- Tristan H. Cockcroft, Fantasy
Tampa Bay at New England: RB Carnell Williams seems back to full health, rushing 90 times for 408 yards (4.5 average) and three touchdowns in his last four games, two of which came against the Bears (Week 12) and Panthers (Week 14), both top-10 rush defenses. Don't look at Willis McGahee's eight-carry, three-yard rushing game against the Patriots in Week 14 and be concerned; Cadillac is performing at a much higher level right now, and should excel against a rush defense that has allowed five 100-yard rushing efforts and seven rushing TDs in its last 10 games. ... QB Tom Brady is an excellent cold-weather (under 40 degrees Fahrenheit) quarterback, averaging 235.4 passing yards with 20 TDs and six interceptions in his last 13 games under those circumstances. The Bucs' fourth-ranked pass defense (178.0 ypg) looks threatening on paper, but Tampa Bay has historically been a mediocre cold-weather team. With Brady averaging 268.3 passing yards with 11 TDs in his last six games, he's a must-play despite the matchup.
Kansas City at N.Y. Giants: QB Trent Green has been much more productive of late, helped in part by the healthy return of OT Willie Roaf. In his last four starts with Roaf active, Green has averaged 315.8 passing yards with six touchdowns and two interceptions. Teams can pass on the Giants; their pass defense ranks 26th (222.0 ypg), so expect a solid game from Green. ... RB Larry Johnson has topped 100 rushing yards in all six starts this season, and he has averaged 142.0 rushing yards and 173.7 scrimmage yards with 10 TDs in those games. A case can be made that he's the best fantasy player in the game during your playoff matchups, so expect another big game even against the Giants' eighth-ranked rush defense (99.0 ypg). ... QB Eli Manning will likely have to throw often, as Kansas City's offense should be able to roll up the score. Keep in mind he has averaged 301.5 passing yards with nine TDs and 12 interceptions in six games this season in which New York's opponent has topped 20 points. Manning should get the yardage and potential scores against the Chiefs' 30th-ranked pass defense (247.6 ypg), so use him even if he's a risk to be picked off once or twice.
Denver at Buffalo: QB Jake Plummer has been neither a great cold-weather nor great road quarterback throughout the years, with 10 touchdowns and 15 interceptions in 10 career games with a 40 degree or lower temperature, and 222.9 passing yards per game, 17 TDs and 15 interceptions in 14 road games as a Bronco. Of course, the reeling Bills have allowed an average of 313.3 passing yards with nine passing TDs in their last four games, giving Plummer a solid matchup. He's worth using, but don't expect a huge game. ... RB Willis McGahee has no business near a fantasy lineup, not in these critical weeks. as he has averaged 48.4 rushing yards per game and 2.8 yards per carry in his last five contests. Coming off that terrible Week 14 effort (8 carries, 3 yards), McGahee also stacks up rather poorly against the Broncos' second-ranked rush defense (85.4 ypg).
2dMarc Stein and Ramona Shelburne