The Championship. Let’s cut through the flak. Here it is.
Tony Romo: The (Fantasy) Playoff Monster
- Tony Romo (@ Was): The guy is averaging over 350 yards per game, and has 13 TD passes over the span of his last five games. He’s on absolute fire, and the Skins are the 30th ranked team against the pass. Take this one and say thank you.
- Michael Vick (@ NYG): Well, Nick Foles is down with a broken hand. Vick is the starter, and he faces a nothing-special Giants pass defense who was just lit up by Joe Flacco and co. In what could be a do or die game for Vick’s career, I’d expect him to show up big. Definitely offers an interesting play.
- Shonn Greene (@ Buf): The Buffalo run defense is absolutely atrocious, and Greene is coming off of a hot, two-TD performance. With a much tastier match up this week, and his goal line poacher, Bilal Powell, banged up, Greene should be in for solid points in week 17.
- LeSean McCoy (@ NYG): Didn’t do a whole lot last week, but keep in mind that was against Washington’s top five run defense. He has a far better matchup this week, and with the Giants solid front line, he could be seeing alot of dump off passes.
- Danario Alexander (vs Oak): Despite getting shut out against Carolina two weeks ago, Alexander rebounded nicely last week. With a very attractive matchup this week, and a Chargers coaching staff who is in dire need of a win, Alexander should figure heavily in this game.
- Antonio Brown (vs Cle): Don’t expect another Pittsburgh loss at home this time. This game is for pride, and nothing more, but with a struggling running game, and Mike Wallace looking to be a game time decision, don’t be suprised to see double digit targets for Brown.
- Kyle Rudolph (vs GB): The Vikings are hot, and with three touchdowns in his past five games, so is Rudolph. He put up solid numbers, including a TD in his first matchup against the Packers, and if you watch the Vikings, Christian Ponder rarely looks in anyone else’s direction around the goal line.
- San Diego (vs Oak): The Raiders offense is horrible, plain and simple. To make matters worse, they just lost their starting QB. This one should easily be good for solid points.
- Jay Cutler (@ Det): Has been struggling recently, averaging less than 200 yards over his past five games. He has only six TD passes, and four INT’s over that same stretch. There are better options out there.
- Matthew Stafford (vs Chi): The Lions typically struggle against the Bears, and have looked all around poor as of late. Stafford has been throwing gobbles of interceptions, without many TD’s to justify it. Similarly, with the matchup against a top Bears defense, look elsewhere this week.
- Steven Jackson (@ Sea): The Seahawks have only allowed one rushing touchdown over their past four, and have beaten their past three opponents by over 100 combined points. Don’t expect much out of Jackson in this one.
- Michael Turner (vs TB): He will be losing carries to Jacquizz Rodgers, and facing the leagues top rushing defense.
- Beanie Wells (@ SF): One of the league’s worst offenses, against one of the league’s best defenses. Beanie should continue to disappoint here.
- Rams Receivers (@ Sea): The Seahawks defense is absolutely incredible. They have allowed 14 touchdowns through the air in 15 games so far. Chances are, the Rams won’t be the ones to hit them for the outlier this week.
- Larry Fitzgerald (@ SF): They still can’t get him the ball.
- Owen Daniels (@ Ind): Daniels is averaging 35 yards per game over the past four weeks, and hasn’t caught a touchdown pass over that span. Too risky to start.
- Rob Gronkowski (vs Mia): If the Ravens lose early, there will be little reason for the Patriots to risk him, or even Brady for that matter.
- Arizona (@ SF): It’s hard for a defense to keep points off the board when your offense is that bad. The average field position of San Francisco’s possessions in this game could be downright comical.
Welcome to the semi-finals! With only two weeks to go, chances are you are still in contention for the championship if you are reading this. If not, a tip of the hat to those few, but proud and dedicated consolation bracketeers. If you, like myself, were unfortunate enough get knocked out behind a complete dud performance from one of the projected studs from last week (see Cruz, Charles, Freeman, etc…), more sympathy to you. Here come the recommendations for week 16.
- Cam Newton (vs Oak): This one is a no-brainer. Oakland continues to struggle tremendously against the pass, and Newton has been on fire lately, with 13 TD’s (three from the ground) and zero interceptions in his last five games.
- Tony Romo (vs NO): I wouldn’t be scared off by the hurting that the Saints put on Josh Freeman and Tampa last weekend. The Saints are much better in the Superdome, and when you combine the facts that this game is in Dallas and the Saints are still one of the worst teams in the league against the pass, Romo is a solid play.
- Reggie Bush (vs Buf): Its a pretty safe bet that whatever team’s runningback that who ever is playing the Bills is going to get the nod in this section. The Bills have allowed 22 rushing touchdowns, and allow an average of over 130 ground yards per game. Don’t forget Reggie Bush is no slouch..
- DeAngelo Williams (vs Oak): Jonathan Stewart’s unfortunate injury was a godsend for DeAngelo Williams owners, and he gotten 256 total yards and two TD’s in the past two weeks. Against a porous Oakland defense, continue to ride him while he’s hot.
- Eric Decker (vs Cle): With Joe Haden in the face of Demaryius Thomas all game, Manning should continue his recent trend of throwing tons of balls to Eric Decker, who has gotten 20 targets in the past two weeks.
- Reggie Wayne (@ KC): Don’t be offput by his dud against the Texans. With a much better matchup against a struggling KC defense this week, the Colts, and Reggie Wayne should bounce back nicely.
- Danny Amendola (vs TB): The Bucs are still horrendous against the pass, and Bradford loves throwing to Amendola. In deeper leagues, Brandon Gibson is a very solid play as well, having 12 catches for 176 yards, and one TD in the past two weeks.
- Greg Olsen (vs Oak): As stated, the Panthers have been hot lately, and the reason why Olsen is such a good play is that, unlike guys like Brandon Myers or Kyle Rudolph, he rarely puts up gooseeggs. With a great matchup against the Raiders, Olsen has a great shot to put up 10+ points, but will still get you something even if he doesn’t blow up.
- Chicago (@ Ari): The fact the Cardinals put up 30+ points last week does not mean their offense is good, or even decent. It is still horrible, in fact. This one could get ugly for Ryan Lindley and co.
- Joe Flacco (vs NYG): Flacco has been good, and frequently great at home, but horrendous on the road for the majority of the season. Having said that, he has been shaky lately, and if you have other options, it is hard to gamble on his inconsistency this late in the fantasy playoffs.
- Philip Rivers (@ NYJ): Rivers is coming off an absolute horrid performance (121 yards, 1 TD, 2 fumbles, >10 points). This week, he has an equally bad matchup against the second ranked Jets pass defense, and remains a bad start.
- Marshawn Lynch (vs SF): I think this could be a really good game. The Seahawks are a very tough team, especially at home, but the 49′ers defense is still incredibly intimidating to play a starting runningback against, even if it’s Marshawn.
- Bryce Brown (vs Was): The Skins are pushing for the playoffs, and have one of the league’s top rushing defenses. Unfortunately the waiver wire savior of the past several weeks does not look to be in line for a big game this week.
- Danario Alexander (@ NYJ): For the same reasons I don’t like Rivers. He runs the risk of putting up another goose egg, especially with Cromartie on him.
- Josh Gordon (@ Den): Despite having put together a more than solid rookie season, he now faces the daunting task of opposing Champ Bailey at Mile High Stadium. Wouldn’t expect a whole lot out of him this week.
- Vernon Davis (@ Sea): Davis has had less than 50 yards combined in his last four games, and didn’t manage to record a single catch in the ‘Niners first meeting with Seattle. He is not a safe start this week by any means.
- Arizona (vs Chi): Wouldn’t buy into their dismantling of Matthew Stafford 100%. They are still a horrible team, and are no longer fresh off of an embarrassing 58-0 loss. The realization has set back in that they are in a downward spiral with an awful quarterback. Look elsewhere this week.
There’s no going wrong with either top rookie QB
If you’re still reading this, it most likely means you are one of the playoff contenders in your league. Congratulations, yet very few leagues involving payouts will offer one for simply making the playoffs alone. You’re going to need to keep making moves in order to stay on top, as the fantasy playoffs can be a cruel mistress. With the NFL playoff picture shaping up the way it has, there is a very likely chance that owners whose teams have been driven by studs like Arian Foster, or Tom Brady will have to ready replacements for these stars, as they almost inevitably will be rested for the playoffs. Here we go.
- Josh Freeman (vs Phi): The Eagles season is over; they have nothing left to play for. Their pass defense ranks 31st in the league, and they have not limited an offense to less than 28 points since former defensive coordinator, Juan Castillo, was fired. Similarly, they recently cut their best pass rusher, and to put it simply, they can’t generate pressure, sacks, or turnovers. In the meantime, the Bucs have been pushing for the playoffs, and Josh Freeman has multiple touchdown passes in seven of his last eight games. In the words of Dave Hester, YUUUUUUUUUP!
- Robert Griffin III (vs Bal): The readdition of Ray Lewis is not going to make up for a hobbled Terrell Suggs. After Suggs tore his bicep against Pittsburgh this past weekend, the Ravens were incapable of generating any sort of pass rush whatsoever on Charlie Batch, who is obviously slow as hell. RG3 and the playoff surging Redskins should have plenty of time to work this injury crippled defense on Sunday.
- Andrew Luck (vs Ten): Luck has looked downright incredible this season, and has only gotten better. The Colts are obviously looking to pass first in the redzone, offering up lots of scoring opportunities for the rookie. Similarly, the Titans’ pass defense ranks in the bottom third of the league, and Luck should have no problem putting up top numbers again this week.
- Trent Richardson (vs KC): Has gotten 20+ carries in each of his last five games, and continues to produce. He has emerged as one of the few true “workhorses” left in the league, and this shows no signs of letting up against a poor KC team.
- Doug Martin (vs Phi): Its tough not to bet against the Eagles right now. Especially with a new defensive line coach shaking things up. With the way the Juan Castillo replacement went for Philly’s defense, I’d consider Doug Martin a must start this week.
- Ahmad Bradshaw (vs NO): There are few things better in fantasy football than when your runningback’s goal line TD poacher goes down with injury. This should be a high scoring game, and the backfield is Bradshaw’s. The only competition is going to come from the shaky David Wilson, who has had a rocky first season in the NFL, and doesn’t offer enough physicality to take goal line work away from Bradshaw. The Saints present a highly favorable matchup for the Giants’ ground attack this week.
- Steven Jackson (@ Buf): Disappointed against the 49′ers, but not much else is to be expected there. Despite this, the aging veteran has managed to put up over 100 yards in two of his last four games, and should be in for solid points here against a very mediocre Buffalo defense. The cold weather up in Buffalo should only get him more touches.
- Josh Gordon (vs KC): I’ve been big on him all season, and those who trusted me last week on this pick learned why. Gordon has all the tools to succeed in this league, and has clearly cemented himself as the Browns #1, and Weeden’s favorite target. Continue to roll with him heading into another favorable matchup against KC this week.
- TY Hilton (vs Ten): Hopefully you picked him up last week, as Hilton continues to impress. He on a playoff pushing team with a guy who is quickly making himself known as an “elite” QB. This week, he has another favorable matchup against a mediocre pass defense, and is riding a streak that has seen him put up three 100+ yard games, and four TD’s in his past five games.
- Greg Jennings (vs Det): The Lions have given up 30+ points in three of their last four games. We all know what Greg Jennings is capable of, and he should be back in full force this weekend.
- Bradon Myers (@ Den) – Another guy I’ve been harping on for a few weeks now. Posted absolutely insane numbers last weekend for a tight end, totaling 14 catches for 130 yards and a TD. Similarly, despite Denver’s solid defense, they are right behind the Patriots when looking at points given up to opposing TE’s. Additionally, he should have plenty of time to rack up garbage points when the Raiders find themselves in a hole midway through this game.
- Owen Daniels (@ NE) – Despite improvements on the run defense, the Patriots are one of the worst teams in the league against the tight end. The Texans are going to have to pass in this game if they want to win, and Daniels is arguably Schaub’s favorite target in the redzone.
- Seattle (vs Ari): The Cardinals can’t do anything on offense. Their offense line is bad. Ryan Lindley looks worse.
- San Francisco (vs Mia): Expect the 49′ers to make quick work of Tannehill and co. this weekend.
- Phillip Rivers (@ Pit): Rivers has been shaky as of late, and the Steelers are offering up the best pass defense in the league, allowing under 175 yards per game. With Polamalu now back in action, there is no way they’re regressing.
- Carson Palmer (vs Den): The only chance the Raiders, and Palmer have of putting up solid fantasy points is if they are chasing a blowout, racking up garbage points in the second half. Granted, situations like those are where Palmer has made his keep this year, but Oakland failed to even do that the first time these two teams met, getting blown out 37-6
- Reggie Bush (@ SF): This is virtually a no-brainer.
- Ryan Mathews (@ Pit): The Steelers defense is still incredible, and Ryan Mathews is still a shaky fantasy back. In spite of the Chargers backfield becoming much less crowded in the offseason, with the departure of Tolbert, Mathews has only managed to score ONCE since coming back from injury. Hardly a solid return on what had to have been a high pick on draft day.
- Larry Fitzgerald (@ Sea): I will not be starting, or drafting Larry Fitzgerald at any point when Ryan Lindley is quarterbacking for him. Five catches for 65 yards in three weeks? No thanks. Don’t forget the tough matchup at Seattle…
- Dwayne Bowe (@ Cle): I don’t like Brady Quinn either. However, I do love Joe Haden, the DB that will almost certainly be covering Bowe this weekend. Only three TD’s on the year for Bowe, and ZERO were thrown by Quinn, indicating that they have not yet developed a solid working relationship.
- Denarius Moore (vs Den): Champ Bailey continues to defy age, and will most likely be plastered on Moore all day. It’s worth noting that Moore had some behavioral issues in the loss to Cleveland last week, but regardless of the effect that has on him, I don’t like him as anything besides a desperate man’s flex play this week.
- Dennis Pitta (@ Was): Has been to inconsistent to be a solid play this year, and that is without even delving into the aspect of Joe Flacco’s apparent collapse whenever the Ravens play away from home.
- Antonio Gates (@ Pit): For the same reasons I wouldn’t start Rivers this week.
- Baltimore (@ Was): With Suggs having a torn bicep, Ray Lewis not 100% (IF he returns), and Ladarius Webb out for the season, Baltimore’s defense is truly crippled by injury. RG3 shouldn’t have much of a problem here, as the Ravens could get nothing resembling a pass rush against Charlie Batch last weekend. With the way RG3 handled the Giants’ explosive pass rush, there is a good chance he could downright embarrass the Baltimore front seven this week.
- New York Giants (@ NO): It’s still tough to bet against Drew Brees in the Superdome.
Pickups to Bolster your Playoff Squad
Brandon Lloyd (WR – NE): I’m still kicking myself over how poorly Lloyd’s season has turned out (and possibly holding unjustifiable hope that he can turn it around.) Despite this, if you have roster space, and Lloyd is available on the cheap/waiver wire, I wouldn’t be hesitant about taking a shot on him at this point. Julian Edelman had been emerging as one of Brady’s surer targets right in time for him to hit the season long IR. The mentality behind this move is that the Patriots simply can’t throw to Wes Welker every down. Could end up (remaining) a bust, but the guy should be available for free, or dirt cheap in leagues where roster moves can still be made.
Justin Forsett (RB – Hou): Anyone who watched the Houston game last week could tell that they are already starting to take a cautious approach with their star RB. Expect Foster’s carries and points to decline steady the closer it gets to the playoffs, and the further the Texans build their divisional lead.
Jonathan Dwyer (RB – Pit): Dwyer has officially been named the starter for the remainder of the season, and should put up solid points throughout. In the three games where Dwyer has been the official “starter” he has put up 278 yards and a TD. With Big Ben returning to take pressure off the run, that should only improve.
In a year where the playoff pictures are more carved out than normal, owners are scrambling to fine replacements for the fantasy playoffs. Teams will have no hesitation about resting their Peyton Mannings, or Arian Fosters when the postseason picture is being laid out this early. Here are a few guys to stockpile for the playoffs, and are capable of coming in and making an immediate impact on your team.
Colin Kaepernick (QB – SF): Kaeperinick couldn’t have hoped for any better of an audition. Dismantling a top ranked Bears defense on Monday Night Football, then beating Drew Brees in the Superdome a few days later. He doesn’t have experience, but he offers an absurdly higher level of potential and play-calling options than Alex Smith. It’s looking like he will be the starter, and in for solid fantasy points the remainder of the season.
Bryce Brown (RB – Phi): WOW. Granted, the Carolina run defense is nothing spectacular by any stretch of the imagination, Brown’s 19 carry, 178 yard, two TD performance was nothing short of a breakout. McCoy is projected to miss another week, and Brown has a favorable matchup coming up against Dallas. While McCoy will almost certainly crush his value upon his return from concussion, roll with Brown in the meantime. (more…)
The QB jumble continues heading into week 12, yet don’t be too trigger happy to pick up Colin Kaepernick, regardless of whether or not he shredded what many consider to be the league’s top defense on Monday Night Football. Why? With all the fireworks, it’s easy to forget that Alex Smith still has a higher QB rating than Tom Brady 11 weeks into the season. Now, for the picks. I never thought I would write a waiver wire post with three players from Jacksonville, but when considering how easy their remaining schedule is, these may very well be the unsuspected players to lead you to the championship.
Ronnie Hillman (RB – Den): McGahee will be out for the remainder of the regular NFL season. The remaining options Denver has to go with are: Hillman, Lance Ball, or the forgotten, Knowshon Moreno. Hillman is almost certain to get the hole shot for this starting job, and if he is able to capitalize against a porous KC defense, he should see tremendous value moving forward. (more…)