The semis are here for fantasy football playoffs, and it’s the most interesting week of the year in my opinion. I don’t know why, but my most memorable stories seem to happen in the semis. Maybe it’s because I seem to lose in the championship more often than not…
There’s the big news that RGIII is officially out, meaning fantasy playoff teams lead by RGII are going to have to search for options either on their bench or on the wire, if their league can even have roster moves. Since RGIII has become such an integral part of winning fantasy rosters this year, it adds another part of the mystique to my favorite week of the year. Imagine making your championship with the story line, “The highest scoring fantasy player got hurt and I had to play Josh Freeman, yet I still won!”
My favorite story is still my cobbled together fantasy team from 2004 in my long time dynasty league, featuring Billy Volek, Drew Bennett and Derrick Mason on the Titans that went on a tear through the playoffs, especially in week 15 in the semis. Boy was my opponent mad. If you have any good stories share them below!
Looking at last week’s picks, Colin Kaepernick salvaged a usable day with a last minute TD run, and Tony Scheffler scored a TD and had a nice day. Alex Green, Chris Givens and Kendall Wright all had usable days, but didn’t really go off. I’ll call it two wins and three washes, to be optimistic. For my down calls, Greg Jennings, who I seemed to be on island on telling people to bench, had only one catch, and Antonio Gates and Larry Fitzgerald unsurprisingly had further troubles scoring fantasy points despite their high start percentages. Matt Ryan had one of his worst first halves of his career, but turned it around in junk time, and Reggie Bush had a decent day. I’ll call my record 5-2-3.
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.
Josh Freeman, QB, Tampa Bay (32.4%, 34%) If you have RGIII out, I think one of the best options that you either could have stowed away or might luckily be on your wire (albeit unlikely) is Freeman, who had his best week of the year against the Saints. In week 7 he put up 420 yards and 3 TDs, a stat line I could see him coming close to replicating against that porous secondary again this week. Indoors and in a game that should be a shootout, I think he is a top-7 QB this week.
Matt Schaub, QB, Houston (27.9%, 29%) Another QB that could fill in admirably is Matt Schaub,, who has kind of had a down year with a few huge games. I think this week’s tilt against the Colts will be another shootout, with how bad that Texans secondary has been since the injury to Jonathan Joseph. He’s not the sexiest play, but I think gets 250+ yards and two TDs, in a game the Texans will be hungry to bounce back in.
Jacquizz Rodgers, RB, Atlanta (6.7%, 21%) In last week’s lost against the Panthers, Rodgers actually saw the field on 30 snaps in comparison to only 20 for Turner. I know Turner got the TD, he is for sure the goal-line back, but when the Falcons are in pass mode, it’s obviously all Rodgers. I think going against the Giants this week, it’s going to be a close game with the Falcons playing from behind in a few stretches. In PPR leagues, I think Rodgers is a for sure flex option, and even would play him over David Wilson (see below).
Lance Moore, WR, New Orleans (32.2%, 56%) Moore has had an underrated year this year, and while he is coming off one of his worst games, I think bounces back against the Buccaneers. Tamp Bay gives up the most points to opposing fantasy WRs, and as their most consistent receiving threat opposite Marques Colston, should get a lot of love. A must start this week.
Kyle Rudolph, TE, Minnesota (22.4%, 23%) Another guy coming off a tough fantasy day (he didn’t even have a single catch), I think Rudolph brings back the holiday cheer with a nice game this afternoon. Up against the Rams who have given up 18 catches to Tight Ends in the past 3 weeks, plus a Vikings offense that has no other solid receiving option with Harvin now on IR, I like Rudolph for 5-6 catches and a possible score.
Son Of A Bench
David Wilson, RB, New York Giants (26.1%, 38%) If you have been listening to the Razzball Fantasy Football Podcast (and I know you have been!), our biggest running gag has been how down I was on David Wilson from the preseason and how much my co-host Nick Capozzi is in love with him. After his breakout week, and Nick finally getting to have some hope with me bashing him all year, Ahmad Bradshaw is officially out, giving Wilson his first career start. Ryan Torain and Kregg Lumpkin were brought in and may get some carries, and it’s tough to see them cutting in too much, but then again Tom Coughlin’s quote wasn’t very encouraging, when asked if Wilson could be the every down back:
“There’s no reason why he couldn’t be. Whether he will be or not is a different thing. We have a couple other guys who are going to help us in different ways.”
Wilson is uber-talented, but we’ve seen it before, one fumble might mean the rest of the game on the bench. If you’ve been following the podcast, you know my stance. Not worth the risk as a playoffs starter.
Matthew Stafford, QB, Detroit (68.0%, 77%) Probably my second big call I’ve been going with all year is being down on Matthew Stafford, who has been decent after a rough start, and bounces back somewhat to be the 7th ranked QB in standard scoring. Considering his high draft day value I’d say I was right, and with a matchup today against the Cardinals, I think he has a down day when you need him the most. You look at the shocking 58-0 loss last week and dream of a 5-TD game for Stafford, but Russell Wilson had only 7 completions and 1 TD in that game! Arizona looked so bad, all you needed was a capable defense and a running back. Detroit has those ingredients. I would go with a different QB.
Michael Turner, RB, Falcons (72.6%, 52%) See Jacquizz Rodgers above. Although, I need Turner to get one of those goal line scores for me to make the Razzball Writer’s League Championship, as I went light on RBs and have to play him.
Dez Bryant, WR, Dallas (78.3%, 62%) I think Bryant could be OK here, but the risk so outweighs the reward that I would not trust him for my championship run. One Romo Bullet (I bet Jessica Simpson got a few of those) and it’s adios mis manos. That means good my hands. I have no idea if that works. Anyway, my point is, he could have to come out early, and that’s not someone I want to start.
Stevie Johnson, WR, Buffalo (46.8%, 54%) Johnson has had a really slow season, which doesn’t seem to be relayed too often because he’s had a consistent 6-8 points every week. Which is fine in deeper leagues, but if you need upside, I’d avoid. Plus the Seahawks allow the least points to opposing WRs and Johnson should see a lot of Richard Sherman across from him. And as we saw last week against the Cardinals, the Seahawks don’t phone it in for junk time. I’d bench Johnson in the battle for Toronto.
If you have any last second decisions, shoot some comments below or tweet me @jbgilpin. Good luck to everyone either to hit your opponent with a semi, or avoid getting hit by one!