The fantasy playoffs are in full swing. Last week, the remaining leagues played to get into the playoffs. It was a bizarre and injury-riddled week. In the games leading up to the playoffs I lost Mark Ingram in Week 13 and last week I lost Andy Dalton. Dalton left the game with a broken thumb and I had zero points from my quarterback spot. I ended Sunday with a tied score.
Heading into Monday night I had Odell Beckham Jr but my opponent still had Lamar Miller and Rashad Jennings. He jumped out to an early lead but I came back with Beckham’s monster 84-yard touchdown. I then won when Beckham caught his last pass on the final drive of the game. Sometimes it comes down to the last play. It was a classic example of “It ain’t over till it’s over” scenario. It has been a long season but I won the most intense game I had all season to clinch the No. 1 seed in the playoffs.
The Golden Mug Award
Awarded to the fantasy players who came through for their team.
Odell Beckham Jr. – 7 receptions, 166 yards, 2 TD. Beckham is the top player this week not only because he secured me the No. 1 seed in my league and won me some money on DrafKings but because he was the top-scoring player this week. Beckham will face his toughest matchup this season when he faces Carolina, but you have to roll with him in your lineup.
Doug Baldwin – 6 receptions, 82 yards, 3 TD. Baldwin, through the first eight games of the season, had one game of more than 20 fantasy points. Since the bye week, he has 26-plus points in four of the last five games. The nine touchdowns during that span is more than his previous two seasons combined. He has another good matchup this week against Cleveland.
Todd Gurley – 16 carries, 140 yards, 2 TD. Gurley is back after two horrible weeks where you thought this offense would kill his fantasy production for the rest of the season. He came out of the game banged up so keep an eye on his status.
The Urinal Cake Award
Awarded to the fantasy players who you would like to, well you know.
Amari Cooper – Eight targets. How do you see eight targets and not record a single catch? The rookie put up a doughnut this week and has been inconsistent all season. We can’t ignore his target volume at nearly 8.5 per game but you never know if you’re going to get a four-catch clunker or a seven-catch, 100-yard outing.
Dez Bryant – 1 catch, 9 yards. I have to say outside of Eddie Lacy for the first half of the season, Bryant has got to be one of the top disappointments for 2015. I understand he missed five games due to a broken foot but last week he had three drops and isn’t playing with any fire. You would think that Dallas would throw to him 20 times a game. You have to bench him for your fantasy playoffs or you will get eliminated.
Calvin Johnson – 1 reception for 16 yards. This was a prime matchup that should have been a big day for Johnson but he disappeared in this game. Outside of the game on Thanksgiving, Johnson has passed 20 fantasy points just twice. He is now questionable for this week.
Good quarterback matchups this week:
Carson Palmer at Philadelphia. Palmer enters this week having thrown for 310-plus yards in five of the past six games. He faces a Philadelphia defense allowing 258.8 passing yards per game (24th) with 29 touchdowns allowed this season. We all know that any quarterback facing Philadelphia receives a boost in the number of plays they run so we can expect Palmer to have plenty to go for more than 300 yards in this contest.
Tom Brady against Tennessee. With the return of Rob Gronkowski and Danny Amendola and possibly Julian Edelman this week, New England looks to have its receiving group back in order. I’ve been disappointed with Brandon LaFell, who has been outplayed by Keshawn Martin. You would think after last season that LaFell would be counted on during the games. LaFell has yet to score this season. The Tennessee pass defense has a misleading rank of ninth in the NFL allowing 232.5 passing yards per game with 28 touchdowns allowed this season. Tennessee, however, is ranked fifth in fantasy points per game allowed with 18.8. The Tennessee defense has allowed 11 touchdowns over the past three games.
Sleeper Pick of the Week: Brock Osweiler against Pittsburgh. If you lost Andy Dalton or Brian Hoyer, you might be looking for a quarterback this week. How much would that suck if you had to start A.J. McCarron or T.J. Yates in the playoffs? If you had to roll the dice, look at Osweiler. Pittsburgh is 31st in the NFL allowing 279 passing yards per game with 25 touchdowns allowed this season. Pittsburgh has given up eight touchdowns over the last three games.
Good running back matchups this week:
Jeremy Hill at San Francisco. As we saw last week, backup quarterback A.J. McCarron was a serviceable quarterback stepping in for the injured Andy Dalton. If he can continue to play well, Hill will be able to run without a stacked box. As we saw last week against Cleveland, San Francisco is done on defense. Isaiah Crowell ran for 145 yards and two touchdowns after he has gone all season without a 100-yard game, and he scored for the first time since Week 2. Hill only received seven carries so we hope this week the play calling will give him the 20-plus carries he needs. San Francisco is 31st in the league allowing 133.2 rushing yards per game with 16 touchdowns allowed this season.
Denard Robinson against Atlanta. T.J. Yeldon’s status is still undecided but in the meantime it looks as if Robinson will get the start. Robinson has played well in spots last season and could be in for a good game against Atlanta, who has been crushed the past three games, giving up 194 yards and two touchdowns to Minnesota, 151 yards and a touchdown to Tampa Bay, and 126 yards and two touchdowns to Carolina. Atlanta is allowing 105.7 rushing yards per game (15th) with 17 touchdowns allowed this season.
Sleeper Pick of the Week: Joique Bell at New Orleans. Bell could be a very sneaky player to use this week. Against St. Louis last week, he carried the ball just seven times for 50 yards and had two catches for 25 yards. He could easily score more than 10 points against New Orleans, who is dead last in rushing yards, allowing 136.1 rushing yards per game, with 10 touchdowns allowed this season. New Orleans is allowing the second-most fantasy points to running backs (20.8 per game).
Bad quarterback matchups this week:
Ben Roethlisberger at Denver. Pittsburgh had a bad game last week. You have to think that once Andy Dalton went down that the rest of the game script changed. Pittsburgh faces Denver, who hasn’t allowed a quarterback to throw for more than 300 yards this season and is averaging 188.2 passing yards per game (first) with 13 touchdowns allowed this season. Denver has given up the least amount of fantasy points to quarterbacks (10.7 per game). In the playoffs, you have to look at the matchups closely to gain an edge.
Drew Brees against Detroit. This could go either way for Brees playing on Monday night against Detroit, who has played well on pass defense. Detroit is 10th in the league, allowing 232 passing yards per game, with 20 touchdowns allowed this season. Detroit has held quarterbacks to less than 200 passing yards in three of the past four games.
Ryan Tannehill at San Diego. Last week we thought that Tannehill was going to light it up against the New York Giants, but he was held to just 236 passing yards and one touchdown. This week he faces San Diego, who has given up just one 300-yard passer over the past four games and is allowing 240.8 passing yards per game (14th) with 20 touchdowns allowed this season. There is some truth to teams traveling from coast to coast as Miami, after the loss on Monday night, will go from Miami to San Diego on a short week.
Bad running back matchups this week:
Darren McFadden vs. the New York Jets. Dallas and New York play on Saturday night, so be aware of that if you have players in this game. They are also not available for daily Sunday games. Dallas is now a longshot to make the playoffs. The way Dez Bryant is playing and the with the play of Matt Cassel, the Jets will key in on McFadden. The Jets are No. 1 in the NFL against the run, allowing just 78.9 rushing yards per game, with two touchdowns allowed this season. They allow just 11.5 fantasy points to running backs and have allowed just one of those rushing touchdowns to a running back (Darren Sproles, Week 3).
Shaun Draughn against Cincinnati. I liked Draughn last week as he had a good matchup but he didn’t come through as he had only 11 carries. Cincinnati hasn’t allowed 100-yard rusher in the past six games and just two rushing touchdowns in the last seven games. On the season, Cincinnati is allowing 96.2 rushing yards per game (ninth) with six touchdowns allowed this season.
Eddie Lacy at Oakland. I’m expecting a letdown game form Lacy this week. People are all back on the Lacy train after his 124-yard performance but I don’t trust him. He faces an Oakland defense that has clamped down on running backs the last four games, allowing 52.5 rushing yards per game with only one touchdown in that timespan. On the season, Oakland is 12th in the league allowing 101.1 rushing yards per game with nine touchdowns allowed this season.