James Morris hails from Rio Rancho, NM and has been playing fantasy sports for just over 15 years. Not only does he write the Bengals fantasy section, but he also does the Miami Dolphins fantasy section. Crossing over, Morris writes the fantasy sections for the Minnesota Timberwolves in the NBA. Just send him an email and he will reply back the same day with your answer. Or, find him on Twitter (Fantasyguy23) and get all your NFL news before it hits the national media.
Regardless whether it is the first or the second round of your fantasy football playoffs, the only thing that matters is it is the playoffs and you are still in the hunt! Some of you may be in the championship bracket, while others are in the consolation bracket, but either way you play until the final whistle of the season is blown!
To those who reached out to me via email or social media, I gave them the advice of picking up and starting Jacob Tamme in the TE or flex spot and the Broncos wrecked the plan as they started TE Virgil Green over Tamme at the last second. Green then proceeded to go catchless while Tamme had nine yards on his lone catch in the loss on Thursday night.
Peyton Manning and company will be one of the few teams in the NFL that will be worth playing even in leagues that play through Week 17 as Manning is chasing some records that he will have to work that much harder to break after flopping against the Chargers.
Then we have the Redskins finally shutting Robert Griffin III down for the remainder of the season to prevent further injury. Forgoing all the talk about a player playing unless he is too injured to play, you have to look at the Redskins remaining players and see how it affects their fantasy value. I think Alfred Morris gets a slight bump in value as the Redskins lean on him more, and Pierre Garcon takes a hit in value as Kirk Cousins has only shown flashes of ability in his extremely limited action in the NFL. I have been asked over and over about TE Jordan Reed, and my official answer now is cut him loose. With the Redskins shutting down their quarterback because they essentially have nothing left to play for, you have to wonder how long they will go before shutting down their stud rookie TE for the same reasons.
Jay Cutler – QB, Bears: Cutler is back in the driver’s seat in Chicago and Josh McCown is back on the sidelines. I wouldn’t hesitate to put Cutler back into my lineup because you can be sure he is looking to not only win the division, but show people HE is the Bears QB that will guide them in the playoffs. Over the past month McCown is NFL.com’s No. 2-ranked QB with his 1,271 passing yards, 10 TDs (nine throwing, one running), one INT, one 2-point conversion and one lost fumble. The Browns allow the 18th-most fantasy points to QBs this season at 19.6 PPG, but Coach Marc Trestman has been possibly the best playcaller in the NFL this season and Cutler is looking to make a statement.
Ryan Tannehill – QB, Dolphins: For those who lost RGIII or have been streaming QBs since Aaron Rodgers went down, Tannehill is a top-tier QB on paper this weekend. The Patriots are a very different team with Rob Gronkowski out and Tannehill touched them up for 192 yards and 2 TDs back in Week 8. Tannehill has looked far more comfortable in the second half of the season, even ranking as the seventh-best QB on NFL.com over the past month in their standard scoring format. Tannehill has shown the ability to put up top 7-10 fantasy QB numbers, and fantasy owners sure could use it right about now.
Steven Jackson – RB, Falcons: Anyone who talks to me about fantasy football knows that I am not a big fan of Steven Jackson these days. But, as I’ve mentioned above and below, the Redskins are falling apart and are just trying to get to the end of the season so they can be over and done with it. The Falcons should get out in front of the Redskins in this one and allow Jackson to score a TD or two, and possibly hit the 100-yard mark for the first time this season against a defense that gives up the second-most fantasy points to RBs this season at 23.0 PPG.
Rashard Mendenhall – RB, Cardinals: As I say below, I expect the Titans/Cardinals game to be a ground and pound game, with Medenhall as the RB most likely to succeed. The Titans give up 22.7 PPG to RBs this season, tied for the third most in the NFL with the Bears. Mendenhall has taken over the lead-back role for the Cardinals and should be able to feast on a weak run defense in the fantasy playoffs.
Shane Vereen – RB, Patriots: With Gronkowski done for the season, no trust from the coaching staff in Stevan Ridley, and a lack of consistent production from LeGarrette Blount and Kenbrell Thompkins, Vereen is going to be leaned on probably more than any other player on the Patriots roster. I would play him as a low-end RB1 this week without hesitation with the Dolphins giving up the eighth-most fantasy points to RBs (26.4 PPG) in PPR leagues this season.
Riley Cooper – WR, Eagles: Cooper has been somewhat quiet the last three games, averaging just three catches and 53 yards, with no touchdowns. But, the Eagles get a Vikings defense that is tied for the fourth-most fantasy points allowed to WRs this season at 26.3 PPG. Nick Foles is due for a big game after throwing for 237 yards against the Cardinals in Week 13 and 179 yards against the Lions in Week 14.
Rod Streater – WR, Raiders: Those looking for a WR3 or flex option off the waiver wire can give Streater a go this weekend. The Chiefs are averaging 23.9 PPG allowed to WRs this season, 13th-most in the NFL. And, Streater is coming off a 7/130/1 game against the Jets last week. Yes, it was against the Jets, but it should serve as a confidence-booster for both Matt McGloin and Streater this week. He isn’t a sure bet to repeat those Week 14 numbers, but he is probably the best WR on the waiver wire right now.
Charles Clay – TE, Dolphins: Clay hasn’t gotten much talk from fantasy football Web sites lately, which is strange because he is the third-best TE in fantasy football over the last month with 294 receiving yards and three touchdowns. The Patriots give up an average of 8.9 PPG to TEs this season, 12th-most in the NFL. If Clay can get 50 yards and/or a touchdown, he will most likely finish as a TE1, and that is all you can expect from a TE not named Jimmy Graham.
Jacksonville Jaguars Defense: As I said in my mid-week report, the Jaguars defense is ranked in the top 10 over the past month for fantasy defenses, so you have to give credit where credit it due. And, since returning from his injury, E.J. Manuel is averaging just 198.5 YPG passing with 5 INTs to 4 TDs. Granted, four of those interceptions came last week against the Buccaneers, but that could also work in our favor as it could have destroyed his confidence. The Jaguars are a boom-or-bust play, but I like to swing for the fences now and then.
Kirk Cousins – QB, Redskins: There are WAY too many people picking up Cousins and throwing him into the 2QB lineup this week for me to keep quiet. I have likened the Redskins to a rudderless ship, and Cousins isn’t going to come in and defuse the 2013 season bomb after it has already gone off. The Redskins are 3-10 on the season, have a QB starting who boasts a rèsumè with five career games and a TD-INT ratio of 4:5 in those games, are without Reed at TE, and have Garcon as the only real “weapon” to throw to. I picked up Cousins in my 2QB league, but it was more to keep him from other owners than to play on my team.
Carson Palmer – QB, Cardinals: Don’t laugh because Palmer has been the eighth-best fantasy QB over the past month with his 1,304 passing yards, 8 TDs and just 2 INTs. That’s quite a bit different than the first eight weeks of the season where he threw 10 TDs and 14 INTs. It shows you what a difference a bye week can make for a player. With that said, the Titans average just 17.5 fantasy PPG allowed to QBs this season, sixth-best in the NFL. I honestly expect this to be a running game on both sides of the ball, so I would sit Palmer down this week as a regression is very possible.
Toby Gerhart – RB, Vikings: Much like Cousins, Gerhart is stepping into a fulltime role this week with the incumbent starter (Adrian Peterson) out. Now, let me say that I think Gerhart can be a fine flex play, but not a RB1/2 play like people are suggesting on those big-box Web sites. Gerhart has a tweaked hamstring and the 89 yards and a TD last week are making owners overconfident in his ability to produce from the get-go like a starter has to do. The Eagles aren’t terrible against the run, allowing the 16th-fewest fantasy points to RBs this season with an average of 17.7 PPG. Defending the pass is where they struggle, allowing a league-high 28.5 PPG to WRs.
Reggie Bush – RB, Lions: OK, I simply don’t know if Bush will play or not, and the Monday night game makes it all the more difficult to plug him into your lineup. Even though Bush did say he expects to play, he also said he aggravated his calf pull while jogging in Philadelphia and didn’t feel that he could have played through it. Because of the uncertainty of the situation, the Lions trust in Joique Bell, and the toughness of the Ravens defense against fantasy RBs (13.0 PPG, second-fewest in NFL), I would just find other options for Bush as he could see his touches limited if he does play.
Michael Crabtree – WR, 49ers: People ran to the waiver wire to grab Crabtree when he was getting close to returning, but they forgot that Colin Kaepernick is still his quarterback. In the two games Crabtree has played in, he’s totaled six catches on 12 targets, for 108 yards and no touchdowns. A 50 percent catch rate isn’t something you want to see from a WR1 in fantasy football. The Buccaneers are actually in the middle of the pack for fantasy WRs, giving up 23.2 PPG to them. FYI, the Falcons, who they play in Week 16, are right in front of the Buccaneers with 23.5 PPG allowed to WRs, so his schedule doesn’t get any better for fantasy football.
Michael Floyd – WR, Cardinals: Floyd was on a tear between Weeks 11 and 13 in which he hauled in 18 passes for 396 yards and two touchdowns. The problem is he was held to just two catches for 26 yards last week against an average Rams secondary, and faces a Titans defense that is No. 1 in the NFL at stopping fantasy WRs (14.9 PPG allowed) this season. Maybe he gets open on a freak play, but as I’ve said already, I expect this to be a running game.
Martellus Bennett – TE, Bears: Bennett started off the season with 10 catches for 125 yards and 3 TDs in the first two games, which made owners run to the waiver wire and grab him. The problem is that since then he has put up an average of 42.1 YPG and has just 2 TDs total. The Browns are average against fantasy TEs, allowing 8.5 PPG to them. The problem is I just don’t trust Bennett anymore and don’t want to risk playing him in the playoffs with a title run on the line.
Dallas Cowboys Defense: Let me start off by saying that at the time of this article, it isn’t known if Rodgers will play or not in Week 15. But, that also has nothing to do with my decision here as I am sitting the Cowboys defense assuming that Rodgers is OUT. Over the past month, the Cowboys have been the third-worst fantasy defense on NFL.com, managing just 11.00 fantasy points. To put that into perspective, the atrocious Redskins defense has 10.00 points in the same span. It’s not that the Cowboys give up too many points; rather their 90 points allowed is the 16th-lowest in the NFL over the past month. Their problem is they don’t do anything else. Their three sacks and one INT are both dead last in the NFL over that time (one INT is tied, but still last).