The second round of the fantasy playoffs is no time to relax.
The top seeds, who likely sat out last weekend, will bring their
“A” game and you must too, if you want a shot at the
title matchup. Don’t forget that in addition to the Thursday
night contest there is a rare Saturday matchup. It would be a
shame if this atypical schedule confused any fantasy owners and
left them starting a less-than-best lineup.
Considering the Falcons host the 49ers,
it may be another week on the bench for Julio Jones.
“Truth never damages a cause that is just.” - Mahatma
1) There will be a running back scramble
on the waiver wire this week.
True. Two key starters were injured this weekend, opening up opportunities
for Bilal Powell and Kenneth Farrow (who?). The first quarter
Melvin Gordon injury was particularly damaging to fantasy owners
as the Chargersí running back had carried many teams to
the playoffs after averaging 17.7 FPts/G through Week 13. Farrow,
a rookie from Houston, ran for 55 yards and caught six short passes
for 23 yards in his absence. Heís the pickup in San Diego.
Powell (179 combined yards, 2 TDs last week) was already sharing
time with Matt Forte (knee) and is the better fantasy option for
Week 15, if heís still available in your league.
2) Is it a mirage or do I see Titletown
forming in the distance?
Mirage. Although Green Bay has won three-in-a-row and Aaron Rodgers
has thrown seven touchdowns versus zero interceptions over that
span, Iím not ready to say ďthe Pack is back.Ē
Even three more wins may not be enough as they need to jump over
three teams just to grab the final wildcard playoff spot. The
issue is they have no running game (Eddie Lacy, who has been out
since Game 6, still leads the team in rushing with 360 yards)
and their defense rarely shows up on the road (29.1 ppg) with
two of the final three games to be played away from Lambeau Field.
3) It’s likely to be another
weekend without a significant contribution from Atlanta wideout
True. Although the Falcons tried to disguise Jonesí absence
in Week 14 with a questionable tag, he was never expected to play
last Sunday versus the Rams after not practicing throughout the
week. Atlanta made your starting lineup decision even tougher
by not making him inactive until 2 pm on Sunday. In Week 15, the
Falcons simply arenít likely to need a lot of help from
their gimpy superstar receiver as they face the worst run defense
in the NFL - San Francisco. The 49ers have yielded a league-worst
170.7 ypg, 19 rushing touchdowns, 4.9 ypc and 28.2 FPts/G to opposing
running backs this season. It should be a busy day for Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman and a quiet day as a decoy for Jones.
Taylor Gabriel (13.6 FPts/G over the past four games) will be
a better receiving option.
4) Ted Ginn Jr., Dontrelle Inman and
Malcolm Mitchell are among 20 receivers who are averaging more
fantasy points than Mike Evans over the past five weeks.
True. Unfortunately, Evans has seen a significant drop in opportunities.
After averaging 12.6 targets per game over the first eight contests,
heís seeing just 8.6 targets since Week 10 and been held
without a touchdown in four of five games. Teams are going all-out
to stop Evans because the Bucs really donít have any other
reliable receiving options. They were so desperate that they promoted
former Eagles wideout Josh Huff for last Sundayís game.
5) Over the past five games, Denver
is NOT the best fantasy defense against opposing quarterbacks,
the Broncos are ranked third, behind Detroit and Jacksonville.
“What is too absurd to be believed, is believed, because
it is too absurd to be a lie.” – Robert Jordan
1) You can’t sit Cam Newton
on your bench because you drafted him so high.
Now is not the time to let ego get in the way of victories. I
sat Newton down last Sunday and the decision earned me four additional
fantasy points. The 2015 Bert Bell Award winner has completed
less than 50-percent of his passes in four consecutive games and
is averaging just 17.6 FPts/G over the span.
2) Baltimore quarterback Joe Flacco
and his dink and dunk offense didn’t look anything like
a top-10 fantasy quarterback Monday night.
In fact, over the past five games Flacco is ranked No. 3 behind
only Rodgers and Kirk Cousins, posting 1,504 yards and 11 touchdowns
for a 24.4 FPts/G average. Heíll face a faltering Philadelphia
defense Sunday and should be considered a must start.
3) Loading up on Kansas City’s
mediocre passing game is to be avoided at all costs.
Under most circumstances Iíd say Tyreek Hill is the only
viable Chiefs option. However, their Week 15 opponent, Tennessee,
has allowed the most quarterback (26.9 FPts/G) and wide receiver
fantasy points (34.6) in the NFL over the past five games. If
your regular starting quarterback is struggling in any way, think
Alex Smith. Hill is a must start and if Jeremy Maclin is 100-percent
healthy, even he might be worthy of a flex play. Beware Travis Kelce owners (100+ yards in four consecutive games), the Titans
have yielded the fourth-fewest TE fantasy points over the same
4) When the weather turns cold
and ugly it’s always important to have an indoor kicker.
Since the middle of November, the four top fantasy placekickers
all kick outside in the elements. Not surprisingly, Justin Tucker
has accumulated a league-leading 45 points. Behind Tucker is Steve Hauschka (44), Robert Aguayo (43) and Dustin Hopkins (42).
5) Derek Carr has averaged just 19.1
FPts/G over the past five weeks and along with a dislocated finger
makes him a tough start in the second round of the fantasy playoffs.
Incorrect. Carr’s numbers are distorted by a game against
Denver and the horrible effort in freezing cold Kansas City last
Thursday night. He’ll be just fine in Week 15 facing a Chargers
defense he exploited in Week 5 for 317 yards and two scores. The
only caveat is if the weather in normally sunny southern California
turns cold. Over Carr’s last four road games played in sub-50
degree weather, he has completed just 48 percent of his passes
for just 604 yards (151 ypg). His average yards per attempt in
those conditions is an ugly 4.34 yards per pass. Fortunately,
the forecast for Sunday is 61 degrees and sunny.
Steve Schwarz served as the fantasy sports editor of The Sports Network and is the 2014 FSWA Football Writer of the Year.