Fantasy Football Playoffs: Philly Rolls Behind Foles, McCoy
The Eagles are now 8-2 in games in which Nick Foles started or took a majority of the snaps. I would be lying if I said I saw this coming, as I really thought the lack of a threat to run would hurt his ability to run Chip Kelly’s offense. Obviously I was wrong, and I am willing to admit that mistake.
Foles casually tore apart the Bears on Sunday night, completing 21-of-25 pass attempts for 230 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He now has 25 passing touchdowns against just two interceptions while chipping in another three scores on the ground. He has been a bona-fide QB1, and next week he gets to face off against a Dallas secondary that has given up 31 touchdowns through the air this season.
Foles was the director off this 54-11 slaughter, but LeSean McCoy was the star, rushing for 133 yards on 18 carries while adding a pair of touchdowns. His 1,476 rushing yards led Jamaal Charles by 189 for tops in the league with just one game remaining. I don’t think I will be going out on a limb by declaring him the winner here.
The NFC East will be decided in Dallas next Sunday. Foles was knocked out of their first meeting with a concussion. His departure played a part in McCoy averaging just 3.1 yards-per-carry in one of his worst games of the season. Don’t expect a similar result here. The Eagles have scored at least 24 points in each of their last seven games. This offense is on a roll and should lay some wood on the Cowboys. Start Foles, McCoy and DeSean Jackson with confidence.
With three consecutive clunkers in the books, Matthew Stafford should be looking to shoulder plenty of the blame for his team’s demise. The Lions were 6-3 and in the driver’s seat in the NFC North, only to lose five of their last six to find themselves on the outside looking into the playoffs. Stafford’s 4,333 passing yards and 28 touchdowns are very Fantasy friendly. His 19 interceptions and 58.1 percent completion percentage show us a guy that is proving more of a thrower than a quarterback in his fifth NFL season. For his career, he has a very pedestrian 59.4 percent completion percentage. To put that into perspective, Ryan Fitzpatrick has completed 59.7 percent of his career passes and Chad Henne has completed 59.4. Stafford has Calvin Johnson. Just a little something for you all to chew on as the season ends.
Indianapolis is going to have an interesting dilemma heading into next season at running back. After shipping off a first rounder to Cleveland for Trent Richardson, the Colts brass is going to have to decide whether to go all in with him next year or to bring someone in form a committee with him. My money has them bringing in another back. Richardson ran a 4.48 40-yard dash heading into the draft but with pads on, he exhibits zero burst. Argue all you want that he is still learning the Colts offense, Richardson averaged 3.54 yards-per-carry behind a more talented Browns offensive line. With the Colts, he has averaged 2.93 yards-per-carry in an offense in which he should thrive. Former first-rounder Donald Brown will be a free agent at season’s end. I expect him to be a priority to resign to team up with Richardson next season, making Richardson nothing more than an RB4 at drafts next season. If the Colts do by chance go all in with Richardson, he can’t be viewed as anything more than a low end RB3.
Heading into this season, Pittsburgh had one of the worst offensive lines in the league. They lost their only viable piece, center Maurkice Pouncey, to a season ending injury in Week 1. The stats may not scream it, but Le’Veon Bell has shown enough to be a serious breakout candidate next year if the Steelers invest some resources towards some upgrades on their offensive line. Bell has proven ready to handle the role as an every down back. His downhill running style already shows on game days. Better results will come with more open running lanes. The unsung part of his game comes out of the backfield, as he has 44 grabs for 393 yards in just 12 games. I see a guy who will rush for over 1,000 yards and catch 60 balls next year. I will gladly take him as my RB2 next year.
The most enjoyable part of Fantasy football for me is draft strategy. The outcome in any given Fantasy match-up can be dictated by something as small as a fumble. One loss hurts. Passing on a player in your draft can cost you a season. Being prepared to make that right choice is essential. While I can’t guide you on what that right choice is now, I can tell you a strategy to employ. Plain and simple hold off on drafting a quarterback not named Peyton Manning, Drew Brees or Aaron Rodgers next season. Heading into Week 16 in leagues that give four points per passing touchdown, there was a 40-point difference between the third-ranked quarterback and the 14th-ranked quarterback. That works out to 2.66 points per game. Personally, I would find myself better-served grabbing two Top-15 quarterbacks at a value later in the mid-rounds of drafts next year and playing match-ups. Twelve quarterbacks were off the board on average before the start of the seventh round. You mean to tell me you wouldn’t have been better served taking a shot on Jordy Nelson, Antonio Brown, DeSean Jackson or Ryan Matthews with one of those extra picks you saved by not following the sheep and taking a quarterback? Make up a list of every quarterback you would be comfortable starting for your squad next season, grab any two off that list and start the better match-up every week. In this pass-happy league, you should do fine using that strategy.
If given a vote for offensive rookie of the year it would go to Eddie Lacy, no questions asked. Since Rodgers went down with his shoulder injury, he has carried this team, posting three 100-yard games and seven rushing touchdowns over his last eight contests. Unfortunately, he re-injured his ankle in the third quarter and was forced to miss the remainder of the Packers loss to Pittsburgh. With Chicago losing as well, Week 17 turns into a battle for the division. It also happens to be a dream match-up for Lacy, if he can play of course. Injuring an ankle twice in three weeks leads me to believe that Green Bay will give him the week off and roll with James Starks against Chicago’s league-worst run defense. I am sure Lacy will do all he can go get on the field in the division deciding contest, but given their cautious approach with Rodgers, I expect the same treatment for the rookie. Starks has the potential to be an absolute steal for those of you who play in weekly formats.
Torrey Smith has already set career-best marks in receptions (62) and yards (1,101) for the season with a game left to play. Seeing those numbers, your average Fantasy owner would be pleased. Dissecting them, you find a guy who scored in double-digits just four times in Fantasy. You also find a guy who has caught four or fewer passes seven times, and caught just 44.6 percent of his 139 targets on the season. This is precisely the type of player I avoid on draft day. He is the epitome of boom-or-bust. A WR3 with the ability to take the top off a defense from time to time for the big play but consistently fails to help your Fantasy squad when he doesn’t break off a long gainer. You will find his name among the Top-25 receivers off the board next year. Don’t make the mistake of being the person who takes him.
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