Friday, December 30, 2016

Week 17 Starters & Benchwarmers

Week 17 is usually a crapshoot, with several teams resting starters or coasting into the off-season. Typical “no-brainer” starters aren’t so obvious this week, while seldom-used backups get their moments in the sun. In short, it’s a terrible week to contest your fantasy Super Bowl.

In my leagues, we play a “Free for All Bowl,” in which everyone except the champ sets one final lineup. The overall points winner gets a token share of the pot.

Here are my picks to roll, and get rolled, in Week 17 of the 2016 season.

Watch ‘em roll

Matt Stafford, QB, Lions vs. Packers. When last these two teams met, Stafford had a huge game and Marvin Jones (205 receiving yards, 2 TDs) became an instant fantasy hero. Since then, Stafford has held up his end of the bargain, while Jones has lost his fantasy relevance. The Lions have everything to play for, so count on Stafford to keep all of his receivers busy (except, inevitably, Jones).

Darren McFadden, RB, Cowboys at Eagles. Ezekiel Elliott is expected to receive only token carries, after which he will yield the backfield to McFadden. Run DMC looked sharp in his first extended playing time of the season during mop-up duty last week, so look for him to use this opportunity to audition for a nice free-agent contract in the offseason.

Latavius Murray, RB, Raiders at Broncos. Oakland is starting Matt McGloin at QB. So do you think they’ll emphasize the run or pass in this pivotal game? Exactly. Though he was out-played by DeAndre Washington last week, Murray remains the starter and the most reliable option in the Raiders backfield. Washington is worthy a flier, too, given the delicious matchup.

Davante Adams, WR, Packers at Lions. This game should be an aerial showcase, as neither team runs the ball consistently. Speaking of inconsistent, meet Adams. Now that he’s put his disastrous Week 15 performance behind him, trust him to hold onto the balls Aaron Rodgers flings his way.

J.J. Nelson, WR, Cardinals at Rams. Neither team has anything to play for, but Nelson will be looking to cement his position as Arizona’s No. 2 wideout heading into 2017. He has established a nice rapport with Carson Palmer, and the Rams are coughing up nearly two passing TDs per game, on average.

More thumbs up: QBs Aaron Rodgers, Matt Ryan, Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Russell Wilson; RBs LeSean McCoy, David Johnson, Devonta Freeman, Tevin Coleman, Spencer Ware, Jordan Howard, LeGarrette Blount, Bilal Powell, Thomas Rawls, Jacquizz Rodgers, Jonathan Stewart, Derrick Henry, Darren Sproles, Mark Ingram, Ty Montgomery, Rex Burkhead; WRs Jordy Nelson, Golden Tate, Larry Fitzgerald, Julio Jones, Emmanuel Sanders, T.Y. Hilton, Julian Edelman, Michael Thomas, Brandin Cooks, Doug Baldwin, Mike Evans, Sammy Watkins, DeSean Jackson, Kelvin Benjamin, Alshon Jeffery, Allen Robinson, Tyrell Williams, Jarvis Landry, Adam Thielen, Cameron Meredith.

Roll ‘em back

Philip Rivers, QB, Chargers vs. Chiefs. Over the last three weeks, no secondary has been tougher on opposing QBs than Kansas City. The Chiefs need a win for a chance at the division title while the Chargers are already setting their tee times. Don’t expect a rousing performance against this stingy and focused defense.

Todd Gurley, RB, Rams vs. Cardinals. This season’s leading candidate for Fantasy Bust of the Year “honors” has yet to have a 100-yard rushing game and, even worse, has just one 100-combined-yard game in 2017. He managed a better-than-usual 82 total yards (without a TD) the last time he faced Arizona. If you’d be happy with that, go ahead and start him. Otherwise, look to someone with real upside.

Alfred Blue, RB, Texans at Titans. Lamar Miller (ankle) is unlikely to suit up for this pointless affair, leaving the starting role in Blue’s hands again. Though he came through with a solid performance last week, Sunday’s opponent is tougher against the run. Though he may eek in a short TD plunge, don’t expect big yardage from this backup.

Rishard Matthews, WR, Titans vs. Texans. With their playoff seeding set in stone, Houston could sit many of their starters. That’s the good news for Matthews. The bad news is he’ll be attempting to snare passes from Matt Cassel in a game that’s also meaningless for the Titans. This one could get ugly.

Jordan Matthews, WR, Eagles vs. Cowboys. Carson Wentz continues to regress and Matthews is paying the price. Though he had a nice outing the last time he faced Dallas (11 receptions for 65 yards, 1 TD), he’s hard to trust against a secondary that has been playing well and lacks the depth to bench all its starters.

More thumbs down: QBs Dak Prescott, Ben Roethlisberger, Trevor Siemian, Carson Wentz, E.J. Manuel, Andy Dalton, Tony Romo, Eli Manning, Alex Smith, Robert Griffin III, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Colin Kaepernick, Matt McGloin; RBs Ezekiel Elliott, Le’Veon Bell, Melvin Gordon, Jeremy Hill, Lamar Miller, Rob Kelley, Matt Forte, Shaun Draughn, Devontae Booker, Zach Zenner, Terrance West, Chris Ivory; WRs Antonio Brown, Dez Bryant, Randall Cobb, Cole Beasley, Donte Moncrief, Robby Anderson, Brandon Marshall, Jeremy Maclin, Terrelle Pryor, Mike Wallace, Kenny Britt.


Steve Smith, WR, Ravens at Bengals. Though Baltimore has been eliminated from the postseason, this game has special meaning as Smith’s swan song. There’s no way this fiery competitor will go out with a whimper. Joe Flacco will do everything in his power to give Smith the victory lap he deserves.

DON’T BE THE BONEHEAD WHO … assumes your stalwarts will suit up as usual in Week 17. The Steelers have already signaled that they will sit their stars, while the Cowboys’ young guns will likely see only minimal action. The Giants and Texans likewise have nothing to play for. Plan accordingly.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Week 16 Heroes & Zeros

This was a great week to play…

Aaron Rodgers, Packers – Torched the Vikings for 347 yards and 4 TDs, plus 13 rushing yards and a 5th TD.
Russell Wilson, Seahawks – Passed for 350 yards and 4 TDs and ran for 36 yards, too; but lost a fumble.
Tyrod Taylor, Bills – Passed for 329 yards and 3 TDs, and added 60 rushing yards, without a turnover.
Kirk Cousins, Redskins – Just 1 TD and 270 yards through the air, but he added 30 yards and 2 more TDs on the ground.
Sam Bradford, Vikings – Actually showed up, with 382 passing yards and 3 TDs, plus a fumble. Not that anyone started him.
Tom Brady, Patriots – Hit the showers early after passing for 214 yards and 3 TDs.
Dak Prescott, Cowboys -- Had almost an identical passing stat line on Monday night, though he added 35 yards as a rusher.
Blake Bortles, Jaguars – Passed for 325 yards and a TD, and caught a 20-yard TD pass, without a blemish.
Andrew Luck, Colts – Had a couple of INTs, but also passed for 288 yards and 2 TDs and ran in an 11-yard TD.

Jay Ajayi, Dolphins – Rumbled through the Bills for 206 yards and a TD.
David Johnson, Cardinals – Ran for 95 yards and a TD hat trick, plus 4 catches for 41 yards. We’ll forgive the fumble.
Le’Veon Bell, Steelers – Rushed for 122 yards and a score, and grabbed 3 passes for 15 more yards and a second TD.
Tevin Coleman, Falcons – Ran for 90 yards and a TD, and caught 3 passes for 45 yards. On my bench.
Mark Ingram, Saints – Scored twice while rushing for 90 yards and caught 2 passes for 3 yards.
LeSean McCoy, Bills – Rushed for 128 yards and a score, plus 5 receptions for 17 yards.
DeAndre Washington, Raiders – Ran for 99 yards and 2 TDs and caught an 18-yarder.
Ezekiel Elliott, Cowboys – Despite being pulled early, ran for 80 yards and 2 TDs, and caught a 12-yard pass.
Zack Zenner, Lions – Punched in two TDs and collected 67 rushing and 25 receiving yards on Monday night.
Isaiah Crowell, Browns – Ran for 54 yards and a pair of TDs.
LeGarrette Blount, Patriots – His 50 yards and 2 TDs were just as sweet as Crowell’s.

Dez Bryant, Cowboys – Came up huge in the MNF spotlight, collecting 4 passes for 70 yards and 2 TDs and throwing a 10-yard TD pass as well.
Adam Thielen, Vikings – Snagged a dozen passes for 202 yards and 2 TDs. Wow.
Jordy Nelson, Packers – Grabbed 9 passes for 154 yards and 2 TDs.
Sammy Watkins, Bills – Caught 7 passes for 154 yards and a TD. On my bench.
Doug Baldwin, Seahawks – Busted loose for 171 yards and a TD on 13 receptions.
Cameron Meredith, Bears – Reeled in 9 passes for 135 yards and a score.
J.J. Nelson, Cardinals – Caught only 3 passes but took them for 132 yards and 1 TD.
Antonio Brown, Steelers – Once he got warmed up, he caught 10 passes for 96 yards and the winning TD. For my opponent.
Brandon LaFell, Bengals – Turned 6 passes into 130 yards and a TD.
Odell Beckham, Jr., Giants – In PPR leagues, his 11 receptions for 150 yards were gold.
Allen Robinson, Jaguars – He actually had 9 catches for 147 yards. Where has that been all year?
Marquis Lee, Jaguars – Had 3 catches for 37 yards and a TD, and threw a 20-yard TD pass to Blake Bortles.

Travis Kelce, Chiefs – Reeled in 11 passes for 160 yards and a TD, sinking my title hopes.
Charles Clay, Bills – Scored twice while catching 8 passes for 85 yards.
Antonio Gates, Chargers – Pulled down 8 passes for 94 yards and a TD.

Patriots – Amassed 2 sacks, 3 INTs and a fumble recovery while holding the hapless Jets to 3 points.

This was a great week to play against…

Trevor Siemian, Broncos – Passed for just 183 yards without a score, and coughed up an INT.

Thomas Rawls, Seahawks – Ran for a measly 8 yards.
Jeremy Hill, Bengals – So did he. In my starting lineup…
Kenneth Farrow, Chargers – Ran for 28 yards and caught 4 passes for 29 more.
Ty Montgomery, Packers – Let down his bedazzled owners with just 23 rushing and 17 receiving yards.

Robby Anderson, Jets – Finished with a goose egg, not coincidentally after Bryce Petty went down.
Jamison Crowder, Redskins – Caught a 3-yarder.
Jeremy Maclin, Chiefs – Held to 9 yards on 3 catches.
Jordan Matthews, Eagles – Only 12 yards on 2 receptions.
John Brown, Cardinals – He got 12 yards on his only catch.
Taylor Gabriel, Falcons – Settled for 3 catches for 15 yards.
Kenny Britt, Rams – Caught a lousy 15-yard pass.
Marvin Jones, Lions – Came up short again, with just a 16-yarder to his credit.
Demaryius Thomas, Broncos – Only managed 20 yards on 3 catches, in my starting lineup.
Willie Snead, Saints – Just 21 yards on 2 balls.
Mike Wallace, Ravens – He got his 21 yards on 4 catches.
Chris Hogan, Patriots – Notched a 22-yard reception.
Tyler Boyd, Bengals – Only 25 yards on 2 catches.
Emmanuel Sanders, Broncos – Limited to a 26-yarder.
Ted Ginn, Panthers – Had just 29 yards on 3 catches.
Jarvis Landry, Dolphins – So did he.
Quincy Enunwa, Jets – Led his team with a 30-yard catch.
Brandon Marshall, Jets – He continued to implode with 2 catches for 28 yards.
Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals – Stuck with 4 passes for 31 yards.
Terrelle Pryor, Browns – Had another disappointing day, with 3 receptions for 36 yards.
Tyler Lockett, Seahawks – Caught just 2 passes for 38 yards before exiting with a broken leg.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Holiday heroics cut both ways

What could be worse than losing your fantasy championship game on Christmas night?

I guess watching Chiefs defensive tackle Dontari Poe complete a jump-pass touchdown to rub in a playoff-eliminating loss on Christmas night is worse.

It depends on your perspective.

My demise came earlier in that game, when Travis “Freaking” Kelce (his forever name to me now) took a bubble screen 80 yards to the house. Are you kidding me, Broncos defense?

Even though some serious scratch was still on the line, I didn’t even think twice about turning off the television and settling in for a raucous game night with the family. I could tell I was Scrooged.

In retrospect, the writing was on the wall when Antonio Brown reached over the goal line to seal the Steelers’ come-from-behind win over the Ravens. Until then, my opponent’s starting combo of Ben Roethlisberger and Brown had been under control. But after teasing us during a remarkably mediocre first half, Big Ben and AB found their mojo. It seemed inevitable that the duo would connect for the winning score on that fateful, final drive.

Oh well. David Johnson came through in the clutch like a Fantasy MVP must, but even he couldn’t do it all on his own.

For the record, I’m calling for Marvin Lewis to be fired for limiting Jeremy Hill to seven stinking carries on Saturday night. And those who were counting on Doug Martin must share that sentiment about Bucs head coach Dirk Koetter. Don’t they understand what’s at stake for us?

I’ll take some solace in seeing the fantasy gods smite them as well, with both of their teams tasting defeat over the weekend.


To win a fantasy championship, it helps to start with a great draft. But filling gaps in your roster with the occasional waiver-wire acquisition is also important. At this point in the season, the pickings are slim and your best bet is to stick with your regular starters. But here's a look at some players worth considering anyway, and others who would look better in someone else's lineup for the finale.

Catch ‘em while you can

Alfred Blue, RB, Texans. Blue ran well against the Bengals in Lamar Miller’s absence, and he could get the call again in Week 17 to allow the starter to rest his bum ankle for the postseason. Blue caught all four of his targets on Saturday, underscoring his value as a receiving threat as well.

Kenyon Drake, RB, Dolphins. Week 17 always gives us a handful of unheralded fantasy studs as teams rest or limit their starters. With hard-running Jay Ajayi having sprained his shoulder against the Bills, and the Dolphins safely playoff-bound, Drake could be one of those shooting stars against a New England team that has secured the AFC’s top seed.

Charles Clay, TE, Bills. With 18 receptions for 209 yards and three TDs over his last three games, Clay has emerged as a viable late-season weapon for the Bills. Any reservations I might normally have about adding a Buffalo tight end this late are erased by a look ahead to next week’s opponent. Against the hapless Jets, Clay could put up Kelce-like numbers.

Don’t be fooled

DuJuan Harris, RB, 49ers. With the news that Carlos Hyde has torn his MCL, Harris presumably will jump back into the spotlight for the 49ers’ final game. He performed capably earlier this season, but the combination of a tough Seahawks defense and a shared backfield with Shaun Draughn limits Harris’ upside in the finale.

Jacquizz Rodgers, RB, Buccaneers. So we are to believe that Koetter made Martin a healthy scratch because he thought Rodgers would be a “better fit” against the Saints? Super. So who’s a better fit against the Panthers? Rodgers, who put up 129 combined yards against them in Week 5, or Martin, who rang up 251 total yards and a TD in two contests last year? I’d rather not play the RB lottery.

Jermaine Kearse, WR, Seahawks. With the gruesome injury to Tyler Lockett, you figure Kearse will see more action moving forward. But it’s awfully hard to trust a receiver who just caught his first touchdown pass of the season in Week 16 and has essentially been the forgotten man in the Seattle offense.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Saturday morning observations -- Week 16

Merry Christmas Eve, Fools! I hope each of you is having a wonderful holiday weekend and that you've taken care of your shopping so you can properly cheer on your squad today. For me, there's big money and a fierce rivalry on the line in our fantasy Super Bowl. I'm counting on winning numbers from Matt Ryan, David Johnson and others, but I'm going to have to overcome some tough matchups to walk away with the title in that league, which I've led from wire to wire.

But enough about me. We know what's at stake. Let's go on one more stroll across the NFL landscape...

The big receiver news of the day is that Julio Jones is back. This is great news for Ryan owners like me, but I'll be putting Taylor Gabriel back on my bench. I don't think he'll be a bust; I just have a couple of better/safer options.

The news is decidedly less optimistic for Cincinnati. Both A.J. Green and Tyler Eifert will sit tonight in Houston.

You may need to scratch Lamar Miller, too. His ankle has him listed as doubtful tonight. Alfred Blue would take the lead in Miller's absence.

Adrian Peterson has been ruled out, but you weren't going to start him anyway, right?

Melvin Gordon is out, so look for Kenneth Farrow and Ronnie Hillman to share the load in a great matchup with the Browns. That said, I think they conspire to cancel out each other's upside.

Matt Forte is doubtful today, leaving the backfield fully in Bilal Powell's hands. I still think Powell will find tough sledding against the Pats, but this news helps.

Good news for those counting on Andrew Luck: Donte Moncrief will be back from his hamstring injury.

Sammy Watkins will play for the Bills, but not for me. Just too risky for my blood.

The Redskins will be without Jordan Reed, who will be inactive today.

Randall Cobb won't play for the Packers.

That's it for now. Inactives and other late-breaking news to come via Twitter.

HUGE luck today, Fools. Go getcha a trophy (and a check)!

Friday, December 23, 2016

Week 16 Starters & Benchwarmers

Wondering whether or not to start Tom Brady and Shady McCoy, or to bench Robert Griffin, Jr. and Jerick McKinnon? The network bozos specialize in that kind of advice. If you’re looking for help with your real starting lineup conundrums, read on.

Here are my picks to roll, and get rolled, in Week 16 of the 2016 season – Super Bowl weekend in Fantasyland!

Watch ‘em roll

Philip Rivers, QB, Chargers at Browns. Rivers hasn’t thrown for fewer than two TDs in a game since Week 7. His bugaboo has been interceptions (and middling yardage). Fortunately, this week’s opponents have picked off just eight passes while giving up an NFL-worst 31 scoring passes. With Melvin Gordon likely out again, and a full complement of healthy receivers, Rivers should have a field day in Cleveland.

Spencer Ware, RB, Chiefs vs. Broncos. Aside from a salty, two-TD effort in Week 13 against Atlanta, Ware has cooled off dramatically from his early-season exploits. He should get back on track against the sorry Broncos run defense, especially since Denver’s strong secondary and the nasty elements will conspire against Kansas City’s passing game.

Jay Ajayi, RB, Dolphins at Bills. The last time Miami and Buffalo clashed, Ajayi steamrolled over the Bills’ defense for 214 rushing yards and a TD. While those heady days seem long gone, Ajayi should again be leaned on heavily in the poor conditions. Despite Matt Moore’s solid outing last week, he and his fair-weather receivers are likely to struggle with the slick ball, making Ajayi’s contributions paramount.

Alshon Jeffery, WR, Bears vs. Redskins. Matt Barkley has been spreading the ball around fairly evenly between his receivers, but he got really comfortable with Jeffery late in the Green Bay game. Expect the duo to start off stronger on Saturday and for Chicago’s most skilled wideout to separate himself from the pack.

Julian Edelman, WR, Patriots vs. Jets. The weather outside may be frightful, but that rarely bothers the Patriots. Matt Moore racked up four TD passes against the Jets last weekend, so how much trouble do you think Tom Brady will have with that secondary? Edelman will carry a heavy load and both Chris Hogan and Malcolm Mitchell offer decent upside as flex options, too.

More thumbs up (excluding the no-brainers): QBs Russell Wilson, Andrew Luck, Matt Stafford, Cam Newton, Derek Carr, Matt Barkley; RBs Jordan Howard, Ty Montgomery, Mark Ingram, Thomas Rawls, Doug Martin, Frank Gore, Todd Gurley, LeGarrette Blount; WRs Julio Jones, Ted Ginn, Davante Adams, T.Y. Hilton, Brandin Cooks, Michael Thomas, Tyrell Williams, Larry Fitzgerald, Dontrelle Inman, Doug Baldwin, Dez Bryant, Golden Tate, Demaryius Thomas, Rishard Matthews, Michael Crabtree, Robby Anderson.

Roll ‘em back

Kirk Cousins, QB, Redskins at Bears. Cousins is coming off one of his worst outings of the season, and frigid Soldier Field doesn’t figure to be a natural place to rebound. The Bears have been tough on opposing passers of late (albeit with a big assist from Davante Adams last week), so Cousins’ ceiling is low in this matchup.

Tevin Coleman, RB, Falcons at Panthers. Carolina’s run defense has held up its end of the bargain for the most part, surrendering just 10 rushing scores to date. Devonta Freeman reasserted his role as Atlanta’s primary rusher last week, leaving Coleman to pick up the leftovers. In a game where rushing yards and scores will be contested fiercely, there may not be enough opportunities for the No. 2 tailback to excel.

Bilal Powell, RB, Jets at Patriots. If you were Bill Belichick, which Jets player would you focus on shutting down? Exactly. Powell has soared since Matt Forte injured his knee, but he will face a lot of unwanted attention from his division rivals. Forte likely won’t steal many of his touches, but Powell’s prospects for another stellar outing remain dim.

A.J. Green, WR, Bengals at Texans. There’s a good chance Green will return to the field on Saturday night, but he comes with great risk (including the possibility of tweaking his tender hamstring). Cincinnati is out of the playoff hunt and the Houston secondary can be stingy. Decoys have no place in fantasy lineups.

Allen Robinson, WR, Jaguars vs. Titans. Chances are, if you drafted A-Rob, you aren’t playing in the fantasy Super Bowl. But if you are, it’s probably because you gave up on him long ago. A leading candidate for Fantasy Bust of the Year (dis)honors, Robinson can’t be trusted in most matchups, and particularly against tough foes like the Titans.

More thumbs down: QBs Jameis Winston, Carson Palmer, Tyrod Taylor, Andy Dalton, Blake Bortles, Alex Smith, Joe Flacco; RBs Adrian Peterson, Carlos Hyde, T.J. Yeldon, Dwayne Washington, Chris Ivory, James White; WRs Kelvin Benjamin, Donte Moncrief, Jeremy Maclin, Terrelle Pryor, Tyler Boyd, DeSean Jackson, Kenny Stills, DeVante Parker, Sammy Watkins, Mike Wallace, John Brown, Brandon Marshall, Pierre Garcon, Quincy Enunwa.


DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Texans vs. Bengals. I don’t care what your name is. When you’re as unreliable as Hopkins has been all season, he deserves the “flier” tag when he’s being recommended. My optimism is boosted by the 17 targets he saw from Tom Savage last weekend, and the ideal conditions inside his home stadium.

DON’T BE THE BONEHEAD WHO…forgets that Saturday is the new Sunday. This year, your fantasy title will most likely be won or lost on Christmas Eve, as the NFL has scheduled a dozen games for Dec. 24. So get your shopping done on Friday; you’ve got serious business to take care of on Saturday!

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Week 15 Heroes & Zeros

This was a great week to play…

Drew Brees, Saints – Racked up 389 yards and 4 TDs without a fumble.
Matt Moore, Dolphins – Torched the Jets for 236 yards and 4 TDs, plus an INT, though no one on the planet started him.

Devonta Freeman, Falcons – Ran for 139 yards and a TD trifecta, and added 16 yards on 2 receptions.
LeSean McCoy, Bills – Rumbled for 153 yards and 2 TDs, plus 3 catches for 16 yards.
David Johnson, Cardinals – Ran for 53 yards and 2 TDs and caught 4 passes for 55 yards.
Ty Montgomery, Packers – Ran for 162 yards and 2 TDs.
Ezekiel Elliott, Cowboys – Raced for 159 yards and a TD, and caught 3 passes for 29 yards.
Bilal Powell, Jets – Rushed for 84 yards and caught 11 passes for 78 more.
Derrick Henry, Titans – Scored twice while rushing for 58 yards.

Brandin Cooks, Saints – Snared 7 passes for 186 yards and 2 TDs.
Tyler Lockett, Seahawks – Caught 7 passes for 130 yards and a TD.

Dion Sims, Dolphins – Scored twice with his 4 catches for 31 yards.

Dolphins – Collected 3 sacks, 3 INTs, a fumble and blocked a punt for a TD, while holding the Jets to 13 points

Chris Boswell, Steelers – Nailed all 6 of his FGs (from 30, 40, 45 and 49 yards – 3 times).

This was a great week to play against…

Tom Brady, Patriots – Had another rough outing in Denver, with just 188 passing yards without a score (or turnover).
Marcus Mariota, Titans – Passed for 241 yards without a score, and coughed up 2 turnovers.
Aaron Rodgers, Packers – He was plagued by drops by his WRs and left with 252 yards and no scores or turnovers.
Trevor Siemian, Broncos – Racked up 282 yards but had 1 INT and no TDs.
Matt Stafford, Lions – Passed for 273 yards and ran for 13 without a score, but tossed an INT.
Kirk Cousins, Redskins – Passed for 315 yards, but had no scores and 2 turnovers.

Adrian Peterson, Vikings – Returned early to gain just 22 yards, and fumbled it away.
Isaiah Crowell, Browns – Ruined his favorable matchup with just 28 rushing yards.
Todd Gurley, Rams – Continued to punish his owners with 38 rushing yards.
Thomas Rawls, Seahawks – Just 34 rushing and 5 receiving yards.
Matt Forte, Jets – Little was expected, and he came through with 28 combined yards.
Rashad Jennings, Giants – Just 38 yards on the ground.
Devontae Booker, Broncos – Totaled just 33 scrimmage yards.
Doug Martin, Buccaneers – Held to 42 yards.
Chris Ivory, Jaguars – Finished with 44 rushing yards.
Kenneth Farrow, Chargers – Defying the other gurus’ grand predictions, he had just 53 combined yards and lost a fumble.
Jay Ajayi, Dolphins – Held to 51 yards on Saturday night.

Randall Cobb, Packers – Laid a goose egg in Chicago.
Sammy Watkins, Bills – Stuck on a 10-yard pass, which was twice what Robert Woods did.
Malcolm Mitchell, Patriots – Had a 14-yarder.
Chris Hogan, Patriots – Limited to an 18-yard catch.
Tyler Boyd, Bengals – Held to 13 yards on 2 balls.
Stefon Diggs, Vikings – So was he.
Tavon Austin, Rams – Ran for 13 yards and caught 3 passes for 14 yards.
Allen Robinson, Jaguars – Disgusted his owners with 15 yards on 2 catches.
Brandon Marshall, Jets – Limited to a 16-yard catch.
DeVante Parker, Dolphins – Caught a 17-yarder.
Terrelle Pryor, Browns – Just 19 yards on 4 receptions.
Tyrell Williams, Chargers – Only 20 yards on 4 catches.
Kelvin Benjamin, Panthers – He got his lousy 20 yards on 2 receptions.
Jamison Crowder, Redskins – Just 24 yards on 4 balls on MNF.
Davante Adams, Packers – Dropped a couple of sure TDs and settled for 25 yards on 2 catches.
Amari Cooper, Raiders – Stuck with a 28-yard pass.
Victor Cruz, Giants – Caught a 29-yarder.
T.Y. Hilton, Colts – Just 45 yards on 3 receptions.

Tyler Eifert, Bengals – Left with a measly 9-yard catch.
Jordan Reed, Redskins – Ejected after a catching a 6-yard pass.
Coby Fleener, Saints – Just 10 yards on 2 receptions.
Antonio Gates, Chargers – Caught an 11-yarder.
Jimmy Graham, Seahawks – Caught a 31-yard pass.

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Monday, December 19, 2016

It’s the most bittersweet time of the year

It’s usually a good sign if you’re still reading this column so late into the season. Because if you’re like me, the minute you’re eliminated from the fantasy playoffs, the last thing you want to do is wallow in your misery.

Unless you find it therapeutic to grumble about how some pretty-boy quarterback failed to throw a touchdown pass in Denver.

Or about how Drew Brees picked the wrong week to break out of his slump.

Or how Davante Adams dropped two sure touchdown passes, ruining both his day and Aaron Rodgers’.

I entered the weekend fully confident of victory for both of my squads. But my dreams were dashed in one league the minute Zeke Elliott jumped into that Salvation Army bucket. Tom Brady, Latavius Murray, T.Y. Hilton and Tyler Eifert no-showed, while my foe got just enough help from Zeke and others to pull off the upset.

Fortunately, my other team easily dispatched its overmatched opponent, thanks to Fantasy MVP-In-Waiting David Johnson, Matt Ryan, Jarvis Landry and that pesky Dolphins defense. Immortality (in the form of a small bronze plaque on a cheesy Super Bowl trophy) awaits the Fools next weekend.

Indeed, today is bittersweet for the Chief Fool. I had hoped to pull of the rare two-fer, winning two leagues with almost entirely different rosters. But the fantasy gods weren’t feeling overly generous on Sunday.

Instead, I’ll have more time to help with the Christmas shopping, which is just awesome.

Maybe I’ll send Davante some stickum.


To win a fantasy championship, it helps to start with a great draft. But filling gaps in your roster with the occasional waiver-wire acquisition is also important. At this point in the season, the pickings are slim and your best bet is to stick with the players who got you here. But here's a look at one worth considering anyway, and others who would look better in someone else's lineup when you’re playing for all the marbles.

Catch ‘em while you can

Ty Montgomery, RB, Packers. Available in nearly half of all leagues, Montgomery cemented his hold on the Green Bay backfield with his best performance of the season against the Bears. His heavy workload should continue next week as Aaron Rodgers continues to nurse a sore calf.

Don’t be fooled

Adrian Peterson, RB, Vikings. According to ESPN, nearly 20 percent of fantasy owners started Peterson this weekend. I hope that’s not true. I also hope those who are competing for a title next weekend won’t make the same mistake. Sadly, the AP we saw on Sunday looked a whole lot like the ineffective player we saw prior to his injury. Blame the Vikings’ offensive line if you like, but Peterson simply can’t be trusted now.

Robert Turbin, RB, Colts. Sure, he vultured two short TD runs from Frank Gore, but that doesn’t suddenly make Turbin roster-worthy. Sunday’s performance is what we in the guru biz call an “aberration,” and you’re unlikely to see it again.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Sunday morning observations -- Week 15

OK,'s cooooooold outside, and it's crunch time! If you're still reading this, then I assume you're still playing -- as all Fools should be -- so let's go set the table for our Super Bowl berths.

First, a little bragging. I'm in the semi-finals in both my leagues, which is cool since they are almost completely different rosters (only David Johnson and the Denver D are common denominators). I also scooped up the Dolphins D this week to start over the Broncos in one league, which paid off nicely last night. I feel so confident of victory in the other league that I'm not concerned about my D.

I hope you're in a similar situation today. Let's see what's up around the league as we prepare to dominate...

Of course, the biggest news of the day is the return of Adrian Peterson. So why isn't anyone in Fantasyland cheering? Could it be his 1.6 ypc average pre-injury this year? Yeah, I think that's it. Still, I managed to scoop him up in one league, and I'll be watching him (safely on my bench) to see how he performs today. If you're thin at RB, or have a dicey flex call, you can take your chances with AP. His touches will depend on how he feels. Just don't expect miracles, even against a bad Colts D.

Aaron Rodgers will give it a go on his balky calf. I hear lots of folks shying away from him and the Packers WRs today because of the weather. But you have to remember that Green Bay is pretty bad at running, even with Ty Montgomery back there. (James Starks is out.) I don't own Rodgers, but I'd be happy to start him unless I had a handful of other top QBs. I am starting Jordy with confidence, but will keep Davante Adams on my bench because I have plenty of better options.

Melvin Gordon will not play, but Ronnie Hillman is expected to team with Kenneth Farrow in the Chargers' backfield. I understand the hopes folks have for Farrow to pick up where Gordon left off, but I just don't see that happening. Start him only if you have no better alternatives.

Darren Sproles and Donte Moncrief will also be sitting out today with injuries.

Alshon Jeffery will play today, but considering the frigid weather and the fact that he caught his first pass from Matt Barkley in practice on Wednesday, is wouldn't start him. BTW, Marquess Wilson has been placed on IR.

Michael Floyd will not make his debut in a Patriots uniform today, and I'd be shocked if he'd be start-worthy next week, either.

Jordan Reed (shoulder) is expected to play Monday night, but there's no telling how involved he'll be. May be best to go with a safer option.

Both A.J. Green and Julio Jones have been declared out already. Terrible timing for those who invested premium picks in either player. I like Taylor Gabriel's prospects today against that sorry 49ers D. In fact, my title hopes in one league rest pretty squarely on the Falcons, with Matt Ryan, Tevin Coleman and Taylor Gabriel all in my starting lineup.

That's it for now. Heading to church in a bit so not sure if I'll be able to get the inactives out on Twitter or be able to answer your late questions. Good luck, Fools. Keep those title hopes alive!

Friday, December 16, 2016

Week 15 Starters & Benchwarmers

Wondering whether or not to start Matt Ryan and Le’Veon Bell, or to bench Brock Osweiler and Victor Cruz? The network bozos specialize in that kind of advice. If you’re looking for help with your real starting lineup conundrums, read on.

Here are my picks to roll, and get rolled, in Week 15 of the 2016 season.

Watch ‘em roll

Kirk Cousins, QB, Redskins vs. Panthers. Cousins has been solid, if not stellar, over his last two games, both of which were on the road. But he’ll enjoy some home cooking this week as the Panthers’ soft pass defense comes to town. Even if Jordan Reed continues to play mostly a decoy role, Cousins has plenty of other options to keep busy. And he will.

Isaiah Crowell, RB, Browns at Bills. You saw what Le’Veon Bell did to the Bills last weekend, right? Crowell is no Bell, but he’s coming off a solid 100-yard outing against the Bengals. Robert Griffin III stole the short TD run, but Crowell couldn’t ask for a better opponent to keep racking up the yards and find the end zone against.

Tevin Coleman, RB, Falcons vs. 49ers. Coleman outshined his running mate, Devonta Freeman, in the laugher with the Rams; but owners of both backs should be salivating over this matchup. Nobody has coughed up more rushing scores (19) than the 49ers. Both backs are excellent receivers as well, and they should continue to be busy in both phases, especially if Julio Jones is limited or inactive again.

Mike Wallace, WR, Ravens vs. Eagles. Philly is giving up fantasy points to wideouts in buckets, so look for Wallace to take advantage as Joe Flacco’s big-play receiver. Steve Smith should also get his fair share of attention, but Wallace has a better chance to exploit the Eagles with a long pass or two.

Taylor Gabriel, WR, Falcons vs. 49ers. Matt Ryan proved he doesn’t need Julio Jones to excel, and Gabriel helped make his point. With a delicious matchup in store against the traveling 49ers, the rapidly blossoming wideout should continue to soar, even if Jones and Mohamed Sanu return to the field. Don’t be shy about starting anyone in a Falcons uniform this weekend (except Sanu).

More thumbs up (excluding the no-brainers): QBs Aaron Rodgers, Tyrod Taylor, Carson Palmer, Andrew Luck; RBs LeSean McCoy, LeGarrette Blount, Lamar Miller, Jay Ajayi, Jordan Howard, Bilal Powell, Jonathan Stewart, Carlos Hyde, DeMarco Murray, Latavius Murray; WRs Larry Fitzgerald, Jamison Crowder, Sammy Watkins, Demaryius Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders, Tyreek Hill, Jarvis Landry, Jordy Nelson, Robbie Anderson, Dontrelle Inman, Julian Edelman, Golden Tate.

Roll ‘em back

Marcus Mariota, QB, Titans at Chiefs. Not too many fantasy owners survived their first-round playoff contest with Mariota and his whopping six completions. Those who did should not press their luck in the frozen and hostile confines of Arrowhead Stadium. It will be the coldest game the Hawaiian-born QB has ever played in.

Frank Gore, RB, Colts vs. Vikings. Gore has just two games all season with more than 100 combined scrimmage yards, meaning he typically needs a TD to make you glad you started him. On Sunday, he’ll face a defense that has surrendered just six rushing scores all season. The force is not strong with this one.

Spencer Ware, RB, Chiefs vs. Titans. Ware has been money throughout most of this season, but it’s hard to trust him after he floundered in a favorable matchup with the Raiders last weekend. The Titans are extremely stingy with the rushing yards and TDs. Consider safer options, if you have them.

Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Panthers at Redskins. When you are regularly out-played by Devin Funchess and Ted Ginn, can you really be called a No. 1 receiver? Methinks not. Benjamin may or may not have been benched late last week for lack of effort, but you should bench him for lack of production regardless. Even in a plus matchup like this.

Alshon Jeffery, WR, Bears vs. Packers. Since Jeffery is returning from a suspension, and not an injury, he doesn’t face the normal worries about being limited in his first game back. What troubles me more is (a) his minimal practice time with new QB Matt Barkley and (b) the wicked cold conditions expected in the Windy City. The ball is going to be hard to handle, and Jeffery doesn’t have enough upside to risk it.

More thumbs down: QBs Ben Roethlisberger, Eli Manning, Dak Prescott, Andy Dalton, Blake Bortles, Matt Barkley, Carson Wentz, Colin Kaepernick; RBs Ryan Mathews, Devontae Booker, Rashad Jennings, Doug Martin, Mark Ingram, Ty Montgomery, Terrance West, T.J. Yeldon, James White, Dwayne Washington, Jerick McKinnon, Chris Thompson, Tim Hightower, Justin Forsett, Duke Johnson; WRs DeAndre Hopkins, Cole Beasley, Cameron Meredith, Michael Crabtree, Travis Benjamin, Rishard Matthews, Sterling Shepard, Allen Robinson, Marvin Jones, Terrelle Pryor, Corey Coleman, Tyler Boyd, Quincy Enunwa.


J.J. Nelson, WR, Cardinals vs. Saints. With the release of Michael Floyd, and the on-going health limitations with John Brown, Nelson has the perfect opportunity to ramp up his role in the Arizona passing game. New Orleans’ secondary has been in a very giving mood with opposing receivers, and while Carson Palmer hasn’t been exactly sharp, he’s still flinging the ball often.

DON’T BE THE BONEHEAD WHO…overlooks the Saturday night tilt between the Dolphins and Jets. And once again, stay alert to weather conditions, which are expected to be brutal in several NFL cities this weekend. The elements will make it difficult to pass, catch and, especially, kick in certain outdoor stadiums, particularly those in Chicago and KC.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Week 14 Heroes & Zeros

This was a great week to play…

Tom Brady, Patriots -- Torched the Ravens for 406 yards and 3 TDs, plus an INT.
Aaron Rodgers, Packers – Passed for 246 yards and 3 TDs without a turnover.
Matt Ryan, Falcons – Rang up 237 yards and 3 TDs without a blemish.

Le’Veon Bell, Steelers – Had a historically outrageous game, rushing for 236 yards and a TD trifecta. Don't forget the 4 receptions for 62 yards.
Bilal Powell, Jets – Out of nowhere, he rumbled for 145 yards and 2 TDs, and added 5 receptions for 34 yards.
Carlos Hyde, 49ers – Raced for 193 rushing yards and caught a 7-yard TD pass.
Jeremy Hill, Bengals – Ran for 111 yards and 1 TD, and caught 3 passes for 31 yards.

Tyreek Hill, Chiefs – Hauled in 6 passes for 66 yards and a TD and scored on a punt return, though he lost a fumble.
Jordy Nelson, Packers – Caught 6 passes for 41 yards and 2 TDs.
Emmanuel Sanders, Broncos – Grabbed 11 passes for 100 yards and a score.
T.Y. Hilton, Colts – Caught 9 passes for 115 yards and a TD.
Chris Hogan, Patriots -- Claimed 5 passes for 129 yards and a huge TD.

Tyler Eifert, Bengals – Reeled in 5 passes for 48 yards and 2 TDs.

Falcons – Manhandled the Rams with 3 sacks, 2 INTs, 3 fumble recoveries and TDs on two of those turnovers.
Packers – Collected 5 INTs, a fumble and 3 sacks while holding the Seahawks to 10 points.

Nick Novak, Texans -- Hit all 5 of his field goals -- from 21, 24, 34, 41 and 52 yards -- and added an XP for good measure.

This was a great week to play against…

Russell Wilson, Seahawks – Had a horrible outing, passing for 240 yards and 1 TD with 5 – yes, 5 – INTs.
Drew Brees, Saints – His day was nearly as miserable, passing for 257 yards without a score, plus 3 INTs.
Derek Carr, Raiders – Managed just 117 passing yards and no TDs.
Jameis Winston, Buccaneers – He had 184 yards without a TD or turnover.
Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers – Coughed up 3 INTs while passing for 220 yards and 0 TDs.
Marcus Mariota, Titans – Completed just 6 passes for 88 yards and 0 TDs, and ran for 38 yards.

Melvin Gordon, Chargers – Ran for just 5 yards before leaving with a hip injury.
Matt Forte, Jets – He had 8 yards before going down.
James Starks, Packers – An afterthought, with just 3 rushing yards.
Devontae Booker, Broncos – Ran for 1 yard and caught 2 passes for 10 yards while being upstaged by newcomer Justin Forsett.
Mark Ingram, Saints – Ran for 14 yards and caught a 9-yarder.
Devonta Freeman, Falcons – Yielded to Tevin Coleman while gaining just 18 combined yards as a rusher and receiver.
Spencer Ware, Chiefs – Just 56 rushing yards and a 7-yard catch.

Dez Bryant, Cowboys – Imploded in New York, offsetting his 10-yard catch with a costly fumble.
Donte Moncrief, Colts – Finished with a goose egg, and an injury.
Travis Benjamin, Chargers – Had a minus-2 yard run, and no catches.
Terrelle Pryor, Browns – Caught a 3-yarder on the day.
Kelvin Benjamin, Panthers- Limited to an 11-yarder.
Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals – Came up short with 3 receptions for 12 yards.
DeVante Parker, Dolphins – Only 14 yards on his 2 catches.
Jeremy Maclin, Chiefs – Returned to catch a 16-yarder.
Allen Robinson, Jaguars – Settled for a 17-yarder? Really?
Michael Crabtree, Raiders – Just 21 yards on 4 receptions.
Ted Ginn, Panthers – Caught 2 passes for 21 yards.
Rishard Matthews, Titans – Held to a 26-yard catch by Denver.
Amari Cooper, Raiders – Had 5 catches but only went 29 yards with them.
Quincy Enunwa, Jets – He got his 29 yards on 3 receptions.
DeAndre Hopkins, Texans – Led his team with 33 yards on 2 catches, sadly.
Brandon Marshall, Jets – He had 3 for 33.
Jamison Crowder, Redskins – Stuck with 2 balls for 37 yards.
Mike Evans, Buccaneers – Limited to 42 yards on 4 receptions.

Jordan Reed, Redskins – Returned from injury to snag a 10-yarder.
Jimmy Graham, Seahawks – Caught a 16-yard pass in Green Bay.
Dennis Pitta, Ravens -- Only managed 18 yards on 4 receptions.
Delanie Walker, Titans – Just 30 yards on 2 catches.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Bell yes! Steelers RB stands tall while Big Ben gets small

Sunday was a Tale of Two Steelers.

Le’Veon Bell entered the pantheon of all-time great fantasy performers with his 236-rushing-yard, 62-receiving-yard, 3-TD pounding of the Bills on Sunday. If you had Bell in your lineup, you could have teamed him with the cast of The Golden Girls and still vaulted into the second round of your playoff bracket.

Then again, if you were relying on Ben Roethlisberger for postseason glory, the last thing you want to do today is read a fantasy column. Even this Pulitzer-worthy tome. Roethlisberger’s zero-TD, three-interception debacle resulted in shattered TV screens across Fantasyland and reminded veteran players that what Big Ben giveth, he so often taketh away.

While Bell lapped the field among the weekend’s fantasy studs, there was no shortage of laggards to keep Roethlisberger company in the back of the pack.

For the second consecutive week, Drew Brees burned the owners he had carried all season, with a stat line eerily reminiscent of Big Ben’s. Russell Wilson tossed five – yes, five! – interceptions against the Packers. Derek Carr blew a gasket on Thursday night and Marcus Mariota completed six – yes, six! – passes against the Broncos.

Both Melvin Gordon and Matt Forte succumbed to injuries before registering a fantasy point, putting many of their owners in a hole that proved far too deep to overcome. And Devonta Freeman mysteriously disappeared while his teammates were racking up 42 points against the lowly Rams.

Speaking of the Falcons, who said Matt Ryan would shoot blanks without Julio Jones? Atlanta’s gunslinger came through with flying colors for those who trusted him, with ample help from Tevin Coleman and the rapidly emerging fantasy darling, Taylor Gabriel.

Meanwhile, Allen Robinson and DeAndre Hopkins continued their season-long slides to irrelevance, Kelvin Benjamin put up another stinker, Donte Moncrief laid a goose egg before pulling a hammy and the ageless Larry Fitzgerald wilted in the South Florida rains.

Then on Sunday night, yet another story unfolded. Let’s call it a Tale of Two Divas. Odell Beckham, Jr. reminded us what elite wideouts look like. Dez Bryant? Not so much…

Here’s hoping you found yourself on the right side of the boom-or-bust ledger this weekend.


To win a fantasy championship, it helps to start with a great draft. But filling gaps in your roster with the occasional waiver-wire acquisition is also important. At this point in the season, the pickings are slim and your best bet is to stick with your regular starters. But here's a look at a couple of players worth considering anyway, and others who would look better in someone else's lineup down the stretch.

Catch ‘em while you can

Bilal Powell, RB, Jets. Powell took over the Jets backfield when Matt Forte exited early with a knee injury, racking up 179 combined yards and 2 TDs against the generous 49ers defense. If Forte’s injury keeps him sidelined, Powell’s skills as a rusher and receiver can be exploited against the Dolphins in Week 15.

Robbie Anderson, WR, Jets. Friday’s “Flier of the Week” continued to profit from the attention lavished on him by his new quarterback. Bryce Petty once again targeted Anderson 11 times on Sunday – nearly as many targets as Brandon Marshall and Quincy Enunwa combined – resulting in six receptions for 99 yards. PPR leaguers in need of a high-volume flex option could do worse than start Anderson against Miami.

Alshon Jeffery, WR, Bears. Remember him? Jeffery’s four-game suspension ended this week, meaning he is eligible to return to face the Packers. Matt Barkley has played well enough to consider Jeffery a viable option for WR-challenged contenders in Week 15 and beyond.

Don’t be fooled

Kenneth Farrow, RB, Chargers. Melvin Gordon’s hip injury will almost surely throw the Chargers backfield – and his fantasy owners – into a tizzy. Farrow carried the load nicely in Gordon’s absence – both in the rushing and passing games – but don’t expect the rookie to be handed the workhorse role. Look for Ronnie Hillman, and possibly even former Giant and current practice-squader Andre Williams, to team with Farrow in a time-share arrangement that makes them all unreliable for fantasy purposes.

Justin Forsett, RB, Broncos. Yes, the well-traveled Forsett out-ran and out-received Devontae Booker on Sunday. That’s more bad news for Booker’s owners than good news for those contemplating an investment in Forsett. Considering that Denver ran the ball a whopping nine times (for 18 yards), this is not a backfield worth banking on.

DeVante Parker, WR, Dolphins. Parker had been coming into his own as a play-making complement to Jarvis Landry. But with the season-ending injury to Ryan Tannehill, Parker is likely to revert to his boom-or-bust ways as he works on his rapport with Matt Moore. Landry should maintain his dominance of Miami’s short passing game, but the long balls to Parker will be harder to replicate.