A win Sunday for the 10-2 Denver Broncos would lock up a playoff spot for the team. Meanwhile, the 5-7 Tennessee Titans desperately need a victory to keep their flagging playoff hopes alive. Sunday, the teams face off in Denver at 4:05 p.m. ET, with the Titans hoping to overcome a 12.5-point spread. But oh boy, the playoff implications of the game:
Start in every league: Chris Johnson, Kendall Wright
Start if you're desperate: Ryan Fitzpatrick
Every time it looks like Johnson is back on track (29 points in Week 9, 20 in Week 11), he comes back with disappointment (five in Week 10, seven in Week 12). Still, against a Broncos team that only plays high-scoring games, he ought to have good production. ... Wright still has only two touchdowns and one 100-yard game on the year, but he's been the model of consistency, and has one of the highest floors in fantasy. Again, Broncos games are high-scoring; this could be a big one for Wright.
In a game where they'll probably have to throw a fair amount, Fitzpatrick stands a good chance of keeping up his solid production; even in last Sunday's three-interception-and-a-fumble game, he had 15 fantasy points. It takes a big leap of faith to entrust your fantasy playoffs to Fitzpatrick, but high risk, high reward.
It is really hard to trust any other Titans, even against the Broncos. Hunter followed up his big Week 12 with basically nothing in Week 13, while Washington hasn't had a worthwhile game since Week 4. ... If Walker were fully healthy, he'd be a must-start, but he's likely to be a question mark entering this game, and with it a late-afternoon start, you likely can't run the risk of him being inactive. ... Bironas' top score on the season has been 11 fantasy points, which he's reached twice. He's only 26th among kickers. ... Why would you start a defense against Denver?
Bench: Defense/special teams
Cold weather, schmold weather, good pass defense, schmood pass defense -- you aren't benching Manning without a gun to your head. ... As good as they are against the pass, the Titans struggle against the run, and Moreno has been remarkably good all season; even with only 18 rushing yards a week ago, he managed 14 fantasy points. ... Thomas has had double-digit fantasy points in every game since Week 6, and he's behind only Calvin Johnson and Josh Gordon in fantasy scoring among wide receivers. Even in a dicey matchup, he's a start. ... Prater has averaged 10 points a game in his home games this season, and has only missed one field goal.
The land between starts and sits is a heck of a mishmash; it would take a really desperate fantasy player to resort to Ball this week, though he could offer a nice return on the investment; meanwhile, at wide receiver, Welker and/or Decker could see a goose egg against the Titans, but could also be big. All three guys are high-ceiling/low-floor. ... In all likelihood, Thomas will be fine, but there are plenty of question marks after he's missed games.
The Broncos' defense isn't bad, but their games just promise so many points that there's only so much the defense can do, and that "so much" doesn't usually mean fantasy production.