Robert Griffin

Playing the Matchups…and Week 11 Rankings

No more waiting with bated breath, I am back. Last week, similar to six NFL teams, I took my bye week (although I took mine because of midterms). But fear not, your fantasy expert has returned with one of the more important articles of the year.

The fantasy playoffs are suddenly creeping up on us. For most leagues, you’ve only got 3 weeks left to either make a run or make an exit. Now for some, you may already be looking towards the playoffs. Maybe you’re sitting at 8-2 and have already clinched a spot, or maybe you’re 7-3 just looking for one more win to punch your ticket. Whatever circumstance you find yourself in, it’s time to look at players with an eye for the playoffs. So in today’s article I want to take a look at a couple players at each position that could be the difference between making the playoffs and being a championship contender. Now you may feel it’s a little early to start looking ahead but remember the key to fantasy football success: being ahead of the curve. Beat your league rivals to the waiver wire and reap the benefits on your way to the trophy.

For the purposes of this exercise, we’ll assume your playoffs run from weeks 14 through 17…

AND DON’T FORGET: You can always email me at FantasyDecisions@gmail.com with any weekly questions, trade help or anything you need. I’m the “expert” with the answers.

 

Favorable Playoff Schedules

QB

·Robert Griffin

The Baylor project may just have the most favorable down the stretch schedule of any QB in the league. In weeks 14-16 he faces the Rams, Giants, and Eagles. Or in other words, the seventh, ninth, and third worst against the pass, respectively. It’s hard to find a more passing-friendly stretch of matchups. If he’s somehow available in your league’s waiver wire, stop reading this article and go grab him. I also think you could get him for very little in a trade if your deadline hasn’t passed. While you’re not starting him over any of the top three-six guys, he could easily slide in to the second tier of QBs.

·Tony Romo

It’s no coincidence that, like RG3, Romo plays in the NFC East. For such a consistently competitive division, the passing defense among the four teams is lacking, to put it lightly. Romo may even have a better schedule then the aforementioned Griffin. In weeks 14, 15, and 17 Romo plays three of the four worst passing defenses in the NFL! The juiciest matchup obviously being the Bears in week 14. (Did you catch what happened when Aaron Rodgers took a turn at them in week 10? Yeah, I want anyone and everyone on the offense playing Da Bears)

 

RB

·Mark Ingram

Some may be considering “selling high” on Ingram with the Saints running backs getting healthy and coming back to steal carries. If that’s the case in your league, please go send whatever it takes to get the Alabama stud on your team. It’s no fluke that Ingram has AVERAGED 27 carries the last three weeks. He has been an absolute bellcow in an offense that hasn’t had one in a long, long time.  And his schedule just gets easier and easier. He’s facing 3 of the 10 worst rush defenses in the playoff weeks. Including maybe the very best matchup of any position down the stretch, a week 16 home game against the Falcons, the league’s worst rushing defense. His numbers aren’t a fluke. Sean Payton trusts him and so too should you.

·Chris Ivory

This week may be your last chance to buy in on the Ivory market. After a bye this week, Ivory’s schedule is almost full proof (minus a tough week 12 matchup in Buffalo). In weeks 14-16, Ivory faces the 24th, 25th, and 26th ranked rushing defenses, respectively. The Jets RB is the perfect, under the radar tailback that could easily be a RB2 on a championship team. Not to mention, it shouldn’t take much to get him after two tough weeks and this week’s bye. Buy in on him now and be prepared to use him to crush your league-mates.

 

WR

· Andre Johnson

My homer-ism may be strong here but my boy Dre has a shot to be a top 10 WR come playoff time. Two matchups against Jacksonville certainly don’t hurt with that prediction. Not to mention a meeting with the Ravens who lost Jimmy Smith, their top cornerback, for the year to a foot injury. Mallett and Andre are known to have a special bond, more so than Fitz had with Dre. By the time we get to the fantasy playoffs, Mallett will have had 3 games under his belt and will be looking for the trustworthiest hands in the NFL. A hall of fame receiver will be looking like his old self as he tears up the Jags in route to a huge end to the season.

· Kelvin Benjamin

The huge red zone target has been absolutely massive for Newton this season. His acclimation to the NFL has had its bumps but there’s no questioning his talent, which has led to him being the 10th best receiver in fantasy this year. I’m loving the week 14 and 15 back to back against the Saints and Bucs, the 4th and 1st worst passing defenses in the league. With a bye in week 12, Benjamin may be gettable in your league. Make it happen and smile as the Florida State kid tears up some weak secondaries.

 

TE

·Kyle Rudolph

The young TE has finally returned to practice after going through foot surgery following week three. Teddy Bridgewater needs a reliable target in Minny and I think Rudolph provides that for the young QB down the stretch. He had 5 targets in all three games to start the season and returns to a team desperate for a better passing offense. Rudolph has a great sandwich of the Jets awful secondary in week 14 and a week 17 meeting with Da Bears. Now that’s some favorable white bread on your sandwich. Just today I actually dropped Vernon Davis for the young TE. I’m all in and I think you should be too.

 

DEF/ST

·Texans D/ST

Just remember, this defense put up 20 points in the only game of the year in which JJ Watt, Brian Cushing, and JD Clowney played together. This unit has had a bye week to get healthy and it’s time to store them away for the playoffs. If nothing more than for the week 14 and 17 matchups against the woeful Jaguars. A stiff D against the Jags in the last week of your championship? Yeah I’ll take that everyday of the week.

 

Week 11 Rankings

 

QB

1.  Aaron Rodgers

2.  Peyton Manning

3.  Andrew Luck

4.  Philip Rivers

5.  Tom Brady

6.  Drew Brees

7.  Matthew Stafford

8.  Matt Ryan

9.  Robert Griffin

10. Josh McCown

11. Colin Kaepernick

12. Mark Sanchez

13. Jay Cutler

14. Teddy Bridgewater

15. Ryan Tannehill

16. Cam Newton

17. Shaun Hill

18. Derek Carr

19. Andy Dalton

20. Ryan Mallett

 

RB

1.  Arian Foster

2.  Matt Fort

3.  Le’Veon Bell

4.  Mark Ingram

5.  Jamaal Charles

6.  Marshawn Lynch

7.  Alfred Morris

8.  LeSean McCoy

9.  Eddie Lacy

10. Jeremy Hill

11. Andre Ellington

12. Frank Gore

13. Ryan Matthews

14. Ahmad Bradshaw

15. Rashad Jennings

16. Fred Jackson

17. C.J. Anderson

18. Jonathan Stewart

19. Shane Vereen

20. Steven Jackson

21. Jerick McKinnon

22. Terrance West

23. Lamar Miller

24. Ben Tate

25. Bobby Rainey

 

WR

1.  Demaryius Thomas

2.  Jordy Nelson

3.  Calvin Johnson

4.  Antonio Brown

5.  Jeremy Maclin

6.  A.J. Green

7.  Randall Cobb

8.  Julio Jones

9.  DeSean Jackson

10. Kelvin Benjamin

11. Emmanuel Sanders

12. Brandon Marshall

13. T.Y. Hilton

14. Roddy White

15. Odell Beckham Jr.

16. Sammy Watkins

17. Andre Johnson

18. Golden Tate

19. Mike Evans

20. Alshon Jeffery

21. Vincent Jackson

22. Mike Wallace

23. DeAndre Hopkins

24. Julian Edelman

25. Brandon LaFell

 

TE

1.  Rob Gronkowski

2.  Jimmy Graham

3.  Antonio Gates

4.  Julius Thomas

5.  Greg Olsen

6.  Larry Donnell

7.  Dwayne Allen

8.  Travis Kelce

9.  Jared Cook

10. Martellus Bennett

 

DEF/ST

1.  Broncos

2.  Bills

3.  Seahawks

4.  Cardinals

5.  Dolphins

6.  Lions

7.  Steelers

8.  Redskins

9.  Chargers D

10. Vikings

 

Flex

1.  Arian Foster

2.  Demaryius Thomas

3.  Matt Forte

4.  Le’Veon Bell

5.  Jordy Nelson

6.  Calvin Johnson

7.  Antonio Brown

8.  Mark Ingram

9.  Jamaal Charles

10. Rob Gronkowski

11. Marshawn Lynch

12. Jeremy Maclin

13. Alfred Morris

14. LeSean McCoy

15. A.J. Green

16. Randall Cobb

17. Eddie Lacy

18. Jimmy Graham

19. Jeremy Hill

20. Andre Ellington

21. Julio Jones

22. DeSean Jackson

23. Kelvin Benjamin

24. Frank Gore

25. Antonio Gates

26. Ryan Matthews

27. Emmanuel Sanders

28. Brandon Marshall

29. Julius Thomas

30. T.Y. Hilton

31. Roddy White

32. Odell Beckham Jr.

33. Ahmad Bradshaw

34. Rashad Jennings

35. Fred Jackson

36. C.J. Anderson

37. Greg Olsen

38. Jonathan Stewart

39. Sammy Watkins

40. Andre Johnson

41. Shane Vereen

42. Larry Donnell

43. Steven Jackson

44. Golden Tate

45. Mike Evans

46. Alshon Jeffery

47. Jerick McKinnon

48. Terrance West

49. Vincent Jackson

50. Mike Wallace

The Daily Texan’s Big 12 Preseason football picks

Junior-to-be D.J. Monroe tries to get past a UCLA defender in 2010. As a freshman in 2009, Monroe became the only player in school history to return two kickoffs for touchdowns.
Junior-to-be D.J. Monroe tries to get past a UCLA defender in 2010. As a freshman in 2009, Monroe became the only player in school history to return two kickoffs for touchdowns.

Here’s how my 2011 Big 12 Conference Media Preseason Football Poll turned out. If you’re a Texas fan, you might not want to look.

But first, two thoughts:

1) Oklahoma is going to be really, really good (duh). The Sooners have the best quarterback in the Big 12 in Landry Jones, the most electric player in Ryan Broyles, and the best defensive player in Travis Lewis.

2) Sorry to say this, but the Longhorns’ offensive talent looks to be depleted. With the exception of freshman running back Malcolm Brown, who I have as my Newcomer of the Year, not one player was in the running for a first-team selection.

On to the selections:

Offensive Player of the Year — Ryan Broyles, Oklahoma
Defensive Player of the Year — Travis Lewis, Oklahoma
Newcomer of the Year — Malcolm Brown, Texas

Preseason Top 10

1. Oklahoma — See above.

2. Texas A&M ­— Ryan Tannehill, Cyrus Gray and Jeff Fuller make for a pretty dangerous trio. The O-line is raw but talented, Christine Michael would start in the backfield for any other team in the conference, and Ryan Swope and Uzoma ‘EZ’ Nwachukwu team with Fuller to make the most complete receiving corps in the Big 12.

3. Missouri — Blaine Gabbert is gone, but the Tigers usually have a potent offense regardless of the quarterback or the receivers. Four good running backs return and Michael Egnew is a versatile option at tight end.

4. Oklahoma State — It will be interesting to see how things are offensively with Dana Holgorsen now the head coach at West Virginia and the departure of Kendall Hunter — who seemed like he was in Stillwater for forever — but it’s hard not to like the combination of Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon. The two teamed up for a ridiculous 20 touchdowns in 2010.

5. Kansas State — The loss of Daniel Thomas hurts the Wildcats, but the addition of 2009 top recruit Bryce Brown should help. And Texas fans remember Collin Klein, don’t they?

6. Baylor — Look, anytime you’ve got Robert Griffin on your team, you have a chance to win any game. I’m not huge on the Bears’ stable of running backs, or either line — though they always seem to have somebody jump out of oblivion to be a first-round draft pick — but Griffin makes stuff happen when the play breaks down. He has Kendall Wright to throw to, also.

7. Texas — This might look stupid come November, but after a 5-7 season, it’s hard to think that the Longhorns are going to drastically improve. Plus, Texas lost to five of the six teams above them on this list last season, and Missouri wasn’t on the schedule. If it’s any consolation, the defense should be leaps and bounds better than last year.

8. Texas Tech — In the days of Mike Leach, Tech could plug in any old quarterback in its Air Raid offense and get huge numbers. Seth Doege is the first “new” quarterback in the Tommy Tuberville era, as Taylor Potts was the starter during the Leach regime. We’ll see how Tuberville — and a new 4-2-5 defense — fares in his second year on the plains. Expectations should be pretty low.

9. Iowa State — Head coach Paul Rhoads is doing something remarkable in Ames: the Cyclones are finally not awful. They beat Texas and Texas Tech last year, and lost to Nebraska by one point in overtime. They still got beat 52-0 by Oklahoma though. Some things never change. (Keep an eye on quarterback Jerome Tiller; a big, athletic quarterback who was the hero of the 9-7 2009 win over Nebraska.)

10. Kansas — Last year was a train wreck for new head coach Turner Gill. The Jayhawks have 14 starters returning, which can be construed as a good or bad thing. Good, because of the experience. Not so good, because those starters only won three games last year.

Preaseason All-Big 12 Conference Team

Offense:
QB — Landry Jones, Oklahoma.
RB — Cyrus Gray, Texas A&M.
RB — Bryce Brown, Kansas State
WR – Ryan Broyles, Oklahoma
WR — Justin Blackmon, Oklahoma State
TE — Michael Egnew, Missouri
OL ­— Philip Blake, Baylor
OL — Jake Matthews, Texas A&M
OL — Luke Joeckel, Texas A&M
OL — Kelechi Osemele, Iowa State
OL — Elvis Fisher, Missouri
PK — Justin Tucker, Texas
PR — Ryan Broyles, Oklahoma

Defense:
DL — Jackson Jeffcoat, Texas
DL — Brad Madison, Missouri
DL — Kheeston Randall, Texas
DL ­— Richetti Jones, Oklahoma State
LB — Travis Lewis, Oklahoma
LB — Keenan Robinson, Texas
LB — Emmanuel Acho, Texas
DB — Markelle Martin, Oklahoma State
DB — Kenny Vaccaro, Texas
DB — Coryell Judie, Texas A&M
DB — Dustin Harris, Texas A&M
P — Quinn Sharp, Oklahoma State
KR — D.J. Monroe, Texas

“He’s got to be a strong Heisman candidate. I was walking by Manny’s office… he said, ‘I’ve never seen this many deep touchdown passes in my coaching career.” –Mack Brown

“I think that’s inherent but if they need rallying cries after putting on this [of Robert Griffin] tape, then we’re already in trouble.” –Manny Diaz

“We definitely don’t want anyone winning the Heisman on our clock.” – Kenny Vaccaro

“We don’t plan on letting anybody win the Heisman against this defense. I’m happy for him. He’s had a heck of a season, heck of a career. Him being one of the Heisman candidates playing on that day is going to be fun to see him bring his best. We’re definitely going to bring ours.” –Emmanel Acho
 

Case McCoy tries to avoid the tackle at the end of a 25-yard run against Texas A&M. McCoy's gutsy run set up the game-winning field goal. McCoy's passing yards aren't stellar, but he has yet to throw an interception.

Photo Credit: Elisabeth Dillon | Daily Texan Staff

The Longhorns hope Case McCoy still has some magic left.

The sophomore quarterback, who will make his second start in a row in the season finale, always seems to come up big for Texas when it matters most.

He instrumented a game-winning drive in the final minutes of last Thursday’s win over Texas A&M. A week before, McCoy nearly completed a remarkable comeback against Kansas State. And early in the year, in the first meaningful game of his career, McCoy rallied the Longhorns in the fourth quarter to beat BYU.

“He does a really good job of making plays when we need them,” said senior left guard David Snow.

But McCoy, who has split snaps with David Ash for most of the year, will need to pull another rabbit out of his hat to beat Baylor. Still, the ball always seems to bounce his way. Two tipped balls should have been intercepted last week, but they found the turf before the Aggies could get their hands on them.

Against UCLA, McCoy severely underthrew to Mike Davis, only to have the ball bounce off a Bruin and into Davis’ lap.

McCoy’s success, though, isn’t all about good fortune. He’s yet to throw an interception in 106 attempts this season, and he’s a better runner than advertised, just watch his 25-yard scramble against A&M for proof.

“There’s times when a quarterback has to be a playmaker and make plays with his feet,” McCoy said. “It’s just instinct.”

McCoy doesn’t have the physical tools or prowess of Baylor quarterback and Heisman hopeful Robert Griffin, but then again, he’s used to it. McCoy’s been in the shadow of his older brother, Colt, ever since he stepped foot in Austin. Adversity is nothing new to him.

He began the season as the backup, started three games while splitting time with Ash, and then watched as the coaching staff gave the job to the freshman. But McCoy didn’t sulk, and he made the most of the snaps that came his way.

“He didn’t back off or stand off, he knew his opportunity would come up again,” said quarterbacks coach Bryan Harsin. “Case has done a good job, being there ready to go when it’s his opportunity.”

While Ash started five games in a row, McCoy watched from the sidelines and got mop-up work. But throughout the process, he was there when Texas called.

“He stayed level headed,” said senior linebacker Keenan Robinson. “He never complained. He’s a guy that’s going to buy-in every week. If the coach asks him to signal plays from the sidelines, he’s going to do it. If they ask him to go in and drive down the field in the fourth quarter to win the game, he’s going to do it.”

That’s exactly what McCoy did last week in his first start in more than a month, and now he has a chance to get the majority of the snaps during bowl practices if he can find a way to lead Texas past Griffin and BU. That means jump-starting a passing attack that’s been absent for the second half of the season.

If McCoy intends on keeping the starting job, he’ll have to do a better job moving the chains.

“I’d like to see him convert some more third downs and hit some easier throws,” Harsin said. “If he’ll continue down that road of not turning the ball over and managing the game, doing a better job on third downs, then you’ve got something.”

And he’d be wise not to try going throw-for-throw with Griffin.

“If it’s a shootout, we’re in trouble,” said Texas head coach Mack Brown, who is 12-1 against BU.

Robert Griffin is a one-of-a-kind athlete, and the Baylor Bears are doing everything they can to spread the word. Among the pamphlets and guides made available to the press at the Big 12 Media Days sat a stack of notepads with Griffin’s face emblazoned on the front. On the reverse side, quotes from the nation’s top college coaches and leading analysts praised Griffin’s ability.

“Absolutely amazing,” said Texas head coach Mack Brown.

“Extremely gifted,” Auburn head coach Gene Chizik wrote.

And the catchiest of them all — “The Baylor Blur,” from the Winston-Salem Journal.

He’s even got his own website, created by the Bears athletic program. The site, BU-RG3.com, is still under construction, but all signs point to the site being dedicated to his Heisman campaign.

The praise is justified. Griffin holds the Big 12 career record for lowest interception percentage, at 1.4 percent. He also helped Baylor go to their first bowl game since 1994, and he’s not stopping there. Early Heisman watches have Griffin among the candidates for the 2011 season. However, Griffin isn’t buying into the talk just yet.

“I’ve always said that the Heisman is a team award,” Griffin said. “If the team is doing well and everyone is playing together, that’s when you can start talking about it.”

Humbling words coming from a player that many around the league have accused of “trash-talking” on the field. Bears head coach Art Briles sees Griffin’s behavior on the field in a different light.

“Robert is a confident athlete with reality to back up what he’s saying on the field,” Briles said.

If anyone knows Griffin as a player, it’s Briles. While the head coach at Houston in 2007, Briles recruited Griffin to come play for the Cougars. Griffin initially committed to Houston, but after Briles landed the head coaching job at Baylor, Griffin made the switch as well.

From that point on, the face of Baylor football changed. Griffin immediately became the centerpiece of the entire Baylor athletic program. He was the crowning achievement for a school that has had trouble bringing in top talent from around the state. In came the 6-foot-3-inch, 215 pound Griffin, and he brought more than speed and a high football IQ to the program. The signing of Griffin opened the door for other blue-chip players to come to Waco as well.

Griffin’s first year with the Bears was more than the team could have asked for. He started 11 of 12 games, recorded 13 of 23 passes for 241 yards in an upset win over Texas A&M and also won the Big 12 Freshman of the Year award. His quick start with the team couldn’t stop the Bears from going 4-8 in 2008, and three games into the 2009 season, things came to a crashing halt when Griffin tore his ACL. He sat out the remainder of the season and was granted a medical redshirt since he had not played for more than 30 percent of the season. Griffin was able to make it back on the field in 2010 but even Briles admits he wasn’t at full strength then.

“We saw a little hesitation last year,” Briles said.

The arrival of Griffin has revived a fledgling football program in Baylor, and in 2010 he and the Bears made a full recovery.

Their appearance in the Texas Bowl served as a reminder that one player can indeed turn an entire program around. The Bears lost to Illinois 38-14, however, it is that loss that served as fuel for offseason preparation. Griffin made it clear that simply making it to a bowl game isn’t going to cut it this season.

“We’re not just content with sitting at the table — we want dessert,” Griffin said. 

Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III jokes around during NCAA college football Big 12 Media Days. Though he battled injuries, Griffin has taken the Bear’s football program from obscurity to a potential conference powerhouse in a short amount of time.

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

Robert Griffin is a one-of-a-kind athlete and the Baylor Bears are doing everything they can to spread the word. Among the pamphlets and guides made available to the press at the Big 12 Media Days sat a stack of notepads with Griffin’s face emblazoned on the front. On the reverse side were quotes from the nation’s top college coaches and leading analysts praising Griffin’s ability.

“Absolutely amazing,” said Texas head coach Mack Brown.

“Extremely gifted,” Auburn head coach Gene Chizik wrote.

And the catchiest of them all — “The Baylor Blur,” from the Winston-Salem Journal.

He’s even got his own website, created by the Bears athletic program. The site, BU-RG3.com, is still under construction, but all signs point to the site being dedicated to his Heisman campaign.

The praise is justified. Griffin holds the Big 12 career record for lowest interception percentage, at 1.4. He also helped Baylor to their first bowl game since 1994, and he’s not stopping there. Early Heisman watches have Griffin among the candidates for the 2011 season. However, Griffin isn’t buying into the talk just yet.

“I’ve always said that the Heisman is a team award,” Griffin said. “If the team is doing well and everyone is playing together that’s when you can start talking about it.”

Humbling words coming from a player that many around the league have accused of “trash-talking” on the field. Bears head coach Art Briles sees Griffin’s behavior on the field in a different light.

“Robert is a confident athlete with reality to back up what he’s saying on the field,” Briles said.

If anyone knows Griffin as a player, it’s Briles. While the head coach at Houston in 2007, Briles recruited Griffin to come play for the Cougars. Griffin initially committed to Houston, but after Briles landed the head coaching job at Baylor, Griffin made the switch as well.

From that point on, the face of Baylor football was changed. Griffin immediately became the centerpiece of the entire Baylor athletic program. He was the crowning achievement for a school that has had trouble bringing in top talent from around the state. In came the 6-foot-3-inch, 215 pound Griffin, and he brought more than speed and a high football IQ to the program. The signing of Griffin opened the door for other blue chip players to come to Waco as well.

Griffin’s first year with the Bears was more than the team could have ever asked for. He started 11 of 12 games, recorded 13 of 23 passes for 241 yards in an upset win over Texas A&M and also won the Big 12 Freshman of the Year award. His quick start with the team couldn’t stop the Bears from going 4-8 in 2008, and three games into the 2009 season, things came to a crashing halt when Griffin tore his ACL. He sat out the remainder of the season and was granted a medical redshirt since he had not played for more than 30 percent of the season. Griffin was able to make it back on the field in 2010 but even Briles admits he wasn’t at full strength then.

“We saw a little hesitation last year,” Briles said.

The arrival of Griffin has revived a fledgling football program in Baylor, and in 2010 he and the Bears had made a full recovery. Their appearance in the Texas Bowl served as a reminder that one player can indeed turn an entire program around. The Bears did lose to Illinois 38-14, however, it is that loss that has served as fuel for offseason preparation. Griffin made it clear that simply making it to a bowl game isn’t going to cut it this season.

“We’re not just content with sitting at the table, we want dessert,” Griffin said.

Printed on Thursday, July 28, 2011 as: Baylor star poised to make Bears conference contenders, ‘Absolutely amazing’ Griffin placed on award watch lists by national media, coaches