There is so much to love about this time of year from a fantasy football perspective as the playoffs are in full swing.
There is also so much to hate about this time of year as seven months of draft preparations and lineup decisions can all come to an abrupt end with a loss. It especially hurts when top-tier players lay an egg at this crucial time of year.
That brings us to the carnage that was Week 14 of the NFL season and the oh so many players that put up underwhelming numbers (I am being kind).
Sit back and enjoy (or choke on) this list of top names that failed to score at least 10-points last week in point per reception (PPR) scoring formats. Marcus Mariota, Thomas Rawls, Jay Ajayi, Spencer Ware, Tyrell Williams, Mike Evans, Brandon Marshall and Michael Crabtree.
Wait. It gets better (or worse). Here are the big names that failed to top five points in PPR scoring. Ben Roethlisberger, Derek Carr, Devonta Freeman, Mark Ingram, Melvin Gordon, Larry Fitzgerald, Kelvin Benjamin and Dez Bryant.
Ouch. If you managed to pull out a victory last week then enjoy it immensely as that was one of the worst fantasy performances weeks that I can remember and I’m pretty freaking old.
That being said we press on regardless and bring you this week’s edition of the Start/Bench article.
Time to Thin the Herd
Russell Wilson– Chances are that if Wilson was your starting quarterback you may no longer be playing the 2016 fantasy football season. Wilson has been absolutely awful in two of the past three games and is coming off a five-interception game. In his past three games, Wilson has thrown two touchdowns and eight interceptions. There’s no way to keep Wilson listed among the ‘studs’ with the downward spiral he’s been on.
Dak Prescott– Trust me folks, I’m not demoting the rookie just because the Cowboys lost to the Giants last week. Prescott has been trending in the wrong direction for the past three games completing just 58% (he was completing 67% through Week-11) of his passes with four total touchdowns and three turnovers. Those numbers land Prescott outside the top-20 scoring for fantasy quarterbacks and he’s no longer a weekly must start.
Philip Rivers– The Chargers offense just lost running back Melvin Gordon for at least a week or two and will now rely even more heavily on Rivers. Over the last six games Rivers has 14 touchdowns and has turned the ball over 16 times. This offense is a dumpster fire that has lost too many quality offensive weapons for Rivers to continue to hold ‘stud’ status.
Russell Wilson, SEATTLE vs. Los Angeles- Yes. I realize Wilson has been awful in two of the past three games and very few teams are likely to still be in the playoffs if they started him last week. That being said, he has such a great matchup at home this week that it’s worth rolling him out if you are still alive in the playoffs. The Rams just fired their head coach and have been getting pounded by opposing quarterbacks. In the last three games, they have allowed an average of 271 passing yards per game and nine total scores to the quarterback position.
Tyrod Taylor, BUFFALO vs. Cleveland- We always chase the Browns defense and that continues in Week 15. We liked Andy Dalton last week against this defense and he rewarded us with a top-10 fantasy performance. Taylor managed to salvage a decent Week 14 against the Steelers finishing with 230 total yards and a pair of passing touchdowns. The Browns are simply a bad defensive team having allowed five passing scores in the last two games while not intercepting a pass since Week 10. Taylor should easily reach top-10 scoring totals using both his arm and legs this week.
Cam Newton, CAROLINA at Washington- While Newton hasn’t had the production in 2016 that many pundits (myself included) predicted, he does have a Week 15 matchup that he can exploit. The Washington defense is allowing an average of 275 passing yards per game and has given up 21 total touchdowns to quarterbacks. Newton should be able to do some damage with his ability to run the ball as Washington allows 5.1 yards per carry to quarterbacks and has given up three rushing touchdowns to the position. The Redskins have managed to intercept only eight passes this season so Cam is likely to keep the turnover total low as well.
Kirk Cousins, WASHINGTON vs. Carolina- This game has the makings of a high-scoring affair and we want to continue to ride the hot hand here with Cousins. He has put up at least two touchdowns in eight straight games and is facing a Carolina defense that is playing well below the level they were at in 2015. In the past four games, the Panthers are giving up an average of 281 passing yards per game and have allowed quarterbacks to post at least two scores in three of those games. Cousins has been connecting with DeSean Jackson for big plays and will likely have a healthier Jordan Reed to utilize as well. Wait for it…”We like that!”
Matthew Stafford, DETROIT at NY Giants- We got a glimpse of what it looks like to be a starting quarterback with a hand issue in cold weather last week with Derek Carr against the Kansas City Chiefs. It wasn’t pretty and Carr was very inaccurate to say the least. Stafford will be facing the same situation as the Lions play at New York and he has both thumb and finger issues on his throwing hand. The Giants just handled a healthy Dak Prescott last week and I’m not risking starting Stafford in this condition at playoff time.
Andy Dalton, CINCINNATI vs. Pittsburgh- These inter-division showdowns tend to be hard hitting somewhat defensive affairs with weather a possible factor at this time of year. We liked Dalton because of the juicy matchup last week and are wary of starting him for the same reason in this game. The Steelers have been clamping down on quarterbacks over the last five games having allowed just seven touchdown passes while posting six interceptions. In his last four regular season games against Pittsburgh, Dalton has four touchdowns and six turnovers.
Eli Manning, NY GIANTS vs. Detroit- There have been a couple of ‘Bad Eli’ games down the stretch that makes it a good idea to look elsewhere during the fantasy playoffs. In the last two weeks, Manning hasn’t reached 200 passing yards while throwing only three touchdowns and turning the ball over five times. It may surprise some people but the Lions defense has been among the stingiest to quarterbacks over the last four games. In that time, they have given up just three touchdown passes and put up six interceptions. There are better options than Manning this week.
Jameis Winston, TAMPA BAY at Dallas- The Buccaneers have found a winning formula of late and it involves running the football while playing very good defense. That caps Winston’s value from a fantasy perspective as he’s not being asked to do a whole lot. In a prime matchup against the New Orleans Saints last week, he finished with 184 passing and 200 total yards without a touchdown. Winston has posted more than a single score just once in the past four games. No thanks.