Monday, December 14, 2009
Week 14 column: This is why we play the game
The next time a friend tells you he doesn’t understand the attraction of fantasy football, you can point to Week 14 of the 2009 season as your Exhibit A.
Fantasy football is great because you stayed alert until the waning seconds of Sunday night’s Eagles-Giants battle royale even if you had no stake in the final score. After all, who knows better than fantasy owners that when DeSean Jackson starts a play on Philly’s half of the field, he’s just as likely to finish it in the opponent’s end zone as anywhere else?
It’s great because it gives you reason to flip over to the Chiefs-Bills game, if only to witness Jamaal Charles’ quiet emergence as an offensive force.
You may not have known who Quinton Ganther was a week ago, but you do now. Nobody else outside Oakland and the Capitol Beltway has a clue.
I wonder how many “regular” NFL fans could identify the Ravens’ starting tailback? Not only do you know Ray Rice is a beast, but you can name both of his backups!
You had a bead on Chris Johnson’s amazing season well before the casual NFL fan noticed. Andre Johnson’s heroics come as no surprise to you. Everyone knows Brett Favre, but you’ve already started to think that Bruce Gradkowski could be an interesting sleeper candidate for 2010.
The purists would never admit it, but fantasy enthusiasts have higher football IQs than the vast majority of long-time NFL fans. We don’t just know the players’ names; we know who’s on the rise, and who’s playing on borrowed time.
You may not be able to diagram the Cover 2, but you know which teams field the stingiest rush and pass defenses. And which defenses couldn’t stop your state’s high school champs.
But I suppose you and I have at least one thing in common with the casual fan. None of us knows, or cares, who quarterbacked the Rams on Sunday.
FREE AGENT PICKS AND PANS
To win a fantasy championship, it helps to start with a great draft. Filling in your roster throughout the season with the right free agents is also important. At this stage of the season, however, the pickings are slim. Hopefully your team is strong enough that you don’t need to juggle your lineup on your way to a title.
Catch 'em while you can
Quinton Ganther, RB, Redskins. We didn’t know he would start until the middle of last week, but he was a godsend for those who slotted him into their lineup against the awful Raiders run defense. Unfortunately, the road won’t be as smooth against the Giants and Cowboys; but Ganther proved his value at the goal-line and he showed some nifty moves as a receiver, too.
Arian Foster, RB, Texans. Here’s the honest truth: We can’t trust head coach Gary Kubiak when it comes to allocating touches between his motley crew of tailbacks. Chris Brown started Sunday’s game, but finished with three lousy carries. Ryan Moats generated the most rushing yards and a short touchdown run, but Foster got the most carries and receiving yards. Kubiak says he’s “fixing to pick it up big-time” for Foster, so that would suggest he’d be a great sleeper candidate against the Rams next weekend. But I wouldn’t bet on it.
Dwayne Bowe, WR, Chiefs. Now that he’s completed his four-game suspension, Bowe is poised to return to action against the Browns. If he was released prematurely in your league, he could be a solid addition to your playoff roster. Chris Chambers’ stock plummets with Bowe’s return, given the Chiefs’ limited aerial firepower.
Don’t be fooled
Maurice Morris, RB, Lions. Now that Kevin Smith has been lost with a severe knee injury, Morris is likely to get the lion’s share of the carries (sorry…I had to do it). But Morris offers very little upside against the Cardinals and 49ers over the next two weeks, so why bother? Surely you have better options.
Devin Aromashodu, WR, Bears. He was the unexpected beneficiary of Devin Hester’s absence, amassing eight catches for 76 yards and a touchdown. That’s nice. Now move along, folks. Nothing to see here.
Nick Folk, K, Cowboys. Apparently his holder isn’t the problem. Folk appears to have a serious case of the yips, having shanked six of his last nine attempts. Even if the Cowboys don’t cut him, you should.
Cowboys defense/special teams. With DeMarcus Ware (sprained neck) highly likely to miss at least the next game, and the Saints on deck, you’ll want to find another defense for Week 15. The Texans (at Rams), Cardinals (at Lions) and Seahawks (vs. Bucs) are probably available, and each should produce plenty of turnovers (with a possible score to boot) against their hapless opponents.