Fantasy Football: Decision Time
At this point in your Fantasy season every little break, good or bad, gets magnified. There are so many tough decisions that need to be made. Do you start such and such a player who is listed as questionable on the injury report? Should you go with someone on your bench who is a solid player, but clearly inferior to the questionable player? Do you need to go for the upside or play it safe? I could go on and on about questions to ask yourself but the bottom line is this, don’t overthink it; all things being even, start your best players. Don’t worry about who your opponent is starting. I rarely even check their lineup. It just doesn’t matter. I’m starting who I feel will get me the most points that week. Whether or not they are starting players on the same team or has the quarterback to my receivers means little to nothing to me. I’m not trying to get cute at this point in the season.
When your season comes down to one game it’s always a blow to see one of your better players leave the game early with an injury and not return. This is what happened to WR Brandon Marshall on Thursday. He had a tasty match up versus a porous Dallas secondary but took a hit in the back and ended up leaving the game via an ambulance. Hopefully, you survived. If you did and you need a receiver to replace Marshall and your waiver wire is thin, you might want to take a look at Marquess Wilson. I’d have a tough time starting him, but he’s next in line and perhaps you’re that desperate.
What do we make of this Bengals offense going forward? Sure WR A.J. Green is great and is a must start, but that may be about it. Mohamed Sanu has taken a nose dive since Green came back to full health. The running game looks like a straight platoon with Jeremy Hill and Gio Bernard. Hill should have the better chance at getting into the end zone, as he is better at short yardage than Bernard but otherwise, both are trending toward low end RB2 status. As for Dalton, I don’t want to call him a desperation play, but he’s pretty close to it. You just don’t know which Dalton is going to show up each week.
Colt McCoy was forced out of the game yesterday due to a neck strain. This forced Robert Griffin III to take over. In some ways this may be the best thing for Washington and Fantasy owners. Both parties can now find out if RGIII should remain with the club next season or if ties need to be cut. Dynasty league owners should be especially curious about this. Griffin gets one last chance to impress head coach Jay Gruden.
The Giants did Fantasy owners a favor yesterday by announcing before the game that RB Andre Williams would start over the hobbled Rashad Jennings. Williams hadn’t been impressive in the past starting for Jennings but has looked better in a time share. That changed versus the Titans, as he ran for 131 yards, and while that’s good for his owners, this may also lead to a platoon for the rest of the season, as the Giants may want to see exactly what they have in Williams, which could hurt both his and Jennings’ Fantasy value.
How many Cam Newton owners wanted to throw up after seeing his performance versus the Saints yesterday? I know I did. I didn’t have Newton ranked in my Top 10 to start the season, as I expected a down season with him coming off the ankle injury, a total lack of weapons, not to mention the offensive line. Still, it was hard to see him falling off a cliff like he did for most of the season. Of course, the week after we were eliminated from the playoffs he decides to go off. This can drive you nuts. Where Newton will go at draft time next season will depend upon the improvements the Panthers make around him, but it’s hard to see him in the Top 10 right now.
Like Washington with RGIII, I believe the Jets are doing the right thing by starting QB Geno Smith to finish out the string. The Jets are likely to have a Top 5 pick next season, maybe even the top pick overall, and they will need to know if they should spend that pick on a QB. The Jets have plenty of issues but figuring out whether or not you have a franchise QB may be the most important one on the field. What do they do with WR Percy Harvin could be next. The Jets can release him after the season without any salary cap penalty. While he can be explosive when healthy, the fact that he suffered yet another injury yesterday that may end his season could be enough for the Jets to cut their losses and avoid paying him the big bucks.
Although the Ravens didn’t mean to, they certainly hurt Fantasy owners by saying WR Torrey Smith would be active but then didn’t play him during the game. Apparently, his knee swelled up after they handed in their inactive list and there was nothing they could do about it. Those are the breaks. Hopefully, if you were paying attention, you knew about this development before lineup deadline. This should serve as a lesson to Fantasy owners, when it comes to players who are questionable all week and have missed some practice time, make sure to find someone you trust that will give you the most updated information on game day.
It was my belief that the Browns made the right decision in starting QB Brian Hoyer this week versus the Colts. He deserved one more chance to keep the team in playoff contention, but after another dismal performance (14-31, 140 yards) it would seem that now would be the time to give the starting job to Johnny Manziel. It’s not that I’m a big believer in Manziel, I’m not. But Hoyer is just a placeholder and long term he is just a quality backup. At the very least, Manziel should provide the team with a spark. Fantasy owners beware; don’t think that he’s going to be your savior. Sure, there might be a situation or two in which you would start Manziel over the QB who has gotten you this far, but overall it would be a huge risk to start him should the Browns make the move.
Although he does seem to be touchdown dependent, RB Joique Bell is quickly becoming a must start and a solid RB2 in Fantasy leagues. I have my doubts about him and it can be a crowded backfield with a healthy Reggie Bush and Theo Riddick in the wings, but he’s getting the job done and seems to be the RB of choice in Detroit. He still worries me some, but I can’t ignore the numbers; he has to start for me and so does QB Matthew Stafford should you still be in alive in those leagues in which you own him.
How frustrating was it to start anyone in the Texans’ passing game yesterday? Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick was coming off a six touchdown game, yet didn’t throw a single touchdown versus the defensively inept Jaguars. Wide receiver Andre Johnson left the game in the first half after suffering a concussion. DeAndre Hopkins, who had what seemed like 100 Fantasy points last week, didn’t hit double-digits this week. Even Arian Foster had two touchdowns vulture; one by Fitzpatrick, and another by Alfred Blue. Fitzpatrick may have giveth last week, but this week he taketh away.
So, you rode QB Peyton Manning
and WR Demaryius Thomas all season, and in your first playoff game they didn’t combine for double-digit points between them. There will always be a good amount of luck involved in head to head leagues. Sometimes it’s not about who you play, but about when you play them. Manning had his streak of 51 games with a TD pass snapped; no one saw this coming, not at home anyway. The good news is that if you owned RB C.J. Anderson, he ran in three scores even though he didn’t play full time because of an ankle injury. Since I know it’s just a matter of time before someone asks me - no, I’m not worried about Manning and the Broncos offense. All of them would still start for me with the exception of possibly TE Julius Thomas. He was active yesterday but didn’t play a snap. This was not all that surprising, though, and hopefully you were able to avoid this trap. This week should be the week to get him back in your lineup.
If you haven’t heard yet, the Cardinals have placed RB Andre Ellington on IR. Ellington seemed to be slowing down as the season went on, as the Cards were never able to find a suitable time share back and Ellington is not built to be an every down back. Kerwynn Williams was the golden boy yesterday, rushing for 100 yards; but that doesn’t mean he will hold the job all season. Sure, you should pick him up if you need a RB, but Stephan Taylor and Marion Grice are also likely to still be in the mix, as this smells like a committee forming with Coach Arians going to the hot hand on game day.
Should you be worried about starting your Eagles after seeing them get dismantled yesterday? Short answer is no. They played what is probably the best defense in the NFL yesterday in Seattle, and that defense came to play. Remember, the Eagles play the Cowboys this week and Dallas doesn’t play anywhere near the defense that Seattle does. I would have no problem starting any and all of my Eagles in this one.
If you started QB Colin Kaepernick or RB Frank Gore yesterday, I really can’t blame you. They had what seemed like a cake match up versus an Oakland team that looked to have given up on the season. Well, that didn’t work out too well. Quite a lot was written about Kaepernick and how he was going to take the next step into the upper echelon of QBs this season, but if anything, he has regressed badly. What direction he and the offense take next season will likely depend on who the team hires as head coach. At this point, it would seem a quarterback guru would be the way to go. The skill positions are still there.
LeGarrette Blount may be the hot guy right now for the Patriots but no way would I ever trust my Fantasy fate to Bill Belichick and the running game. I’m not playing Wheel of Belichick and try to figure out his reasons for why he does what he does. Just when you think you have him figured out, he does a 180, and goes in the opposite direction. I’m not saying he’s wrong; just saying that he will play the guy that he believes gives him the best chance to win that Sunday, whether that guy is the starter or not.
As always feel free to follow me on Twitter and ask any questions you like, @georgekurtz
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