We're going to cover fantasy football all season long here at Birds' Nest by answering five questions every week about various fantasy-related topics. Let's roll.
1. Which Matthew Stafford will show up Saturday vs. the Falcons?
Fantastic question. But seeing as this is the last week of your fantasy season, you're pretty much out of options, right? Stafford had one of the worst games of his career against the Cardinals Sunday, completing 48 percent of his throws and tossing three interceptions (including two pick-6's, one of the 102-yard-return variety). But he's also on pace to throw for 5,000 yards for the second consecutive season and is completing 60 percent of his throws. The immediate problem: the Falcons are 12-2 and just off whipping up on the Giants. The Lions' only hope might be the tired "trap-game" theory; if Atlanta is still reveling in last week's win, maybe Stafford has a chance. Realistically, he doesn't.
2. Can Adrian Peterson run all over the Texans like he's run all over everybody else?
Here's the thing: Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder's job description for nearly four month has been this: "guy who turns around and gives the ball to Peterson." Part of that is because AP's that good, but it also has a lot to do with Ponder's second-year struggles. Whatever, Minnesota's riding Peterson, which means that he can expect a lot of touches, even when defenses have eight and nine players standing around the line of scrimmage. The Texans' once-feared defense has softened in recent weeks, and even if they were still their formidable early season selves, we'd still take AP.
3. Which Ben Roethlisberger shows up against the Bengals?
Big Ben returned to the lineup last week after missing three weeks with a shoulder and rib injury. So how did he do? Let's put it this way: He was less effective than Charlie Batch the game before (this is not a compliment). Roethlisberger was better against the Cowboys but threw an interception in overtime that sealed Pittsburgh's fate. Still, he should be back to his usual gun-slingin' self against the Bengals, a team he historically fares well against. Added incentive: the Steelers' playoff hopes ride on a victory.
4. Which Tony Romo shows up against the Saints?
Funny how there's been no rending of garments or gnashing of teeth in Big D during the last few weeks. We've said it for some time but Romo's not the reason for the Cowboys' annual underachievement; a lot of it has to do with owner/GM Jerry Jones and some suspect coaching decisions from Jason Garrett. This is long-winded way of saying that the Romo we saw against the Steelers should take advantage of the Saints, one of the NFL's worst defenses. And like Pittsburgh, Dallas is playing for a postseason berth.
5. Which Joe Flacco shows up against the Giants?
This truly is the wild card. Flacco had a miserable outing against the Broncos and the Ravens' homefield dominance has gone from legendary to legend in a few weeks. The fifth-year quarterback still struggles to read defenses and Baltimore's decision to change offensive coordinators after Week 14 only made things worse.