The fantasy gods are testing our skills as we enter the semifinal rounds of the fantasy football playoffs. Do not fret, I am here to help you weather any storm.
Besides just providing you with important handcuff news and player updates, I have another nugget for you as our battle for glory nears. Defense Wins Championships!
Most of fantasy football is focused on offense, but do not forget about defense. I am not talking about the roster spot on your fantasy team but defensive strategy to help you win your league. Exhibit-A: I have a championship matchup this weekend and my opponent has Carson Wentz as his only rostered QB. I added every viable starting QB from the waiver wire before he could make a move. Now all available spot-start QBs are on waivers again until after our game this weekend, leaving him to choose between Jeff Driskel and Josh Rosen. Due to roster limits, I had to leave someone out there! Some might have a few choice words for me regarding my cutthroat strategy, but this is the type of tenacity it takes to win a championship. Have you heard of “hack-a-Shaq” in the NBA? It might not be pretty, your fans might not find it thrilling, but we do it for the WINS.
As the number of teams making waiver claims reduces each playoff round, you have a better opportunity to block your opponents. Do you see a weak spot at RB or WR? Is there is a starting caliber player with upside on the waiver wire? See if you can add him on your roster to avoid your competitior-in-need from picking them up. It is important to pay attention to handcuff and injury reports this time of year, even if you do not own the player at risk. Maybe you can block your counterpart from picking up their replacement, if you consume the news before them.
Now, let us get to the Bad Boyz of week 15. Enjoy!
- Justin Jackson + Austin Ekeler + Detrez Newsome: Man, I was sweating my Jackson play all night until 3:49 left in the 4th quarter with Jackson capping off a 75 yard drive with a touchdown. He almost had me in love after a missed game-tying wheel route TD pass with 0:39 left on the clock. Jackson saved all of us who started him by pulling out 17.5 PPR points on 19 touches for 85 total yards and 1 TD. Detrez Newsome did look good on limited touches but not worth rostering for this season. It will be tough to trust Jackson if you make it through to your championship round. As of Thursday night, Both Melvin Gordon and Austin Ekeler have a strong chance of returning to game action in week 16. We will need to closely monitor the injury and practice reports in LA, as week-16 nears. It will be tough to trust any back in LA other than Gordon, if both him and Ekeler return this week. Ekeler will be competing with Jackson now for 2nd string touches, muddling the flex value Ekeler has held most of the season. Thank you, Justin, for the semi-final spot start. The fantasy industry appreciates your service.
- Damien Williams And Spencer Ware: Wowzers! Another handcuff coming through for us when we needed them the most. 30.3 PPR points from 16 touches for 123 total yards and 2 TDs. Justin Jackson’s respectable outing was overshadowed by this fantasy-game-winning performance from Damien Williams, not to be confused with Darrell Williams. This backfield situation is similar to LAC when Spencer Ware returns. The performance by Williams makes it difficult, if Ware returns, to predict individual touches and production in week-16. We need to monitor Ware’s availability with his hamstring injury. Hammy’s tend to linger, man, so there is a chance for Williams to lock himself as the lead back in KC again. Let us just appreciate the one-week performance Williams gifted us. The Chiefs make a tough road trip up to Seattle for a playoff caliber matchup. The Seahawks have only given up over 100 yards in 1 out of their last 4 games. The Hawks D is tough to beat at home but the Chiefs high-powered O is still something we all want stock in. Keep an eye on all of our Razzball rankings that come out throughout next week.
- Gus Edwards + Kenneth Dixon + Ty Montgomery: Every back in Baltimore is hard to trust with our fantasy playoffs on the line. Unfortunately, we are down a number of big-name backs and I understand the need to rely on this backfield. Kenneth Dixon has the most upside with his ability to run in between the tackles and operate as a pass catcher. I warned previously about Gus Edwards’ limited capabilities as a catching the ball. Again, Edwards failed to record a single target for the 4th week in a row. We do have a nice matchup against a Bucs D that has surrendered over 100 yards to opposing backs their previous 4 games in a row. For this week, I put Edwards ahead of Dixon but if you have the need and the room on your bench then add Dixon. Dixon could provide value in week 16 with a matchup against the Chargers who just allowed our friend, Damien Williams, 30 PPR points.
- Jeff Wilson Jr: 24 touches for 96 yards. If Matt Breida misses time again, my boy Jeff Wilson Jr out of North Texas has earned our trust in Shanahan’s offense. The bad news for Wilson owners is Breida’s return to practice this week. Albeit, on a limited basis Wednesday and Thursday. If Breida can put in a full practice Friday, then he should get the nod for Sunday. Whomever comes out as the starting back this weekend will be on my flex-radar.
- Quick Hits: Fire up Chase Edmonds against the Falcons this week, if David Johnson sits out with a quadricep injury. Keep an eye on Fridays final injury/practice report. We can trust Jaylen Samuels as a flex play with RB2 upside in PPR leagues, if James Conner sits, with a potential shootout at home against the Patriots. Just stay away from anyone in the Redskins backfield if you can. Adrian Peterson is banged up and 33 years old. Both Peterson and Chris Thompson are low-end flex plays if you are desperate. Elijah McGuire gets the nod this week with Isaiah Crowell looking at missing time. Hard to trust McGuire in this spot against a stout Houston front seven, a potential negative game script and shutout potential by the Texans, buyer beware. Just because I have to report on it, LeSean McCoy is at risk of missing time and Chris Ivory would get the nod. Avoid the Bills backfield if you can. Since acquiring “Snacks” Harrison, the Lions have only allowed one 100 yard rushing game over their previous 5 games.
Good luck this weekend. I hope to see everyone on the other-side in a couple of championship bouts. I have 6 teams in semi-final games and 1 in a finals game, wish me luck. Let me know how you are doing in your leagues and ask any lineup questions you have.
Disclaimer: I will be out of the country starting Friday morning through next Sunday, December 23. It will be difficult for me to keep up-to-the minute injury news while I am traveling and have my feet in the sand with a Pina Colada in hand, throughout the week. Follow all of the other Razzball writers and contributors as they prepare you for your final championship battle.