Crunch time for NFL teams and fantasy owners

col-BuddhaThe countdown is now at two. Two more wins and you’ll be your league champion.

The feeling you have right now is that exhilarating rush made up of equal parts confidence and nerve-wracking anxiety.

On one hand, you made it this far. Clearly, you’ve done a good job assembling your team and made solid lineup choices all season. So why shouldn’t you be feeling confident right now?

On the other hand, you know that it can all come crumbling down with one bad week. Maybe you don’t feel confident with your matchups. Maybe you are intimidated by your opponent’s favorable matchups.

Maybe one of your players with a good matchup — I’m looking at you, Broncos — underperformed on Thursday Night. Whatever the reasons may be, you will obsess over them until the final whistle of this week’s Monday Night Football matchup between the Ravens and the Lions.

My advice is to sit back and enjoy the rush. The good things and the bad. And to start these guys if you have them:

* Matt Ryan – This is Matty Ice’s chance to make it all up to you. The Falcons are playing the Redskins in Atlanta and every offensive weapon this side of Julio Jones is available. Ryan should be a monster. Washington ranks 29th in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks and they’ve given up two games of at least four TD passes. Ryan should easily eclipse 300 yards and throw for at least two touchdowns. I ranked him as my QB5 this week, in front of guys like Nick Foles, Matthew Stafford, Tony Romo and the great Tom Brady.

* Shane Vereen – Make no mistake, Vereen is now the number one focal point of the Patriots offensive system. Numero uno. With the loss of Rob Gronkowski to injury, the inability of Stevan Ridley to hold onto the football and the persistent disappointment that is Danny Amendola, the third-year back from Cal is the centerpiece of Tom Brady’s offense. Vereen began the season as a popular PPR sleeper and, after two and a half months on injured reserve, he has become a flat-out stud in that format. But don’t minimize his value in standard leagues. Yards and touchdowns are useful no matter how you get them. Vereen is an unconventional RB1, but a RB1 nonetheless. You’ll want to start him ahead of Chris Johnson, Ray Rice and Chris Ivory this week.

* Roddy White – White should ride the coat tails of Ryan this week and produce WR1 numbers for you. The past couple of weeks have me convinced that Roddy is once again the apple of his quarterback’s eye and should dominate the Redskins for over 100 yards and a TD in Week 15. Pierre Garcon and Marques Colston should continue the theme of wide receivers bouncing back and I would start any of this trio over Victor Cruz, Mike Wallace, Michael Floyd or Kendall Wright.

* Delanie Walker – Jared Cook screwed up the curve last week in his second game versus the Cardinals, but that won’t stop me from going right back to this well. Walker returns from injury to the best possible matchup a TE could have. Arizona has given up 84 catches for 1,115 yards and a whopping 14 touchdowns to opposing fantasy tight ends. And Walker had totalled almost 200 yards receiving and two TDs in the three games prior to his concussion. The numbers should add up to a possible Top 5 day for the former 49er.

For all my defensive streamers out there, the Saints and Eagles look like the best calls in Week 15 against the Rams and the Vikings, respectively. But this time of year certainly benefits those of you who own a Top 5 D/ST unit.

Follow me on Twitter (@FantasyBuddha) and I hope to see you all back for one final week next Tuesday.

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