Which running back do I start in Week 13: Justin Fargas or Chris Johnson? Has Johnson hit the rookie wall? He hasn't done much the last two weeks! -- B. Ouellette, Epping, N.H.
Michael Fabiano: Johnson has rushed for a combined 110 yards and no touchdowns in the past two weeks. But I'd consider this week's Thanksgiving Day matchup against Detroit an opportunity for him to snap out of his slump. The Lions rank dead last in the league against the run, allowing an average of 166.7 yards per game. Johnson should rebound and post a nice stat line. The rookie runner is still a much more attractive option than Fargas across the board.
Is it time to give up on Donovan McNabb? Should I cut him and add Tyler Thigpen? -- S. Vanderheyden, Green Bay, Wis.
M.F.: If Thigpen is somehow still available in your league, you need to go to the waiver wire right now and pick him up. Over the last five weeks, no quarterback has scored more fantasy points on NFL.com than Thigpen, who's totaled 124 points (Matt Cassel is second with 118 points, and Peyton Manning is third with 117 points). In the case of McNabb, I wouldn't release him altogether unless I'm in a much smaller league. However, I would sit him if I had Thigpen or another legitimate option at the position.
I'm in a PPR league and need to start three wide receivers from Braylon Edwards, Randy Moss, Santana Moss, Eddie Royal, Kevin Walter and Roddy White. I benched Moss last week and he had 38 points! -- R. Beck, Butte, Mon.
M.F.: Ouch, that's tough to lose out on that many points! Moss does have an awful matchup this week on the road against the Steelers, who rank first in pass defense, but how can you sit him after his performance in Miami? White is a must-start in San Diego, where he'll face a Chargers defense that ranks last in the league against the pass. The third wideout to start is Kevin Walter. Did you know that he has just two fewer fantasy points on NFL.com than Santana Moss? He also has a much better matchup, facing a Jaguars defense that's allowed 18 receiving touchdowns. Moss has a difficult task against the Giants, who rank eighth in pass defense.
I need to start one running back from Maurice Jones-Drew, Steve Slaton and Michael Turner. Can Turner put up good numbers away from the Georgia Dome? -- D. Wagy, Homer, Ala.
M.F.: Jones-Drew has a phenomenal matchup on Monday night against the Houston Texans, who rank 23rd against the run, but there's no way I'm benching Turner. After his four-touchdown performance against the Panthers, the Burner is now the top-scoring running back on NFL.com. While much of his success has come at home in the Georgia Dome, he should be motivated to produce solid numbers against his former team, the Chargers. The Bolts are ranked 15th in run defense this season.
Which two running backs should I start in Week 13 from Joseph Addai, Ronnie Brown and Thomas Jones? All three have good matchups! -- T. Ciriello, Italy
M.F.: Brown does have a very attractive matchup in St. Louis, where he'll face a Rams defense that has struggled against the run. But because he still loses some carries to Ricky Williams, I'd bench him in favor of Addai and Jones. Addai has started to perform well over the last two weeks, and now he'll face a Browns defense that's 28th against the run. Jones, who ranks fifth in fantasy points among runners on NFL.com, also has a great matchup against the Broncos and their 27th-ranked run defense.
I'm worried about Jason Witten. He's done nothing since suffering a broken rib, and I'm not sure if I should start him in the fantasy postseason. I can add one of these tight ends -- John Carlson, Anthony Fasano, Zach Miller, Tony Scheffler or Jerramy Stevens? Do any of these players warrant starting ahead of Witten? -- A. Figueredo, Chicago, Ill.
M.F.: I've promoted the stick-with-your-studs concept for what seems like forever, so it's hard for me to bench Witten. But in this case, I think it's time to put him on the fantasy sidelines. Since Week 7, Witten has scored a combined eight fantasy points on NFL.com. That's fewer points than tight ends with no value like Michael Gaines, Reggie Kelly and Jeff King. Because he's nursing a broken rib, it seems like the Cowboys are using Witten as more of a decoy so defenses still have to account for him in the passing game. While that's a positive for the Cowboys pass attack, it's bad news for fantasy leaguers. I wouldn't drop Witten altogether, but I would add someone like Dustin Keller or Kevin Boss (or in this case, Scheffler against the Jets) this week and start him until Witten begins to produce the sort of numbers we've seen from him in the past.
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I need to start two running backs from Matt Forte, Thomas Jones and LaDainian Tomlinson and two wide receivers from Mark Bradley, Justin Gage and Vincent Jackson. Advice? - D. Edberg, San Diego, Calif.
M.F.: Jones is the best option out of that trio, and I'd start Forte ahead of Tomlinson. While L.T. has a better matchup on paper, he's been unable to exploit weak run defenses like the Chiefs and Colts this month. Furthermore, I just don't trust Tomlinson ahead of Forte, who's become a top-five fantasy running back in standard formats. At wide receiver, I'd start Jackson and Bradley and sit Gage. Just be sure to check on the status of Bradley, who injured his calf last week against the Bills. If there is any question to his status for the weekend, you might want to play it safe and start Gage on Thursday afternoon. He's got a great matchup against the Lions.
I have been offered Clinton Portis for Michael Turner. Should I make this move? -- C. Thompson, Eugene, Ore.
M.F.: I would pass on this deal. As someone who owns Portis in two leagues, I wouldn't be opposed to trading him for a back like Turner or someone with similar value. Portis did rush for an impressive 143 yards last week in Seattle, but he's dealing with various injuries heading into the stretch run. He also has some tough matchups on the schedule as he faces the Giants (6th vs. run), Ravens (4th vs. run) and Eagles (11th vs. run) in three of the final four weeks of the fantasy season.
Should I start Darren McFadden ahead of Larry Johnson this week? He scored twice against the Broncos, and I like his matchup against the Chiefs. Also, is it time to bench Jay Cutler? I can start Philip Rivers ahead of him. -- C. Tuetel, Davie, Fla.
M.F.: I think Johnson is a better fantasy option in Oakland, as the Raiders rank 31st against the run and are allowing an average of 160 rushing yards per game. In fact, I expect him to rush for 100-plus yards for the first time since Week 4. As for Cutler, I would bench him in favor of Rivers. Over the last five weeks, Cutler is 14th in fantasy points among quarterbacks on NFL.com. That number would be far worse if it weren't for a monster 447-yard, three-touchdown performance against the Browns. The fact that Rivers is at home and facing the Falcons, who rank 23rd against the pass, makes him an even more attractive option than his fellow AFC West quarterback.
Hi Michael, nice call on sitting Willis McGahee last week. I benched him in favor of Peyton Hillis at my flex spot. The question is, do I make the same move this week? I also need to start Jeff Garcia or Ben Roethlisberger. Thanks mate! -- P. Dessens, Australia
M.F.: The Ravens backfield has been a headache all season. While Le'Ron McClain had the better performance last week against the Eagles, McGahee could see the lion's share of carries against the Bengals. The problem is, no one but coach John Harbaugh knows who will see the majority of carries, and he's not going to let us know! But here's the catch -- Selvin Young is expected to return from an injured groin and will cut into Hillis' carries against the Jets and their third-ranked run defense. So if Young is in fact active against the Men in Green, I'd start McGahee because of the favorable matchup in Cincinnati. If he's inactive, stick with Hillis. As for your second question, I'd start Roethlisberger ahead of Garcia. While I do like Garcia'a matchup against the Saints, Big Ben should post a nice stat line at home against the Patriots.
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