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Week 17: The Winners Circle

Happy Holidays and welcome to the final week of the regular season and the championship round for most leagues. It comes down to this week to wrap up the 2008 fantasy season. Five months ago you had a vision of winning your league and that day has come in the form of week seventeen. You know what you have in your line-up, now you have to monitor several factors that can prevent you from sweet glory.

Playoff Teams Resting Players:

It is a concern every year for owners of studs on teams that have locked up a playoff spot. It used to be that players played every game but now coaches look to rest their players or prevent injuries to their key guys. Coaches will also play it very conservative to control the clock and get through the week. This is a big problem for owners such as the Colts as Tony Dungy likes to play starters for just the 1st half. The good news is that there are a lot more teams still fighting for a playoff spot then in years past so hopefully the inactive list will be minimal.

Game Time Decision:

Owners have been lucky this year that players such as Brian Westbrook have not been listed as GTD most of the season. It is the last game of the season however and many players are banged up and haven’t practiced such as Marion Barber and will most likely be a game time decision. Make sure to check the status of all year players. Don’t take a chance that someone may not play, leaving you with an empty slot in your line-up.

Weather:

Weather will be a factor in certain games as cold and precipitation will affect some players performance. Always check the weather after you check the injury reports.

A detailed forecast for all games. Check the weather the day of the game.

Dec. 28 Carolina Panthers @ New Orleans Saints

Louisiana Superdome – New Orleans, LA 1:00 PM DOME

Dec. 28 Chicago Bears @ Houston Texans

Reliant Stadium at Reliant Park – Houston, TX 1:00 PM H61 L40 0% Precip.

Dec. 28 Detroit Lions @ Green Bay Packers

Lambeau Field – Green Bay, WI 1:00 PM H22 L17 10% Precip.

Dec. 28 New York Giants @ Minnesota Vikings

Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome – Minneapolis, MN 1:00 DOME

Dec. 28 Cleveland Browns @ Pittsburgh Steelers

Heinz Field – Pittsburgh, PA 1:00 PM H49 L28 30% Precip.

Dec. 28 Kansas City Chiefs @ Cincinnati Bengals

Paul Brown Stadium – Cincinnati, OH 1:00 PM H43 L28 10% Precip.

 

Dec. 28 New England Patriots @ Buffalo Bills

Ralph Wilson Stadium – Orchard Park, NY 1:00 PM H43 L25 30% Precip.

Dec. 28 Oakland Raiders @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Raymond James Stadium – Tampa, FL 1:00 PM H79 L62 10% Precip.

Dec. 28 St. Louis Rams @ Atlanta Falcons

Georgia Dome – Atlanta, GA 1:00 PM DOME

Dec. 28 Tennessee Titans @ Indianapolis Colts

Lucas Oil Stadium – Indianapolis, IN 1:00 PM DOME

Dec. 28 Washington Redskins @ San Francisco 49ers

Walsh Field at Candlestick Park – San Francisco, CA 4:15 PM H55 L45 30% Precip.

Dec. 28 Seattle Seahawks @ Arizona Cardinals

University of Phoenix Stadium – Glendale, AZ 4:15 PM H60 L37 0% Precip.

Dec. 28 Dallas Cowboys @ Philadelphia Eagles

Lincoln Financial Field – Philadelphia, PA 4:15 PM H60 L33 30% Precip.

Dec. 28 Jacksonville Jaguars @ Baltimore Ravens

M and T Bank Stadium – Baltimore, MD 4:15 PM H58 L35 30% Precip.

Dec. 28 Miami Dolphins @ New York Jets

Giants Stadium – East Rutherford, NJ 4:15 PM H57 L31 30% Precip.

Dec. 28 Denver Broncos @ San Diego Chargers

Qualcomm Stadium – San Diego, CA 8:15 PM H66 L44 0% Precip.

Player Spotlight: Coach of the Year

This year there are five coaches that deserve the coach of the year award and you can make a compelling argument for each of them. Unlike last year when Bill Belichick won after his team finished 16-0 in the regular season.

Tom Coughlin– Coughlin is in his 11th year coaching, the 5th with the New York Giants. After a great post-season in which the Giants beat the undefeated Patriots, the team came back this year and have secured the #1 seed with a 12-3 record and could finish with their best record since 1990 when they went 13-3 and won their 2nd Superbowl. Coughlin has a chance to do what no other coach in the history of the franchise could do and that is win back to back titles. Obstacles Coughlin faced this season were the pressures of backing up a Superbowl win, which people call the dreaded Superbowl hangover. The always on going drama that is Plaxico Burress and not having Brandon Jacobs healthy all year as he’s missed 3 games so far. Still with all those factors, Coughlin will most likely not win the award.

Jeff Fisher– Fisher is in his 13th year of coaching, all with the Houston Oilers/ Tennessee Titans. Fisher last year took rookie QB Vince Young and made the playoffs for the 1st time since 2003. The team has secured the #1 seed and could finish with the best record in franchise history if they win this weekend and go 13-3. Fisher had to deal with an injury early to his starting QB and won 10 straight to start the season. Still he did not over come as much adversity as the following coaches to be able to win the award.

Tony Sparano– Sparano is in his 1st year as a head coach. He inherited a team that finished 1-15 last season had major changes up and down the franchise. He has turned the team around and is one win away from winning the division or a wildcard with a loss by New England. An 11-5 record will be the best record since 2000 and 2001 when the team finished with the same record in back to back seasons. Sparano had major issues at the QB position and signed veteran QB Chad Pennington who was cut by the Jets. You could argue that Sparano, after turning around the franchise, deserves the award but he too may fall short.


Jim Harbaugh– Harbaugh is in his 1st year as a head coach. After a disappointing 5-11 season in which they fired Brian Billick after 9 seasons, the team is 10-5 and have a chance to clinch a wild card sport. Harbaugh went into the draft and selected Joe Flacco after Steve McNair retired in the off-season. He had not planned to start Flacco but injuries and illnesses to the other QBs forced Flacco into action. With the team playing defense like it is known for, the Ravens have been putting up points on offense as well. Harbaugh would have an edge to win the award if it were any other year but this season the award belongs too . . .

Mike Smith– Smith is his 1st year as a head coach. The Falcons have clinched a wild card spot and are in the playoffs for first time since 2003. They can finish with thier best record since 2004 when they went 11-5. Last year the Falcons finished 4-12 under team turmoil due to the arrest of Mike Vick, the face of the franchise and the resignation of first year head coach Bobby Petrino, who quit with 3 games left in the season. Smith was hired to mend a locker room that was devided, regain the trust of the fans and get the team back to winning. The team signed Micheal Turner and then drafted Matt Ryan with the 3rd pick in the draft. Many thought the Flacons would have a tough season but they have turned everything around and Smith sould win this award because he has had the toughest obsticles to over come in his first season.

Here are the Top 10 fantasy players over the past three weeks.

Top 10 QBs

Based on Shark League scoring

                                                    

1. Cassel, Matt NEP

2. Rivers, Philip SDC

3. Thigpen, Tyler KCC

4. Manning, Peyton IND

5. Cutler, Jay DEN

6. Garrard, David JAC

7. Schaub, Matt HOU

8. Brees, Drew NOS

9. Rodgers, Aaron GBP

10. Jackson, Tarvaris MIN

Top 10 RBs

Based on Shark League scoring

1. Williams, DeAngelo CAR

2. Thomas, Pierre NOS

3. Choice, Tashard DAL

4. Jones-Drew, Maurice JAC

5. Westbrook, Brian PHI

6. Rhodes, Dominic IND

7. Jackson, Steven STL

8. Turner, Michael ATL

9. Smith, Kevin DET

10. Slaton, Steve HOU

Top 10 WRs

Based on Shark League scoring

1. Bryant, Antonio TBB

2. Smith, Steve CAR

3. Welker, Wes NEP

4. Jackson, Vincent SDC

5. Marshall, Brandon DEN

6. Johnson, Andre HOU

7. Colston, Marques NOS

8. Johnson, Calvin DET

9. Wayne, Reggie IND

10. Fitzgerald, Larry ARI

Top 10 TEs

Based on Shark League scoring

1. Clark, Dallas IND

2. Gonzalez, Tony KCC

3. Shiancoe, Visanthe MIN

4. Carlson, John SEA

5. Olsen, Greg CHI

6. Witten, Jason DAL

7. Daniels, Owen HOU

8. Miller, Zach OAK

9. Fasano, Anthony MIA

10. Gates, Antonio SDC

Top 10 Ks

Based on Shark League scoring

1. Gostkowski, Stephen NEP

2. Brown, Kris HOU

3. Gould, Robbie CHI

4. Stover, Matt BAL

5. Lindell, Rian BUF

6. Brown, Josh STL

7. Kaeding, Nate SDC

8. Kasay, John CAR

9. Akers, David PHI

10. Bironas, Rob TEN

Top 10 DEFs

Based on Shark League scoring

1. Colts, Indianapolis IND

2. Chargers, San Diego SDC

3. Titans, Tennessee TEN

4. Cowboys, Dallas DAL

5. Ravens, Baltimore BAL

6. Bengals, Cincinnati CIN

7. Steelers, Pittsburgh PIT

8. Dolphins, Miami MIA

9. Jets, New York NYJ

10. Cardinals, Arizona ARI

The Golden Mug Awards

Awarded to the fantasy player that came through for their owners.

DeAngelo Willams- 24 car 108 RuYDs, 4 RuTDs. Williams has been the best RB over the past 8 games and has his second 4 TD game of the season. Just to put it into perspective, in the 1st 7 games of the season he had just one 100+ rushing game and 2 RuTDs. Over the last 8 games he has 6 100+ rushing games and 16 RuTDs. He’s averaging 115 RuYDs and 2 RuTDs per game over that stretch.

Brandon Jacobs– 24 car 87 RuYDs, 3 RuTDs.Jacobs came to the teams rescue, helping the Giants end a two game losing and securing home field advantage through the playoffs. Jacobs when healthy can put up big points but he may be rested this week so check his status.

Visanthe Shiancoe– 7 rec 136 ReYDs, 2 ReTDs. Shiancoe had his best game of his career and has quitely been a decent TE this season as he has 7 ReTDs on the season. The problem is you don’t know how much he will be used from game to game to be a reliable starter.

The Urinal Cake Awards

Awarded to the fantasy player that you would like to, well you know.

Bernard Berrian– 2 rec 18 ReYDs, 0 ReTDs, 1 FL. Berrian is a classic feast or famine player which you could have monster stats one week and dreadful ones the next. The worst part of this is that he fumbled which gave him negative points of you play in a league that doesn’t award PPR.

Andre Johnson– 2 rec 19 ReYDs, 0 ReTDs. The hardest thing about losing in the playoffs is when your best player lays an egg. You can accept having a guy you inserted into the line-up as an injury replacement or maybe your WR4 having a bad game but when it is your bread and butter players you expect to have your back when you need them most it hurts a lot more.

Roddy White– 3 rec 24 ReYDs, 0 ReTDs. Another example of one of your key guys giving you minimal production when you can’t afford a let down.

MATCHUPS


The matchups I like this week for QBs:

Jay Cutler against the Chargers. Last week Cutler had a great game dispite not throwing any TDs as he had two TDs on the ground whie throwing for almost 360 PaYDs setting a franchise record for PaYDs in a season. The Broncos lost and are now faced with a win or go home situation against the Chargers. In week 2, Cutler lit up the Chargers for 350 PaYDs and 4 PaTDs. This should be a shootout game. The Chargers defense are allowing 242.8 PaYDs (31st) per game with 24 PaTDs given up (24th).

Philip Rivers against the Broncos. Rivers has been a great playoff QB in fantasy leagues as he threw for 4 TDs last week. Like I said, this is going to be a shootout like it was in week 2 when Rivers threw for 377 PaYDs and 3 PaTDs. The chargers who were once left for dead now find themselves in a postion to win the division at home. I think the Chargers will want it more and the lack of a rushing game for Denver will prove the difference. The Broncos defense is allowing 230.3 PaYDs (27th) per game with 18 PaTDs given up (12th).

Aaron Rogers against the Lions. Although the Packers are out of the playoffs after being a win away last year from the Superbowl, they get to make history this week by beating the Lions, making them the first 0-16 team in the NFL. Rogers and the Packers will come out and play hard as they do not want to be the only team to lose to the Lions which would add to the disappointment of the season. Rodgers has been a great fantasy QB this season as he trails Drew Brees by 12 FPS. The Lions defense is allowing 229.5 PaYDs (26th) per game with 22 PaTDs given up (26th).

The matchups I like this week for RBs:

DeAngelo Williams against the Saints. In the first game this season Williams rushed for just 66 yards but that was before he was on his hot streak. The Panthers may choose to rest Williams but with the division not yet secured and Johnaton Stewert  dealing with a head injury, he looks to be safe to play the whole game. The Saints are out of the playoffs but would love to beat Carolina which could allow Tampa Bay to win the division if they win. The Saints defense is giving up 110.1 ReYDs (16th) per game with 13 RuTDs allowed (16th).

Tashard Choice against the Eagles. Choice faces another tough defensive match-up but has played well over the past 3 weeks despite the hard schedule. Marion Barber looks to be unable to go again this week so Choice will handle the carries as the Cowboys hold on to thier playoff chances. This could be a low scoring defensive match so Choice has a chance to pick up a lot of yards on the ground. The Eagles defense is allowing just 92.6 RuYDs (6th) per game with 7 RuTDs given up (3rd).

Sammy Morris against the Bills. Morris is a great bench player to have on your fantasy team. Draft him every year late and hold on to him for times like this. Lamont Jordan has played well the last two weeks but Morris is the teams leading rusher and will come through when needed. The Bills have been inconsistent but won last week against the Broncos. The Patriots are fighting for a playoff spot and will use Morris in this one. The Bills defense is allowing 118.5 RuYDs (19th) per game with  

15 RuTDs given up (24th).

The matchups I don’t like this week for QBs:

Brett Favre against the Dolphins. Favre has played poorly the past 4 weeks as he has thrown just 1 PaTD to 6 INTs. Favre has stated he may not return next year because of arm concerns. He may be having them right now if he’s already discussing next year and may have lost his burn to win. This season Favre will finish with his lowest PaYD total since 2003 and highest INT total since he threw 29 in 2005. He faces a Dolphins team that has turned their season around from last year and will be battling for the division crown. The Dolphins defense is allowing 226.2 PaYDs (25th) per game with 17 PaTDs given up  

(10th).

Peyton Manning against the Titans. The Colts and the Titans have locked up playoff spots so this game can be seen as a walk through for the post season because they may face each other during the post season. Last year Manning faced Titans as well  in a similar situation and threw for just 95 PaYDs in only two quartes of play. In 2004 and 2005 he threw two passes in each Week 17 game. Don’t plan on having Manning help you win a championship. The Titans defense is allowing 195.1 PaYDs (8th) per game with 11 PaTDs given up (2nd).

Vince Young against the Colts. Young has been learning for most of the season as Kerry Collins has taken over the starting job. This will be a game in which Young won’t be asked to do much and the offense will be very conservative. He faces a Colts defense that allows 197.8 PaYDs per game (10th) with just 6 PaTDs given up (1st).


The matchups I don’t like this week for RBs:

Willie Parker against the Browns. Parker hasn’t played well this season due to injuries. The team states that he is healthy but he hasn’t been running like he’s had in the past. If you have to use him, don’t be surprised if he disappoints again as he has just 1 RuTD since week 2. He faces a Browns who have had a disaster season after turning things around last year. The Browns defense is allowing 150.3 RuYDs (29th) with 13 RuTDs given up (16th).

Tatum Bell against the Chargers. The Broncos have placed 7 RBs on IR this season and if I were Bell, would be worried about making it through the game. Last week he had 5 carries for 20 RuYDs and has not scored this season. He faces a Charges team  that sees an opportunity to save their season by beating the Broncos and winning the division. The Chargers defense is allowing 103.4 RuYDs per game (11th) with 9 RuTDs given up (6th).

Johnathan Stewert against the Saints. Stewert may play in this game but with teammate DeAngelo Williams playing so well he may not have many opportunities. Chances are the team will use caution on Stewert and not risk a concussion. The Saints defense is giving up 110.1 ReYDs (16th) per game with 13 RuTDs allowed (16th).

Week 17: The conclusion of a great season.

Good Luck to everyone’s teams that made the playoffs. Next week, Fantasy Football Pro-Bowl

Cheers!

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FantasySharks.com began in 2003, disseminating fantasy football content on the web for free. It is, or has been, home to some of the most talented and best known fantasy writers on the planet. Owned and operated by Tony Holm (5 time Fantasy Sports Writer Association Hall-of-Fame nominee,) Tony started writing fantasy content in 1993 for the only three fantasy football web sites in existence at the time.