Fantasy Football Playoff Reflections: Better Luck Next Time

  • George Kurtz

Anyone who has played in a Head-to-Head league knows that no matter how good or skillful you think you are, luck plays a big part in the game. I’m guessing somewhere in the neighborhood of 75 percent of the teams that faced Jamaal Charles yesterday are now paying closer attention to their basketball and hockey teams, or perhaps doing some early homework for their baseball drafts.

Funny thing is I actually do know someone who will win their week despite playing against Charles and Alex Smith. Talk about a great win, but of course, it only matters if you win your league’s championship next week. Maybe you’re the owner who went up against a team that started Matt Flynn. You have to be thinking even the Cowboys defense couldn’t let up four passing touchdowns in the second half. You would be wrong. It’s what makes this game so much fun. You truly never can be sure if you’re going to win or lose. If you want to make sure the best team wins, then play in a total point league. If you want to see the impossible happen more often than you would believe, than a H2H league is the place to play. Now for the comings and goings of Week 15.

Speaking of bad breaks for Fantasy owners, how many lost their week because Peyton Manning and the Broncos didn’t have the big Fantasy game they were expecting? Manning “only” had two touchdowns and 289 yards passing. No one should be complaining about 23 Fantasy points, but we Fantasy players are greedy and that wasn’t what we were expecting. Knowshon Moreno only had 55 total yards. Demaryius Thomas only 45 yards receiving, Eric Decker 45, and Wes Welker didn’t even play. Not the best time for the Broncos to lay a Fantasy egg.

Those who were worried about whether or not Kirk Cousins could handle the starting job for the Redskins can relax. Sure he threw a couple of picks during the game yesterday but he also connected on several deep balls, something Robert Griffin III was unable to do on any kind of persistent basis. The more interesting thing however will be what Fantasy owners should do this week in regard to Cousins. The Skins play the Cowboys this week. That would be the same defense that Matt Flynn just tore up for four touchdowns and almost 300 yards passing. Cousins will almost certainly be in my Top 10 QB rankings this week. I certainly wouldn’t start him over Matthew Stafford and Peyton Manning, but almost anyone else is fair game. Drew Brees plays Carolina this week in Carolina. We all saw how the Saints played on the road in St. Louis yesterday, it would certainly be of the cute variety, but you could make a pretty good argument to go with Cousins here.

Jay Cutler was a risky start yesterday. He was going to be rusty no matter how much practice he got in. The question would be how long would it take him to get over that rust? About a quarter was the answer. He tore up the Browns after that but also went back to his old patterns of looking for Brandon Marshall early and often. Marshall caught six balls on 13 targets whereas Alshon Jeffery only caught five balls on five targets. Jeffery owners can’t like that but Martellus Bennett owners should be happy as he is also a favorite of Cutlers, catching all six passes thrown his way. Bottom line is this Bears offense is dangerous and Cutler will also be pretty close to cracking my Top 10 quarterbacks, probably just inside.

It wasn’t a huge day, 64 yards on 19 carries and 38 yards on four receptions plus a touchdown, but Trent Richardson may becoming relevant again. Should you consider starting him? Probably not, if you made it this far you probably have better options on your roster and it doesn’t help that the Colts are playing the Chiefs in KC this week.

All it took was Rob Gronkowski to be lost for the season for the Patriots offense to look benign once again. Sure Danny Amendola and Julian Edelman had big days in PPR leagues but the team only scored 20 points. More importantly, this is going to move Tom Brady out of my Top 10. I’d rather role with the aforementioned Cutler and Cousins. The next question for New England is what happened to Shane Vereen? He was moved into the Top 10 in quite a few rankings this week and then went belly up. Always remember, Bill Belichick hates you.

So, no Adrian Peterson, no Toby Gerhart, no problem. One would think the Eagles wouldn’t have a problem defending a passing offense that couldn’t get itself untracked all season. A passing offense starting a backup quarterback in Matt Cassel, no one’s idea of a prolific passer, and a receiving group that has promise, Cordarrelle Patterson, but also one that is far from dangerous. How many points are the Eagles and Bears going to score this week when they face off against each other? Forget trying to figure out who to start, it will be more difficult finding players on either team that you shouldn’t start.

That was five interceptions Eli Manning threw yesterday. The Giants more than likely aren’t going to shut him down but with the injury to Victor Cruz (concussion) it’s going to be incredibly difficult to start anyone on the Giants other than Andre Brown. Hakeem Nicks has come up small in his contract year and will almost certainly be playing for a new team next year. Reuben Randle now becomes more valuable in keeper or dynasty leagues, but no way would I trust him next week.

The 49ers offense is becoming more and more dangerous with each passing week. The return of Michael Crabtree has been the push the team needed. Colin Kaepernick looks more confident behind center now that he has all of his weapons back. The run game has always been good but with opposing defenses now having another deep threat to worry about, they can’t load up the box to stop Frank Gore. This could be Gore’s last hurrah with the team as Kendall Hunter and Marcus Lattimore may be ready to take on the starting role next season. That’s just a little something to think about in any kind of keeper league.

Who is this Jordan Todman? You had to start him if you were a Maurice Jones-Drew owner but it would be hard to say that I saw 153 total yards coming, especially when you consider that without Cecil Shorts and Justin Blackmon, the Jaguars didn’t have much of a passing game to worry about. If MJD is out this week again, you will probably have to start Todman but he will no longer be a surprise to defenses. They will look to slow him down.

Someone might want to tell the Raiders that #25 on the Chiefs, umm, he’s a pretty good player, you might want to game plan to stop him. I mean, come on man, five touchdowns, almost 200 yards receiving for a running back. Don’t forget that Alex Smith also had a big day. He has proven as the season has rolled along that if called upon, he can throw the ball deep and win a game with his arm rather than relying on Charles’ legs. Charles is making a late push for Fantasy MVP.

Rashad Jennings made a triumphant return to Fantasy lineups as he had over 90 yards rushing and two touchdowns. He’s back to being a must start in Fantasy leagues. In deeper leagues, Rod Streater and Andrew Holmes are worth a look, even with Matt McGloin throwing them the ball.

Memo to Santonio Holmes, next time you decide to poke fun at the secondary that you are about to face this coming week, you might want to reel in more than two catches for 14 yards, either that or tell your mouth to stop writing checks that your body can’t cash. Hey, Geno Smith almost went through the entire game without a turnover, almost. The jury is still out on Smith as to whether or not he is a franchise quarterback.

Aaron Rodgers has to play this week right? If the Lions lose Monday night, the Pack will actually control their own destiny as far as a playoff berth is concerned. Rodgers wanted to play versus the Cowboys, who can blame him after seeing that secondary, but he has yet to be cleared by the Green Bay doctors. Now Flynn did light up the Cowboys but the Pack don’t want to put the fate of their season in his hands. Eddie Lacy was questionable all week leading up the Dallas game with a sprained ankle but had a great game. He’s a must start week in and week out.

Another sprained ankle, this one on Michael Floyd, is driving Fantasy owners crazy. Floyd only had two receptions last week due to the ankle and followed that up with only two catches yesterday. Ouch, as of right now I doubt I would take a chance with him in my finals this week. Hopefully, you have something better on your bench.

So, you relied on Drew Brees and the Saints all season, you get to the semi-finals, you’re thinking this is great, playing the Rams, sure it’s on the road, but still indoors, all is looking good for a big day for your guys, not so much. The Saints road worries continued in this one, as they just couldn’t get anything going offensively. A couple of early interceptions took New Orleans out of any kind of rhythm and they could never get it back. Now the fun part is the Saints play at Carolina this week. You probably have to start Brees but this one could be painful.

For those who keep asking, Zac Stacy is another must start in Fantasy leagues, the only one on the Rams.

Ben Roethlisberger is another quarterback that I would start over Tom Brady this week. Ben didn’t have a monster game Sunday night but didn’t really have to as the Bengals never really looked like they were interested in playing. Antonio Brown is turning into one of the best all around threats in the NFL, now you know why the Steelers weren’t all that interested in bringing back Mike Wallace after last season.

Another observation about the Bengals, they gave Gio Bernard a handful of goal line carries. Now this is something to keep an eye one.

As always, feel free to follow me on Twitter and ask any questions you like, @georgekurtz.

Check out our full suite of Fantasy Sports radio shows and podcasts! Listen to your favorite RotoExperts live or on demand, including the legendary Lenny Melnick, Tim McCullough, Jake Ciely, Gregg Sussman and many more. We cover Fantasy Football all week long and baseball year-round right here on ROTORADIO.