While the Week 14 Thursday Night Football game between the Broncos and Raiders isn't as chock full of fantasy football value like last week's Saints/Falcons debacle was supposed to be, it's always a good time watching Peyton Manning work his magic on live TV. Like a General orchestrating a surprise invasion, watching Peyton call out a play while directing his offensive linemen, receivers and tight ends around like chess pieces is a thing of beauty.
By now you should know Mr. Manning is one of the guys I absolutely love this week, and is considered a must start. Against a Raiders Defense that has given up 23.5 fantasy points to quarterbacks this year, expect Manning's fantasy numbers to reach into the late 20's. Hell he could even put up 30+ points if he felt like it. The Raiders secondary is THAT bad.
Peyton Manning: For reasons I said above. Manning passed for 338 yards and 3 touchdowns in the first meeting back in Week 4. Duplicating, or surpassing those numbers, won't be a problem. Only thing I don't like about Manning is a don't have him in any of my leagues this year.
Demaryius Thomas: It should be no surprise that Thomas has doubled his 2011 stats. Even when Tim Tebow was chucking up the ball, Thomas had huge fantasy value as the team's deep threat. With 5 catches and 103 receiving yards against the Raiders earlier in the season, Thomas is a WR1 and a must start.
Brandon Myers: With Denarius Moore's value dropping fast, Myers has taken the reigns as the passing offense's No. 1 option. Coming off a 14/130/1 in Week 13, I love Myers as a TE1 again this week. Through the year, Myers is now averaging 6 receptions for 60 yards a game, with 4 touchdowns. A free agent in 2013, Myers should make big bucks coming off the best year of his career.
Broncos Defense: I usually don't count defenses or kickers in these types of articles, but the matchup is worthy of a mention. Between DMC facing a tough rushing defense and Carson Palmer's propensity for turnovers, this unit should score a lot of points.
Eric Decker: I'd like to name Decker a MUST START after he tallied 7 catches, 79 yards and a score against the Raiders in the first meeting, but he's been in a slump recently. He has recorded 2-catch games in 3 of the last 4 outings, most of which were good matchups on paper. I can see Decker breaking out of his slump tonight, but I won't go out on a limb and rank him up there with someone like Thomas. If I had Decker, I'd throw caution to the wind and start him, however. The stars are aligned for him to get back in the groove. But there is still that chance that he has yet to get back into Peyton's good graces.
Knowshon Moreno: Moreno continues to be the clear featured back after notching 20 carries in each of the last 2 games. That will continue tonight. He may have been a bit of a disappointment last week against the Buccaneers, but the Bucs still sport the No. 1 rushing defense, giving up just 82.3 per game. With the Raiders giving up close to 23 points a game to fantasy running backs, Moreno should have a nice bounce-back outing. Moreno has screwed me in the past, which might be why I only have him as a mid-tier starter.
WOULDN'T START THEM IF I DIDN'T HAVE TO
Darren McFadden: With Marcel Reece dealing with multiple injuries, McFadden is expected to get a big workload coming off a 4-week absence from a high-ankle sprain. I'm not a big fan of using DMC if I had other options. He's going to be rusty after missing so much time. The Broncos rushing defense ranks No. 7 against fantasy running backs, giving up a mere 15 points a game. Not to mention DMC's 3.3 yards-per-carry average on the year doesn't exactly make him a top-notch option. I am sure some owners will have to play him tonight, just don't expect huge numbers.
Denarius Moore: From Week 2 to Week 10, Moore looked like a bonafide WR3 and was Carson Palmer's go-to guy outside of Myers. But outside of a touchdown catch, off one reception in Week 12, Moore's fantasy value has come crashing down. It all came to a head when he was benched against the Browns last week with a case of the dropsees. He will start Thursday night, but going up against Champ Bailey won't do much for a fantasy rebound. Bench him if possible.
Jacob Tamme: Over the last 3 weeks, Tamme has looked more like a TE1 than a low-end TE2, with a total of 17 receptions against the Chargers, Chiefs and Buccaneers. Tamme can continue to keep that momentum going since the Raiders are ranked 27th against fantasy tight ends. But with a lot of playmakers around him, Tamme could also see his resurgence come to a halt. The only way I play Tamme is if there are no other options on the waiver wire better than him (Like Myers), or if I can plug him in as a flex 0ption in a 2-tight end league. He's too much of a wild card as a true TE1, even if he has been putting up big numbers.