FANTASY PLAYS: Roster for title game all boils down to trust

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Time for a little game before your big game.

It's called ''Trust or Don't Trust'' and is designed to offer a little helpful insight - hopefully helpful, anyway - on who to start for your fantasy team in championship week.

Everyone knows you can trust Cam Newton - he's gotten you this far - but what about banged-up receiver DeSean Jackson, who's been inconsistent all season? Or the New England ground game, which seems to have a different tailback stepping into the lead role each week?

These are big decisions with titles on the line. Sure, you'd love to have Odell Beckham Jr. available. Bad timing with the league upholding his one-game suspension. He could've been trusted, for sure.

Spin the wheel, because here we go:

- Unwavering trust: Newton. Fantasy owners will gladly take a repeat of last weekend, when he threw for 340 yards and five TDs. He also rushed for 100 yards. Carolina plays Atlanta.

- Sort of hard to trust: Megatron. Difficult to say that about Calvin Johnson, but in the last two games he has just two catches, including one against woeful New Orleans. He's a roll of the dice against San Francisco.

- Trust: Antonio Brown. His shredding of a talented Denver secondary is a reminder that he's virtually matchup proof and will be for years to come with Ben Roethlisberger. Going against Baltimore.

- A lean toward don't trust: Jackson. Tough call, though, with Washington at Philly in a pivotal game Saturday. He had six catches for 153 yards and a score last week. But he's been so inconsistent - the week before he had two grabs for 43 yards. Never quite know what version you're going to get.

- Don't trust: Buck Allen. In the doghouse after a fumble against Kansas City, the Baltimore running back is now going against Pittsburgh's defense. Not a favorable matchup.

- Careful with your trust: Chris Ivory. He's splitting carries with Bilal Powell. The Jets are going against the Patriots.

- Shaky to trust: Jeremy Hill. Granted, had two TDs last week. But going up against Denver on Monday. Broncos boast top run defense.

- Trust only if desperate: Dorial Green-Beckham. He caught six passes for 113 yards, his second 100-yard performance in three weeks. Zach Mettenberger will be throwing to him against Houston.

- Don't trust: Randall Cobb. Hasn't gone over the 100-yard mark since Week 2. Green Bay is at Arizona.

- Trust: Julius Thomas. The Jaguars tight end is going up against the Saints and does have Blake Bortles throwing to him, another player to trust.

- Trust, but which one?: Any of New England's running backs. Hard to know which one will have the hot hand. Joey Iosefa had 14 carries and Brandon Bolden 10 last week. James White had just one carry, but caught seven passes for 71 yards and a score. They brought in Steven Jackson this week, too.

- Trust with a caveat: Christine Michael. Had 16 carries for 84 yards in a running back by committee sort of situation. Seahawks host St. Louis.

- Return to trustworthiness: Matthew Stafford. Has five TDs over last two games. None to Megatron, though.

- Trust if you like living dangerously: Ted Ginn Jr. Hard not to trust a guy with an offense led by Newton. If you're more conservative, don't trust because he's as likely to drop a big one as haul it in.


OUCH, AMARI: Many fantasy owners had Oakland receiver Amari Cooper on Thursday night. Limited by a sore foot, he had two catches for nominal yardage. Not exactly the start to championship week everyone was envisioning from the talented rookie.

LAST-MINUTE SHOPPING: According to Yahoo, the most added players earlier this week were Giants tight end Will Tye, San Diego running back Donald Brown and Minnesota quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.


FULL DISCLOSURE: Made it to the final - of the consolation bracket. Went with: Newton at QB, Cooper, WR Doug Baldwin, RB Adrian Peterson, RB Charcandrick West, TE Coby Fleener and Allen Robinson at flex. Benching DeSean Jackson, Tavon Austin and Allen.


Pat Graham is an Associated Press sports writer based in Denver. He's played NFL fantasy football for a while and also dabbles in college fantasy football. Follow him on Twitter:


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