The Backup Plan comes into your lives today three league championships richer. Aided in great part by the little-owned nobodies listed below—and the rest of the incredibly informative Razzball writers and their weekly content—I traversed effortlessly through the fantasy playoff terrain, capturing the league championship with each of my three teams as well earning a hefty sum of money to spend on beer, ahem, textbooks.
But for some of you, your season may not be over. While some of the fantasy community already experienced their crowning joy—or horrid disappointment—last week, Week 17 could still be an integral part of your title-run. So before I glue myself in front of the TV, surrounded by my three (nonexistent) trophies and wad of crisp $20 bills, to watch the de facto AFC West and NFC East championship games, let me dole out The Fantasy Football Backup Plan one last time this season.
So same deal as usual here: these aren’t player you necessarily wanted to start this week, but due to injury, byes or general suckery, you have to. It’s your backup plan. Here’s a rundown of some of the top widely available fill-ins by position and which guys they’ll be better than this week.
Carson Palmer vs. San Diego
Yahoo: 55 percent owned, ESPN: 49 percent owned
Carson Palmer isn’t simply facing the Chargers this week; he’s facing the broken shell of the city of San Diego. The Chargers have officially been eliminated from the playoffs and Norv Turner is coaching what is surely his last game with the team, just a week after a 38-10 shellacking at the hands of the Lions. The Raiders—and Palmer—should be able to capitalize on the Chargers’ misfortune, especially with their own playoff berth on the line.
Guys he’s better than this week: Aaron Rodgers (he won’t play whole game)
Kyle Orton vs. Denver
Yahoo: 19 percent owned, ESPN: 16 percent owned
This game is like the Super Bowl, but way bigger. It’s the Super-Super Bowl. The Broncos have a chance to win the AFC West, and the Chiefs have a chance to stop them. It’s the ultimate grudge match—Kyle Orton vs. the team that dumped him. Orton practiced against this defense plenty of times earlier this season, and if anyone is going to put up huge quarterback numbers in Denver, it’s the angry looking guy with the neckbeard.
Guys he’s better than this week: Joe Flacco, Mark Sanchez
Josh McCown vs. Minnesota
Yahoo: 1 percent owned, ESPN: 0 percent owned
Judging by the percentages, the only leagues he’s owned in are 16-team, nine-quarterback leagues, or something of that nature. Odds are, he’s on your waiver wire, so take a look if you’re desperate. Garbage time is a bad quarterback’s best friend, and its also when McCown shines the brightest. But he did put up 20 standard fantasy points against the Packers last week and showed a fairly decent ability to run. He could find similar success against the Minnesota Purple Door Mats this week.
Guys he’s better than this week: Matt Moore, John Skelton
Kahlil Bell vs. Minnesota
Yahoo: 34 percent owned, ESPN: 48 percent owned
More than anyone on this list, Bell can win you a fantasy title this week. With a quarterback who was coaching high school football as recently as a month ago and a group of no-talent receivers, Mike Martz looked hell-bent on getting the ball into Bell’s hands on pretty much every play last week, much to the benefit of the fantasy community. He totaled 121 yards on the ground and another 38 through the air last week, numbers he could easily match against Minnesota.
Guys he’s better than this week: Arian Foster, Chris Johnson
Toby Gerhart vs. Chicago
Yahoo: 44 percent owned, ESPN: 59 percent owned
If Adrian Peterson was the stud back that led you to your championship matchup, then you’re going to want his understudy in your lineup to help finish it off. AP’s gruesome knee injury will sideline him for some time, leaving Gerhart as the guy to pick up the slack for Minnesota. He’s actually totaled 12 standard points or more in each of the past five games, so you could do worse off the wire.
Guys he’s better than this week: Shonn Greene, Cedric Benson
Evan Royster vs. Philadelphia
Yahoo: 6 percent owned, ESPN: 4 percent owned
Ryan Torain was released by the Redskins last week, so he’s the most likely candidate to lead the team in carries Week 17, right? We all know Mike Shanahan is a fantasy nightmare, so be very cautious if you plan on relying on one of his backs. But Roy Helu couldn’t go last week, leaving Royster to compile an impressive 132 yards on just 19 carries. Helu has been limited in practice all week, meaning Royster could be the guy again on Sunday. Just beware of Shanahanigans.
Guys he’s better than this week: Roy Helu, James Starks/Ryan Grant
Demaryius Thomas vs. Kansas City
Yahoo: 41 percent owned, ESPN: 44 percent owned
Seriously, do I have to add this guy to your team for you? Because I’ll do it. I will come to your house, be a pleasant dinner guest, celebrate the New Year with your surely wonderful family, and then push “add” on Demaryius Thomas. He’s averaged more than 103 yards per game in four December contests, his worst performance being a 76-yard effort last week. That’s, um, good. If Thomas is somehow still unowned, it would behoove you to add him.
Guys he’s better than this week: Mike Wallace, DeSean Jackson
Denarius Moore vs. San Diego
Yahoo: 54 percent owned, ESPN: 52 percent own
Injuries have derailed him throughout the season, but based on his efforts last week, Denarius Moore is clearly the best big-play receiver Carson Palmer has at his disposal. He racked up 94 yards receiving on four catches last week, including a 61 yard touchdown bomb, numbers he could match or better against a weaker San Diego secondary. There should be a lot of offense from both sides on Sunday, and expect Moore to be right in the thick of it.
Guys he’s better than this week: Darrius Heyward-Bey, Antonio Brown
Randall Cobb vs. Detroit
Yahoo: 15 percent owned, ESPN: 7 percent owned
With the No. 1 seed and homefield advantage throughout the playoffs sewn up and a chance at perfection already vanquished, smart money has players like Aaron Rodgers, Jordy Nelson and Donald Driver playing limited snaps for the Packers this weekend. Call it a hunch, but the rookie Cobb has a chance to make some noise without those pesky starters getting in his way. Believe in the Matt Flynn to Randall Cobb connection in Week 17.
Guys he’s better than this week: Jordy Nelson, Brandon Lloyd
Brent Celek vs. Washington
Yahoo: 49 percent owned, ESPN: 34 percent owned
Brent Celek has scored a touchdown in two straight games. He scored a touchdown the last time he faced the Redskins. Washington ranks 29th in the league against opposing tight ends. Tripoli is the capital city of Libya. All of these things are facts. Celek has come on strong to end the season is still woefully under-owned in fantasy, especially with the Eagles still playing hard to soothe their bruised egos. Expect another strong performance from B-Cels in the final game.
Guys he’s better than this week: Vernon Davis, Tony Gonzalez
Seattle vs. Arizona
Yahoo: 46 percent owned, ESPN: 45 percent owned
Seattle has been surprisingly strong on defense all year, averaging nearly 15 standard fantasy points per game and more than 21 over the past four weeks. And John Skelton is still John Skelton, so they have that going for them this weekend. Seattle posted 16 points in their first matchup with the Cardinals this season, and could find similar success in Week 17.
Defenses they’re better than this week: Baltimore, Philadelphia
Kansas City vs. Denver
Yahoo: 19 percent owned, ESPN: 29 percent owned
Denver vs. Kansas City
Yahoo: 44 percent owned, ESPN: 17 percent owned
You could arguably do well with both of these defenses heading in to the AFC West championship showdown on Sunday. Even with a win over the Packers two weeks ago and a close loss to the Raiders last week, the Chiefs offense has been middling at best, failing to top 20 points in either game. And what defense knows Kyle Orton better than the team that spent the entire early part of the season practicing against him? Expect a defensive game in Denver.
Defenses they’re better than this week: New York Giants, Houston
Spend the first day of 2012 with me! @JoshVitale.