Wednesday - Sep 23, 2020

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COUCH TOMATOES: Insights to a better playoff lineup

Warning: Reading this column about fantasy football can be hazardous to your health. If you cannot handle humor and satire, mixed in with a few juicy tidbits of NFL facts, this may not be for you. But if you are ready — read on my friends.

Have you ever reviewed a close loss and gotten upset that you had DeAndre Hopkins and Allen Robinson in your lineup and they were outscored by some guy named Taylor Gabriel and another nobody named Dontrelle Inman? And then you see somebody you never heard of in your opponents flex position. Who the heck is Tyreek Hill? That software said you had the best draft in the league, hands down. What went wrong?

As in all walks of life, what have you done for me lately is heard a lot. In fantasy football we see a player one way and we tend to stereotype him forever. Sometimes we are right, but many times we are dead wrong. We dub people as studs with one good season coupled usually with a good college pedigree. And of course as careers wind down, we go into a defensive denial. No way can Calvin Johnson be slowing down? Brett Favre will play forever. Whoops, maybe Favre is a bad example here.

Yet, this year you see relatively unknown guys like Taylor Gabriel and Tyreek Hill exploding onto the scene. Gabriel has a prolific quarterback in Matt Ryan, but Alex Smith has been known to go for weeks at a time between touchdowns to wide receivers. Tyreek Hill is one of the top rookie wide receivers despite that.

When you discover that tip of the iceberg and look further, you find interesting things. And remember, knowledge is what makes you a winner. And yes my friends, getting into the numbers can yield surprising results.

For years now, I have contended that teams and players, despite the relative brevity of a 16-game season, have multiple seasons within the season. You have an Adrian Peterson who gets hurt, but may come back to help finish the playoff drive. Russell Wilson has come from being down for the eight-count to getting up and leading his team to a runaway division title.

When I look at rankings and projections through the course of a season, I see a lot of players who should be performing better, ranked on reputation as opposed to current production. Players go down the rankings ladder a lot slower than they should and going up is fighting resistance all the way. I am seriously thinking there needs to be more fluidity. We are all told to start our studs and over the last couple years I have started to dabble with a radical concept — so who is really a stud?

I have listed players by position as our six-pack this week. It is totally a listing of players based on average fantasy points per game over the last three weeks, 10-12. I also included a status column to show injury questions we need to be careful of, as well as showing who is on bye this week.

There are certain anomalies that cropped up. Obviously, Matt Barkley is in no way, shape or form a top quarterback. His ranking is skewed by only playing in one game.

This whole concept is to find another component to include in an overall ranking by player and perhaps even projections. I used three weeks arbitrarily and it could be anywhere from about 2-5 in my mind. Other factors such as health, opponents, weather and yes, even overall studliness need to be included in the analysis.

In this brief analysis, I am showing a different way of looking at players. After all, would you rather have a red hot unknown player or an ice cold stud (???) in your lineup as you prepare for your biggest game of the year?

At the end of the week, the person with the highest score wins. Is it really important to you what pedigree your winning players have? To get the highest score possible you need the best players to be in each lineup slot. For those using you have probably noticed that the power rankings show a percentage of points scored to maximum points possible. I would bet that all of us have room for improvement. You might be surprised to see how much better your team could be if you were playing the right combination of players you have right now on your roster under your control.

What do you think? Do you have any ideas about how to merge this concept into a way of computing a player ranking, reality style? Email me at

Playing to win with this week’s Couch Six Pack

The following six tables are the quarterback, running back, wide receiver, tight end, kicker and defense/special tams rankings described above. Please do not use them literally as a blanket statement as to how the players are ranked on any sort of long-term basis. Imagine them as a snapshot capturing a part of their value based strictly on a “what he has done lately premise.”

Please be sure to use them only to make decisions on your lineup that includes the normal factors and rankings that you use. This is a very early prototype evaluation tool and is to be used in that context only.

QB Rank               Name Team Status
1 Rodgers, Aaron GB Q
2 Cousins, Kirk Was
3 Brees, Drew NO
4 Kaepernick, Colin SF
5 Mariota, Marcus Ten Bye Week 13
6 Siemian, Trevor Den Q
7 Barkley, Matt Chi
8 Prescott, Dak Dal
9 Carr, Derek Oak
10 Wilson, Russell Sea
11 Rivers, Philip SD
12 Brady, Tom NE Q
13 Tannehill, Ryan Mia
14 Newton, Cam Car
15 Luck, Andrew Ind Q
16 Roethlisberger, Ben  Pit
17 Fitzpatrick, Ryan NYJ
18 Winston, Jameis TBB
19 Manning, Eli NYG
20 Bortles, Blake Jac
21 Flacco, Joe Bal
22 Palmer, Carson Ari
23 Ryan, Matt Atl
24 Dalton, Andy Cin


RB Rank               Name Team Status
1 Bell, Le’Veon Pit
2 Johnson, David Ari
3 Elliott, Ezekiel Dal
4 McCoy, LeSean Buf
5 Murray, DeMarco Ten Bye Week 13
6 Prosise, C.J. Sea Q
7 Mathews, Ryan Phi Q
8 Freeman, Devonta Atl
9 Kelley, Rob WAS Was
10 Ingram, Mark NO Q
11 Murray, Latavius Oak Q
12 Gordon, Melvin SD
13 Hightower, Tim NO
14 Jennings, Rashad NYG
15 Blount, LeGarrette NE
16 Starks, James GB
17 Powell, Bilal NYJ
18 Riddick, Theo Det Q
19 Miller, Lamar Hou Q
20 Howard, Jordan Chi
21 Stewart, Jonathan Car
22 Martin, Doug TB
23 Ivory, Chris Jac Q
24 Hyde, Carlos SF
25 Gurley, Todd LA
26 Hill, Jeremy Cin
27 Ajayi, Jay Mia
28 Booker, Devontae Ben
29 Ware, Spencer KC
30 White, James NE
31 Forte, Matt NYJ
32 Asiata, Matt Min
33 Crowell, Isaiah Cle Bye Week 13
34 West, Terrance Bal
35 Gore, Frank Ind
36 Olawale, Jamize Oak
WR Rank               Name Team Status
1 Brown, Antonio Pit
2 Williams, Tyrell SD Q
3 Beckham, Odell NYG
4 Bryant, Dez Dal
5 Gabriel, Taylor Atl
6 Nelson, Jordy GB
7 Baldwin, Doug Sea
8 Sanders, Emmanuel Den
9 Diggs, Stefon Min Q
10 Evans, Mike TB
11 Adams, Davante GB
12 Hill, Tyreek KC
13 Edelman, Julian NE Q
14 Jackson, DeSean Was
15 Matthews, Rishard Ten Bye Week 13
16 Thomas, Mike NO
17 Thomas, Demaryius Den
18 Crowder, Jamison Was
19 Inman, Dontrelle SD
20 Ginn Jr., Ted Car
21 Smith, Steve Bal
22 Fitzgerald, Larry Ari
23 Parker, DeVante Mia Q
24 Jones, Julio Atl
25 Wilson, Marquess Chi
26 Garcon, Pierre Was
27 Moncrief, Donte Ind
28 Boldin, Anquan Set
29 Snead, Willie NO
30 Hilton, T.Y. Ind Q
31 Pryor, Terrelle Cle Bye Week 13
32 Britt, Kenny LA
33 Mitchell, Malcolm NE
34 Thielen, Adam Min
35 Robinson, Allen Jac
36 Lee, Marqise Jac
37 Benjamin, Kelvin Car Q
38 Marshall, Brandon NYJ
39 Stills, Kenny Mia
40 Beasley, Cole Dal
41 Sharpe, Tajae Ten Bye Week 13
42 Enunwa, Quincy NYJ
43 Brown, Daniel Chi
44 Landry, Jarvis Mia
45 Crabtree, Michael Oak Q
46 Shepard, Sterling NYG
47 Watkins, Sammy Buf Q
48 Matthews, Jordan Phi Q
49 Cooper, Amari Oak
50 Hopkins, DeAndre Hou
TE Rank               Name Team Status
1 Reed, Jordan Was Q
2 Walker, Delanie Ten Bye Week 13
3 Kelce, Travis KC
4 Eifert, Tyler Cin
5 Rudolph, Kyle Min
6 Cook, Jared GB
7 Graham, Jimmy Sea Q
8 Brate, Cameron TB
9 Ertz, Zach Phi
10 Gresham, Jermaine Ari Q
11 Miller, Zach Chi
12 McDonald, Vance SF
13 Henry, Hunter SD
14 Fiedorowicz, C.J. Hou Q
15 Thomas, Julius Jac
16 Davis, Vernon Was
17 Walford, Clive Oak
18 Witten, Jason Dal
19 Bennett, Martellus NE Q
20 Fleener, Coby NO
21 Olsen, Greg Car
22 Gates, Antonio SD
23 Ebron, Eric Det
24 Kendricks, Lance LA
K Rank               Name Team Status
1 McManus, Brandon Den
2 Tucker, Justin Bal
3 Bryant, Matt Atl
4 Bailey, Dan Dal
5 Prater, Matt Det
6 Hopkins, Dustin Was
7 Santos, Cairo KC
8 Succop, Ryan Ten Bye Week 13
9 Catanzaro, Chandler Ari
10 Hauschka, Steven Sea
11 Janikowski, Sebastian Oak
12 Aguayo, Roberto TB
13 Novak, Nick Hou
14 Dawson, Phil SF
15 Crosby, Mason GB
16 Gostkowski, Stephen NE
17 Sturgis, Caleb Phi
18 Myers, Jason Jac
D/ST Rank                     Name Status
1 Buccaneers, Tampa Bay
2 Steelers, Pittsburgh
3 Lions, Detroit
4 Giants, New York
5 Dolphins, Miami
6 Chiefs, Kansas City
7 Ravens, Baltimore
8 Raiders, Oakland
9 Vikings, Minnesota
10 Panthers, Carolina
11 Rams, Los Angeles
12 Broncos, Denver
13 Chargers, San Diego
14 Seahawks, Seattle
15 Saints, New Orleans
16 Titans, Tennessee Bye Week 13
17 Texans, Houston
18 Bengals, Cincinnati

When we play fantasy football we are so busy with our teams that we forget about the football game as a whole. Be sure to remember that the answers to our fantasy football questions can usually be found within the numbers. And if all else fails, feel free to ask me. You can reach me at All fantasy football questions are welcome.

Good luck! Have fun!

About Mike Nease

Mike Nease is a member of the FSWA and has been playing the game since 1985, while also writing about it since 2001. Over the years he has sampled about all the playing scenarios that fantasy football offers, including re-drafter, keeper, dynasty, auction, IDP and salary cap leagues. He and his wife Bonnie reside in West Chicago, IL You can contact Mike at anytime and during the football season follow him @mikeinsights.