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Week 16: First Round Blowout

Welcome to Week 16 and the next round of the fantasy playoffs. Some will be playing for the title this week. If you are one of the lucky few to make it into the championships, good luck this week. For the rest of us, we still have two weeks left. Stay sharp and pay extra attention to those injury reports.

First round of the playoffs last week had a ton of scoring. Jamaal Charles led the charge with his five-touchdown performance racking up 60 fantasy points. I can’t imagine too many teams that have Charles on their team that failed to win. Considering that the top running backs this season average between 20-24 fantasy points, Charles put up three times the average. As I mentioned, great week of scoring as 17 running backs scored 20 fantasy points or more. Even unknown players such as Jordan Todman and Matt Asiata stepped up and played well in their first game as a starter.

At wide receiver, we had 12 receivers score 20 or more fantasy points. For the season, only Calvin Johnson and Josh Gordon are averaging 20 or more fantasy points a game. In the tight end spot, we had 17 players score in double digits, led by Tim Wright. The position that surprised me the most was at kicker. The top kickers in the league averages about 12 fantasy points a game this season. Last week Dan Bailey led the way with 28 fantasy points. Justin Tucker had 27 and Phil Dawson had 20.

Keeper League Tip

Among the various formats that I play, I started playing fantasy football 10 years ago in keeper leagues. I still play in the same leagues and one strategy I have used the last couple of years has been to stock up on players that have hit Injured Reserve. Depending on your league rules and roster sizes, you might be able to stash a few players who have been dropped by owners because they needed to fill the position with an active player, or, in some keeper league formats, they wouldn’t be able to keep the player next year.

It might payoff for you to look through the free agent list and see if anyone cut players such as Julio Jones, Doug Martin or Arian Foster. These are players that could be better keeper options for you heading into next year’s draft. Even a guy such as Vick Ballard or David Wilson who won’t be early-round selections could be worth a look if their situations improve for 2014. You have nothing to lose by adding these guys and if you decide next season that they aren’t worth keeping, you drop them. It’s as easy as that.

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

Jamaal Charles 8 carries, 20 yards, TD, 8 receptions, 195 yards, 4 TD. Charles had the best fantasy performance during the fantasy playoffs since Corey Dillon back in 1997. He has taken the early lead for fantasy Most Valuable Player. Lost in the excitement was the fact that he rushed for only 20 yards but owners don’t care if he ran it, caught it, threw it or kicked it as long as the points were scored. He might get back to putting up stats on the ground this weeks as he faces the Indianapolis Colts’ 27th-ranked run defense.

Nick Foles 30/48, 428 yards, 3 TD, 41 rushing yards. Hard to believe that Foles is the top fantasy quarterback and his team still lost. It happens, but for fantasy owners it was his best game since he threw seven touchdowns in Week 9. This week he faces the Chicago Bears in the best matchup for him possible.

Matt Asiata 30 carries, 51 yards, 3 TD, 3 receptions, 15 yards. Very few were lucky enough to grab Matt Asiata because the news came after some waivers went through. In leagues where you are able to still pick guys up, Asiata prove to be the best waiver selection. We may never hear of him again as Adrian Peterson is trying to return, but with the Minnesota Vikings out of the playoff chase, Asiata might get some end of the season playing time.

The Urinal Cake Award
Awarded to the fantasy players who you would like to, well, you know.

Jimmy Graham2 receptions, 25 yards. This is the biggest dud of Week 15. Hopefully his poor performance didn’t get you sent home from the playoffs. This is Graham’s worst game since Week 6 when he was held without a catch. Sometimes these things happen, but when it does during the playoffs, you’re usually not moving on to the next round.

Shane Vereen 2 carries, 13 yards, 3 receptions, 8 yards. Very disappointing game from Vereen, who has been a great addition to starting lineups since returning from Injured Reserve. With Rob Gronkowski out for the year and Stevan Ridley sitting in the back of the dog house, Vereen should have had a ton of touches. Let’s hope he can bounce back this week.

Andre Johnson 4 receptions, 18 yards. Tough outing for Johnson owners, especially in non-points per reception formats. The news of Matt Schaub starting this week is not good for Johnson. I’d reconsider Johnson as a starter this week even though the Denver pass defense is a good matchup for Houston.

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