In many fantasy leagues, the playoffs start next week, making this the final regular season game and the final shot at hope for fringe teams. The last week of the regular season is the biggest week for me if I’m not a lock at the top – all the scenarios and following other matchups, needing this team to lose and that team to score less than 40 than me – it gets pretty hectic.
But all I need is that optimism, that one clinging shot at hope that I could make the playoffs. As Jim Carrey would say, “So you’re saying there’s a chance!”
Once in the playoffs, it’s a complete crapshoot. With teams resting players (at least Gregg Popovich isn’t an NFL coach), and last minute huge performances from no-names (think Arian Foster a few years back), there’s always a shot if you can just make it in.
When you’re in a desperate, low-probability situation to make it in, you need high-upside plays to vault you in. Here’s five guys not started in enough leagues and five guys started in too many leagues that should be benched, along with their % started in ESPN leagues and Yahoo leagues, respectively. And remember, these picks are not always suggestions for direct 1-for-1 swaps if you own players in both sections, but merely picks for guys not started enough and started too often.
Colin Kaepernick (21.7%, 26%) I’m riding the hype as many fantasy owners, recommending Kaepernick as a starter if you don’t have one of the no-brainer QB starters. CK has been huge since taking over the reigns, knocking out the incumbent starter who did nothing to lose his job. The Rams are a better run D than pass D, and with Kendal Hunter out, I expect the 49ers to not overtax Gore and keep things going through the air. Another 2-3 TDs with 30-50 yards rushing in the bank.
Rashad Jennings (31.2%, 28%) Jennings has done nothing to prove he’s a fantasy lock, but I have a sneaky feeling with the backfield to himself that he’s going to post his first 100-yard game of the season this week. MJD and Jalen Parmalee are out, and we’ve seen some huge games on the ground against a weak Bills defense. A definite high-risk, high-reward play, but if you need the upside, Jennings’ has it.
Justin Blackmon (19.2%, 42%) Two Jaguars in one week? Where is Mark Brunell? Blackmon has been huge with the change to Henne, and there’s no reason to expect him to not keep it up against that poor Bills D. Jennings should be able to keep the offense balanced and give Blackmon some downfield opportunities.
T.Y. Hilton (11.5%, 36%) As Nick and I discussed on the Razzball Fantasy Football Podcast, I like Hilton a ton this week in what should be a shootout at Ford Field. The Lions secondary has given up some big games, and with Hilton emerging as the go-to WR opposite Reggie Wayne, I like the rookie receiver to post another solid game. He’s got TDs in 3 of the last 4, and 100-yard games in two of those.
Davone Bess (9.0%, 23%) Another receiver I talked up on the Podcast was Bess, who has returned to his PPR-monster ways as of late. He’s gotten 4 catches in all of his last six games, plus two straight big games the past two weeks. The Patriots secondary is suspect and the Pats should be up big in this one. I expect Bess to get a ton of targets, many in junk time, with the Pats pass D focusing on Hartline.
Son of a Bench
Steven Jackson (63.4%, 59%) Jackson has returned strong from the Rams bye week a few weeks back with three straight big games, but I have a feeling the 49ers stack the line and focus on the Rams rushing offense with all they have. The Rams still give up the least amount of points to opposing RBs, and with seeing Jackson three weeks ago in week 10, I’ll put my money on them stacking him up.
Marshawn Lynch (85.6%, 82%) The Seahawks back had been one the most consistent running backs through week 10, but after Seattle’s bye didn’t look as sharp last week at the Dolphins. Now going on the road to Chicago, I think it’s going to be another tough week for Lynch to get back on track.
Larry Fitzgerald (81.6%, 68%) I’ve been down on Fitzgerald all year, and even with his inconsistencies, he’s still getting started in way too many leagues. With an absolute black hole at QB, it’s going to be another rough week for the uber-talented receiver. The Jets passing D has still been strong without Revis and will keep the Cards in check.
Dwayne Bowe (52.9%, 44%) Our thoughts go out to Kansas City and the Chiefs community. As of this writing it appears the game will still be played against the Panthers, and I don’t like Bowe too much in this one.
Antonio Gates (66.3%, 75%) Gates is the Larry Fitzgerald of TEs. A big name with talent (although Gates’ age and injuries are obviously also a factor), both are started based on name value alone. Go with virtually anyone atop your wire for a better game.
If you have any last second decisions, shoot some comments below or tweet me @jbgilpin. Good luck to everyone making the playoffs!