What’s up champions? Here we are, the moment we’ve all been waiting for. The culmination of hundreds of senseless mock drafts, real drafts, hours in the dog house for ignoring family commitments just to stay home and make sure our lineups are set…don’t judge me; you’re not better than that. I’m in the running for two titles myself and was less than two points away from going three for four but the Niners D was just too dominant. The fact that I’m not angry at all makes me a bit relieved that I still care about my real team more than my fake team so at least I can hang my hat on that. Anyway let’s get to it; I’m sure you have a lot of holiday happiness to spread, cookies to bake, and elves on shelves to relocate.
Julio Jones-Jones put up solid numbers against the Jags last Thursday, catching five of his six targets for 85 yards and a score. His performance, however, was eclipsed by perennial target stud Roddy White, who accumulated 135 yards and two touchdowns on a game high ten catches. Perhaps the most telling statistic, and the one I see repeating itself this weekend, is that Roddy White seriously outmanned his young protégé in the target department, garnering ten more than Jones for a total of 16. For whatever reason, Gonzalez didn’t get too involved in the offense which gave Jones additional looks as well. Though I see Jones as the clear number two, there should be enough targets to go around on Monday night against a Saints defense that gives up the 5th most passing yards per game and the 8th most fantasy points to WRs. He’s a solid flex start in the finals.
Miles Austin/Laurent Robinson-Austin is looking healthy and he is back on top of Romo’s target list. Finishing the game with a team high eight targets, Austin led the Cowboys’ receivers with five catches for 53 yards and a score. Robinson also got into the endzone, but he was targeted less than half the number of times Austin was and he only managed three catches for 39 yards. I have spent a lot of time writing about how Robinson still has value even with Austin on the field and I will stick to that, though I see Robinson as more of a low end WR2/flex whereas I see Austin as a solid #2 this week. However, the Eagles are giving up the 15th most fantasy points to WRs and Austin should get the big gun guarding him. I feel confident starting Robinson as a flex play and I like him a bit more than Julio Jones this week though Jones has the better matchup.
Kahlil Bell-the cat’s out of the bag with Bell but those in PPR leagues should target him as a priority waiver claim. Kahlil clearly was the bell cow of the sputtering Chicago offense Sunday, carrying the ball 15 times for 65 yards and running much more effectively than Barber who carried the ball eleven times for 33 yards. Bell also led the Bears in receiving and targets, catching five of his six targets for 43 yards and a score. Though I wouldn’t expect a banner day on the ground against the Packers, I would expect plenty of checkdowns against a Packers team that gives up the 2nd most receiving yards a game.
Tennessee Receiving Mess-I’ve spoken on behalf of D-Will and Washington over the last few weeks but I’m only going to give a mild endorsement of Washington against a Jaguar pass defense that gives up the 4th fewest receiving yards per game and the 7th fewest fantasy points to receivers. That and Hasselbeck simply looks anemic. He’s not healthy and Locker looks solid so it makes perfect sense to keep playing Hasselbeck when you’re still in playoff contention right? That Titan offense looked unbelievably pathetic in general against the Colts and it wasn’t until Locker came in out of the bullpen for a garbage time romp that anything positive happened. However, in his short tenure as quarterback on Sunday, Locker did make a few Titan receivers look halfway decent, namely Nate Washington who ended up with seven receptions for 62 yards and a touchdown on a team high 13 targets. Jared Cook actually led the team in receiving and Lavelle Hawkins came out of the woodwork for one of his occasional mildly serviceable performances. Conspicuously absent, however, was D-Will who only managed to catch two of his 5th best six targets for 15 yards. D-Will is simply too risky to suggest with confidence and though Washington has been solid over the last two, I would give him only flex consideration.
Jabar Gaffney-Gaffney is no joke and he once again put up solid PPR numbers, catching six passes for 85 yards on a team high nine targets. He’s actually a guy I would feel really comfortable starting this week against a Minnesota defense that gives up the 3rd most receiving yards and fantasy points per game to wide receivers, especially in PPR leagues. I put him at about eight catches for 100 yards and a potential score this week, making him a very intriguing play.
DHB-a few weeks ago I swore off making any predictions regarding Raider receivers. However, despite my apprehension I feel compelled to talk about DHB’s production on Sunday, even with Denarius Moore on the field. His eight catch, 155 yard and one touchdown performance marks his third productive fantasy outing in as many weeks. Over that span DHB has caught 16 passes for 256 yards and two touchdowns. I still don’t love him but I see his upside, even against a K.C. defense that manhandled the league MVP last week, a defense that only allows the 4th fewest passing yards per game.
Demaryius Thomas-He had nine more targets than the next closest teammate and he caught seven of those 13 targets for 116 yards. He’s clearly the guy you want to play in that Denver passing game and this week the Broncos face a mediocre Bills pass D. I put him in the same category as Julio Jones and Laurent Robinson.
Torrey Smith-Smith yet again proved to be more exciting than his moniker this past Sunday, catching six of his team high seven targets for 77 yards and a score. He once again outplayed Boldin who only managed to reel in two of his three targets for 51 yards. Over the last two weeks, Smith has compiled 11 catches for 125 yards and two scores to Boldin’s 7, 108 and 0. I like him at least as much if not more than Boldin, but it is fair to note that the Ravens face a Browns D that gives up the fewest fantasy points per game to WRs (14.9).
Brent Celek-Celek blew up for 156 yards and a touchdown last week against the Jets and he looked like an absolute monster. He gashed a Jets D that gives up the 8th most fantasy points per game to TEs and he sees a Cowboys D that ranks number nine on that list this week. I own him in my two leagues in which I’m in the finals as a replacement for Fred Davis, so I think he’s clearly a decent bet. However, I wouldn’t do anything crazy like bench Witten for him.
Whoa Nelly-Big Gamers Last Sunday, Big Risks This Sunday
Greg Little-Little has been a big man in the target game but overall he has remained puny in production. This week he shed his sheepish shell and exploded for five catches and 156 yards and a score. His nine targets once again led the team and he now ranks 15th overall among NFL WRs in targets on the season. Yet in terms of fantasy points scored per game, Little sits at #60, just ahead of Jason Hill. Don’t get too cute by playing Little this week against a Ravens D that allows the 10th fewest fantasy points per game to WRs, not to mention McCoy will most likely sit out.
Burleson and Young-Stafford is lighting it up and the Lions have everything to play for, factors that undoubtedly influence the value of typical benchwarmers Nate Burleson and Titus Young. Both had solid days last Sunday as Burleson went for seven receptions for 81 yards and a score and Young rang in with five catches for 21 yards and a score. Both received their share of looks as Burleson commanded 11 targets to Young’s ten. I like the chances that Detroit will pass it a lot against the Bolts but the Chargers are no slouch when it comes to defending the pass. Of the two I like Burleson better simply for the number of snaps he sees, the number of targets he commands, and on the year he has simply been better, but I wouldn’t feel great about playing either guy in the finals. Neither is in the top 30 of fantasy points per game among WRs over the last five weeks.
Lance Moore-Moore has come up pretty big over the last five weeks, catching as many touchdowns and providing consistent fantasy play. Moore had a solid day Sunday, catching five passes for 91 yards and two scores against that atrocious Viking pass D. In standard scoring leagues, Moore actually ranks sixth in fantasy points per game among WRs over the last five weeks which is a pretty startling stat considering he is typically started in roughly a third of leagues, but I’m still not totally sold. Despite those big numbers, Moore only has 11 receptions for 134 yards over the last three weeks. In short, he has great upside due to his red zone targets and he plays a middle of the road Atlanta D, but he doesn’t receive very many total targets per game which means that if he doesn’t get in the endzone, his value significantly decreases (there’s my Madden-ism for the day). He clearly provides upside and a decent chance to score so play him if you’ve got a shaky flex to fill, but I’m not starting him with confidence simply for the fact that if he doesn’t find the endzone, he will yield very few points.
Percy Harvin-he managed only eight yards on three catches but did have a team high seven targets. I didn’t watch the game so I don’t know exactly what happened but I do know that he is still the main man in Minnesota. I still like him against the Redskins this week but I’m sure it’s going to take much more than a hunch for you to plug him in with confidence.