Week 13 is all but finished, which means for the majority of leagues you are either in the playoffs and thus beginning your second season, or looking forward to Fantasy Baseball. The Fantasy Football season flies by; it seems like only a few days ago that we were discussing rankings, draft strategies, sleepers, and players to avoid. Now we need to come up with a strategy to win a championship.
The first thing I always check are the waiver wire rules. Do waivers continue to run throughout the playoffs, or is this the final week? If this is the final week, then I will claim a backup kicker. I don’t want to, but if my starter happens to get hurt then I could be left with a dead spot on my roster. Now, you may be thinking, what are the odds of that happening? Well, you’re right, odds are it won’t; but I lost a league a few years ago, when the Bears’ Robbie Gould ended up missing a game. No backup, meant no points for me in a week I ended up losing by six points. That’s my fault, I didn’t know the rule; it won’t happen again.
I’m not big on handcuffs, but come playoff time, I don’t mind as long as the handcuff can play should the starter get hurt. If I own the Cowboys’ DeMarco Murray or the Chiefs’ Jamaal Charles, then Joe Randle and Kniles Davis, become much more valuable to me now than a player I have no plans on ever playing like Andre Williams or Terrance West. Good luck to you this week and for the rest of your playoffs.
It may have been a little too little, and a little too late for Matthew Stafford owners on Thanksgiving, but he looked like the player we thought he’d be this season versus the Bears. It’s not a coincidence that this revival occurred with the return to full health of WR Calvin Johnson. Is Stafford an automatic start this week in your playoffs? Probably. I’m not going to say I’m not still a bit concerned, but I’m going to roll with him in the two leagues in which I own him.
What happened to the Cowboys on Turkey Day? The NFL certainly did them no favors by giving them a division game on the road at night, the Sunday before Thanksgiving, and the Cowboys certainly played like they weren’t ready. What should really concern Fantasy players is that not only did the offensive line, the strength of the team, get whipped, but QB Tony Romo looked uncomfortable, to say the least, as the game went on. We all know by now that Romo had offseason back surgery for the second straight season, but what you may not know is that Romo has been taking every Wednesday off from practice (Thursday if the Cowboys played Monday) in order to get in some strength exercises for his back, but with the short week he was unable to do so, and he played like it. Is Romo an automatic start this week versus the Bears? Like Stafford, the answer is probably yes. Although the game is once again on a Thursday, he will get back to his normal routine and should produce a favorable Fantasy result.
If the 49ers have a viable backup QB, you would have to wonder whether they would bench Colin Kaepernick. Granted, he played against a revived Seattle defense, but he also looked like he had little to no clue about what he was doing behind center. Kaepernick has regressed, there is almost no arguing that, but the question is why? Was too much heaped on him this season? Did the lack of a quality running game this season hurt? Both of these are probably true. Fantasy-wise you better have another option right now, as there is no way I could trust my shot at a championship to him.
What will Washington do with QB Robert Griffin III this offseason? Owners in Keeper or Dynasty leagues may be wondering the same thing. I have a hard time seeing the ‘Skins just release him, and a trade would seem to be highly unlikely, as it would be the ultimate sell low. Bottom line is that Washington may have to go into next season with RGIII as the starter in order to make a final determination about whether or not he can be their QB of the future. In a keeper league, I’ll more than likely send him back to the pile unless my other choices don’t amount to much, but it’s going to be hard to justify him as a starting QB for your team next season unless you play in a two-QB league. As for a Dynasty league, yeah, I’ll keep the faith unless a trade offer comes about that gives me enough to justify letting him go.
Did Ryan Fitzpatrick really throw for six touchdown passes Sunday? I doubt anyone can say with a straight face that they saw that coming, but I’m not complaining and neither are DeAndre Hopkins or Andre Johnson owners. We needed to know what would become of the passing game with Fitzpatrick back under center, and at the very least we know that it’s safe to put Hopkins back in your lineup. I might be a little more cautious with Johnson, but it was good to see him get in the end zone again. It was even better to see RB Arian Foster return to the lineup. When he starts, he’s a must start, it’s as simple as that, although, I would sleep better if I had Alfred Blue on my roster as well.
I thought the internet might break when QB Johnny Manziel replaced an ineffective Brian Hoyer on Sunday. Well, the internet survived, but will Hoyer? The Browns announced that they won’t name their starting QB for Week 14 until Wednesday. So, at the very least, they are thinking about turning the reigns over to Manziel. This is a mistake. Sure, Hoyer didn’t play well versus the Bills, but it wasn’t his fault they lost. The team is still 7-5 and in the playoff hunt and this is without WR Josh Gordon and TE Jordan Cameron for most of the season. When you think about it, it’s kind of shocking they have played as well as they have. To me, it would make more sense to have Manziel watch for the rest of this season and then have him take over the starting role next year, after he’s had another full season in the Browns’ offensive system. I still don’t see him being a must Fantasy play.
Well, don’t look now, but it’s safe to put WR Keenan Allen back in your starting lineup again. Allen was one of the bigger busts for a majority of the season, but over the past three games he has 25 receptions for 288 yards and three touchdowns. This is what we were expecting when we had him as a solid WR2 at draft time. He’s a must start right now, and so is QB Phillip Rivers, who has more than gotten over his hiccups in Week’s 10 and 11.
Is it time to get off the RB Denard Robinson bandwagon? It sure seems that way. I’ve had him ranked as a solid RB2 since he became the starting RB in Jacksonville, but over the past three games he only has 129 yards rushing, which is not exactly the numbers we’re looking for going into our Fantasy playoffs. He will still be in the Flex conversation, but no longer will I automatically be recommending that you start him. Perhaps he has hit a wall, or perhaps teams are game planning to take him out of the game, but the yardage just isn’t there and it’s not like he’s going up against great run defenses either, as the teams he has played over the past three games were Dallas, Indianapolis, and the Giants. Not exactly a fearsome defensive group.
The bad Andy Dalton showed up again Sunday versus the Bucs. Dalton seemed to be a good play coming into the game, as Tampa doesn’t boast the best of pass defenses. Dalton was completing more passes to the opposing team than he was to his own guys in the early going. There is little to no chance I’m going to be able to trust him going forward. Sure, with the weapons he has, he could have a big game at any time, but there are just far too many duds for me to risk rolling the dice on him.
It shouldn’t have come as a surprise that RB Tre Mason announced his presence in a big way Sunday. It seems everyone and their uncle has been saying that Mason would break out this week, and he certainly did, with three touchdowns and over 100 yards rushing, but let’s not go crazy here. Yes, he should be in your lineup going forward, but it’s not every week that the Rams will get what is virtually another bye week and play the Raiders. Mason will be a solid RB2 for me going forward.
Yes, QB Drew Brees threw for 257 yards and five touchdowns Sunday versus the Steelers, and yes, TE Jimmy Graham didn’t have a single catch. How many playoff chances went up in smoke because of this? Well, let’s be an optimist about this. If you are still alive, this could go to prove to other teams that you just can’t plan your defense around stopping Graham in order to stop the Saints. This could lead to opportunities down the stretch. Hey, I’m a glass half full kind of guy, and I don’t own Graham anywhere.
Is there a bigger Fantasy bust this season than Vikings WR Cordarrelle Patterson? He didn’t have a reception Sunday and only had one target. Sure, he’s already off your roster and probably off your team (he should be if he isn’t), but what has happened to him? This was everyone’s darling coming into the season, a supposed focal point of the Vikings offense, who has completely imploded. Maybe the coaching staff can figure out his issues during the offseason, but owners in keeper leagues are better off looking in another direction.
I couldn’t have been more wrong about the Falcons on Sunday. I wanted to stay away from them, as I didn’t like the match up versus the Cardinals’ defense one little bit. The thought process seemed solid. With WR Roddy White out of action, you knew the Cardinals were going to pin CB Patrick Peterson to WR Julio Jones. Steven Jackson was going to find very little running room behind a porous offensive line and a stacked Arizona defensive front, and QB Matt Ryan would certainly have no time to throw. Well, so much for all that, as the Falcons’ trio all put up big numbers. I didn’t’ bench Jones anyway, but I would’ve sat Ryan for just about any warm body and the same with Jackson. I won’t make that mistake again, especially when the Falcons are in that dome.
The Patriots thought they had a pretty good defensive game plan Sunday. They put CB Darrelle Revis on WR Jordy Nelson and CB Brandon Browner on WR Randall Cobb with two safeties over the top, hoping to neutralize the big play. Well, this worked to a degree but the Pats had no answer for WR Davante Adams, who had six receptions for 121 yards (he also dropped a TD). Adams can be a sneaky play if teams continue to employ this kind of defense. Then again, not that many teams have the types of cornerbacks that can slow down Cobb and Nelson, and no one can stop all three. Unless teams can get to QB Aaron Rodgers and make him uncomfortable in the pocket, it’s going to be a long day for opposing defenses.
Sure RB Ronnie Hillman may return at some point in the near future but I don’t see how the Broncos can give him back the starting RB job. C.J. Anderson has looked great as the starter and can do one thing better than Hillman, and that’s pick up the blitz, something that is very important to both the Broncos and QB Peyton Manning. As for those who own Montee Ball, better luck next year.
As always feel free to follow me on Twitter and ask any questions you like, @georgekurtz