Cody Pagels
The Weekly Barometer - Week 15

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Of course, the craziest week of the year had to go down in the first round of fantasy playoffs. Crazy weather-influenced stat lines, major injuries and a heaping helping of some good old-fashioned nuttiness sent plenty of projected favorites home. Better luck next year, Rob Gronkowski and Adrian Peterson owners. My sincere condolences go out to anyone who has Matthew Stafford or Calvin JohnsonNext time I buy a 40 of Mickey’s I’ll pour some on the ground in memory of teams that ran into the buzzsaw that is Josh McCown.

Of course, the week wasn’t all catastrophic injuries and massive flukes. At least a few things happened the way they should. Peyton Manning, LeSean McCoy, John Gordon and Jimmy Graham were predictably awesome. Buffalo’s backfield was predictably frustrating. Tom Brady was predictably dreamy. But then there were the attention-grabbing performances that can’t be easily written off as flukes or studs doing what they do. So let’s take a look at them and see who might take you to a championship this week, shall we?

Quarterbacks

Colin Kaepernick (Week 14 vs. Seattle: 175 passing yards, TD, INT, 31 rushing yards)

I hope you had better options available and didn’t actually have to start Kaepernick against Seattle. Well, the good news is things are about to get better for the man who is having the most heavily matchup-susceptible season, ever. He’ll be on the road next week, but it’ll be in warm, favorable conditions against a Tampa Bay Buccaneers team that allows the fourth-most points to quarterbacks. Then it’s a return trip home to host the equally generous Atlanta Falcons. He will spend the next two weeks atoning for his many fantasy football sins.

Will he get you the win? Yes.

Ben Roethlisberger (Week 14 vs. Miami: 349 passing yards, 3 TD, 8 rushing yards, 1 lost fumble)

Don’t look now, but Roethlisberger has put up 16 touchdowns and averaged 300 yards a game over his last six contests. Better yet, this stretch has displayed no clear pattern based on matchups or venue. It doesn’t matter if he’s home with a good matchup or on the road in a bad one, he’s getting it done most every week. For the last month-and-a-half he has been matchup-proof. In a single-elimination playoff format, single-digit points from your quarterback can and will kill you. If you fear that your current starting quarterback could potentially put up a zero in the touchdown column, Roethlisberger isn’t a bad choice as an average-upside, high-floor alternative.

Will he get you the win? Yes.

Matthew Stafford (Week 14 at Philadelphia: 148 passing yards, 1 lost fumble, 2-point conversion)

I don’t know what to say. The weather conditions and pretty much everything about that game at Philadelphia were just plain silly. There’s nothing to worry about here. Last week was his first single-digit fantasy performance of the season, and it will be his last. His next two games are within the safe indoor confines of Ford Field. If you own him and you somehow survived last week, start him and forget about it.

Will he get you the win? Yes.

Matt Ryan (Week 14 at Green Bay: 206 passing yards, 2 TD, INT)

Last week I recommended Ryan as a low-end top-12 play, and he repaid my cautious optimism with a thoroughly pedestrian 12 fantasy points. Well, I’m doubling down on a bad investment. In his defense, the windchill for his game last week at Green Bay was well less than 10 degrees, which resulted in sloppy offensive performances for both teams. This week he’s home, he’s indoors, his receivers are the healthiest they’ve been since Julio Jones first went down, and the miserably awful Washington Redskins defense is coming to town. I’ll be starting him in my money league this week.

Will he get you the win? Yes.

Running Backs

Montee Ball (Week 14 vs. Tennessee: 77 rushing yards, TD, 3 receptions, 10 yards)

Over the past few weeks, Ball has actually managed to carve out a steady role in this offense. He’s still clearly behind Knowshon Moreno in terms of starter status and backfield touches, and being the second back on an extremely pass-heavy attack inherently caps his upside. However, Ball is extremely talented, he’s a good bet for double-digit touches, and he’s playing for one of the best offenses in the history of the sport. Moreno would have to get injured for Ball to be a top-10 play, but as it is he’s usable as a low-end RB2 with upside.

Will he get you the win? Yes.

New England Patriots Running Backs

Shane Vereen is a no-brainer start. The real question here is which if any of the other backs on the roster are worth using. In a word, none. The matchup against Miami is good, but I don’t know how you can trust LeGarrette Blount or Stevan Ridley. Blount’s talent deficiencies and coach Bill Belichick’s lack of confidence in Ridley kills either back’s chances of a full workload, and Vereen’s dominance of passing down work cuts into their production even more. If forced to start one of them, Ridley is the clear winner, but avoid both if possible.

Will they get you the win? Yes for Vereen, no for the others.

Shonn Greene (Week 14 at Denver: 46 rushing yards, 2 TD)

This is a player in a pure vulture role. If he isn’t stealing touchdowns inside the 5-yard line, there’s just nothing there. He isn’t the kind of player who maximizes his touches. He really only has value when he’s getting more than 20 carries a week, and seeing as how it’s rare for him to get the rock even 10 times, the only appeal he has is as a handcuff for Chris Johnson owners. There are rumblings that the Titans won’t bring Johnson back next season and Greene might get more of the load the last three weeks to get a better look at him, but I need more than conjecture to justify a start in one of the most important weeks of the fantasy season.

Will he get you the win? No.

Ryan Mathews (Week 14 vs. New York Giants: 103 rushing yards, TD, 3 receptions, 32 yards)

There’s not too much to be said about Mathews this week, except that he’s absolutely worth a start. He’s got four double-digit fantasy performances in his last five outings, and another good matchup this week. There’s some inherent risk here since Mathews, who has never exactly been the picture of durability, has the short Thursday turnaround after a game where he had more than 30 touches. But on the plus side, Denver’s defense should be softened up by the short rest as well. There’s enough to like to ride him as a high-end RB2.

Will he get you the win? Yes.



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