Playoffs? We’re talking about playoffs? That magical time of year has finally arrived for many of you and for others you are just a week away. We’re all hoping Santa will bring us fantasy gold this year. Unfortunately it’s only a fake trophy for a fake sport, but as we know, the bragging rights are all too real. I’ve found myself in two win and in scenarios myself and I know the importance of setting the “perfect” fantasy lineup for this week. However, before we get into the nitty gritty, I’ll start with a general disclaimer, especially for those who post comments and questions; I base my suggestions on numbers and trends, though I do play some gut feelings when it comes to my own lineups. I’ll try not to inundate you with anything that comes from my gut but you may want to follow yours. I can’t live with the thought of ruining all of your fantasy dreams (redundant). I’m fragile man…I bruise like a peach. That being said, I’m going to do my best to get you playoff ready. Here we go.
New Kids on the Block
Brad Smith-the modern day version of “Slash” seems to have snuggled into a full time receiving role as Smith started opposite Stevie Johnson for the second week in a row. Leading the team in receiving against the Titans this past week, Smith racked up seven catches for 72 yards on a team high ten targets. The week before, he torched his former team for four catches for 77 yards and a touch and his prowess as a kick returner has showed up in his ability to make things happen after the catch. The Bills offense has certainly struggled, which undoubtedly limits Smith’s endorsement, but a playmaker who will see seven to ten targets in a serviceable offense is valuable in our fake world. I like him as a PPR deep league flex play against San Diego next week.
Pierre Garcon-no one on the Colts’ roster is having anything that can be confused as a dominant fantasy season, but Garcon is as close as it gets. On the year, Garcon is actually ranked 18th overall among WRs in fantasy points per game with 9.7 (standard scoring), and he now has 55 receptions for 805 yards and six touchdowns, all team highs. Last week he exploded for nine catches, 150 yards and two touchdowns on a team high 12 targets. Though he’s probably not available, I’ve seen him on the bench in favor of guys like Deion Branch, Eric Decker, and Santonio Holmes, which is a mistake. The Colts have a much harder matchup with the Ravens this week but I still expect Garcon to get the big piece of chicken at the Indianapolis dinner table. How big this piece will be however, is certainly debatable.
Kyle Williams-the second year man out of Arizona State had his second productive game in three weeks, catching both of his targets for 66 yards and an electrifying touchdown that made Rams’ defenders look as if they were running in reverse. He also had one carry for 25 yards and though this comparison is premature at best, I couldn’t help thinking of Desean Jackson as I watched him run with the ball. He’s lightening quick and he appears eager to carve out a role for himself on this surging Niners squad. Before I get too excited, it is fair to note that he only commanded two targets, fifth behind Davis (8), Crabtree (5), Ted Ginn Jr. (4) and Kendall Hunter (3). It is also fair to note that his only other fantasy foray was against the Cards, a game in which he had five catches for 54 yards and a touchdown, the same Cards whom the Niners face this week. If you need a guy with upside to plug into your flex spot, he could be the one, though as evidenced by Dallas’ demise this weekend, Arizona is not an easy place to play.
Malcom Floyd-the oft ailing Floyd made it back in the lineup in time to shred the Jags for 108 yards and a score. He caught all four of his targets after regaining his spot in the starting lineup, a position held admirably by Vincent Brown. Brown still saw quite a few snaps but only managed to catch one pass for 22 yards, though it was a touchdown. More telling was that Brown only commanded two targets. Gates was and will continue to be the target hound, garnering seven in the game. You have to like Floyd’s upside in an offense that is certainly capable of doing some damage. Look for them to beat up on the lowly Bills this weekend but also look for Floyd to be what he has always been, a feast or famine play. He has little value in PPR as he rarely catches more than three or four passes in game. His value certainly comes from the fact that he is a big play receiver who is capable of getting into the end zone and putting up a lot of yards. He’s risky but if you need 12 or more points from a flex spot, there are few guys available who can give it to you for coin flip probability.
Brandon Saine-Saine has to be on everyone’s fantasy radars after Starks went down with an ankle injury, an injury that has been plaguing him for a while now. According to Rotoworld, Saine has no limitations when it comes to the playbook. He’s a great passcatcher and he should see a lot of time alongside Ryan Grant. Saine actually managed to command ten touches to Grant’s fourteen, despite having fewer opportunities. Saine finished the game with 16 yards on the ground and 29 in the air on four receptions. PPR owners should certainly pay attention and he is a guy I would feel pretty comfortable about getting more than ten touches against the Raiders this week.
Fred Davis-busted for smoking the peace pipe, this Redskin won’t see the field for the remainder of the season. As a Fred Davis owner in three of my leagues I am pretty crestfallen over this news as it’s going to mean piecemealing the TE position at the worst time possible. A man named Logan Paulsen is slated to take over but I’m not rushing to pick him up. I don’t know what the TE pool looks like in your league but I’m looking at picking up Anthony Fasano who has been decent since Moore took over. He actually led the Dolphins in receiving last week with four catches for 66 yards. I am also considering Jacob Tamme…yikes.
Whoa There Bessie
Travis Beckum-he looked great on his 67 yard touchdown reception but that is all he had. One catch and one target. His catch against the Packers was only his second reception of the year. The first one went for two yards.
Guys I’ve Written About A Lot Whom I Still Like
Johnny Knox-Hanie is atrocious, but with Forte out, the Bears will be forced to play their hand in the passing game. The quick cutting Knox still figures to be the strongest beneficiary of the Bears’ precarious future as they are sure to continue to employ more short to intermediate three step drops in their future. Knox had his third solid game in a row, catching five passes for 53 yards on eight targets, all team highs. Though his chances of getting into the endzone are slim, he is a PPR threat and a guy who should provide stability at the flex position in pretty much any format.
Laurent Robinson-Austin expects to play this weekend in what will be a huge matchup against the division rival Giants. Austin’s return will undoubtedly cut into Robinson’s snaps but I will stand by the assertions I have made in previous weeks; Robinson will still have a prominent role in the Cowboy offense and therefore he should be started. Consider the following: the last three games that Austin and Robinson were on the field together, Robinson outplayed his star teammate. In weeks 7-9, when Austin was healthy, his stat line read 2, 16 (STL); 3,27 (PHI); 2,53 (SEA) respectively whereas Robinson posted 2,25 (STL); 5,103,1 (PHI); 5,32,1 (SEA) respectively. He wasn’t the world beater against the Cards that I expected him to be, but nobody on that team was and Robinson still turned in a respectable four catch 72 yard performance. I’m going to role with him this week in what should be a shootout against the Giants. Do with him as you wish.
Damian Williams-Williams has been inconsistent, but he is getting a lot of targets and he led the team in receptions, yards, and targets last week with 4, 62, and 7 respectively. I like him a lot this week at home against the Saints as the Titans should be throwing the ball, a lot.
Percy Harvin-Harvin has stepped up his game in AP’s stead, getting five carries in each of the past two games on top of his looks in the passing game. He amassed 19 yards on the ground last week and 156 in the air, catching eight passes and two touchdowns. His versatility will once again be needed this week against division rival Detroit. At this point, I wouldn’t sit him with your team.
Mike Williams (TB)-Williams led his teammates in receptions, yards and targets, catching five of his nine targets for 93 yards. He’s been rock solid these last four weeks and Tampa Bay has the Jacksonville whipping boys on the docket this Sunday.
Eagles’ Receivers-Cooper had another solid day in Maclin’s absence and I would consider playing him again if Maclin sits, but with Vick back in the lineup, the future does not bode well for Avant. Celek remains a risk reward play but he should get plenty of targets against Miami. As meaningless as this game seems for both parties involved, if the Eagles have any sense of pride, I expect them to be hungry to avoid a loss against the Dolphins who are just as hot as the Eagles are cold.