If you’re reading this column, one of the following things must be true:
A. You have a team in the championship game and are looking for an extra edge.
B. You’re trying to figure out how to play the DeMarco Murray situation.
C. You really love fantasy football.
D. Any combination of the above.
With it being championship week, there aren’t a whole lot of updates that can be made or waiver wire pickups. You should be in a position where your team got through the semifinals okay and you should be able to set your lineup now for the final. Keep in mind we have a Thursday night clunker (TEN vs JAX) and games on Saturday this week too (WSH-PHI; SF-SD), and that will play a little role in how you set things up.
Let’s see what we can figure out for those little extra boosts…
If Cam Newton plays, he could be an interesting pickup. Cleveland’s run defense is shoddy at best and the Browns could be giving Carolina extra chances if Johnny Manziel plays this week like he did last week. You’ll have to monitor his status and be like the Arizona Cardinals –down to your third and fourth quarterback– before making that kind of move now. Otherwise, you’re going to work with what you have. Even if it was Jay Cutler.
DeMarco Murray has a broken bone in his hand and had surgery yesterday. He is questionable at best to play against a soft Indianapolis rush defense and hasn’t been ruled out. That’s an amazing prospect that he might play this weekend. If he doesn’t, it’s time to get Joseph Randle as the backup. Randle provides more of the between-the-tackles running that backs this time of year need to excel at. Lance Dunbar is more of a pass-catching back so his value is limited in standard leagues and gets a bump up in PPR formats.
Watch the San Francisco running back situation this week. Frank Gore has a concussion and Carlos Hyde is dealing with a back injury. I’m picking up Hyde if Gore gets stuck in the concussion protocol. Colin Kaepernick looks all kinds of awful and the ground game is about the only way the 49ers move the ball. San Diego allows 108 yards per game on the ground so the chance is there. The other players behind them like Alfonso Smith and Bruce Ellington aren’t worth rostering.
Harry Douglas of the Falcons is the player to find here. Douglas went for 10-131-0 with Julio Jones out of the lineup. Atlanta takes on New Orleans in a de facto division title game, and the Saints defense can be thrown on. Douglas makes a nice WR3 this week and could get into a borderline WR2 if Jones is out. You’ll need to monior this through the week.
It’s also worth watching to see how the Colts wide receivers appear on the injury report midweek. T.Y. Hilton is banged up (hamstring) and Reggie Wayne looks like he is out of gas and has underperformed. This comes down to Hakeem Nicks (remember him?) and Donte Moncrief. I wouldn’t make a move until that injury report comes out mid-week and likely not touching it until Friday.
If you’re in the finals, you have a good one. There really isn’t anyone you can get for the final week unless someone surprisingly turns up hurt for tight ends.
With kickers, simply put, check the weather for erratic winds. It’s a little early in the week to do that but kickers are a last-minute thing anyways. You don’t want to chance either Ryan Succop or Josh Scobee this late in the season even if Thursday’s game sets up to be a field goal fest.
For Defense & Special Teams, this could be the clincher for your team and would be an easy spot to make a move. Normally, you take whoever is against the Jags but it’s the Titans. Blake Bortles threw for 336 yards and a touchdown in their last meeting and the Titans won on a last-second field goal block. This game could end 10-7 or it could end 51-44 if these defenses decide not to show up in a battle of 2-12 teams. The Jaguars DST is speculative at best and can’t be trusted here.
If you have Baltimore from this past week, use them again when they take on a depleted Texans team down to its third quarterback and possibly without Andre Johnson. It should be easy for the Baltimore front to key on Arian Foster to try and shut him down.
Well, that’s it. Very few leagues play Week 17 so this is the final column of the season. Hopefully, we’ve been able to help you out with good ideas and solid advice. It’s worked for me so far since I am in the finals of the Razzball Writers League from the five seed.