- Eli Manning’s excellent 2011 campaign has experienced a hiccup the last two games. Manning has thrown just one touchdown during the dry spell. Stick with him this week against the Cowboys though. Manning’s uncanny run of good fortune against Dallas includes multiple touchdown passes in seven of the last eight matchups.
- Ever since he signed a lucrative new contract, Bills QB Ryan Fitzpatrick has been a fantasy flop. Although Fitzpatrick’s arrow is pointing down for the long term, he merits strong consideration for a spot start against New England. No team has given up more fantasy points to opposing passers than the Patriots. Fitzpatrick had one of his best fantasy performances of 2012 against them back in Week 3, passing for 369 yards and two scores. Expect about the same this time around.
- Temper your expectations for Broncos QB Tim Tebow. Kansas City’s defense has been playing inspired football under interim head coach Romeo Crennel. In their last two games, the Chiefs have stopped Aaron Rodgers and Carson Palmer. Although Tebow presents a whole different set of challenges, Kansas City’s defense was up to the task back in mid-November when they held Tebow to just 69 yards passing and 43 yards rushing.
- Many fantasy owners found that Rex Grossman was a nice QB to have on hand over the past month. He’s posted multiple touchdown passes in four of his last six starts. Although it might be tempting to ride him out, it’s probably best to look elsewhere when Grossman faces the Eagles. It was a four-interception game against Philly back in Week 6 that cost Grossman his starting job. Plus the Eagles defense is finally starting to play with some swagger.
This Week’s Sleepers: Ryan Fitzpatrick, Kyle Orton and Andy Dalton
- Expect a productive stat line from Ben Tate against the Titans. Tate gutted Tennessee for 104 yards on 15 carries back in October. Houston is locked and loaded as the No. 3 seed in the playoffs. With little to gain, Arian Foster is likely to see a lighter than normal workload. Look for Tate to flirt with 100 yards and a touchdown against a Tennessee defense that has given up the ninth-most fantasy points.
- You can’t start LeGarrette Blount at this point. You just can’t. He’s a player that will not see the field in the second half if the Buccaneers are behind by more than 13 points. Given how porous Tampa’s defense has been over the second half of the season, it is likely Blount will be a nonfactor again on Sunday versus Atlanta.
- Desperate fantasy owners can take a flier on Patriots RB Stevan Ridley, who will face a below-average Bills defense on Sunday. Ridley has carried the ball 24 times in his last two games. With Tom Brady (shoulder) ailing, don’t be surprised if New England goes with a run-heavy strategy. Buffalo has ceded the fifth-most fantasy points to RBs. Ridley has an outside chance to put up 80+ yards and a score.
- Falcons backup RB Jason Snelling is a sneaky play against Tampa. Atlanta knows it can’t do any better than a wild card. With little to play for, Michael Turner will probably see his snaps cut in half. The versatile Snelling will bludgeon a pitiful Bucs run defense. No team has allowed more fantasy points to opposing rushers. Set the bar at 120 combo yards and a score for Snelling.
This Week’s Sleepers: Ben Tate, Jason Snelling, Stevan Ridley and Toby Gerhart
- In his last five games against the Titans, Houston WR Andre Johnson has scored six touchdowns. With a production level that high, Johnson is worth a gamble this week if he’s active. Houston will no doubt want to give him a chance to knock of any rust and get in some live action with QB T.J. Yates. The Six-Pack conservatively anticipates 80 yards and a score for Johnson.
- Miami wideout Brandon Marshall has fared surprisingly well against the Darrelle Revis-led Jets. Marshall has scored or posted 100 yards in three straight games versus Gang Green. Start him if you normally would and look for useful numbers. He’s tallied a touchdown in four of his last five games.
- Reggie Wayne’s 11-year career in Indianapolis could come to an end following this season. The pending free agent will likely move onto greener pastures next season. Look for him to end his Colt career on a high note. Wayne has been a Jaguar killer throughout his career. He’s notched seven 100-yard games in his last ten meetings with Jacksonville. Although he struggled with Curtis Painter under center, Wayne has flourished with Dan Orlovsky calling the plays. Look for him to record his third straight game with a TD.
- Bank on plenty of offensive fireworks in the epic Sunday night meeting between the Cowboys and Giants. One player who is sure to get in on the action is Dez Bryant. He’s scored in every game he’s played versus the Giants, posting four touchdowns in three games. The Six-Pack sees him punching in with two touchdowns.
This Week’s Sleepers: Malcom Floyd, Denarius Moore, James Jones, David Nelson and Devin Hester
- With 16 games in the books, no team has allowed fewer fantasy points to TEs than the Rams. Vernon Davis owners may want to think twice before starting him. In their last nine games, St. Louis has not allowed a TE touchdown. During that nine-game stretch, opposing No. 1 TEs have averaged just 22.2 yards per game against them. This includes holding Saints TE Jimmy Graham to his lowest output of the year (4-39-0). Davis has failed to score in his last three meetings with the Rams and that number will climb to four on Sunday.
- Eagles TE Brent Celek is closing out the 2011 season in fine fashion. He’s scored in two straight games and has an excellent chance to make it three in a row. Philadelphia hosts a Washington outfit that has allowed the fourth-most fantasy points to TEs this season. They’ve given up three TE scores in their last three games. Celek has also reached paydirt against the Redskins in two of the last three meetings. All the trends point to at least 60 yards and a touchdown for Celek.
This Week’s Sleepers: Jared Cook and Kyle Rudolph
- Kansas City kicker Ryan Succop is a decent upside play this week against the Broncos, who have allowed the second-most fantasy points to kickers this year. Having Kyle Orton under center has raised Succop to fantasy relevance. In the last two games, he’s attempted eight field goals, connecting on six. The opportunity to score points should be there for Succop on Sunday.
- Washington’s Graham Gano was profiled here last week as a sneaky plug-in option. He was clutch, connecting on four field goals and two extra points. He’s put up double digits in three of his last four games. The Six-Pack wouldn’t blame you for sticking with him in Week 17. However, we’d be remiss not to point out that the Eagles have allowed the second-fewest fantasy points to kickers this season. Look for around 7-8 points from Gano rather than the 12-15 he’s been putting up lately.
This Week’s Sleepers: Ryan Succop and Adam Vinatieri
Team Defense / Special Teams
- Show some confidence in the Philadelphia Eagles DST by giving them a start against the Redskins. Philadelphia is closing out the season strong. They shut down Dallas last week. They’ve also recorded 16 sacks, seven turnovers, and a touchdown in their last three games. The last time they faced Washington, they intercepted Rex Grossman four times.
- Although the Chicago Bears defense has nothing to play for but pride this week, they’re a top tier DST option against the Vikings. Minnesota will again start error-prone rookie QB Christian Ponder (concussion). Ponder has made loads of poor decisions over the past month. He’s been charged with six interceptions and two fumbles over the last four games. Look for the Bears DST to check in with a handful of sacks and a couple turnovers.
This Week’s Sleepers: Atlanta Falcons and Kansas City Chiefs
This Week's Six-Pack: None. See you in 2012.