Fantasy mailbag: Can CJ2K find consistency

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Do you consider Philip Rivers a must-start quarterback after his performance in Week 12? - @LazyGraneur (via Twitter)

Michael Fabiano: I don't like to call players "must-starts" in most cases, but there are going to be some weeks where Rivers is highly attractive. Let's look at his schedule -- the Cincinnati Bengals come to town in Week 13, and their defense has allowed an average of 18.3 fantasy points per game to quarterbacks on the road. Next is a date with the New York Giants (Week 14), who have also surrendered an average of over 18 fantasy points per game to signal-callers on the road. Rivers next faces the Denver Broncos, which is his most difficult opponent -- their defense has allowed an average of 15.9 points per game to the quarterback position at home. In his final start of the fantasy postseason (Week 16), Rivers goes up against an Oakland Raiders defense that is allowing over 16 fantasy points per game to opposing field generals on the road. In all, he's going to be quite an attractive fantasy option more often than not.

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The Chiefs defense has struggled in recent weeks. Is it time to pick another one up off the waiver wire? - T. Barth (via Facebook)

M.F.: The Chiefs have gone from fantasy heroes to fantasy zeroes. Over their last four games, their defense has scored four or fewer fantasy points three times including a minus-3 point stink bomb last week against the San Diego Chargers. Next up is a date with Peyton Manning and the Broncos, against whom the Chiefs scored just six fantasy points back in Week 11. With injuries to a pair of this unit's biggest stars in Tamba Hali and Justin Houston, Kansas City's defense is one to avoid -- at least this week.

What do I do with Andrew Luck? Can he be trusted in the fantasy football postseason? - @BrahmaBull71 (via Twitter)

M.F.:Fantasy owners haven't had much Luck with Andrew lately, as he's scored fewer than 14 fantasy points in two of his last three games. What's more, he's failed to throw for multiple touchdowns since Week 9. The schedule isn't going to do Luck any favors either, as three of his next four opponents have allowed an average of 15.1 or fewer fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks. That makes Luck less of a "must-start" signal-caller and more of a matchup-based option in most leagues. On a positive note, Luck does play two of his next four games at home -- he's scored fewer than 18 fantasy points just once in five starts at Lucas Oil Stadium this season.

What are your thoughts on Stevan Ridley? - J. Smith (via Facebook)

M.F.: It's almost impossible to predict what coach Bill Belichick is going to do with his runners, but one thing we do know is that he doesn't like fumblers. Unfortunately, that's a label Ridley is going to wear until he proves otherwise. Here's a thought -- he should talk to Tiki Barber about how to not fumble! Ridley didn't play a single snap after his first quarter fumble during Sunday night's win against the Broncos, and his spot atop New England's depth chart is now a major question. In fact, we could see less of Ridley and more of Brandon Bolden and Shane Vereen in the backfield in the weeks to come. At this point, it's hard to trust him as much more than a risk-reward flex starter.

Is it safe to use Percy Harvin this week? - @DROC1028 (via Twitter)

M.F.:Seahawks coach Pete Carroll has already implied that Harvin's snap count restriction would be lifted after the bye week, so he should be good to go when his team faces the New Orleans Saints. A talented wideout with immense upside, it would be a shock to no one if he finished the final weeks as one of the 25 best players at his position based on fantasy points. The Saints have been tough on opposing wideouts in recent weeks, allowing an average of just 14.7 fantasy points per game to the position since Week 9. Still, Harvin is at worst a No. 3 fantasy receiver or flex starter until further notice.

Is it time to look elsewhere for a tight end if you have Jordan Cameron? - @hungryman871 (via Twitter)

M.F.: The fantasy love affair owners have had with Cameron is on the rocks, as he's failed to more than 3.2 points since Week 8. The USC product has also found the end zone one time in his last seven games overall -- he had scored five times in his first four contests. With that said, I would stick with him if Cameron is your best option at the tight end position. He's facing a tremendous matchup this week against the Jacksonville Jaguars, who have given up the fourth-most fantasy points (12.3 PPG) to the position on the road.

Would you trade Peyton Manning for Tony Romo and Rob Gronkowski? - B. Kramer (via Facebook)

M.F.: This is a deal that I would make, assuming of course you're in need of a major upgrade at the tight end position. I know there's a downgrade from Manning to Romo at quarterback, but look at the latter's upcoming schedule -- Romo faces the Raiders, Chicago Bears, Green Bay Packers and Washington Redskins. Of those four teams, the Bears are the lone squad to give up an average of fewer than 16 fantasy points per game to opposing signal-callers. Both the Packers and Redskins are giving up 18.9 or more points to the position. You're also getting a fantasy monster in Gronkowski, who has recorded 11-plus fantasy points in each of his last three games.

What are your thoughts on Donald Brown this week? Is he a must-start based on the matchup? - @cwebwrath316 (via Twitter)

M.F.: It's tough not to like Brown this week, though I wouldn't call him a true "must-start" runner. Instead, I like him as a legitimate flex option against a Tennessee Titans defense that has been plain bad against the run this season. This unit has allowed an average of over 22 fantasy points per game to running backs on the road, and Brown whipped them for 94 scrimmage yards, two touchdowns and a very impressive 21.40 fantasy points.

Rankings: Palm(er) readings

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Chris Johnson has been boom or bust the last several weeks. Is this what he is going to be the rest of the season? - @HaloMonger (via Twitter)

M.F.: This is the 2013 version of CJ2K -- he's either going to help lead you to a win or he's going to break your heart. That's been the case over his last six games overall, as he's recorded 17 or more fantasy points on three different occasions but has been held under 8.2 points in the three others. The good news is that this week's matchup against the Indianapolis Colts bodes well for his chances to put up a nice stat line, as he put up 20.2 fantasy points against them in Week 11. All you can do is keep sending Johnson out there and hope for the best.

Should fantasy owners be patient with Victor Cruz, or is it time to put him on the bench? - R. Leach (via Facebook)

M.F.: I will answer this question with a question -- do you have enough depth at the wide receiver position to sit Cruz? If you do, then it's time to treat him like what he's been over the last few weeks, and that's a risk-reward, matchup-based starter. He failed to reward owners who started him against the Dallas Cowboys in what was a plus matchup on paper, so saying that he's a nice option in what is another plus matchup in Washington this week isn't all that accurate. At this point, Cruz is no more than a No. 3 fantasy wideout in most leagues.

Michael Fabiano is an award-winning fantasy football analyst on NFL.com and NFL Network and a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association (FSWA) Hall of Fame. Have a burning question on anything fantasy related? Tweet it to @Michael_Fabiano or send a question via Facebook!

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