Brief Hiatus

With the holidays upon us and the fantasy season over, you’ve probably noticed that not much has been posted here at FFgridiron.com following Week 16. Our activity will slow down a bit, however, it will not totally die down during the offseason. Stay tuned for Gridiron’s 2012 Fantasy awards, as well as different posts ranging from NFL news to fantasy stategy as we already anxiously await next season. Many new things are in store for FFgridiron.com heading into 2013, so be sure not to wander off too far! For those who have kept up all season-long, we deeply appreciate it. If you were successful in reaching fantasy glory, congratulations! If not, better luck next year and hey, maybe pay a little more attention to what is going around here ;).

Week 17 Spread Picks

Vikings running back Adrian Peterson #28

Vikings running back Adrian Peterson #28

Buccaneers (0) at Falcons

Week 17 of the regular season is usually a very weird week with only a few things that matter. Most fantasy leagues and other pools have crowned their champion and shut down shop for the year. The Falcons have clinched the no.1 seed in the NFC for the 2nd time in 3 years, and will be likely sitting most of their players.

Jets  (+3.5) at Bills

Ravens  (+3) at Bengals

            Oddly enough the 4-seed is the best place to be for the Ravens. They will draw a home game against the Colts, then avoid the AFC’s two best teams with a trip to Houston.

Bears (-3) at Lions

Bears are still alive with a win and help.

Jaguars (+4) at Titans

Texans (-6.5) at Colts

Extremely scary to bet against the Colts when Chuck Pagano will be in the building, but recent weeks have shown us Indy’s record might be better then what they really are.

Panthers (+5) at Saints

Eagles (+7.5) at Giants

Eagles are bringing back all the players and will be playing for Andy Reid in presumably his last game, not to mention the Giants are terrible. I’d be willing to take the Eagles straight up here.

Browns (0) at Steelers

Chiefs (+16) at Broncos

Broncos have to win to secure a bye week next week. 16 is a lot to cover but they should manage.

Packers (-3.5) at Vikings

An amazing comeback by the Vikings to even be in this position in week 17. It looks like a must win for the Vikings, with the Bears tied in record and playing Detroit. I don’t think Ponder will be able to make the throws necessary to win, even with Purple Jesus on his team.

Dolphins (+10) at Patriots

Raiders (0) at Chargers

Cardinals (+16.5) at 49ers

49ers need to close out to win the division so there is no doubt about how much they will invest into this game.  The 49ers do have a few injuries and division games can be sneaky tough, 16.5 is a lot of points even for the lowly cardinals.

Rams (+10.5) at Seahawks

Cowboys (-3) at Redskins

The Cowboys are in the same position as last year in week 17. The problem for Dallas is their defense has too many injuries to defend anything. The Offense will make the game interesting but unless RGIII isn’t healthy (possible), he will take the Redskins to the Division title.

 

 

2012 Record: 120-112-8

Week 16: 10-6

Five Sly Starts In Week 16: Championship Week

Panthers Running Back DeAngelo Williams #34 will prove to be a solid start this week against the Raiders

Panthers Running Back DeAngelo Williams #34 will prove to be a solid start this week against the Raiders

Five Sly Starts consists of players who are only being started in 25% or lower of fantasy leagues for the current week. These are guys who flying under the radar with favorable matchups but can play a role in helping you pick up the W. How you manage your lineup during bye weeks and in the case of injuries is crucial to any owners success over the course of the season. Hopefully this list helps to make some critical decisions when options are slim.

Week 16 bye weeks: None

  • Russell Wilson, QB, vs SF (own%/start% in ESPN Leagues: 25.2/7.3)- Despite a scary matchup, I believe Wilson to still be a solid play this week. Since their last Week 7 meeting, Wilson has been on an absolute tear. Wilson has managed to rack up 1,407 passing yards, 13 touchdowns with only two interceptions. Wilson has also used his feet to total up an average of 42 yards per game, including his performance last week in which he ran nine times for 92 yards and three touchdowns! All in all, Wilson has scored an average of 20.4 points since these two teams last met. Now San Francisco did hold down the rookie to a single digit day in the first go-round but Wilson seems to be a lot more polished at this point. If Lynch can get the ball moving as he has a recent history of doing against this defense, it should open things up for Wilson to make some plays whether it’s with his legs or his arm. Look for Wilson to surprisingly continue his recent successful in a game that has dire playoff implications.
  • DeAngelo Williams, RB, vs OAK (own%/start% in ESPN Leagues: 77.6/20.3)- DeAngelo has heated up at the perfect time for fantasy owners. Two weeks ago, Williams rushed for 56 yards on 17 carries and made his money with two receptions for 56 yards, including a long 53 yard touchdown reception. Then last week he followed it up with an even better performance of 93 rushing yards on 22 carries along with two receptions for 51, including another long touchdown of 45 yards. With Stewart still out and Cam Newton ‘s spiked level of play, Williams should continue to reward owners with 15+ fantasy points as he takes on a Raiders defense that ranks 30th against fantasy backs. With Stewart likely out, Williams with another full workload could very well eclipse the 150 total yard mark this Sunday along with a touchdown or two. Start him with confidence.
  • Justin Blackmon, WR, vs NE (own%/start% in ESPN Leagues: 71.8/19.6)- His partner-in-crime, Cecil Shorts, made the Playmakers & Heartbreakers list this week but I feel like there will be plenty to go around for these two come Sunday. This game really shouldn’t even be close. The team set to play New England coming off a loss usually doesn’t make out too well. Tom Brady and co. are going to come out to prove a point, potentially leading to a blowout as soon as it starts. For fantasy owners though, that’s always a great proposition. There should be plenty of garbage time and plenty of throwing going on in Jacksonville, an environment in which both Shorts and Blackmon are capable of flourishing. Blackmon has been unable to find the end zone in the last three weeks but has still managed to post six receptions in his last two for a total of 150 yards. There will be plenty of opportunities for Blackmon to make plays in this game and should be considered very worthy of a WR No. 3 start.
  • Tony Scheffler, TE, vs ATL (own%/start% in ESPN Leagues: 3.1/1.8)- Those seeking to replace Brandon Pettigrew don’t have to look too far. Even before the injury, Scheffler has been slowly working his way into more of a role in this offense. In the last five weeks, despite only reeling in 16 receptions, he’s been targeted a hefty 38 times, including seven last week. With an average of 7.6 targets per game over the past five, it seems to be pretty safe to say that the work will be there. His opponent this week, the Falcons, rank 20th against fantasy tight ends this season and have given up at least five receptions for 50+ yards in three of their last four games. Usually when the work is there and the matchup is soft, things work out well.
  • Washington Redskins, D/ST, vs PHI (own%/start% in ESPN Leagues: 6.7/3.4)- Washington may not be the first to come to mind when thinking fantasy championship week, but they quietly pose as what I believe to be a solid play this week. Philadelphia, even with an improved Foles, still has tremendous issues with turning the ball over. They currently rank as second-worst against fantasy D/ST’s, a position they’ve held all year-long. Another thing to note is that while the Washington defense has been sub-par, their biggest game of the season came against the Eagles in Week 11 when they only allowed six points and forced three turnovers, good enough for 17 fantasy points. If you don’t have a Denver or Seattle, give Washington a serious look this week. They may be just what you need to bring home the chip!

Week 16 Start ‘Em Sit ‘Em: Playmakers & Heartbreakers

Seattle Seahawks Running Back Marshawn Lynch #24 diving into the end zone.

Seattle Seahawks Running Back Marshawn Lynch #24 diving into the end zone.

It all comes down to this. One final game to decide who gets to bask in the fantasy glory of 2012. Your chance to obtain bragging rights for the next eight months. However, there is also the possibilty that you’ll end up as the guy, or girl, that made it oh so close. As this is the final game, now is the time to play to win, rather than playing not to lose. Hopefully I can assist you in achieving the ultimate goal, the 2012 *insert league name here*  fantasy crown. So with that, let’s look at this week’s Playmakers & Heartbreakers. The Championship edition. . .

*This list will not consist of players such as Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, Arian Foster, or Calvin Johnson. If you’re contemplating sitting them, the real question becomes. . . what the hell is wrong with you?

Quarterbacks

  • Tony Romo, DAL, vs NO- Though Romo isn’t considered to be a “clutch” quarterback in the real world, he’s been nothing but clutch during the last half of the season. In fact, he’s going to win many owners a fantasy championship on Sunday. Romo has scored 15+ points in all but one game since Week 8, including 20+ in three of his last four. His one down game came against a stout Cincinnatti defense, though his 12 points were the highest of any quarterback facing this defense dating back to Week 10. His matchup this week the Saints this week is like a match made in heaven. New Orleans has been stuck in the cellar all year-long in terms of pass defense, one that still managed to give up 330 yards last week despite a shutout victory. With the emergence of a superior Dez Bryant, Romo and the rest of the Cowboys passing attack has been straight cash, and in terms of fantasy production, should have a glorious day against this Saints defense. Oh and one more thing, Romo has eclipsed the 300+ yard mark in four of his last five. #HomoForRomo. Playmaker.
  • Andrew Luck, IND, vs KC- Luck has struggled a bit as of late, throwing multiple interceptions and failing to reach at least 15+ points  in three of his last five games. This week, his matchup is a little softer as he takes on a Kansas City defense that ranks 24th against opposing quarterbacks. The Chiefs have stepped up their game in recent weeks, not allowing a passing touchdown since Week 13. However, both of those games came against Weeden and Palmer, two guys that Luck is clearly superior to. The Chiefs can still be had in the run game and if Ballard can keep it going as he has the past two weeks, things should open right up for Luck to make some big plays. Playmaker.
  • Sam Bradford, STL, vs TB- I really can’t believe I’m doing this. Before I go on, let me be clear that I’m not suggesting starting him over a guy like Newton or Ryan. However,  if you don’t have one of the top-tier quarterbacks and you’re rolling with a guy like Flacco, or say, one of the guys below, then it may be wise to really give Bradford a look this week. Bradford put up some stellar numbers last week, mainly due to a large amount of garbage time. Nevertheless, Bradford plays a Bucs defense that just allows anybody and everybody to throw the ball where ever they please. With the way Tampa Bay excels at stopping the run, as well as their well-known lack of pass defense, it’s a pretty safe bet that Bradford will dropping back at least 30 times in this game. Normally, that wouldn’t mean much for this kid but against this defense, that’s a very appealing offer. Consider this: Tampa Bay has failed to stop six of the last eight quarterbacks they’ve faced from scoring at least 18 fantasy points. Playmaker.
  • Jay Cutler, CHI, vs ARI- Cutler can look great at times, and then look absolutely terrible. This week his matchup is a nightmare and if you feel like winning your championship, something you ought to stay away from. Arizona has had a rough season, but they’ve made life on opposing quarterbacks just as rough. Arizona is allowing just 10 fantasy points per game to fantasy quarterbacks, including seven games of single-digit performances. Cutler is not to be trusted and hopefully, if you’ve made it this far, you have better options. Heartbreaker.
  • Carson Palmer, OAK, vs CAR- Palmer has been a high-volume quarterback all season long but with the return of McFadden, that volume should start to come down. Last week, McFadden saw an extreme 34 touches and against a Carolina defense that has struggled to stop running backs, that should continue this week. They likely won’t be playing with a sizeable lead but you can still expect a heavy dose of DMC. This should leave fewer opportunities for Palmer to put the ball in the air against a Panthers pass defense that has actually been pretty solid in 2012. Carolina has done an exceptional job at preventing the big play through the air and haven’t allowed more than 16 fantasy points to opposing signal-callers in seven of their last 10, including holding Rivers to just four lousy points last week. This is a very risky play, one that you should quite frankly just avoid. Heartbreaker.
  • Philip Rivers, SD, vs NYJ- Rivers has taken a hard fall from grace this year. Last year, we all thought maybe he was playing with an injury. But this year has been much of the same thing and makes you wonder, what the hell has happened to Philip Rivers? Regardless, he’s not be relied upon this week (or any week for that matter) against a Jets defense that has faired rather well without Darelle Revis. The last three quarterbacks to face the Jets have scored a measly 18 points combined. With Mathews going down for the year, Rivers now has a patchwork run game behind him, something that surely isn’t going to increase his chances of performing well this week. Rivers just hasn’t shown us anything this year to warrant a start in your fantasy championship, especially with this matchup. Look elsewhere if you can. Heartbreaker.

Running Backs

  • Marshawn Lynch, SEA, vs SF- Your first thought here is probably “what the f@&* is this guy thinking? Against the Niners?!?!”. You should be starting him anyway, based on the fact that he’s the No. 4 running back on the year and has been one of the most consistent throughout. But see I’m not just telling you to start him, I’m telling you to be exciting about this matchup. At first glance, this matchup seems scary, as the 49ers are the No. 1 ranked run defense. However, Lynch has had his way with this defense dating back to last season. In his last two matchups against the division rival 49ers, Lynch has ran for 100+ in both contests with one touchdown. Not only did he just rush for 100+ yards, but he did so in a very aggressive way, averaging over 5.0 yards per carry in both contests! Lynch has this defense’s number and in a game with such grand implications, in Seattle, Beast Mode is going to be in full swing. Playmaker.
  • Vick Ballard, IND, vs KC- Ballard may just be making his case as to why he should be the starter heading into 2013. Ballard has taken a full workload of 37 carries and turned them into 199 yards over the past two games. The rookie brings a hard-nosed running style that compliments this passing attack very well. His matchup is a favorable one this week as he takes on a Chiefs defense that is coming off a performance in which they surrendered 199 rushing yards. Expect Ballard to rack up the yards and if he can find his way to pay dirt, he’ll reward owners with a stellar performance in a time when they need it most. Playmaker.
  • DeMarco Murray, DAL, vs NO- The return of Murray has been a pleasant one not only for the Cowboys, but for fantasy owners as well. Since returning, Murray has registered a touchdown in each game and totaled at least 13 fantasy points. This week, the matchup just simply couldn’t be any better as he takes on a New Orleans defense that despite a shutout last week, has held the crown as the worst run defense in the league all year-long. The Cowboys have something to play for, so I fully expect Murray along with the rest of this offense, to come out firing on all cylinders. Murray will obviously be a big part of that as it will be his job to keep the offense on schedule and keep the chains moving. Look for 100+ and a touchdown in this game for Murray. If you managed to make it this far despite his six-week absence, he’s about to make it all worth it. Playmaker.
  • Knowshon Moreno, DEN, vs CLE- Knowshon has been a dream come true for those who were in need of a running back down the stretch of the season. A late season pickup with a role as the feature back on a high-powered offense run by Peyton Manning and averaging 27 touches a game while having the luxury of one of the easiest schedules in the league. It just doesn’t get any better than that in terms of mid-season pickups. After facing Oakland and Baltimore last week, Moreno gets another great matchup against a Browns defense that ranks 20th against fantasy running backs and has allowed 276 rushing yards and four touchdowns in the past two weeks. Given his consistent workload since taking over the gig, Moreno is one of the safest bets to get at least 20 touches this week. With the likelihood of this game getting out of hand, it wouldn’t be all that far-fetched to expect 30+ carries in this game. Huge day coming folks. Playmaker.
  • Jonathan Dwyer, PIT, vs CIN- Dwyer is set to get the nod again this week but this is nothing to get too excited about. Dwyer has been nothing but average this season, totaling a season high of just 12 points that came in Week 7. Cincinnatti has been one of the most underrated defenses of 2012 and haven’t allowed a running back to reach 60 yards in any of their last four games. This game has dire playoff implications and after taking a tough loss last week, I expect this to be a game that falls into the hands of Big Ben. There just isn’t anything promising here, making it wise to look elsewhere. Heartbreaker.
  • Montell Owens, JAC, vs NE- Owens has served as a nice stop-gap for fantasy owners but the road has seemed to come to an end. After taking a tough loss at Gillette on Monday night, the Patriots are going to come out with a chip on their shoulder. Look for them score early and often, and then even more. This doesn’t bode well for the Jacksonville rushing attack as they’ll likely be playing catch up from the gate. You got your one or two weeks out of Owens and now it’s time to let him go. Heartbreaker.
  • Joique Bell, DET, vs ATL- Bell has been successful, totaling at least eight points in three of his last four. However, the fact is there just aren’t many carries to go around in Detroit as they have been the most pass heavy team in all of football. In cases that they do run the rock, LeShoure continues to dominate the workload as the starter and that isn’t changing anytime soon. The work just isn’t there to justify starting Bell in your biggest game of the season. Heartbreaker.

Wide Receivers

  • Danny Amendola, STL, vs TB- The PPR monster finished with a strong performance last week in his return, finishing with six catches for 58 yards and a touchdown. The matchup this week against the dreadful Tampa Bay secondary is just delightful. Tampa continues to rank last against the pass and has given up 16 touchdowns to wide receivers on the year, including five in the last three games. Amendola has finished with five receptions all seven of the games he’s finished, with double digits in four of those. He’s a tremendous start this week, one that can’t be left on your bench. Playmaker.
  • Cecil Shorts, JAC, vs NE- Shorts is hands down the most improved player of 2012. Shorts has reached double-digit fantasy points in nine of the 13 games he’s played this season, including seven touchdowns. What makes this most impressive is that he’s done it with Gabbert and Henne, two quarterbacks who rest in the bottom-tier of the league. New England’s pass defense has surely improved despite their performance last week, but there is going to plenty of garbage time in this game which should allow Shorts to pad his stats nicely. Shorts has rarely let you down this season, so consider him a safe bet this week. Playmaker.
  • Pierre Garcon, WAS, vs PHI- Garcon has been a monster since returning from injury, catching for at least 80 yards and a touchdown in every game prior to last week. With no Bobby Three Sticks and a matchup against the great Joe Haden, Garcon may have had his scoring streak snapped but still managed to post six receptions for 65 yards. This week, he gets a Philadelphia defense that has allowed a ridiculous 18 touchdowns to receivers and despite the talent, haven’t been able to stop shit all season-long. With Griffin returning and this game being a must-win, look for this offense to have the pedal to the floor, with Garcon playing a major role. Start him with confidence. Playmaker.
  • Josh Gordon, CLE, vs DEN- Gordon is a hell of a physical specimen. One with great size and athletic ability, with the speed to run right by defenders. It’s really started to translate well during the second half of the season. But now is the time to pull back on the reins as he has he will be squared up with the legendary Champ Bailey. Bailey has shown no signs of slowing down, holding Julio Jones, Denarius Moore, Colston, Steve Smith, and VJax all to single digits this season. Add that to the fact that this Denver defense should be all over Weeden like stink on shit, and you have the makings of a disappointing game from Gordon. Heartbreaker.
  • Denarius Moore, OAK, vs CAR- Moore has practically fell off the map. Since Week 11 in New Orleans, Moore has totaled just 13 receptions for 149 yards. That comes out to an average of 2.5 receptions for only 30 yards over a span of five games. His matchup doesn’t serve as a favorable one either. Carolina ranks six against fantasy wideouts and has only allowed six touchdowns since their Week 6 bye week. With the main focus shifting off the passing game because of the return of McFadden, the likelihood that Moore returns to first-half form is unlikely. No need to take the risk.  Heartbreaker.

Tight Ends

  • Greg Olsen, CAR, vs OAK- Olsen has emerged this season as the top 10 tight end that many thought he could be, currently ranked 5th on the year. Since his monster performance in Week 10 where he exploded for nine receptions for 102 yards and two touchdowns, Olsen has registered at least four receptions for 50 yards in each game since, including two touchdowns. With Cam playing at an elite-level, Olsen’s production should continue to stay steady. His matchup this week only helps that cause, as Oakland ranks 28th against tight ends and has given up a touchdown to the position in four of their past six games. He continues to be one of the most solid starts at the tight end position this week. Playmaker.
  • Vernon Davis, SF, vs SEA- Davis is a complete anomaly. Arguably the most athletically gifted tight end in all the league, weighing 250+ lbs and runs a sub 4.4 40-yard, Davis has just not been able to get a single thing going all year-long. The emergence of Kaepernick was thought to maybe help improve Davis’s production, but that has not been the case at all as the two have rarely connected, leading us to believe they’re just not on the same page. Since Week 7, Davis has yet to register double-digits and this week it won’t get any better. Seattle has allowed just two touchdowns all year-long to opposing tight ends and in a game being played at the 12th man, that looks to remain consistent this week. Heartbreaker.

Feel free to leave any comments regarding this piece and/or any start/sit questions you may have for the upcoming week! Otherwise, happy Championship Week and may the best of luck be with you!

Week 16 Spread Picks

Panthers quarterback Cam Newton #12

Panthers quarterback Cam Newton #1

Falcons (-3.5) at Lions
​No Thursday or Monday night football this week, instead this game will be played on Saturday night. These teams are coming from completely different places in the standings and expectations. The Falcons are worth a pick this week.

Saints (+3) at Cowboys
​This is the definition of a trap game for Dallas. Everyone has their eyes on next week’s Dal-Wsh matchup but the Saints have to be dealt with first. It’s hard to trust Dallas, in a scenario like this, but they have the personnel to keep up with Drew Brees and co.

Titans (+12.5) at Packers
​Green bay with little to play for, may take their foot off the gas late in this one.

Colts (-6.5) at Chiefs
​Another situation where late in the season I want to take a big underdog. The Colts aren’t as good as their record. The Chiefs however are also a pretty miserable team, so this is a close one. This game has tickets available for 12$ so who knows what home field advantage could bring us.

Bills (+4.5) at Dolphins

Chargers (+2) at Jets
​Coming off one of the all time MNF performances, The Jets have decided to go with Greg Mcelroy . The offense will probably be just as dreadful, Expect San Diego to get a cheap win here.

Redskins (-6.5) at Eagles
​This could be a trap game similar to Dallas’s situation described earlier. The main difference is that the Eagles are barely a functioning team full of 2nd stringers and projects for the future.

Bengals (+3.5) at Steelers
​The Steelers are getting treated as the better team by odds makers although everyone who watches football could tell you they are not the better team in this matchup. The Steelers season is on the line here and unless Big Ben steps his game and health up huge, we will be burying the 2012 Steelers season Sunday.

Rams (+3) at Buccaneers

Raiders (+9) at Panthers

Patriots (-14.5) at Jaguars

Vikings (+7.5) at Texans
​Vikings can make the playoffs with a 2-0 finish, but their opponents are HOU and GB. Anything is possible with Purple Jesus on your team, which is a good enough reason to stop betting against the Vikings.

Browns (+13) at Broncos

Bears (-5.5) at Cardinals

Giants (-2) at Ravens
​Both of these teams have fallen and can’t get up. The Ravens benefit from already clinching in a AFC that has only 3 good teams. The Giants have to win and if they are ever going to flip “the switch” it has to start here.

49ers (0) at Seahawks
​The Seahawks have little chance to win the division because of the 49ers game against the Cardinals next week but they will still have something to show on primetime TV. Even with the wildcard and no home games the Seahawks have a favorable playoff schedule. They will draw the NFC East winner first and then next week go to Atlanta who has been shaky until just last week. This Matchup might happen again in the NFC Championship game.

2012 Record: 110-106-8
Week 14: 11-5

Five Sly Starts In Week 15

New York Giants' Running Back David Wilson #22 returns kickoff for touchdown

New York Giants’ Running Back David Wilson #22 returns kickoff for touchdown

Five Sly Starts consists of players who are only being started in 25% or lower of fantasy leagues for the current week. These are guys who flying under the radar with favorable matchups but can play a role in helping you pick up the W. How you manage your lineup during bye weeks and in the case of injuries is crucial to any owners success over the course of the season. Hopefully this list helps to make some critical decisions when options are slim.

Week 15 bye weeks: None

  • Russell Wilson, QB, vs BUF (own%/start% in ESPN Leagues: 25.2/7.3)- So after five weeks of averaging 19.2 fantasy points per game, the rookie’s hot streak came to an end last week, scoring just eight total points in a blow-out victory against Arizona. However, consider this: Seattle is a run-first team; that’s what they like to do. In a game that was never even close, Seattle was able to run the ball an eye-popping 38 times. So Wilson never really had to even be a factor in this game, aside from moving the chains and a few play action passes to keep the defense on their heels. This week is a different story as their opponent’s, the Buffalo Bills, have really made a solid turnaround in regards to their run defense. After being gashed over the first half of the season, Buffalo has improved to be one of the most stingy run defenses over the second half of the season, allowing a high of just 68 yards over the past four games. This should leave more of the burden on Wilson this week, which is a good thing for fantasy owners. Look for Wilson to return to the kind of production he’s shown prior to last week. I like him for AT LEAST 200 yards passing and two touchdowns. Bank on it!
  • David Wilson, RB, vs ATL (own%/start% in ESPN Leagues: 68.5/20.8) *Sly Start of the Week* - Wilson put the entire football world on notice last week after his 327 total yard performance against New Orleans. At this point, I think it’s safe to say it’s only a matter of time for this kid. Bradshaw or no Bradshaw, he’s made it pretty tough for Coughlin not to get him more involved. With news of Bradshaw coming out of last week’s game a little banged up, Wilson should have been your top priority this week not only because of his production in Week 14, but because of the possibility of him getting increased action because of Bradshaw’s injury. If you made the move, you’ve lucked out tremendously, because Bradshaw has now been ruled out and Wilson gets the green light for a full workload against an Atlanta defense that ranks 7th-worst against fantasy backs! Even better, Wilson is said to remain on kickoff return duty, as well! This is huge, and it may very well catapult a few owners into right into next week’s fantasy championship. If you’ve got him, you gotta play him! The Wilson era in New York may be starting now. . .
  • Donnie Avery, WR, vs HOU (own%/start% in ESPN Leagues: 15.8/5.2)- Avery has seen 31 targets over the past three weeks. It’s clear that Avery is the guy behind Reggie Wayne. Avery has only seen less than six targets once this season which came in a game where he suffered a concussion against New England. So despite last week, where Luck and Avery were only able to connect three times on nine attempts, the work is almost a guarantee to be there. That’s a great thing this week as they’ll be taking on a Texans defense that has given up an average of 37 points to fantasy wide receivers in the last four weeks, and has quickly fell from the top five against the position, to the last five against the position. Against this injury-riddled Houston defense, Avery is certainly a solid No. 3 play in all formats this week.
  • Tony Moeaki, TE, vs OAK (own%/start% in ESPN Leagues: 0.8/0.2)- This is an ulta-sly start here. But listen, this could be a PPR gem this week. Moeaki has quietly registered an average of nearly nine points in PPR leagues over the span of the last five weeks. With Dwayne Bowe out and Jamaal Charles likely being a workhorse against the weak run defense of Oakland, Moeaki could be the man that is moving the chains all day long. Oakland ranks 28th against fantasy tight ends this season and have given up a touchdown to the position in five of their last six games. If you’re in a deeper league and are low on options, I’d give Moeaki a serious look this week as the variables are in place for him to have a solid outing.
  • Miami Dolphins, D/ST, vs JAC (own%/start% in ESPN Leagues: 34.3/24.7)- If this piece came out two days earlier, I would have told you to start the Bengals, as that was my recommendation to everyone on twitter during the week. But since that’s not the case, I’ll have to give you what I believe is the next best option. The Dolphins defense has been up and down all year-long but I think they can be relied upon for some decent total this week. It’s likely that Miami will contain the run game of Jacksonville, forcing the ball into the air which should open up the possibility for some turnovers here. Tennessee, Buffalo, and NYJ, the last three defenses to play the Jaguars’ offense, managed 12, 9, and 9 respectively. Neither of those defenses come close to the top of the boards. So while I don’t think there will be an explosion here, I do think they’re good for 7-12 points.

Separating The Contenders from The Pretenders In Week 15

The Browns' Trent Richardson #33 scores a touchdown, Week 14 against Chiefs

Browns’ Running Back Trent Richardson’s saluting after scoring one of his two touchdowns in Week 14′s matchup against Chiefs

Finally the playoffs are among us all! This is what everyone has been playing for all year, but the playoffs are a different type of animal completely. For all of us it’s a series of one and done showdowns, if you lose there is no next week. If you want to hoist that trophy or win that money you need to stick with who got you there. With fourteen weeks of games gone by it’s a good sign if your team is still hanging around. Chances are your team has been very consistent throughout the year, because only the best teams remain. Now the only thing that matters is winning your next game to keep the dream alive. With that said, the last thing you want is for any of your starters to lay an egg when you need them most. These are the players whom have been the most consistent throughout the year no matter the matchup. The top players at their respected positions won’t be listed, because frankly, if you don’t start them then you don’t deserve to be in the playoffs. (Standard league scoring)

Quarterbacks

Contenders

*Not included: RG3, Brady, Newton, Rodgers, Brees, Manning, Stafford, and Ryan.

  • Andrew Luck (17.7 ppg) – Last week was only the second time Luck didn’t throw for over 200 yards in a game. Look for him to bounce back, and as for the knee issues he practiced fully yesterday and looks good to go.
  • Andy Dalton (17.2 ppg) – If you would’ve told me Dalton would be the best fantasy QB in the AFC North, let alone top 10 in the NFL, I wouldn’t have been the only one laughing. Philly’s defense is struggling, should be a good outing for Dalton.
  • Josh Freeman (17.1 ppg) – Fell off as of late, however against NO defense, expect a solid fantasy outing.
  • Carson Palmer (16.6 ppg) – He’s thrown for two touchdowns in five of his last seven. However, he has had an interception in nine straight games. This week, he takes on a Chiefs defense who have only allowed one 300 yard passer through the first 12 weeks, but have given up a league-high 25 passing touchdowns.

Pretenders

  • Brandon Weeden (11.6 ppg) – Some games Weeden’s play looks promising and some games he looks like a high school quarterback. Even against a not so hot Washington defense, don’t expect much.
  • Ryan Tannehill (10.4 ppg) – Failed to reach 200 passing yards in three of his last four games. Don’t expect much from this dud, even against JAC.
  • Mark Sanchez (8.8) – He just flat out sucks, avoid at all costs. FREE TEBOW!

Running Backs

Contenders

*Not included: Peterson, Martin, Foster, Rice, Lynch.

  • Trent Richardson (14.0 ppg) – I really like this rookie. Yes, he only 18 carries for 42 yards last week, but he did have two touchdowns. They didn’t use him down the stretch as much last week, thanks to nursing a hefty lead, and wanted to give this workhorse a little rest. Don’t forget Cleveland can still make the playoffs if a miracle happens. Expect 20+ touches, easily.
  • Steven Ridley (13.2 ppg) – Possibly the biggest surprise this year in my opinion. This kid has been the model of consistency since starting. Touchdowns in six straight games.
  • Jamaal Charles (13.0 ppg) – 100 all-purpose yards in five straight games and is facing Oakland, a defense that doesn’t seem to stop offenses very well. Look for 20+ points, regardless of scoring type.
  • Frank Gore (12.9 ppg) – This workhorse has been just that for San Fran with at least 17 touches in six of his last seven, with touchdowns in each of his last three. Yes, he’s facing the 8th best rush defense, but that doesn’t matter. STUD.
  • Alfred Morris (12.5ppg) – He’s coming off three consecutive 100+ yard rushing games. Hard to imagine his workload getting any bigger, but with a banged up QB expect a heavy dose of Morris.

Pretenders

  • Pierre Thomas (5.9 ppg) – Too much uncertainty in that backfield to rely on someone who isn’t the first option, sometimes not even the second.
  • DeAngelo Williams (5.7 ppg) – Don’t be fooled by last weeks performance. His 53 yard touchdown catch was the only thing separating him from a lackluster performance last week (3.3 ypc).
  • Daniel Thomas (5.5 ppg) – Thomas has had seven carries in the last two weeks. Nothing here.
  • Jonathan Dwyer (6.3 ppg) – Dwyer has shown promise, but no much to be happy about. This coming from a Steeler fan, I just don’t trust him, and it’s still a timeshare. Even with Mendenhall being suspended, I don’t see Dwyer with more then single digit touches.

Wide Receivers

Contenders

*Not included are the top 5 Marshall, C. Johnson, A.J. Green, V. Jackson, and D. Thomas.

  • Victor Cruz (11.9 ppg) – 261 yards and two touchdowns in his last 3 games. Expect 10+ targets for Cruz against Atlanta
  • Dez Bryant (11.9 ppg) – This kid is on FIRE! What more can I say? If healthy this week he’s a must start against an injured Steelers secondary.
  • Roddy White (11.1 ppg) – Has a slight knee issue, if he plays expect a repeat of last week.
  • Julio Jones (11.0 ppg) – Over 250 yards and two touchdowns in his last three games. With the Giants pass defense being nothing to swoon over, expect some stellar production.
  • Reggie Wayne (11.0 ppg) – This guy gets it done every year. He’s had at least six receptions in seven of his last eight. Only seen the end zone twice in that span, but Houston’s pass defense has shown they can be susceptible through the air. Must start.

Pretenders

  • Larry Fitzgerald (6.9 ppg) – With the QB issues in ARI stay away from Fitz. Since these issues have started ARI QBs have the lowest percentage of passes to their number one receiver in the ENTIRE LEAGUE.
  • Brandon Lloyd (6.8) – ppg Great outing last week, but there is too much ball distribution to rely on Lloyd for even a twinkle of last week’s play.
  • Nate Washington (6.8) – ppg Explosive yes, but insignificant most games. Struggling Titans offense is not a good look for a #2 receiver.

Tight Ends

Contenders

*Not included are the top 3 R. Gronkowski (injured), Gonzalez, Graham

  • Heath Miller (8.6 ppg) – Miller is fourth overall in fantasy production. With his BFF Big Ben back for the second game in a row look for Miller to get a hefty dose of the dink and dunk Steelers offense.
  • Owen Daniels (8.2 ppg) – Nursing a back issue, but is said to a green light on Sunday. Owens has 44 targets for 24 catches, 241 yards and three touchdowns. That’s a pretty good stat line for a tight end that only caught a little over half of his targets.
  • Greg Olsen (7.6 ppg) – Touchdowns in his last 2 games, going against a decent SD defense. Still expect a decent outing.

Pretenders

  • Antonio Gates (5.7 ppg) – Just seems like he’s lost a few steps from his previous play. Maybe he just doesn’t have what it takes to be the #1 TE anymore. Better years have came and went for this big fella.
  • Jermichael Finley (4.3 ppg) – Only one trip to paydirt in the last nine games for Finley and during that span, he’s had more than three receptions just ONCE. Avoid this guy.

written by: @J_2cool

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