START: Ben Roethlisberger ($7300) – The last time that Big Ben played against the Ravens he threw for 340 yards and six touchdowns. The Ravens have been susceptible against the pass this season. They have surrendered 21 passing touchdowns and give up 249 passing yards per game. Of the 21 touchdowns, 14 of them were in road games. Roethlisberger is 10-4 in the post season. There’s a good chance that the Steelers will be without Le’Veon Bell who suffered a knee injury last week, so they’ll rely on Roethlisberger’s arm to get through the Ravens. It would be a great time to do so, because it’s a great matchup for him. The only concern I have is the weather, but if the conditions aren’t terrible, Big Ben should be most lineups.
Other Starts: Cam Newton $7600, Tony Romo $7500, and Joe Flacco $6700
SIT: Andrew Luck ($8800) – I have a couple of concerns about Andrew Luck this week. To many players battling injuries on this offense and the matchup isn’t that appealing. T.Y. Hilton, Reggie Wayne, and Dwayne Allen, which are three important components to this offense, are all nicked up. This could explain why Andrew Luck has thrown fewer than 200 yards in the last three games. The matchup is also something that raises a red flag. The Bengals allowed 18 passing touchdowns, but picked the ball 19 times. Granted the last time these two teams met earlier this season, Luck threw for more than 300 yards and two touchdowns. However, this is a different offense than it was then. He’s the most expensive quarterback this week and I’d rather save some cash at this position, and spread it elsewhere.
Other Sits: Matthew Stafford $7200 and Andy Dalton $6100
SNEAKY START: Ryan Lindley ($5200) – There’s a good chance that Lindley will be owned a small percentage in most tournaments. That can be a good thing if he hits. Let’s be honest, Bruce Arians is going to let this kid loose, even in the playoffs. That’s just his style. Last week, Lindley didn’t do so bad from a fantasy perspective. He threw for 316 yards, two touchdowns, three interceptions, and ended the day with 20.64 fantasy points. The Panthers defense has surrendered 25 passing touchdowns this season, and gives up 228 passing yards per game. Lindley is strictly a tournament play this week. If he does similar to what he did last week, he could be a steal at this price.
START: Jeremy Hill ($6200) – This is the back that will likely be the highest owned across the board this week, and he should be. Hill has rushed for 100 or more yards in each of the last three games, and has scored three touchdowns in that time span. The Colts were able to contain the Bengals running backs earlier this year, but I think the Bengals have finally figured out how to use both Giovanni Bernard and Hill effectively. Not to mention, the Colts have struggled against the run all season. They have allowed 14 rushing touchdowns, and surrender 113.4 rushing yards per game. He’s the third most expensive running back this week, but could easily finish with the most points. Keep in mind he’s $1600 cheaper than the second most expensive back. He should be in all lineups this weekend.
Other Starts: DeMarco Murray $8800, Joique Bell $5500, and Jonathan Stewart $5300
SIT: Le’Veon Bell ($9000) – As I mentioned above it’s unlikely that Bell plays this week, but if he does, I wouldn’t consider starting him. First off, he’ll be playing at less than 100 percent. That’s not something you want against a stingy run defense like Baltimore’s. The Ravens held Bell to less than 60 rushing yards in each game they played against him this season. Bell got most of his fantasy points in the passing game. Another thing to take into consideration is his price. Are you willing to pay the premium for a banged up Bell? Whether he plays or not remains to be seen, but if he does, he should be avoided.
Other Sits: Reggie Bush $4800, Daniel Herron $4700, and Kerwynn Williams $3700
SNEAKY START: Trent Richardson ($3400) – Call me crazy, but if I’m looking for a dirt cheap back this week, I’m considering Richardson. He comes into play when I have my dream lineups, and only $3400 to work with of course. Here’s why. Of the eight teams that are playing this weekend, the Bengals have allowed the most rushing touchdowns to opposing backs (15), the most rushing yards per game (116.3), and the most fantasy points per game (19.4). The only time that Richardson has totaled 100+ yards this season was against the Bengals. I’m not saying he does it again, but history does repeat itself, and even if the yardage isn’t there, he could see some goal line carries against a bad defense.
START: Antonio Brown ($8900) – Eighteen catches, 234 yards, and one touchdown is what Brown has done in two games this season against the Ravens. He is a model of consistency, and regardless of game flow should continue to be that this weekend. As I mentioned above, the Steelers could rely on Big Ben’s arm this week, and Brown is his favorite target. Brown has scored 10 of his 14 touchdowns in homes games. He’s averaging 30.4 fantasy points at home. The Ravens are giving up 271.3 receiving yards per game, and allow 23.8 fantasy points per game to opposing receivers. Brown should light them up once again this week.
Other Starts: Calvin Johnson $8800, Dez Bryant $8500, Kelvin Benjamin $5900, Torrey Smith $5400, and Martavis Bryant $4100
SIT: A.J. Green ($8000) – Green hasn’t been cleared by the NFL’s concussion protocol, but was able to practice on Thursday. He has a tough task ahead of him as he faces off against Vontae Davis who has played very well this season. Besides two games against the Steelers and Cowboys this season, the Colts have done a really good job against receivers. They have allowed 16 receiving touchdowns, nine of those were in the two games I mentioned combined. Green has 13 catches for 161 yards in three playoff games. He has yet to top 80 yards and find the end zone in the post season. At this price, you’re better off paying the extra $500 and start Dez Bryant.
Other Sits: Golden Tate $5500, Larry Fitzgerald $4700, and Reggie Wayne $4300
SNEAKY START: Markus Wheaton ($3100) – Notice the trend on my sneaky starts? I’m swinging for the fence, and in a week where there are very few games, these are the types of plays that can make a difference. Wheaton has seven catches for 100 yards and a touchdown against the Ravens this season. The Ravens are allowing 23.8 fantasy points per game to opposing receivers. They’ve surrendered 15 touchdowns, and give up 271.3 receiving yards per game. The Steelers could rely on the passing game if Bell can’t play. At this price, Wheaton is a low risk high reward play.
START: Greg Olsen ($5500) – The most expensive tight end this week is the most consistent of all available for this weekend’s games. Olsen caught 84 passes for 1,008 yards and scored six touchdowns this season. He is averaging 14.4 fantasy points per game on DraftKings. The Cardinals surrender the most receiving yards per game to opposing tight ends (90.4). They’ve also given up eight touchdowns. Olsen has struggled in his last two games, but this week things could change. It’s the playoffs, and it’s a good matchup. If paying up for a tight end is in your plans, paying up for Olsen is something I’d recommend.
Other Starts: Jason Witten $4500 and Owen Daniels $3300
SIT: Coby Fleener ($5000) – As the second most expensive tight end this week, I’m not interested in Fleener. He’s far too inconsistent, and has a tough matchup. The Bengals have allowed just one touchdown in the last 10 games to opposing tight ends. No tight end has gone for more than 46 receiving yards in that time frame. Fleener is hit or miss, and at this price, it’s not worth the risk. You’re better off paying more for Olsen or a bit less for Witten. I’d steer away from Fleener this week.
Other Sits: Heath Miller $3900 and John Carlson $3000
SNEAKY START: Eric Ebron ($3000) – If there’s one major weakness in the Cowboys’ defense; it’s defending against tight ends. The Cowboys are the only team that allowed more than 100 receptions to tight ends this season. They surrendered the second most receiving yards per game to opposing tight ends (87.7), and have given up 10 touchdowns. Ebron has not done much in his rookie campaign, but if you’re planning on taking a cheap contrarian at the tight end position with a great matchup, he should be the first on the list. Keep in mind, he has a low floor, and should only be considered in tournaments.
This week’s sneaky starts are cheap flyers that will likely be owned a small percentage and could be the difference between you and another team at the end. They all have great matchups, and are priced very low. Therefore the risk reward factor is in your favor. Good luck!