Tis the season! No, not to be jolly, but to be victorious! This week is Championship week for most conventional leagues and it starts Thursday with the Panthers visiting the Steelers. Don’t ever be afraid to start someone who plays a Thursday night game but don’t be impulsive either. Here are Thursday’s dos and don’ts.
Ben Roethlisberger- Although he’s tough as nails and is averaging 255 passing yards in his last four games, Big Ben has only 2 TDs in the last month, which is attributed to a sputtering Pittsburgh offense. As bad as the Panthers are, they’ve only given up 16 passing TDs this year, which is 6th best in the NFL. Carolina also only gives up an average 203 yards through the air per game, which could continue Roethlisberger’s streak of fantasy mediocrity.
Rashard Mendenhall- The third year back got back on track last week rushing for 100 yards and scoring a TD. Look for Mendenhall to carry the load again Thursday. As good as Carolina is against the pass, that is how bad they are against the run. They’ve given up 17 rushing TDs this year (2nd worst in the league) and allow over 125 rushing yards per game. Mendenhall is a safe play
Hines Ward- Old reliable hasn’t been living up to his name this year. Ward has showed streaks of his old self but has also disappeared at times. Ward hasn’t had a TD since Week 10 and has trouble against good pass defenses. Ward should warm your bench this week.
Mike Wallace- Another Steeler without a TD in over a month but Wallace possesses the second-level speed to get behind any defense. Roethlisberger will try to few long bombs to Wallace early and if he isn’t interfered with, he could score a TD or two. Wallace is a moderately safe play.
Jonathan Stewart- Stewart has over 130 yards in each of his last 2 starts, but he only has 2 TDs on the whole year and the Steelers are a very unforgiving run defense. They lead the league is rushing yards allowed per game (63.4) and rushing TDs allowed (5) so it’d be wise to sit Stewart this week.
Mike Goodson- Ditto.
Steve Smith- He still has a lot of talent but there has just been too much inconsistency at QB. Plus, Jimmy Clausen doesn’t seem to have built any chemistry with Smith, which explains the lack of targets.
John Kasay- He’s is the only Panther worth starting this week. Kasay is 23-27 this year in Field Goal tries and is 3-4 in 50+ yarders. He’s coming off a 4-4 performance last week against Arizona and it’s clear that if the Panthers are going to get any offense out of anyone, it’s John Kasay.
About the Author
Written by John Buffone
John was born in Rural Valley, Pennsylvania. He attended Clarion University and received a degree in Mass Media Arts and Journalism. He currently hosts "The Sports Zone with John Buffone" on AM 1380 WTYM in Kittanning, PA. John is also a sports columnist for the Kittanning Paper and a contributor to Examiner.com, and CatholicSportsJournal.com.