Fantasy Football Expert

Kurt Leimbach

Hot Pickups for Wk 15

Guys who might be available in your league and could help get a W this weekend –

Jerheme Urban (WR – ARZ) – Urban hooked up with Kurt Warner for 123 yards this past weekend and Anquan Boldin is still in a walking boot at practice. Urban looked to have Warner's confidence more than Bryant Johnson and gets a good matchup this weekend against the Saints.

Trent Edwards (QB – BUF) – Edwards looked great against the Dolphins last week, totaling 4 TDs and hooking up with Lee Evans on two long strikes. Edwards gets the Browns this weekend and has a nice matchup for deeper leagues that start two QBs.

DeDe Dorsey (RB – CIN) – Dorsey appears to have taken over the backup RB job from Kenny Watson in Cincy. The Bengals have a nice matchup against the 49ers run D this week, and Dorsey could make a decent play in deeper leagues, especially ones that reward a point per reception.

Darius Walker (RB – HOU) – Walker looked pretty good last week, totaling 82 yards in relief of Ron Dayne and showing effectiveness in the passing game. The Texans see the Broncos this week on the Thursday night game and have a good matchup on the ground. Dayne missed practice on Wednesday, will be listed as Questionable for the Thursday game, and figures to sit it out.

Anthony Gonzalez (WR – IND) – Gonzalez is probably gone in your league, but he has earned the trust of Peyton Manning over the course of the year as Marvin Harrison sits on the sidelines.

Aaron Stecker (RB – NO) – Stecker had a nice game in relief of Reggie Bush on Monday Night Football with 100 yards on 5.0 yards per carry. New Orleans gets the Cardinals this weekend in a nice matchup. For really deep leagues, even Stecker's new backup Pierre Thomas could be worth a speculative grab as he got in the mix a bit in the blowout of the Falcons and also averaged over 5 yards per carry.

Jerricho Cotchery – (WR – NYJ) – Cotchery may have been a panic-drop by an owner after there was speculation that his season was going to be over due to injury. The Jets don't have a great matchup this week against the Pats, but Cotchery is better than usual waiver-wire talent.

Billy Volek – (QB – SD) – This is a purely speculative pickup as Philip Rivers claims that he is going to be ready for this weekend's game against Detroit after allegedly partially tearing his MCL against the Titans. However, Rivers has not practiced yet this week and I find it hard to believe that he won't miss at least one game with the swelling that accompanies even the smallest knee injury. Volek was fantasy gold back at the end of 2004 and may yet be a savior again this year with a cake matchup against the Lions.

Some tasty matchups for Defenses this weekend that may be available: TB v. ATL, BAL @ MIA, TEN @ KC, SEA @ CAR

Enjoy the games this weekend. I welcome feedback and questions at



Week 15 12-13-07

Heading into the fantasy playoffs, you want to keep a mantra in your head and that is to ride the horses that got you there. A lot of times people will overanalyze a matchup for their big studs and question themselves when they choose to start them. This is a bad idea. The elite players in fantasy football are the elite players because they are so explosive and have the ability to produce in the biggest games against the toughest opponents. That being said, this is the time of year when we have a big enough sample size of data for opposing defenses that you really want to make the most informed decisions you can when it comes to choosing your mid-level starters. This week I'll be taking a look at the best and worst defenses against the run and the pass and picking out some guys to start or avoid based on their opponents.

Worst Run Defenses w/ Opposing team's starting RB(s):

Miami Dolphins v. Baltimore (Willis McGahee)

Oakland Raiders v. Indianapolis (Joseph Addai)

New York Jets @ New England (Laurence Maroney)

Denver Broncos @ Houston (Darius Walker)

Cleveland Browns v. Buffalo (Marshawn Lynch / Fred Jackson)

Atlanta Falcons @ Tampa Bay (Earnest Graham)

Kansas City Chiefs v. Tennessee (LenDale White)

San Francisco 49ers v. Cincinnati (Rudi Johnson)

Chicago Bears @ Minnesota (Adrian Peterson / Chester Taylor)

McGahee and Addai have been good performers all year, but below them are a few more-maligned names that have a chance to have very good games this week.

Laurence Maroney of the Pats has been a complete bust this year and has really fizzled in some other good matchups. However, the early forecast for Foxborough shows snow and ice, which could mean that Belichick could actually showcase the running game this week.

Walker makes for an interesting pickup after filling in for Ron Dayne last week for the Texans. He draws a good matchup against the Broncos and flashed very competent skills in the passing game.

Lynch and Jackson both had 100+ yards last week and face a soft Browns defense on the road. I like Lynch a lot more than Jackson this week as he will have healed a bit more from his ankle sprain and the Bills don't figure to blow out the Browns like they did the Dolphins last week.

I like AP and Chester Taylor to both have huge games on Monday night against the Bears. Chicago is down four defensive tackles as Dusty Dvoracek, Anthony Adams, Darwin Walker and Antonio Garay are all out. Peterson no doubt disappointed a lot of people with his performance last weekend but will bounce back with a nice effort.

Best Run Defenses w/ Opposing team's starting RB(s):

Minnesota Vikings v. Chicago (Adrian Peterson II)

Pittsburgh Steelers v. Jacksonville (Fred Taylor / Maurice Jones-Drew)

Baltimore Ravens @ Miami (Samkon Gado / Jesse Chatman)

Cowboys v. Eagles (Brian Westbrook)

Jacksonville Jaguars @ Pittsburgh (Willie Parker)

Washington Redskins @ NY Giants (Brandon Jacobs / Reuben Droughns)

NY Giants v. Washington ( Clinton Portis / Ladell Betts)

New Orleans Saints v. Arizona (Edgerrin James)

Eagles @ Dallas (Marion Barber / Julius Jones)

By my take, the only “unbenchables” on this list are our boy Westbrook and Cowboys RB Marion Barber. Willie Parker has been a top-5 RB option all year, but only has 87 rushing yards in 3 prior meetings with Jacksonville .

Gado has been a hot waiver pick after 2 TDs against Buffalo last weekend, but Jesse Chatman says that he is going to play this weekend and the Dolphins draw a very tough matchup against the Ravens so I don't like either back as a play.

Of the other tandem matchups, the secondary RB usually suffers the most against a tough D, so Jones-Drew, Droughns, Betts and Jones probably won't be worthy of a starting spot.

Edgerrin James is an interesting case because the Saints have a very bad passing defense, so he has the chance to vulture some TDs even if he can't get the job done himself between the 20s.

Worst Pass Defenses w/ Opposing team's key passing game members:

Minnesota Vikings v. Chicago (Kyle Orton, Bernard Berrian)

Detroit Lions @ San Diego (Philip Rivers, Antonio Gates, Vincent Jackson)

Cleveland Browns v. Buffalo (Trent Edwards, Lee Evans)

New Orleans Saints v. Arizona (Kurt Warner, Larry Fitzgerald, Bryant Johnson, Jerheme Urban)

Buffalo Bills @ Cleveland (Derek Anderson, Braylon Edwards, Kellen Winslow)

Jacksonville Jaguars @ Pittsburgh (Ben Roethlisberger, Hines Ward, Santonio Holmes, Heath Miller)

Chicago Bears @ Minnesota (Tarvaris Jackson, Sidney Rice)

Cincinnati Bengals @ San Francisco (Shaun Hill, Arnaz Battle, Vernon Davis)

Arizona Cardinals @ New Orleans (Drew Brees, Marques Colston)

To start off, I don't like the Bears' passing game at all this week even with a good matchup on paper. Kyle Orton hasn't started a game since 2005 and this is really a “show us what you got” type of game for him. He didn't play much with Bernard Berrian when he was the starter during the 2005 season and while Minnesota gives up the most passing yards per game, they have also returned 6 interceptions for TDs and could take advantage of Orton.

Some big names with prime matchups include Gates, Fitzgerald, all Browns, Roethlisberger, Ward, and the Saints' duo.

Philip Rivers may be out after slightly tearing a knee ligament last weekend. Keep up on whether he practices throughout the week (he missed on Wednesday). If Rivers can't go, Billy Volek will get the start, and he is one of the better backup QBs in the league so don't worry about downgrading your Chargers skill players.

Santonio Holmes returned from an ankle injury last weekend with a small game, but could break out in a big way in a good matchup against the Jags.

San Francisco 's passing game is not much to get excited about, especially with Shaun Hill taking over the helm. They do have a good matchup though, and unproven QBs tend to look toward their TE as a release valve so I like Vernon Davis to do well.

Best Pass Defenses w/ Opposing team's key passing game members:

Indianapolis Colts @ Oakland (Josh McCown, Ronald Curry, Jerry Porter)

Pittsburgh Steelers v. Jacksonville (David Garrard, Reggie Williams, Marcedes Lewis)

Miami Dolphins v. Baltimore (Kyle Boller, Mark Clayton, Derrick Mason)

Tampa Bay Bucs v. Atlanta (Chris Redman, Roddy White)

Oakland Raiders v. Indianapolis (Peyton Manning, Reggie Wayne, Dallas Clark, Anthony Gonzalez)

New England Patriots v. NY Jets (Kellen Clemens, Laveranues Coles, Jerricho Cotchery)

Denver Broncos @ Houston (Sage Rosenfels, Andre Johnson, Owen Daniels, Kevin Walter)

Tennessee Titans @ Kansas City (Brodie Croyle, Dwayne Bowe, Tony Gonzalez)

Kansas City Chiefs v. Tennessee (Vince Young, Roydell Williams, Justin Gage)

The Colts definitely qualify as the “stud list.” Gonzalez is the only guy on that list that I would consider benching and even he appears to be developing such a nice chemistry with Manning that it is hard to sit a key cog in that offense. The only other players on this list that I would consider unbenchable due to the matchup are Andre Johnson and Tony Gonzalez. Even though he will likely be matched up against Champ Bailey for most of the game, Johnson has the size and skills to be very productive at all times. Gonzalez should be able to work underneath against Tennessee's LBs much as Antonio Gates did last week and come up with 60-70 yards and a score.

Rosenfels has been a fantasy darling the last few weeks filling in for Matt Schaub, but draws a tough matchup against Denver .

Chris Redman and Roddy White had a very nice performance this past Monday against the Saints, but will likely be shut down against the Bucs. However, check back on them come week 16 as they get the Cardinals for a lot of leagues' Super Bowls.

These lists and matchups can be a great way to choose between two very similar options for the stretch run when you're setting your lineups this weekend. Plug in your studs and build around them. Don't get crazy and bench a guy like Peyton Manning or Westbrook just because they have a tough matchup. The great ones will rise above.

Enjoy the games this weekend. I welcome feedback and questions at


© Copyright 2006. Jules Pilla

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