Leagues are usually mixed between your 6-team playoffs starting this week, or if you’re in RCL or in any other 4-team playoff format, this is your week. The last week of the regular season. Where points scored tie-breakers make you hate your former self from 2 months in the past. If only you could send a Terminator to kill that former self before you made that roster move. Wait, would that kill you now? I don’t understand time travel!
My playoff/elimination game philosophy is no different than any other week. You hear all sorts of “don’t get too cute” or “stick with your studs” or “Sarah Connor????” Dude, the playoffs are no different than any other week. You want to score more than the other team. I know you’re reading that and thinking John Madden wrote today’s LSD. I could go for some turducken though! But it’s ludicrous the things you see sometimes – play who you think will score the most. If that means benching T.Y. Hilton for Justin Hunter in a huge gamble (like I’m doing in one league, but I need to get a preposterous amount of points for an unlikely 4 seed), then go for it. I honestly think Hunter outscores Hilton. If I’m wrong, I’m wrong. Hilton has sucked and Hunter will get garbage time – I don’t think I’m getting too cute. Although you may think so. I do have devilishly good looks… Play who you want and if you’re torn LSD is here for ya!
Looking back to last week’s picks, and I’m still a Hunter fan despite the goose egg he dropped on me last week. But it was “big money! big money!” with my other four - Michael Floyd, Donald Brown, Josh McCown and Alex Smith having good games. For my benchers, and man, I bought way too much into that Bills defense bouncing back. Matt Ryan wasn’t great, but probably still a loss and Steven Jackson decided to be good at football again. Even Tony Gonzalez got a TD! Yikes… The Colts also decided they can’t play run D like they did the first half of the season and let Chris Johnson go nuts. At least Vincent Jackson had a subpar game, which while decent, I’m calling a win dammit! Rough week, but I guess I’ll take 5-5. Here’s who I like in week 14 and their % started in ESPN and Yahoo, respectively (NOTE – these are not always recommendations for 1-for-1 swaps, just guys I like who are understarted and guys I hate overstarted):
Josh McCown (10.4%, 30%) Officially your Bears starter yet again, it’s hard to knock on what McCown has done when called upon this year. TDs not in just every start but every appearance has him undoubtedly a steady option, plus he has some of the biggest and most talented receivers to chuck it to. The weather shouldn’t be too brutal and the Cowboys pass D isn’t above league average. I like him as a solid QB play if you don’t have any of the studs.
Rueben Randle (12.3%, 23%) I know his last week was brutal, but I like the matchup against a bad Chargers D and the nice weather there in San Diego. I would make some sort of Anchorman reference, but you turn on your TV and get plenty of cross-promotions with that… I see him getting a TD here.
Riley Cooper (18.9%, 44%) Yahoo has it right! Great matchup against a bad Lions pass D, and he’s looked great despite the down fantasy performances. The Lions should give the Eagles a good run for their money, keeping the Birds passing. I don’t see any way you could leave him out this weekend with the big upside.
Bobby Rainey (13.3%, 37%) I really think ESPN needs to work on their sampling. Look at the percents in the picks thus far! As I saw last week, the Bills defense is turrrrible. I thought their data from the first half was more pertinent, but nooooo, they’re gassed. And Rainey was the only good offensive player when my Panthers trounced the Bucs. I think Rainey gets 20+ touches with big upside, and why he was my DraftKings pick as early as mid-week. Think he’s a sure-fire RB2 or Flex.
Nate Burleson (2.3%, 15%) For the same reason I like Cooper, I think this game becomes a shootout. The weather looks like it should be decent enough for big passing plays, and everyone including the drunk hobo in Hoboken knows Calvin Johnson is getting every single look. So why not give a couple to Burleson to shake the D? We saw a nice return to action two weeks ago and I think he’s more week 12 than week 13.
SON OF A BENCH
Colin Kaepernick (56.1%, 45$) I’ve always liked Kaepernick, love the arm, love the reloaded weapons, but this is the toughest matchup he gets on his slate – twice a year. The Seahawks just made Drew Brees look like Jake Delhomme out there, and while they’re on the road and not in their impossible-to-lose-in home turf, I think Colin K is a bench for hotter options. A guy like Nick Foles or even Josh McCown I like more.
C.J. Spiller (77.6%, 56%) Again to reiterate, it’s hilarious how close my picks are following Yahoo % startage vs. ESPN! I get that I might get some flack given the big game last week, but he hurt his ankle again during the game last week and very easily be the single-digit fantasy player we’ve seen in all but 3 weeks this year. The Bucs D isn’t awful, they’ve actually given up the 8th-least fantasy points to opposing RBs and if Spiller is not feeling it yet again, this could be brutal. And I think it will be.
Zac Stacy (57.2%, 55%) I like Stacy, I was really blown away how well he ran against the Seahawks in primetime in week 8, but I just hate this matchup. At Arizona, in the “Red Zone”, this is a toughie. The Cards give up the 2nd-least fantasy points to opposing RBs, and can make a statement in their Wild Card push. I like Rainey more.
Marques Colston (67.0%, 49%) I’m actually shocked at those % start numbers for Colston. Dude’s been brutal. And my Panthers, despite my pessism for them extending their win-streak in the very tough NO dome environment, I don’t see Colston having a big game. I like so many options more, for example, I think it’s Cooper over him and not close.
Vincent Jackson (89.0%, 90%) I struggled with this last pick, so why not an oldie goldie! Jackson is questionable as of the time of this writing, and with a bum hammy I’m always nervous for a WR. The matchup is great, but VJax has always been hit or miss. As of right now I’d weigh other big options and be cautious in your normal Vjax deployment.
If you have any last second decisions, shoot some comments below or tweet me @jbgilpin - and remember I’m going to be a little slower getting to them but I’ll get to everything well before kickoff! Good luck in week 14!