Hyperbole. It’s what makes sports single-handedly the most important aspect of life for all time, ever.
But seriously, we sometimes get our sports overly laden with hyperbole to the point where you just shake you head and say, “Come on.” Unfortunately though, I feel it’s staring to pop up across other segments of news with more frequency as well.
Of course political broadcasts have always pumped out fear mongering with reckless abandon, but that’s why politics are just a joke. But where hyperbole is just ridiculous is if you ever flip over to a cooking show. It gets preposterous. You get 20 minutes to cook a fritter out of canned peas, a sponge, playing cards and AAA batteries, and if you make the least nausea-inducing food it validates you life’s work. “Come on.”
I like my sports with just enough hyperbole to where it’s light and not too ridiculous. Obviously sports moments define professional athletes as it’s their hyper-publicized profession, and lines like, “Kevin Garnett, with no regard for human life!” are pretty fun. But I don’t need to hear about how “this is the single biggest moment of his career” about the same guy every other week. It’s the job of the media to critique athletes and either unapologetically kick them when they’re down or launch them on a pedestal after wins, but let’s keep it a little lighter and not embrace every moment like it’s the biggest occasion every game.
With that in mind, this is the biggest, most-important week for all fantasy teams in the whole world as we are in the life and death struggle to make your leagues’ playoffs. First, looking at last week’s picks, it was an up-and-down outing, but overall fairly solid, with Maurice Morris (against the Panthers in week 11) getting usurped by the ghost of Kevin Smith (that injury was brutal on Thanksgiving), David Nelson crashing worse than the Bills as a whole, and my bench Marshawn Lynch call getting proven wrong as the game wore on (I was looking pretty good in the first half). Luckily, Earl Bennett had a nice last hurrah with Jay Cutler (Bennett has lost all fantasy value with Cutler on the shelf), Brent Celek had a solid Sunday Night, and Jerome Simpson absolutely went off. For the rest of my benchers, Chris Johnson and Ryan Mathews were both held to two points each, (how you like that, Random Collmenter? 5-2) semi-validating my call of playing Morris over CJ since they tied, and Aaron Hernandez and Beanie Wells both having poor games as well.
Here are some guys that I like this week that aren’t getting started enough and guys I think you should bench (along with their starting percentages in ESPN and Yahoo respectively):
Jonathan Stewart/DeAngelo Williams (56.2%, 40% / 61%, 34%) As mentioned on my appearance on this week’s podcast, I like both Panthers running backs against a sucking for Luck Colts. DeAngelo is getting a lot of flack, even from Carolina fans, but he’s still averaging 5.1 yards per carry and his season high for carries is only 12. I think the Panthers blow out the Colts and Williams gets at least 15 touches for 80ish yards, and Stewart gets around 15 as well for maybe 70 and a score. I see the Panthers’ backfield going all 2009 on us again.
Antonio Brown (19.3%, 50%) I’m not quite sure what people are waiting for, as Antonio Brown has become as consistent a factor in the Steelers passing game as Mike Wallace. He’s scored at least 8 in non-PPR formats the past four weeks, and there’s no reason to not expect another strong outing against a pretty poor Chiefs D. I know the fear is the Steelers will put this game away too early, but I think we’re still going to see a lot of passes throughout. Brown is as solid a WR play as you can get for a #2 or flex.
Lance Moore (9.1%, 11%) In the last Saints game in week 10, Marques Colston burned the Falcons on multiple third downs in light single coverage. I think the Giants are going to watch the film, and give Colston much tighter coverage’s and some double coverage sets. Playing on Monday Night, I like Moore to exploit some deep routes and I see him getting a shot at a long score. He’s definitely a risky play, but a high risk/high reward.
Julio Jones (17.7, 24%) The Vikings secondary was already pretty bad, but now without Antoine Winfield, it’s even worse. When the Falcons have seen some of their worst opposing secondaries (TB, Seattle, Indianapolis), it’s been Jones who has really shined. And last time Jones bounced back from his balky hammy, he had his huge 2-TD game against the Colts. I know that’s not sound logic to see a big game this week again returning from a sore hammy, but I just have a feeling he gets his third score of the year in this one. Another high risk/very high reward.
Matt Leinart (0.3%, 3%) In Arizona, Leinart had top wideouts in Boldin and Fitzgerald, but now in Houston he’s got Andre Johnson returning from injury to go along with a solid TE in Daniels and the best backs to support the run game he’s played with in Foster and Tate. Leinart has had two full weeks to prepare for starting and with Jacksonville’s above average run D (which won’t do much to slow down the Texans rushers, but even some slight resistance is better than most – they held the Texans to 4.0 YPC in their previous meeting this year vs. their season average of 4.4) and I think Leinart will be called upon to pass more than you’d think. He could easily get a red zone score and a screen pass score, and I like him for one of those 220-yards, 2 TD performances. If you’re in a deeper league or lost Schaub and/or Cutler, you could do worse than Leinart.
Son of a Bench
A.J. Green (35.6%, 37%) Even though he’ll play, Green’s knee is still giving him a little trouble, and I see the Bengals pulling away from the struggling Browns early in this one. I think we get another solid dose of Jerome Simpson and Green might not see every snap in the second half. Add into the mix he’s going to see a lot of Joe Haden lined up opposite him, and I think Green has a slow day bouncing back from injury.
Stevie Johnson (50.6%, 48%) Johnson hasn’t broken double digits in non-PPR in the past seven weeks, and with Ryan Fitzpatrick really struggling, I think Johnson has a very bad afternoon against the Jets. I see Rex Ryan firing up his boys after that embarrassing loss to the Denver Tebows, and the Bills sorely missing Fred Jackson to help open up their playbook. I know Johnson got 84 yards on Revis last time these teams faced off, but I don’t think Revis Island is going to let that happen again.
BenJarvus Green-Ellis (55.3%, 40%) The lawfirm is coming off his best game since week 3, but don’t let that lure you into starting him again this week. I know the Eagles run D has been suspect, but with Nnamdi Asomugha possibly missing the game, I think we’re going to see a lot of the vaunted Patriots passing attack. Bill Belichik loves to rotate his runners, and I don’t see Green-Ellis getting another double-digit touch game. Sit confidently.
Dwayne Bowe (86.2%, 74%) Even though Tyler Palko kept Bowe fantasy relevant last week, it was against the porous Patriots secondary. Don’t expect anything like that again this week with Ike Taylor and the Steelers keeping the Chiefs and Bowe in check. Palko just doesn’t have the arm or the experience to keep Bowe involved against a tough defense, and I don’t see how you can start Bowe at all with any assurance.
Willis McGahee (44.7%, 48%) McGahee’s return from his broken hand yielded negative numbers for fantasy owners last Thursday, and a lot of people are seeing a nice bounce back for the Bronco against the Chargers. I don’t. I think John Fox and the Bronco’s game plan of “run the ball and hope Tebow can score late” has worn out it’s welcome and the Chargers start on their late postseason surge. We all know Tebow can’t throw and there’s going to be numerous eight or nine Chargers in the box. Unless you’re strapped for RB options, I’d sit McGahee.
If you have any last second decisions, shoot me some comments, or tweet me @jbgilpin. I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving and good luck to everyone in week 12!