Week 14 Thursday Game: Hines Ward And The Weather Are Questionable

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Week 14 Thursday Game: Hines Ward And The Weather Are Questionable

The Pittsburgh Steelers visit the Cleveland Browns on Thursday Night Football kicking off Week 14 in the NFL, and kicking off the fantasy playoffs for most leagues. The playoffs are when fantasy becomes real, as in real nerve-wracking. You've spent all season trying to build a roster and win games just to get in the playoffs. If you're there, you agonize over every roster move from here on out. And nothing feels better than making the right roster moves on Thursday and getting a jump on your opponent; or feels worse than blowing a roster spot on a dud and putting yourself in a hole before the weekend even arrives.

Here's probably the number one thing you need to keep in mind about the game on Thursday night - the weather is going to be brutal according to the forecast. Predictions say the temperature will be around 19 degrees (wind chill brings that to 0 degrees), there's a good chance of some snow showers, and the wind is expected to be around 25 MPH. If all that comes to pass, the passing games of both teams could suffer.

Pittsburgh Steelers

The major injury question is Hines Ward. While the Steelers say it will be a game-time decision, almost everybody thinks Ward will not play. Even his own comments sound doubtful about his participation. The Steelers will also be without Troy Polamalu, and their defense has suffered in his absence.

With the Steelers going against a generous defense in the Browns, if you've been riding Steelers offensive players all year, you have to give them strong consideration this week. Ben Roethlisberger should have a good game (weather permitting) even without the presence of Hines Ward. Santonio Holmes has actually been the guy over the last few weeks for Roethlisberger, and he is a solid play for this week. Rookie Mike Wallace is intriguing if Ward can't go because the entire Steelers passing game should have opportunities against a poor Browns defense that has injury issues. The only thing that might stop the Steelers passing game is Mother Nature.

Rashard Mendenhall should have a big game because the Browns defense is without Shaun Rogers and the Steelers should be able to run at will. If the weather is bad and truly affecting the passing game, Mendenhall might see a ton of carries.

On defense, the Steelers are probably an average play. The Browns offense has seen a bit of a resurgence lately under Brady Quinn, and Jerome Harrison adds a new element. The Steelers are missing Polamalu badly and their secondary has been vulnerable. Still, the Browns aren't exactly a powerhouse offense and the weather could shape the game, play the Steelers defense if they're your most consistent option.

Visit Behind The Steel Curtain for more info on the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Cleveland Browns

It's hard to recommend any Browns player for Week 14, just because you probably have better options. If you've made the playoffs in your league, you probably did it without using Cleveland players as one your main options. Still, maybe you need one because of injury or other odd situations.

Brady Quinn has actually been putting up decent numbers recently, in leagues that play two QBs he might be an option. But it's risky, the Steelers defense has been shaky but the Browns offense could just as easily collapse again. Along with that, Mohamed Massaquoi is a risky play and should only be used if necessary.

The one guy that is intriguing is Jerome Harrison. Taking over for the injured Jamal Lewis, Harrison added some spark to the Browns offense. His versatility in rushing and receiving, plus finding the endzone twice, made him a fresh face on the fantasy scene. Playoff owners probably don't have room for Harrison this week, but in desperation moves, Harrison might pay off.

Obviously, no recommendations for the Browns defense. As a sleeper, TE Evan Moore, who had a big game last week.

Visit Dawgs By Nature for more info on the Cleveland Browns.

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