It's championship week and question marks abound for fantasy players lucky enough to get to their league's title games.
LeSean McCoy, Stevan Ridley and Darren McFadden are huge question marks for teams. I think McFadden is a safe play, but McCoy scares me as no one has any idea how much work he will get. My guess is it will be a timeshare with Bryce Brown. As for Ridley, his fumbles are an issue, but I think you can safely play him this week and hope he holds onto the ball in a very favorable matchup where I would be shocked if he doesn't go over 100 yards and score at least once.
Other questions I have been asked are about wide receivers Danario Alexander and Greg Jennings. I don't like Alexander's matchup against Antonio Cromartie at all and would steer clear of that at all expenses, while Jennings hasn't shown me he's a big enough part of this offense to make him playable unless extremely desperate. I feel safer with guys like Kenny Britt and Michael Crabtree this week.
Rob Stewart is... The Fantasy Oracle
A couple of free agent pickups that could help teams this week are Dennis Pitta and the Packers defense. Both are available in the majority of leagues and have favorable matchups. Pitta has scored double digit points four of the last six weeks and has become a safety net for Joe Flacco.
The Packers, meanwhile, face the Tennessee Titans who rank 27th in allowing fantasy points to opposing defenses, including allowing double digit fantasy points the last three weeks with Jake Locker under center.
The Oracles still have two teams remaining in their quest for another league title.
They play in the championship of the Man Palace Auction League this week against Dave Cathcart's loaded team, while they play the in the Mario Bates League semifinals against a team co-owned by Jeff Irwin and Jeff Fitzgerald. Both Oracle teams are bookended by Drew Brees and the Chicago Bears defense.
The Oracle's top 5 is Denver, Atlanta, San Francisco, New England and Houston. The Chiefs at 2-12 still are in line to select first in next year's NFL draft and own the Oracle outhouse distinction as the league's worst team.
The WTO Laid Back League championship is set with Bob "Big Bossman" Patchen facing Jacob "Where's Perryman". Patchen is led by Adrian Peterson, Alfred Morris, Andre Johnson and Tony Gonzalez.
Patchen's weak spot is his quarterback as he starts Sam Bradford. Perryman's lineup is led by Matt Ryan, Demaryius Thomas, Arian Foster and Heath Miller. His biggest weak spot is at wide receiver where he is starting both Brain Hartline and Anquan Boldin.
Last week's results: Patchen 119.28, Farr 52.66; Perryman 83.90, Elms 75.92
The finals of the Not So Laid Back League have Paul Mangione battling Frank Galeazzo. Galeazzo escaped with a measly one point victory over Andrew Morrison, 90-89, while Mangione outscored Jon Sitler, 139-128.
ASK ALAINA (28-22): Alaina had her second straight 2-3 week as the calls have gotten tougher. This week's calls are 1. Mike Wallace or Brandon Lloyd - Wallace, 2. Antonio Gates or Martellus Bennett - Bennett, 3. Drew Brees or Aaron Rodgers - Rodgers, 4. Michael Turner or LeSean McCoy - Turner, 5. Dez Bryant or Miles Austin -Austin.
FANTASY STAR OF THE WEEK: Last week's prediction of Drew Brees was close as he finished second overall to Russell Wilson's amazing 41.40-point week against the struggling Buffalo Bills defense. The second straight week the Seahawks have had a player or defense with the highest score of the week. This week, I like Cam Newton to torch the Raiders.
STEELERS (7-7): The Steelers suffered a rough loss to Dallas last week in overtime. This week, they play a do-or-die game against the Bengals and I look for them to bounce back in a squeaker. In a PPR format, I love Antonio Brown this week. Look for Heath Miller to be really involved in the game plan this week. Pittsburgh 20, Cincinnati 17.
BROWNS (5-9): Cleveland finally lost a game and now they need to rebound against another quality opponent as they go to Denver. I look for Eric Decker to have a memorable day and register at least 20 fantasy points. Denver keeps on winning and Knowshon Moreno has rebuilt his once promising career. Denver 31, Cleveland 14.
BILLS (5-9): The Bills are struggling with poor quarterback play and that puts their defense in situations they aren't good enough to handle and because of it they are allowing boatloads of points. This week, they play the offensively challenged Miami Dolphins in what should be a low scoring game. Miami 17, Bills 13. Oracle favorite CJ Spiller will put up big numbers in this game, but the Bills will stall in the red zone.
FANTASY BUST: Demaryius Thomas. I think Joe Haden will shut him down and I think the Broncos will look at other options as they pound the Browns.
RACHEL'S LOCKS OF THE WEEK (7-5): Rachel had a rough week, but this time she is sure she is going to nail all three so she is going with Chicago, Pittsburgh and Miami.