Welcome to week 17. The final stop for fantasy football leagues in 2013. It has been an interesting season. There have been a ton of first round disappointments and teams that have surprised. This season I used the waiver wire more than I’ve ever had to in any fantasy season. Leading up to and into the playoffs I have made 3-5 waiver changes a week due to injuries, inactives and good matchups.
It has been a good fantasy season for me this year. I’m playing in my money leagues’ Super Bowl this week. I also made it to the conference finals in all of my leagues including the Shark League as a #6 seed.
For those still playing this week, the final week of the season is the toughest to win a game. There are three factors that will impact your championship this week. Poor weather, injuries and player inactives will change your lineup. The hardest part are your key players such as Jamaal Charles that will see little action this week. Charles has carried me this season including his big game in Week 15 where he scored 60 fantasy points. There is no denying that 27.6 points on average is a big blow to your lineup.
Weather: We’ve only seen a couple of games this season affected by weather. This week there are only two games that might see snow and they are the Browns at the Steelers and Packers at Bears. The good thing is that these teams are experienced with playing in this type of weather.
The Golden Mug Award
Awarded to the fantasy players who came through for their team.
LeSean McCoy– 18 carries for 133 yards and 2 touchdown, 6 receptions for 29 yards. Even with Jamaal Charles resting this week, McCoy will finish as the 2nd best running back this season. Last week McCoy won championships with his performance. For those that still have a championship this week, a Cowboys team that has struggled on defense and playing without Tony Romo is a good situation for McCoy to dominate in this game.
Joique Bell– 20 carries for 91 yards and 1 touchdown. 10 receptions for 63 yards. Bell bounced back from a tough Week 15 game to post the 2nd highest points for the week. With Reggie Bush‘s injuries and poor ball security, Bell has taken advantage of his opportunity. In the past four games he has averaged 28.7 fantasy points outside of his Week 15 game. This week it might be better to play Bell over Bush unless Bell’s knee hasn’t improved.
Eric Decker– 10 receptions for 131 yards 2 touchdowns. With Wes Welker missing time due to a concussion, Decker has benefited and has had three big games over the past four weeks. This looks to be another good week for Decker to perform well as Peyton Manning won’t be resting as the Broncos play for a top seed.
The Urinal Cake Award
Awarded to the fantasy players who you would like to, well you know.
Reggie Bush– 12 carries for 34 yards and a fumble. This is the second game this season where Bush has been benched after fumbling. He now has as many fumbles as rushing touchdowns this season with four. Bush has had trouble with injuries and inconsistent performance this season.
Larry Fitzgerald– 3 receptions for 18 yards. Two of the worst games Fitzgerald had this season was against the Seahawks. He posted just three fantasy points in Week 7 and then finished with just four fantasy points last week. He has another tough matchup this week against the 49ers but he had better success against them in the first matchup where he had six receptions for 117 yards and a touchdown.
Alex Smith– 16 for 29 for 153 yards and 2 interceptions. After putting in his best performance of the season with five touchdowns, Smith laid an egg against the Colts. This week he looks to sit for most of the game so it will make two weeks in a row where he fails to help you in the playoffs.
Good quarterback matchups this week:
Andrew Luck against the Jaguars. The Colts have a chance at a first round bye. They will need to win their game and have the Patriots and Bengals lose. Since they play at 1pm, that means they will play a full game provided that the Bengals aren’t blowing out the Ravens early. Luck put up 20 fantasy points in Week 4 against the Jaguars and has a good opportunity to score 20+. Over the past three games Luck is averaging 21.3 fantasy points. Since Week 8 the Jaguars defense have given up 26 or more fantasy points in five of those games.
Nick Foles against the Cowboys. The Eagles are now in the driver’s seat to win the division. All they have to do is win. They have been putting points on the board and now face a Cowboys team that doesn’t have Tony Romo or Sean Lee. In each of the past four games the Cowboys have faced backup quarterbacks and still gave up 24.1 fantasy points including big games to Josh McCown and Matt Flynn. Foles has been the top quarterback since Week 9 when he returned after missing Week 8 with a concussion. He’s been averaging 27 fantasy points per game over that span.
Sleeper Pick of the Week: Kyle Orton against the Eagles. Could Orton win you a championship? Many owners who lost Tony Romo this week hit the waiver to add Orton. The fact that this game is a deciding factor for the division means the Cowboys can’t play conservative and run the ball all game. The way the Cowboys defense has played at the end of the season means Orton will have to put up some points. Jason Garrett is playing for his job so he’s going to have to be as aggressive as he can with the passing game. This is a big boom or bust for fantasy owners. If you are in a situation where the waiver is bare and your starting options are Alex Smith or Carson Palmer then Orton might be your best bet this week. Remember though, this game could go south quick if Orton starts out rusty or the defense puts them in a big hole.
Good running back matchups this week:
Matt Forte against the Packers. This is Forte’s game to dominate. With the division on the line, the Bears have to be careful not to let Jay Cutler throw away the game as he is prone to turnovers. One of Forte’s best games this season came against the Packers where he ran for 125 yards and a score. The Packers are giving up over 18 fantasy points per game to running backs over the past three weeks. Having Aaron Rodgers back could turn this game into a shootout with plenty of fantasy points to be scored.
Knowshown Moreno against the Raiders. Moreno has been the best waiver wire running back addition this year. He is currently 4th among running backs while playing on a pass first offense. Those who drafted Ronnie Hillman or Montee Ball wished they had indications earlier that Moreno would be the main guy. In the past three weeks he is averaging 15.6 fantasy points. Both New England and Denver are fighting for the #1 seed and the Broncos would need a win and a Patriot loss to secure it. The Raiders who gave up 60 fantasy points to Jamaal Charles in Week 15, gave up 20 fantasy points to Ryan Mathews last week. They are allowing an average of 31.5 fantasy points over the last four games to running backs.
Sleeper Pick of the Week: Knile Davis against the Chargers. Davis has been a must add for owners of Jamaal Charles this week. Charles will likely see light work in this game and then Davis will have his chance to shine. Davis has played well in the sparse opportunities he’s had and in the two games prior to last week’s loss to the Colts, Davis averaged 12.5 fantasy points and scored in each.
Bad quarterback matchups this week:
Matthew Stafford against the Vikings. Stafford has been a fantasy dud the past three weeks as he ranks 29th among quarterbacks averaging just 10.6 fantasy points with just 1 touchdown to 5 interceptions during that span. Back in Week 1, Stafford put up 375 passing yards and 2 touchdowns. Normally this would be a good matchup but lately he hasn’t played well and Calvin Johnson might not play. With nothing on the line for either team, we could just see run plays for the bulk of the game.
Colin Kaepernick against the Cardinals. Division games are tough to gauge because they can go either way. Kaepernick is averaging 19.3 fantasy points over the past three weeks which has helped owners during the playoffs. The Cardinals are coming off a big win over the Seahawks and have had as many interceptions as touchdowns given up in the past three weeks. Playing at home with a playoff spot on the line, I can see Kaepernick struggling for most of this game.
Matt Ryan against the Panthers. Had the Panthers already clinched the division, I would feel better about Ryan this week but considering the Panthers are playing for at best a #1 seed if the Seahawks lose and the 49ers win. The Panthers main goal this week is to win and secure the division title. The last time Ryan faced the Panthers he had a rough outing throwing for just 219 yards with 1 touchdown versus 3 interceptions. The Panthers have given up just 15 passing touchdowns all season with 19 interceptions.
Bad running back matchups this week:
Matt Asiata against the Lions. In Week 15, Asiata stepped in when both Adrian Peterson and Toby Gerhert missed the game and played well. He ran for 51 yards and scored 3 rushing touchdowns. Since then he has been dealing with an ankle injury and missed last week’s game because of it. He’ll get the start this week but the matchup is tough and we don’t know how healthy that ankle will be for the game. The Lions, who are 4th in the NFL allowing 94.8 rushing yards per game with only 9 touchdowns on the ground, have allowed one running back over the past five games to score more than seven fantasy points. They have gone 10 games this season without giving up a rushing touchdown.
Zac Stacy against the Seahawks. Tough situation for a guy that has been good for fantasy owners this season. Stacy is coming off back to back games with 100 yards or more rushing and a score. This week he faces a Seahawks team that has given up just four touchdowns all season to running backs and hasn’t let a back reach the end zone since Week 7. Stacy did run well the first game he faced them rushing for 134 yards. Still, when you need touchdowns this week, it will be tough to hope that Stacy scores for you.
Trent Richardson against the Jaguars. Richardson is among the top busts for 2013. He just passed 500 yards rushing for the season last week and has just two touchdowns on the season. His last rushing touchdown was against these Jaguars back in Week 4. Some might look at the last few weeks and think Richardson is coming out of his funk and might be an option this week. Well don’t do it, because you will regret playing him all offseason. The Jaguars have played better in the second half of the season and have allowed just one running back over 100 yards rushing all season and that was back in Week 2 and have given up just two rushing touchdowns over the last five games.
Week 16 had a lot of underperforming players that killed lineups. Players such as Reggie Bush, Calvin Johnson, Chiefs defense, Vernon Davis, Keenan Allen and Alex Smith made sure lineups finished outside the money places. I was able to hit on one 5X tournament to get half my entry fees back.
This week I’m going to go with Aaron Rodgers on the high end. Even at $9,000 he is a better bargain than Peyton Manning is at $11,200. Knile Davis, Darren Sproles and Bernard Pierce make for an interesting play at the cheapest price of $4,500. At receiver, Josh Gordon put up 237 yards and a score against the Steelers last time they played so even if he puts up half those yards you’re looking at 118 yards with good upside. Other receivers include Pierre Garcon against a battered Giants defense and Jordy Nelson who is a stud when Aaron Rodgers plays.
The top lineup in Week 16 would have scored 225 points for a budget of $59,800. The same lineup will cost you $2,600 more cap money.
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