Week 17: Sleepers
Feeling a bit daring? Perhaps you should go to your waiver wire and add Orton for your Week 17 matchup. This will be Orton's first start since 2011. The Cowboys face the Eagles during Sunday Night Football with the division and a spot in the playoffs up for grabs. Orton is supposed to be one of the top backups in the league and looking around, there isn't much of an argument against him. The main reason he is even a possible recommendation is because of Philly's awful pass defense. They rank 27th in fantasy points allowed to QBs.
Cutler was unable to keep pace with the Eagles last week as the Bears lost in a blowout, 54-11. In that game, the former Vanderbilt signal-caller passed for 222 yards, one TD and one INT. Not a bad game, but certainly not great either. With the division and place in the playoffs on the line, Chicago hosts Green Bay and their 26th-ranked fantasy defense against QBs on Sunday. The Pack have given up at least two passing TDs in each of their last four games. Consider Cutler a solid QB1 in Week 17.
Bell's consistency and role in Detroit's offense has only improved in the second half of 2013. The Lions may be without Calvin Johnson due to knee and ankle injuries and Reggie Bush could take a backseat due to some recent fumbling issues. I'd like to admit, since we're deep in Week 17, that coming into this year, I thought Mikel Leshoure would easily take over Bell's role in the offense and blossom. That obviously has not been the case as Bell has likely played his way into an excellent contract as he is schedule to become a restricted free agent. As for Week 17, he faces a repugnant Minnesota defense which ranks 25th in fantasy points allowed to RBs. With a possible expanded role as previously mentioned, Bell is a no-brainer as a solid RB2 or possible RB1 in PPR.
Baker has filled in admirably over the last two weeks, gaining 102 yards on 23 carries and two scores against the Bears and Jets. Going up against the Steelers may feel like a tough matchup given Pittsburgh's many years with a formidible run defense; however, that is not the case. The Steelers rank 20th in fantasy points allowed to RBs and have given up 17 RB TDs this year, five of which have come in the last three games. Baker is an excellent RB2 this week and should be almost universally available in ESPN and Yahoo leagues.
If you aren't already on the Crabtree bandwagon, hop aboard! It's warm and cozy up here. The former Texas Tech receiver has posted back-to-back double-digit scores (even in standard scoring). In those two games, he has 10 receptions for 147 yards and a score. The 49ers' passing game is still a bit lacking, but appears to be peaking at the right time of the year. The matchup isn't kind to Crabtree in Week 17 as he'll have to face Arizona's sixth-ranked defense against WRs; however, the Cards did look very vulnerable two weeks ago when the Titans' WRs torched them for 25 receptions, 298 yards and two TDs.