Thomas Casale
The Fire Sale - Week 14

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The fantasy playoffs are finally here. If you’re still reading this column I’m assuming you have made your playoffs. If not, you must have lost a bet or something.
 
One of the problems I’ve always had with The Fire Sale is once we get to Week 14 I run out of things to write about. My column isn’t a straight waiver wire article, it’s more of “players to target/players to avoid” advice throughout the year. However, once we get to fantasy playoffs, it is what it is. If
Montee Ball is still available in your league, go get him. It’s not like Week 2 when we’re trying to find players with upside. We’re down to one-game scenarios now.

So, I was trying to find a way I could make The Fire Sale more useful during fantasy playoffs. To me, the next couple of weeks aren’t so much about picking up players as it is about which players to start and not start. In one league I have
Shane Vereen , Rashad Jennings , Frank Gore and Zac Stacy . Deciding which of those backs to start can win or lose me a playoff game.
 
I have three more columns left for the season. As always, my last one will be my mea culpa. For 14 years I’ve always looked back to the summer and let everyone know the players I hit on (
Alshon Jeffery ) and the ones I bombed on ( Chris Givens ).

The next two weeks though I’m going to switch up my Going Up and Coming Down. My Going Up will be players I like as starters this week for the playoffs and my Coming Down are players I would shy away from. Obviously, I won’t be listing Megatron. These will be players that I’m likely to get asked about on Twitter. I think that will be more beneficial over the next two weeks than telling you to go pick up
Andre Holmes .

Now on with The Fire Sale

Going Up

Joe Flacco , QB Baltimore – For owners that lost Aaron Rodgers or are just looking for a strong quarterback play this week, Flacco has arguably the best matchup on the board. Minnesota is giving up 287 yards per game through the air and has allowed an NFL worst 26 passing touchdowns. They also give up a ton of big plays. The Ravens are one of the few teams that don’t really dink and dunk much. When Flacco throws the ball he airs it out and tries to get chunks of yardage. Flacco isn’t the most consistent fantasy quarterback but he has a dream matchup against a garbage Vikings defense. He should have one of his best games of the season.
 
Montee Ball , RB Broncos – Ball has to be a flex consideration this week against Tennessee. The Titans give up a lot of receptions and touchdowns to opposing running backs and Denver obviously wants to keep Knowshon Moreno fresh for the playoffs. Last week, Moreno got 15 carries to Ball’s 13. In PPR leagues over the last three games Ball has scored 18, 6 and 17 points. The six points was against New England in a game where he got benched and Denver rushed for 280 yards. I think it’s safe to say that if Ball hadn’t fumbled early on he would have recorded three straight double-digit scoring weeks. To put that in perspective, Frank Gore has put up weeks of 6, 4 and 10 in his last three games. Ball will be in line for another 15 carries again this week and he has a good chance to score. Advanced Sports Logic’s The Machine is also high on Ball this week as a flex play. He’s worth starting if you need a running back.
 
Julian Edelman , WR Patriots – Has there been a bigger disaster than Danny Amendola this season? He’s had two big games, scored once and fought injuries in his first year with the Patriots. Listen, Bill Belichick is a great coach and the Pats win because of him and Tom Brady. However, if you look at Belichick’s last few drafts and free agent signings, maybe the media should take their lips off his backside. Over the last two games, Edelman has 18 receptions for 211 yards and two touchdowns on 23 targets. Amendola has eight catches for 71 yards on 11 targets. Things can change in a hurry with the Patriots but one reason I think Brady is looking more towards Edelman is because Amendola is struggling to get open, whether it be due to him being injured or another reason. It’s hard to know who Joe Haden will be covering because the Pats move their receivers around so much but right now owners should ride the hot hand of Edelman. Now he’ll probably catch two passes.
 
Riley Cooper , WR Philadelphia – Cooper has cooled off over his last two games, catching a total of six passes for 85 yards. He’s still seen 13 targets though and Cooper should get back on track Sunday against Detroit. The Lions are strong against the run but awful versus the pass. This game has the makings of a good, old fashion shootout if the weather cooperates. Chip Kelly isn’t one to bang his head against the wall and try to run if it isn’t there. Rather, he exploits a defense’s weakness and the Lions’ weakness is in the secondary. Look for Cooper to heat up again at just the right time for fantasy owners and have a big game.
 
Jared Cook , TE St. Louis – The Cardinals are so bad at defending the tight end I’m starting to wonder if I could score against them. Last week Arizona gave up two more touchdowns to Eagles rookie Zach Ertz. I loved Cook this year and thought I was a genius after he torched the Cardinals in Week 1 for seven receptions, 141 yards and two scores. It actually would have been three touchdowns if Cook hadn’t been stripped right before crossing the goal line. Little did I know Cook’s huge game had less to do with him and more to do with Arizona being the worst defense in NFL history at defensing the tight end. Cook still does have fantasy value though. The Bears are another awful team at defending the tight end and I started Cook against them a couple of weeks ago. He responded by catching four passes for 80 yards and a touchdown. Cook has actually seen 11 targets in his last two games and with Arizona’s corners locking down the Rams’ receivers, look for him to have another big game against the Cardinals.



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