Lineup questions for fantasy's postseason on the minds of owners

Hi Michael, should I start Tony Romo over Alex Smith in Week 14? At tight end, should I go with Heath Miller or start Visanthe Shiancoe? How about the Bengals defense or the Eagles defense? Thanks! -- M. Evans, United Kingdom

Michael Fabiano: This is a closer call than you would think on the surface, as Smith has averaged more than 17 fantasy points per game since taking over the top spot on the Niners depth chart. But I would still stick with Romo for two reasons. First, he was very impressive in last week's loss to the Giants, scoring a league-high 33 fantasy points on NFL.com. Second, the Chargers pass defense just allowed 271 yards, three touchdowns and 26 fantasy points to Brady Quinn in a road win over the Browns. In what could be a high-scoring affair, Romo should continue to find success. At tight end, I would start Miller. While he has struggled over the last two weeks, Miller has been an absolute star against the Browns. Earlier this season, he posted 80 yards and a touchdown against them. He also has three scores in his last five meetings with the AFC North opponent. I'd also side with the Eagles over the Bengals. Neither has a great matchup, but I like the Eagles in New York against the Giants more than the Bengals playing in Minnesota.

Hi, Michael! I need to start two wide receivers from Miles Austin, Marques Colston, Derrick Mason and Terrell Owens. I also wanted to know if I should start Steelers defense or the Ravens defense. Thanks in advance! -- O. Glader, Sweden

M.F.: All four of your wide receivers have starting value this week -- I love Mason against the Lions and T.O. against the Chiefs -- but I would start Austin and Colston. He might not have the name value of Andre Johnson or Calvin Johnson, but Austin has outscored both of them in standard leagues this season. In fact, he's the fourth highest-scoring wide receiver on NFL.com. I just couldn't bench someone who is producing at that kind of level. Colston has put up good numbers in his career against the Falcons, including a 14-point performance against them back in Week 8. At defense, I would go with the Ravens over the Steelers. Pittsburgh's defense has been dreadful in recent weeks, so I trust it less despite facing the Browns. The Ravens host the Lions at M & T Bank Stadium, which is a great matchup for the Purple and Black attack.

Big fan of your columns! Last week I benched Adrian Peterson in favor of Knowshon Moreno, and it paid off. Should I now use Moreno or Jamaal Charles instead of Peterson? Also, would you start Donovan McNabb or Alex Smith this week? -- S. Simas, Brazil

M.F.: That was a bold move, my friend! It certainly paid off, though, as Peterson was invisible against the Cardinals while Moreno scored twice in a big win over the Chiefs. With that said, I would bench Moreno this week and start Peterson and Charles. You might disagree since Peterson has the toughest matchup of the trio, but I'm of the mindset that now is not the time to bench your stars. Charles, who has been a tremenduos find off the waiver wire, is a better option than Moreno based on a matchup against the Bills. Their defense has allowed more fantasy points to running backs than any other team in the league. At the quarterback spot, I would start McNabb ahead of Smith. He has a more attractive matchup in Week 14, facing a Giants defense that is dealing with several injuries and has been shredded by opposing quarterbacks in recent weeks.

I'm in a PPR league that uses a flex player, and I need to start three of these four wide receivers: Andre Johnson, Calvin Johnson, Brandon Marshall and Anquon Boldin. I also need to start one of these quarterback: Eli Manning, Matt Hasselback and Alex Smith. Thanks for your help! -- J. Mancuso, Kerkimer, N.Y.

M.F.: That is one heck of a list of wide receivers! Are you in a four-team league or something? All kidding aside, I would bench Marshall. He has the worst matchup of these four stars, facing a Colts defense that has been tough on opposing wideouts this season. At the quarterback spot, I'd start Smith over Hasselbeck and Manning. He's been more consistent than his two veteran counterparts, and Smith faces a 49ers defense that has allowed an average of around 18 fantasy points per game to signal-callers.

Hey Mike, great job this year but I need one last piece of advice. I'm in a 12-team standard league with two keepers. I'm trying to narrow down who I'm going to keep and need your input. It's between Matt Schaub, Steve Slaton, Michael Turner, LeSean McCoy, Vincent Jackson, Steve Smith (NYG), and Mike Sims-Walker. I was leaning towards Schaub and Jackson, but I don't think Schaub will be able to put up two consecutive seasons without a significant injury. What do you think? -- D. Geiger, Canada

M.F.: Always glad to help. There is a lot that can happen between now and the time when you need to make a final decision on your keepers, but I would retain Turner and McCoy. Turner, despite his ankle issues this season, is still one of the better running backs in fantasy football. Of course, that assumes that the Eagles part ways with Brian Westbrook and use McCoy as their featured back in 2010.

If that scenario doesn't come to fruition, however, I'd side with Schaub over McCoy and Jackson. While he is a bit of a risk because of his proneness to injuries, Schaub has still proven that he can be an elite fantasy quarterback. Remember, he was averaging around 24 fantasy points before his No. 1 tight end, Owen Daniels, was lost for the season to an injured knee. In his games without Daniels, Schaub has averaged just 15 fantasy points per game.

Hello Mike, I hope you're enjoying your upcoming days until Christmas. I have a burning question for you about Jerome Harrison. Do you think he can be worth starting in the weeks to come? Also, please rank these wide receivers in order based on matchup for Week 14: Derrick Mason, Robert Meachem, Pierre Garcon, Kenny Britt, Jason Avant, Steve Smith (NYG) and Chris Chambers. Thanks for the always useful information! -- J. Lue, Houston, Texas

M.F.: Happy holidays! To answer your first question, I do think Harrison can and will make an impact in the fantasy postseason. While he does have a tough matchup this week against the Steelers, I still see him as a viable flex starter. Remember, Harrison faces the Chiefs and Raiders in the final two weeks of the fantasy postseason. Their defenses both rank near the bottom of the league against the run this season. To answer your second question, here's how I would rank those wideouts: 1. Meachem, 2. Smith, 3. Mason, 4. Garcon, 5. Chambers, 6. Britt, 7. Avant. Meachem has been a star in recent weeks, and Smith remains the top option in the pass attack for Eli Manning. I also like Mason, who faces a Lions defense that has allowed the second-most fantasy points to wide receivers. I also like Garcon, who's been very hot in recent weeks.

I've lost Michael Turner due to injuries, and the following running backs are available on the waiver wire: Jerome Harrison, Correll Buckhalter, Jerious Norwood and Cadillac Williams. I also have Joseph Addai, Jason Snelling and Jamaal Charles on my roster. Who do I add? -- B. Bugler, Plainfield, Ind.

M.F.: The Falcons running back situation is a mess, as both Snelling and Norwood shared carries almost right down the middle against the Eagles. As a result, I would rather have Harrison for the reasons I describe in the previous question. if Turner isn't back for Week 16, though, you might want to re-acquire Snelling since he faces the Bills and their vulneravle run defense. In Week 14, I would start Addai and Charles. Addai has been an underrated fantasy star this season, and Charles faces those Bills.

I need a win this week to secure a first-round bye in the playoffs! I need to start two wide receivers from Roddy White, Terrell Owens, Santonio Holmes, Mario Manningham and Steve Smith (NYG). I'm leaning toward Owens and Holmes. Your advice? -- D. Laurie, Buffalo, N.Y.

M.F.: I agree with you on Holmes, who has been on fire in the last two weeks and will see more targets against the hapless Browns if Hines Ward (hamstring) is out for Thursday's game. But as much as I like Owens against the Chiefs, I wouldn't start him over White. The Falcons wide receiver has owned the Saints, posting a combined 19 receptions for 340 yards and two touchdowns in his last three games against his NFC South foe. That includes a 108-yard, one-touchdown performance back in Week 8.

Which quarterback should I start in Week 14: Vince Young or Kurt Warner? Also, can you give me a sleeper kicker? I'm done with Nick Folk! -- W. Null, San Jose, Calif.

M.F.: Young has been a viable fantasy starter over the last two weeks, but there's no way I'm benching Warner. His hip doesn't appear to be a problem, and he's had a lot of success in his career against the 49ers. Warner also faces the Lions and Rams in the final two weeks of the fantasy postseason, so I'd keep him right there in your starting lineup as long as your team keeps winning. In terms of a kicker, I'd go out and grab Garrett Hartley. He's overtaken John Carney on the Saints depth chart and should be seen as a top-notch fantasy kicker the rest of the season. In his first game as the team's top kicker, Hartley scored an impressive 15 fantasy points on NFL.com.

Mike, because of your help I find myself in second place going into the playoffs of our 14-team league. My brother is currently in first place. I have Peyton Manning as my starting quarterback, but I also picked up Alex Smith because of his Week 16 matchup with the Lions. My brother has Vernan Davis, and I am hoping to meet him in the finals. Of course, I need a win this week to do that. Should I start Smith ahead of Manning to offset Davis? Any help would be greatly appreciated! -- G. Kovatch, Dallas, Texas

M.F.: I'm glad you're in the hunt for a championship! I do understand the concept of trying to even out a matchup in this fashion, but there's no way I would bench Manning for Smith this week. Manning remains one of the elite quarterbacks in fantasy football, and the Colts can clinch home-field advantage throughout the playoffs with a win over the Broncos. If you reach Week 16, though, I would start Smith. As you mentioned, he has a great matchup against the Lions. I think you're also going to lose the services of Manning for all or part of that week, as the Colts are expected to rest some of their starters if home-field is signed, sealed and delivered at that point.

Michael Fabiano is an award-winning fantasy football analyst on NFL.com. Have a burning question for Michael on anything fantasy football related? Leave it in our comments section or send it to AskFabiano@nfl.com!

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