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updated: 11/10/2011 12:52 PM

Fantasy football: Key moves to make

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  • Down the road in Week 16, Houston Texans quarterback Matt Schaub could have a big game against Indianapolis and he is worth grabbing now if your QB is off that week.

      Down the road in Week 16, Houston Texans quarterback Matt Schaub could have a big game against Indianapolis and he is worth grabbing now if your QB is off that week.
    Associated Press

 
 

Too many fantasy football columns take on the same tone this time of year.

"Pick up this guy. Drop this guy. GET THIS GUY NOW!"

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This is all well and good -- and I will touch on a few names you should be considering -- but this week's column is centered around winning you a championship.

Title contenders look for every advantage, and I've done much of the heavy lifting for you by dissecting many key players' upcoming schedules.

Trust me when I say it could be the difference between first, second or third place.

So let's get to it.

Pitfall QBs:

If you are an Eli Manning or Tony Romo owner, it would be wise to add a backup who has an easy Week 16 matchup as Manning is at the Jets, and Romo hosts Philly. Neither will post big numbers in your biggest game of the season.

Some alternatives:

•Houston's Matt Schaub is at Indy in Week 16, and his stock is down (7 TDs last six) because Andre Johnson is out. But his stud WR should be back then and a 3-TD game against the Colts seems likely.

•Buffalo's Ryan Fitzpatrick hosts Denver, the team that has allowed the most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks. Fitzpatrick also has a juicy matchup in Week 15 vs. Miami. Of course, weather in upstate New York can come into play in either game, so keep that in mind.

•Atlanta's Matt Ryan is at New Orleans (T-7 with 14 pass TDs allowed).

•Cincinnati's Andy Dalton hosts Arizona (fourth-worst pass D).

•Baltimore's Joe Flacco hosts Cleveland. He's the last guy on this list. I don't trust him, and the Browns have allowed the fewest passing yards per game. Let's remember, though, that the Browns have faced some of the weakest QBs in the league.

RB help:

San Diego's Ryan Mathews and Mike Tolbert (vs. Baltimore in Week 15; at Detroit in Week 16) have two nasty end-of-season matchups.

For those of you who own them, and for others who can engineer a trade, here are four second-tier running backs with some sweet matchups:

•Tampa Bay's LeGarrette Blount gets Carolina in Weeks 13 and 16. The Panthers (133 rush yards allowed per game) have allowed the most fantasy points to running backs.

•Green Bay's James Starks (1 TD) has been a big disappointment, but against Oakland (139.6 ypg) at Lambeau in Week 14 and against Kansas City (120.2) at Arrowhead in Week 15, I like him to post solid numbers.

•The Jets' Shonn Greene will go against the Chiefs in Week 14 and Philly (124 ypg) in Week 15.

•And how's this for two dream matchups: Pittsburgh's Rashard Mendenall will see two of the worst run defenses in the league (Cleveland in Week 14 and St. Louis in Week 16) at home. A pitfall comes in Week 15 as Pittsburgh plays San Francisco, which has yet to allow a rushing score.

Defenses:

If there's any way for you to combine the Bears and Texans defenses, do it. Lovie Smith's squad is at Denver in Week 14 and at Seattle in Week 15, while Houston plays Indianapolis in Week 16. (The Colts, of course, are always ripe for the picking, so consider using Tennessee in Week 15).

Pickups:

Now to the aforementioned waiver-wire claims.

•If somebody doesn't own Pittsburgh's Antonio Brown (21 catches, 278 yards on 35 targets last three), he's a must start on almost any team.

•With Miles Austin sidelined 2-4 weeks by a hamstring, Laurent Robinson (10-135-2 on 13 targets last two) is a great play against the soft defenses Dallas is about to face.

•Earl Bennett (5-95-1 vs. Philly) won't light the world on fire, but he's an acceptable WR3 at that spot.

•Although I don't trust Mike Shanahan, when his tailback gets 14 receptions he's worth an add. Roy Helu has the talent; it's up to Shanahan to use it consistently.

My teams: Eli Manning (14 points) and Michael Bush (14) kept the unit-league squad (5-4) on a roll with a 66-61 victory. The regular team got 20 points from DeMarco Murray and 18 from Bush but ran into Aaron Rodgers, Greg Jennings and James Jones in a 115-104 loss. That team is 4-5 and still leads the league in points.

Good bets

•Chiefs QB Matt Cassel vs. Denver. OK, I admit it. Awful call on Cassel last week. He will rebound -- I promise! Look for a minimum of 250 yards and 2-3 TD passes.

•Jaguars WR Jason Hill at Indianapolis. You do the math: Hill has scored in three of the last four and is playing a Colts defense that's allowed a league-high 18 passing TDs.

•Jets QB Mark Sanchez and WR Plaxico Burress vs. New England. Burress followed up his 3-TD "fluke" with 5 catches for 79 yards last week. He's a decent play this week.

•Packers WR Jordy Nelson vs. Minnesota. Nelson (five games of 75-plus yards, 5 TDs) has become a rock-solid WR3.

•Vikings QB Christian Ponder at Green Bay. Ponder threw 2 TD passes, 2 INTs and managed 219 passing yards and 31 rushing three weeks ago vs. the Packers. He will outscore Eli Manning and Andy Dalton this week.

•Patriots RB BenJarvis Green-Ellis at New York Jets. In honor of my favorite band coming to town this weekend, "Breaking the LAW!-Firm" is going to run all "Hell Bent for Leather" on New England just like Week 5 when he "Rammed it Down" their throats to the tune of 27-136-2.

•Texans RB Ben Tate at Tampa Bay. It's not often a backup can be considered a good bet, but Tate has what it takes to get you 7-10 points.

• Titans RB Chris Johnson at Carolina. Keep your fingers crossed -- Johnson may actually run wild this weekend.

Bad bets

• Giants QB Eli Manning and RB Brandon Jacobs at San Francisco. No team allows fewer points per game (14.8) than San Francisco.

• Bengals QB Andy Dalton, RB Cedric Benson and WR A.J. Green vs. Pittsburgh. It's tough to sit Green (40-599-5), but all Cincy players will struggle against a team that is allowing 15.9 ppg since Week 1.

• Patriots QB Tom Brady at Jets. In four of last five meetings with Jets, Brady has had 18 or fewer fantasy points in standard scoring leagues.

• Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald at Philadelphia. Five catches for 60 yards. That's Fitz's stat line Sunday.

• Seahawks RB Marshawn Lynch vs. Baltimore. Lynch (4 TDs last four) has come on late, but he'll be stopped cold against a D that's allowed 3 rushing scores all season.

• Bucs RB LeGarrette Blount vs. Houston. I can't see more than 80 yards from scrimmage for Blount against the fourth-best run D in the league.

jdietz@dailyherald.com

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