Week 15 of the 2011 NFL season kicks off on Thursday evening as the Atlanta Falcons host the Jacksonville Jaguars looking to maintain their slim lead in the NFC wild card race. More importantly for much of the rest of the world, fantasy football playoffs are in full swing. Six-team playoffs began this past week and four-team playoffs get going this coming weekend.
Now that college football has reached the end of its regular season, the NFL begins its Saturday football schedule. This week Tampa Bay hosts Dallas. Make sure and get guys like Dez Bryant, Miles Austin, Tony Romo and LeGarrette Blount into your lineup. This is not a huge opportunity matchup for any of these players, but it is not one where you question whether to start any of these guys. The big question mark is Josh Freeman who has been wildly inconsistent this season.
Sunday's schedule features a host of intriguing matchups. Tim Tebow and the Broncos host the New England Patriots in a big test for Tebow. He has helped guide his team to a six-game winning streak against a mix of teams that have questionable offenses. He faces an awful Patriots pass defense but a high-scoring Patriots offense. The Broncos defense is solid, but if this game turns into a shootout, can Tebow keep up? He has proven to be an incredibly effective fantasy football option thanks to his running and fourth quarter heroics. Can he do it again in fantasy matchups that matter more than most?
Monday Night Football features the Pittsburgh Steelers traveling to San Francisco to face the 49ers. The big question mark in this matchup, aside from Ben Roethlisberger's ankle, is whether Rashard Mendenhall is a good start. He faces a 49ers defense that has not given up a 100-yard rusher in over two years and has not given up a rushing touchdown this season. With Roethlisberger banged up the Steelers will likely rely more on their rushing attack, but could Isaac Redman steal some carries?
It should make an exciting weekend of football. Over the coming days we'll break down some possible sleepers for the week ahead, as well as other generally big performances. Friday, Sunday and Monday we'll follow that up with a breakdown of all the pertinent fantasy performers.