A bad performance from just a single fantasy star will end an owner's season now that the playoffs are underway.
Everything stars have done of note to this point goes out the window. Forget loyalty and how high a player was drafted. This is the postseason, where a loss means watching from the sidelines with the other owners who failed to put together a winning formula.
All that matters now is a smart analysis of trends and other factors. Names are just that—names. Instead of peppering owners with guys who are sure to post points in Week 15, here are a few who will not—which is just as important to know this time of year.
Note: All fantasy scoring info courtesy of ESPN standard leagues. Points-against info courtesy of ESPN.
Carson Palmer, QB, Arizona Cardinals (at TEN)
Again—do not scoff at a name.
Carson Palmer has been consistent as of late as a top producer. The USC product scored 14 points a week ago, but before that, he had scored 18 or more in three straight.
But now things are beginning to unravel. First of all, Palmer has an elbow ailment he played through last week in his down performance. He is questionable in Week 15 but will once again attempt to play through it per Darren Urban of the team's official site:
That is great, but fans have seen Palmer deal with elbow woes in the past from his Cincinnati days.
Even worse, now Palmer has to deal with a road contest against Tennessee, which has one of the 10 best defenses against quarterbacks and allows an average of just 13.2 points to the position.
This is a Tennessee defense that has allowed two quarterbacks to score more than 20 points (Matt Schaub and some guy named Peyton Manning) and has held names like Philip Rivers, Russell Wilson and Andrew Luck in check.
Chris Ivory, RB, New York Jets (at CAR)
It is amazing what can happen when a player's body holds up.
After playing in just 12 games with the New Orleans Saints the past two seasons, Chris Ivory has appeared in as many in 2013 and scored 10 or more points four times.
It is partially a miracle considering Ivory seeks out contact via a violent running style. Ivory himself explains it well via CBS New York:
I just pride myself in making explosive plays. I just try to make plays when there’s not really anything there. When you make a play, I think that’s big, when you turn something out of nothing...If I have a little space to work with, I’ll try to work with it. Other than that, my mentality is I just won’t be denied. I’m going to come at you and try to make a statement.
Ivory will not blow away owners with his fantasy production like he does would-be tacklers, but Week 14 was a nice surprise with his 76 yards and a score for 13 points.
But owners would not be wise to think this is the start of an upswing just in time for the playoffs. Now Ivory has to travel to Carolina, where he will be happily greeted by an elite defense that ranks second-best against running backs at just an average of 10.9 points allowed.
Carolina has allowed one back to rush for more than 100 yards this year (C.J. Spiller in Week 2). While Ivory may love what is sure to be a violent spectacle Sunday, fantasy owners will not. He must remain on the bench.
Victor Cruz, WR, New York Giants (vs. SEA)
Fans have not seen the Salsa dance at the NFL level since Week 4.
Fantasy owners, who surely spent a prime pick to obtain his services, have not seen reliable production from New York Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz all season.
Cruz has scored more than 10 points just four times this year. Last week, Cruz posted just four points in a favorable matchup as John Paulsen details:
Part of the problem is quarterback Eli Manning (16 touchdowns to 20 interceptions). Part of it is the lack of a running game. Another is how defenses now treat Cruz, as offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride details, via Ralph Vacchiano of the New York Daily News:
There's no question that we haven’t been as effective in some of the other spots and therefore people gear up defensively. They’re certainly very cognizant of where he is at all times. Sometimes we call it funnel coverage where everybody is man to man and then there is a zone player in there...looking to see where Victor is...It was like what Steve Smith (faced) at the end, Plaxico Burress at the end. Those guys faced double coverage all the time and that’s what he’s being confronted with.
The tough times for Cruz are far from over. Seattle is on the menu in Week 15. The Seahawks are fantasy's best defense against wide receivers and allow an average of 13.5 points to the position.
Cruz comes with big-play potential, but the body of work simply is not there. He has failed to produce anything of merit in good matchups, so this horrible one must be avoided.