These are the games that matter most. In the world of fantasy football,
legends are made both good and bad based on what happens in Weeks
14-16. Was your starting playoff lineup full of “heroes”
or “goats”? Or maybe a little of both. We’ll break
it all down for you in this week’s initial playoff edition
Deshaun Watson, Tom Savage, T.J Yates?
It doesn't matter. DeAndre Hopkins still delivers.
First Round Fantasy Playoff Heroes
“Steeling” The Show
It has been a torrid past month or so for the quartet that is
Brown, and Chris
Boswell. Still, Sunday night’s match-up had many owners worried
based on a history of tough, defensive struggles in the great
rivalry that is Baltimore-Pittsburgh. Those worries subsided early
on and then were engulfed in an avalanche of productivity that
included 500+ passing yards from Roethlisberger, 200+ yards from
Brown, 3 TDs from Bell, and 15 (or more) points from Boswell.
Next week’s Steeler-Patriots game is not only the biggest game
in the NFL so far this season; it will have massive fantasy playoff
implications. It has a chance to resemble the Steelers / Ravens
- an offensive onslaught that brought many owners victories when
outcomes looked bleak at supper time.
Carson - Man, Myth…Injured?
Carson Wentz will not win you a championship this season. At
least, not in Weeks 15 and 16. But, in Week 14, his four touchdown
passes were further proof that he is going to be a special player
and a fantasy football difference-maker for years to come. Prior
to tearing his ACL trying to score a TD via the rush, Wentz had
already thrown for 3 TDs and nearly 300 yards. He then proceeded
AFTER the injury to throw one more. If you were counting on Wentz
Sunday to be what he’s been all year, you got exactly what
you wanted and needed. Much like Deshaun Watson earlier in the
year, we will all be deprived of what would have come next…for
now. Wentz owners would like to say “thanks” for Week
14 and the season that was. Get well soon so you can dominate
The NFC North: Land of Multiple Rushing
With apologies to owners of Minnesota RBs, the biggest story
at that position on Sunday revolved around three NFC North ball
carriers: Jordan Howard, Theo Riddick, and Jamaal Williams. What
did all three have in common? They all scored 2 TDs apiece to
go along with 366 yards from scrimmage. For Williams, it was more
of the same as he has been the second leading RB scorer the past
three weeks. For Howard, it was redemption after falling flat
in Week 13 (see last week’s article). Riddick was the beneficiary
of a great match-up and not much competition for carries, so don’t
expect him to be a hero for all of this postseason. Likewise,
Aaron Rodgers’s return in Week 15 would stunt Williams’s
production as well…at least in theory. Howard is probably
the best bet to get back to this spot in Week 15 or 16. All we
know for sure is that on the second weekend of December in 2017,
this trio of division rivals were right on point.
Bell and Brown’s Only Rivals
Only one RB and one WR have matched Antonio Brown and Le’Veon
Bell stride for stride this season and on Sunday when their owners
just needed them to keep being awesome…they were. DeAndre Hopkins and Todd Gurley are worthy fantasy football MVP candidates
in their own right and the 37.9 and 28.5 points they scored respectively
(PPR) were likely more than enough to propel a number of teams
forward. Both Gurley and Hopkins were passed over at drafts in
August due to disappointing 2016 seasons. Now, for the bargain
price you likely paid for one of them, you’re staring at
two more wins for a fantasy championship.
First Round Fantasy Playoff Head-Scratchers
This category is reserved for guys that would have been “heroes”
in Week 14 but very few probably had them in a starting lineup…meaning
their great performances didn’t make much of an impact.
They are as follows:
J-Stew Solves The Purple Puzzle
For most, it wasn’t a question of whether or not to start
Jonathan Stewart on Sunday - it was a question of whether to even
consider him for duty, even as a flex option. After all, the Vikings
have earned the reputation as the ultimate “stoppers”
and Stewart isn’t even a starter many weeks to begin with.
That’s what makes his 3 touchdown, 100+ yard performance
vs. Minnesota so bizarre. As thin as the RB position can be, I
am sure some people did stick Stewart in their lineups in the
hopes that he would find paydirt once and maybe gain 50-60 yards
total. No one could have foreseen him being a top-3 option for
the week against such a strong foe. Starting Stewart in Week 14
was like hitting the lottery… unless you started Dallas’s
Rod Smith (160 yards, 2 TDs).
An Ertz By Any Other Name
Trying to decide whether or not to start Zach Ertz in Week 14
was quite the rollercoaster. After all, he was supposedly cleared
of a concussion…but then he wasn’t. In the end, Ertz
didn’t play and all owners could do was pick up his backup,
Trey Burton, in hopes of a respectable showing. What we got was
the top tight end performance of the week. Burton’s big
day (5-71-2) made those that plugged him in look like the geniuses
that they already thought they were. Unfortunately, with Wentz
now out, Burton’s day of glory may be an isolated event.
Still, beauty is in the eye of him who seeks the understudy when
the lead actor is too ill to perform.
Tyrell’s Triumphant Return
It was like stepping back in time…one year ago to be exact.
Tyrell Williams of the San…err, Los Angeles Chargers was
one of 2016’s biggest surprises, gaining over 1,000 yards
and scoring 7 TDs after Keenan Allen was lost for the season.
2017 has been a quiet year for Williams to say the least with
Allen re-emerging and Hunter Henry continuing his rise to prominence.
But, on four magical targets Sunday, Williams became the former
version of himself…which begs the question: Did anybody
that made fantasy playoffs actually start him? The answer is obvious:
Not many. Still, if you did start him, Burton, Rod Smith, or Stewart,
your “heroes” looked quite different than the big
names noted earlier. And, you’ve got a better story to tell…
First Round Fantasy Playoff Goats
The Kam-Cussion Heard ‘Round the Fantasy
First, let’s state the obvious. Alvin Kamara’s inclusion
on this list is not his own fault in any way. It’s just
that so many people made the playoffs on the shoulders of Kamara’s
production only to see him leave last Thursday’s game early
in the first quarter and never return. The Kamara owner in my
primary league had a bye this past weekend due in large part to
Kamara’s brilliance, so he was unaffected by what took place
Thursday. Most people, however, weren’t as fortunate. In
terms of what impacted the fantasy playoffs most in Week 14, Kamara’s
concussion probably tops the list. If you somehow survived your
playoffs in spite of the injury, here’s hoping Week 15 brings
your star player back.
Quarterbacks Missing In Action
While quarterbacks like Roethlisberger, Russell Wilson, and Carson Wentz grabbed the spotlight on Sunday, there were several likely
starters who put together stinkers at the worst possible time.
Among the most shocking poor performances was a game by Derek Carr in which he threw two interceptions, barely topped 200 yards
passing, and only found the end zone once against a Kansas City
defense that allowed Josh McCown and the Jets to move on them
at will the previous week. Carr likely drew plenty of starts while
Matt Ryan drew plenty of starts in an expected shoot-out with
New Orleans on Thursday night. That never materialized and the
game served as another reminder that Ryan’s career year
(2016) was more exception than norm. Finally, what happened to
Kirk Cousins on Sunday? I know he’s missing Chris Thompson
and Jordan Reed, but 151 yards passing and a single TD likely
but some teams behind the 8-ball. He’s a risky, risky play
moving forward to be sure.
From 38 to Zero
While Washington was bad on Sunday, nothing compares to the complete
letdown that was the New York Jets. Call it the Buzz Curse if
you like as they were our featured story in Week 13 after scoring
38 on the Chiefs. Robby Anderson and Jermaine Kearse were seen
as good starting material in Week 14 not only because of the Jets’
previous few games, but also because Denver had seemingly given
up on both sides of the ball. Apparently, the Broncos figured
some things out prior to Sunday because every single Jet who might
have started in a fantasy game got nullified. McCown’s injury
(broken hand, out for the rest of the season) may have contributed
to the poor showing, but truth be told, the Jets were struggling
to do anything even with McCown in the game. Before the season,
nobody was counting on a Jet to do anything. But after McCown
put up exactly 900 yards and 5 TDs the previous three weeks, hope
had grown. Consider the growth halted.
Anybody Seen Jimmy?
Finally, it’s hard to fault Jimmy Graham for much after
he scored at least one TD in seven of the last eight weeks, but
what’s up with the goose egg vs. Jacksonville? After two
miserable games to start the season, Graham had been producing
as well as any tight end in fantasy football. If you were rolling
with Graham and your opponent with Trey Burton, you only thought
you had the advantage.
That'll do it for this week. Hope you had more heroes than goats
in your starting lineup. We’ll build upon this week’s
commentary with more in the two weeks to follow. See you next