Every week we'll break down the movers, shakers, winners and losers in fantasy football, and keep an eye out for the players you should be eyeing for your fantasy rosters.
Okay, for those of us still standing, this is it -- this is what you've endured the previous 13 weeks of the season for. This is what you've spent your hard-earned time and passion (and er, maybe some monetary investment) on: that one chance to make a run to the championship, and gain bragging rights for at least one year. Faltering now is not in the program.
So in the spirit of cutting to the chase, we're going to keep things simple this week, giving you our picks for unheralded players who we think might come up big. There will be risk; no doubt there will be pain. But if you catch the right player at the right time, it'll be the difference between moving on to the next round, or going home for the holidays with your tail between your legs (unless you're Michael Vick, in which case it's best not to mention dogs or season-ending concussions).
So here we go:
Green Bay RB Alex Green
He's been mediocre this season, but with the latest injury to running mate RB James Starks, he becomes the only valuable RB on the Packers' roster. One caveat: Green Bay's opponent this week is the Lions, who have given up a ton of yards in the air, so touches may be limited.
Carolina RB DeAngelo Williams
Speaking of mediocre, Williams has been an afterthought in the Panthers' attack, but with RB James Stewart banged up (seeing a pattern here?), he's in line to receive more carries on the heels of his decent 68-yard performance last Sunday.
Indianapolis RB Vick Ballard
Just to complete the trifecta of injured RBs, Colt RB Donald Brown is out for this weekend's game against Tennessee, which means Ballard will have the ball all to himself. What he does with it is another matter -- despite steady numbers when it comes to total yards, he's only scored twice this year. Still, as a threat running and receiving, he should get plenty of touches and yardage.
New York Giant TE Martellus Bennett
He struggled with injuries after a bang-up start to the season (3 TDs in 3 games); now he's back to form and after last week's monster performance against the Skins, he's poised for another productive day as the Giants are opposed by a suspect New Orleans pass D.
Denver TE Jacob Tamme
For a while it was patty-cake, patty-cake with the Broncos TEs, as Tamme and TE Joel Dreesen jockeyed back and forth for targets (and guess who MFFF picked to break out?), but Tamme has emerged as the go-to choice with almost 200 yards receiving these past 3 games.
Philadelphia QB Nick Foles
What? Didn't we give up on this guy a few weeks ago? We did, but if you're reading this you're in need of a QB, and desperate times call for desperate measures. After his encouraging performance against Dallas last Sunday night, and with Andy Reid committing to him the rest of the season, Foles is in good position to improve against a Buc D that is susceptible to big plays.
St. Louis WR Chris Givens
When he was suspended agains thte 49ers for detrimental conduct and fellow slot WR Danny Amendola came up smelling roses with a huge performance, Given's future looked bleak. But now that Amendola is injured once again, Givens is stepping up (11 catches for 92 yards last week), and the Rams get a less-than-fearsome opponent in the Bills this week.
Detroit WR Mike Thomas
Talk about gambles -- with breakout WR Ryan Broyles done for the year with an ACL and troublemaking WR Titus Young just plain done after various acts of insubordination, it's up to Thomas to provide a credible threat to complement all-world WR Calvin Johnson. Fortunately he goes up against a Packer D that can be had through the air.
Tennessee WR Kendall Wright
Wright has been solid if unspectacular this year (588 yards, 4 TDs so far), and with WR Kenny Britt getting worked back into the starting lineup, he should see less coverage thrown his way, which should boost his numbers. It helps that he faces the Colts' sad-sack defense this Sunday.
Cleveland WR Josh Gordon
After a roller-coaster first half of the season, Gordon has settled in as QB Brandon Weeden's big-play target (15 catches over the last three weeks). This week he faces a Kansas City defense that can be stingy on occasion, but after an emotional win last week, the Chiefs will be hard-pressed for a follow-up on the road.
Best Offensive Matchup of the Week:
Philadelphia at Tampa Bay: Both teams can score; both teams can't stop the other team from scoring. That is a recipe for disaster, as MFFF's grandmother used to say -- or a recipe for some big offensive numbers for both sides, as MFFF says now.
Best Defensive Matchup of the Week:
Miami at San Francisco: The Niners are coming off a frustrating loss to St. Louis, and with new starting QB Colin Kaepernick under the microscope, MFFF is betting that the San Francisco D will take up the slack against a Dolphin team which might be at an emotional ebb after a hard-fought loss to the Patriots last week.
Got a specific question or need advice on fantasy football this week? Sound off in the comments section below.