Unfamiliar with the SAP Player Comparison Tool? Well it's about time you get acquainted! The tool can be a great asset for those tough roster decisions, whether you're dealing with start/sit conundrums, trade comparisons, or decisions on which players to pick up on the waiver wire, you can benefit by learning the ins and outs of the customizable tool. This week in what we like to call Fantasy Football Audibles, we take a look at three player comparisons to help you take some of the guesswork out of those mind-boggling roster determinations.
Here's a quick primer in the factors that the SAP Player Comparison Tool takes into consideration when analyzing players:
»Performance:player performance (NFL statistics and Fantasy points) from the current season
»Matchup:opponent-specific fantasy points against (FPA) data and matchup analysis
»Consistency:stability of historical player fantasy point production
»Upside:potential for significant fantasy point performance
»Intangibles:additional factors including injury status, weather, game location, team support and player rest
Who should I start at QB: Cam Newton or Tom Brady?
The case for Newton:Cam Newton faces New Orleans this week, a unit that has given up 30 touchdowns and five interceptions to opposing quarterbacks this season. The Saints defense also ranks dead last in the NFL in points allowed per game (30.8) and opposing passer rating (115.9) and is second-worst in pass yards per game (284.2).
We have Greg Olsen ranked as our number one player for the week based on the juicy matchup. Olsen has been Netwon's top target this season and he leads the Panthers in receiving with 53 catches for 788 yards and six touchdowns. Rookie wideout Devin Funchess has also played a growing role in recent weeks, with two touchdowns and 195 yards in the last four games. And don't forget about Newton's prowess as a runner. Over the course of the season, he's collected more rush yards than any other quarterback (427) and only Devonta Freeman and Adrian Peterson have score more rushing touchdowns that Newton (7).
This isn't too hard to figure out, the Saints pass defense is just plain bad. And when Carolina is in a goal-line situation, they love to let Superman punch it in himself. Newton has more rushing scores than Jonathan Stewart and Mike Tolbert combined (5), so while there's a chance the score goes to another runner, there's also a good chance he throws one to Olsen or Funchess in the back of the end zone. Either way, Cam is getting the points.
The case for Brady: Let's get one thing out of the way, Tom Brady is Tom Brady. He's quite possibly the greatest quarterback of all time, and is proving it with his performance this season. Brady is also the top scoring fantasy quarterback this year as he has out-scored Newton by 17.46 total fantasy points in standard leagues. He's thrown more touchdown passes (28) than any other quarterback in the league and has just four interceptions.
Unfortunately, Brady has lost virtually all of his key pass-catchers to injury. Rob Gronkowski (knee), Julian Edelman (foot), Danny Amendola (knee) and Dion Lewis (knee) have accounted for over 70 percent of the Patriots receiving yards this season. Amendola is the only player who has a shot to play this week, but even he isn't a lock. That leaves Brady with Scott Chandler, Brandon LaFell, Keshawn Martin, Brandon Bolden and James White as his surrounding weapons. We all know Brady and the Pats can adapt, but this might be asking too much.
Conclusion:Cam Newton's matchup is just too good to bench him over Tom Brady this week. Not that the Eagles defense is much better than the Saints. One key takeaway here is how badly the Eagles run defense has been shredded in the last two weeks. Doug Martin hung 230 rush yards on Philadelphia in Week 11, and Detroit's three-headed backfield roasted the Eagles for two touchdowns and 226 total yards on Thanksgiving. You have to imagine that Bill Belichik is game-planning to attack Philly with LeGarrette Blount and co. to take advantage of this weakness given the lack of healthy weapons in New England's passing game. That script would limit Brady's chances to put up fantasy points and adds to the case to start Newton over Brady in Week 13.
Who should I start at RB: Matt Forte or Jeremy Langford?
The case for Forte: In the seven games Forte played before he missed time with a knee injury, he was the Bears workhorse. He averaged 23 touches per game, 109.5 yards from scrimmage and 13.5 fantasy points per game - and that includes the Week 8 contest where he sustained the injury and didn't finish the game. In his first game back on Thanksgiving, Forte was the starter and was on the field more than rookie Jeremy Langford, but the duo split carries in the game. Still, Forte out-carried Langford in the red zone by a tally of five to one. The veteran was unable to convert on his red zone attempts but his usage is a sign that the Bears coaching staff doesn't yet trust Langford in those situations and would rather give the more experienced player those valuable opportunities when both players suit up.
The case for Langford: With Forte on the shelf, Langford stepped up in a big way, both for his team and for fantasy owners. In the three games Forte missed, the rookie averaged 21.3 touches per game, 122 total yards per game, 20.8 fantasy points per game in standard leagues and collected four touchdowns. That kind of production is tough to ignore, even with Forte back in action. But as I mentioned above, the duo split carries on Thanksgiving. Their production was virtually identical save for the one touchdown that Langford scored. Langford has speed and big-play upside which is why he's still in the starting fantasy running back conversation.
Conclusion: If I owned both of these backs, I would lean towards starting Forte over Langford in Week 13 against the 49ers. There's a chance that Forte wasn't 100 percent against the Packers, and now he's had another week-plus of rest and should be back to full strength. Plus, you can't turn your nose up at Forte's usage in the red zone against the Packers. But there is a chance that both backs are viable starters against a San Francisco run defense that is fifth-worst in the league thus far in terms of fantasy points allowed to runners this season. We've seen instances where duos like Jeremy Hill/Giovani Bernard in Cincinnati, LeSean McCoy/Karlos Williams in Buffalo and DeMarco Murray/Ryan Mathews in Philadelphia have produced good fantasy totals in the same game, so it's not out of the question. For now, Forte remains an RB2 while Langford can be used as a flex play with upside.
Who should I start at RB: Ronnie Hillman or C.J. Anderson?
The case for Hillman: Since Denver's bye in Week 7, Hillman has been the starter, getting a chance to prove himself over a struggling C.J. Anderson. Hillman produced for his fantasy owners too, with double-digit totals in all but one of the four games since then. He's logged three 100-yard games this season and has out-carried Anderson by a count of 138 to 117 to this point. He has also out-produced Anderson in terms of rushing yards (587) and touchdowns (6) this season and is the higher-scoring fantasy player of the duo. He should continue to get work in what has been a split backfield all season which keeps him relevant as a weekly flex play.
The case for Anderson: Anderson had his best game of the season against the Patriots on Sunday night, with 113 rush yards and two touchdowns on 15 carries, and added 40 receiving yards on four receptions. He ran better than he has all season, continually breaking tackles and making defenders miss, both on outside runs and between the tackles. His power is really what separates him from Hillman who serves better as a speedy change-of-pace type back. But Denver has applied a "hot-hand" approach this year, so when Hillman has been hot, they've kept feeding him the ball. Well, Anderson was hot in Week 12 and he made the most of his chances. Heading into Week 13, we're curious to see which back gets the "start" as it's been Hillman for about a month, but Anderson may have earned his job back.
Conclusion: Both Hillman and Anderson are strong plays against the league's worst defense against fantasy running backs in the San Diego Chargers. I don't see a scenario where Denver will let Anderson sit on the sidelines after the way he performed against the Patriots. I suggest riding him while he's still hot and hoping he can have a second half like he did last year when he racked up eight touchdowns and averaged 108 rush yards per game in the final six games of the season. So while Hillman should serve just fine as a flex play this week, if you own both backs, go with Anderson and ride the wave.