Welcome to a special holiday edition of our weekly FanDuel fantasy football preview.
In the spirit of giving, we are going to give you all our best advice of the season: Don't listen to us.
After back-to-back weeks of finishing outside the top 20, we have decided that we were only cheating you out of your money by asking you to follow us. Around the holidays, we just couldn't bring ourselves to do that.
But, hey, even Carson Palmer has had a good game here and there this season. Maybe we're due.
If you want to sign up, and skip the below advice, please click here to join the private league.
Given our atrocious track record picking these so-called “bargains” and “busts”, we wouldn't blame you if you skipped this section all together. The bargains haven’t been so bad; the busts, however, have gone over about as well as Christmas tube socks for Rex Ryan (we already returned ours.)
If you were unconvinced of the difficulty that comes along with picking bargains and busts EVERY SINGLE WEEK, well, you haven’t been paying attention. We’ve had a rough go of it, no doubt - and if we can’t get it right, then who can? We humbly serve ourselves up as the example of human fallibility.
Just remember: You can’t always pick winners, but you can always pick against Tony Romo. Except for the rest of the season, because he’s on injured reserve.
QB - Josh Freeman (TB) - $5,900 (36th among quarterbacks)
Freeman has been quite good this season, throwing at least one touchdown pass in 11 straight games and topping 250 yards in the past two. This week, the porous Seattle secondary travels to Tampa, which should provide ample opportunity for Freeman to stretch the field with Mike Williams and Arrelious Benn. A nice value if you’re looking to spend at other positions.
RB - Donald Brown (IND) - $5,600 (37th among quarterbacks)
Frustrating would be a good word to use when describing Brown’s season up until last week, when he ran for 129 yards and a touchdown. Normally we’d tell you to be cautious in using Brown, but the Colts have little choice. Their running game is the worst in the NFL. If Brown gives them a shot at improving, they’ll use him. Against the Raiders, he could be productive again.
WR - Brandon Marshall (MIA) - $6,200 (26th among wide receivers)
Marshall is like brand-new, top-of-the-line gaming system you get for Christmas, except the system comes with a Pong-era joystick. If you don’t understand, the joystick is Chad Henne. He isn’t very good. Marshall was productive last week, though, as he had 11 catches and a touchdown. He could certainly come close to those numbers against the Lions this week, Henne notwithstanding.
TE - Brandon Pettigrew (DET) - $4,800 (23rd among tight ends)
Shaun Hill should be back behind center for the Lions this week, which could mean good things for Pettigrew, whom Hill developed a penchant for throwing to before getting injured, coming back and getting injured again. Pettigrew is a large target over the middle and could be good for a score this week.
K - Robbie Gould (CHI) - $5,200 (35th among kickers)
Gould had a huge game against the Vikings, kicking four field goals. He should get the opportunity to kick at least a couple this week, as the Jay Cutler-led Bears offense might have a tough time finishing off drives against the Jets defense. Or they just might be too preoccupied with cracking feet jokes to score touchdowns. Either way, it would benefit Gould.
DEF - Chicago Bears - $6,200 (24th among defenses)
The Bears defense, aided by Devin Hester, put up the most points among defenses last week. Now Mark Sanchez is coming to town, perhaps limited with torn cartilage in his shoulder. Having Sanchez at less than full strength could rob the Jets’ offense of its “sole” (get it?) and provide the Bears another strong day.
BUSTS (or, A FEW OF THESE GUYS WILL HAVE MONSTER WEEKS)
QB - Eli Manning (NYG) - $8,100 (6th among quarterbacks)
Yeah, we know we picked Eli to be a bust last week. Yeah, we know he threw four touchdown passes. And yeah, we know this is a must-win game for the Giants. That doesn’t mean they have to win, though. The Giants are dead, Eli along with them. Facing a strong Packers defense that is also in must-win mode, Manning will shrivel. And we will be vindicated.
RB - Michael Turner (ATL) - $9,200 (1st among running backs)
We angered Turner a couple weeks back by picking him in this post. He responded by rushing for over 100 yards. Showing that we never do learn our lesson, here we are back again, tabbing Turner as the bust at running back. Matt Ryan will do a lot of throwing in this game, with Drew Brees expected to bomb away. That means less Turner, and more Jason Snelling, who is a better receiver. And more vindication for us.
WR - Dwayne Bowe (KC) - $7,600 (3rd among wide receivers)
One player we have not been wrong about in recent weeks is Bowe. After having his 15 minutes as an unstoppable force, he’s come back to Earth in the past few weeks - and then some. Last time Bowe faced the Denver Broncos, he was covered by Champ Bailey. He had as many catches as yards and touchdowns: zero. Bowe is in for another rough one.
TE - Kevin Boss (NYG) - $5,800 (4th among tight ends)
Boss scored a touchdown last week, but that doesn’t mean anything. It was against the Eagles, who could not stop a tight end if his name was L.J. Smith. This week, against the Packers, he will find few balls thrown his way - at least catchable balls. Clay Matthews will be chasing Manning all game, and Boss will be chasing his shadow from the line of scrimmage and back to the huddle.
K - David Buehler (DAL) - $6,200 (2nd among kickers)
Supposedly this guy is a phenomenal athlete who can outrun some, if not all, of the fastest players on the Cowboys. Why is he a kicker then? We don’t know, but we do know his game against the Redskins was a fluke last week. He won’t be making four field goals this week, or even attempting five, especially against an Arizona defense not too keen on holding teams to field goals.
DEF - San Francisco 49ers - $6,800 (3rd among defenses)
These guys are continually ranked among the top defenses, which we don’t get. They are terrible against teams outside their division, and while they play a divisional opponent this week in the St. Louis Rams, neither the matchup nor their talent warrants a top-three distinction. If only Mike Singletary would drop his pants again, things might change...
If you've stuck around, we thank you. We are going to reward you with an early Christmas present and give you a couple extra things we are watching for heading into this weekend's games:
1. Oh, the weather outside is...weather
With a massive storm expected to hit the East Coast this weekend, keep an eye on how that could effect your players, especially quarterbacks, receivers and kickers. Some players, like Tom Brady, have proven to be exceptions to this rule, but I wouldn't count on Eli Manning to find the same results up at Lambeau.
2. Be wary of one-hit wonders
Tim Tebow and Rex Grossman were the surprises of Week 15. Both seem to have favorable matchups this week, but with teams having a full week to prepare, look for a dip in these two quarterbacks' numbers. Their low prices may help you fill out the rest of your roster, but buyer beware: there is a lot of room for error, and spending on either of these two could leave you wanting more come Sunday.
Bonus Question: Which NFL coach would make the best Santa Claus?
Our Week 15 Roster
Well, Peyton Hillis, we said we were giving you one more chance, and you let us down, again.
Therefore, we're gonna go big or go home this week at the running back position.
Arian Foster, although suffering from a hamstring and glute injury, seems prime for a big game this week against a Broncos defense that has been prone to giving up big games to star running backs. Better yet, he was said to have performed well at practice on Wednesday, and the coaches don't think he will miss a step.
One of those running backs that torched the Broncos earlier this season was Darren McFadden, our second running back this week. McFadden is facing a Colts team that is allowing 135.8 rushing yards per game. Both of these running back matchups seem favorable, so we've decided to invest a lot of money at the position.
We also invested a lot of money at QB. Although Brady is not the most expensive quarterback, he is among the top five, but it is hard to ignore his play.
Plus, he could be playing in the snow, which is a negative for most quarterbacks. However, Brady isn't most quarterbacks.
Because of all the money we are throwing at the running back and quaterback positions, we had to trim down our wide receiver budget. Reggie Wayne, playing in a must-win, and Wes Welker, who is catching passes from one of the hottest quarterbacks in the league, both seem worth the money.
It was our third wide receiver spot where we cut back. Robert Meachem is not a consistent play, but with how Drew Brees and Sean Payton spread out the targets, he can break out for a big game at any moment. If Brees and Co. can make Jimmy Graham a valuable tight end, anything is possible.
Hopefully this roster will score better than last week's. Then, maybe, people would have a reason to follow our advice. Here are our picks for Week 15:
QB - Tom Brady (NE@BUF) - $8,200
RB - Arian Foster (HOU@DEN) - $8,500
RB - Darren McFadden (IND@OAK) - $8,200
WR - Reggie Wayne (IND@OAK) - $7,100
WR - Wes Welker (NE@BUF) - $6,700
WR - Robert Meachem (NO@ATL) - $4,900
TE - Aaron Hernandez (NE@BUF) - $4,900
K - Sebastian Janikowski (IND@OAK) - $5,300
D - San Diego Chargers (SD@CIN) - $6,200
Salary cap remaining: $0
Don't forget to sign up and join our league by clicking here. Rosters must be submitted before 1 p.m. on Sunday. Good luck.
Matt Mullin is a sports producer at philly.com and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @matt_mullin.
Andrew O'Brien works on the sports desk at philly.com and can be reached at email@example.com.