The Denver Broncos have spent much of the season as one of the NFL's best teams, and come into Sunday tied for the league's best record and, with a win, would clinch the top seed in the AFC. The offense has scored 154 points more than the league's No. 2 offense, and the team's +187 point differential is the league's best by 19 points. The Oakland Raiders have ... none of those things. Sunday, the two teams face off in a 4:25 p.m. ET mismatch in Oakland. Here's a look at the fantasy players who matter (hint: it's mostly Broncos):
Start if you're desperate: Defense/special teams
There is the wild card with the Broncos' game Sunday, in that if the New England Patriots fall behind early in their game (at the same time) against the Buffalo Bills, the Broncos will have little incentive to keep their starters going all game long. But the Patriots are a heavy favorite Sunday, and the Broncos will still have easily half of the game to compile before there is any shutting down, and two quarters of someone like Manning are more than enough, and even Moreno, Decker and the Thomas boys have plenty of chances to accumulate, even if they could possibly relax in the second half. ... Meanwhile, Prater keeps chugging along as a top fantasy kicker, ranking No. 2 at the position.
The Broncos' defense has had occasional big games on the season, including 12 fantasy points in Week 16. With the Raiders going back to Terrelle Pryor at quarterback Sunday, there's the chance for some production there.
Ball's overall yardage has fallen off four weeks in a row since his big Week 13 performance; he's gotten only seven carries combined in the last two. He's really hard to put any faith in. ... With Wes Welker out again Sunday, Caldwell will likely fill his role again, but he fell to only two catches and 12 yards in Week 16. There's got to be a better option out there.
Start in every league: ...
Start if you're desperate: Rashad Jennings
When he had the top running back gig with the Raiders, Jennings was an obvious starter. But when McFadden returned a week ago, he and Jennings alternated series, and Jennings had only 10 carries. McFadden's presence makes Jennings a low-end RB2 at absolute best.
Pryor's return -- even against the Broncos -- likely won't carry with it fantasy production; he's had no passing touchdowns and six interceptions since the Raiders' Week 7 bye. ... While McFadden is taking touches away from Jennings, he isn't getting enough of them to have value in his own right. ... The Raiders' primary receivers -- Moore, Streater, Holmes -- are all too fungible and unpredictable to put any fantasy stock in. ... Janikowski hasn't been put in position to accumulate points much all season; he has zero or one field goal in eight different games. ... Why would you consider starting a defense against a needs-a-win Broncos team?