- Tristan H. Cockcroft, Fantasy
Denver at San Diego: The Broncos have already clinched the No. 2 seed for the AFC playoffs, so expect them to give their starters a fair share of rest, including RB Mike Anderson. ... RB Tatum Bell is expected to get his first NFL start, and he has plenty to shoot for in this game. He needs 131 rushing yards for 1,000, which would give the Broncos the fourth pair of 1,000-yard running backs in the same season all-time. Unfortunately, Bell faces the top-ranked Chargers defense (79.5 ypg), and with RB Ron Dayne around to vulture carries, he's not a top option. ... QB Drew Brees is still slated to start and play most of the game, and with this a home game, he's an encouraging play against the Broncos' 29th-ranked pass defense (233.2 ypg). Brees has averaged 224.9 passing yards with 33 touchdowns and 10 interceptions in his last 14 games at Qualcomm Stadium. ... RB LaDainian Tomlinson has rushed for two touchdowns in each of his last two games against the Broncos, though he's struggling due to injury of late, averaging 84.3 scrimmage yards per game and 3.4 yards per rushing attempt in his last four contests. Denver's third-ranked rush defense (84.8 ypg) should give Tomlinson more trouble this time, so don't expect top fantasy numbers from him.
N.Y. Giants at Oakland: The Giants have already clinched a playoff spot, but the NFC East title is still on the line. In a must-win game, expect New York to go all-out. ... RB Tiki Barber has averaged 130.4 rushing yards in his last nine games, and during that span, he's No. 3 in fantasy points among running backs (180, 20.0 per contest). He has five 100-yard rushing efforts in the past six weeks, and should dominate the Raiders' 24th-ranked rush defense (122.5 ypg). ... QB Kerry Collins plays his first game against his former teammates -- he was a Giant from 1999-2003. He has averaged 193.0 passing yards with two touchdowns and five interceptions in his last four games, but the emotional aspect of the game, coupled with the Giants' No. 25 ranking against the pass (218.9 ypg), makes him worth a look if you're precariously thin at the position.
Miami at New England: RB Ricky Williams is coming off his best game of the season, a 172-yard, 1-TD effort against the Titans in Week 16. He's also averaging 4.5 yards per carry and is performing far better than the banged-up RB Ronnie Brown. Still, Williams will find running against the red-hot Patriots much tougher; New England has allowed only 125 yards and no scores on the ground the past four weeks. He should only be regarded as a No. 2 or flex option, and only if Brown sits again. ... The Patriots could move up to the AFC's No. 3 seed with a victory and a Cincinnati Bengals loss, so expect New England to give a solid effort. ... Weather could be a factor; the forecast calls for a high of 40 degrees, and the Patriots have won 15 consecutive games with the temperature is 35 or colder at the kickoff, including the postseason. ... QB Tom Brady has won all 20 games he has played when the kickoff temperature is 35 degrees or colder, including the postseason, and in seven home games this season, he has averaged 249.3 passing yards with 13 touchdowns and one interception. He threw for 275 yards and two scores against the Dolphins in Week 10, and is a top fantasy play.
A game-by-game look at the week's matchups.