The Fantasy playoffs have begun. The day sta1rted off happy for some Fantasy owners. as Rob Gronkowski returned for the Patriots, “All hail Gronk!“ Of course, life in Fantasy Football went completely downhill once we saw the carnage from the early games. Thomas Rawls was lost for the season with a broken ankle. Andy Dalton is gone for at least the Fantasy playoffs with a thumb injury (suffered when he threw an awful interception). I’ll keep saying it over and over again. In Fantasy Football, you need to stay healthy. I had a bye week in one of my big money leagues. I lost Mark Ingram earlier this week, Arian Foster earlier this season, and was just shaking my head when Rawls went down (own him also). I didn’t even play today and got crushed. The phrase survival of the fittest was never more appropriate. Let’s take a look at Week 14.
I don’t say this to be mean or to downplay the injury to Chris Johnson but this may end up being the best thing for Arizona. It forces them to start/play the better running back and that is David Johnson. I’m also not saying he is the next Todd Gurley. He’s not. But, at this point in the season, he is trending up, whereas, Chris Johnson was feeling the effects of a long season. David Johnson is a must start for your Fantasy team from here on out. Defenses will have to pick their poison. Try and stop a Top 3 MVP candidate in Carson Palmer and the passing or stack the box to stop David Johnson. Good luck
Why was everyone so pumped up about LeSean McCoy Sunday? Yes, what happened with his trade out of Philly rubbed him the wrong way. Truth is, if Chip Kelly had to do it all over again, he probably would. Yes, I’m sure McCoy had extra motivation to perform well, but to call it a revenge game and play it up? McCoy was a Top 5 RB anyway. Of course you were starting him, just like you will next week and the week after, revenge game or not.
Perhaps Johnny Manziel is the answer at quarterback for Cleveland after all. Okay, it was just the 49ers, another terrible team, but he still threw for 270 yards and a score. No, you’re not thinking about starting him in Fantasy, but a good showing could make you feel more comfortable about starting Travis Benjamin or Gary Barnidge. It was also good to see the running game come to life with Isiah Crowell and Duke Johnson, not that you’re dying to start either one of them either.
Todd Gurley returned to prominence Sunday, rushing for 140 yards and two scores. Yeah, this might be the definition of why you always start your studs (although we can argue the opposite in a little bit, Julio Jones). Gurley had looked like he might’ve hit the rookie wall only rushing for 171 yards in his previous four games but those came against above average run defenses and let’s face it, it’s not like he’s getting any kind of support from the passing game. Gurley went off Sunday against a much weaker defense and will have to start for me next week and probably the week after also.
So what do we make of the running back situation in New Orleans? Tim Hightower did rush for 85 yards, but that came on 28 carries, a tick over three yards a rush. We were told he would be used in the passing game, but he only caught one pass. He did score a TD and had a good Fantasy day, but I would still pump the breaks on thinking he is an automatic start each week. He likely won’t break the Top 20 RB but will be in Flex consideration. Then again, the Saints schedule for the rest of the season, Detroit and Jacksonville at home, and at Atlanta. Perhaps he should be in RB2 consideration.
With the QB issues in Denver and Cincinnati, I’m starting to wonder if the Jets are actually a Top 3 team in the AFC. Ryan Fitzpatrick may not be an elite QB, but he is above average. Sure, he can have some problems with consistency, but he gets the job done more often than not and outside of TE he has plenty of weapons at the skill positions. Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker are must-starts week in and week out. Chris Ivory may be slowing down but is still a high end RB2 and now they have Bilal Powell, who looks great. It’s hard to see this offense slowing down for the rest of the season.
As mentioned above, Dalton is out for the Fantasy playoffs after suffering a thumb injury. The question will be asked many times this week, what kind of passing offense will the Bengals have with A.J. McCarron behind center? When you look at McCarron’s numbers from Sunday, they look okay, 22-32, 280 yards, two TD, and two INT. Those are respectable numbers. The problem is, backups generally perform adequately when they come into a game but suffer a bit when defenses watch film on them and then game plan to stop him. The Bengals play the 49ers this week, so McCarron is not an automatic bench. It will depend upon what else you have. In Week 16, however, they play Denver. That’s a game in which you may not have wanted to start Andy Dalton, never mind McCarron.
This is what is so hard about Fantasy Football. You have a good season, make the playoffs, you start Allen Robinson (as you should), the Jaguars score 51 points, you’re expecting a huge amount of points, and what do you get? One reception. One, uno, solo, ughh. Granted, it was for a touchdown, but really, one reception and there was no injury? As if injuries weren’t hard enough to deal with, it’s these kind of performances that can drive a Fantasy owner crazy. Still, if you started him, you go back to the well next week, along with the rest of the Jags. This is a team that has now scored 90 points in the past two weeks, wow.
If you lost Martellus Bennett, don’t be afraid to go out and grab Zach Miller. The Bears like to use the TE and Jay Cutler is not afraid to find Miller and more importantly, likes to use him in the red zone. You could do worse.
I mentioned earlier how it might’ve been a little cute to sit Todd Gurley this week, and next on the cute list was Julio Jones. I’m guess this week between my Twitter feed and the RotoExperts Email Advice Queue I received about 50 questions about whether or not to sit Jones. I didn’t like the matchup. Who did? But the bottom line is, sitting your studs is dangerous. Can you live with yourself if that stud goes off and the Top 40 player you put in over him does nothing? Usually I just play it safe. Out of those 50 questions I started Julio in probably 45 of them. There were some situations where the choices were great. It is the WR position, you could be deep. In the end Julio ended up doing just fine, 7-88.
Now onto the next major injury, Thomas Rawls. Who will take over for him? Well, it won’t be Marshawn Lynch; he’s not coming back anytime soon. Fred Jackson? The seven carries he received Sunday were a season high. He only has 24 for the year. DuJuan Harris? He had 18 rushes Sunday (42 yards). He is the player you want but what are you expecting? He is not going to set the world on fire and if Robert Turbin was still with the team, he would be the starter over both. The Seahawks will once again go on offense as far as Russell Wilson can take them (17 TDs in his last 5 games). I shouldn’t need to say this but if Doug Baldwin is still out there, go and get him. Tyler Lockett is close to a must grab also.
Brock Osweiler threw for 308 yards on Sunday and had several dropped passes (what QB doesn’t) but he still averaged only six yards per attempt. This is surprising, as he has the arm to get the ball deep with ease, so why not take some shots? Will this loss give head coach Gary Kubiak the excuse to go back to Peyton Manning (is healthy enough)? That would seem unlikely but Osweiler may be losing some of his grip on the starting job.
What did we learn from the Dallas-Green Bay game Sunday? The Dallas passing game is awful and Matt Cassel is terrible. Cassel did try to get the ball to Dez Bryant (three drops) but every time he drops back to pass it becomes a guessing game as to how accurate he will be. The Cowboys are all but eliminated from the playoff hunt with this loss and it would seem prudent to go with Kellen Moore at QB. I mean, what do they have to lose? Dez is no longer anything more than a Flex play for me.
As for Green Bay, the passing game is still a work in progress. The Pack have gone back to head coach Mike McCarthy calling plays, which should help eventually, but still didn’t look all that impressive (granted the game was played in a rain storm). The good news though is the running game had new life. Eddie Lacy looked great. He ran hard and couldn’t be stopped. It may not be too late for him to save the season for those owners who drafted him, assuming he hasn’t already sunk those teams.
Could Sunday have gone any better for the Patriots? Before they even took the field they knew that both Cincinnati and Denver had lost, that Rob Gronkowski would return, and that Julian Edelman may not be that far off. The bad news though is that they may have lost another RB as LeGarrette Blount left the game with a hip injury. This of course could be good news for James White owners as he would get more touches if Blount needs to miss time and we will all be running to the waiver wire to grab Branden Bolden if he’s still be available.
As always feel free to follow me on Twitter and ask any questions you, @georgekurtz.
Rob Gronkowski Photo Credit: DGA Productions