Michael Fabiano: When Tebow was given the starting job in Denver several weeks back, I said he could save your fantasy season. Part of the reason I believed that was the fact that his schedule is extremely favorable down the stretch. While Palmer and Moore also have some attractive opponents remaining, Tebow's slate of games is more conducive to statistical success. In fact, he doesn't face a single team (through Week 16) that is giving up an average of fewer than 15.81 fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks -- that's the Bears, who Tebow faces in Week 14. He also has games against the Chargers, Vikings, Patriots and Bills (fantasy championship week). So to list them in order (based on fantasy points allowed), it's Tebow first, Moore second, Palmer third and Smith a distant fourth. If Tebow is still available in your league -- especially with Kyle Orton gone -- pick him up now.
What is your outlook for Matt Leinart the rest of the season? Is he worth a roster spot in a 12-team league? -- B. Nichols (via Facebook)
M.F.: Leinart is worth a roster spot in most fantasy leagues with 12 or more teams, but he has a lot to prove before he'll warrant a prominent role. In his 17 career starts at the NFL level, he has thrown 13 touchdown passes with 15 interceptions. Those aren't exactly attractive numbers. He also hasn't started a single contest in close to two full seasons, so there's going to be some potential rust. The schedule does include a great matchup against the Colts in fantasy championship week, but tough games against the Jaguars and Bengals also await. On a positive note, the USC product does have one of the best running games in the league to support him. He'll also get back star wide receiver Andre Johnson, who has missed several weeks with an injured hamstring. The NFL has also become more of a passing league, so quarterbacks can find instant success with even limited experience. So if you need a quarterback, and many owners do with the recent glut of injuries, Leinart is worth a look -- I just wouldn't start him until (and if) he shows flashes of consistent production.
Who would you start this week between Chris Ogbonnaya and C.J. Spiller? -- Teemonamiri (via Twitter)
M.F.:Browns coach Pat Shurmur said he will go with Montario Hardesty, not Ogbonnaya, if Hardesty is active against the Bengals. With that said, I would start Spiller. He's the new featured back for the Bills with Fred Jackson out for the season, so he's guaranteed to see plenty of work against the Jets.
M.F.: Nicks has seen just one fewer target than Cruz this season, and that's due in large part to the fact that he missed one game due to injuries. Nicks is having a solid season overall, averaging 10.27 fantasy points per game -- that's just 0.56 points fewer than Cruz's per game average. So what should you do with Nicks? I'd keep starting him. Keep in mind, though, that the schedule isn't favorable down the stretch with games against the Cowboys (Week 14) and Redskins (Week 15) before a game against CB Darrelle Revis and the Jets in fantasy's championship week. All three of those teams have allowed fewer than 20 fantasy points per game to wideouts.
What are your thoughts on Kevin Smith? Is he a solid No. 2 fantasy running back? -- TheMikeBro (via Twitter)
M.F.: Smith is clearly someone to add off the waiver wire after posting an impressive 201 scrimmage yards and three touchdowns against the Panthers, but don't expect him to have such enormous fantasy numbers on a regular basis. Also keep in mind that Carolina's defense has allowed more fantasy points to running backs than any other team. And if we have learned anything this season, it's that you can't trust most hot waiver-wire pickups to perform on a consistent basis -- unless it's someone like Cam Newton or DeMarco Murray. This week's opponent, the Packers, has allowed an average of over 11 fewer fantasy points to running backs than Carolina. So, do I see Smith as a solid No. 2 back? No, but I do think he warrants flex starter status while Jahvid Best is on the sidelines. The veteran out of Central Florida is still a free agent in 99.5 percent of NFL.com leagues.
M.F.: Remember all of that quarterback depth we had around the league earlier this season? Well, now it's gone with injuries to Peyton Manning, Cutler, Schaub, Matt Cassel and Michael Vick (among others). So if the likes of Palmer and Tebow are unavailable, take a look at Matt Hasselbeck (if active), Andy Dalton, Moore, Leinart, Christian Ponder, Vince Young (assuming Vick is out again) or Rex Grossman. Yes, it is that bad right now if you're in a league with 12 or more teams. If you need a matchup-based starter for Week 12, I would consider Hasselbeck against the Buccaneers, Young against the Patriots or Ponder against the Falcons.
M.F.: No chance. Unfortunately, the drop off in fantasy value from Peterson to Gerhart is a huge one. You're talking about one of the top three running backs in fantasy football versus a player who warrants a flex start against a weaker opponent at best. This week Gerhart will face the Falcons, who have allowed the third-fewest fantasy points to opposing running backs. That makes the Stanford product a real risk. If you're looking for other potential running back options off the waiver wire, consider Kevin Smith, Ryan Grant (if James Starks is out), Chris Ogbonnaya, Spiller, or Joe McKnight (if LaDainian Tomlinson is out). The eventual top runner for the Colts, whether it's Joseph Addai or Donald Brown, is also worth a look against the Panthers and their terrible run defense. Clearly there is no great alternative to Peterson, so play the matchups.
I started Denarius Moore last week and lost! Should I give him another start or is this how he's going to perform? Also, would you start Newton or Tom Brady in Week 12? -- S. Perry (via Facebook)
M.F.: I loved Moore's matchup against the Vikings, but it didn't bear fruit and proves a problem with Raiders wide receivers -- just when you think one of them is ready to make a consistent fantasy impact, another one comes out of nowhere to shine. First it was Darrius Heyward-Bey, then it was Jacoby Ford. Next in line was Moore, and last week it was Chaz Schilens. So to answer your question, Moore faces a Bears defense that's allowed just five touchdown catches to wide receivers all season. That little nugget, along with the aforementioned inconsistent numbers from wideouts in Silver & Black, makes Moore someone to start at your own risk. To answer your second question, I would start Newton over Brady. The rookie out of Auburn has a tremendous matchup against the Colts, who have allowed the third-most fantasy points to opposing field generals this season. On the other hand, Brady goes up against the Eagles in a road contest at Lincoln Financial Field -- that doesn't make him someone who needs to be benched, but the matchups do make Newton the better of these two fantasy superstars.
Is it time to cut bait on Peyton Hillis? I took him in the third round, and now I'm not sure what to do! -- kylepalmer01 (via Twitter)
M.F.: Hillis has already been ruled out for Week 12 with his bum hamstring, and there is no timetable for his return to action. With Montario Hardesty closer to 100 percent and Ogbonnaya playing at a high level, dropping Hillis for a hot free agent makes sense in smaller leagues. I would still stash him for another week or two in deeper leagues where legitimate free-agent running backs are harder to find, with the hope that the Browns will give us a better idea of when (or if) the Arkansas product will be back on the field. One thing is for sure -- I'll never draft another player featured on the cover of the Madden video game!
What is the status of Greene? Is he a better start than McKnight this week? Also, is it time to cut bait with Chris Johnson? -- A. Bolea (via Facebook)
M.F.: Greene is expected to start against the Bills this week, according to Jets coach Rex Ryan. With that said, it still makes sense to go out and grab McKnight as insurance in what is a terrific matchup. The Bills have been awful against the run, allowing the fourth-most fantasy points to opposing backs. If Greene is active and gets the start, consider him a viable No. 2 runner or flex starter. As for Johnson, I still wouldn't drop him. It's crazy to say this because of his immense past success, but CJ2K is now a matchup-based starter in most leagues. This week he has a favorable assignment against the Buccaneers, who have surrendered 13 rushing touchdowns, the seventh-most rushing yards and the second-most fantasy points to runners. It's a risk based on his awful overall numbers, but I'd still get Johnson into my starting lineup -- even as a mere flex starter.