|Notes and Observations Week 15: Patriots Blow Out Dolphins 41-13; Clinch AFC East||Connelly’s Top Ten: Patriots Defense, Special Teams Carry Home Team||Fantasy Football Start ‘Em, Sit ‘Em: Week 15||Right Idea? Red Sox Bring in Rick Porcello, Wade Miley, Justin Masterson|
The calendar has finally turned to its last page of the year, December. In most fantasy leagues, you have reached either the last week or the second to last week of your regular season. No time to waste, you NEED a win this week.
So let’s get right to it. First off, we’ll look at my Week 12 results, followed by some players to drool over, and others to spit at.
Carson Palmer, QB: 13 of 24 passing, for 110 yds., 1 TD, 0 INTs (The struggles continue for Palmer, yet the Bengals continue to win…that’s all that matters I suppose, but for you Palmer owners, you’re not too happy.)
Matt Ryan, QB: 2 of 3 passing for just 15 yds., before leaving the game due to injury (With Atlanta in the heat of the NFC playoff race, it’s a real tough time to lose their franchise QB.)
LeSean McCoy, RB: Just over 100 yds. of total production, including 76 yds. on the ground, no TDs (This kid is keeper-worthy for next year, especially if Westbrook hangs it up.)
Chris Chambers, WR: 7 catches for 70 yds., 1 TD (He’s been one of the only good things to come out of Kansas City this season.)
Dallas Clark, TE: 9 catches for 63 yds. and an end zone trip (Typical day for Clark, whose production will continue to shine through the end of the year.)
Donovan McNabb, QB: 21 of 35 passing, for 260 yds., just 1 TD w/ 1 INT (You want more from a starting fantasy QB than this.)
Matt Forte, RB: 8 carries for 27 yds. and 4 catches for 34 yds., no TDs (The struggles continue for the Bears’ back, he’s the definition of “sophomore slump.”)
Lee Evans, WR: 2 grabs for 40 yds., no TDs (Evans has had a very forgettable year.)
Jeremy Shockey, TE: Just one 15-yard catch, no TDs (Too many weapons in New Orleans, Shockey’s a forgotten man in the Bayou.)
Arizona Cardinals, DEF: Gave up a whopping 532 yds. of offense to Tenn., incl. 20 pts., but did score a defensive TD and made 4 sacks (A mixed bag from the Cards’ D last week…you like the DTD, but giving up 500+ yards is just plain awful.)
Now we turn to this week…and for some reason, when I went through and highlighted players I like and don’t like this week, I went heavy on rookies on both ends. It’s tough to trust youth, but in some cases, with so many injuries depleting fantasy rosters everywhere, rookies may make the difference between fantasy greatness for your squad or a fantasy flop.
Three straight games with a 100+ passer rating from Mr. Rivers, a streak that also includes zero interceptions. He gets to face an awful Cleveland Browns team, so look for Rivers to roll and continue on his hot streak.
Smith said this week that he’s never felt better, and his production is starting to show that. The former #1 overall pick put up 232 yards through the air over Jacksonville last week, including 2 TDs. This week, he gets to carve up a weak Seattle secondary…definitely a favorable matchup for the Niners’ signal-caller.
He’s still splitting carries with Correll Buckhalter, but it’s clear that Moreno is the future in Denver. Moreno has had three straight games with 10 or more carries and 80 or more yards on the ground, and this week he gets to match up against the lousy Kansas City rush defense. He’ll still split carries, but he’ll produce enough to still warrant a fantasy start this week.
With DeSean Jackson out with a concussion and tight end Brent Celek questionable with a thumb injury, the receiving options in Philly are wearing thin. Maclin and Jason Avant will get the starting nod this week against a suspect Atlanta secondary. Maclin’s big play ability makes me lean more towards starting Maclin over Avant. Look for a breakout week from the former Missouri Tiger.
San Fran has flown under the radar a bit this year. They’re sitting at 5-6, but still could make a run at a wild card spot, if not the division. If they can top Seattle this week and Arizona falls to Minnesota on Sunday night, the two squads will only be separated by a single game. The D should shine again this week, after holding Jacksonville to just three points last week. In their Week 2 matchup vs. the Seahawks, San Fran held them to just 10 points.
Stafford may be worth a look as your go-to QB next season, but sorry, he’s still learning this year. A dreadful, 4-interception performance on Turkey Day against the Packers, showed that Stafford is still battling pain in that left shoulder. This week doesn’t get any easier, as he faces a very underrated Cincinnati defense.
Grant is usually a workhorse, having carried the ball 19 or more times in six of his last seven games, but this week he was limited in practice with a shoulder injury of his own. He may try to play through it, but even if he does, you have to look elsewhere for your fantasy starting lineup. Grant will be up against Ray Lewis and the Ravens’ D, who while not at the top of the league’s defensive ranks like in years past, Baltimore still has the ability to bottle up opposing backs like none other.
Wells may get the starting nod this week, as Tim Hightower is questionable with a thumb injury, but facing the very tough Minnesota defense, I still can’t see Wells breaking out for a big night on Sunday. Tennessee limited the rookie to just 20 yards on the ground last week, and Minny should have the same success against Wells this week. Hold on to Wells for the stretch run though, as the Cards have very favorable matchups the rest of the way, against SF, DET, STL, and GB.
Britt emerged as Vince Young’s favorite target over the past three games, scoring in the last two. But for those three games, the Titans were without leading receiver Justin Gage. Gage is likely to return this week from a back injury, and could limit Britt’s production, giving Young another option in the passing game. Temper your expectations for the Titans’ rookie receiver this week.
Wallace came out of the gates strong early in the year, but has been extremely quiet lately. He was held catchless last week against Baltimore, and has just three catches in the last three games. Wallace may get his starting QB back this week, as Big Ben Roethlisberger will likely return from a concussion. Facing Oakland and their strong secondary, look for Wallace to continue his struggles this week.