Hits and Misses – Week 12: Peyton ready for a playoff run

Although the Patriots lost a close one to the Jets, last week ended up being a pretty good week for me in all areas of the fantasy football world. Not only did I win in nearly all of my leagues, but my predictions ended up with a stellar 19-4-5 record, led by great games from Turner the Burner, the Arizona passing game and DeAngelo Williams, along with sub-par efforts from Kyle Orton and Willis McGahee (even with Jake Delhomme doing his best to submarine me and one of my fantasy teams!)

With the playoffs fast approaching though, and me still needing a win or two more to clinch the playoffs in a few leagues, let’s move on to my picks for this week. I’ll start with the man who should help many a fantasy team make the playoffs in week 12 by handing out a good ol’ fashioned beatdown to San Diego…Peyton Manning.

Hits

  • Peyton Manning, QB, Colts: This weekend Indianapolis will head to San Diego to take on a Chargers defense that has been one of the worst in the league against the pass (possibly due to the absence of their top pass rusher in Shawne Merriman?) For all those managers who drafted Manning with a top pick in their league and have been disappointed so far (although the past few weeks he’s been pretty good), this game should serve as redemption. The Chargers are allowing 267 passing yards on average to an assortment of signal callers across the league…and this weekend they take on one that is slightly better than your “average quarterback.” I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect 300 yards and at least two scores from Peyton this week.
  • Aaron Rodgers, QB, Packers: Rodgers has been one of the top quarterbacks in the league this season and this week he’ll be rewarded with a second-rate New Orleans defense, which is allowing 235 passing yards per game and has surrendered 16 touchdowns, while only getting seven interceptions.
  • Donnie Avery, WR, Rams: After a great two game stretch from week six to seven, it appeared that the Rams were on track to becoming a respectable team in the league…but then they were hit with a dose of reality. Over the next few games, St. Louis has returned to being one of the worst teams in the NFL and Steven Jackson’s injury isn’t helping anything. Because of the team’s struggles, it’s hard for me to recommend starting quarterback Marc Bulger, even against a weak Chicago secondary…but I do think that Donnie Avery will be able to take advantage of the situation and put up some decent stats against a Bears team that is giving up nearly 250 yards per game through the air and at least a touchdown per game.
  • Greg Jennings, WR, Packers: As Rodgers (see above) has a big day, his top target will also benefit. I’m expecting around 100 yards and a touchdown from Jennings.
  • Justin Gage, WR, Titans: Over the past few weeks, we’ve seen quite the transformation from the Tennessee offense. In the beginning of the season, the dynamic duo of LenDale White and Chris Johnson were terrorizing defenses on the ground; but as of late, it has been the Kerry Collins to Gage combo that has led the team to victory. This week the Titans play the Jets, who feature one of the best run defenses in the NFL, led by Kris Jenkins, so expect another pass-heavy game for the only undefeated team in the league…meaning big numbers again for Justin Gage.
  • LaDainian Tomlinson, RB, Chargers: LT hasn’t been a model of consistency this season, but he does have nearly 1,000 combined yards so far. This week he’ll play a Colts squad that has been bad against the run, allowing nearly 140 rushing yards per game and giving up 15 touchdowns on the ground this season. Expect around 130 combined yards and at least a score from Tomlinson this week as he tries his hardest to push your fantasy team in to the playoffs.
  • Marshawn Lynch, RB, Bills: After weeks of disappointing play, Lynch finally broke the century mark last week against the Brownies. This week his success should continue as he takes on a defense that is the worst in the league at stopping his position in the Chiefs. Over 164 yards per game? Yes please. Over five yards per carry? Sounds good. Given up 16 touchdowns given up on the ground this season? Definitely.
  • Matt Forte, RB, Bears: The Rams have been absolutely terrible defending against the run this season, giving up around 158 yards per game on the ground at a rate of 4.7 yards per carry. In addition, they’ve allowed opposing tailbacks into the end zone a whopping 18 times! This means that Chicago’s rookie running back Matt Forte should be in for one of the bigger games of his career. Making things even better is the fact that Forte is a big part of the Bears passing game…and the Rams pass defense is bad as well!
  • Tony Romo, QB, Cowboys: Romo returned to the Cowboys last week and while he didn’t put up amazing stats, he did get the team a much needed win. This week the team should be a bit closer to their early-season form and the fact that their opponent is San Francisco should help lead Tony Romo to a big day from a fantasy football perspective.
  • Warrick Dunn, RB, Buccaneers: While I’m sure the season ending injury Earnest Graham suffered last week made more than one fantasy manager a bit unhappy, if you were lucky enough to already own Dunn or had the foresight to pick him up off free agency, you shouldn’t be worried about a drop off in stats from the position. Graham was being asked to do a lot before his injury, as issues at the fullback position caused him to split time between tailback and fullback…something Warrick will not be asked to do. This week Dunn should get plenty of opportunities against one of the worst run defenses in the league when the team heads to Detroit, as the Lions are allowing over 5.0 yards per carry and have given up 17 rushing touchdowns this season.
  • Others: Jamal Lewis, RB, Browns (vs HOU), Steve Slaton, RB, Texans (@CLE), Jason Campbell, QB, Redskins (@SEA), Kerry Collins, QB, Titans (vs NYJ)

Misses

  • Brett Favre, QB, Jets: Favre has been great for the Jets this year, but he hasn’t had to play too many defenses the caliber of the Titans. While only giving up five passing scores on the year, Tennessee also has 15 interceptions, which doesn’t bode well for wild-man Brett. I expect a heavy dose of Thomas Jones in this one, with Favre doing just enough to keep the game competitive, but not a whole lot more.
  • Brian Westbrook, RB, Eagles: I’m going to out on a limb and say that the abuse that the Ravens defense sustained at the hands of the Giants last week was an anomaly and have a feeling they’ll rebound this week at home against Philadelphia. While this should be good news to Baltimore fans, it’s not good news to Westbrook owners, as he’s not completely healthy (at least it doesn’t appear so!) and he’s taking on a defense that is giving up a mere 3.4 yards per carry and under 80 yards per game to running backs (oh…and they’ve only given up three TD’s on the ground all season!) While he should see some action in the passing game as well, I wouldn’t expect anything stellar from Brian Westbrook this weekend and it might be worth considering someone with a better match-up if you have the option.
  • DeSean Jackson / Kevin Curtis, WR, Eagles: Baltimore has been tough against the pass and this week they get a home game against the guy who didn’t know that a football game can end in a tie. The Ravens are allowing just 188 yards per game to opposing quarterbacks, so with yardage tough to come by, don’t expect either Jackson or Curtis to rack up great fantasy stats.
  • LenDale White / Chris Johnson, RB, Titans: While the Titans were busy discovering that they also had a passing game to compliment their dominant rushing game, the Jets were working on becoming one of the toughest teams in the NFL to run against. As they’re only allowing 3.4 yards per carry and hare giving up under 82 yards per game on the ground, the Titans are again going to have to lean on the veteran, Kerry Collins, to carry them to victory, while LenDale White and Chris Johnson get abused by Kris Jenkins and the rest of the Jets defense.
  • Matt Ryan, QB, Falcons: Ryan has definitely been a pleasant surprise for Falcons fans this season and he has even made a fantasy impact in his rookie campaign. However, this week will not be a week when you necessarily want him in the QB slot on your roster. Atlanta will host Carolina this weekend, who are giving up only 185 yards per game through the air (subtract a week 8 meeting with MVP Kurt Warner and that average drops even more) and have given up less than one passing touchdown per game to opposing quarterbacks. Although the game is in Hot-lanta, expect less than “hotness” stats from Mr. Ryan.
  • Shaun Hill, QB, 49ers: While Hill has thrown five touchdowns in his three starts, the yardage hasn’t come easy (average of around 200 yards per game), even against weak opponents (SEA, STL, ARI). This week he’ll play a Dallas team that is one of the best in the league from a yardage-allowed-to-quarterbacks point of view, giving up under 190 yards per game, so don’t be surprised if he puts up a below-average performance.
  • Tim Hightower, RB, Cardinals: Since taking over the starting gig from Edgerrin James, Hightower has seemingly gotten worse each game. This is a pass-happy team, but you would think that Kurt Warner would be opening up some room for Hightower to run…but it hasn’t been the case. This weekend he plays the Superbowl champion Giants, who have given up just four touchdowns on the ground so far this season. While Warner could have a big game, I’m benching Hightower this week…maybe you should do the same?
  • Vincent Jackson, WR, Chargers: The Colts have only surrendered two touchdowns through the air this season and with San Diego running Tomlinson all day long, I don’t see Jackson being the third touchdown. If there’s going to be a passing score in this game for the Chargers, it’ll probably be Antonio Gates or LT…not a wide receiver.
  • Others: Antonio Pittman, RB, Rams (vs CHI), Sammy Morris, RB, Patriots (@MIA), Daunte Culpepper, QB, Lions (vs TB), Philip Rivers, QB, Chargers (vs IND), Laveranues Coles, WR, Jets (@TEN), Jericho Cotchery, WR, Jets (@TEN), Donovan McNabb, QB, Eagles (@BAL)

Last Week: 19-4-5
Total: 128-51-43