Fantasy leagues await playoffs

Josh Rouse

As the fantasy football playoff weeks draw near, a few last minute changes could mean the difference between playing in a consolation game and winning the league championship.

Brian Westbrook – San Francisco 49ers, RB

START ‘EM: Westbrook is replacing Pro Bowl running back Frank Gore after Gore suffered a fractured hip Monday night. Westbrook rushed 23 times for 136 yards and a touchdown in the Niners’ 27-6 victory against the Arizona Cardinals, and should remain the starter for the rest of the season. As far as his skill set, he is very similar to Gore but has been hampered in the past by injuries. With only five games left in the season, and considering his workload has been minimal this season, chances are good he will make it through the fantasy playoffs unscathed.

Fred Jackson—Buffalo Bills, RB

SIT ‘EM: Jackson has played very strong as of late, having big games against Detroit, Cincinnati and last Sunday against Pittsburgh. This week, however, may be a good time to sit him if you have other viable options at running back. Jackson will be facing a tough front seven from Minnesota, which last year was amongst the league’s best rushing defenses and this year, despite being less dominant, are still quite staunch in the middle as the fifth best run defense in the NFL. The Minnesota linebackers have enough speed to keep Jackson from totaling another 100-yard receiving game as he did against Pittsburgh, and Buffalo quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick will probably be looking to target Steve Johnson and his other receivers downfield quite a bit against Minnesota’s weak secondary. If you don’t have any other options, he may still be worth starting, but I wouldn’t count on it this week.

Steve Johnson—Buffalo Bills, WR

START ‘EM: After an emotional breakdown following his dropped game-winning touchdown pass in the Pittsburgh game, Johnson will be looking to rebound in a big way against the NFL’s No. 14 pass defense. He has had a swirl of controversy after apparently blaming God for the dropped pass on his Twitter account, but most great receivers tend to come with baggage. If you’re looking for a huge point total this week from a wide receiver, put Johnson in your starting line up and say a little prayer.

Randy Moss—Tennessee Titans, WR

SIT ‘EM: Since rookie quarterback Rusty Smith was unable to do anything against the lousy Houston Texans pass defense, don’t expect things to improve this week as they take on another lackluster secondary from Jacksonville. Moss has caught only four passes in the three games he’s played with Tennessee, and although you could say he’s improving, you could also say he’s got nowhere to go but up. Fellow Tennessee receiver Nate Washington should also be riding the bench, if you haven’t already dropped him.

Jacoby Ford—Oakland Raiders, WR

START ‘EM: Ford has been impressive lately, having big games against the Kansas City Chiefs and the Miami Dolphins. He not only does a good job on the receiving end, but also in the return game, as he returned the opening kickoff against the Dolphins 101 yards for a touchdown. The Raiders will look to run heavily against the Chargers this weekend, but he has a solid chance to use his speed for a breakaway touchdown reception or another big return. Following that game he faces two very weak pass defenses in Jacksonville and Denver. He has yet to string together multiple solid games, but that could begin this week.