Welcome to the final week of the regular season and the end of the 2010 fantasy year. Five months ago we were all drafting our teams and getting ready for an exciting new season. Now it is down to the final fantasy weekend and the championship game for some. There is still plenty of football left and for some the fantasy playoff challenge starts next week. Check the status of players whose team has already clinched a playoff spot. It is always hard to win a championship when your star player is resting in Week 17. Remember, there is not a Thursday night or Monday night game this week so everything is riding on Sunday.
The Golden Mug Award
Awarded to the fantasy player who came through for their team.
Aaron Rodgers – 404 passing yards, 4 TD. For those owners who had to play Weeks 14 and 15 without Rodgers, you were rewarded well when he returned last week.
Jamaal Charles – 13 carries, 77 yards; 4 receptions, 40 yards, 2 TD. Not a big day on the ground but the 40 yards and two scores made for a good productive game.
Josh Freeman – 237 passing yards, 5 TD. Freeman threw half the amount of touchdowns he had all of last season in one game. He now has a touchdown in 13 straight games.
The Urinal Cake Award
Awarded to the fantasy player who you would like to, well you know.
Tony Gonzalez – 2 receptions, 12 yards. Gonzalez is no longer the dominant tight end he was in Kansas City. This season will be his lowest yardage total since 1998.
Larry Fitzgerald – 1 reception, 26 yards. Fitzgerald is giving his owners fits after putting up 125 yards in Week 15. Fitzgerald has just one touchdown in his last eight games. On the bright side, he’s putting up better numbers than Randy Moss.
Michael Turner – 17 carries, 48 yards, 1 fumble. It was Turner’s first fumble all season, but the lack of stats made the fumble that much worse to owners.
Good quarterback matchups this week:
Eli Manning against the Redskins. The turnovers every game are horrible with seven interceptions over three games but if you can afford to give up an interception in order to get a quarterback to throw 2-3 touchdowns then it will be worth the gamble. In the first game against the Washington Redskins, Manning did not have to throw much as the running game took over, but this game should be different and this is a must-win situation for the Giants. The Redskins defense is awful allowing 262.9 yards per game (31st) with 22 touchdowns allowed this season.
Peyton Manning against the Titans. I can’t remember a time when I have been able to list Manning for a Week 17 game. He hasn’t played a meaningful Week 17 game since 2006. The weirdest stat is in the past three years he has posted exactly 95 yards in those Week 17 games. This year you are sure he will play and he faces a Titans team he just played three weeks ago passing for 319 yards and two touchdowns. The Titans defense is allowing 251.7 yards per game (28th) with 21 touchdowns given up.
Sleeper Pick of the Week:
Josh Freeman against the Saints. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers still have a chance to get in if both the New York Giants and Green Bay Packers lose. The New Orleans Saints are locked into the fifth seed regardless of any game outcome. This could be a game where the Saints rest their starters and Tampa Bay will try anything to win. Freeman is playing well and could put up good stats despite the Saints’ No. 2 pass defense.
Good running back matchups this week:
Michael Turner against the Panthers. As you will read in the Matt Ryan write up, it will be a good day for Atlanta Falcon running backs as they will look to control the game and put the Carolina Panthers out of their 2010 misery. After last week’s poor performance, Turner will look to turn it up (no pun intended). The Panthers are allowing 125.5 yards per game with 19 touchdowns allowed. In the last game against Carolina, Turner ran for 112 with three scores.
Steven Jackson against the Seahawks. The Rams have been the biggest overachievers this season. After finishing with the worst record last season, they have a chance to make the playoffs, which hasn’t happened since 2005. Jackson is sometimes a forgotten running back in fantasy leagues but he is still brining it and is averaging 20 fantasy points a game over the past three weeks. In Week 4 he battled through injury to post 124 total yards against the Seattle Seahawks. Seattle’s defense is allowing 123.7 yards per game (22nd) with 13 touchdowns given up this season.
Sleeper Pick of the Week:
Ryan Mathews against the Broncos. With Mike Tolbert out, Mathews will look to carry the load and put up decent numbers against a Denver Broncos team allowing 153.9 yards per game (31st) with a league-high 23 touchdowns allowed this season. Let’s hope Mathews can have a better 2011 then he had this year.
Bad quarterback matchups this week:
Jay Cutler against the Packers. The Philadelphia Eagles’ loss to the Minnesota Vikings has left the Chicago Bears with breathing room to decide if they want to play all their starters. Coach Lovie Smith said they will play to win but if the Packers go ahead in the game, will he change his mind about how much playing time Cutler will get? Cutler faced Green bay early in the season, tossing for 221 yards with a score and an interception. This Packers’ defense has played a lot better over the course of the year and is now ranked fifth against the pass, allowing 199.3 yards per game with 16 touchdowns yielded this season. There still is a chance that the Bears could get a No. 1 seed but they would have to win and have the Carolina Panthers beat the Atlanta Falcons.
Matt Ryan against the Panthers. The Falcons will look to keep their No. 1 seed but against the Carolina Panthers, they will rely on the ground game and keep a conservative game plan. Ryan has not helped his owners over the past three weeks, averaging just 14 fantasy points per game. The Panthers have locked up the No. 1 draft pick for next season and have nothing to play for in this game except pride. The defense is allowing 209.3 passing yards per game (11th) and has given up 17 touchdowns this season.
Drew Brees against the Buccaneers. Last season Brees sat out the last game of the season against the Carolina Panthers. I know this because I was at that game. Brees will start this game but the team is locked into the No. 5 seed regardless of the outcome of the game. The Buccaneers will be fighting for a win. They are allowing 201.1 yards per game (sixth) with 22 touchdowns allowed and 18 interceptions this season.
Bad running back matchups this week:
Darren McFadden against the Chiefs. Kansas City has won the division but if they lose and the Indianapolis Colts win, they will fall to the No. 4 seed which will have them face Baltimore instead of the New York Jets. The matchup will be tough for McFadden as he suffered an ankle injury and his status is unknown. He will face a Chiefs defense allowing 103.7 yards per game (11th) with only nine touchdowns allowed this season.
Rashard Mendenhall against the Browns. You have to love rivalry games at the end of the season, and the Cleveland Browns would love to knock the Steelers out of the No. 2 spot if they beat them and the Baltimore Ravens can win. Cleveland gives up a lot of yards on the ground, allowing 131.3 yards per game (26th) but has only given up five touchdowns all season to running backs. This game won’t be easy for Pittsburgh.
Matt Forte against the Packers. Green Bay’s defense has clamped down on running backs as they did against the New York Giants last week. The Packers are going to bring everything as they need a win to keep their playoff spot. The Packers defense is allowing 115.2 yards per game (19th) and has allowed just six touchdowns all year.
Week 17: Have a happy and safe New Year’s! See you in 2011.
Good Luck to everyone in Week 17. Follow @BrewCrewCorner