Where has the year gone? With each passing week, the fantasy season draws to an end. You are happy because the playoffs will be here but in just three weeks time, that will be over assuming you’re not knocked out in the first round which drives you crazy when your players break out for a great game and you don’t benefit from it. I’ve had plenty of seasons where my teams stunk it up in the first round but then posted great stats the following week, when it doesn’t matter anymore. Just another thing you deal with in the world of fantasy football.
It’s never too early to look ahead as I’ve stated in past articles. If you’re looking to play fantasy football for years to come, you have to always be preparing. Not just for the games on your schedule but for the following year. Even if you only play in redraft leagues, you can benefit from knowing what to expect next year. This will start your list of sleepers.
Future Player Spotlight:
Leon Washington, RB, Jets
will be a free agent in 2010. How will he turn out … 2008’s Michael Turner or 2005’s LaMont
Teams Spotlight: 2009 Draft at a Glance
It is never too early to think about 2009 even if you are not in a keeper or dynasty league. Here are the bottom five teams in the league that will most likely have top picks heading into the 2009 NFL Draft. These are just some of the interesting scenarios that will affect fantasy situations next year.
32nd: Lions 0-10. Regardless if the Lions win a game or not won’t change the fact that they will have the top spot in the 2009 draft. Baring a resurgence of Daunte Culpepper lighting it up with Calvin Johnson to throw a monkey wrench in other teams playoff hopes, it is safe to say they are on the clock. With that said the Lions who have Culpepper, Jon Kitna, Drew Stanton and Dan Orvlosky could shed three of these QBs in the offseason and draft a QB with their first selection. The problem is there isn’t any franchise-type QBs coming out.
31st: Bengals 1-9-1. The Bengals are a team with no direction right now. Carson Palmer will likely shut it down and may have surgery to heal his elbow. Next year they will not need a QB but may find themselves thin at WR and RB. The RB situation has been bad since Rudi Johnson got injured and then went to the Lions. There hasn’t been balance to the offense and they may even have a new coach next year. This may be another team that would like to move down and get extra picks to improve their defense and maybe replace a WR or two. Big changes this offseason.
30th: Raiders 2-8. The mess that is the Raiders can not be fixed in 2009. They have too much money tied up in JaMarcus Russell and Darren McFadden to draft a QB or RB next year. Selecting and paying another high priced draft pick will put a strain on Oakland’s salary cap and I see this team dumping players to clear cap space. Javon Walker will be let go as well as a few others which will leave the Raiders with even more holes to fill. The smart thing to do would be to trade down but in recent year it has been difficult for teams to move from the top of the draft. Who they take depends on who is left on the roster heading into the draft.
29th: Chiefs 1-9. Herm Edwards has been running the rebuilding mode for awhile so it may be safe to assume he will return and continue the process. What the Chiefs do in the draft may depend on how well Tyler Thigpen continues to perform. Over the past few weeks he has been a bright surprise for this team. If he continues to play well, the QB selection will fall a few rounds for this team. They still have a lot of holes to fill, especially if Tony Gonzalez leaves the team.
28th: Rams 2-8. Jim Haslett has taken over and for awhile it looked as if the Rams were turning the corner to salvage their season some. Not so after the Jets game. If he stays on, he will have just as many changes to make as the Raiders and Lions. What they decided to do in the draft depends on what they think of Marc Bulger. He is signed through 2013. Steven Jackson signed a sixyear extension this year. This leaves the Rams looking at offensive line or the secondary.
Also in the mix are the Seahawks 2-8, 49ers 3-7, Texans 3-7 and Browns 3-6.
Here are the Top 10 fantasy players over the past three weeks.
Top 10 QBs
Based on Shark League scoring
1. Matt Cassel NEP 10th last week
2. Kurt Warner ARI 1st last week
3. Tyler Thigpen KCC 2nd last week
4. Jay Cutler DEN 8th last week
6. Donovan McNabb PHI 3rd last week
7. Joe Flacco BAL 5th last week
8. Kerry Collins TEN New
9. Matt Ryan ATL 7th last week
10. Aaron Rodgers GBP New
Top Ten RBs
Based on Shark League scoring
1. Thomas Jones NYJ 1st last week
2. Adrian Peterson MIN 3rd last week
3. Maurice Jones-Drew JAC 7th last week
4. Brandon Jacobs NYG 6th last week
5. Matt Forte CHI New
6. Michael Turner ATL 10th last week
7. Kevin Smith DET 8th last week
8. Ryan Grant GBP New
9. Ronnie Brown MIA New
10. Marshawn Lynch BUF New
Top Ten WRs
Based on Shark League scoring
1. Anquan Boldin ARI 1st last week
2. Larry Fitzgerald ARI 5th last week
3. Eddie Royal DEN WR 9th last week
4. Calvin Johnson DET 7th last week
5. Derrick Mason BAL New
6. Reggie Wayne
7. Hines Ward PIT New
8. Dwayne Bowe KCC New
9. Wes Welker NEP New
10. Mark Bradley KCC 4th last week
Top Ten TEs
Based on Shark League scoring
1. Tony Gonzalez KCC 1st last week
2. Kellen Winslow CLE 3rd last week
3. Dustin Keller NYJ 7th last week
4. Bo Scaife TEN 6th last week
5. Kevin Boss NYG 4th last week
6. Dallas Clark IND 2nd last week
7. Owen Daniels HOU 8th last week
8. Ben Watson NEP New
9. Chris Cooley WAS 9th last week
10. Todd Heap BAL New
Top Ten Ks
Based on Shark League scoring
1. Phil Dawson CLE 2nd last week
2. Jay Feely NYJ 1st last week
3. Neil Rackers ARI 9th last week
4. Mason Crosby GBP New
5. Stephen Gostkowski NEP 6th last week
6. David Akers PHI 4th last week
8. Dan Carpenter MIA 3rd last week
9. Jason Elam ATL New
10. Jeff Reed PIT New
Top Ten DEFs
Based on Shark League scoring
1. Jets NYJ 1st last week
2. Cardinals ARI 8th last week
3. Giants NYG 2nd last week
4. Packers GBP New
5. Falcons ATL 4th last week
6. Steelers PIT 10th last week
7. Raiders OAK New
8. Dolphins MIA 5th last week
9. Jaguars JAC 7th last week
10. Ravens BAL 3rd last week
Removed from list: Texans, HOU; Seahawks, SEA
The Golden Mug Award
Awarded to the fantasy player who came through for their team.
Matt Cassel – 30/51, 400 PaYDs, 3 PaTDs; 8 car. for 62 RuYDs and one 2-PT conversion.
Marshawn Lynch – 23 car for 119 RuYds; 10 rec. for 58 Rec YDs, 1 ReTD. Lynch put in his best fantasy performance of the season going over 100 RuYDs for the first time this year and rewarding his owners who have struggled with him with a good performance. If he can be consistent down the stretch he may help teams out. This was just the third time since Week 3 that hes posted more than 14 FTPs in a game. Next three games are against the Chiefs, 49ers and Dolphins so expect some good stats heading into the playoffs.
T.J. Houshmandzadeh – 12 rec. for 149 ReYDs, 1 ReTD. Housh posted his second 100+ receiving game since Week 3 when he posted 146 ReYDs and a ReTD. He leads the team in receptions and will be the main receiver again this week. The schedule gets tough for him as he faces the Ravens, Colts and Redskins. If Chad Johnson misses more games, it will add more double team coverage. Trade him while you still can.
The Urinal Cake Award
Awarded to the fantasy player who you would like to, well you know.
Antonio Gates – 2 rec. for 10 ReYDs. Gates is the second-best TE on the year behind Tony Gonzalez and is on pace to match or surpass his TD totals from last year. Last week he only saw five targets. Still he has three ReTDs over the past five games and is averaging 13.2 FTPs in that stretch. Next three games are against the Colts, Falcons and Raiders.
BenJarvus Green-Ellis – 2 car. for 9 RuYDs. What happened to the one of the best waiver pick ups over the past five weeks? Green-Ellis was posting great stats as a fill in until last week. Was it because Matt Cassel was lighting it up or because Sammy Morris is getting healthier? Green-Ellis Morris and Kevin Faulk combined for just 10 carries with Faulk getting eight of them. I would only hold on to Green-Ellis if you have space for him but keep an eye on the other RBs before you decided to put him in your lineup.
Willis McGahee– 9 car. for 18 RuYDs. What you talkin’ bout Willis? After not playing in Week 9, he posted his best game of the season in Week 10 with 112 RuYDs and two RuTDs. Owners may have been cautious with him last week as the Ravens played the Giants but this is still a let down and cause for concern as he left the game with an ankle injury. Two tough matchups coming up as he faces the Eagles, Bengals and Redskins.
Donavan McNabb – not because he didn’t know the game could end in a tie, but by saying it would be bad if a playoff game or Super Bowl ended in a tie. Come on man that just sounded really dumb.
Oh No Ocho! With another Thursday game, it is a tough matchup for the Bengals facing the Steelers on a short week with out Chad Johnson (who has been benched for this game) and who knows if there is more turmoil to come. The Steelers should control this game and win easily while doubling T.J. Houshmandzadeh all night.
The matchups I like this week for QBs:
Kyle Orton against the Rams. Orton was one of the top QBs prior to his injury and played subpar last week. He gets a chance to get back on track against a Rams team that has no fight in them. The Rams are giving up 233.7 (24th) PaYDs per game and are allowing 31.7 ppg. (31st) on the year. Over the past three games they have given up 38.6 ppg. with 15 PaTDs (23rd) and just six INTs. Although the Bears are tied for the division lead, they need Orton to play well in order to have a chance at making the playoffs.
Trent Edwards against the Chiefs. Edwards was horrible on Monday Night Football as he threw for just 148 PaYDs and one PaTD while serving up four INTs. He did get his first RuTD of his career which helped ease the pain of the negative points his INTs caused. This week he needs to play flawless to prevent getting benched and to save the Bills’ season as they have now lost four in a row. The Chiefs have lost six in a row but they have managed to keep the last four games close as those games have been decided by an average of 4.5 points. However, they gave up 27 ppg. in those four games with 27.3 (23rd) ppg. on the year. The Chiefs allow 237.1 PaYDs (27th) a game with 15 PaTDs (9th).
Aaron Rodgers against the Saints. Rodgers has been a little up and down all year as we saw with a bad game against the Vikings and then a good game against the Bears. This week he plays on the road but won’t have to deal with bad weather. He faces the Saints who have given up at least 30 or more points in three of the past four games and averaged 23.8 points allowed in those games. They surrender 235.2 (26th) PaYDs a game with 16 PaTDs allowed (26th) to just seven INTs.
The matchups I like this week for RBs:
Jamal Lewis against the Texans. With the injury to Brady Quinn’s finger, the Browns may get conservative to limit the chance for turnovers and to control the clock. The Texans are a good team to keep it on the ground on as they allow 132.5 (24th) RuYDs per game and have given up 15 RuTDs (27th). If you’re using Lewis as a RB3 or incase of an injury, this would be a good start for him.
Warrick Dunn against the Lions. Earnest Graham has been placed on IR and Cadillac Williams recently came off the PUP which means that Dunn may get the bulk of the work for awhile on a team that can run the ball. Even better, they face the Lions who are always fun to have on your schedule and should have anyone on your team in the lineup when they face them. The Lions are last in the league with 171.5 RuYDs per game and have given up 17 RuTDs (31st).
Marion Barber against the 49ers. Now is the time for your studs to go on a tear and Barber has two games against the 49ers and Seahawks to help in your playoff push. The Cowboys offense is still not up to speed and with Felix Jones out for the year, Barber can carry the load. The 49ers allow 106.8 (16th) RuYds per game and have given up 10 RuTDs (19th).
The matchups I don’t like this week for QBs:
Matt Hasselbeck against the Redskins. Hasselbeck looked more than just rusty out on the field as he completed just 17 passes for 170 with one PATD and three INTs. After the game he needed an IV to treat dehydration. You would think he would be in better shape after sitting out a few games with his injuries. This week doesn’t get any easier as the Redskins do not want to be the first team in the NFC East to lose to the Seahawks as both the Eagles and the Giants beat
Brett Favre against the Titans. Since his explosive game against
Brady Quinn against the Texans. If you are starting Quinn, then you must be desperate at QB or you are not worried that he fractured the tip of his index finger. He plans to play and the matchup looks great but they will probably hand the ball off a lot or limit his throws to prevent turnovers. Keep an eye on this one in case they start Derek Anderson instead. It is too bad that Quinn can’t take advantage of the match-up as the Texans allow 210.8 (17th) per game and have given up 17 PaTDs (29th)
The matchups I don’t like this week for RBs:
Chris Johnson against the Jets. I’m starting to get concerned for the Titans running game as Johnson has had two below average fantasy games in a row. He has a tough matchup this week as the Jets have had time to rest after beating New England on the road last Thursday and want to be the first team to beat
Brian Westbrook against the Ravens. Westbrook is tough guy, don’t get me wrong but he hasn’t been a factor since the Eagles played the Falcons back in Week 8. Even though the Ravens gave up 207 RuYDs to the Giants last week they are still allowing just 79.6 (3rd) RuYDs per game and have surrendered just three RuTDs (2nd). Philly has some issues on the team and will struggle in this game.
Maurice Jones-Drew against the Vikings. MJD scored twice in the second quarter last week and it looked as if he was going to go off and have an even better game than he did the week before but the Titans clamped down and Jones-Drew rushed for just 40 yards the second half of the game. The Vikings come in with a share of the division lead with the Bears and Packers. They have held opponents to 73.9 (2nd) RuYDs a game with nine RuTDs allowed (16th).
Week 12: the holidays are rapidly approaching as well. Don’t let the holidays distract you from your game management.
Good Luck to everyone in Week 12.