You have made it to fantasy football's Final Four, even if you had to endure a one-point week out of your No. 1 overall pick, Adrian Peterson. If you start A.D. on Sunday, you figure to have to endure a zero-point week.
Plan on going to your bench in such a crucial week.
Peterson told the St. Paul Pioneer Press' Brian Murphy on Monday he expects to play, but even Murphy backed off that bold declaration in his report Tuesday. Despite X-Rays, MRIs and CT scans showing no fractures or structural damage, Peterson reportedly is still in a walking boot. It puts his potential to practice this week, or play Sunday, in serious doubt.
"It really didn't swell up too much, so that's another positive thing," Peterson told Murphy. "But I'm sure it will be sore for a little bit."
The Vikings might not be able to turn to Toby Gerhart, either. Gerhart left Sunday's game with a hamstring injury, which will keep him out of practices, or at least limited. The next man up on the depth chart is little-known Matt Asiata, who has only three carries in his career.
None of the Minnesota Vikings backs look like trustworthy options at this point, even if the Philadelphia Eagles are in the middle of the pack against the run (15th) or in fantasy against running backs (18th).
Raiders' Jennings Cleared
If you need a Peterson alternative and don't trust Gerhart, consider the Raiders' Rashad Jennings (concussion). Jennings was cleared to practice last week, but he didn't pass the NFL's concussion protocol to be cleared to play.
He did that Monday, according to Scott Bair of Comcast SportsNet Bay Area.
"We're good to go," Jennings told Bair. "Everything's washed up. Now it's back to football."
Jennings has a tough matchup against the Chiefs defense, but the Raiders were able to get fullback Marcel Reece 19 carries for 123 yards and a touchdown—in addition to two catches for 38 yards—against the New York Jets. That was the No. 1 run defense in football (the Jets are now No. 2).
Jennings was complimentary of Reece to Blair, but also of the Raiders' ability to run the ball on anyone:
He's a great player. He stepped up and played tremendous against a top-ranked run defense. That was a tribute, as I'm sure he would say, to the offensive line and their preparation during the week. We're growing in the run game. We're growing as an offense, and we have to continue to improve.
Jennings is a viable starter in fantasy crunch time now that he has cleared the concussion hurdle.
Pack's Rodgers Admits to Having Pain
Those hoping to get Aaron Rodgers (shoulder) back for their semifinals need to make alternative arrangements. Rodgers has reported having pain while doing "simple movements," according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's Tom Silverstein.
Rodgers: Shouldn't be having pain doing simple movements. Didn't get better as week went on. Tried a lot on Wednesday, didn't feel good.— Tom Silverstein (@TomSilverstein) December 10, 2013
Silverstein reports Packers head coach Mike McCarthy is making the game plan for Matt Flynn, not Rodgers. This is noteworthy because the Dallas Cowboys are the worst team in fantasy against quarterbacks. They made Bears backup quarterback Josh McCown on Monday night look like...well, like Rodgers.
Flynn is not quite a fantasy option outside of two-quarterback formats, no matter how favorable the matchup. He runs a lot more limited offense than Rodgers, or even McCown under Marc Trestman.
You can start Packers receivers Jordy Nelson, James Jones and perhaps Jarrett Boykin because of the matchup, but don't go all in on Flynn in such an important week of the fantasy postseason.
Operation Shutdown Status
Our Week 14 notebook outlined a scenario the Seattle Seahawks could have clinched home-field advantage through the playoffs for Week 16, which would have put the likes of Marshawn Lynch and Russell Wilson in danger of sitting, or playing in a limited capacity. Well, the Seahawks lost to the 49ers on Sunday, but they can still clinch the whole ball of wax this week.
The Seahawks need a victory, a San Francisco loss or tie (at Tampa Bay Buccaneers) and a New Orleans loss (at St. Louis Rams) to clinch the NFC's No. 1 seed. It is possible, albeit unlikely with San Francisco a five- to six-point favorite over the Bucs and New Orleans a six-point favorite over the Rams, according to VegasInsider. com.
We should expect all teams to be playing for something in Week 16, which is almost universally the week for fantasy football Super Bowls. For all of the playoff-clinching scenarios, get it from the horse's mouth at NFLmedia.com right here.
Thursday Night Start 'Em, Sit 'Em
- San Diego Chargers: Philip Rivers, Ryan Mathews, Danny Woodhead, Keenan Allen, Antonio Gates and Nick Novak
- Denver Broncos: Peyton Manning, Knowshon Moreno, Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker, Julius Thomas, Matt Prater and Broncos D/ST
This lines up to be a shootout, especially with the weather unlikely to impact the game. You might have worried about the Chargers offense in dicey weather, but it is looking like it will be fairly nice for this time of year in Denver, according to Weather.com.
Start all of your primary options on both sides, especially since the Broncos are in the bottom 10 against quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers and tight ends, according to FFToday.com. The Chargers are in the bottom 10 against quarterbacks and wide receivers.
- San Diego Chargers: Vincent Brown, Eddie Royal, Ladarius Green and Chargers D/ST
- Denver Broncos: Montee Ball, Ronnie Hillman, Wes Welker, Andre Caldwell, Jacob Tamme and Joel Dreessen
The only one here you should consider is the emerging Ball. The Chargers are 11th best against fantasy running backs, though. That might be enough to sit the fringe option, Ball, in a crucial playoff semifinal week. We should fully expect Welker (concussion) to sit this one out.
Roster Trends Review
We break down the top 50 most-added players in fantasy football from Tuesday night, using CBS Sports leagues as an example.
|RK||Player||POS||TM||Past %||New %||Increase|
Ryan Tannehill and McCown tied for the top spot. Those worried about the news Trestman named Cutler (ankle) his starter once healthy—as reported by numerous outlets, including ESPN's Jeff Dickerson—shouldn't be worried this week. Cutler needs a full week of practice, which he won't get.
Tannehill is a nice consolation prize, particularly in an expected shootout with Tom Brady looming. Tannehill is more of a two-quarterback league option, though.
Which Week 15 pickup is going to have the biggest impact on the fantasy football postseason?
Gerhart and Daniel Thomas are coming off big weeks and might start in Week 15, so they had to be the most-added backs. Gerhart (hamstring) will be dealing with his own injury this week, so it won't just be a matter of whether Peterson (foot) is out.
Thomas' owners will only have to mildly be concerned about the status of Lamar Miller (concussion). The Pats are 31st against the run, so expect 15 carries for Thomas and perhaps 60-plus yards and a touchdown.
This was a weak crop this week at this position. Cordarrelle Patterson and Da'Rick Rogers are too raw to trust in fantasy crunch time, no matter how impressive their breakthrough Week 14 performances were. Young receivers like those just don't promise consistency, particularly because they are not their team's clear No. 1 target in the passing game.
Dennis Pitta was the obvious No. 1 most-added player this week. He warrants going right into fantasy lineups in all leagues, but there is a matchup concern with him. The Baltimore Ravens face the Detroit Lions, who have given up just one touchdown to tight ends all season. That stat has helped the Lions prove to be the fourth-toughest team in fantasy against tight ends.
We were admittedly stumped on whom the streaming fantasy owners would pick up this week. It wound up being the Eagles and Saints as we projected in Bleacher Report's Week 15 Top Pickups. The Saints are the better unit, but the Eagles have the slightly more favorable matchup, especially if Peterson (foot) is out.
Sure, your matchup can come down to your kicker in the fantasy postseason, but fantasy owners are going with the options they started the season with, over the ones that are hot now. Matt Bryant and Phil Dawson were top preseason picks. They are the most-added kickers this week, even if their offenses haven't been as productive as expected.
Eric Mack, one of the giants among fantasy writers, is the Fantasy Football Lead Writer for Bleacher Report this season. Follow him on Twitter, where you can ask him endless questions about your team, rip him for his content and even challenge him to a head-to-head fantasy game. You can also listen to him on his podcast that he deprecatingly dubbed the Fantasy FatCast.