By Adam Harris-
(CBS) Congratulations to all who are reading this because it either means you made the fantasy football playoffs, or you find my fantasy advice to be must-read material each Wednesday morning.
Before I get to some stud and dud players, I wanted to express some basic fantasy playoff rules you should live and die by this week and weeks to come.
Don’t Fix What’s Not Broken
Now that you are in the playoffs, do not veer off your normal strategy that worked this year. If you were a plug and play type, continue that. If you’re someone who didn’t over-think their roster, and started their studs every week, do that (to a certain extent). Try to leave this week with a feeling that you left everything out there.
Stay Far Away From Injuries
It’s time to cut mental ties with players like Darren McFadden, Percy Harvin, etc. Players that have been on the injury list the past couple weeks, and are possible to play this Sunday are dangerous. If they are full go, play them at your own risk, but just know that one wrong hit could send them back to the bench the rest of the game. There is no worse feeling than watching a big fat zero next to your stud’s name because he is splitting time due to injury. This is the playoffs, and no chances must be taken.
Do Not Underestimate The Power Of Defense
Shop and find a defense you are confident will keep you in the eight point or higher range. If you are expecting a close match, the defense can make or break you by putting up a solid eight points, rather than a weak four. Cleveland, New York Jets are two options that may not be owned in your league yet that are good plays this week.
Studs And Duds
These may be obvious but I want people to know who might blow up this week and who might give below their projections. I left the players off the list who I think will simply perform as expected.
Studs: Peyton Manning (DEN @OAK) – The Raiders give up 22.33 fantasy points per week to quarterbacks in standard scoring leagues, and Manning has really hit a stride. Manning has thrown for three touchdowns in three of his last five games, and his Broncos need to keep winning to secure the first round bye in the playoffs.
Eli Manning (NYG vs NO) – The Saints have the worst pass defense in the league, and have given up the most fantasy points per week to quarterbacks at 23.5. As I wrote a few weeks back, Manning would come off the bye strong, and he would quiet the people claiming he had a “tired arm”.
Others: Andrew Luck (IND vs TEN), Josh Freeman (TB vs PHI)
Duds: Matt Ryan (ATL @ CAR) – Do not expect an explosive, 20 to 25 point performance out of Matty Ice this week. Carolina has given up 16 fantasy points per week to quarterbacks this year. Ryan has looked off as of late, throwing just three touchdowns in his last three games, and six interceptions during that same time.
Robert Griffin III (WASH vs BALT) – Baltimore remains good against the pass, despite the loss of Ray Lewis, Terrell Suggs, and Ladarius Webb. Quarterbacks have scored only 13.33 fantasy points against this depleted defense. Robert Griffin III will have to do most of the fantasy scoring with his legs, but don’t expect a 25 point game like owners have become accustomed to.
Notable Duds: Philip Rivers (SD @ PITT)
Studs: Ahmad Bradshaw (NYG vs NO) – Fantasy owners have loved facing the Saints defense, as they breathe life into, other wise dead running backs. We saw it last week with Michael Turner, and we will see it this week with Ahmad Bradshaw. The Saints give up the most points per week to running backs at 23.50 in standard leagues. This should be a high scoring game and Bradshaw will at least get into the end zone once.
Doug Martin (TB vs PHI) – Martin owners hope to the Muscle Hamster reclaims his blow up status this week against a Philadelphia defense that allows 21.50 fantasy points to backs, ranking 28th in the league. If the Buccaneers wish to make the playoffs, they need a win this week, and they will get back to basics with their Muscle Hamster.
Notable Studs: Trent Richardson (CLE vs KC), Arian Foster (HOU @ NE)
Duds: Darren McFadden (OAK vs DEN) – McFadden plays Thursday night which has not been the best for fantasy players. Although reports say he is looking good, and expects to play for the first in four weeks due to injury, he could still share time with Marcel Reece who has shown his explosiveness filling in. The Broncos give up 16.67 points to backfields a week, and I believe McFadden should get 70 percent of that. The Broncos will be up big most of the game which will also take away from McFadden’s opportunities on the ground.
Frank Gore (SF vs MIA) – Miami has fallen off as of late, but still holds ground as the eighth ranked run defense. The Dolphins have been able to step up against big time rushers, something Gore has become. Gore has been saved this year by Kendall Hunter, but with Hunter now out for the year, Gore needs to do all the work himself. Gore has lost his legitimate breathers during the game, and will no be as fresh.
Notable Duds: Bryce Brown (PHI @ TB), Marshawn Lynch (SEA vs AZ)
Studs: Demaryius Thomas (DEN @ OAK) – Thomas has become Peyton Manning’s favorite receiver, and it has shown the past couple weeks with four touchdowns in the past three games and an average of nine targets during that span. The Raiders give up 23.50 fantasy points per week to wideouts and this Thursday night it will be no different for the Broncos’ No. 1 receiver.
Marques Colston (NO @ NYG) – The Giants have allowed wide receivers to win their fantasy owners week after week, giving up an average of 24.50 points per week to them. Brees and the Saints will be looking to right the wrong of five interceptions and no touchdowns in the air from last Thursday night in Atlanta. Colston and even Jimmy Graham will be Brees’s main targets at the Meadowlands.
Notable Studs: Calvin Johnson (DET @ GB), Torrey Smith (BALT @ WASH)
Duds: Dez Bryant (DAL @ CIN) – It’s surprising to see Bryant on this list, considering the hot streak he’s been on, with six end zone trips and 475 yards in his last four games, but Cincinnati on the road is a tough matchup, especially as a wide receiver. The Bengals have given up just 16.50 fantasy points per week to wide receiving groups, ranking fourth in the NFL. The Cowboys often look bad on the road, and there just wont be enough scoring to satisfy both Bryant and Miles Austin.
Julio Jones/Roddy White (ATL @ CAR) – As I mentioned above, Carolina has been good against quarterbacks, and that carries over to wide receiver production as well. It seems each week, this tandem switches off on who will have the blow up game. This week, neither Jones or White should blow up. They will probably have to share one score, and about 15 catches.
Notable Duds: Steve Smith (CAR vs ATL), Larry Fitzgerald (AZ @ SEA)
Good luck this week, and remember the rules I just gave you. Stay composed and you will be fine in Week 14. Survive and advance.
Ask Adam Fantasy Football Questions on Twitter (@AHarris670) and listen to the Friday Friday Nerd Herd at midnight on Friday at 670 The Score with Joe Ostrowski.