A great friend (and fantasy addict) approach me with the following question for today’s article-- why do we play fantasy football? We both follow all the important NFL writers, text back and forth hundreds of times a week, and watch upwards of 10-12 games every weekend. But for what? Why are we obsessed with this game? Why did Fortune.com say businesses lose approximately $13.4 billion annually because of employees devoting work time to setting their lineups? Today I want to try to make an attempt at explaining our obsession. By no means is this the be-all and end-all of an explanation for why we love it. But here’s my opinion:
· Trash Talk
o Nothing is better than getting a league email from a guy you just played, complaining about how unfair fantasy football is and how he obviously should’ve won, rather than losing by 2 points. The second you see this; the trash talk rebuttal begins stewing in your brain. You will do everything in your power to never let him live this down. You want him to go to sleep at night agonizing over those 2 points. The majority of fantasy leagues are played with people you know. Be it friends, relatives, or co-workers, trash talk takes the league to another level. It adds fuel to the fire; emotion to the game.
o Piggybacking on trash talk is the rivalry aspect of this wonderful game. If you have been in any league for more than one year, chances are you have that one guy (or girl) you absolutely want to crush. You could lose every other game all year long, as long as you demoralize that hated enemy. Your effort level for the week leading up to the massive matchup is unmatched. For example, in my favorite league, I play with some guys that are about 10 years older than me who all went to a college I didn’t go to. (Another story for another time). Anyways, after I sent out a lengthy trash talk email last year, he responded with an email of his own and from there the rivalry began.
· Interest in Every Game
o Fantasy adds entertainment to your entertainment. There are plenty of fine folks who watch many NFL games without the added pleasure of fantasy football, but they must not know what they’re missing. It seems like most weeks, every single game has fantasy implications. You love Andre Johnson this week but you also have the Bengals D so you’re put in a conundrum. You have so many ties in every game, it makes each and every play seem of massive importance. Before you know it, you’ve watched 8 games that don’t include any teams you root for. And you better believe the NFL knows (and absolutely loves) this. The NFL is one of the most powerful organizations in America and it has fantasy football to thank.
· Get to be a GM
o Most of us will never work in an NFL front office. Even fewer will ever reach the peak of NFL player management, becoming a General Manager. The 32 GM spots aren’t exactly easy to attain. But with fantasy football, suddenly the unattainable is at your fingertips. You get to be the GM of your own team. Your power limited only by fellow GMs who refuse to trade with you. This idea of completely controlling every aspect of a team is the overarching theme of fantasy football. Each and every one of us gets to run our organizations in any manner we please. Want to own 3 kickers? Go for it. Want to own only Oakland Raiders players? Go for it (but be sure to start praying). Fantasy gives us the unique ability to put together a team and watch it perform on a weekly basis. As GM, we get to prep months for the draft, pick your dream squad, and trade them all away the next week.
With the fantasy season is quickly coming to a close, enjoy it while it lasts and remember it’s ultimately about having fun (and winning along the way). But I ask you: Why do you love fantasy football? Email me at FantasyDecisions@gmail.com and tell me why you love it. And if you have any lineup dilemmas or need waiver wire wisdom, send it my way.
Onto the rankings!
Week 12 Rankings
1. Andrew Luck
2. Aaron Rodgers
3. Drew Brees
4. Peyton Manning
5. Jay Cutler
6. Tom Brady
7. Colin Kaepernick
8. Tony Romo
9. Philip Rivers
10. Ryan Tannehill
11. Russell Wilson
12. Josh McCown
13. Matthew Stafford
14. Matt Ryan
15. Ryan Mallett
16. Kyle Orton
17. Mark Sanchez
18. Zach Mettenberger
19. Joe Flacco
20. Andy Dalton
1. DeMarco Murray
2. Jamaal Charles
3. Matt Forte
4. Arian Foster (if active; if not, Alfred Blue would settle in around number 8 on my RB list)
5. LeSean McCoy
6. Eddie Lacy
7. Marshawn Lynch
8. Justin Forsett
9. Denard Robinson
10. Isaiah Crowell
11. Jeremy Hill (if Gio is inactive; if not, both Hill and Bernard would be in the low teens for me)
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
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.
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)
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.
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.
· 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.
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.
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
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
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
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
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
9. Chargers D
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
All good things must come to an end, and it seems as if the Texans might be saying goodbye to possible Hall of Famer Andre Johnson. The 12-year veteran out of Miami has been through all the ups and downs of the Houston Texans and his patience appears to have finally run out.
The Texans were a popular pick as an early season Super Bowl contender last season. But after pulling out victories in their first two games, the Texans lost 14 consecutive games to finish the season 2-14. It is clear that those Super Bowl aspirations were quickly washed away.
Now, coming off a season in which they posted the worst record in the league, it is safe to say the Texans are in full rebuilding mode. Nobody around the franchise has a Super Bowl on their mind.
Which brings us to the crossroads between the Texans and Andre Johnson. Johnson is almost certainly the been franchise’s best player of all-time. However, the aging Johnson has no intention of being a part of the franchise’s rebuilding process that could send him into retirement.
At the age of 33 and heading into his 12th season in the league, Johnson’s body may only have two good years left. He wants to contend for a Super Bowl and at this point, the Texans should grant his trade request. Houston can dissect it any which way, but a Super Bowl is very unlikely in their near future. There is nothing appealing to keep Johnson a Texan at this point and Houston should realize that and give the man what he desrves.
Johnson has given so much to this franchise and city, both on and off the field. Now it's time the franchise does him the justice of trading him to a Super Bowl contender. It won’t be hard finding a suitor for a star wide receiver who is an asset in the locker room as well. Overall, Johnson had a great run with the Texans, but its time to let go.
There will always be moments when someone’s ideal view of sports will be shattered.
For many, sports are a shelter from reality.
You will see that type of person flipping through a Sports Illustrated magazine in a waiting room of a doctor’s office, ignoring the blaring screen that airs the daily news.
In sports, there is consistency. There are winners and losers; rules and regulations; trade deadlines and contracts. Everything is accounted for in a closed and structured organization.
But as long as sports involve the lives of breathing beings, life will always have a way of bursting through that structure and shelter.
The shelter of sports stood strong in the first half of the NFL’s Sunday night football game between the Houston Texans and the Indianapolis Colts.
In just his second career start, quarterback Case Keenum threw for 208 yards and three touchdowns in the first half.
In an offense that has struggled for the majority of the season, the Houston hometown kid was firing deep touchdown passes as if he was Brett Favre.
On the other end of the touchdowns, tenured receiver Andre Johnson was having the best half of his career with 190 yards on seven catches and three touchdowns.
The teamwork was great — new generation to old generation, tying a struggling organization together one throw at a time. You could almost start writing the screenplay.
But then, as the Texans ran into the locker room up 21-3 at halftime, head coach Gary Kubiak dropped to his knees.
An ambulance took Kubiak to the hospital for what would later be diagnosed as a transient ischemic attack, or what is commonly called a mini-stroke.
At that point, the score did not matter. Kubiak was in a bout in the only game that matters.
For the past few weeks, I have been writing articles about the struggles Kubiak has faced on the playing field: his offenses, his team and the direction of an organization in a losing streak.
Sitting at the keyboard, it seems silly to think or write about how the Texans will fare in the eight remaining games of the regular schedule.
At this point, the only future in the franchise that ultimately matters is Kubiak’s.
The team could lose eight straight games and the world would still be spinning.
But transient ischemic attack is a symptom as well as an attack.
It can be a “warning stroke,” according to the American Stroke Association, and about one-third of people who experience the attack go on to have a stroke within a year.
Kubiak was immediately helped to the hospital after the attack, where he received treatment and tried to figure out why the attack occurred and learn how to prevent a stroke from occurring. The attack is a rare occurrence for people Kubiak’s age, 52.
Whatever the cause, whether it was a chance occurrence or, possibly, stress from the season, Kubiak will not be coaching for an indefinite period of time.
Kubiak was released from the hospital Tuesday, and there is no need for him to return immediately to coaching.
At 2-6, a playoff run is highly unlikely for his team, and it will only add more stress if more losses start to roll by.
At this point, his job security should not be questioned, his offensive strategies critiqued, nor his future be predicted.
Perhaps his Texan team will play inspired throughout the rest of the season, but, ultimately, his players just want him to recover.
“If I had to tell him, I’d tell him to worry about his health first,” Andre Johnson said on Monday. “I think that’s the biggest thing. This is just a game. Your health is more important … this football game is going to be here. It’s not going anywhere.”
Every other analyst I’ve read has listed Brady as one of their must-sits. Don’t believe it. The Jets defense is great, but Rob Gronkowski should suit up this Sunday — expect Brady to connect with him early and often.
No one really feels good about starting Miller on their fantasy team. He struggles at running between the tackles, and doesn’t get many goal-line carries, but if there is one week to start him, it’s this week. Buffalo’s defense has been porous all year — expect Miller to have potentially the best game of his young career.
An obvious pick for a Week 7, Randle will get the start for the Cowboys this week. He is not nearly as talented as DeMarco Murray, and he may not be a weekly start, but he will have a strong performance this week against the Eagles. This will be a high scoring game, and Philadelphia has a weak rushing defense. Randle got a lucky draw for his first NFL start.
I know it’s hard to bench Johnson. He was once the top dog of NFL receivers, but the tides are shifting — he is no longer a must-start. Given that Case Keenum will have his first start this weekend and that the Texans are playing the Chiefs, who have arguably the best defense in the league, Johnson is a strong sit this week.
Pittsburgh’s offense is far from dynamic, and the same goes for Bell’s rushing abilities. Bell is averaging a meager 2.8 yards per carry this year, and the Ravens’ have allowed only one rushing touchdown all year. Bell has a low floor and a low ceiling — a bad combination.
Last week, Ridley had the best game of his season with 110 yards and two touchdowns. Does this make him a must-start this week? Absolutely not. The Jets defense is remarkably strong against the run, and don’t read too much into Ridley’s Week 6 performance. In the end, the Patriots have a running back-by-committee situation, and that won’t change any time soon.
The first round of the 2013 NFL Draft was about as unpredictable as most people expected it to be. There was only one quarterback selected, three wide receivers selected and for the first time in over 50 years there was not a single running back drafted in the first round.
Even with a clear lack of top-notch talent at the offensive skill positions I still believe that there are a few first round picks from this year’s draft that will blossom into quality NFL players and great fantasy football prospects as well. Here are two first round picks that I believe will become instant fantasy superstars this fall.
1. DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Houston Texans
At 6-foot-1, 214 pounds, Hopkins is a very solid receiver. With the exception of star Andre Johnson the Texans are weak at the wide receiver position, so the addition of Hopkins will help take some of the pressure off of Johnson. Also, the respect and attention that Johnson receives from opposing defenses will play to the advantage of Hopkins because it will open up numerous holes in the secondary that he will definitely be able to capitalize on. While defenses game plan around Johnson look for Hopkins and quarterback Matt Schaub to connect early and often next season. I expect the rookie to put up a solid amount of receiving yards and with his great route running and fearless nature look for him to get numerous targets in the red zone ultimately allowing him to put up big fantasy numbers.
2. Tavon Austin, WR, St. Louis Rams
Austin is by the far the best playmaker in this year’s draft class, and a playmaker is exactly what the Rams need right now. The Rams are not deep at all at the wide receiver position so look for Austin to jump right into the starting lineup. Because of his speed and quickness he is a deep threat at all times and opposing defenses will have to respect that. If defenses play back then he will be able to make plays underneath the coverage, and if they play press coverage he will be able to beat the defense deep down the field. In addition, Austin will be the first big time playmaker that quarterback Sam Bradford will have at wide receiver since he was drafted by the Rams in 2010, so look for Bradford to target him all year long as these two young guns look to connect for some big plays. Lastly, Austin is fast enough that the Rams could use him in a Wildcat style offense or as a kick returner and punt returner allowing him to rack up some extra fantasy points. Just remember, speed kills, and speed is Tavon Austin’s specialty.
After viewing my fair share of NFL mock drafts, I’ve seen enough predictions that Houston would use their 27th pick on DeAndre Hopkins out of Clemson to fill the need at wide receiver.
Although DeAndre Hopkins was the leading receiver in the ACC, he should not be the leading receiver on the Houston draft board.
In the search of a number two receiver, Houston’s ideal player would be a Tavon Austin or Keenan Allen; someone who could compliment Andre Johnson’s deep play ability with a threat in the short game. But Austin and Allen probably won’t go that far.
But instead of selecting Hopkins, I believe Terrance Williams is a better fit for Houston.
With almost 2,000 total receiving yards in his senior season, Williams has received a lot of flack for being a primarily deep threat receiver. Averaging 18.9 yards a catch, recording 40+ yard catches in eleven games, and touchdown catches that average out to 35 yards each, Williams is certainly one of the best deep threat wide receivers in the draft.
But he isn’t restrained to just deep passes. In Baylor’s high-tempo spread offense, Williams was a perfect role for the deep threat, but possesses the skills for quicker and shorter routes more than Hopkins.
In the NFL combine Williams recorded a faster 40-yard dash time, 10-yard dash time, and a faster 20-yard shuttle time; indications of a receiver who can move quickly in short routes. However, these are indications that do not have much game film to provide evidence for Williams as a short game receiver. That just wasn’t his role.
After the release of Kevin Walters, it seems the common conclusion in replacing Walters is finding someone relatively like him. That conclusion leads to what feels like a wish list of possible candidates:
1. Tavon Austin. Nah, he’s not going to be there later.
2. Keenan Allen. Nope. He won’t either.
3. DeAndre Hopkins. Well, he ain’t Austin or Allen. But he’s got ‘Andre’ in his
name… Why not.
Terrance Williams doesn’t quite fit the mold, but is it worth drafting the third-best of the type when you can draft a player that is not that far behind in short pass skills, and can also take one for 80? Since when is big play a bad thing?
And if Rick Smith feels at all like he is settling for a receiver, he should not draft either. There’s plenty more the Texans need.
The rushing defense of Houston got absolutely blasted towards the end of the season. After the loss of Brian Cushing to an injury, an investment in an inside linebacker would be a smart decision. If Manti Te’o falls back that far in the first round, he would be a good fit. Kevin Minter of LSU is also an option.
With Shaun Cody as the main talent at nose tackle, Jesse Williams out of Alabama could be a good decision. You need a strong presence in the middle to take on run blocks, especially in a 3-4 where the nose is getting double-teamed every play.
Even though Houston filled the free safety hole with Ed Reed in the off-season, I think it would be a wasted opportunity if the Texans didn’t select an exceptional safety at some point in the draft to gain Reed’s mentorship. Players don’t get that opportunity often, and Ed Reed may not be around long. Matt Elam could be a second-round choice, or possibly even Tyrann Mathieu. That kid certainly needs some kind of guidance to pull out his full potential.
But at this point, wide receiver seems to be the biggest necessity for the Texans. We’ll find out later tonight.
Christmas music playing in every office and holiday commercials hitting us from every angle imaginable can only mean one thing: fantasy football playoffs are almost here. In fact, this is the last week of regular season play in most leagues. Whether you are in need of a big win to fuel your playoff push or want to end the season with your head held high, here’s some fantasy advice that is all but gift-wrapped:
Kaepernick looks like the 49ers’ starter for the long haul after several impressive performances in place of QB Alex Smith, passing for three touchdowns and running for another in victories over Chicago and New Orleans. Amazingly, he is still available in the majority of fantasy football leagues. With his ability to hurt defenses with his arm and his legs, Kaepernick is a solid start for not only this week’s game against the Rams but for the rest of
Starting in place of the injured LeSean McCoy, the rookie out of Kansas State exploded into the scene on Monday Night Football, rushing for 178 yards and two touchdowns against the Panthers. Although ball security is an area of concern, expect an encore performance from Brown in a favorable match-up this week against a decimated Cowboys’ defense.
After a quiet first nine games of the season, Johnson has absolutely gone off the past two weeks, burning the Jaguars and Lions for a combined 461 yards and a touchdown. Although it might be a bit too much to expect him to keep up these gargantuan numbers, Johnson should be in for another big day against a weak Tennessee secondary.
Although Reggie Bush fans have not been happy with the former Heisman trophy winner’s decreasing touches over the past month, Thomas’ owners have loved his emergence as a consistent threat out of Miami’s backfield. However, a date with New England’s awful secondary and respectable run defense equates to the Fins relying on a more pass-heavy attack this week.
Wilson had a great outing last week, throwing for 224 yards and two touchdowns while also racking up 38 rushing yards. That being said, he faces a fearsome Chicago Bears defense that is the stingiest in the league against opposing fantasy quarterbacks and will struggle, as any rookie should, against an elite defense.
Givens torched the Arizona Cardinals last week for a career-high 115 yards and a touchdown in the Rams’ 31-17 victory. However with St. Louis facing San Francisco’s suffocating defense Sunday, which held Givens without a catch in their last meeting, there’s a risk he may have another quiet afternoon. If there is another option available with a more favorable match-up, consider benching Givens.
Printed on Thursday, November 29, 2012 as: Kaepernick, Brown holiday fantasy gems
With turkey day on the horizon, many players gave their fantasy owners plenty to be thankful for in this weekend’s batch of NFL games. However like anything else in life, in fantasy football great is better than good, and these players stood out on Sunday with some incredible performances:
1) Matt Shaub, QB, Houston Texans
What’s better than leading your team to 43 points and a comeback victory at home in overtime? Doing so while throwing for 527 and five touchdowns, which Schaub did on Sunday against the Jacksonville Jaguars. The nine-year veteran set career highs in yardage and in touchdowns on Sunday, and his 527 yards through the air is good for the second-most passing yards in a single game in NFL history, tying Warren Moon’s 527 against the Chiefs in 1990.
2) Andre Johnson, WR, Houston Texans
Johnson was the main beneficiary of his quarterback’s career day, hauling in 14 catches for 273 yards, including the game-winning 48-yard touchdown in overtime. Johnson’s performance was one to remember, as he too set career highs in catches and receiving yards, managing even to outshine Jaguars’ rookie Justin Blackmon’s seven catches for 236 yards and a touchdown.
3) Robert Griffin III, QB, Washington Redskins
RG3 was practically flawless against the Eagles’ awful defense on Sunday, completing 14 out of 15 passes for 200 yards and four touchdowns in the Redskins’ 31-6 rout of Philadelphia. In addition to his passing performance, which earned him a perfect passer rating of 158.3, Griffin amassed 82 rushing yards on 12 carries.
There are always tough decisions week to week on who to start and who to sit. So here are a few suggestions at the three key positions — quarterback, running back and wide receiver — to help you set your lineup.
Players to Start
Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers
One of the biggest surprises of the fantasy football season is once again a must-play this week, as he takes a weak New Orleans secondary. Newton should have plenty of passing yards and will most likely go more than 300 yards for the fourth time this year.
Ryan Mathews, San Diego Chargers
Mathews did not live up to his high billing his rookie year, but in his sophomore campaign he is racking up the fantasy points. He is carrying the ball at least 15 times a game and is also accumulating receiving yards from the backfield. Expect great numbers from Mathews this week taking on a porous Denver defense.
Darren Sproles, New Orleans Saints
He was a dangerous return man in San Diego but not a smart fantasy play, however now that he has headed to the “Big Easy” to pair with Drew Brees, he’s putting up solid fantasy numbers. Sproles is averaging 12 points a game, and this week expect him to go well over that against a bad Carolina defense.
Players To Sit
Andre Johnson, Houston Texans
Johnson went down with a hamstring injury last week, and the team lists him as doubtful for this Sunday’s game. But if you saw the injury happen during the telecast, you know it looked significantly worse than reported, so don’t expect to have Johnson in your lineup for a little while. Fantasy owners that are scrambling to replace his huge output should look to the Texans’ second receiver Jacoby Jones to fill for the former Miami great. Jones is still available in 90 percent of ESPN leagues so he should be an easy temporary replacement.
Michael Turner, Atlanta Falcons
He is usually a must start from week to week, but his numbers have been inconsistent this season. This week they are playing the Green Bay Packers, so expect a high-scoring game and very little running of the ball, especially if the Falcons fall quickly behind, which is something the Packers have managed to do to teams all season long.
Players on their bye weeks
Just a reminder to those that might not be completely aware that this is the first week of bye weeks this season. So owners of players from the Redskins, Rams, Cowboys, Browns, Ravens and Dolphins need to sit their star players from these teams and look to the bench to fill in.