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Fantasy football: Tom Brady is matchup-proof

I am in must-win mode! Do I dare bench Tom Brady for Josh Freeman? - @cpabrego (via Twitter)

Michael Fabiano: Freeman does have a great matchup this week against the Philadelphia Eagles, but I can't bench Brady during the fantasy postseason. While he does have a tough matchup on paper, keep in mind that Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers, Matthew Stafford and Chad Henne have all scored 20-plus fantasy points against the Houston Texans. If Brady joins that list and you have him on the bench, well, that will make for a long fantasy offseason!

Should I start Bryce Brown, Darren McFadden of Knowshon Moreno in my flex spot this week? - P. Georgios (via Facebook)

M.F.: As long as Brown is the featured back for Eagles coach Andy Reid, he needs to be in fantasy starting lineups. This kid has come out of nowhere to produce ridiculous numbers in the absence of LeSean McCoy, rushing for a combined 347 yards and four scores while averaging over eight yards per carry. That's quite a statistical accomplishment, even over a two-game stretch. Furthermore, no running back has scored more fantasy points over the last two weeks. Brown does have a difficult matchup against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this weekend, but his statistical potential is better than McFadden and Moreno.

I need to start two of the following three wide receivers - Dez Bryant, Eric Decker and Cecil Shorts. Help! - N. Iggleman (via Google+)

M.F.: There's no way I would bench Bryant right now. He's been on absolute fire in recent weeks, averaging 20-plus fantasy points in his last three games while also scoring double digits in four straight contests. As a result, your decision will come down to Shorts and Decker. Assuming he's able to suit up after suffering a concussion in Week 13, I would roll with the Jaguars wide receiver. He has recorded 14-plus fantasy points in four straight games and has hit double digits in six of his last seven starts overall. On the flip side, Decker's numbers have taken a serious nosedive. In his last four games, he's posted eight-plus fantasy points just once while failing to score double digits even once during that time. Even last week against the Buccaneers, who had allowed a boat load of fantasy points to opposing wideouts, Decker was unable to perform at a high statistical level (1.70 points).

Is it time to drop Michael Vick? - @Tlusk12 (via Twitter)

M.F.: With the announcement that Nick Foles will remain the No. 1 quarterback in Philadelphia for the rest of the season, it sure seems like a good time to cut ties with Vick. He has already been dropped in around 25 percent of leagues, and I would expect that percentage to rise as fantasy owners look to add hot free agents to bolster their postseason roster. Vick, the top fantasy player in 2010, has seen his stock drop over the last two years due to a combination of injuries, inconsistent production and heightened expectations. Who knows, he could be wearing a new uniform in 2013. If you need to add a field general in Vick's absence, the top names to pursue are Russell Wilson and Colin Kaepernick. Sam Bradford (at Buffalo Bills), Brandon Weeden (vs. Kansas City Chiefs) and Jake Locker (at Indianapolis Colts) are also worth a look based on their Week 14 opponents.

I have three of the biggest disappointments in fantasy football in Matt Forte, Larry Fitzgerald and Jimmy Graham. What should I do with them? - N. Omar (via Facebook)

M.F.: I would agree with your assessment of Fitzgerald, but I wouldn't call Forte and Graham "disappointments." Forte hasn't been great, but he's a top-20 running back in standard fantasy formats. As for Graham, he's third in points among tight ends despite missing time with an injured ankle. Unless you're loaded at running backs and play the matchups with Forte, I think both he and Graham need to remain in your starting lineup. The same can't be said of Fitzgerald, though, as he's fallen off the face of the fantasy universe. He's barely in the top 40 at his position based on fantasy points, and he's scored a combined 6.40 fantasy points in his last three games. A total of 37 wide receivers scored that many fantasy points last week! It's not his fault, as the Cardinals offensive line is overmatched and the quarterback spot is a mess. Regardless, you just can't play Fitzgerald at this point.

Would you bench Aaron Rodgers in favor of Tony Romo? Rodgers has been a huge disappointment, and Romo has been on fire in recent weeks. - D. Stanton (via Google+)

M.F.: You're right, Rodgers has been a huge disappointment in recent weeks. In fact, he has recorded fewer than 15 fantasy points in four of his last five games and averaged just 12.95 fantasy points in his last two starts. Romo, on the other hand, has scored 15-plus points in six straight games and is averaging over 25 points in his last two contests. So ... start Romo over Rodgers, right? Well, I would still stick with the Packers quarterback. You didn't draft him in the first round to put him on your bench in the fantasy postseason, and I like his matchup against the Detroit Lions. What's more, Romo faces a Cincinnati Bengals defense that has allowed the sixth-fewest fantasy points to signal-callers on their home field.

Is it time to put Matt Ryan on the bench? I also have Cam Newton, but I benched him last week because Ryan had a great matchup! - @ewswen_eric (via Twitter)

M.F.: In your case, I would absolutely bench Ryan in favor of Newton. The Panthers quarterback lately has been flashing the sort of numbers that made him such a fantasy star as a rookie, averaging over 30 fantasy points in his last two starts. He also ripped this week's opponent, the Atlanta Falcons, for three total touchdowns and 31.20 fantasy points back in Week 4. Ryan was also a star in that contest, throwing for 369 yards and three touchdowns of his own. Based on his downward statistical trend in the last three weeks, though, I just have more confidence in Newton right now.

Who should I start in Week 14: Freeman or your pal Colin Kaepernick? - M. Daly (via Facebook)

M.F.: Ha, well I do have a lot of fantasy man love for the Niners quarterback. (You know what I mean). However, I don't let that blind me when it comes to the numbers and matchups. This week, Freeman is facing an Eagles defense that has given up 25-plus fantasy points to each of the last three quarterbacks they've faced. Furthermore, the Eagles have surrendered no fewer than 15.46 fantasy points to any signal-caller in their last seven games! So while I do like Kaepernick's matchup against the Miami Dolphins, I have to go with Freeman this weekend.

I somehow made the playoffs with Philip Rivers as my starting quarterback, but someone has dropped Russell Wilson. Should I put in a claim? I could use a running back and DeAngelo Williams is a free agent, so I'm not sure who to target! - G. Gardner (via Google+)

M.F.: Stop reading this, go to your fantasy league and put in a claim for Russell now! Williams looks like the top back in Carolina for the foreseeable future, but he's not the type of player to make a major fantasy impact at this point of his career. And while you might see running back as a bigger need on your roster, you are not in good shape at quarterback with Rivers under center. It's a small miracle you made the postseason considering his mediocre level of production, so grabbing Wilson is a nice upgrade. Wilson has scored 20-plus fantasy points in three of his last four games and has recorded 16-plus points in five straight starts. The talented rookie has also scored no fewer than 15 fantasy points in each of his last four home games.

Which running back will make the biggest impact during the fantasy football postseason: Frank Gore or DeMarco Murray? - @AntStevens95 (via Twitter)

M.F.: Overall, Gore's matchups aren't great in the fantasy postseason (vs. Miami Dolphins, at New England Patriots, at Seattle Seahawks) based on the numbers. Murray's schedule is a bit more attractive (at Cincinnati Bengals, vs. Pittsburgh Steelers, vs. New Orleans Saints), and I think he can help fantasy leaguers in their quest for a championship. However, it's tough to look past the success Gore has had this season. A top-10 fantasy runner, the veteran out of Miami (FL) has been a solid option across the board. So while Murray's return to the gridiron comes at a good time for owners, I still have more faith in Gore as a fantasy starter.

Michael Fabiano is an award-winning fantasy football analyst on Have a burning question on anything fantasy related? Tweet it to _**@MichaelFabiano**_ or send a question via **Facebook**!

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