Although it can often frustrate us, we must appreciate the insanity and unpredictability of fantasy football. The baseball and basketball genres of fantasy are very challenging and captivating as well, but seem to rely less on chance and luck. Week 15 is the second round of the playoffs in most standard fantasy football leagues. We are at the stretch in the season when an owner must count on his studs to perform in the clutch and earn respectable numbers in order to keep their teams alive.
Well, owners of Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Matt Ryan, Ben Roethlisberger and Joe Flacco may have been somewhat pleased with their quarterback’s performances last weekend, until the points that Tim Tebow, Matt Flynn and Rex Grossman earned. Yes, owners could have picked up a waiver wire quarterback in Week 15 and scored at least 25 fantasy points, which would satisfy most in this juncture of the season. Not to mention, Week 15 was the very first start of the season for each of these quarterbacks. Once again, this is just another example of the strange conundrums of our favorite hobby.
Michael Vick owners may have to visit their doctors this week for raised blood pressure after last Sunday. After a disappointing first-half performance with only a few points earned, Vick continued to build steam in the MVP conversation as he threw for more than 200 yards and accounted for four touchdowns as Philadelphia mounted an extraordinary second-half triumph.
Owners finally felt a sense of redemption for their first-round Ray Rice pick. After a subpar season thus far, Rice totaled 233 all-purpose yards along with his second multi-touchdown game of the season. Patient owners were also rewarded for stashing Vincent Jackson all season. After injuring himself in his first game back from suspension a few weeks ago, Jackson paid his owners back generously with 112 receiving yards and three touchdowns against the San Francisco 49ers.
With this merry theme of redemption and patience just in time for the holidays comes a story of polar opposite. Adrian Peterson has paid his stock owners dividends throughout the season as the third ranked running back with almost 1,400 total yards and 12 touchdowns. His numbers have been relatively consistent despite Minnesota’s struggles from both ends of the field. With a few notes on minor injuries to his knee, ankle and thigh this week, Peterson appeared to be active and a must-start despite his difficult matchup and weather conditions. In fact, most injury conversations in Minnesota were regarding whether Brett Favre would be healthy enough to start instead of backup Joe Webb.
Less than two hours before the kickoff, many fantasy owners fell into a state of panic as Peterson was declared inactive and Favre was announced as the starting quarterback. Since this was the final game of the week on Monday Night Football, the only option for Peterson owners was to snap up Toby Gerhart if he was not already handcuffed on their roster. In some leagues, owners were unable to pick up Gerhart due to their lineup already locking or league rule constraints. Frustrated owners stared at their computer screens and stat tracking programs in absolute disbelief as this last-minute announcement would cost them a playoff win and a chance to win their league’s championship. Peterson has truly been “All Day” this season, except for the most important game of the year.
Let’s take a “dive” and prepare you to bring home your league’s fantasy trophy!
– Did you ever think you would see Tebow’s name in the “Dive?” I can’t say I did either and it is difficult to recommend starting him if you are competing in the fantasy championship game this weekend. Although I would encourage you to stick to starting your studs, Kyle Orton owners may be forced to start Tebow this weekend. In his first start against a solid Oakland Raiders’ defense, Tebow threw for a modest 138 passing yards and a score, but also ran for 78 yards and a touchdown. He is obviously no Michael Vick (in more ways than you can count), but he does have a decent matchup against one of the worst secondaries that has allowed multi-touchdown games to quarterbacks every game this season except for two. I expect the rookie quarterback to shine again this weekend for his fantasy owners with 180 passing yards, 25 rushing yards and two touchdowns against the Houston Texans. This would calculate to approximately 25 points in most standard scoring leagues, which would be a very productive week!
– Once Dallas’ third option, Choice has been splitting carries almost evenly with Felix Jones while Marion Barber has been injured. Choice has averaged 92 yards over the last two games and scored in three straight. Dallas’ offense has been very productive as well with an average of over 33 points per game over the last four. With an attractive matchup against the Arizona Cardinals this weekend, Choice may be a solid flex or RB2 start in deep leagues. The Cardinals’ defense has been hideous defending running backs, who have accumulated 11 touchdowns and an average of 138 rushing yards per game. It appears that Barber may be inactive again for Saturday’s game, so look for Jones and Choice each to carry in double digits and serve as reliable options. Choice will earn 90 total yards and a touchdown against Arizona this weekend.
– Who would have ever guessed that this Moss would have twice the fantasy points of Randy Moss at this point in the season? Santana Moss cannot be counted on a consistent basis, but is a solid start against certain opponents. Whether Rex Grossman continues to captain the Redskins’ sinking ship or Donovan McNabb returns to the helm, Moss will be useful Sunday against the Jacksonville Jaguars, who have allowed more than 200 receiving yards to wide receiving corps six times this season. In his first start, Grossman showed chemistry with Moss as he targeted the receiver 13 times for eight catches, 72 yards and two touchdowns. Moss will stay hot and should be considered a strong start in most leagues as I predict 100 receiving yards and a touchdown.
– Last time I wrote about Boss, he failed me. However, 2010 is the year of the injured tight end as Dallas Clark and Jermichael Finley suffered season-ending injuries early on, and Antonio Gates has been ailing with plantar fasciitis for several weeks. These circumstances have forced many owners to look for alternatives and even stream the position by matchup. If your tight end slot needs to be filled, give Boss a try. Boss has the second-most fantasy points in the second half of the season and may be sitting on your league’s waiver wire. With touchdowns in four of his last six weeks, Boss has an intriguing matchup against the Green Bay Packers, who surrender the third-most fantasy points to tight ends. Opponents’ tight ends have scored touchdowns against Green Bay four weeks in a row with an average of five receptions and almost 75 receiving yards per game. With Eli Manning heating up last weekend and the Giants in a must-win situation, look for a suitable game from Boss. I forecast 50 receiving yards and a score, which will serve owners well in the playoffs.
– After finishing 2009 on top, the New York Jets’ defense has significantly dropped down the rankings this season. However, as many learn in the NFL, an impotent and turnover prone offense can be a chief source of adversity for even the strongest of defenses. If you skip counting their harrowing debacle against the New England Patriots in Week 13, the Jets’
defense has earned an average of 16 points in their last three games. Although the Chicago Bears looked impressive against the Minnesota Vikings on Monday Night, they rendered hardly any pressure on Jay Cutler. Cutler has still struggled when hit and hurried as he has been sacked 44 times along with 19 turnovers consisting of six lost fumbles and 13 interceptions this season. Surprisingly, the Jets rank last in interceptions. However, Rex Ryan will put his alleged “foot fetish” personal matter aside and will have his defense prepped for a snowy, freezing battle at Soldier Field this weekend. The Jets will pressure Cutler, stop the run and post 10 points.
Last week’s picks –
QB – Ben Roethlisberger
– Week 16 stats: 264 passing yards, 25 rushing yards, 1 TD
– My Prediction: 225 passing yards, 2 TD (If Roethlisberger had only thrown that game-winning touchdown! Still a fairly close match with the added pass and rush yards.)
RB – Michael Bush
– Week 16 stats: 24 rushing yards, 2 TD
– My Prediction: 75 rushing yards, 1 TD. (Not as many yards, but just as many points with two scores vultured from Darren McFadden. I’ll take it!)
WR – Deion Branch
– Week 14 stats: 33 receiving yards
– My Prediction: 100 receiving yards, 1 TD (I must have jinxed Branch. I thought this was my safest bet. Branch was a clear bust this week.)
TE – Randy McMichael
– Week 14 stats: 55 receiving yards
– My Prediction: 25 receiving yards (A near perfect match as McMichael has not been an equitable replacement for Antonio Gates, so try another option.)
DEF – Dallas Cowboys
– Week 16 stats: 10 points; 30 points allowed, 5 sacks, 2 interceptions and a fumble recovery
– My Prediction: 10 points (Perfect call on this one. They allowed a lot of points to Rex Grossman and the Washington Redskins, but were also very aggressive on defense.)