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Week 14: The Fantasy Playoffs Begin

Welcome to Week 14 of the Brew Crew Corner. It is playoff time for Shark leagues and for many other leagues as well. There will be some leagues that will wrap up the regular season this week, but for the rest of us its win or go home time. This is when you count on your players the most. It doesn’t matter how many 100-yard games Adrian Peterson put up this season, because if he fails to show up this week, you could be bounced out of the playoffs. That is how things can change for any team this season. The owner that has struggled to get a playoff spot could suddenly run the table with BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Bryce Brown and Pierre Garcon while you play Ryan Mathews, Michael Turner and Eric Decker.

The best advice that is given every year for who to play this week is simply to use the players that got you into the playoffs. Many owners start to overthink lineup strategy by trying to pick up players off the waiver or making a last-minute trade. Unless you are making a significant upgrade at one of your starting positions, you are better off playing the guys that win you games.

Speaking of waivers, start dumping the guys who are no longer needed from your roster. Specifically, those that are hurt and will miss time. Guys such as Michael Vick, Rashad Jennings, James Starks, Ryan Broyles, Percy Harvin, Julian Edelman and Jordy Nelson should all be dumped.

The Golden Mug Award
Awarded to the fantasy players who came through for their team.

Bryce Brown – 24 carries, 169 yards, 2 TD.
For the second week in a row, Brown posted 37 fantasy points. He has 347 rushing yards and four touchdowns in those games but also has three fumbles. We’ll see if the Eagles take their time with bringing back LeSean McCoy with Brown playing so well.

Calvin Johnson – 13 receptions, 171 yards, TD. Johnson has been a beast since Week 9 with five games of 129 yards or more. Johnson has scored in four straight weeks and is on pace to break Jerry Rice’s single season receiving yard record of 1,848 yards, set in 1995.

Adrian Peterson – 21 carries, 210 yards, TD.
Raise your hand if you’re kicking yourself for not grabbing Peterson in the first round this summer. I know I am. Peterson now has six 100-plus yard games in a row with six touchdowns during that stretch. Peterson is on pace to reach 1,900 rushing yards which would be a career best.

The Urinal Cake Award

Awarded to the fantasy players who you would like to, well, you know.

Drew Brees – 28-for-50, 341 yards, 5 INT. Brees was awful this week with no touchdowns and his five interceptions really hurt. Brees should bounce back against the New York Giants.

Mark Sanchez – 10-for-21, 97 yards, 3 INT. Is this rock bottom for Sanchez as a New Yoek Jet? We could see Rex Ryan pack his bags and be shown the door along with Sanchez at the end of the season. The Jets team has been a fantasy wasteland this season.

Ryan Mathews – 9 carries, 26 yards; 3 receptions, 25 yards.
Mathews has now gone seven games without a touchdown and has not topped 100 yards all season. His only touchdown this season came in week 5.


Good quarterback matchups this week:

Matthew Stafford at Green Bay.
It’s great to see Stafford throwing Calvin Johnson’s way. It’s what we expected going into the season but lacked early in the year. Now it’s playoff time, and every owner will be shouting at the TV to throw Johnson the ball. Stafford faced the Packers in Week 11 with a stat line of 266 passing yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. The Packers have given up big games recently to John Skelton and Blaine Gabbert, so I expect a big day out of Stafford.

Andrew Luck against Tennessee. Luck is part of the MVP conversation, and in fantasy, he’s been the third-best quarterback all season with 21.8 fantasy points per game. The Titans have given up 18 or more fantasy points in seven of the past eight games. The Titans are 26th in the NFL, allowing 257.5 passing yards per game, and are tied with Washington and Oakland for most passing touchdowns given up with 24 this season.

Sleeper Pick of the Week:
Eli Manning against New Orleans. Manning has been pretty disappointing for fantasy owners as he has averaged less fantasy points in the past three games than Sam Bradford and Jake Locker. Last week against a bad Washington secondary, he threw for just 280 yards and one touchdown. He’s due this week against a Saints team that has given up multiple touchdowns in seven games this season and is allowing 22.2 fantasy points to quarterbacks over the past four weeks.

Good running back matchups this week

Marshawn Lynch against Arizona. Don’t you just love when your key players have a good matchup during your playoffs? Last week Lynch got back to 20-plus fantasy points after a tough game against Miami in Week 12. The Cardinals have been stingy in the touchdown area, allowing just five all season, but they are 24th in the NFL allowing 128.6 rushing yards per game.

Knowshon Moreno at Oakland. Moreno is an emergency option but you could do worse at the flex spot. He’s had 20 carries in back-to-back games while averaging 16.5 fantasy points. Sometimes when it comes to the playoffs you need an unlikely player to get you points. The Raiders have given up a rushing touchdown in five straight games and are giving up 25.1 fantasy points to running backs over that span.

Sleeper Pick of the Week: Montell Owens will get the start this week and is a Hail Mary start. When it comes to fantasy, being lucky is just as important as being good. Do you feel lucky? Owens could produce against a New York Jets team that is in disarray. The Jets are 29th in the NFL, allowing 137.2 rushing yards per game, with 12 touchdowns allowed this season.

Bad quarterback matchups this week:

Ben Roethlisberger against San Diego. Roethlisberger looks on track to get back under center, but you have to be cautious when using him as a starter this week. Coming back from that injury, he’s just one bad landing from going right back into the locker room for the rest of the game. Mike Wallace has disappeared for the past four games, averaging just 23.2 receiving yards, with one touchdown. Look for this passing game to struggle. The Chargers have held quarterbacks to just one touchdown in the past two games.

Carson Palmer against Denver. Palmer was pretty ineffective most of the game last week until a 64-yard touchdown pass to Rod Streater and a touchdown to Brandon Myers with six seconds saved his fantasy day. He will face the Broncos for the second time this season. In the Week 4 meeting, Palmer threw for 202 yards with no scores. Denver is sixth in the NFL in pass defense, allowing 211.8 yards per game, with 14 touchdowns allowed on the year.

Tony Romo against Cincinnati.
The Cowboys have better playoff odds following the Washington win on Monday. Can Romo take advantage and lead his team to a win? More importantly, can he put up big numbers and help you advance in the playoffs? Since Week 10, Romo has been the third-best quarterback in fantasy leagues, averaging 22.8 fantasy points per game during that time. He’ll have a tough time this week against a tough Bengals defense that has kept fantasy quarterbacks to 11 points per game over the past four games. They have also allowed just one touchdown in those games.

Bad running back matchups this week

Ryan Mathews at Pittsburgh. As I mentioned earlier in the article, Mathews is without a 100-yard game, and this isn’t the week he’ll get one. The Steelers have allowed just one 100-yard game over the past eight games and are fifth in the NFL, allowing 93.1 rushing yards a game, with eight touchdowns allowed this season.

Stevan Ridley against Houston. Ridley has been a dominant flex option the past five games, averaging 17 fantasy points and scoring a touchdown in each of those games. That streak of touchdowns could be over this week against a Texans defense that has given up just two all season, which came in the same game against the Lions in Week 12. The Texans have held starting running backs to 7.7 fantasy points over the past four games.

Mikel Leshoure against Green Bay. I like Matthew Stafford against the Packers, but not the running game. LeShoure has been averaging just 54 rushing yards per game over the past four weeks, so the touchdowns need to be there for him to have a good fantasy outing. This week might be the week he doesn’t score.

Week 14: Hope that everyone wins this week. See you in Week 15.

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