Each week, Scott Engel of RotoExperts.com previews all the NFL games from a fantasy perspective.
Kansas City at St. Louis
If Matt Cassel cannot play, the Chiefs become very easy to defend. The Rams will load up against the run and hone in on Jamaal Charles, making him a risky play as a RB2. Thomas Jones cannot create his own space against stacked fronts and should be reserved. Brodie Croyle cannot complete passes with any sort of consistency, making Dwayne Bowe a big risk as well. The Rams defense also becomes a nice fantasy play if Croyle starts. The Chiefs defense will spend a lot of time on the field if Cassel is out, and Steven Jackson may roll up some impressive rushing yardage totals. Sam Bradford will do a solid job of taking what the defense gives him, yet has only minor statistical upside. He also spreads the ball around a lot, making all of the Rams top WRs risky options. St. Louis' pass-catchers have been notoriously random from a fantasy perspective and should not be used during the playoffs.
Buffalo at Miami
Ryan Fitzpatrick and Steve Johnson have reverted to unreliability recently, and are not ideal options against a Miami defense that is looking pretty sturdy. Fitzpatrick has been up and down this year, and should not be trusted for quality production during the fantasy postseason. If you have another WR of similar value to Johnson, the Buffalo WR should be reserved in most cases. Fred Jackson appears to be the only viable starter from the Bills, as he is capable of providing at least adequate totals at any time, against any opponent. The Miami offense is mostly a fantasy wasteland right now, as the RBs are mired in mediocrity. Chad Henne is simply not playing well, dragging down the possible appeal of Davone Bess, who should not be used in most leagues. Brandon Marshall has become a desperation play, only for the hope of another possible TD. The Dolphins defense, however, should be a strong start in a low-scoring game.
Cleveland at Cincinnati
The Bengals allow 124.8 rushing yards per game, so Peyton Hillis will surely help many of his fantasy owners advance into the next round of the playoffs this week. The only other Brown worth consideration on the offensive side is Ben Watson, who should post decent numbers against a vulnerable Bengals defense that will be heavily focused on Hillis. They will not be able to stop the RB, but Watson should catch some balls out of play-action fakes and may get some red zone looks. The Browns have allowed four rushing TDs, which does not bode well for Cedric Benson. When the Cincy RB does not score, his fantasy totals can look bad. Carson Palmer may have to throw often with some mixed results. Expect a TD reception from Terrell Owens and quality yardage totals from Chad Ochocinco, but Palmer will be plagued by some turnovers again this week.
Houston at Tennessee
Andre Johnson resumes his spat with the Titans secondary, most notably Cortland Finnegan. Johnson should be played, yet with an added emotional incentive, he is a lock for fine fantasy numbers. Matt Schaub will be effective throwing to Johnson and Owen Daniels, who is contributing again just in time for the fantasy playoffs. Expect more than one TD pass from Schaub and a solid stat line from Daniels. No defense can fully contain Arian Foster, and he will be very busy, trying to control the clock and keep the ragtag Texans defense off the field as much as possible. Houston will not generate much of a pass rush against Kerry Collins, who will consistently hook up with Kenny Britt and Bo Scaife. Collins is a good start if you need to replace Aaron Rodgers or Matt Cassel, but do not use him over a more consistent passer based on the matchup alone. The Titans will move the ball well enough to set up Chris Johnson for some scoring chances inside the red zone. The passing game should also open up some more running space for Johnson this week.
Philadelphia at New York Giants
The Giants obviously know how to defend Vick effectively, or at least contain him. Vick will not deliver stellar numbers, as he will either have to get rid of the ball more quickly than usual, or may be hit and pressured often. Still, Vick will make key completions when he has to, and cannot be benched in most cases. DeSean Jackson is dealing with a foot issue, and Jeremy Maclin will have to step up and play a larger role in the offense. Brent Celek is unreliable for fantasy purposes, and you can find better options at TE. LeSean McCoy will play a very large role in the offense, as he will run frequently and catch flat and short passes to ease the pressure on Vick. The Eagles allow 103.5 rushing yards per game and the Giants must lean on the ground game because of a depleted receiving corps. The Eagles will focus on containing the New York RBs, but Ahmad Bradshaw will still prove elusive. Brandon Jacobs is a strong TD threat even if his yardage is limited. Eli Manning lacks some options right now, making him nothing more than an adequate fantasy starter. A healthy Hakeem Nicks, though, cannot be benched in any league, and Kevin Boss is another prime potential TD contributor for the Giants.
Detroit at Tampa Bay
The Buccaneers rank 27th against the run, but even with a friendly matchup, the Lions RBs are not recommended for fantasy play. Jahvid Best has been ineffective since the early weeks and Maurice Morris offers little to no weekly upside. The Lions also have little hope of moving the ball consistently against a respectable Tampa Bay pass defense. Calvin Johnson could potentially catch Detroit's only TD pass if Drew Stanton starts. The Detroit defense may spend a lot of time on the field, and LeGarrette Blount should be able to pad his numbers nicely in the second half. Expect a sound outing from Josh Freeman, as he hooks up frequently with Mike Williams and Kellen Winslow. Arrelious Benn will start to command more defensive attention, which is good for Williams, but Benn still has more to prove before fantasy players can start taking him more seriously.
New Orleans at Baltimore
There is no real reason to be concerned about Drew Brees this week, considering the Texans seemed to fully expose the Ravens as an overrated defense for fantasy purposes. Marques Colston is playing at an elite fantasy level right now and is a must-start in all formats. The other New Orleans pass-catchers, however, are too statistically erratic to trust during the fantasy postseason. Pierre Thomas has not shown much yet since returning, thus he and Reggie Bush should be reserved. The Saints secondary is aggressive and can keep Anquan Boldin in check, and Derrick Mason will come down hard statistically after a terrific Week 14 outing. Joe Flacco may be disappointing for fantasy purposes this week, but the offense should have more success getting the ball to Ray Rice as both a ball carrier and pass-catcher.
Arizona at Carolina
Many owners are assuming the Cardinals as a strong defensive play because of Carolina's offensive woes. Keep in mind, though, that Arizona ranks 30th against the rush and the team is traveling out of its time zone, which can always be an adverse factor. Jonathan Stewart and Mike Goodson are both good starting options. Stewart will roll up more yardage numbers, and Goodson is becoming a frequent possible TD option for the Panthers. The Cardinals defense is a viable, yet not top-level option for this week. Carolina ranks 25th against the run, and owners can use Tim Hightower with confidence. Beanie Wells, however, could re-emerge as well now that an illness is likely behind him. Arizona could execute a two-pronged running attack of its own this week. Larry Fitzgerald proved in Week 14 that he can at least deliver a respectable fantasy performance even with an inexperienced QB at the helm. This game will be limited to RBs and Fitzgerald, and possibly Jay Feely again for quality fantasy production.
Washington at Dallas
Ryan Torain is healthy again and is quickly showing up on the radar as a solid RB2 option. Torain's physical, unrelenting style makes him capable to challenge any defense, yet puts him at risk for injury at any point as well. The Washington passing game has limited potential to perform efficiently, although Santana Moss is a viable WR3 option against the Dallas secondary. The Redskins rank 28th against the run, so do not hesitate to go with Felix Jones or Tashard Choice at flex spots. The Redskins also rank 29th against the pass, and Jon Kitna has been a solid fantasy starter in recent weeks. Lock Kitna in over less consistent fantasy producers, and expect another strong performance from Jason Witten. Miles Austin's output has dropped recently, yet he is a very good bet to catch a TD pass in what could be a Dallas rout.
Jacksonville at Indianapolis
Maurice Jones-Drew faces a Colts defense that allows 141.1 rushing yards per game, making the Jacksonville RB possibly the top player at his position when the final Week 15 stats roll in. Rashad Jennings also appears to have a knack for finding the end zone and should get flex considerations if you are scrambling for an option. David Garrard will not have to throw enough to post outstanding numbers, yet he is a solid starting option. Garrard and Marcedes Lewis should hook up in some key passing situations. Mike Sims-Walker is a good bet for a TD and is considered a WR3 this week. Peyton Manning should be quite busy against the league's 28th-ranked pass defense, and will throw frequently enough to post strong overall numbers even if he makes a few turnovers. Reggie Wayne will be outstanding for all fantasy purposes, and Pierre Garcon should be locked in as a WR3. Jacob Tamme remains a sound starter because of his TD potential in this matchup. Austin Collie returns, but is a minor risk after a recent layoff. His presence, however, should ensure Manning is mostly efficient with a diverse array of targets. Javarris James is a consistent threat to finish off Indianapolis scoring drives with short TD runs.
Atlanta at Seattle
The Seahawks allow 119.2 rushing yards per game and have surrendered 13 rushing TDs. That's great news for owners of Michael Turner, who should help carry many fantasy owners into the next round of their playoffs. Matt Ryan will benefit from a strong running game, with much time to throw and the ability to use play-action passes to his advantage. Roddy White could come through with one of his best outings of the season, and Tony Gonzalez should be targeted consistently and is a solid bet to score. Desperate owners may also want to consider Michael Jenkins, who may present some matchup issues for the Seattle secondary. The Falcons defense will bottle up Marshawn Lynch, putting Matt Hasselbeck into adverse passing situations. The Seahawks will simply be overmatched, and none of their players should be used this week. The Atlanta defense is also a strong defensive start for Week 15.
New York Jets at Pittsburgh
The Jets have little hope of establishing their predictable ground game against the Steelers. LaDainian Tomlinson will only offer limited production, and Shonn Greene should be reserved. Mark Sanchez will be terrorized in several challenging passing situations, and should not be used in fantasy leagues. Santonio Holmes is the only useful Jets player, as he will be looking to burn his former team and may catch the only TD pass Sanchez may throw. Rashard Mendenhall has been frustrating his owners recently, and they cannot expect anything more than adequate totals. The Pittsburgh defense will give the offense optimum field position, though, and Hines Ward will be up to the challenge of facing the Jets CBs. Ben Roethlisberger may not offer much in terms of yardage, but could throw more than one TD pass. Mike Wallace's yardage will also be limited, and he may not be a preferred target if Roethlisberger is operating in the red zone.
Denver at Oakland
This game should become a statistic showcase for two very productive RBs, as both Knowshon Moreno and Darren McFadden can be effective in this matchup. Moreno has been looking good, and faces Oakland's 26th-ranked run defense. Expect him to score at least once. Kyle Orton and Brandon Loyd, however, have fallen back to earth recently, and cannot be trusted at this critical part of the fantasy schedule. Jabar Gaffney and Eddie Royal cannot be used, either, with Orton's lack of production. McFadden is simply unstoppable, and Denver's run defense is even worse than Oakland's (31st). McFadden will likely challenge Maurice Jones-Drew for fantasy RB of the week honors. Michael Bush is also worth using for a possible score if you are desperate for a flex play. Jason Campbell is emerging as a safer late-season play than expected, and TE Zach Miller is starting to come on again. The Oakland WRs are a gamble every week as to who will step forward, but the QB and TE are solid starts.
Green Bay at New England
If Aaron Rodgers misses this game, the Green Bay offense will go limp as expected. The running game is not one to be honored by defenses, and Matt Flynn will get destroyed by constant pass pressure. The only Green Bay player to consider is Greg Jennings if Rodgers is out, as Flynn could find him on a few desperate heaves. The Packers defense may be on the field all day in a game that would be more balanced for fantasy purposes is Rodgers plays. BenJarvus Green-Ellis should find the end zone again as he wears down the Green Bay defense. The Patriots defense is a strong option if Rodgers sits, and Tom Brady will take full advantage of great field positions. Brady, Wes Welker and Deion Branch are all locks to be top starters. Rob Gronkowski is the preferred New England TE, due to his status as a short-yardage TD threat.
Chicago at Minnesota
Fantasy playoff failures often happen when owners try to get "cute" and take big risks. Using Joe Webb as a flex player could prove to be disastrous. Webb has no NFL experience, faces a usually solid defense, and will be operating in adverse outdoor conditions. Do not get lured in by the dual positional eligibility, as that is the only thing Webb has to offer, and opportunity does not lead to production for a completely unproven player. Downgrade Sidney Rice if Webb is out. Adrian Peterson has a daunting matchup and will get extra defensive attention, yet is a great player who can always overcome any perceived hurdles in any matchup. The Bears should bounce back to play respectably, and Matt Forte should deliver adequate all-around totals. Jay Cutler could perform better than expected if the Minnesota offense flames out often, and Earl Bennett is a quality WR3 start if you are reaching deep for help. Johnny Knox is not dependable, and Bennett may be targeted more frequently.