If you have made it this far, congratulations! Being just a few wins away from a league title, every start and sit decision is magnified. The simple logic, “go with the guys that got you here,” and “start your studs,” may apply to most players. But what about those that you envisioned taking you to the promise land on draft day, but simply haven’t lived up to expectations.
There are certain players you simply cannot trust by putting your year of hard work in their hands. Trust me, you don’t want to start these players.
Colin Kaepernick (San Francisco 49ers, Quarterback) – Ugh! Boy, has it been a bad year for Kaep. There are currently 15 QBs that have outscored him (in four point passing TD leagues). He’s had one big game this season, Week 6 against the Rams, in which he threw for 343 yards and three touchdowns. In the twelve other games he played this season, his high in passing yards is 263 and he has thrown multiple touchdowns just twice. You are probably thinking he makes up for it with his legs, but that is simply not true. He has not rushed for more than 37 yards since Week 4 and has zero rushing touchdowns this year. Despite the great matchup at Oakland, you would be starting Kaepernick more on his name, than his value. After that, he gets to go to Seattle and then closes with the Chargers.
Cam Newton (Carolina Panthers, Quarterback) – Kaepernick is the 15th highest scoring QB; well, Newton is the 16th. Newton has also had one monster game this season, in which he threw for 289 yards with two passing touchdowns and rushed for 107 yards and a touchdown. Besides that, he has one game with over 300 yards passing, four games with multiple passing touchdowns (has yet to throw for three in any game), and is hardly rushing like he has in the past. Besides that game in which he broke 100 yards rushing, his season high is 43, which isn’t bad, but he doesn’t reach that mark often. He also only has two rushing TDs, which was previously such a great part of his value. He has also thrown at least one interception in eight straight games. Despite a fairly favorable schedule coming up, it is too hard to trust Newton. He’s had plenty of juicy matchups this season and has just fallen flat on his face too many times.
QBs better than both down the stretch: Matt Ryan, Andy Dalton, Joe Flacco, and Ryan Tannehill.
Chris Johnson (New York Jets, Running Back) – There is a good chance that many playoff teams either abandoned Chris Johnson a long time ago or had nothing to do with him all year, but coming off his strong performance on Monday Night Football, his ownership has spiked. Do not be fooled into thinking his strong game is a sign of things to come. Think of it more as an anomaly. Not only did it take CJ0K 12 games to break the 100-yard mark, he has eight games in which he failed to rush for more than 50 yards. Aside from his last game, he has not broken 70 rushing yards in a game this season. Besides Week 1, when he had five receptions, he has only caught more than two passes once, and his season high in receiving yards is 32. On top of that, he has one total touchdown this season. One strong game is not enough to overlook all of those red flags. STAY AWAY!
Doug Martin (Tampa Bay Bucs, Running Back) – Similar to Johnson, Martin is coming off his strongest game of the season, leading to his ownership increasing. But frankly, when your best game of the year is 18 carries for 58 yards and a touchdown, you aren’t very good. If his name was not Doug Martin you likely wouldn’t be giving him a second look. Last Sunday was his first game rushing over 50 yards all season; it was only his second touchdown of the season and his contributions in the passing game have been minimal. While he has led the Bucs’ backfield the past two weeks, it doesn’t help that Charles Sims and Bobby Rainey are waiting in the wings. He could be worth adding for depth, but do not plug him into your lineup. He is extremely touchdown dependent.
RBs better than both down the stretch: Fred Jackson, Steven Jackson, Latavius Murray, and Bishop Sankey.
Patriot RBs: The Patriot RBs are viewed as being higher up on the Fantasy food chain than those listed above, but it is still hard to trust them. In the Patriots’ last game LeGarrette Blount had 10 carries; Shane Vereen and Brandon Bolden each had three carries and Jonas Gray had one carry. To make things more confusing, Bolden got the goal line carry that ended up being a touchdown and Vereen was only targeted twice in the passing game. Despite all this, Vereen paced the backs in snaps, playing 30 out of 57, compared to Blount’s 19, Bolden’s seven and Gray’s lonely two. This is a backfield you want to stay away from.
Better RB plays down the stretch: Isaiah Crowell, Denard Robinson, Fred Jackson, Latavius Murray, and Trent Richardson.
Andre Johnson (Houston Texans, Wide Receiver) – There is no doubting that Andre is a good receiver. But that doesn’t mean you have to play him in Fantasy. He caught his second touchdown of the season last week; that’s right, in Week 13 he caught only his second touchdown. He has yet to break 100 receiving yards, although he broke 90 yards twice. He has a great upcoming schedule and has been highly targeted, making him worth holding onto, but it is just too hard to trust him at this time. In standard leagues, he has broken double-digit Fantasy points just twice. He holds value in PPR formats as a low end WR3, but that’s about it.
Better WRs down the stretch: Kenny Stills, Jarvis Landry, Keenan Allen, Jordan Matthews, and DeAndre Hopkins.
Michael Crabtree (San Francisco 49ers, Wide Receiver) – Crabtree is another big name that simply has been a disappointment. His season high in receiving yards is 85, and in eight games this year he failed to break 50 yards. He may have four touchdowns on the season, but has just one since Week 7. A big part of his struggles are tied to his QB; nevertheless, you simply can’t trust him in Fantasy, even in PPR formats. After his appealing matchup this week, he gets Seattle, who allows the least Fantasy points to opposing WRs, and San Diego, the 16th-best defense against WRs over the past month.
Better WRs down the stretch: Brandon LaFell, Donte Moncrief, Sammy Watkins.
Marques Colston (New Orleans Saints, Wide Receiver) He’s had two games over 100 yards and three touchdowns; that’s it. The problem isn’t just that he is lacking big games, it’s that his typical games are not helping anyone. He has seven games this season with less than 60 receiving yards and eight games with less than five receptions, killing his PPR value. Another issue is that his targets fluctuate, while never being quite enough to blow you away. Sure, he has four games with eight or more targets, but he also has six games with five or fewer. Contrary to last week, Brees is going to look Jimmy Graham’s way, and the emergence of Kenny Stills will also eat into Colston’s targets. There is nothing sexy about this play and Colston should be viewed as a low-end flex play going forward.
Better WRs down the stretch: Everyone listed for the two above plus Reggie Wayne and Stedman Bailey.
Philadelphia Tight Ends: As if guessing which Philly WR will have the big game isn’t hard enough, guessing which Philly TE will do enough to be a low-end TE 1 is enough to drive you up the wall. In the four full games Sanchez has played, both tight ends have been extremely inconsistent. First, let’s look at Zach Ertz during those four games. His targets are all over the place: two, six, six, zero, making him hard to trust right off the bat. His high in receptions with Sanchez is four, his high in yards is 55, and he has yet to catch a touchdown. He holds next to no value, and while he is capable of a big game here or there, it is just too hard to trust him. Celek is the better play of the two, but he too is extremely inconsistent. In his first game with Sanchez, he was targeted seven times for five receptions, 116 yards and nearly a touchdown. Since, his targets have dropped to three, seven and two, with his high in yards being 48. In two of those games, he posted no more than two PPR points. While the Seahawks struggled against tight ends early on in the season, they have allowed the second-fewest points to opposing tight ends over the past month. Stay away.
Better TE plays down the stretch: Kyle Rudolph, Larry Donnell, Jordan Reed, Eric Ebron.
Bills DST: The Bills D/ST has been flat out awesome this year, raking up the second-most Fantasy points of all D/STs. Many of you likely picked them up and rode them throughout the season. It has been a fun ride, but I’m afraid it’s over. The next two weeks are dreadful, as the Bills get to travel to Denver and face Peyton Manning and the stout Broncos offense, and follow that up with Aaron Rodgers and the Packers. The only glimmer of hope is that the Bills do not travel to Green Bay, as Aaron Rodgers is simply god-like there. The Bills D-line will get their opportunity this week against the immobile Manning, but he gets the ball out quicker than most QBs, so don’t be surprised if the defense that leads the league in sacks has trouble getting to the QB. The Bills D will hold their own; it just won’t translate to Fantasy points. However, if you have the roster spot, stash them, as they get Oakland in Week 16, Championship week for most Fantasy leagues.
Better D/ST plays down the stretch: 49ers, Lions, Packers, Cardinals, Broncos.
If you have any other questions, be sure to hit me up on Twitter @MichaelFFlorio