I love to play Fantasy Baseball, Football, and Hockey. Maybe it’s because I always wanted to prove that I could build a team better than anyone else; or maybe I just like the competition; or maybe I just wanted another reason to watch as many games as possible. I started playing in 1988. It wasn’t my idea. One of my best friends, Kenny Dyckman, came up with the idea. Kenny is a fan of the Jets, while I root for the Cowboys. Well, back in the late 80s, both teams were pretty poor and we were looking for a way to make the games more interesting. So Kenny came up with playing Fantasy, but I was the one who ran with it and went about setting all the rules. It’s been a blast. My home league, in which I am the Commissioner, is still ongoing (Kenny still plays as well), and out of all the leagues I play in it’s the one I care about the most. There is just nothing like beating your family and friends. It’s a great way to keep in touch with one another, as there is always something to talk about. The league has evolved over the years. We have always been a two-quarterback league; we switched to a keeper league about a decade ago, made it PPR about five years ago, and next season we will replace the two-QB rule with the addition of a super flex position. In a 12-team league this would seem to even the playing field. All leagues should evolve with time; mine is no different. Now, if only I could talk them into making our league an IDP league…
The Raiders finally came to their senses and gave the starting running back job to Latavius Murray. On his first four carries of the game Thursday versus the Chiefs, a good run defense, he had 112 yards and two scores. He made moves and hit holes that Darren McFadden and Maurice Jones-Drew cannot at this point in their careers. Unfortunately, he also suffered a concussion and had to leave after those four carries. I always preach caution when any player suffers a concussion, but even more so for a running back, as they lead with their head. Still, I’m claiming him if he’s on my waiver wire because it’s not like we are going to find much else out there at this point in time.
So, Ben Tate is gone from Cleveland shortly after demanding more carries. This clarifies the RB situation a little bit. Isaiah Crowell is the guy we all want and he should be picked up immediately if he is still on waivers, but this still looks like some sort of time share in Cleveland. Crowell had 12 touches yesterday, and Terrance West had 15. Crowell is by far the more dynamic player, but he also has a tendency to lay the ball on the ground and nothing will get you benched quicker. As for WR Josh Gordon, he didn’t look all that rusty versus the Falcons now, did he?
Those of you, who are wondering about LeSean McCoy and his ability to pick up his play, can relax a little bit. McCoy finally looked like the player we thought he was, prior to the season, versus the Titans. McCoy did some shake and bake moves during the game that hurt my ankles. Those owners that held onto McCoy may be rewarded, while those that traded him away may be feeling buyer’s remorse right about now.
How many Fantasy owners are going to miss the playoffs because of QB Matthew Stafford? On average, he was drafted as the fourth overall QB, behind only Aaron Rodgers, Peyton Manning, and Drew Brees. Well, he’s certainly not playing like it. Sure, the running game has been a disappointment all season, and WR Calvin Johnson has missed more than his share of games, but that is no excuse for Stafford’s troubles of late. He was 18 of 46 yesterday, and for the second straight week did not lead the offense to a touchdown. Life should get better however, as the Lions play the Bears at home this week on Thanksgiving, but I’m curious about how far he will fall in drafts next year.
The Vikings’ running back situation gets more and more fun by the day. Adrian Peterson lost his arbitration case and will have his appeal heard next week. Even if by some miracle he wins the appeal, there is no guarantee that the Vikings would even play him if he’s reinstated. We all saw what happened the last time the Vikings tried to play Peterson; the sponsors revolted. The same thing could happen again. The Vikings also picked up Ben Tate last week, which will further cloud the situation. Tate didn’t get touches yesterday, but with Matt Asiata out (concussion), that should change this week. Jerick McKinnon will drop a few places in my rankings, to say the least.
Once again, RB Trent Richardson didn’t exactly prove to anyone that he deserves the starting job. With Ahmad Bradshaw out for the year (shocking I know). Richardson was once again going to get a shot at the starting job. Even though he did run for a TD, he only had 42 yards on 13 carries. Quarterback Andrew Luck had more rushing yards than that. If you’re looking for a running back to grab this week, I’d grab Daniel Herron. Herron could end up filling the Bradshaw role from this year, or the Donald Brown role from last season, and that has value.
I can see now that one of the questions I will be asked most often this week will be about who to start in Cincinnati – Jeremy Hill or Giovani Bernard? I was a proponent of going with Hill yesterday, as I believed the Bengals would ease Bernard back into the flow of things. Well, that really didn’t happen, as both Hill and Bernard each received 19 touches. Going forward I would rather have Bernard than Hill, but the Bengals aren’t going to forget about Hill and at the very least he should be the goal line back. Bernard is likely to be a high end RB2 for me, with Hill a lower end RB2 or top Flex play.
The quarterback position is becoming harder and harder to rank each week. Some of us pushed Josh McCown up into our Top 10 last week, not only because he had a tasty match up versus the Bears defense, but also because we were afraid of stalwarts like Matthew Stafford, Tony Romo, Matt Ryan, Phillip Rivers, Colin Kaepernick, and Russell Wilson. This may be a throwing league but it seems that not every QB can take advantage of it, and McCown certainly laid an egg yesterday.
Speaking of Wilson, I’m not on board with this Seattle offense whatsoever. I’ll start RB Marshawn Lynch blindly, but aside from him there is little to nothing that I want to do with in the Seahawks’ passing game. They don’t have any reliable receivers to throw to and if not for Wilson’s legs, he’d be nothing more than a mid-range QB2, and relying on Wilson to run for 60-plus yards each week would seem to be a fool’s errand.
I wasn’t going to start Philip Rivers in any league until I saw him have a solid and pain free outing. Well, he had that outing versus the Rams, throwing for 291 yards and a score versus a good Rams’ defense. He will be in my Top 10 this week, but will be much closer to 10 than five, and don’t look now, but perhaps WR Keenan Allen has figured things out as well. Yesterday was his second straight good outing and he is now back to being at least a WR3.
It really wasn’t a problem for the Broncos yesterday that TE Julius Thomas didn’t play. Peyton Manning and company still put up 39 points. Jacob Tamme was a popular pickup for Thomas but only had one reception, as Manning had no problems finding WRs Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders to the tune of 19 receptions and 212 yards. Will Thomas play this week? That is anyone’s guess, but even if he does, he is unlikely to be at full strength and may yield unsatisfactory results.
Will Robert Griffin III be benched? There are obviously quite a few problems going on in Washington. RGIII is becoming a coach killer. After his injuries, he’s just not the same player anymore. He can’t just rely on his athleticism, he needs to become a pocket passer, albeit one with mobility. He should not be started in Fantasy anytime soon and that goes for WR Pierre Garcon also. As a matter of fact, the only Washington player I’m interested in is RB Alfred Morris. He’s the only one whose play has picked up since the return of Griffin.
I’m not going to go into whether or not WR Odell Beckham’s catch last night was the best ever; it really doesn’t matter. What does matter is that Beckham is quickly becoming one of the best WRs in the game. He’s a WR1 for me and a must-start. If the Giants can fix their offensive line during the off-season, then they will be extremely dangerous offensively. Sure Eli Manning isn’t great, but with WRs like Beckham, Victor Cruz, and Reuben Randle to throw to, and a solid running game with Rashad Jennings and Andre Williams, he doesn’t have to be. The NFC East is going to boast some high scoring offenses for the near future.
As always feel free to follow me on Twitter and ask any questions you like, @georgekurtz