John T. Georgopoulos
The Lowdown - Week 14

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Welcome to The Lowdown for Week 14. This is my little corner of the fantasy football universe— feel free to pull up a chair and stay a while!

Weird Science

One of the bad things about fantasy football is a somewhat common occurrence: scoring the most points in a H2H league, yet still being shut out of the post-season. In one of my leagues (10-team, full IDP, Dynasty) my team finished with the most points scored yet ended up with a record of 8-5, one game out of the money. Not only was I the highest-scoring team, but the second-highest scoring team averaged 20 points a game less than my team did.

Now, when this has happened in the past it was usually explained by looking at the “Points Allowed” column and seeing that your team has been scored upon the most; not it this case. The PA column for my team was the third lowest in the league. I’m stumped as to how I’m not in the friggin’ playoffs.

My working theory is that the same guys who built Healthcare.gov built our fantasy site; I’ll let you know what my investigation turns up.


Bad for Business

At 11AM ET on Thanksgiving morning, I got an urgent email from one of my “real world” clients—which was quickly followed up by a text and then a direct-to-voicemail call. Now, this is a client of my analytics practice, so my assumption was that there was some sort of problem with one of my very expensive analytics assessments.

Turns out my assumption was wrong (never assume, kids!)— He was trying to reach me for the purpose of my giving him advice on his fantasy football lineup. Seems he was on LinkedIn.com, ran across my profile and saw that I was some alleged fantasy football “expert” and figured he’d lean on my expertise in order to get into his company’s league playoffs.

You can guess how this story turns out. All the guys I recommended (six in total) completely tanked. Guys like Nate Burleson, Chris Ogbonnaya, Jarrett Boykin and Wes Welker. In other words, he probably could have picked six random guys off the waiver wire and done better; hell, he could’ve read the fantasy advice on ESPN and done better.

And that is why I now stand before you all, humbled and testifying to the righteousness of the age-old maxim: don’t mix business with pleasure. Unless you’re an adult film star. Then mix all the business and pleasure you can handle.

Interesting Players for Week 14

Not necessarily the players in line for the biggest games this week, but rather some players that caught my interest and upon whom I shall cast my gaze…

Kendall Wright, WR - Tennessee (vs. Denver): A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned in a write-up of Delanie Walker that I also like Kendall Wright as a WR option with Ryan Fitzpatrick under center for the Titans… and nothing has happened to change my mind. Since taking over in Week 10, Fitzpatrick has shown that he likes throwing to Wright, who’s managed to put up 28/338/1 during those four games—a solid 7/85/0.25 per game, or roughly 16 PPR points per week. Throw in to the mix that the Titans will be visiting the high-scoring Broncos this week (who feature the NFL’s 29th-ranked pass defense) and the stage is set for what could be a very productive game for Wright. I have no problem bumping Wright up to WR2 status this week and neither should you.

Alex Smith, QB – Kansas City (vs. Washington): Smith has a (deserved) reputation as a game-manager, a QB that won’t lose the game for his team but isn’t likely to win it for his team either. But to simply assume that Smith is incapable of putting up some solid fantasy numbers would be a mistake. Since the Chiefs Week 10 bye, Smith has put up some solid passing numbers: 73/125/817 with a 7-2 TD/INT ratio. Certainly doesn’t remind anyone of Peyton Manning or Drew Brees but it is solid output. The other thing to note is that the teams Smith faced since the bye (San Diego, Denver twice) are currently ranked 28th and 29th against the pass, respectively. The Redskins? They’re 27th against the pass, so I’m looking for Smith to top the 300-yard passing mark for the first time this season as the Chiefs try to break out of their three-game losing streak.

Donald Brown, RB – Indianapolis (at Cincinnati): Last week’s start was long overdue for Brown, and I applaud coach Chuck Pagano for naming him the starter over the higher-profile (but under-performing) Trent Richardson. Brown had enough production against the Titans last week (15/54/1 rushing, 2/10/0 receiving) to justify his being named the starter again this week (and probably for the remainder of the season). The Bengals are pretty tough against the run (101 yds/g, 8th in the league), but they have allowed 74 receptions to opposing RBs this season—so I’m thinking Brown has a pretty good shot at matching last week’s fantasy output of 14.4 points. I’ve got Brown as my RB2 in two leagues and a flex in two others this week, so I’ve got some skin in this game.

Greg Olsen, TE – Carolina (at New Orleans): A couple of things I like about the recent play of Olsen: he’s been seeing more action from Cam Newton and also been pretty consistent. In Weeks 8-10, Olsen saw a total of 12 targets and put up 8/101/2; for the past three weeks, his output has been 15/171/2 on 24 targets—with the 15 catches being evenly distributed across the three games. Yes, he’s facing a tough Saints pass defense (#4 in the NFL) but the Saints allow an average of 4/48/0.3 to opposing TEs, which is just a shade below Olsen’s most recent three-game average.

Greg Jennings, WR – Minnesota (at Baltimore): This pick is heavily predicated on Matt Cassel being the starting QB against the Ravens this week; if Christian Ponder or Josh Freeman line up behind John Sullivan’s butt, all bets are off. Jennings’ production with Cassel this season (basically three games’ worth) were at least worth of WR3 consideration; last week’s 20.8 PPR points were the most for Jennings since Week 4’s output of 24.2 PPR points against the Steelers when his QB was… Matt Cassel. If you’re strapped for a WR this week (and going forward into your playoffs), consider Jennings.

John T. Georgopoulos is an 18-year veteran of fantasy sports journalism. John’s Fantasy Forecast series has won the prestigious Fantasy Sports Writers Association (FSWA) award for Best Series, and he’s been nominated as an FSWA Award finalist on eight occasions. You can also listen to his weekly non-sports opinions here or follow him on Twitter @ThatRiotShow .