“Mad Dog McCleese” Heroes & Zeros (Week 13 Preferred QB/TE Plays)
This past Sunday was a busy day in the NFL and one that was full of amazing plays. Unfortunately I was stuck at the airport and on a plane traveling from Chicago to Fort Lauderdale. While I gladly traded in the frigid temps of The Windy City for sunny South Florida I was most concerned with what I was missing in the meantime….Sunday Football! I’ll be the first to admit that I’m as addicted to Fantasy Football and watching football as they come. I have a routine on Sundays and I rarely deviate from it so understand I was venturing outside my comfort zone. Shortly after takeoff I was able to switch back and forth between the free previews of the Titans-Eagles and Patriots-Lions games. The free previews ended abruptly after approximately ten minutes and I found myself starting to have a panic attack. What a tease! They suck you in with the free preview and then it’s over before you even have time to reach 30,000 feet or before the fasten your seatbelts lights go out! Like any addict it really didn’t matter what I had to do or what it cost; $1 or $100. I was going to pay gladly like so many other hardcore NFL fans to watch the most entertaining sport on the planet. So I pulled out my credit card and proceeded to make my purchase for $7.99. I started paging through the channels and to my delight I found the RedZone Channel. Jackpot! At that point the flight could have been going to Tokyo, Japan and I would have been fine with it. There was nothing better than getting to watch up to three games at one time so obviously my eyes were glued to the screen for the remainder of my flight. Which reminds me that this and every Thanksgiving I’m thankful for my Family, friends, food and last but not least the RedZone Channel.
Week 12 Picks Review
Josh McCown (Top 10 pick) MISS
Prediction: 28-43 318 yards 3 TDs, 0 INTs
Actual: 25-48 341 1 TD, 2 INTs, 2 fumbles, 1 FL
Standard scoring: 12 pts
MLFS scoring: 14.5 pts
Josh McCown’s homecoming to Soldier Field didn’t go anything like most of us expected. I’ll admit I took this one on the chin with my “Start of the Week” pick but it happens. McCown let a lot of his fantasy owners down in Week 12 including myself. The Bears defense showed up for the first time all year at home and played especially well in the second half. Their relentless pressure led to five sacks, two interceptions and two fumbles by McCown. Vincent Jackson didn’t help his cause with a costly fumble in the third quarter in the middle of crucial drive. Louis Murphy also dropped a pass in the end zone late in the fourth quarter. He could have salvaged a somewhat decent game with the late score but it just wasn’t in the cards.
Brian Hoyer (Top 10 pick) MISS
Prediction: 26-44 328 yards 3 TDs, 1 INT
Actual: 23-40 322 yards 0 TDs, 3 INTs, 1 fumble
Standard scoring: 7 pts
MLFS scoring: 5.18 pts
I was hoping that Hoyer would stop the bleeding for me but he didn’t. It was evident to everyone watching that he wasn’t on the same page as Josh Gordon. The result was poorly thrown passes and three interceptions, one of them in the end zone that was intended for Flash Gordon. I’ll give the Falcons secondary some credit since they made some big plays at opportune times in the game. In the end Hoyer did manage to lead them to a victory thanks to poor clock management by the Falcons coaching staff. A win is a win however for fantasy purposes Hoyer was a major letdown and a ZERO for his owners.
Ryan Mallett (Bye week Plug-in) MISS
Prediction: 24-33 248 yards 2 TDs
Actual: 21-45 189 yards 0 TD, 1 INT
Standard scoring: 5 pts
MLFS scoring: 4.65 pts
Ryan Mallett was Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde in week 11 and week 12 respectively. His first home start was a complete disaster in which he never appeared to get comfortable under center. Mallett’s throws looked rushed and he was off-target overthrowing a lot of passes to his receivers. After the game it was revealed that Mallett tore a pectoral muscle and is out for the season. The Ryan Mallett era in Houston is over as quickly as it began. Now it’s back to Ryan Fitzpatrick which should be good news for DeAndre Hopkins owners.
Matthew Stafford (Stay Away Play) HIT
Prediction: 26-40 268 yards 1 TD, 2 INTs
Actual: 18-46 264 yards 0 TD, 1 INT, 3 rushes for 18 yards
Standard scoring: 9 pts
MLFS scoring: 10 pts
Finally I struck gold on one of my most controversial picks with Matthew Stafford. The New England Patriots defense proved to be up to the task of containing Stafford and his arsenal of weapons. Megatron owners have been disappointed but he bounced back BIG on Thanksgiving Day and feasted on a Bears secondary for an amazing line of 11 receptions for 149 yards and two touchdowns! Leading up too this game it was very concerning that Stafford had gone two weeks without throwing a touchdown pass.
Philip Rivers (Stay Away Play) HIT
Prediction: 21-36 262 yards 1 TD, 2 INTs
Actual: 29-35 291 yards 1 TD, 1 INT
Standard scoring: 13 pts
MLFS scoring: 13.55 pts
Philip Rivers was clearly playing in pain and threw a huge interception that Janoris Jenkins returned 99 yards for a pick six. His numbers would have been even worse if not for his late touchdown pass to Keenan Allen with [8:09] left in the fourth quarter. Rivers owners expect much more but I’ll give him credit for gutting it out and playing at less than 100%.
Andy Dalton (Stay Away Play) HIT
Prediction: 15-28 218 yards 1 TD, 2 INTs
Actual: 24-35 233 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT
Standard scoring: 11 pts
MLFS scoring: 11.25 pts
These are the types of games we’ve come to expect from Andy Dalton, nothing to write home about that’s for sure. He’s been a major disappointment this year due to his inconsistency. I wouldn’t advise starting him in any leagues and he’s best left on the waiver wire. It’s a shame that he can’t produce starter worthy numbers with one of the best wide receivers at his disposal in AJ Green and the emerging Mohamed Sanu.
Coby Fleener (Top 5 Play) MISS
Prediction: 6 receptions for 98 yards 1 TD
Actual: 2 receptions for 28 yards 0 TD
Standard scoring: 2 pts
MLFS scoring: 4.8 pts
It’s hard to make an impact when you only get four targets in a game. The four targets were the least he had seen from Luck over the past three weeks. I’m not really sure why Luck didn’t look Fleener’s way more against a Jacksonville team that was torched by the Colts tight ends in their previous matchup. It was arguably Luck’s worst game of the season and he did miss Fleener once in the end zone. It will be interesting to see if Fleener bounces back and once Dwayne Allen returns how the targets are distributed.
Austin Seferian-Jenkins (Bye week Plug-in) MISS
Prediction: 4 receptions for 48 yards, 1 TD
Actual: 2 receptions for 16 yards
Standard scoring: 1 pt
MLFS scoring: 4.6 pts
The stage was set for Seferian-Jenkins to have his most productive game as a pro against the Bears but unfortunately he was knocked out of the game early with a back injury. He played a season low number of snaps due to the injury and has yet to practice all week so it must be a serious injury. This pick was a Hail Mary and I still believe he would have come up big had he not got injured.
Martellus Bennett (Stay Away Play) HIT
Prediction: 5 receptions for 55 yards 0 TD
Actual: 4 receptions for 37 yards 0 TD
Standard scoring: 3 pts
MLFS scoring: 7.7 pts
Martellus Bennett’s slump continued in Week 12 even though he saw a team-high seven targets. It was nice to see an uptick in the targets but it’s still hard to trust him in the home-stretch for his fantasy owners. I hope you took my advice on this one and gave him a seat on your bench. We can only hope “The Black Unicorn” finds his mojo very soon so he can help the Bears and his fantasy owners.
Delanie Walker (Stay Away Play) MISS
Prediction: 3 receptions for 38 yards 0 TD
Actual: 5 receptions for 155 yards 0 TD
Standard scoring: 15 pts
MLFS scoring: 28.9 pts
This pick was my biggest swing and miss in Week 12 but was more of a gut call on my part. Walker blew up in South Philly and had his best game of the season. He saw 10 targets and had over 100 yards after the catch. If it’s any consolation to my readers I dropped him in one league and benched him in another causing myself two wins. This pick will haunt me for some time considering the high price I paid for it.
Week 13 Primer
If anyone is ready to turn the page to Week 13 and feast on some turkey and stuffing it’s me. I’ll do a quick memory clear from my Week 12 picks and focus on improving in Week 13. I hope everyone has the pleasure of enjoying the three F’s this Thanksgiving; Family, Food, and Football. Fortunately we’re all done with the byes but since my article posts on Friday I won’t be talking about any players on the six teams that play on Thanksgiving Day. Instead I will switch my focus to the games on Sunday and Monday Night Football. There will be plenty of turkey this Thanksgiving weekend but we also have some “Berger’s” on “Mad Dog McCleese’s” menu.
Start of the Week (Top 10 QB)
Ryan Tannehill @ New York Jets MNF (HERO)
Ryan Tannehill is coming into his own since Week 4 against Oakland. He’s averaged almost 19 fantasy points a week (standard scoring) since then and looks to be maturing into a star quarterback and reliable fantasy starter. He’s outscored some noteworthy quarterbacks since their Week 5 bye; Matt Ryan, Matthew Stafford, Philip Rivers, Cam Newton, Colin Kaepernick, Russell Wilson, and Jay Cutler. In addition he’s been able to produce multiple touchdowns in back-to-back games and in five of the Dolphins last seven games. The icing on the cake is that he’s playing the Jets this week under the big lights of their Prime-time Monday Night Football matchup. The Jets have allowed the most touchdown passes in the NFL with 27 and after Monday night this number will be 30 plus. He’s gotten a major boost from the emerging rookie Jarvis Landry and his homerun threat Mike Wallace. All signs point to a monster game on MNF for Tannehill and his Dolphins. I’d rather start Tannehill over Matt Ryan, Philip Rivers, Cam Newton and believe it or not Drew Brees.
24-35 268 yards 3 TDs, 1 INT, 5 rushes for 45 yard
Strong QB Play (Top 10)
Ben Roethlisberger vs New Orleans Saints (HERO)
It’s no secret that Ben Roethlisberger loves the home cooking of Heinz Field. This year in the Steelers five home games he’s got an 18-to-1 touchdown-to-interception ratio. He’s thrown for over 300 yards in every home game this year but one. Also let’s not forget what he’s accomplished in his last two home games tossing an NFL record twelve touchdown passes and zero interceptions in back-to-back weeks. The Saints have a short week to prepare for Steelers and will still be feeling the ill effects of their heart-breaking loss to the Ravens on Monday Night Football. The last time I recommended Big Ben he let me down but he’ll make up for that dud this week and tear apart a weak Saints secondary that’s allowed the 10th most passing yards in the NFL. It should be like shooting fish in a barrel with deep-threats Antonio Brown and Martavis Bryant stretching the field versus a depleted Saints secondary. Unless you own Aaron Rodgers, Peyton Manning, Andrew Luck, or Tom Brady you better have Big Ben locked into your Week 13 starting lineup.
25-35 326 yards 3 TDs
Strong QB Play (Top 12)
Zach Mettenberger @ Houston Texans (HERO)
It’s hard to advocate starting a rookie quarterback on the road but it’s time to give Zach Mettenberger a ringing endorsement based on his short track record. He’s arguably been the best rookie quarterback since taking over under center Week 8 against the Houston Texans. He’s been very consistent in his first four starts posting over 15 fantasy points in three out of his four starts. During that same time period he’s thrown for over 260 yards and two touchdowns three times. Mettenberger has a plus matchup versus a Houston Texans team that has allowed the second most passing yards to opposing quarterbacks in the NFL, trailing only the Atlanta Falcons. Zach seems to have established some great chemistry with Delanie Walker and Justin Hunter. He targeted them both ten times in last week’s game versus the Eagles. In addition he also spread the ball around completing passes to seven different receivers. I like Mettenberger to stay hot this week and build on his career-high 345 passing yards that he recorded last week.
28-43 318 yards passing, 2 TDs 1 INT
Stay Away QB Plays
Philip Rivers @ Baltimore Ravens (ZERO)
With the Fantasy Football season winding down I wouldn’t feel comfortable depending on Philip Rivers to lead my team to the Promised Land. Rivers has been held to 622 passing yards and two touchdowns in his past three games. During that same period he’s got a 2-to-4 touchdown-to-interception ratio. The Baltimore Ravens secondary is vulnerable but they’ve have been very good at home versus opposing quarterbacks. They’ve yet to allow an opposing quarterback to throw for multiple scores in Baltimore. Plus they have playmakers on the defensive line along with some great pass-rushers in Elvis Dumervil and Terrell Suggs. They’ll combine to keep the pressure on Rivers while taking some shots at his injured ribs whenever the opportunity arises. Like hungry sharks who smell blood in the water they’ll attack the Chargers fearless leader. The arrow is pointing down for Rivers until further notice so jump off the sinking ship before it’s too late.
26-38 278 yards 1 TD, 2 INTs
Matt Ryan vs Arizona Cardinals (ZERO)
Much like my Matthew Stafford pick last week this pick isn’t going to win a popularity contest. Matt Ryan will have his hands full this week against a ferocious Arizona defense featuring red-hot Calais Campbell. It’s hard to bet against Ryan at home where he has an 11-to-3 touchdown-to-interception ratio at the Georgia Dome. However over the past four games the Arizona Cardinals have been very stingy with opposing quarterbacks allowing only three passing touchdowns. More troubling for Ryan are the five interceptions the Cards have ball hawked from opposing quarterbacks in those games. They have some big bodies in their secondary with Tryann Mathieu, Antonio Cromartie, and Patrick Peterson who is expected matchup across Julio Jones. The Falcons have yet to play a defense on Arizona’s level at home and will be in a dog fight in the Georgia Dome. My gut says Ryan makes a big mistake that costs his team six points. I would rather start Eli Manning, Alex Smith, or Josh McCown over Matt Ryan this week.
28-44 262 yards 1 TD, 2 INTs
Cam Newton @ Minnesota Vikings (ZERO)
Cam Newton has been flat-out terrible on the road this year being held under 14 fantasy points with the exception of the Cincinnati Bengals game. I wouldn’t trust Newton in any fantasy football lineup unless it’s a 2QB league. The Carolina Panthers offensive line has been pathetic this season and has allowed Newton to get sacked 32 times. Only Matthew Stafford and Colin Kaepernick have been sacked more times this year than Newton. The Minnesota Vikings have played great defense at home and just held Aaron Rodgers to his lowest point total since week 5 with only 19 fantasy points. One week off isn’t enough to fix what ails the Panthers and a banged up Cam Newton. It’s time to abort mission with Cam Newton in 2014 and cut your losses. Avoid Cam Newton this week and until further notice. If he’s not running and getting points with his legs he’s not going to help you much in fantasy with his inaccurate arm.
23-38 218 yards passing, 1 TD, 2 INTs, 6 rushes for 39 yards
Strong Play (Top 5 TE)
Delanie Walker @ Houston Texans (HERO)
Stealing a line from fellow MLFS writer Matt Barkman in “Off the Matt” Delanie Walker goes from the Poorhouse to the Penthouse in one week. He’s obviously not suffering from any post-concussion symptoms after blowing up for 155 yards in Week 12. Walker is a load for defenders to bring down and managed over 100 yards after catch last week. Mettenberger obviously trusts Walker peppering him with ten targets in his first game back from his concussion. Houston has been decent against tight ends allowing the third-fewest fantasy points per game to opposing tight ends. However Walker has a great history versus the Texans having scored in two of his past three meetings versus their AFC rival. I was lucky enough to snatch Walker back off waivers in a couple of leagues and will be starting him with confidence in week 13. It’s worth noting that Walker finished Week 12 as the top scoring tight end and he has a cupcake schedule to finish the fantasy season. Unless you own Gronk, Jimmy Graham, Julius Thomas, or Greg Olsen Walker should be locked in your starting lineup.
6 receptions for 94 yards, 1 TD
Strong Play (Top 12 TE)
Antonio Gates @ Baltimore Ravens (HERO)
Antonio Gates has been MIA since Week 8 in Denver when he scored two touchdowns. He hasn’t topped 32 yards receiving since the Broncos game. The Chargers need to focus on beating the Ravens through the air since the ground game is going to struggle to find any holes. The Ravens had all kinds of problems defending Jimmy Graham on Monday Night Football. He scored two red zone touchdowns and should have scored a third had he not dropped the ball. The Ravens will dial-up multiple blitz packages forcing Rivers to hit his safety valve over the middle and Gates will be his preferred target in this game. This is more of a gut call on my part but I think he could be the leading receiver on the Chargers this week. Gates is due for a good game and presents a matchup problem against a vulnerable Ravens secondary. I’d gamble on Gates in Week 8 and you should too.
5 receptions for 58 yards, 1 TD
Stay Away TE Plays
Mychal Rivera @ St. Louis Rams (ZERO)
Well the honeymoon with Mychal Rivera and his fantasy owners is finally over. I was never a believer to be honest but Rivera has disappeared as quickly as he emerged with two duds in a row. In the past two weeks he’s caught a total of 4 balls for 48 yards. He was only targeted by Derek Carr a total of nine times in those games after averaging nine a game in his breakout games in weeks 8 through Week 10. When the targets dried up so did the production for Rivera. His numbers were inflated due to garbage-time touchdowns. I wouldn’t expect Rivera to pop the seal this week versus a stout Rams defense that has only allowed less than 70 yards a game to tight ends and only two receiving touchdowns all season to the position. With the byes all over you must have better options on your bench than Rivera. I would rather start Travis Kelce, Larry Donnell, or Coby Fleener over Mychal Rivera.
2 receptions for 22 yards, 0 TD
Heath Miller vs New Orleans Saints (ZERO)
Heath Miller is the ultimate boom or bust option at tight end. He’s only had two games this season with over 71 yards receiving and has only scored two touchdowns. Big Ben doesn’t consistently target Miller since he has so many other reliable options like Antonio Brown, Martavis Bryant, and Markus Wheaton. He used to target Miller in the red zone but now he’s got a bigger and more athletic target and shiny new toy in Bryant. Roethlisberger seems to be locked-in with either Brown or Bryant when they’re in scoring position. The New Orleans Saints have been the best team in the NFL versus opposing tight ends. They’ve only allowed three touchdowns to tight ends all year and two since Week 1. Big Ben will have no problems hooking up with his preferred passing options in Brown and Bryant leaving Miller with very few targets in this game. I would rather start Larry Donnell, Tim Wright, or Kyle Rudolph this week over Heath Miller.
3 receptions for 38 yards, 0 TD
_____________________________________________________________________________________________________(Click the link below to listen live) Major League Fantasy Sports Radio: Join Ej Garr and Corey D Roberts on Sunday November 30th from 11am-12pm EST for this week’s Thanksgiving episode of Major League Fantasy Sports Radio sponsored by the Sports Palooza Radio Network. Call in live to ask line up questions at 646.915.8596