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Fantasy Football: Tim’s Two Cents Week 15
It was the best of times. It was the worst of times. This time of year is bittersweet for fantasy football owners. We not only spend all season preparing for this moment, we also spend all off-season preparing for it. The fantasy playoffs are what we live for. For those of us lucky enough to still be alive in the playoffs, every decision we make could end our season. Do we start Jimmy Garoppolo or Jameis Winston? Do we start Keenan Allen or Deandre Hopkins? Enough to make a man start drinking. In the same respect , it also means football is coming to an end. What will we do on Sundays? No more excuses to the wife avoid household chores.
I could sit here and tell you to start Rodgers or Roethlisberger but fantasy owners want to know the unowned players they can pick up for this week. If you were one of the owners unlucky enough to own Carson Wentz (Out for the season with a tore ACL injury), you could very well still be alive in the playoffs but short a good QB to start this week. I feel you but I also am here to help you. Run to your league website and pick up Jimmy Garoppolo of the San Francisco 49ers. He is the real deal. I drafted him in a couple of keeper leagues I am in (We start 2 QBs so it is a pretty deep league) and it is finally paying off for me. Garoppolo has only started 2 games for the 49ers but his numbers are those of a veteran. He has thrown for 627 passing yards with a 65% completion percentage (along with an astounding 8.95 yards per attempt). His Passing Touchdowns are a little low (only 1 TD) but that will come in time. He is only owned in 23.6% of ESPN leagues so he should still be available in most leagues. Another option is Blake Bortles (only owned in 20% of ESPN Leagues) but he is pretty inconsistent. One week he will throw for 280 yards and the next 150 yards. If you are in a keeper, grab Garoppolo now. I expect him to be in the top ten passers next year.
Most likely the toughest choices will come at running back for this week. In general, Running back is the hardest position to solidify. It is all about supply and demand. Most leagues start 2 running backs with 12 fantasy teams so we are talking 24 starting running backs in a fantasy league. In the NFL, feature running backs are hard to come by with running back by committee being more common. Only ten running backs have 200 plus carries (15 carries X 13 games = 195) this season, so the supply is low. One guy I do love for this week is Jonathon Stewart. He had 103 rushing yards and 3 touchdowns against a tough Minnesota Vikings defense. This week he has a nice match-up against Green Bay. In fact, he has had double digit fantasy points in 3 of the last 4 games. Stewart is also 4th in the league in rushing attempts inside the 5 yard line which leads to touchdowns. The big boost to Stewart’s value came last week when Carolina’s Pro Bowl Center Ryan Kalil finally came back from an injury. That solidified the Offensive line and helped jump start the running game. If Stewart is not available in your league (he is owned in 65% of ESPN Leagues), another good option is Kerwynn Williams of the Arizona Cardinals. He was given the starting job because Adrian Peterson is out for the year. He has averaged 85 yards rushing in the last two games.
Today’s NFL is a passing league and therefore Wide Receivers are easier to replace. If you find yourself in the unfortunate position of needing a wide receiver (maybe you have Mike Evans or Stefon Diggs who have under achieved), one guy to look at is Dede Westbrook of Sacksonville (I just wanted to utilize that nickname just once). If you haven’t heard of him that is because he was injured for most of the year. He was drafted in the 4th round last spring. He got activated in week 11 and has led the Jaguars in targets in the last month. In fact he has 11 catches for 159 yards and a touchdown in the last two games. He is an electric player in the mold of Tyreek Hill of Kansas City. Surprisingly enough he is only owned in 28% of ESPN leagues. Another guy you can jump on if he is not on a team (which by now he probably is) is Josh Gordon. That man is a physical freak. He was suspended for 2 years and finally activated in week 13. All he does is get 7 catches for 154 receiving yards and a touchdown in his first two games back. He is only going to get better and better each week. Wait until you see him next year. He will be a top 5 in receiving yards if he plays all 16 games.
A couple of match ups I love for this coming week that do not involve any of the above players:
Matt Ryan, Atlanta
He has a great match up on Monday Night. He plays a very poor Tampa Bay defense. I expect him to bounce back from his 3 interception performance against New Orleans. I expect him to throw for 300+ and a couple of touchdowns.
If you have any of the Killer Bs, you have start them. They play New England in a match up that is pretty much for Home field advantage through the playoffs. New England’s defense is uncharacteristically weak this year. Hell, Jay Cutler looked like Tom Brady against them last Monday night. I don’t expect Big Ben to throw for 500 yards again but 300+ yards and 3 touchdowns are realistic possibility. Antonio Brown and Bell should both get 150+ total yards each.
Jordan Howard, Chicago
As Howard goes, so does the whole Chicago offense. Unfortunately, Chicago has a rookie QB so a good defense can shut him down. Fortunately for Howard owners, he plays Detroit this week and Detroit does not have a good defense. The Lions are 20th in the league against the run. I expect Howard to run all over them. In fact, Howard has averaged 107 rushing yards in his career (3 games) against the Lions. I expect 120+ yards and a couple of touchdowns from Howard.
Jordy Nelson, Green Bay
for all of those owners that had Jordy Nelson on their bench for the last month or so, now is the time to start him again. Aaron Rodgers is back and Nelson is his favorite target. Rodgers missed the last 8 weeks because of injury and Nelson’s production suffered. He averaged just 5.5 targets with Rodgers out (as opposed to averaging 9.5 targets with Rodgers in 2015 and 2016). The Packers get a tough Carolina defense but Aaron Rodgers is superhuman so expect 130 yards and a touchdown or two from Nelson.
Zach Ertz, Philadelphia
Zach Ertz has cleared Concussion protocol and will start on Sunday. Unfortunately, Carson Wentz is out for the year so he will have a new QB throwing to him. This is a QB he has had throw to him before though. Nick Foles is the starting QB for the Eagles now. Foles also played for Philadelphia in 2013-2014 so they are familiar with each other. I expect Foles to target Ertz often against a poor New York Giants defense. Expect 60+ yards and a touchdown for Ertz.
Good luck to everyone still alive in the playoffs and may the footballs be with you.