Last Updated: Dec 14, 2012 12:02 PM
Each week in 1st and 10, I empty out the drawer of my fantasy mind, with 10 thoughts to consider
as your season progresses.This is it, folks, the final two weeks of your fantasy football league, with the final four of fantasy football this weekend and the Super Bowl of fantasy football next weekend.
I am in two of three semifinals, and I hope you are sill playing at this point as well. For this key stretch, I am going to keep this column to the point, with the goal of helping each of you with at least a small something, even if just a thought or decision stimulator that might make a difference in your playoff games.
For several weeks, I have pointed out that you should pay attention to the FFChamps’ Strength of Schedule tool and pay attention to the matchups for the Patriots in Weeks 14 and 15. I also was clear that you should always play your studs, which Brady and Welker both are, regardless of the opponent.
And, I mentioned that I liked Ridley vs. the Texans. So much for worrying about the Pats in Week 14, as we all know that they completely dismantled the Houston defense for six TDs, with four passing TDs, two very deep, from Brady, and a rushing TD from Ridley.
This week it is the 49ers, heralded as the best defense in football. This will not be a repeat of Houston. It is supposed to be colder, and, maybe snowing or raining. The 49ers’ defense is not going to lay the egg that the Texans did. A couple seasons ago, the Patriots hosted the Titans on a snowy stormy day in Foxboro. It was so bad on the field before the game I violated FFChamps’ Commandment No. 10 and sat Tom Brady.
He proceeded to break several single-game records, throwing for six TDs. My 11-year-old son, nine at the time, disowned me for the game, and adamantly played Brady in his playoff game that day. Clearly, father does not know best. If you have Tom Terrific, he likely got you to where you are this season so, yes, you play him Sunday night.
If the weather is ok, I also like Gostkowski, Hernandez and most of all, Welker vs. SF. If you have a viable or equal option at running back, I might be careful playing Ridley vs. SF, especially if you also have Brady or a Patriots tight end or wide receiver on the same team, as that is a lot to rely on vs. the 49ers.
Last week I wrote about the possibility of a Bryce Brown/LeSean McCoy tandem. McCoy did not play and is ruled our again Week 15. It seems more and more likely Shady is done for the season. Brown is the starting running back and will get 20 carries this week.
In Weeks 12, and 13, he burst onto the scene, single-handedly dominating for his fantasy owners who were smart enough to back up McCoy. Last week, Brown pulled a complete no-show, finishing with a disastrous 12 carries for 6 yards.
Brown has only started in three games in his short career and some owners are left relying on him as one of their two or three starting running backs. I have Brown on both of my playoff teams. In one case, I must play him as I have no other choice. On the other team, I need to pick two from Brown, Knowshon Moreno, who I had because I made sure I secured Willis McGahee’s backup early on, and David Wilson, who is one game less proven than Bryce Brown.
If you do not have an alternative, play Brown and hope the Bryce Brown of Weeks 12 and 13 shows up. If you have an alternative, I would go with the player that gives you the best shot to win, factoring in the strength of their opponent’s run defense, your league scoring system, the weather on game day, and the FFChamps.com FFCPI proprietary weekly rankings.
I am likely to play Brown and Wilson assuming Ahmad Bradshaw is out, and Brown and Moreno, if Bradshaw is starting.
The Eagles, who had appeared to have quit on the season, had a win last week and face an overrated, middle of the pack run defense in Cincinnati, and the Giants play at softer Atlanta, whereas Moreno is at the Ravens -- always a tough game.
The Texans got humiliated in Foxboro but will come back with a vengeance this week at home vs. the Colts. I expect Matt Schaub to have a superb game and would consider playing him coming off the Pats loss, vs. a very mediocre Colts defense, over other similar quarterbacks with a tougher matchup, such as Tony Romo vs. the Steelers, Big Ben vs. Dallas, or Matthew Stafford vs. Arizona.
I also expect big games from stud must-starters Andre Johnson and Arian Foster, and would also consider playing Owen Daniels over a tight end with a tougher matchup. The Texans will take out last Sunday night on the young, over achieving Colts.
If you drafted A.J. Green, a top 3 fantasy football wide receiver in every scoring system, the past few weeks have not gone so well. Green has not scored in three straight games and is stuck at 10 TDs on the season. I have a hunch he explodes Thursday night vs. the Eagles, giving you a great kick start to your playoff Week 15. By explode, I believe we could see 2-3 TDs.
The Redskins have great matchup vs. the Browns but the big question mark is will RG3 play and if he does, how long will he last? This is a very tough dilemma if RG3 is your starting quarterback as you cannot afford to start a QB who ends up leaving the game in the first quarter and expect to win.
I preach starting your studs, but when they are healthy. If you have an alternative to RG3 this week, I believe you may need to play that QB, and not look back, even if RG3 goes on to play a great game.
I would check with FFChamps on game day live Sunday morning to see the status of his health. If RG3 has gone into a hyperbaric chamber and suddenly seems close to 100 percent, then take a shot. If Kirk Cousins starts over RG3, then I would upgrade Alfred Morris, who will see the rock 20 or more times, and slightly downgrade wide receiver Pierre Garcon, who has had some huge games with RG3, something much harder to expect with Cousins at quarterback.
Cam Newton and Steve Smith have finally turned the corner, putting together a few great weeks in a row, capped by a monstrous performance by Newton in Week 14. I have been saying for weeks to play these guys, strongly reminding all our readers that Carolina had a great strength of schedule from Week 11 onward.
For Week 15, here are a few strength of schedule pointers specific to this week only. In next week’s column, we will discuss Super Bowl Week 16 matchups. This week, I still like the Panthers vs. the Chargers’ pass defense; the Bengals and Texans and as written above A.J. Green and Matt Schaub, vs. the Eagles’ and Colts’ pass defenses; Seattle’s passing game vs. the Bills; and both Tampa and New Orleans against each other in a shootout of two teams likely outside the playoff window looking in.
I also predict a huge game for Marshawn Lynch against the Bills, and in fact, I just plain like the Seahawks to have a strong offensive game in Toronto.
I also like the Lions, and both Mikel Leshoure and the explosive Joique Bell, facing off against the struggling Arizona run defense. The Cardinals’ defense was embarrassed last week by Seattle and has something to prove, which is most likely to occur against the pass, where they are stronger.
I am already thinking about the 2013 fantasy football draft and wondering who will be the player picked first in most leagues. Will it be Doug Martin entering his second year, on an offense that is emerging to be a next great offense, Arian Foster, who is just plain explosive, consistent, and awesome, or, Adrian Peterson, who was snubbed in the 2012 draft and proved to be the best value pick in both of my leagues.
Running backs will suddenly be deep after a shallow pool of first round values in 2012. Young running back studs are present across the league, including Martin, Foster, AP, Leshoure, Morris, Trent Richardson, David Wilson, Bryce Brown, and Marshawn Lynch. If 2012 was the year of the first round quarterback, a clear mistake if you stick to FFChamps’ Commandment No. 5 Thou Shall Wait on thy Quarterback, 2013 is lining up to be a return to a draft dominated early on by running backs.
We want to hear from you. Tweet us @FFChamps and tell us who you would take with your first pick in the 2013 fantasy football draft if it were held today.
This week’s five players I’d love to have are Drew Brees, who will have to pass against Tampa, one of the best run defenses in football. I expect a high scoring, multiple touchdown game from Brees.
Vincent Jackson, who plays against Brees and the Saints’ awful pass defense. This game will be a shootout and Jackson will benefit.
Trent Richardson, who will be the center of the Browns’ attempt to upset Washington. I can see Richardson getting 25 or more touches in this game.
Alfred Morris, who will become the focal point of the Redskins’ offense with RG3 out or playing hurt.
And, Greg Olsen, who has been a benefactor of the late season surge of Cam Newton against weak defense after weak defense. One more sleeper this week is Darren McFadden, who should get plenty of chances against the Chiefs.
This week’s five players I am worried about are Andrew Luck, who has the unfortunate timing of going to Houston the week after the Houston blowout by the Patriots. The defense will be angry, J.J. Watt will be a one man wrecking crew, and I expect Luck to make rookie mistakes similar to the ones he made against the Patriots a few weeks ago.
Frank Gore, who will be playing in freezing, wet conditions with Vince “NFL Defensive MVP Candidate” Wilfork waiting for him across the line.
Dallas tight end Jason Witten and Dallas wide receivers, who will face a Pittsburgh defense with a chip on its shoulder. This is a tough matchup, especially if Dez Bryant ultimately does not play due to his injured finger.
Stevan Ridley, who will struggle to run against the 49ers, and all Vikings not name AP, who face a very under-rated Rams defense.