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Fantasy Doctor: Lean on Bucs as stretch drive begins

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By The Fantasy Doctor

Every Wednesday, The Fantasy Doctor ponders fantasy football dilemmas and prescribes advice with an eye on helping you win. Email your fantasy questions to fantasydoctor@pfwmedia.com. Questions may be edited for clarity.

Doctor Doctor,

I have some playoff position questions:

QB: I don't want to be cute, but Matt Ryan has been brutal recently, and Josh Freeman has been leading my bench (and is playing the Eagles). Time to switch?

RB: Doug Martin is a lock, but then I have Steven Jackson, Bryce Brown and Knowshon Moreno. Love Bryce, but will he play? Worried with Moreno starting on Thursday. Need a RB2 and a flex out of those three.

Thanks for the help in advance, hope your season is going well and good luck.

— Coach Joe

That’s quite the QB quandary, Joe. I’d go with Freeman. The matchup is outstanding, and Ryan’s production has fallen off of late. Giving Ryan another chance would be understandable, too, of course. Both are very good options.

At running back, I’d start Martin, and I would start Brown, who figures to get another start in Week 14 with LeSean McCoy (concussion) not yet cleared.

For the flex spot, I’d lean toward Moreno over Jackson, but both have very good matchups.

Hey Fantasy Doctor,

With the playoffs starting this weekend, I've decided to roll with DeMarco Murray and Pierre Garçon in my starting lineup (presuming they both have "probable" designations).

My question is at the flex spot. Who would you go with out of these four options: Antonio Brown, Mikel Leshoure, T.Y. Hilton or Mike Williams? I paid big bucks for Brown at auction and he may be worth it if Ben Roethlisberger is back. I like the guaranteed touches for Leshoure. Hilton has the big-play potential with that speed. And, finally, I start Josh Freeman (this is a two-QB league) and I like to have one of my QB’s top options (but it seems Williams is more likely to go four-for-36 instead of the great line he produced against Denver).

Your advice is greatly appreciated. Thank you.

—   Mike

I think you’re making the right call starting Murray and Garçon. As for your flex question: I’d lean toward Leshoure. He’s had at least one TD and double-digit fantasy points in 4-of-5 games and is a key part of a potent offense. While Leshoure hasn’t been a big-play threat, he’s getting goal-line looks, and those are very valuable.

Hey Doc,

I need help to fill my last flex spot. What's your take on whom to start from this group: James Jones vs. Detroit (I'm watching the Jordy Nelson situation closely), Vick Ballard vs. Tennessee (ditto with Donald Brown) or James Starks vs. Detroit? I also have Beanie Wells, but Arizona is at Seattle — I don't think that's even an option. (Note: This is a non-PPR league.)

Thanks!

— RJax

Here’s how I’d stack your options: Jones, Ballard, Wells. With Nelson out, and with the Lions’ pass defense not a strength, Jones’ stock is on the rise for Week 14. If you are leery about Jones having fewer opportunities in recent weeks, then Ballard is a fine replacement. I’d agree that Wells is not the best of your options. Finally, Starks is a non-consideration because of his knee injury. 

Made it to third place in the regular season thanks to your advice, and I have some good momentum going into the playoffs. I have a tough choice at QB: Eli Manning vs. the Saints or Colin Kaepernick vs. Miami?

Also, I need to fill my RB2 and my flex spots with Beanie Wells, Vick Ballard, Michael Bush, Brian Hartline and Danario Alexander.

Thanks for your advice!!!

— Doug

I’m happy to see I could be of service, Doug.

Here’s how I would proceed in Week 14.

At quarterback, I’d go with Manning. The Saints’ defense is just awful. As always, make sure to double-check the weather when making any late-season lineup decision.

At the RB spot, I’d go with Ballard.

At the flex spot, Alexander is the play.

Doc,

I am at a loss here. I have missed a first-week bye by merely a couple points and I'm in need of big win. I hope you have the medicine to help decide which three out of these four running backs to start this week: C.J. Spiller, Chris Johnson, Bryce Brown or DeMarco Murray. Any help would be appreciated.

— Hoosier Daddy

It’s a tough call, but I’d start Spiller, Brown and Murray. There’s also a case for Johnson, and if you want to start him, you would be on solid ground. However, I think Spiller and Brown are must-plays on playmaking ability, and I prefer Murray to Johnson.

Hey Doc,

I need your help for the playoffs. No doubt my WR1 is Calvin Johnson, but who should be my WR2: Torrey Smith, T.Y. Hilton or Malcom Floyd? I can also pick up Golden Tate.

Bryce Brown is on a roll and he's hard to bench, so he's my RB1. So who should be my RB2: DeMarco Murray, Michael Turner or Knowshon Moreno? And, out of the players that are left, who should be my flex?

At TE, do I start Brandon Myers or Kyle Rudolph?

Finally, who should be my kicker: Shayne Graham or Connor Barth? Thanks in advance; I'm a big fan. Happy holidays!

— Alejandro

Here’s a position-by-position look at your lineup concerns:

WR: I prefer Smith, who has an excellent matchup Sunday at Washington, to, in order, Hilton, Tate and Floyd.

RB: You’re right — Brown is a must start. Murray is a fine second option.

Flex: I would stack your options thusly: Moreno, Turner, Hilton, Tate, Floyd, Rudolph.

TE: Even though he has a fairly tough matchup Thursday vs. Denver, Myers is getting too many opportunities to bench.

PK: Barth gets the nod over Graham. Be sure to check the weather before making a call here.

What's up, Doc?  First week of fantasy playoffs and I'm stuck between a rock and a hard place.  With LeSean McCoy out, I'm left with a massive mediocre crew to fill two RB spots: Mikel Leshoure, Ryan Mathews (whom I don't trust at all anymore), Vick Ballard or Montell Owens. The league is PPR and any advice is appreciated —  thanks Doc.

 — Nick in Honolulu

Nick, I’d rank your options this way: Leshoure, Mathews, Ballard, Owens. I’m with you on Mathews — he has just one TD in 10 games, and his yardage totals have slipped. However, I still prefer him to Ballard and Owens. Leshoure is the best play of the group, as he’s the most likely to score a touchdown, in my view. Overall, this isn't a bad RB group — you could be in far worse shape.

Hey Doc,

I clinched my division. Now, I need a defense for my playoffs, which start in Week 15. Who would you pick up for that week: Miami (vs. Jacksonville), Oakland (vs. Kansas City), Detroit (at Arizona). Thanks, Doc.

—   Allyn

For starters, I would rule out the Raiders’ defense. Their matchup is favorable … but the same could be said for the Chiefs’ offense. And you do really want to be counting upon the Raiders' defense in a playoff week

To me, your choice is Miami or Detroit, and I believe the Dolphins are the play. The Lions’ pass rush could give the Cardinals fits, but the Dolphins could also present a lot of problems for the Jaguars. Entering Week 14, the Dolphins had six more sacks than the Lions, and they also had three return TDs (all on special teams) compared to zero for Detroit.

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