When you’re in the Fantasy Football playoffs anything goes. It’s cutthroat. Owners make claims to block with no intention of playing them. The trash talk flies like food at a weight watchers unlimited buffet. But, at the end of the day, when all the maneuvers have been made and all of the insults have been thrown like knives to your opponents pride; it’s all about the starting lineup. The last thing you can live with heading in to the Fantasy offseason is starting that dud and sitting that stud that costs
you the title. Losing bragging rights because of a poor managerial decision is the kind of thing that your opponent will seize as trash talk gold. This leads to a lot of consternation and sleepless nights. This week on Point-Counterpoint, we will debate whether you should start lesser talented, less proven players on teams playing motivated football or should you stick with the tried and true veterans who look more like they are coasting towards off season golf commitments.
POINT – Brandon C. Williams
Week 15 begins with at least 10 teams playing out the string, with the only excitement coming from the reports of the college scouts of those respective teams which — with the exception of the Redskins — will be picking early come next May’s draft.
Yet, don’t let the incompetence of those franchises deter you when it comes to making your Fantasy playoff calls this week. Plain and simple, there’s gold deep down in the valley of Goodell.
Now may be the time to hop on the Cordarrelle Patterson bandwagon, as the Vikings take on the Eagles, most likely without RB Adrian Peterson. Patterson is high-risk/high-reward, but if you saw his 5-141-1 line last week against the Ravens, then Patterson’s even more tempting considering the Eagles are last in the league in allowing Fantasy points to WRs. Without Peterson, the Vikings will throw more, which means possible double-digit targets for Patterson, who is emerging as a major sleeper in 2014.
Rob Gronkowski’s season-ending injury leaves a void for his Fantasy owners, yet there are two TEs flying below the radar simply because they play on eliminated teams. Dolphins TE Charles Clay has 14 receptions in his last two games and is coming off a two-TD performance against the Steelers. Clay has hovered in the gray area of must-start all season, but with Miami QB Ryan Tannehill showing increased confidence in him, especially in the red zone, Clay is a good pickup in the handful of leagues in which he is available.
Those in a gambling mode may consider Redskins TE Logan Paulsen as an interesting play. Paulsen has touchdowns in two straight games in the place of Jordan Reed; if you go this route, keep up with Reed’s status. If Reed misses another game due to concussion issues, inserting Paulsen against a Falcons defense that struggles against TEs could pan out, even with Kirk Cousins getting the start at QB.
If Maurice Jones-Drew can’t go against the Bills, then keep Jordan Todman in mind. The Bills are near the bottom when it comes to Fantasy points allowed to RBs, and the revived Jags have a physical offensive line that could make Todman an intriguing Flex play. At the same tune, WR Ace Sanders could be in line for a significant number of targets if Cecil Shorts is unable to play. Sanders is a nice play in deeper leagues should Shorts miss out.
Look, if you’re in the postseason, keep riding your horses. If you’re playing for the title and find yourself lacking at a spot or two and need to gamble, these five players stand poised for huge payoffs.
COUNTERPOINT – Chris Mitchell
In Week 14, we saw a lot of production from players that are hardly considered grizzled veteran Fantasy producers. Players like Cordarelle Patterson, Da’Rick Rogers, Rod Streater, Lavon Brazil and Justin Hunter. We also saw some traditionally tried and true veterans fall short of what we expect during a playoff week like Victor Cruz, Dez Bryant, Matt Stafford, Jordy Nelson, Pierre Garcon, Ray Rice and Fred Jackson, just to name a few. When it matters most it is easy to want to both start the flash-in-the-pan newbie coming off a big week and to fear making a big mistake by benching that veteran who has won you these crucial games in the past.
It’s a maddening decision to have to make when the stakes are this high, and I am here to tell you to sleep easy and play it safe. Players with a track record will produce, trust in that. I realize there are some teams playing less than inspired ball **cough cough**…I am talking to you Giants, Redskins, Bills, and Cowboys… but trust in those players that have done it before. Don’t get lured by those teams and players that have played surprisingly well as of late. Teams like the Jaguars and Falcons, or players like Cordarelle Patterson and Da’Rick Rogers. Don’t be swayed by one or two big weeks, and don’t sour on a few mediocre weeks by players like Victor Cruz or Dez Bryant.
I completely understand Fantasy owners that are panicking over players that play for the Redskins, Giants, Bills and Cowboys, to name just a few. There are teams that are struggling to even function, never mind perform at a high level. These teams look awful on the field and their player’s Fantasy production has obviously suffered right along with it. You need to calm down and realize that the stars on these teams have a track record of producing. Don’t ignore what these star players are actually producing just because they aren’t meeting their lofty expectations. Players like Victor Cruz, Dez Bryant and Jordy Nelson may not be scoring 20-plus points per week right now. How easily we forget that they do make five to seven catches per week and pick up 50 to 60 yards per game.
I would love five catches, 141 yards and a touchdown (Cordarrelle Patterson’s Week 14 stats) from my studs, but what you absolutely must avoid when the games matter most is one catch, four yards and no TD’s (Cordarrelle Patterson’s Week 13 stats). We all love the big week and often one monster performance is enough to win a week all by itself. More often than not, you won’t get those monster performances, and during those weeks you will need consistent production. Six catches and 80 yards followed by five catches and 42 yards and no scores (Victor Cruz in Weeks 13 and 14). Cruz has been very frustrating to own and he’s scored fewer points overall than Cordarrelle Patterson over the last two weeks, but that is the argument I am making in a nut shell, especially in PPR leagues. Consistency is the most valuable thing you can get from a player in the Fantasy playoffs.
A few players playing on flat, uninspired teams that are frustrating Fantasy owners are Victor Cruz, Alfred Morris, Jordy Nelson and Dez Bryant. I am most frustrated with Victor Cruz, and most concerned with Jordy Nelson, and if you were to sit anyone among these four players, I would sit those two before I would sit Morris and Bryant. If I were to consider benching these studs, it would be because of matchups and not because I have given up on the player…but I am not sitting any of them. The simple fact is that Victor Cruz has an awful matchup and Jordy Nelson has an awful quarterback. If there is justification for sitting any of these players, those are the reasons. It’s not because they have been maddeningly frustrating. Let me say it again. I would not sit them unless you have clear, better choices and I don’t see how many teams have that. Start your Studs. Say it again. Start your Studs.
Another reason why consistency is so important is that targets and opportunities eventually lead to Fantasy points and scores. When teams are playing flat and the offense is out of sync, your players are going to struggle. The only way to get back on track is to work through it, and that is what we have with some of these struggling Fantasy players. The more targets a player gets, the more likely a great Fantasy player will get back on track and turn a four for 40 into an eight for 110 and two scores. You should feel fortunate that you are getting something while we wait. It will come. Don’t give up on these guys, because once you do, that is sure to be the week they bust out and go big. I understand the frustration, but don’t compound the problem by benching players that should be starting.
Good luck in your Fantasy playoffs, everyone; may the touchdowns be with you.