The altitude of Estadio Azteca, where the Monday night game took place, is 7,280 feet above sea level. It’s also approximately the altitude that you were at when you jumped out of the fantasy football skydive plane at the beginning of the season. With two weeks left in the season you are dangerously close to the end. At this point you better be pulling the ripcord and settling in for a playoff landing. Otherwise, splat!
In skydiving, if you are not deploying your parachute for whatever reason you have what’s called an AAD (Automatic Activation Device), a mechanical device which automatically opens the main or reserve parachute at a set altitude as a backup for the user.
Skydivers are a nice group of people. Fantasy football owners on the other hand, well, um, not so much. There are no AAD’s in fantasy football. In fact, there are owners who will purposely sabotage your equipment so you end up impersonating a lawn dart on your freefall out of the playoffs.
When you first learn to skydive on your own (not tandem), you usually have a radio attached to you and on the other end is a very calm, smooth-voiced veteran jumper. They will tell you when to turn and when to sit back and enjoy the view, and they will talk you all the way down to the target zone to make sure you land properly and have a pleasant experience.
Fantasy football has no such owners. There are no pleasant voices. Only laughing, spiteful voices that relish in your demise. I, however, am here to offer you that voice of calm. That voice of serenity that will call to you through the frozen tundra of bad fantasy football advice. I will do my best to help you figure out just who you need off the waiver this week to set yourself up strong for the playoffs, and as always, I will start by doing so with quarterbacks.
Ryan Fitzpatrick is starting for the New York Jets this weekend! That was the headline on the scroll bar of the major sports channels and in most of my news-feeds on Monday. Fitzpatrick, who has been fantasy gold at times in his career, is available in 90 percent of leagues and is coming off of a bye week.
Some of us who had him last year when he finished inside the Top 12 in passing stats and offensive scoring for the whole season know exactly what he is capable of when he is on. So seeing that there has not been as much consistency in the quarterback position this year as we have seen in years past, if you have a need for quarterback then Fitzpatrick would be a smart, sneaky pick this week, right?
No. On second thought, Fitzpatrick has been less-than-good this season. Some people will refer to the fact that he has 13 interceptions already this season, but truthfully, nine of those came in two games. If you consider just the games after those nine, he has only had three. Unfortunately, he has only had four touchdowns in that time as well.
Fitzpatrick and the Jets offense are just not clicking this season and I really don’t expect things to change when their old nemesis, New England, comes to town next week to play. In fact, I expect it to get real ugly real fast so I would stay away from Fitzpatrick and instead consider Joe Flacco.
Flacco, who is available in 70 percent of leagues, even after I told you all to grab him last week, threw for 269 yards and a touchdown, and that was against a formidable opponent (Dallas).
This week, he does not play a formidable opponent, he plays Cincinnati. In the past, Cincinnati had a sneaky defense that could ball hawk on you and had an offense that scored and kept the pressure on you which just helped their defense that much more.
That is not the case this season. Cincinnati has been playing poorly this season and just lost A.J. Green and Giovani Bernard for the rest of the season. This is a reeling team and Flacco gets to sit back on his home turf and lead his team against a division rival who has won five times in a row dating back to the 2013 season.
Baltimore will be looking for payback and will probably get it with Flacco leading the charge. Do yourself a favor and let him lead the charge for your fantasy team as well.
Alex Smth is available in 63 percent of leagues and is a surprising sneaky pick this week. After throwing for 261 yards and a touchdown this last week, Smith has to take Kansas City up to Denver to play Denver’s incredibly tough defense.
So, why would I suggest him then? It’s more of a hunch than anything, but it is a hunch made by strong statistics. In the two games last year against the Super Bowl Champion Denver and that defense, Kansas City beat Denver once and scored a total of 53 points against them. Add that to the fact that Denver has something weird going on, as before its bye week, they allowed a total of 72 points to their opponents over a three week span.
So what I am saying is, that Kansas City always plays its divisional rival tough and Denver has been having trouble on defense lately. That all leads to that tingle in my gut that tells me Smith might be a sneaky pickup this week. If you want or need to play it safe, grab Flacco as he’s a slam dunk. But if your back is against the wall and you have no choice you could end up looking like a genius over this one.
It doesn’t take a genius to see how hurting Cincinnati is right now. There are many people talking up Rex Burkhead as a good waiver wire pick. For those of you who don’t know, Burkhead is the backup for the tandem of Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard in Cincinnati.
With Bernard now out for the year and Burkhead’s soft hands, it seems that he will be playing on third down and long down snaps that were previously Bernard’s.
It seems that he would be a perfect person to grab off of waivers, right? Wrong. Burkhead did just inherit the third down and long down snaps on a team that will be having a lot of them, but that is just the problem. The team is reeling right now and just getting worse.
Without one of the best receivers in the league, opposing defenses are going to be able to concentrate on the run and Tyler Eifert and that should be all they wrote for Cincinnati’s fantasy players. So Burkhead is certainly not your answer this week, but someone who could be is Buffalo backup Mike Gillislee.
Gillislee filled in very nicely for an injured LeSean McCoy with 72 rushing yards on 14 carries. McCoy could play this week but is very likely to be limited and he just might not suit up at all.
Gillislee is available in 74 percent of leagues and has ran for more than 60 yards in three of his last five games. Also, he is playing Jacksonville this week so if he does get the workload due to a McCoy injury you are in for a very nice week.
Last week, I told you all to stay away from Wendell Smallwood as he hadn’t shown consistent numbers this season and he was playing Seattle. Most of you must have listened because he was at 98 percent available and now he is still at 97 percent available.
The difference this week is that he is now playing Green Bay and its not-so-hot defense. Smallwood was still able to put up 79 all-purpose yards with four catches against Seattle, and Ryan Mathews and Darren Sproles both got hurt this week, so there is a chance you could be getting Smallwood on a week that he becomes the lead back going against Green Bay. I’d take those odds all day, every day.