By Jim Owczarski Sports Editor Published Nov 19, 2014 at 6:06 AM

Things got back to normal in the NFL last week, no? I mean, Aaron Rodgers and Jamaal Charles had huge games, Jay Cutler and Andy Dalton reverted back to form, Jonas Gray and Mike Evans dominated … wait, what? Oh, well, if you read this column you knew Evans was a must-start. So if you did, you likely won your matchup and either helped yourself in your league’s playoff picture or maybe played spoiler. Regardless of your situation this week, we're here to help you win again.

Now, you're not going to find "start Aaron Rodgers" here. If you drafted a player in the first five rounds, chances are those are your go-to players, so we'll try to give you some less-than-obvious choices to bolster your lineup every week.

On that note, here we go for week 12:

Start 'em

Jordan Matthews, Philadelphia wide receiver vs. Tennessee
This is the year of the rookie wide receiver, and Jordan Matthews has finally emerged in Chip Kelly’s offense. It has also helped that Mark Sanchez is now the starter, as the two developed an obvious chemistry in practice that has now translated to Sundays. In the last two weeks, Matthews has seen 17 targets and made 12 catches for 245 yards and has scored three touchdowns. He’s shown that he is a physical presence in the red zone, and the Titans are just awful against the pass. Ten different receivers have gone over 75 yards, eight have had at least six catches, and five have caught at least one touchdown.

Green Bay defense at Minnesota
The Packers defense is hot right now, and they face a rookie – albeit an improving one – quarterback in Teddy Bridgewater this week. Say what you want about Jay Cutler and Mark Sanchez, but those guys are veterans with tremendous offensive weapons – and the Vikings have no such options. Coming out of the bye, the Packers have recorded seven sacks, four interceptions, three fumbles and three touchdowns. Now, the scores are always fluky – you can’t count on that – but the quarterback pressures and turnovers are something that snowball, and this defense is about as hot as you can get in the NFL right now. It’s worth another shot against a team that just doesn’t have the firepower to hang with the offense. These guys should be licking their chops again.

Last week: Mike Evans (9 targets, 7 catches, 209 yards, 2 TD); Cleveland defense (23 points allowed, 1 INT).

Sit 'em

Jonas Gray, New England running back at Detroit
The unknown Jonas Gray was this week’s hottest waiver wire pickup after his 199-yard, 4-TD performance on national television, but he’s a non-starter. The Patriots admitted they saw a huge hole in Indianapolis’ defense and it’s simply one that does not exist in Detroit with that front four. Not only have the Lions not allowed a 100-yard rusher this year, only two backs have rushed for 60 yards or more, with the New York Jets’ Chris Ivory putting up 84 yards as a season high. If you’re in a PPR league, a starting back could get you double-digit points, but Shane Vereen is the Patriots’ pass catcher out of the backfield.

Kenny Britt, St. Louis wide receiver at San Diego
With Shaun Hill back under center for the Rams, they pulled the biggest upset of Week 11 by beating the Denver Broncos at home. And, with the quarterback change, Britt became the top beneficiary with a seven-target, four-catch, 128-yard effort that included a touchdown. The Chargers have allowed only four pass catchers to top 100 yards this year, two of which came in the same against Peyton Manning and the Broncos. If you’re looking for a potential explosion this week, Britt may get some love – but it’s far from a guarantee. You’re better off going with another option.

Last week: Mychal Rivera (5 targets, 3 catches, 40 yards); C.J. Anderson (29 rush yards, 8 catches, 86 yards).


Andre Caldwell, Denver wide receiver vs. Miami
The Broncos offense laid an egg on the road (but in a dome) last week in St. Louis, partly because two of Manning’s top targets in the pass game got injured in tight end Julius Thomas and wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders. Toss in running back Montee Ball’s reaggravated injury, and things just didn’t go well. But, now with a week to prepare, Caldwell will be a boom-or-bust play against a stout Dolphins defense. He caught three of his four targets for 31 yards late, but last year, in the one game where he was asked to fill in due to injury, he caught six passes for 59 yards and two scores. It was the only big game he had all year, but I’d watch that injury situation there and Caldwell could be a sneaky play if you can afford to start him.

Last week: Steven Jackson (41 rush yards, 2 catches, 6 yards).

Jim Owczarski is an award-winning sports journalist and comes to Milwaukee by way of the Chicago Sun-Times Media Network.

A three-year Wisconsin resident who has considered Milwaukee a second home for the better part of seven years, he brings to the market experience covering nearly all major and college sports.

To this point in his career, he has been awarded six national Associated Press Sports Editors awards for investigative reporting, feature writing, breaking news and projects. He is also a four-time nominee for the prestigious Peter J. Lisagor Awards for Exemplary Journalism, presented by the Chicago Headline Club, and is a two-time winner for Best Sports Story. He has also won numerous other Illinois Press Association, Illinois Associated Press and Northern Illinois Newspaper Association awards.

Jim's career started in earnest as a North Central College (Naperville, Ill.) senior in 2002 when he received a Richter Fellowship to cover the Chicago White Sox in spring training. He was hired by the Naperville Sun in 2003 and moved on to the Aurora Beacon News in 2007 before joining

In that time, he has covered the events, news and personalities that make up the PGA Tour, LPGA Tour, Major League Baseball, the National Football League, the National Hockey League, NCAA football, baseball and men's and women's basketball as well as boxing, mixed martial arts and various U.S. Olympic teams.

Golf aficionados who venture into Illinois have also read Jim in GOLF Chicago Magazine as well as the Chicago District Golfer and Illinois Golfer magazines.