Fantasy Football Aftermath: Crunch Time

4 Sport BostonCorrespondent IDecember 14, 2009

FOXBORO, MA - DECEMBER 13:   Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots attempts to throw a pass under pressure from Julius Peppers #90 of the Carolina Panthers during a game against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium on December 13, 2009 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. The Patriots won 20-10. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
Jim Rogash/Getty Images

You've been waiting all year for this.

Hours of drafting and weeks of setting lineups have culminated to these final three weeks of the regular NFL season: The fantasy playoffs.

Hopefully most of you in 12-team leagues are either starting or already into your playoffs. The 4 Sport Boston league is set-up with playoffs just the way I like them:

  • Playoffs Weeks 14-16 (there's too much uncertainty in Week 17 for it to be a true championship week)
  • Top six teams advance (just like each conference of the NFL, also it's more fun to include more teams)
  • Consolation games (I like any incentives to keep owners playing—I'd also have a consolation bracket too but looks like Craig forgot to put one in)

As we go into the fantasy football playoffs here's three tips I have to make the most of your run.

Don't Get TOO Cute

I know some experts say, "take who you bring to the dance". I agree to this somewhat but I feel there are some instances where you have to think of new developments in a player's situation.

For instance I was mulling over starting either Jamaal Charles or Pierre Thomas . Charles had a great matchup this week but late breaking news out of the Saints camp said that Mike Bell was inactive, thus Thomas would get most of the carries for the Saints.

Even though Thomas was the back I drafted and Charles was a waiver wire grab, I chose Charles because he would be the guy to get every carry. While Thomas' value rose a bit, he still had Reggie Bush looming over him and might vulture a TD.

Well my hunch was right, Charles earned a total 181 yards and a TD while Thomas earned a combined 100 yards rushing and receiving—but saw Bush score two TDs.

Sometimes there are some situations where the opportunity is too great. Charles playing against the worst run defense in the NFL was indeed that situation.

Make Sure Your Roster is Optimized

This is something you should really do after the bye weeks but if you haven't yet it's time to dump off all the dead weight and stock your bench with handcuffs to your stud players, and players to add depth to your team.

There's no reason why you should have an extra defense, or a player done for the season like Steve Slaton . I wouldn't carry a backup TE, and I am not opposed to picking up guys off the waiver wire so your opponent doesn't pick them up to use against you.

Don't Worry Too Much About Weather or Resting Players

When it comes to the weather it's not a big factor unless you are playing in a snow bowl. Also as long as your playoffs end before Week 17 I wouldn't worry too much about teams resting players.

Even when you look at a team like the Colts who now have everything locked in, they still have perfection to play for and with Week 17 regular Jim Sorgi injured they may think about sticking with Peyton Manning longer than expected.

Patriots Pride

I watched the first half of the game then stopped due to frustration and sleepiness (I had a big party the night before).

While I am delighted to see we didn't lose three in a row, there should be some concern now over the performance of Tom Brady . In the past four weeks he's averaging five fantasy points below his season average and his recent run of interceptions is making people nervous both in fantasy and outside of it.

While it appears that Tom hasn't been terrific as of late, I would like to point out he is still on track to have a slightly better season than he did before the 2007 season.

Patriot Nation needs to realize that a 50-8 touchdown-to-interception ratio isn't going to happen again. We can count on Brady to score 20-30 TDs and 10-15 Ints in a given season. Right now he's simply going through a rough patch, and unfortunately he's picked the wrong time to do it.

Reading the Box Scores and Watching the Highlights

Pittsburgh 6, Cleveland 13

An ugly game against two ugly teams (you have to admit the Steelers are looking bad now they have unleashed hell onto themselves).

Josh Cribbs continues to be the only offensive weapon for the Browns, racking up 147 combined rushing, receiving, and return yards. Rookie Chris Jennings ran the ball 20 times for 73 yards—just FYI in case you want to know who's running the ball post Jamal Lewis .

Rashard Mendenhall disappointed, Hines Ward looked like he should of rested that hamstring, but Santonio Holmes caught six passes for 93 yards. He's been quietly racking up yards and has scored in two of his past three games. Holmes makes a great WR3/Flex play—especially if Ward misses any time.

New Orleans 26, Atlanta 23

I already talked about Pierre Thomas but I want to add Robert Meachem to the list of players who analysts caught on to too late.

I've been watching Meachem for a bit and I will admit I've been hesitant to start him—and with everyone finally jumping on the Meachem boat, I knew that it was the perfect time for him to have a less than average game.

Meachem is still part of a crowded corp of receivers, and I'd rather play someone like Pierre Garcon over him.

Just as I dropped Jason Snelling for Jerious Norwood , it looks like Snelling is the healthier of the two backups for Michael Turner. Still I think the sun has set on big games for both these guys.

Detroit 3, Baltimore 48

Kevin Smith left the game in the fourth quarter and he might miss the rest of the season—time to get Maurice Morris on your bench just in case.

While some people worry about the Ravens' three-headed rushing offense, each of them had a piece of the high scoring action Sunday. Ray Rice racked up 166 rushing yards and one TD, Willis McGahee went for 76 rushing yards and two TDs, and Le'Ron McClain recorded 32 yards and one TD.

Even Heisman alumni Troy Smith joined in the fun and ran 15 yards for a TD. Man the Lions suck.

Green Bay 21, Chicago 14

You look at the score and hope that Aaron Rodgers threw three TDs. Well that didn't happen. Ryan Grant punched it in for two TDs instead. In fact, Rodgers had a terrible day going 16/24 for 180 yards. That lack of production hurt Donald Driver and Greg Jennings .

Seattle 7, Houston 34

Like I mentioned before, with Slaton now done for the season it's now a time share between Ryan Moats and Chris Brown. Brown has been getting more and more work and to make things worse, rookie Arian Foster actually got the most carries in the game.

Another situation that looks too messy to touch. At least you don't have to worry about Andre Johnson . I'm sure his 193 yards and two TDs won a lot of fantasy games this week.

Denver 16, Indianapolis 28

Brandon Marshall caught a record 21 passes for 200 yards and two TDs. If you own him in a PPR league you pretty much won the lottery—or at least felt like you did. This is the kind of upside you hope for in Marshall and unlike Brady, he's heating up at the right time—continue to start him without fear.

On the Colts side of the ball it's amazing to think that Dallas Clark got overshadowed by Marshall even though he caught three TDs.

Miami 14, Jacksonville 10

Greg Camarillo made an appearance with seven catches for 110 yards. He was productive last season but this can be written off as a fluke. Same can be said about Torry Holt on the Jaguars side of the ball.

Buffalo 16, Kansas City 10

Buffalo ran all over Kansas City with both Marshawn Lynch and Fred Jackson looking good. Maybe Lynch isn't fantasy dead after all. FYI, Dwayne Bowe should be coming off his suspension and makes a great pickup for your bench.

Cincinnati 10, Minnesota 30

Chad Ochocinco caught another TD but did not celebrate as he planned—he was stopped by coach Marvin Lewis.

Brett Favre has been quietly cooling off after his hot streak that brought him back into fantasy relevance. No problem for the Vikings however, they can count on Adrian Peterson: he ran for 97 yards and scored twice.

Carolina 10, New England 20

On last week's podcast I said I didn't think Steve Smith would be much of a problem and besides catch a long 41-yard TD pass he wasn't. He still did good for his fantasy owners however.

Talking about Patriots on the decline, do we need to worry about Randy Moss ? He only caught one pass for 16 yards and dropped passes, and fumbled the ball as well. He hasn't topped 100 yards since Week 10 and if the Patriots don't get their swagger back, we may see more of the bad side of Moss.

New York Jets 26, Tampa Bay 3

Owning the Jets defense hasn't been any sweeter. With Kellen Clemens throwing the ball the Jets stuck with the running game and Thomas Jones ran both Jets touchdowns in.

This could pose to be a problem for Jerricho Cotchery and Braylon Edwards if the team is nervous about Clemens throwing the ball. On the other side this could also mean lots of opportunities for Jones.

St. Louis 7, Tennessee 47

After the comeback of Vince Young, he left the game early with a knee injury. Kerry Collins didn't look too bad but then again this is the Rams.

The Rams started rookie Keith Null and it was a great game...for the Tennessee defense. Null threw five interceptions.

Washington 34, Oakland 13

Bruce Gradkowski left this game with a leg injury and Ja-awful returns to lose another game. Darren McFadden said "hi" to his fantasy owners by catching three passes for 84 yards. Like JaMarcus, you can continue ignoring him.

Redskins 4th stringer Quinton Ganther carried the ball 14 times for 50 yards and two TDs—I think he's installed himself as the Redskins RB you want the rest of the way.

San Diego 20, Dallas 17

Vincent Jackson has awaken to post a very respectable game: seven catches for 120 yards.

Do you believe in December curses? Tony Romo continues to be fantasy productive but his team continues it's December slide.

Philadelphia 45, New York Giants 38

Talk about curses, Eli Manning has never been a good second half player but in this shootout he looked good throwing 391 yards and three TDs. Hackeem Nicks led the Giants receivers with four catches for 110 yards and a TD, but Mario Manningham had lots of chances to also put up a good game, but really needs to learn to stay in bounds.

Michael Vick is getting more and more work but remains fantasy irrelevant. However that means that he's going to continue to eat into Donovan McNabb 's time as the team continues to use more wildcat and direct snap formations.

DeSean Jackson : six catches for 178 yards and a TD (plus a return TD) and the coolest chest bump I've ever seen .

Monday Night: Arizona at San Francisco

If you own Kurt Warner you're going to start him against the 27th ranked pass defense. If you own Alex Smith you could start him too—Arizona has the 29th ranked pass defense and I can see him throwing for 250 yards and two TDs.

The 49ers have the fifth ranked run defense so this could be a tougher matchup for Tim Hightower and Beanie Wells. Frank Gore is one of the players you start no matter what along with Larry Fitzgerald , Anquan Boldin , and I will even say Vernon Davis.

(Originally posted on )


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