Going for Broke: Sure things and daring moves to win Week 15 in fantasy football

Well, it’s probably round 2 of the playoffs for most of you. Some of you may already be drowning your sorrows in a bottle of fine liquor–or a jar of Papa’s moonshine.

For the sober ones, it’s beyond time to start plotting next week. What studs does your opponent have? Who will have a big week to save you? If you have studs in a big match up, you are set–and we all hate you. If you are lacking in a few key areas, you may need to take some risks to put down the Tom Brady or Randy Moss owner in your future.

First, some pretty obvious things. Several studs are lined up to have big games and should stay on your starting roster.

STUDS THIS WEEK

  • Joseph Addai   against OAK
    He’s my pick of the week to have a big game against the worst run defense in the NFL. Just look at what Ryan Grant did to them last week.
  • Willis McGahee against MIA
    Even though he struggled last week, he couldn’t ask for a more powerful bounce back match up. Miami allowed 2 100-yard rushers in a single game last week against Buffalo, so what if McGahee just makes it 200+?
  • Kurt Warner against NO
    Kurt Warner likes to pretend he’s a pitcher and throw the ball for the entire game. It just so happens that he gets the Saints defense this week. They like to act like a horrible baseball outfield and just watch the balls sail over their head.
  • Drew Brees against ARI
    With the above message in mind, Brees is going to have to keep up if Warner really turns it on this week. While he’s not as much of a lock as Warner, he will definitely be putting it up big this week.
  • Earnest Graham against ATL
    The Hawks are broken and feeling a little bit rejected this week with Petrino leaving them. I don’t think they will even be able to sleep without a light on with all those feelings of abandonment, and the league took away all their dogs. Graham is a solid runner, and he will put the hurt on them this week.
  • Carson Palmer against SF
    It’s San Francisco, people.
  • Jamal Lewis against BUF
    While Buffalo was getting those 200+ yards rushing, Miami’s Samkon Gado was getting 2 TDs against the Buffalo defense. Expect Jamal Lewis to be able to do some damage after the bruising performance he showed this week.

What? Did I not mention any Patriots? No LT?   Don’t worry. If you have a stud rated at the top and performing hot all season, you should feel safe starting them, and I don’t think you need my advice.

For those of you that need a little daring this week, he is your chance-y plays of the week. They could be big enough to get you over a hump, or they could be snubbed and snub your championship hopes. Say a little prayer for each of them, and only play them if you have a huge deficit to overcome with your week 15 opponent or no other options.

DARING PLAYS THIS WEEK

  •  Lee Evans against CLE
    Buffalo wants to win and lock in a playoff appearance. Now that Trent Edwards has met Lee Evans, they might hook up again with the Browns being one of the worst receiving defenses (30/32). He will either get his due TDs or he will get nothing, and the Bills will lose.
  • Bernard Berrian against MIN
    You can’t run on Minnesota–unless you are Ryan Grant. Berrian will be a key performer if the Bears win this week. The only risk is whether Kyle Orton can come off the bench at QB to make him a star. Better hope his star shines bright, but Berrian could put up a TD and plenty of yardage if he has a good day.
  • Trent Edwards against CLE
    Much like Lee Evans, he is hit or miss. He will either be on and winning the game with his arm, or he will let us all down.
  • Darius Walker against DEN
    Denver’s defense is unpredictable, but as the lead in the RBBC that is now going to operate for the Texans, Walker has the best chance of making them look bad again if he can get the running game going in this one. He could save you or just put up enough numbers to be average and let you lose.
  • Derrick Mason/Mark Clayton against MIA
    With so many passes going out last week over Miami defender’s heads, you would expect one of these guys to have a big game with at least one TD. My money would be on Mark Clayton, but it all depends on whether the Ravens find TOO much success running the football and just stick with Willis McGahee.
  • Jabar Gaffney against NYJ
    Gaffney is consistently getting looks in the zone. Considering the bad blood between these two teams, the Patriots wide receivers could all get big days, and Gaffney could receive a hefty load of that–more so than the likes of Stallworth.
  • Jerheme Urban against NO
    Urban could benefit from a lot of Warner passing this week especially if Boldin sits this one out. Keep your eye on the injury report, but keep in mind that Bryant Johnson could also take some catches. It’s a gamble who takes any TDs from Larry Fitzgerald in this one.
  • Sidney Rice against CHI
    Rice has the ability to take it to the house with every catch. If Tavaris continues to develop, he could get at least one TD in this one against the Bears. He’s probably the most risky play at receiver, but he could pay off in a pinch. It’s possible.

If you still have questions or you just find yourself feeling lonely and vulnerable after absorbing all that, feel free to comment and have the fantasy football genie answer all your questions. Just give me a heads up. It takes awhile to rub this lamp.

Playoff Prep: Top Fantasy RBs for the 2007 Playoffs

Smitty of Fantasy Football Xtreme has put together a list of the top 10 fantasy running backs to have for the playoffs. Consider yourself lucky if you have any of the fools listed, and cry if your first round opponent has more than one of the top 10. Just cry.

While I agree with most of the list, I do have some slight adjustments. Smitty’s list is:

  1. Adrian Peterson (MIN)
  2. LaDainian Tomlinson
  3. Brian Westbrook
  4. Steven Jackson
  5. Joseph Addai
  6. Frank Gore
  7. Willie Parker
  8. Ryan Grant
  9. Reggie Bush
  10. Marion Barber

I agree completely with most of the list and rankings, but I do think that Addai and Ryan Grant deserve to be bumped a little higher. Addai has been consistent thus far and has a match up against Oakland in Week 15 that blows away the downside of his match up against the Ravens in week 14. I would trust him more than I would trust Steven Jackson for my playoff run

Ryan Grant has shown he is a back that can break down even tough defenses with the Green Bay offense, and he plays Oakland first round, St. Louis second round, and Chicago on the week you are probably in your championship game (Week 16). He could very well put up some disgusting numbers for your team, and I might rank him about Willie Parker and Frank Gore for just that reason. His match ups are just better.

At 10, Smitty points out that Ernest Graham, Larry Johnson and Travis Henry could all be a factor around the end of this list depending upon their health and suspension status. I would add to that list Willis McGahee–hopefully you didn’t sit him tonight, if so, I hope you’re not watching him break through the Patriots linebackers. McGahee plays the Colts, Miami and Seattle during your playoffs. I guess that technically makes the list like a top 15 instead of a top 10. But hey, maybe it includes one of your RB and gives you that much more of a reason to go on living, so sue me.

ONnetworks’ The 5 Minute Drill for your weekly run down of fantasy info

I realize that Fantasy Football Fools may not be the greatest visual masterpiece in the fantasy football space. We may be informative, but a lot of text isn’t pretty ALL the time.

I offer you something better to stare at as you try to hold back the tears of this week’s fantasy loss: The 5 Minute Drill.

Cecil Lammey and Sigmund Bloom‘s video podcast gives you analysis and long-term predictions outside of their usual gig at Footballguys.com where they charge to give you the insider edge. I can’t even count up the number of unique predictions they made early in this fantasy season that have now come to fruition. I’m also completely envious of Cecil’s hair–you know, in case I ever get mugged.

Unfortunately, they only produce one podcast per week, but check them out as a compliment to our obsessive 24/7 offerings.

Note: Links changed to Footballguys.com and embedded video removed since ONnetworks’ site shut down.

Defensive Measures: Defenses Ranked

If you are trying to decide your match ups, it is always a good idea to consider the strength of the defense you are facing–especially in your stud’s category.

Check out the rankings and stats of defenses from around the league. It will tell you one thing straight up: Don’t play your studs against the Steelers if you have another legit option.

The Top 5 Rushing defenses going into week 11 are:

  1. Pittsburgh Steelers
  2. Baltimore Ravens
  3. Minnesota Vikings (unless you’re Ryan Grant)
  4. Tennessee Titans
  5. Dallas Cowboys

While the Top 5 Passing defenses going into week 11 are:

  1. Pittsburgh Steelers
  2. Indianapolis Colts
  3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
  4. Oakland Raiders
  5. Miami Dolphins

I guess Miami had to be in the Top 5 of something besides Top 5 worst teams of all-time in the NFL.

If you are trying to decide between two skills players this week or in the coming weeks, this chart may be helpful in deciding who has the better match up for their position. Keep in mind though that some of the rankings can be a result of teams not having to run/pass against a weak defense in the opposite category. For example, no one really needs to pass much against the Raiders of the Dolphins when their running defenses 29th and 30th respectively out of 32 team.

Word from on high: Ricky returns, but will Miami want him?

You may have been one of those sneaky folks that, knowing Ricky Williams was bound to get reinstated this year, stashed him away in your injured reserve (if you league is lucky enough to have such an option) or kept your eye on him in the free agent pool.

Unfortunately for you, Ronnie Brown broke out to a huge first half of the season, and he made it look like Ricky had missed his chance. When Brown went down, the speculation again came up that Ricky would have an impact since his application for reinstatement was coming up for review in just a few weeks.

Enter Jesse Chatman.

Chatman, although few thought he had it in him, has put up big enough yards these last two games to be considered a solid running back as well.  Some of it may just be the good play of the Miami offensive line, but Chatman still has made a good enough impression to make it hard for Ricky to jump into a starting role. Unless Ricky Williams can become his former self–as in 2002 and 2003 pre-drug test failing Ricky–then he is of little use to Miami this season. They are looking ahead, and Ricky is definitely far behind.

Coach Cam Cameron hasn’t seemed publicly excited about Ricky’s return, but Ricky’s agent seems to think that he will take a good, hard look at Ricky in practice next week from his words with the coach. He would be smart not to put too much faith in the returning back.

Unless Cameron is willing to take a big risk mid-season–which he might with his current record–he will probably look to deal Ricky away or release him completely.  He has talent, but previous comebacks have shown that he lacks discipline.  I find it hard to believe that he will ever find a new home in the NFL, but if you have been hanging onto him this long, it might be worth your while to keep an eye on where he goes.  Otherwise, you just look like a sucker.

Teams changing game plans to end the season

Several teams have faced injuries and complete breakdowns thus far this season. Who is beefing up for a strong finish and who should you avoid?I got your answers…bet you thought I was going to leave you hanging on that one.

Green Bay went from being unexpectedly good at throwing the ball to developing a running game–with just one RB too. Now that they have Ryan Grant, they might even pose a threat to the Cowboys in the NFC. A Super Bowl for the NFC like the Colts-Patriots was for the AFC could happen in week 13 when the Packers face the Cowboys on Thursday night. I am sure they are going to lose–Go Cowboys!–but regardless of who wins out, if you can grab any starter off Green Bay, go after them. They will keep throwing the ball even with a good RB. You might even have lucky weeks with some of Favre’s other third and fourth receivers James Jones and Ruvell Martin. Jones is the better pick of the two, but Ruvell had his day last week and could see more action from the veteran arm of the Favre man meat–I just like that word.

The Colts need to switch their locker room out for an intensive care unit. While they may still be able to keep ahead of opponents, the D takes a major blow with Dwight Freeney being put on injured reserve and out for the season. Last year, losing Bob Sanders made them stop tackling, but losing Freeney hurts their pass rushing AND run stopping. Indianapolis is in a rough patch of their schedule right now with injuries plaguing both sides of the ball. Peyton Manning can probably carry them through it, but a little kicker named Vinny needs to get his leg problems straightened out so that they don’t have another letdown like the very end of the Chargers game this week. Fantasy-wise, if you are using the Colts D, you might looks elsewhere to support the rest of your playoff run. Also, there are some subs to be had with WR Aaron Moorehead and TE Bryan Fletcher until Manning’s starting boys return.

Re-working the offense…

Minnesota and Tennessee could be changing their current playing style in week 11. The Titans have focused on a strong running game and given Vince Young plenty of time to sit and do nothing fantasy-wise, but with teams starting to cut off their running attack, two banged up starting RBs (LenDale White and Chris Brown) with one rookie RB (Chris Henry) facing suspension soon, the Titans might have to put it all on Young’s shoulders. He hasn’t shown much this season, but he could break out and put off concerns of the “Madden curse” killing his sophomore season.

In the Vikings’ case, with the loss of rookie sensation Adrian Peterson, they really have to have an air attack to get Chester Taylor out of the box. Kyle Boller is coming in at QB because Steve McNair hurt his pride shoulder in the loss last week. Boller has an arm to open it up for Mark Clayton and Derrick Mason to make plays.

Now take your hand off the silly pick up button for one second, crazy fool. Unless you have an extra spot to give for Vince Young or Brandon Jones (and they’re available), or you just love Mark Clayton after his week 10 performance, WAIT and see how these players do this week and how the game plan changes. I know how much you love instant gratification, but patience makes the heart grow fonder, or some crap. They could start firing off a few touchdowns, or they could lay a stink on you. The Titans face the good corners of Denver, but Boller has a decent chance against the Browns secondary.

Only go after them in desperation–like that ugly one you keep calling.

Optimizing your fantasy team to dominate the playoffs

Making a run for the playoffs? If you have already locked up your place, it’s time to start thinking about who you can acquire to blow up in those crucial three weeks. Don’t go doing anything drastic like dropping your studs or trading away top performers for a slew of average Joes, but if you can pick any of these guys off the waiver wire or find some “equal value” trades without letting on your motive, go for getting guys with good schedules.

The top teams to target are the Cleveland Browns, Cincinnati Bengals, Buffalo Bills, Green Bay Packers and Tennessee Titans according to the stats and analysis of CBSSports.com. Try getting part of the Browns offensive explosion, Carson Palmer and his receivers, Marshawn Lynch or the JP Losman/Lee Evans connection, Favre and his receivers or Ryan Grant or LenDale White as long as he stays healthy.

See CBS Sportsline for more stats and teams to avoid.

News Briefs: Patriots still at the top, but some teams keeping pace

With the Patriots eliminating the Colts in the “Battle of the Unbeatens” this past Sunday, only a couple of teams remain on the Patriots roster that could stop them from breaking the famous Miami undefeated season.

Apparently, the NFL has decided to take advantage of the hunt to take down the beast. After the Colts showdown had unusually high results for Sunday afternoon football ratings–surprise, surprise considering there are usually a couple of decent games going on at the same time with equal amount of hype–the Patriots game against the Steelers was pushed back to the same time slot rather than being an “early” 1 p.m. game. The time slot perhaps suggests that the NFL, or at least CBS, believe that the Steelers will be the one to take down Brady’s boys. If they play like they did Monday night against the Ravens, they just might.

The only other opponent which threatens the Patriots run at being unscathed all season is their final show against the Giants. As the final game of the regular season, it might not matter enough for the Patriots to fight through a victory, and the Giants bruising pass rushers could threaten the health of Tom Brady and his perpetually questionable shoulder.

With all this talk about the AFC, don’t forget that the NFC still has some powerhouse offenses and great defenses with the Dallas Cowboys, Green Bay Packers and New York Giants. If one of them–especially the Giants–starts to make a run for the Super Bowl late in the season, they could even match up well against the Patriots now that a hole has been exposed in the New England offense.

On a fantasy note, having players on either of these NFC or AFC will treat you well going into the final few games of the regular season and into the playoffs.

Fantasy Highlight: I’ll also mention briefly here that reports look doubtful for Larry Johnson playing Sunday against Denver’s horrible run defense. Look for Priest Holmes and Kolby Smith to make some definite marks in the contest and pick them up if you need a running back for a week or two.

New Fantasy Football Systems: Flea Flicker and Draftmix

I know it’s mid-season, but you may already be thinking about what system you would like to operate your league on next year.

The best experience I had thus far with a fantasy football system is ESPN.com now that they have made their fantasy system free, but another free option is Flea Flicker.

Flea Flicker doesn’t appear as graphically pretty as ESPN, but it does do several notable things like giving you player rankings based upon custom scoring to tell you how many WRs better than the one on your roster are available or providing graphs and charts of your points broken down by position. One of the cooler features unique to the site is the ability to handle blockbuster trades between multiple teams and even involving future draft picks.

If you are looking for a new system, Flea Flicker might be worth taking a tour.

Draftmix is a week-by-week quick playing fantasy football system. Poker-inspired, the Draftmix system allows you to join a league and draft a team each week. The team with the most points takes the win and receives a cash prize if you are playing in a cash league. If you are a SportsBook.com junkie with a love for fantasy sports, Draftmix has your name all over it.

via TechCrunch

Are the Colts finally playing the Patriots right?

Week after week, it seems like every opponent of the Patriots that has a chance finds a way to badmouth them or say they aren’t that good. One thin you never want to do is give Tom Brady and the gang something to put up on the locker room wall. Even when they played the Cowboys, Wade Phillips supposed quote about them tainting their record by cheating surfaced. Whether it was true or not, I wouldn’t be surprised if Belichick leaked the quote as a fake just to keep his crew riled up for the big showdown.

This week the Colts are taking a different approach. They are complimenting the Patriots and playing themselves up as the underdog.

Said Colts safety Bob Sanders: “They’re playing great football. Right now I would say they’re the best team in football.”

Said Colts quarterback Peyton Manning: “They’ve beaten the teams they’ve played, and they’ve beaten them badly. … We’re playing an excellent football team, and we’re going to need everybody to play well to have a chance.”

Said Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri: “They’re on pace to break just about every stat that there is. We know we’re going to have to play our best game and play error-free to compete with them.”

At the same time, the Patriots are doing the same song and dance they have done all year–pretending they are afraid of the Colts and that the Colts are the best team in football.

At Patriots headquarters earlier Wednesday, Belichick also had said the Patriots “aren’t in (the Colts’) league.” He was right, though he didn’t mean it this way: The Colts are in the NFL; the Patriots belong on a higher plane.

Anyone, especially anyone following fantasy football, knows that is not quite the case. Let’s see if the suck up song and dance works for the Colts or whether the Patriots make them the next victim of their offensive machine.

-Credit for quotes to CBSSports.com