Many fantasy football leagues begin their playoffs this week to avoid having to play in Week 17 when many NFL teams bench their star players if they've already locked up a playoff spot, or they're mathematically eliminated and want to play some younger players.
So this week is the biggest week yet. You're either playing in a win-or-go-home game or you're playing to get into the postseason next week. There are several "sleeper" type guys to start this week, but one sticks out more than others and it might be a mild surprise.
Stud of the Week
Chris Ivory, RB, New Orleans: Yes, Reggie Bush has been back for two weeks now, and has done very little. Pierre Thomas, who was the Saints' starters entering the year, has been out since an injury in Week 3. Now, he's back. But guess what? Ivory has become the man in the New Orleans backfield, and if you picked him up earlier this year (like I did), well congratulations. He's been a beast over the past three weeks and looks to be the main ball carrier for the Saints going forward. This week, he has a matchup against a solid Rams run defense, but a Rams run defense that has given up a good amount of rushing touchdowns in recent weeks. Get Ivory in your lineup.
Dud of the Week
Matt Ryan, QB, Atlanta: "Matty Ice". One of the coolest nicknames for an NFL player in years, especially if you're a college student and like to get the most for your money. Anyway, Ryan has emerged this year as an upper-echelon NFL quarterback for the Falcons and has them well on their way to earning homefield advantage in the playoffs. Ryan has been on a tear as of late, and based on his play alone, you'd be crazy to sit him. But, this week he travels to Carolina and faces a pretty solid pass defense that is horrible against the run. So look for the Falcons' running game to get a big workload on Sunday and Ryan to sit back, hand off the ball, and raise his arms in jubilation over and over again.