Christmas came early for most of us that are reading this today. Or maybe it's a belated Happy Festivus or a nice gift on the fifth night of Hanukkah. Whatever you're celebrating, I want to wish you happy holidays! Well, it's Championship Saturday and we have a full slate of football all day with some potentially potent point production (hopefully you're not standing next to Sylvester the cat reading that aloud). We have some interesting game-time calls that will all be covered in this edition. Don't forget you can ask me anything you want about your lineup for a second opinion or a potential way to attack your game-time jam. My Twitter feed @MikeSGallagher will be buzzing all day with instant analysis and updates.
Oakland Raiders at Kansas City Chiefs
Official Inactives: RB Darren McFadden, QB Jason Campbell, WR Jacoby Ford, OL Bruce Campbell, DT John Henderson, RB Taiwan Jones, S Michael Huff
Analysis: Run DMC is dealing with his lisfranc injury for another week and Michael Bush will get some heavy work against a 24th-ranked run D of KC. Bush should be in all lineups despite his injured shoulder.Jacoby Ford is ruled out, so that makes Darrius Heyward-Bey and Denarius Moore intriguing plays in some formats. DHB gets the edge for his big 155-yard gem last week.They both should see a mix of Brandon Flowers in coverage. Carson Palmer isn't that great of a play since the Raiders figure to run a lot.
UPDATE: Taiwan Jones is also out, so expect to see a lot out of Michael Bush today.
Official Inactives: S Jon McGraw, QB Tyler Palko, TE Jake O'Connell, WR Jerheme Urban, OL David Mims, DE Jerrell Powe, DE Brandon Blair
Analysis: The Chiefs will have Kyle "Franchise" Orton at the helm again after the win over Green Bay. Orton injects life back into Dwayne Bowe's value and he's a low-end WR2 against the 23rd-ranked Oakland pass D. The Chiefs are running a three-headed monster at tailback, so starting any of them seems like a huge roll of the dice in even 16-team leagues.
UPDATE: The Chiefs have everything in place, but of course Bowe is the only guy worth starting.
Jacksonville Jaguars at Tennessee Titans
Official Inactives:QB Dan LeFevour, RB Deji Karim, CB Robert McClain, OL Guy Whimper, S Dwight Lowery, DE Matt Roth, WR Cecil Shorts
Analysis: Mike Thomas is going to return from his concussion today. Plain and simple, the only Jaguar that should active on any roster is Maurice Jones-Drew.
UPDATE: Who cares?
Official Inactives:OL Byron Stingily, DT Zach Clayton, QB Rusty Smith, DE William Hayes, OL Kevin Matthews, LB Gerald McRath, TE Quinn Johnson
Analysis: Chris Johnson is dealing with his sprained ankle he suffered on Sunday against the Colts. He was limited this week for practice, but he is expected to give it a full go despite the questionable tag. He should be in almost all lineups (assuming no bad news Saturday morning). Nate Washington was limping around quite a bit on Sunday and he is likely to deal with it again today. He and Damian Williams are basically low-end WR3 plays this week. Keep an eye on Jared Cook who had a nine-catch game last week. Matt Hasselbeck will start with his calf injury. He's not worth starting in almost any league for the likelihood of aggravating the injury.
UPDATE: Chris Johnson is good to go and should be in all lineups.
Miami Dolphins at New England Patriots
Official Inactives:TE Anthony Fasano, RB Steve Slaton, QB Pat Devlin, OL Ray Feinga, OL Will Barker, DE Ryan Baker, OL Ryan Cook
Analysis: Fasano's absence bodes very well for Brandon Marshall. The Hawaii product should see heavy targets in the red zone and is one of the better bets to score despite his probably tag (knee). The Pats are last against the pass, so Matt Moore is sleeper in deeper leagues especially with Andre Carter out of the lineup for NE. Reggie Bush is a low-end RB1 and even has Jake Long ready to return (back).
UPDATE: Jake Long and Marshall are good to go, as expected.
Official Inactives: DL Ron Brace, S Patrick Chung LB Brandon Spikes RB Shane Verreen QB Ryan Mallett OL Matt Light OL Sebastian Vollmer
Analysis: The Pats, as per usual, have a laundry list of questionable players. The ones worth noting include: Pat Chung (foot), Deion Branch (groin), Shane Vereen (hamstring), and Brandon Spikes (knee). The Patriots are splitting up the carries to much to trust any back unless you're very desperate. Wes Welker, Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez are safe to deploy assuming no shocking news comes down in the morning.
UPDATE: Vereen is out again, so Stevan Ridley should spell the active Green-Ellis.
Arizona Cardinals at Cincinnati Bengals
Official Inactives:WR Stephen Williams, LB Brandon Johnson, WR Jaymar Johnson, T Brandon Keith, QB Kevin Kolb, S Sean Considine, WR DeMarco Simpson
Analysis: The Cardinals will start John Skelton again as Kevin Kolb is dealing with a concussion. The Bengals may be banged up in the secondary, but Skelton's inconsistencies make him basically useless in almost all leagues. Larry Fitzgerald is good to go though and should be busy with Beanie Wells suffering from a knee injury. Beanie is expected to play though.
UPDATE: Kolb is in fact in active. If you were planning to start Skelton, then go ahead. Might I suggest focusing more on adding a QB in the draft or through the wire for next year.
Official Inactives:DT Nick Hayden, S Robert Sands, OL Otis Hudson, LB Dontay Moch, TE Colin Cohcart, RB Brian Leonard, WR Andre Caldwell
Analysis: A.J. Green is probable with his shoulder injury and is safe to start in almost all leagues. He and Patrick Peterson are one of the best matchups to watch on the day and it should be fun to see how Pat-Pete combats the physical nature of Green's game. Andre Caldwell (groin) is doubtful which makes Jerome Simpson an interesting sleeper starter for those in a pickle. Cedric Benson should be utilized extensively in this game and is a nice RB2. The Cardinals might be in the backfield quite a bit and could force Andy Dalton into some turnovers. Keep the Horned Frog on the bench in almost every league.
UPDATE: There were some murmurs that A.J. Green was hurting a bit, but he's good to go. He should be starting for you without question.
Denver Broncos at Buffalo Bills
Official Inactives:De Derrick Harvey, S Kyle McCarthy, WR Quan Cosby, TE Julius Thomas, OL Tony Hills, LB Mike Mohamed, OT Manuel Ramirez
Analysis: Willis McGahee (hamstring) practiced fully all week and was upgraded to probable on Friday. Expect him to play and play very well against one of the worst defenses in the league. DeMaryius Thomas is on fire and should also have a big day as a WR2 in most formats.
UPDATE: Willis McGahee could get a slightly limited role, but the great matchup makes him a strong flex play/ low-end RB2 in deep leagues.
Official Inactives: WR Ruvell Martin, CB Josh Nesbitt, WR Naaman Roosevelt, DE Jerron Gilbert, OL Sam Young, RB Johnny White, TE Fendi Onobun
Analysis: Stevie Johnson was upgraded to probable and assured everyone that he would be ready to roll for today. He has a terrible matchup and is more of a high-end WR3 in standard leagues.Scott Chandler (ankle) seems ready to go after missing two games; he's not worth starting though. C.J. Spiller was one of the biggest studs last week and owners will want to use him again for the variety of ways Buffalo gets him the ball.
UPDATE: The Bills will need to block Elvis Dumervil and Von Miller to have success.
St. Louis Rams at Pittsburgh Steelers
Official Inactives: QB A.J. Freeley, CB Justin King, OL Kevin Hughes, QB Sam Bradford, RB Quinn Porter, DE C.J. Ah You, TE Mike McNeill
Analysis: Sam Bradford (ankle) is doubtful for this game and will not play. That means it's the Kellen Clemens show yet again. That means Brandon Lloyd should probably be on the bench against a very tough PIT D and color me surprised if the Rams are able to put up double-digit points in this game. Steven Jackson should get a lot of dump-off passes and is an OK flex play (especially in PPR).
UPDATE: No Bradford.
Official Inactives: OL Jamon Meredith RB Mewelde Moore LB LaMarr Woodley OT Maurkice Pouncey WR Emmanuel Sanders LB Chris Carter DE Al Wood
Analysis: Ben Roethlisberger is not expected to play in this game. Therefore, owners of Mike Wallace and Antonio Brown should consider other options because these guys are more of WR3-type guys. Rashard Mendenhall should have his biggest game of the year (which isn't saying much) in a run-first offense against the 32nd-ranked run D and it doesn't hurt that Mewelde Moore is out. Mendy is ranked seventh in Running Back Rankings.
UPDATE: Ben is active, but the info above still applies.
New York Giants at New York Jets
Official Inactives: LB Mark Herzlich, TE Jake Ballard, OL Jim Cordle, DT Jimmy Kennedy, TE James Brewer, DE Osi Umenyiora, WR Mario Manningham
Analysis: Jake Ballard (knee) is not going to play with a torn PCL. Mario Manningham (knee) is also listed as doubtful and is likely to be in street clothes as well. This means Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz should be good to go even though they have a bad matchup against the Jets. The Jets are the fifth-toughest D for receivers and Antonio Cromartie is playing much better ball and isn't getting burned nearly as much as usual. Expect both Nicks and Cruz to see at least 10 targets and I like both of them to score. Ahmad Bradshaw (foot) is probably and will give it a go. He's a decent RB2 and Brandon Jacobs is more of a desperation flex. Travis Beckum is a TE2 for some two-TE leagues with Ballard out.
UPDATE: Manningham is out and Cruz and Nicks are ready to go as Eli figures to reverse the tough reputation of the Jets pass D.
Official Inactives: QB Kevin O'Connell, WR Eron Riley, CB Marquice Cole, S Gerald Alexander, DT Kenrick Ellis, T Austin Howard, DE Ropati Pitotua
Analysis: The Jets have som 'splaining to do after Sunday's dud vs. Philly.They were down 28 in the blink of an eye and were out of their element. Things should be different this time around and Shonn Greene should get back to his red-hot ways with the Giants coming in at just 22 in rushing defense. Santonio Holmes will look to atone with Tone Time running for most of the game against a secondary susceptible to blowing coverages. The Jets should stretch the field with play-action passing and Tone figures to get the most targets. Dustin Keller is an interest low-end TE1 and Plax is a decent WR3. Mark Sanchez has big upside, but it'll take a little slice of crazy to start him for a title.
UPDATE: The Giants have one of the worst defense and the Jets should be able to score as long as Jason Pierre-Paul doesn't go off.
Minnesota Vikings at Washington Redskins
Official Inactives: CB Chris Cook, LB Xavier Adibi, CB Asher Allen, OL Steve Hutchinson, OL DeMarcus Love, DE D'Aundre Reed, TE Andrew Reisner
Analysis: No Hutch (concussion) is not good for the Vikings and their rushing attack. Adrian Peterson is healthy and should be in all lineups this week. Percy Harvin fell off a cliff last week, but owners should muster the courage to get him in their lineups for his upside.
UPDATE: Adrian Peterson and Percy Harvin should have some success today.
Official Inactives: WR David Anderson, LB Markus White, DE Kentwan Balmer, OL Erik Cook, TE Rob Myers, DE Doug Worthington, RB Roy Helu
Analysis: Roy Helu (toe and knee) put in a limited practice on Friday and is questionable for this one. If the Skins were not coached by Mike Shanahan, I'd suggest starting him in almost all leagues. Since the Fantasy Devil is the head coach, Helu is more of a flex this week. He has big upside though, so if you went against Arian Foster or don't feel confident, maybe give Helu a shot. As for the passing game, Santana Moss is more of a WR2 this week while Jabar Gaffney is a WR3 against one of the least talented secondaries in the entire league. The Vikings are absolutely decimated back there and even Rex Grossman should pick them apart. That sentence doesn't even sound right.
UPDATE: In the big news of the day, Roy Helu is INACTIVE. Evan Royster might get a lot of carries, however, beware of Ryan Torain and the Fantasy Devil. Royster is a flex guy.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Carolina Panthers
Official Inactives: DT Brian Price, QB Rudy Carpenter, DE Daniel Te'o-Nesheim, OL Derek Hardman, S Larry Asante, OL James Lee, DT Albert Haynesworth
Analysis: The Bucs have been a flat-out disaster on offense. Mike Williams wasn't even targeted last week. Yuck. He's tough to play in any league even though I like him to rebound. The Panthers are doing a better job at stopping the run (even though Arian gashed 'em ) and LaGarrette Blount is more of a flex. It's pretty much the hands-off mentality when it comes to the boys in pewter.
UPDATE: I expect Kellen Winslow to have big day with Godfrey and Munnerlyn out for Carolina.
Official Inactives: QB Jimmy Clausen, K Adi Kunalic, DE Eric Norwood, S Charles Godfrey, C Jeff Byers, LB Omar Gaither, WR Seyi Arirotutu
Analysis: The Panthers D is banged up with Munnerlyn and Charles Godfrey likely to be out for this game. This means the Bucs might be able to score some points and Cam Newton might have to go blow for blow with Freeman. Cam Newton is a top-five QB this week as well as Steve Smith being a no-brainer WR1. DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart are also interesting flex guys as they'll get the easiest matchup for fantasy running backs.
UPDATE: Cam should be a beast today.
Cleveland Browns at Baltimore Ravens
Official Inactives: WR Rod Windsor, OL Oneil Cousins, CB James Dockery, QB Colt McCoy, DT Kiante Tripp, OL Steve Vallos, WR Jordan Norwood
Analysis: Seneca Wallace will get the start again and this time it's in the unfriendly confines of Baltimore. Expect to see a lot of T-Sizzle creating chaos. Even though Greg Little had a big game in AZ, he's not worth starting unless you're unbelievably desperate (decent upside though). Peyton Hillis also had a big game and is someone that is a low-end flex in this horrendous matchup for the Brownies.
UPDATE: No thanks on any Brown unless you're desperate.
Official Inactives: WR Anquan Boldin, K Billy Cundiff, WR LaQuan Williams, NT Brandon McKinney, RB Anthony Allen, DE Cory Redding, S Danny Gorrer
Analysis: Torrey Smith will take over as the top target in the passing game and is an interesting play even though he should see a lot of Joe Haden. Lee Evans might actually have a nice game in this one. However, there's no way you can take a chance on a guy that has done next to nothing all year. Ray Rice should be a monster in this game and gashed the Browns for 200 last time.
UPDATE: The Ravens D should be one of the best today.
4:05- 4:15 PM ET Games
San Diego Chargers at Detroit Lions
Notables Ruled Out: None
Analysis: Vincent Jackson is one of the most interesting players to watch on the day. He is dealing with a groin and is questionable for an awesome matchup. If V-Jax is active, the matchup is too good to have him on your bench in almost any scenario. Owners need to have a backup play just in case he doesn't go; Vincent Brown is someone to consider. Ryan Mathews should have a big game and Mike Tolbert could vulture a score. Caaaw!
Notables Ruled Out: None
Analysis: Kevin Smith (ankle) put in full practice and is now probable. His upside makes him someone that should be going in almost all leagues. Megatron and Stafford owners will be hoping for a repeat performance and Nate Burleson is also a decent bet to score.
Philadelphia Eagles at Dallas Cowboys
Notables Ruled Out: Asante Samuel
Analysis: Jeremy Maclin (hamstring and shoulder) is about as healthy as he's been all year and should see a huge amount of targets against a vulnerable Dallas secondary. He's pretty much a must-start guy. DeSean Jackson is still DeSean Jackson and it's tough to play him as anything higher than a WR3 (although I wouldn't be surprised if the Eagles throw a bomb to him on the first play). Michael Vick and LeSean McCoy are obvious starts for this game in the dome.
Notables Ruled Out: None
Analysis: There was some interesting news on Friday night about Felix Jones. The former Razorback's status apparently hinges on the outcome of the Giants-Jets game. If the Giants win, Felix will not play according to reports. This is a very sticky situation and Felix is now outside of the top-20 backs for his risk. His owners should heavily consider other options. If Felix is out, Sammy Morris makes for a nice flex play. Laurent Robinson is dealing with the same shoulder that has troubled him for most of the month. He expects to play, but he's not worth starting for lack of snaps and targets.
San Francisco 49ers at Seattle Seahawks
Notables Ruled Out: None
Analysis: Patrick Willis should be back for the Niners at inside linebacker, so that could help your case for those that were debating to start SF D/ST. Ted Ginn is doubtful for this game which could make Kevin Williams a delta sleeper with his speed against the taller SEA CBs. Frank Gore and Kendall Hunter figure to split the duties in some capacity. Gore is more of a RB2 and Hunter should be on the pine in a below-average matchup.
Notables Ruled Out: Mike Williams (IR)
Analysis: Something has to give here. Marshawn Lynch has scored a TD in his last 10 games (when he's active) and the Niners have yet to allow a rushing TD all year. Truly amazing. Lynch is probably the better bet to score and is a nice RB2 based on the extra Skittles that'll be at his arm's reaching. Golden Tate could be a sneaky play today with Doug Baldwin (ankle) downgraded to questionable. If there's no Baldwin, Tate could see close to 10 targets and might a decent bet for a score, too.