For most of you reading this post, you’ll remember that last week I said that this week’s edition would be about the playoffs. As we all know, fantasy playoffs are a total crapshoot, with the top seed in most leagues not winning the championship. It’s about what team gets hot at the right time, and which owner makes the best decisions. No, this is not the NBA where you can have 3 studs and waltz to a championship. If you actually thought fantasy football worked that way, stop reading right now, as you may not like this post! You hear a lot of “start your studs,” but that term “studs” is subjective, and usually means nothing. A player can be a stud for 3-4 years then fall off. Does Ray Rice still qualify as a “stud?” The point is new year, new players emerge/bust. Studs don’t make teams, depth and consistency make teams, more specifically championship teams. OK, OK, as I realize some readers of this blog may not have that long of an attention span, I’ll just start the rankings for Week 1 of the playoffs.
Russell Wilson - In a match up that was supposed to be a foreshadowing of the playoffs, Wilson completely dominated the Saints secondary to the tune of 310 passing yards and 3 scores. Look for Wilson to continue his success against the 49ers this week. It’s always a bonus when one of your teammates uses your name to get a spot at an upscale restaurant.
Josh McCown - Never thought I’d say this, but McCown is a worthy start for another week, as Jay Cutler is still injured (ankle). The Bears offense is clicking on all cylinders, and one could argue they look better than they did with Cutler at times. The Cowboys don’t figure to put up a huge fight, so once again, expect solid numbers this week from McCown.
C.J. Spiller - After 2 weeks M.I.A., look who reared his head out of the Buffalo snow. Spiller just ran all over the Falcons last week, and as long as he’s healthy, continue starting him. Another solid day against a slightly more challenging Bucs defense is coming right up.
Roddy White - Well whoop-dee-doo-dah day, guess who finally showed up to a battle like a man this season. That’s right, White did. After a 12 week hiatus, partly marred by injuries, White decided to show in a big way against the Bills (10 receptions, 143 yards). Can he continue his success against the Packers? As long as Ryan keeps looking his way, yes.
Zach Miller - It’s finally time to start considering Miller down the stretch in the playoffs. No, he may not be the flashiest tight end, or score every week, but his growing trust in Wilson should mean he will continue to see his receptions. Take the receptions and 50 yards this week. ESPN doesn’t think he’ll do well against the 49ers this week, but that’s also what she said last week against the Saints.
Matt Flynn - Packer fans are demanding a discount double money back on tickets every time they see someone other than Mr. Discount Double Check, Aaron Rodgers, himself at QB. Overtaking Scott Tolzien at QB is no major accomplishment, so don’t look for the Packers pass game to do much against the Falcons this week, even with their receivers being near tops in the league.
Brandon Bolden - Hopefully you ignored my advice on Bolden last week, as his 2 yards on 3 carries is a great way to find your seat on the waiver wire again. With Vereen and Blount firmly entrenched ahead of him, Bolden is impossible to predict week to week, and best owner-less.
Michael Crabtree - This will be just his second week back from injury, and the match up is a bad one. The Seahawks give the fewest receiving yards per game, and in this divisional showdown, look for the Seahawks corners to be hungry. Crabtree already has grass stains on his jersey just thinking of the Seattle secondary.
Jordy Nelson - If Nelson had Mark Sanchez throwing to him, he would be fantasy relevant this week. Yes, the Falcons pass defense has more holes than Swiss cheese, but Flynn still can’t hit the broad side of the barn. Give me $5 on Tolzien having to replace Flynn again this week, leading to another bad week for Nelson and Co.
Antonio Gates - Unfortunately, this looks like the end of the road for Gates’s solid starter status. Ladarius Green is quickly surpassing Gates on Rivers’s progressions, and with only 8 receptions for 62 yards the past 2 weeks, Gates is a score or bust deal these days.
Alex Smith - Smith is emerging as a quality fantasy starter down the stretch, with 817 passing yards, 7 touchdowns, and 2 picks the past 3 weeks. This week’s match with the Redskins could turn into a shootout, meaning Smith could post another 275+ passing yard 2 touchdown day. Don’t be afraid to start the “game manager,” as he won’t hurt you in any case against a soft Redskins pass D.
Tony Romo - Romo has been in a funk the past 3 weeks, with his highest passing yard total at 234. Even with weapons like Witten and Bryant, look for Romo to continue to struggle against a solid Bears pass defense. Yeah, someone told Romo the Cowboys are leading the division. Better take that back if you want him to return to his old, solid quarterback self (usually).
Matt McGloin - McGloin isn’t a bad quarterback, it’s just Oakland doesn’t have reliable threats. Even against the Jets, don’t expect more than 200 yards passing and 1 TD. Until one of the Raiders receivers steps up and fills the true WR1 mold, avoid the Raiders pass game.
Ray Rice - If Ray Rice is going to salvage any part of his season, it will be against the 29th ranked Vikings defense. This should be a battle of the running backs between Rice and All Day, and money says Rice rushes for 100 yards and a score. Just a hunch. In the playoffs, try not to focus on regular season stats too much.
Darren Sproles - His value comes in PPR formats, and even as arguably the best PPR back in fantasy, he is a risky play against the Panthers. No, Brees isn’t going to be held under 200 yards passing like last week, but Sproles will still find it hard to get free while being marked all over the field. Best to temper expectations for one more week.
Rashard Mendenhall - Mendenhall is a bad start this week. He isn’t explosive, he’s essentially a TD or bust back, and the Rams are 8th best against the run. Mandy ran for 60 yards on 16 carries in their first match up, but will get dominated worse than Peter Griffin failed the SATs.
Harry Douglas - Probably not a huge surprise here, as he’s been Ryan’s go to man most of the season. The good news is the Packers are 25th against the pass. Despite only two touchdowns on the season, expect a score this week, as White will command a ton of attention on the opposite side. Not super flashy, but his speed can cause problems for opposing defenses.
Golden Tate - Doug Baldwin is clearly the top option in Seattle. With 5 receptions for 71 yards the past two weeks, Tate is bench material against the 49ers. In the first meeting this season, the 49ers held Tate to 1 catch for 19 yards. That seems about right this week too.
Hakeem Nicks - Nicks’s fantasy appeal has plummeted quicker than Brian Griffin can drink a dry martini in Family Guy. At this point, starting Nicks is like a blind date that you know the result of before the date is announced (over before it starts). The woman may offer some tease if she’s well-known, but resist the urge. If you drop him altogether no one in your league would mock you.
Heath Miller - Having 21 receptions over the past 3 games, plus facing a defense vulnerable against the tight end sets up nicely for Miller this week. Ben is starting to connect more frequently with his old red zone and check down mate, meaning Miller is now fantasy relevant.
Tyler Eifert - Eifert has been a fantasy tease this season, seeming like he may break out, then flaming out (2 receptions, 24 yards the past 2 weeks). He looks to be a reliable fantasy tight end in the future, but for this season, keep him benched/stashed going into next season.
John Carlson - The ride was fun while it lasted, but Carlson’s fantasy relevancy will likely start drying up this week. This is Adrian’s team, and even against a very stout run defense, the Vikings will continue to feed AP, as their QB play is hard to trust week to week. Better options are on the wire. Go get one (Ertz (PHI) could be a sneaky option for the rest of the season).
Morgan Burnett - Burnett is waking up from his early season funk, and that’s bad news for opposing quarterbacks. This ball hawk is going to be a monster the rest of the way (34 tackles, 1 TD and 2 recovered fumbles the past 3 weeks).
Michael Bennett - If your league counts points for using your team’s QBs name to get into an upscale restaurant, then you have a stud on you hands. Otherwise, Bennett is either sack or bust. If you start him this week, you’re obviously feeling lucky, thinking he’s gonna get Kaepernick on the turf.
Sio Moore - Handed a starting gig at strong side linebacker, big things were expected from the UConn product this season, but he hasn’t panned out thus far. Moore has only 8 tackles in the last two weeks he’s played, and this week against the Jets, he’s not a worthy start.
That’s a wrap for this week’s edition of The Good, The Bad, The Downright Horrible: Playoff Style. Tune in next week for Playoff Week 2’s edition. Been great doing this section, and hope you readers have enjoyed it. As always, feel free to comment, bash, like this post, and send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or follow @MetalhammerBen.