Boys and girls, the time for fun and games is over! That’s right, week 14 is upon us and that means the PLAYOFFS HAVE ARRIVED. It doesn’t matter if you enter the playoffs with a first-round bye or barely sneak into that final seed; the postseason is anyone’s to dominate. This is your chance to be remembered forever in the annals of fantasy football history. Now that the playoffs have begun and the losers are down in the consolation bracket, the lineup you set each week will be as important as the second “n” in annals, if you catch my drift. Ride with me on a journey to more success!
Each season there is some great draft pick that gets injured and leaves your team looking a lot less fearsome than you were hoping they’d be. It’s kind of like when you a great gift from the white elephant exchange at your staff Christmas party, but it gets stolen by the next person and you end up with an item that plainly and disconcertingly reminds you of your ex-girlfriend. Just a random analogy with no connection to myself personally. The point is, the injury bug was more like a plague of injury locusts this season and finding talent on the waiver wire is more important than ever. Don’t find yourself losing a playoff matchup because you were forced to start Kyle Rudolph at tight end in Rob Gronkowski’s absence. Shall we?
Five Guys You Have To Start This Week
- LeSean McCoy, Bills. McCoy had his struggles getting adjusted in Buffalo early on in the season, but he has come on since the Bills’ week 8 bye. McCoy has had 112 rushing yards three times in that span, which is kind of weird honestly, but good news for your fantasy team. Don’t be scared away by McCoy facing his former team. The Eagles defense is atrocious and LeSean wants to prove that Chip Kelly was wrong to trade him away.
- Russell Wilson, Seahawks. Ever since Jimmy Graham went down with a patella injury, the Seattle offense has been unstoppable (hmm…). Don’t burn yourself by trying to anticipate when Russ will cool off and trying to avoid a poor game from him. Baltimore’s defense has allowed 22 passing touchdowns so far this season, twice as many as Denver and Seattle.
- Johnathan Stewart, Panthers. With all of Cam Newton’s recent success in the passing game, the Falcons will be forced to dedicate more defenders to the secondary in order to try and slow him down. Meanwhile, their defense is allowing about 100 yards per game on the ground and has already given up 15 rushing touchdowns.
- DeAndre Hopkins, Texans. It’s time to accept the fact that Hopkins is a top-three receiver in the NFL. One of Houston’s scoring drives against Buffalo last week consisted entirely of Brian Hoyer just throwing lobs to Hopkins. Bill Belicheck is known for taking away what a team wants to do the most, but Hopkins will most likely still be good for a long touchdown grab on Sunday night.
- Matt Forte, Bears. When Forte is healthy he is an automatic must-start. You are not allowed to question Matt Forte in fantasy football.
Five Guys I Wouldn’t Start This Week Because Eh…
- David Johnson, Cardinals. The Vikings were absolutely humiliated by the Seahawks last week in a game that many people thought they should have been able to win. In the primetime spotlight of Thursday Night Football don’t expect their defense to take the same sort of beating. Anthony Barr will be eager to welcome Johnson to the NFL behind the line of scrimmage.
- Defense, Saints and Buccaneers. When the Bucs and Saints face off this Sunday, don’t expect to see too much actual defense happening. The Saints will challenge Tampa to keep up with their offense and Jameis will oblige, mostly because New Orleans’ defense couldn’t stop the bleeding from a splinter with a band-aid.
- Philip Rivers, Chargers. When Kansas City visited San Diego earlier this season, the Chiefs flew home with a 33-3 victory under their belt. Now the Chargers are heading into Arrowhead Stadium to face a surging Chiefs team that has won six games in a row, allowing more than 20 or more points just twice in that span.
- Eddie Lacy, Packers. Fat Lacy has been ineffective as of late, gaining all of 4 rushing yards last week in Detroit. Dallas may not be very good at a lot of things, but with a *finally* healthy Sean Lee lurking in the middle of the field they’ll be licking their chops at the opportunity to hit Lacy before his plodding steps take him beyond the line of scrimmage.
- Dez Bryant, Cowboys. A while ago I explained a theory about backup quarterbacks throwing to secondary receivers when they get a chance to start because they’ve had more time practicing with them as opposed to the first team. Matt Cassel made himself the poster boy for that concept on Monday night against the Redskins when he seemingly just refused to throw the ball to DEZ BRYANT. Time and again he was looking for Terrance Williams down the sideline instead of Bryant, who had plenty of space over the middle or down the field. Cassel finally began looking to Bryant on Dallas’ final drive, but then inexplicably shut him out again and almost lost the game. Unfortunately, Dez is in fantasy purgatory until further notice.
Get to the Waiver Wire!
- Shaun Draughn, 49ers. Last week: 36 rushing yards, 1 touchdown, 50 receiving yards. A nice pickup for those of us who lost Jeremy Langford with Matt Forte returning to the lineup.
- Javorius Allen, Ravens. If there’s one thing Matt Schaub can do well, it’s throw an interception and give the ball to a talented, versatile running back. With 63 rush yards, 107 receiving yards, and a touchdown last week in Miami, Allen could be the playoff push your team needs.
- Ted Ginn Jr, Panthers. Surprisingly, Ginn Jr can still be found in the dregs of free agency in many leagues. To be fair, it’s probably because he can be seen dropping wide open touchdown passes whenever the Panthers are on national television, but Cam has to throw to someone, right?
- Blake Bortles, Jaguars. If the quarterback you drafted is now injured, benched, or Jay Cutler, you need to take a look at my boy Blake Bortles. His big arm and ability to consistently find his weapons in the passing game have given Jacksonville plenty of hope. Unfortunately, their team will be playing in San Diego by 2017, but that’s beside the point. Bortles has failed to throw more than one touchdown just three times this entire season, tossing 5 td’s and 0 interceptions last week in Tennessee.
- CJ Spiller, Saints. Spiller has been an afterthought all season, but with Mark Ingram being placed on season-ending IR (to my dismay) he is now presumably the best option New Orleans has at running back. Come on, you’ve got a second kicker you don’t need on your bench. Put that spot to better use.
This Week’s Tough Calls™
Should I start Johnathan Stewart or Chris Ivory – Austen, In the Paint
This is a great, great question that many of us are asking ourselves this week, or at least something like it. Stewart has been the reliable stalwart this season, carrying the ball at least 20 times over the last seven weeks and failing to reach double-digit fantasy points only twice in that same span. Ivory, on the other hand, has been a lot less consistent. In that same seven-game stretch he has notched 10 or less points four times and scored more than 15 only three times. Tennessee’s run defense isn’t the greatest, but if Ryan Fitzpatrick can’t find success passing the ball, the box will fill up quickly and Ivory will find running lanes hard to come by. Stick with Stewart and the soaring Carolina offense.
Austen also wanted to know whether or not Dez Bryant would be worth starting, to which I say: see “Guy I Wouldn’t Start This Week Because Ehh…” Thanks for your support, Austen!
Fantasy Sob Story of the Week
I will lay down the disclaimer of admitting that I don’t have a whole lot to be sad about seeing as how three out of my four teams are heading to the playoffs, but the team finding itself in the consolation bracket had a gut-wrenching end.
Sitting at 5-7 and needing a win against the top team in the league, Todd Babinec’s Moustache was ready for glory. When Sunday came I was constantly checking the scores around the league while serving in the youth ministry at my church and singing Adele’s “Hello” 57 times with junior high students. I was feeling good as I saw my quarterback, Russell Wilson, lighting it up once again. Doug Baldwin was also on my team so I was double-dipping all the way to a playoff berth. When I finally checked the fantasy scoreboard after an unsettling text from the buddy I was facing off against, I discovered to my dismay that both Russ and Doug, along with their 60 combined points, were still on my bench. We lost by 50 and kissed the playoffs goodbye. Just for good measure, Zach Miller put the team on his back and pitched in 0 points from the tight end position. I got 14 combined points from Matt Hasselbeck and Randall Cobb.
I’ve never seen such travesty, people, I tell you. Anyway here’s a quick update on the rest of my teams as we look to add some trophies to the mantle this year:
- Left Handed MasterDebaters: 9-4, 1st in West division, 2nd in league, #2 seed in playoffs.
- Bull Moose Dough Babies: 6-7, 4th in East division, 5th in league, #6 seed in playoffs.
- The Eiffel Hightowers: 9-4, 1st in West division, 1st in league, #1 seed in playoffs.
The MasterDebaters are looking to finally make a post-season run that ends with confetti as they’ve started hot in the past three seasons, but have been unable to find success when it mattered. The Dough Babies drew a first-round matchup with the fearsome squad that almost made me click the “reset draft” button and cover it up as an accident fourteen weeks ago, The Arendelle Happy Snowmen. The Snowmen were barely edged for the scoring title and are facing my squad instead of enjoying a first-round bye, which they will no doubt be angry about. The Dough Babies appreciate your thoughts and prayers.
Thursday Night Special
Thursday Night Football has really stepped up its game this season, doing everything possible to undo its reputation of hosting the worst game of the NFL week. That role has been taken up by Monday Night Football, who treated us to a Cowboys-Redskins field goal bonanza to cap off week 13. Scintillating stuff here, folks. Anyway, tonight’s matchup of the Vikings and Cardinals should be another Thursday night thriller. What we’re looking at is two teams trying to assert dominance in the wide-open NFC where everyone outside of Carolina is vying for the second seed in the playoffs. Minnesota will be determined to bounce back after a shellacking from the peaking Seahawks while Arizona is out to prove that their success is no fluke. Some of the best defensive backs and linebackers in the NFL will be on display tonight so I suggest that you get yourself to a television with NFL Network after work.
START: Carson Palmer, Michael Floyd, Larry Fitzgerald, Adrian Peterson
SIT: Everyone else
Remember, if you have any last-minute questions about making your perfect playoffs roster you can always contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @4thandgyas. Good luck this weekend, unless of course you’re playing in the consolation bracket in which case it doesn’t matter because the first loser is still a loser. That’s what we call good, old-fashioned American values. Until next time!