagging case of turf toe, and chances are he won't be healthy the remainder of the season. In fact, I expect Maurice Morris to see most of the work on Thursday against the Patriots. He's a decent flex option based on the matchup, especially in deeper PPR formats.
I have been playing the matchups with defenses all season, and the strategy has worked pretty well. Heading into Week 12, do you like any under-the-radar defenses to put up big-time fantasy numbers? Thanks! - S. Theodore, Canada
M.F.: I absolutely love the Browns this week. Their defense scored a very impressive 22 fantasy points against the Jaguars on NFL.com last week, and an upcoming matchup against the Panthers makes them a nice option. Regardless of who starts at quarterback between Jimmy Clausen and Brian St. Pierre, the Browns should be a great choice. Their defense is available in over 97 percent of NFL.com leagues. If you can't get the Browns, the Cardinals are also a nice option to consider off the waiver wire.