The fantasy playoffs have arrived. Here are a few tips for this critical weekend:
Dance with the date you brought. Just because an opponent starts Giants receiver Plaxico Burress, for instance, it would be unwise to downgrade by starting quarterback Eli Manning merely to offset Burress' points. Manning has nearly as many interceptions as touchdowns. Stick with what worked the previous fourteen games.
Know what to believe. Eagles star running back Brian Westbrook might sit out practice all week to rest his knee. It doesn't matter. He's playing against Big D.
But be wary of even the slightest news about Rams quarterback Marc Bulger not practicing. Bulger hasn't played a game in two weeks because of a concussion. Anything less than full practices is reason enough to find another option.
Life isn't fair. For Eagles fans, watching this 5-8 cellar-dweller team face the music in Dallas might be nearly unbearable. But this is fantasy! Shamelessly round up as many Cowboys as possible. Quarterback Tony Romo, tight end Jason Witten and, of course, receiver Terrell Owens will roll up big numbers.
Pick the right Adrian Peterson. On Monday night, two running backs named Adrian Peterson - one for the Vikings, one for the Bears - will take the field. Last week combined, they turned in a dreadful 38 yards on 31 carries. But only one Peterson will bounce back.
Start the Peterson dressed in purple for the Vikings. Start him despite last week's bad game. Start him because of it. Obviously a determined individual, he is playing on a damaged knee and will redeem himself in front of a national audience.
Enjoy the ride. Set that playoff lineup and lock it in the vault. No second-guessing. Fantasy football is half luck anyway, and it's supposed to be fun. If it doesn't work out, there's always next year.
Five to start
Here are five players with favorable matchups for Week 15:
Marques Colston, WR, Saints - His opponents, the Cardinals, are 2-5 on the road. Only five teams have surrendered more touchdown passes.
Trent Edwards, QB, Bills - Pickings should be slim before starting a rookie quarterback, but Edwards does have a fantasy-friendly opponent in the Browns.
Earnest Graham, RB, Buccaneers - He's scored in his last five starts, seeing at least 15 carries in each. The Falcons' 24th-ranked defense could play flat after a week overflowing with bad news.
Jamal Lewis, RB, Browns - Lewis can crack 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns this weekend against the Bills, and he will. The tank wasn't empty after all.
Adrian Peterson, RB, Vikings - After last week's bad performance, this is a do-over. Is Peterson a vengeful fantasy god? Will he take out his frustration on a Bears defense that has permitted more rushing touchdowns than 28 other teams? It's worth finding out.