We all have different definitions of fulfilling our “patriotic duty,” which can include exercising the right to vote, serving in the military or buying products made in America. Tom Brady and New England fulfilled their patriotic duty last Monday by handing their division rival, the New York Jets, their worst loss in 24 years. Brady served his fantasy owners to another monster performance with 326 yards and four touchdowns.
Hype continued to build all week as the top teams (along with the Atlanta Falcons) prepared to clash in front of the entire country in primetime on Monday Night Football. A clash it wasn’t, as New England “released the kraken” against the Jets’ highly touted defense. After a rough start this season, the Jets’ secondary, led by (Darrelle) Revis Island seemed to adjust, as they have allowed no more than one passing touchdown in the previous three games until they arrived in Foxborough. Even the trash talking, overly confident Rex Ryan admitted it was the “biggest butt whipping” he had taken as a coach as the wheels seemed to fall off of the offense, defense and special teams. Coach Bill Belichick and the Patriots served Ryan a slice of humble pie as they avenged their Week 2 loss and currently sit atop the division and as they peak at just the right time.
Hopefully, your team also humbled your opponent last weekend as most fantasy regular seasons concluded. If not, then you may be fighting for the unimportant consolation trophy among the rest of your league’s losers. As the fantasy playoffs begin this week, it is imperative to research each matchup, scan the waiver wire and even check the weather for your player’s games. Kickers do not necessarily face matchup challenges, but rather weather obstacles, as some will be forced to kick outside in bitter cold and windy weather this weekend.
As much as you analyze your team in hopes of advancing to the semifinals, even the most accurate experts cannot predict some of the strange flukes that occur each week such as last weekend’s Dwayne Bowe disappearance or Marshawn Lynch’s hat trick. Conundrums like this bring luck and surprise to a hobby inundated with analytics and forecasts. It’s playoff time, so take a dive with me as we hope to carry our teams another week.
– Joe “Cool” has had a strong season with the 10th-most fantasy points at his position, but is still not considered in the elite tier of Tom Brady, Philip Rivers and Aaron Rodgers. However, the Ravens’ quarterback should be flying high this week against the Houston Texans.
Houston has allowed the most passing yards and touchdowns in the league. In fact, quarterbacks have scored at least 24 points in four of the last five games. Before you go “wacko for Flacco” this week, please note his split stats for home and away games. Flacco is near flawless at home with 11 touchdowns and one interception, but has struggled away from Baltimore with eight touchdowns and seven interceptions. I still recommend Flacco this week since he is likely your top quarterback, but do not expect anything huge this Monday. I predict a modest 225 passing yards and two touchdowns, which is still very strong.
– Apparently, coach Tom Coughlin and the rest of the world have entirely different definitions of “starter.” After announcing Brandon Jacobs as the starting running back and demoting Bradshaw in Week 12, Jacobs has received 22 carries to Bradshaw’s 34. However, both backs have been productive and each scored a pair of touchdowns against Washington last weekend.
Bradshaw has been an absolute force running and receiving this year, averaging 104 total yards per game. Bradshaw will attempt to run through the Minnesota Vikings this week, which used to be one of the league’s most-feared run defenses. Minnesota has stopped the run lately, as the Vikings have not allowed a rushing touchdown or double-digit fantasy points to a running back since Week 8. Nevertheless, I think the talented duo of Jacobs and Bradshaw will post decent numbers again this week. Obviously, Bradshaw has more value in points-per-reception leagues due to his pass-catching abilities. In a tough matchup, Bradshaw can still be counted on for 100 total yards and a score.
– Owners of “T.O.” this season have been pleasantly surprised, as Owens has completely outproduced teammate Chad Ochocinco. In standard fantasy leagues, Owens is currently ranked sixth-best among wide receivers, ahead of earlier drafted receivers including Reggie Wayne, Miles Austin, DeSean Jackson, Marques Colston, Randy Moss, Andre Johnson and Larry Fitzgerald.
Owens will have a rematch against Pittsburgh this weekend, which he scorched for 10 catches, 141 yards, and two touchdowns in Week 9. Sitting at 2-10, Cincinnati will try to play spoiler this weekend in Pittsburgh, where rain and snow are expected. Due to weather constraints, Owens should not be expected to replicate his last performance, but owners should still anticipate production near 100 receiving yards and a touchdown.
– It is puzzling how the veteran tight end has experienced one of his most productive seasons in one of the worst passing offenses, especially when he previously received passes from Tom Brady. Regardless, Watson rewarded his faithful owners with another gem last weekend as he hauled in 10 receptions for 100 yards and a score. In points per reception leagues, he earned an impressive 26 points! That was more points than any Cleveland Cavalier put up against Lebron last week.
Week 14 is an attractive matchup for Watson against the Buffalo Bills, who have surrendered the second-most yards and most touchdowns to tight ends this season. With New England last season, Watson scored two touchdowns against Buffalo and should have another quality performance this weekend. Although Buffalo has improved in the second half of the season guarding tight ends, Watson will receive 80 yards and a touchdown.
– The Buccaneers’ defense has been quite average this season with strengths in stopping the run, but vulnerability against the pass. However, they may be worth a look if your current defense faces a powerful offense this week. Tampa Bay faces the Washington Redskins’ 20th-ranked offense this week that has given up at least 10 fantasy points to opposing defenses over the last six weeks. Look at the Buccaneers this week if you need to stream a defense as I expect a nice, even 10-point performance.
Last week’s picks:
– Week 13 stats: 196 passing yards, 1 TD
– My Prediction: 300 passing yards and two touchdowns (I overshot this one as Cassel cooled down, but still posted 15 points)
RB – Mike Goodson
– Week 13 stats: 19 rushing yards, 1 TD
– My Prediction: 100 total yards and a touchdown (If Goodson had not hurt his shoulder, this may have occurred. At least he still got in the end zone!)
WR – Blair White
– Week 13 stats: 32 receiving yards
– My Prediction: 40 receiving yards and a touchdown (White did not get in the end zone this week. He is a questionable start as Pierre Garcon, Reggie Wayne and Jacob Tamme still receive the bulk of work)
TE – Kevin Boss
– Week 13 stats: 28 receiving yards
– My Prediction: 60 receiving yards and a touchdown (No excuses here. Boss is not a dependable play)
DEF – San Diego Chargers
– Week 13 stats: 2 points, 1 sack, 1 fumble recovery
– My Prediction: 12 fantasy points in standard leagues (This was the most shocking miss. The Chargers’ defense looked apathetic and uninspired against the Oakland Raiders, but they are still a must start)
I hope that you now feel better prepared for your playoff match. Hopefully you have a bye this week and can just watch this weekend’s games. Good luck in Week 14!