In addition to our weekly Waiver Wire posts, we’ll also be providing valuable matchup analysis each week along with our suggestions on who to start and who to bench. If you have any additional matchup questions, or you are not sure who to start this week, feel free to post them in our Fantasy Football Forum.

Pittsburgh (6-6) at Cleveland (1-11)

Pittsburgh YARDS/GAME RANK Cleveland YARDS/GAME RANK
Passing Defense 219.6 17th Passing Defense 246.1 26th
Rushing Defense 77.8 1st Rushing Defense 154.2 29th
Passing Offense 276.1 9th Passing Offense 157.7 32nd
Rushing Offense 116.8 14th Rushing Offense 98.9 23rd
Fantasy Impact: Thursday Night probably marks the beginning of your playoffs and if you own any Steelers you might get out to an early advantage. Even though the Steelers have not been playing well as of late, the Browns Defense is a perfect cure for that. Ben Roethlisberger is a good start this week along with Santonio Holmes who had a monster game last week. Expect both to have nice days especially if the Steelers are without the services of Hines Ward. Ward might not play in Thursday’s game so monitor that situation the last thing you want in the playoff is a DNP on your starting line-up. The real beast of this game will be the Steelers running back Rashard Mendenhall, he has a bit of an ankle injury so keep an eye out on that but I expect him to play and have a huge day. Browns fans got a something to cheer for last week as they put up some points on the board. In fantasy terms, one player did emerge as a player worth owning from the Browns and that is Jerome Harrison. Harrison looked great catching the ball out of the backfield and had two receiving touchdowns last week. I do not suggest starting him this week since the Steelers simply shut down running backs but he has nice match-ups the rest of the way. Harrison is worth starting in deeper leagues if you do not have options but pick him up and store him on your bench for the final push.
Green Bay (8-4) at Chicago (5-7)

Green Bay YARDS/GAME RANK Chicago YARDS/GAME RANK
Passing Defense 186.3 3rd Passing Defense 204.5 9th
Rushing Defense 87.2 4th Rushing Defense 126.4 25th
Passing Offense 284.5 5th Passing Offense 234.8 17th
Rushing Offense 117.1 13th Rushing Offense 88.0 31st
Fantasy Impact: The Packers have officially turned things around and are now looking to make the playoffs. To help you in your playoffs start Aaron Rodgers. Even if the Bears are top ten against the pass you have to go with the guys that got you there and I am sure Rodgers is one of them. I have stated this before, but if he had any kind of offensive line, I would guess there might even be MVP talk. Rodgers will do what he does and find Donald Driver but teams are finally giving him a little more attention leaving less pressure for Greg Jennings. Week 1 Jennings had 106 yard and a touch against this defense (giving his owners false hope for huge things the rest of the year) making him an interesting play this week. I consider Jennings a number 2 or flex receiver simply since he can have those big games so he is start in my book just do not bank on a ridiculous day out of him (why should you, he has not done it all year?). The interesting start will be Ryan Grant, an up and down back but he has a nice match-up. I consider Grant a strong flex play this week and you might have to get him into your line-up. The Bears have been a disappointment this year and so has Jay Cutler but he has the same issues that Kyle Orton had – no one to whom throw the ball. He is facing a tough passing defense and Charles Woodson is making a good case for defensive player of the year; so if you can, sit Cutler. Sitting Cutler means I think you should also sit anyone he throws the ball to that is except for Matt Forte. Forte went fourth overall and has yet to perform like that but if you took him that high I doubt you have many other options so feel good (not great) starting him as a flex option or a low end RB2.
New Orleans at Atlanta (6-6)

New Orleans YARDS/GAME RANK Atlanta YARDS/GAME RANK
Passing Defense 230.0 22nd Passing Defense 254.7 29th
Rushing Defense 113.9 20th Rushing Defense 119.8 23rd
Passing Offense 294.7 3rd Passing Offense 230.8 18th
Rushing Offense 142.6 5th Rushing Offense 113.4 15th
Fantasy Impact: Well the head coach came out and said that they were going for undefeated so it does not look like anyone will have to worry about their Saints getting benched. How does Drew Brees facing the 29th ranked pass defense sound? Yep fantasy gold and have to love that as a round one match-up. Still the issue is who is he going to throw the ball to? All of his targets are worth thinking of starting and if it is coin flip then put them in since the Saints will score a ton of points. Enter Garrett Hartley the new Saints kicker – he is on the Saints and they play in a dome, go get him in all leagues all formats (he has the leg for 50+ as well). Once the Saints put a ton of points on the board they will use Pierre Thomas and Mike Bell to run off some clock but, of the two, only start Thomas. I know Dustin loves Mike Bell some, but in the playoffs I only like going with the guy that is the number one. The Falcons need Matt Ryan if they are going to have a chance this week but it is unclear if he will be playing or not. If he is, start Roddy White and Tony Gonzalez confidently – if he isn’t start them but be a little nervous. Michael Turner will be a game time decision but it looks as if he will sit. Make other plans and do not bank on Turner.
Detroit (2-10) at Baltimore (6-6)

Detroit YARDS/GAME RANK Baltimore YARDS/GAME RANK
Passing Defense 274.8 32nd Passing Defense 215.0 15th
Rushing Defense 113.4 19th Rushing Defense 97.3 6th
Passing Offense 229.8 19th Passing Offense 240.4 13th
Rushing Offense 94.8 25th Rushing Offense 112.8 17th
Fantasy Impact: What have we learned this year about the Lions? Start Calvin Johnson when healthy and only start Kevin Smith against rushing defenses out of the top 10. Johnson is healthy so start him but Smith might need to find his way onto your bench. Now the nice thing about Smith is you know exactly what you will get since he will touch the ball 20 times, to me he is the perfect flex play (I just want a guy that will get points, maybe blow-up with one to two touches, but will not throw up a goose egg). For all the Joe Flacco owners this is a great match-up but you probably have a stud starting and have him on your bench. The question is will he have a good game this week? The answer is yes he will. Flacco will find Derrick Mason, and Ray Rice might break a long check-down pass this week simply because the Lions give up a ton of big plays every single game and I do not seeing this being any different.
Denver (8-4) at Indianapolis

Denver YARDS/GAME RANK Indianapolis YARDS/GAME RANK
Passing Defense 180.3 2nd Passing Defense 224.1 19th
Rushing Defense 108.7 16th Rushing Defense 111.7 18th
Passing Offense 220.8 20th Passing Offense 308.9 2nd
Rushing Offense 125.6 9th Rushing Offense 87.7 32nd
Fantasy Impact: The Broncos now need to keep pace with the Chargers so they need a win this week but the only way to beat the Colts is to put up points. I expect a heavy dose of both Knowshon Moreno and Cornell Buckhalter making both a flex play at best this week with Moreno being the much better option of the two. Other than these backs the only Bronco worth starting is Brandon Marshall but the Colts know this and will be doubling him all over the field. Dallas Clark owners might have been banking a nice game last week to get them in the playoffs and he did not show up. If you were one of the fortunate ones and still got in, do not bench him for any reason since he is still a top tight end (you might be amazed who is currently number one for me, what a difference a season makes). Also this might be the last week you get something good out of Peyton Manning and Reggie Wayne so hope they play and blow up because unlike the Saints the Colts will be sitting their stars. Just like Manning and Wayne this might be the last week of Joseph Addai so start him and pick up Donald Brown if you can.
Seattle (5-7) at Houston (5-7)

Seattle YARDS/GAME RANK Houston YARDS/GAME RANK
Passing Defense 243.5 25th Passing Defense 214.3 14th
Rushing Defense 105.9 13th Rushing Defense 118.9 22nd
Passing Offense 239.8 14th Passing Offense 290.2 4th
Rushing Offense 93.4 27th Rushing Offense 88.7 30th
Fantasy Impact: Both of these teams are making a last push for the playoffs. It is apparent that Seattle will go with Julius Jones not Justin Forsett as the feature back; but even against this awful rushing defense, I barely like Jones as a flex play. The reason behind this is the Texans are looking to outscore the Seahawks and I think they will get up early, meaning Hasselbeck will have to play catch-up with Nate Burleson and TJ Houshmandzadeh (note John Carlson was not listed – because he should never start on your team). Again both of these wideouts are flex plays due to the match-up but they are both nervous starts since they have more bad than good games. For the Texans it is all about Matt Schaub. If he plays and is well I expect a monster day out of him and Andre Johnson. If Rex Grossman starts well you have to start Andre but he is bumped to a WR2 for the first time all year. The running game will consist of Chris Brown, Ryan Moats, and maybe Steve Slaton making them a nightmare. I hate starting the second half of a time share and these three all share about the same at this point.
St. Louis (1-11) at Tennessee (5-7)

St. Louis YARDS/GAME RANK Tennessee YARDS/GAME RANK
Passing Defense 217.5 16th Passing Defense 267.0 31st
Rushing Defense 146.2 28th Rushing Defense 100.3 8th
Passing Offense 198.4 24th Passing Offense 193.5 25th
Rushing Offense 120.1 12th Rushing Offense 165.8 2nd
Fantasy Impact: Steven Jackson keeps gaining a ton of yards without touchdowns. For that reason you must start him in all leagues and hope for the best. It is just apparent if he does not break a long one he will not get in the endzone since his line sucks at short yardage plays. I know you are looking at the 31st ranked pass defense but no do not start any quarterback for the Rams (Marc Bulger might play this week). Jackson is the only Ram worth starting. Now to a back that has a great match-up for your playoffs, Chris Johnson. Expect a huge day and if you do not own him, hope you do not play him since the Rams always give up the long run and Johnson is the best at breaking a long one since a certain Mr. Sanders. He is the best play this week. In deeper leagues I do not mind Kenny Britt since Vince Young loves him but he is the only other player even thinking about starting. So start the backs in this one and leave everyone else on the bench.
Miami (6-6) at Jacksonville (7-5)

Miami YARDS/GAME RANK Jacksonville YARDS/GAME RANK
Passing Defense 242.9 24th Passing Defense 242.1 23rd
Rushing Defense 107.0 14th Rushing Defense 103.4 11th
Passing Offense 190.2 26th Passing Offense 237.5 15th
Rushing Offense 150.4 4th Rushing Offense 130.5 7th
Fantasy Impact: I hope everyone listened to us and traded Ricky Williams after that first monster game right at your trade deadline. (his value was almost as high as a sort of slumping Peterson at that point) Do not worry if you didn’t, this week he has a tougher match-up but is a must start since the Fins have to run the ball to win. Normally I would also start the quarterback and wideouts of whoever plays the Jags but Chad Henne does not bring too much confidence. The other receiver worth taking a look at is Davone Bess coming off a 10 catch, 100+ yards, 1 touch performance. He has slowly been becoming the favorite target of Henne, the issue is that Henne is the one throwing him the ball. The Jags passing attach has been up and down but the Fins have the tendency to give up the long ball. Enter Mike Sims-Walker, one of the best pick-ups of the season. Now last week he did nothing but I feel this week will be different since he plays better at home. Start him as WR2 or a nice flex option. Now the star of this game Maurice Jones-Drew, Jones-Drew has lived up to the hype so start him from here on out even if he was playing the 85 Bears (which he isn’t).
Buffalo (4-8) at Kansas City (3-9)

Buffalo YARDS/GAME RANK Kansas City YARDS/GAME RANK
Passing Defense 188.2 4th Passing Defense 250.8 28th
Rushing Defense 172.1 32nd Rushing Defense 143.8 27th
Passing Offense 185.4 29th Passing Offense 186.8 27th
Rushing Offense 106.2 19th Rushing Offense 98.0 24th
Fantasy Impact: This game is why fantasy football is great, two lousy teams with great fantasy playoff implications, in the playoffs this might be a huge game for anyone starting Jamal Charles. Charles has been great since taking over the job in KC and he is must start against the worst rushing defense in the league. I would consider starting him over some proven players in this one; on the other hand Matt Cassel should be on your bench along with any other Chief. Bills fans have learned that the Terrell Owens experiment is probably over (going to the Pats – heard it here first) but if you are in a deeper league and trying to find that last spot you might do worse. He is risk reward type play with the reward high but the goose egg potential high as well. Some may want to start Fred Jackson and Marshawn Lynch which is ok just due to the splits it is tough which one will find the endzone. But like everyone that plays the Chiefs, the Bills will have rushing touchdowns.
Cincinnati (9-3) at Minnesota (10-2)

Cincinnati YARDS/GAME RANK Minnesota YARDS/GAME RANK
Passing Defense 211.5 12th Passing Defense 227.2 21st
Rushing Defense 81.8 2nd Rushing Defense 84.3 3rd
Passing Offense 212.3 21st Passing Offense 275.7 10th
Rushing Offense 133.9 6th Rushing Offense 123.6 11th
Fantasy Impact: Cincy has been playing well all season but this might be the toughest match-up they have faced all year. Carson Palmer has not had a stunning few weeks but has found one man as of late in Chad Ocho Cinco. The Vikings has been susceptible against the pass so look for both Palmer and Ocho Cinco to try and take advantage of that. The guy not to start this week is Cedric Benson. He is the comeback player of the year but he needs to be on your bench this week. The Vikings simply shut down all backs and Benson will be no exception. Adrian Peterson on the other hand has not played great as of late but he is your first round pick and it is Peterson so start him and hope he can find his way into the end zone against the 3rd best rushing defense. Brett Farve will be throwing the ball against an average secondary and if he has time both Sidney Rice and Percy Harvin have proved to be WR2 worthy in all formats.
Carolina (5-7) at New England (7-5)

Carolina YARDS/GAME RANK New England YARDS/GAME RANK
Passing Defense 192.4 6th Passing Defense 214.0 13th
Rushing Defense 133.3 26th Rushing Defense 107.9 15th
Passing Offense 186.8 28th Passing Offense 309.1 1st
Rushing Offense 151.9 3rd Rushing Offense 113.0 16th
Fantasy Impact: Carolina has Matt Moore throwing the ball but New England is terrible against the pass so start Steve Smith this week in your flex and hope for the best. If DeAngelo Williams plays he is a must start and if he doesn’t Jonathan Stewart is. New England is great at home and Tom Brady and company need a win. Start Brady and expect big things (do not look too much into the 6th ranked passing “D” for Carolina). One of the biggest surprises this season is the fact that Wes Welker is a hands down number 1 wide receiver in all leagues but he is top ten overall in a points per reception league, start him and Randy Moss who could break one every time. The running back situation for the Pats is scary now so do not start any if you do not have to. It is too crowded and if Fred Taylor does come back this week that just makes matters worse.
New York Jets (6-6) at Tampa Bay (1-11)

New York Jets YARDS/GAME RANK Tampa Bay YARDS/GAME RANK
Passing Defense 167.0 1st Passing Defense 205.7 11th
Rushing Defense 109.4 17th Rushing Defense 160.1 31st
Passing Offense 171.9 30th Passing Offense 199.4 23rd
Rushing Offense 168.6 1st Rushing Offense 102.8 21st
Fantasy Impact: Mark Sanchez is a rookie after all and this week he is not a worth a spot start even if he faces the Bucs. The Jets will run the ball so Thomas Jones will get his chance to have a huge day (boy did I get that one wrong, I thought he was going to be awful this year). Braylon Edwards is at the point where he does not need to be owned unless you are in a deeper league so if you are, not do not start him. For the Bucs Josh Freeman threw what seemed like a million picks last week and he faces a crazy blitzing defense. For this reason I do not like him or Bryant (one of the most added players after being dropped in a zillion leagues – I can finally call him my dud once again).
Washington (3-9) at Oakland (4-8)

Washington YARDS/GAME RANK Oakland YARDS/GAME RANK
Passing Defense 190.2 5th Passing Defense 220.3 18th
Rushing Defense 121.8 24th Rushing Defense 158.7 30th
Passing Offense 237.2 16th Passing Offense 159.8 31st
Rushing Offense 101.0 22nd Rushing Offense 104.7 20th
Fantasy Impact: The Redskins put up 30 points last week and Jason Campbell had a career day. Campbell has been the perfect add QB during the bye and might be a good option is deeper leagues this week. I expect another solid day out of him (nothing close to last week but servable) He will be throwing the ball to Fred Davis a great Tight-End replacement if you still own Dustin Keller or John Carlson for some unknown reason. Rock Cartwright might be a good play as well since he catches the ball great out of the backfield and the Raiders have trouble with those backs. Now do not look too close into this, do not bench any key players for the Skins but if you are in need they are probably available. This does include Devin Thomas whom broke out last week. Remember he had one amazing game and I need three to give anyone love. For the Raiders no one is worth starting in standard leagues. One could look at Louis Murphy or Justin Fargas in deeper leagues but the Skins have a good defense (to a degree) so stay away from Raiders like you probably have the entire season if you are in the playoffs.
San Diego (9-3) at Dallas (8-4)

San Diego YARDS/GAME RANK Dallas YARDS/GAME RANK
Passing Defense 204.4 8th Passing Defense 225.9 20th
Rushing Defense 117.8 21st Rushing Defense 102.5 9th
Passing Offense 278.9 6th Passing Offense 277.1 8th
Rushing Offense 88.7 29th Rushing Offense 130.3 8th
Fantasy Impact: The Chargers are one of the hottest teams right now and Phillip Rivers is finding everyone as of late especially Antonio Gates. The only human he is not finding is my man crush, Vincent Jackson. So the question is do you start Jackson? I say yes as a WR2 or a flex, simply since the Cowboys are feeling the December pressure and talks again and I think they will flop again. LaDainian Tomlinson not Darren Sproles is the back to start but Dallas is tough against the run. Put it this way, I would start Jackson over Tomlinson in my flex. The Cowboys did not lose last week because of Tony Romo, he had a huge day and that is because Roy Williams has stepped up once Miles Austin started getting all double coverage. Now I cannot say start Williams but Romo and Austin are both must starts. The other human to benefit from the Austin double coverage is Jason Witten so start him as well. For the backs I would only start Marion Barber if you have to due to the splits, but the reason he wins is that fact he still will get all of the goal line carries and I expect this to be a high scoring game.
Philadelphia (8-4) at New York Giants (7-5)

Philadelphia YARDS/GAME RANK New York Giants YARDS/GAME RANK
Passing Defense 205.3 10th Passing Defense 199.0 7th
Rushing Defense 98.8 7th Rushing Defense 102.6 10th
Passing Offense 268.5 11th Passing Offense 258.1 12th
Rushing Offense 108.5 18th Rushing Offense 124.6 10th
Fantasy Impact: Philly will have DeSean Jackson back after his concession but do you start him? The answer is yes if he plays, the G-Men love to give up the deep ball and that is all he catches. With that being said, start Donavan McNabb this week and maybe even Jeremy Maclin in the deeper leagues. Brian Westbrook looks to be out again, so LeSean McCoy should see plenty of touches. I think he is a RB2 at best. Two other notes, Brent Celek caught another touchdown but if he does not find the endzone he looks like he will throw up a zero soon. Start him, but be weary! More importantly do not pick up or start Michael Vick. He had a nice game in garbage time but if you are in the playoffs you would be smart enough not to pick up and start him I am sure. The Giants have been inconsistent all year and I hate their match-up so other than Brandon Jacobs I am not a fan of starting any of them. Of course if I had to pick, Steve Smith would be the only other guy I would start; but remember the Eagles have only given up 100 to a wideout once this year.
Arizona (8-4) at San Francisco (5-7)

Arizona YARDS/GAME RANK San Francisco YARDS/GAME RANK
Passing Defense 257.8 30th Passing Defense 250.6 27th
Rushing Defense 104.8 12th Rushing Defense 95.8 5th
Passing Offense 278.5 7th Passing Offense 210.0 22nd
Rushing Offense 94.1 26th Rushing Offense 91.3 28th
Fantasy Impact: Kurt Warner makes all the difference in the world and the Cardinals start their string of cakewalk passing defenses with the 49ers. Start Warner, Larry Fitzgerald, and Anquan Boldin without thinking twice this week. The thinking caps will need to work overtime in trying to determine whether to start Tim Hightower or Chris Wells, I am not a fan of either to be honest, so look elsewhere for your flex option. The 49ers and Alex Smith are coming off a great passing game. Smith is worth a looking at in deeper leagues but you cannot trust him just yet to start him in the fantasy playoffs. The guy you can start is my number one tight end right now – Vernon Davis. Simply amazing I went from dogging this guy for the first few weeks to thinking he is top tight end. I know the emails will come in but the numbers do not lie. He is averaging 74 yards and a touchdown a game his last seven games. That is just solid. Other than Davis, Michael Crabtree is due for a touchdown and could even find his way into line-ups in points per receptions leagues. Of course one will start Frank Gore and hope he breaks one against a decent Cardinals run defense.

If you have any additional matchup questions, or you are not sure who to start this week, feel free to post them in our Fantasy Football Forum.