The must-win game.
There isn’t a more pressure-packed situation in sports. Sure, championship games ratchet up the butterflies a notch or six, but a win there brings with it trophies and glory. The must-win has no such reward for victory – only the chance to survive and do it all over again another day.
This week many fantasy owners can sympathize with that plight. After a long and grueling season, their playoff hopes are hanging by the proverbial thread. Get a win this week, and it’s on to the playoffs. Lose, and there’s more time to make Christmas cookies with the secret ingredient of bitterness and crushed dreams.
Surprisingly, it’s a situation the defending Super Bowl champions find themselves in as they travel to face the Jacksonville Jaguars minus their starting quarterback. After last week’s overtime loss to Kansas City, the Denver Broncos are the No. 7 seed in the AFC.
Not good when six teams make the postseason.
With Trevor Siemian on the shelf with a sprained foot, the Denver defense is going to have to carry the day even more than usual. And given the sorry state of the Jacksonville run game, that likely means a bust afternoon for Broncos cornerbacks Aqib Talib and Chris Harris.
Jacksonville wideout Allen Robinson gave the duo props while speaking to Hays Carlyon of Jacksonville.com. “Talib is a little more physical corner,” Robinson said. “Harris plays more off of his quickness. They’re both solid. They have a solid secondary and guys that can get to the quarterback up front. They’re balanced. The safeties are physical and good tacklers — pretty rangy. It’s an all-around sound secondary.”
Talib has been a matchup-dependent fantasy option throughout his career, and this week’s matchup with a Jaguars team that has allowed the second-most fantasy points to cornerbacks in 2016 has the makings of a good one – especially if you expect the Jaguars to be playing from behind.
If you can’t get a slice of Talib in Week 13, here are a few other streaming options to consider in CB-required IDP leagues.
A.J. Bouye, Houston Texans (at GB)
Bouye has spent much of this season ranked among the top corners in the NFL at Pro Football Focus, but he told Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle that he isn’t interested in analytical accolades. “I guess it’s a compliment,” Bouye said. “I try not to pay attention to that because it’s still a long season. My main thing is making sure I can make plays and help the team win and try to minimize the distractions. We know everybody looks on paper and says we don’t have all the big-name guys. We know we can play. What everybody else thinks of us really doesn’t matter. We always compete. We don’t back down from nobody.”
Bouye may not be interested in attaboys, but the fact is he’s earned them. The fourth-year pro has played well from an NFL perspective (PFF ranks him sixth among cornerbacks in pass coverage), and he’s had his moments for IDP owners as well – when the matchup’s right. This week’s Titletown tilt with a Packers team surrendering the fifth-most fantasy points per game to corners qualifies.
Kevon Seymour, Buffalo Bills (at OAK)
Seymour admitted to Jay Skurski of the Buffalo News that he faces a tall task starting in place of the injured Ronald Darby at Oakland on Sunday. “It’s a big step,” Seymour said. “Big responsibility, filling in for Darby and being that corner the team is relying on. I’m excited for it. It’s going to be a big test for all of us. We’ve got to play disciplined. Communication is key when we’re out there on the field. If you’re not communicating, it’ll all go downhill. Alignment, assignment and technique. That’s what I’ve got to do great on Sunday.”
Seymour isn’t the only player in this game who’s excited. Raiders quarterback Derek Carr is probably licking his chops at the prospects of facing Seymour, who looks to be the potential embodiment of the “rookie corner rule” in Week 13. The youngster is headed for a day of being targeted early and often by a Raiders team that has surrendered the sixth-most fantasy points per game to cornerbacks in 2016. It’s going to be a big day for Michael Crabtree, and conversely Seymour as well.
Darius Slay, Detroit Lions (at NO)
As former cornerback Ike Taylor wrote for NFL.com, Slay has been playing up to his paycheck of late. “Back in June,” Taylor said, “Darius Slay stated he wanted to get paid like a top-seven cornerback. One month later, he signed a four-year deal with the Lions worth $48 million. Four months after signing his lucrative contract, he’s starting to play like that top-seven cornerback. In the Lions’ Thanksgiving Day showdown with the Vikings, Slay picked off Sam Bradford to seal his team the victory and first place in the NFC North.”
Slay will be earning his money the hard way Sunday – travelling to New Orleans to face Drew Brees and the buzzsaw that is the Saints passing game. That INT Slay logged last week propelled him to a top-10 fantasy finish at his position. A second straight week with a pick might not be likely, but against a Saints team giving up the third-most fantasy points to the position another CB1 finish is a very real possibility.