Meridian Star

December 20, 2013

New name, same game, ‘Dark Horse’ debuts

Zach Kilpatrick / Special to The Star
The Meridian Star

— With this being either the last week, or the first half of a two-week final, it is the most important week of the season. On top of that, there is no Thursday game and no byes. So, there are lots of players to pick from Sunday/Monday. I am going to keep my chatting and explanations short and try to give you as many names as I can, hope things go well for you.

    One thing I did want to mention: I have renamed the “wild card” (and I would say my first ever wild card: Kirk Cousins, was a pretty good pick.) to “Dark Horse”. I don’t know, it just sounds better to me, and anything is more original than “wild card." However, keep in mind how unsafe of a play the Dark Horse is.



QB

1. Peyton Manning (DEN)

2. Phillip Rivers (SD)

3. Nick Foles (PHI)

4. Cam Newton (CAR)

5. Jay Cutler (CHI)



RB

1. Lesean McCoy (PHI)

2. Jamaal Charles (KC)

3. Matt Forte (CHI)

4. Knowshon Moreno (DEN)

5. Demarco Murray (DAL)



WR

1. Brandon Marshall (CHI)

2. Calvin Johnson (DET)

3. Josh Gordon (CLE)

4. A.J. Green (CIN)

5. Alshon Jeffery (CHI)



TE

1. Jimmy Graham (NO)

2. Vernon Davis (SF)

3. Julius Thomas (DEN)

4. Jason Witten (DAL)

5. Tony Gonzalez (ATL)



D/ST

1. Seattle Seahawks

2. San Fransisco 49ers

3. St. Louis Rams

4. Kansas City Chiefs

5. Cincinnati Bengals



Players that are not ranked but that I am really high on this week:



    Marshawn Lynch (RB/SEA)- This run D is very good, but Lynch is better. He had 91 yards and a touchdown against them earlier this year. Stick with who got you here and play Lynch.

    Alfred Morris (RB/WAS)- Morris is an example of a clear cut starting running back. He shares very few carries and Dallas is worst in the league at stopping the run. Need I say more?

    Tony Romo (QB/DAL)- I know you hear terrible things about Romo in Dec./Jan., but that isn’t fantasy wise. He has five touchdowns over the past two weeks and Washington is one of the 10 worst pass defenses in the league.

    Colin Kaepernick  (QB/SF)- His receivers are back and healthy, the run game is good, he has been hot lately, and the Falcons D is fifth worst vs. the pass. I like him this Monday night.

    Antonio Brown (WR/PIT)- He has at least five catches and 50 yards in every game this season (NFL record). Big Ben wants him to have at least five catches in every game this year (to keep record going) and the Packers are ranked 27th vs. opposing receivers. He is a top 10 play for sure.

    Andre Johnson (WR/HOU)- Matt Schaub is back and Johnson is his undisputed favorite target. Denver gives up lots of points to opposing wide receivers and will be looking to silence doubters by scoring early and often. That means Houston will be forced to throw a lot and Johnson should benefit.



Sleepers:

    Andy Dalton (QB/CIN)- Maybe you have been starting  Carson Palmer and are worried about him vs. Seattle, or maybe you just want someone different for Week 16. Dalton has thrown 11 touchdowns over his last five games, is at home (see Wed. article), and is playing a bad Minnesota secondary. I wouldn’t start Dalton for the championship if I had another solid quarterback, but if you need a spot-starter he is there.

    Dennis Pitta (TE/BAL)- A risky start just two games back from injury, but we all know Joe Flacco loves to throw to Pitta. The problem is you never know how many times Flacco will throw period. If you have to have help Pitta is probably available in your league and is playing a defense that is bad vs. tight ends.

    Bobby Rainey (RB/TB)- Remember when Rainey took over and you picked him up? This is the week that decision could pay off. I would only play him as a second running back or flex player, but he has averaged right at 20 carries per game since starting and St. Louis is ranked 28th vs the run. This could be a week where Rainey produces like we thought he would.



Dark Horse:

    Dennis Johnson (RB/HOU)-
He is the dark horse because he has only carried the ball 37 times all year, but Tate and Foster are out, and he is the starter now. Playing the 22nd ranked Denver run defense I just think he is going to make things happen, but then again he could just as easily not.