Yes, it’s playoff time and that means— (sigh) give me a sec, folks. I just need gather myself and we’ll try that again. Geez, this is so embarrassing. Alright, here we go:
The playoffs are finally here and all that hard work— ugh, I really thought I could do this. I’m a professional, damn it. I should be able to make it through this. Okay, deep breath and… take three:
If you made it through the regular season and are in your league’s— you know what? Screw it. I’m not doing it. I know I should be like everyone else, giving you a cookie cutter congrats on making it this far and tossing in some rah rah speech on how this is the time to dig in and really reach for that championship. But I can’t do it. Not in good faith. Not with this weighing on my mind.
America, we need to have a talk.
You’ve been panning a particular player for months. Just roasting him (yes, I went all post-Thanksgiving pun). It started with the talking heads, and not long after you joined in and were happy to do so, blaming him for the struggles of your team, cursing his fantasy existence.
I tried my best to quell the panic. I tried to talk him up and present the favorable evidence. You weren’t having it. No matter how many times I implored patience, you cast me aside like the innards of last week’s turkey. And now all that goodness you could’ve had is buried in the trash.
Meanwhile, Keenan Allen’s fantasy points continue to be gravy for me.
Look, I’m a humble guy. I’ll be the first to tell you I got some calls horribly wrong (see: Floyd, Michael). But despite his early season struggles, I stood atop the mountain and shouted Allen’s name, forecasting what I believed was an inevitable turnaround.
And turn it around he did. Look at those numbers the last five games: 59 targets, 38 receptions, 408 yards and four touchdowns. Those numbers play very well in a standard league, and if you’re using any kind of PPR setting, forget about it.
You would think Allen, coming off his second straight 100+ yard, 1+ TD effort, would be back in the good graces of fantasy community. But no, the lingering stench of his poor start has overpowered this recent hot stretch. Based on ESPN numbers, Allen is owned in just 76% of leagues and only started in about half of those.
(Shaking my head) People, people, come on. Are we not in the holiday mood? If you don’t think Allen has earned good tidings for his 2014 performance, acknowledge that he’s at least earned our forgiveness.
I’ll take it one step further, because I know there are those of you out there who are looking at the schedule and waiting for me to crash and burn. Allen and the Chargers get the Patriots on Sunday night, which means a date with Revis, Browner and the rest of the stout Patriots pass D. This group has put the clamps on some impressive names as of late, but I remain steadfast in my belief that Allen will have another strong game.
He’s a volume play that does most of his damage underneath rather than down the field. Those catches will still be there as Rivers has gone from spreading the ball around to locking in on his favorite target. He might not reach the century mark for the third straight game, but I’m taking the over on six catches and 80 yards for Allen and hoping he reaches the end zone yet again. Those who heed my advice and start him will not be disappointed. Put it on record, Allen is the captain of this week’s FLEXual Tension All-Stars.
It’s a shame he wasn’t a member of last week’s group as this bunch definitely needed some help. Here’s a quick glance at last week’s results:
Week 13 Hits:
Jeremy Maclin – Standard scoring: 10.8 pts; MLFS scoring: 20.15 pts
Fred Jackson – Standard scoring: 9.7 pts; MLFS scoring: 10.7 pts
Robert Woods – Standard scoring: 7.1 pts; MLFS scoring: 11.1 pts
Week 13 Misses:
Andre Ellington – Standard scoring: 1.2 pts; MLFS scoring: 1.2 pts (left w/ hip injury)
Denard Robinson – Standard scoring: 5.4 pts; MLFS scoring: 8.4 pts
Martavis Bryant – Standard scoring: 2.3 pts; MLFS scoring: 3.3 pts
Jarvis Landry – Standard scoring: 6.8 pts; MLFS scoring: 16.8 pts
Charles Johnson – Standard scoring: 4.1 pts; MLFS scoring: 6.1 pts
Pierre Thomas – Standard scoring: 3.7 pts; MLFS scoring: 5.7 pts
All kidding aside, if you did make it to your league’s playoffs, then a hearty pat on the back is in order. If you didn’t and you’re still reading this, then God bless you. That’s what I call dedication. To reward your persistence (or denial), FLEXual Tension has the RBs and WRs that deserve consideration in your lineup. Because we’re in the fantasy postseason, expect a more streamlined group going forward as deep plays become less necessary. Let’s kick things off with the man I’m affectionately calling this year’s Samkon Gado:
C.J. Anderson, RB (DEN) – Buffalo is allowing the second fewest points to opposing running backs this year. Don’t care. There have only been two games all year where the Bills have let an opposing rusher cross the goal line. Don’t care. Only one running back in 2014 (Jerick McKinnon) has surpassed the century mark in rushing yards against Buffalo. I. Don’t. Care. Notice a pattern? As far as I’m concerned, C.J. Anderson, based on the volume of touches he’s now receiving (how’s 65 touches the last two games sound?) is 100% matchup-proof. The best situation for a running back in all of football somehow just got even better. Even if the Bills can slow down the ground game of Denver in this one, Anderson has shown the ability to make plays out of the backfield as well (two games with 70+ receiving yards). If you were lucky enough, as I was, to stumble on Anderson at the exact right time, boy have you been rewarded for it. Don’t fear the matchup, Anderson is an RB1 this week and going forward. He’s the hottest C.J. since Baywatch was in syndication.
Expectation: Top-12 RB
Tre Mason, RB (STL) – I guess the early theme of this week’s list is that sometimes you have to buck the matchups and trust the player. Washington has played very good run defense this season, but when a guy nicknamed Boom (seriously, Boom? I’ve got more to come on this) posts an 11.0 yards per carry average on you, you’re far from invincible. Just so happens that Mason is coming off a phenomenal game in which he needed only 17 touches to amass 164 yards and three touchdowns. The Auburn rookie has posted at least 80 total yards in each of his last four contests, and that includes the strong interior defenses of Denver and Arizona. If you get to deploy Mason as your RB2 this week, you’re sitting pretty.
Expectation: Top-15 RB
Kelvin Benjamin, WR (CAR) – The other half of this week’s 90s Nickelodeon title, I continue to watch Benjamin shine week-in week-out and long for him to be back with my beloved Seminoles. (Quick tangent: those of you who frequent FLEXual Tension know I’m also an avid Georgia Tech fan after attending for a year and a half. The ACC title game isn’t doing me any favors; it’s like watching your two kids lining up for opposing teams. Brutal.) Matchups with New Orleans can be dicey for #1 receivers as the Saints often try to take them away with mixed results. Guys like Jordy Nelson, Dez Bryant and Benjamin himself have been held in check while A.J. Green and Julio Jones have had monster days. I have a feeling I know how the rematch is going to play out, so when you check the stats at halftime and you see Benjamin with one catch for 18 yards, don’t freak out. He’ll get his in the second half when Carolina abandons the run game for good and Cam Newton has to chuck it around the lot to keep the Panthers in it. When all is said and done, you’ll look up and see Benjamin had another solid outing hovering just short of the 100-yard mark.
Expectation: Top-20 WR
Golden Tate, WR (DET) – Not to toot my own horn again but… honk honk. I told you that upon Calvin Johnson’s return, Golden Tate would drop from a low-end WR1 to a high-end WR3, and I got absolutely pasted for it. One month later and fantasy outputs of 10.9, 4.9, 11.0 and 8.9 (using standard scoring) are pretty much all the justification I need. His receiving numbers over those four games have been very nice (84 YPG), but a goose egg in the TD department keeps him from those monster first-half totals we had been seeing. Getting Tampa Bay in the dome might be just the ticket to getting Tate back in the end zone. Matthew Stafford has (predictably) been better at home than on the road, which means there should be more than enough to go around for both Tate and Calvin Johnson. He makes a return to the back-end of the WR2 class this week, meaning both PPR and standard leaguers can deploy him with confidence.
Expectation: Top-20 WR
Daniel Herron, RB (IND) – Told you I’d get back to ol’ Boom himself. I’m sorry but every time I hear Herron referred to by this moniker, I flashback to one of the greatest athlete commercials of all time. If you’ve never had a chance to see the marketing exploits of a young Greg Oden, do yourself a favor and give this a click. It’ll be worth your 30 seconds, trust me (he’s a chameleon). Both Oden and Herron do share a similar lineage as they were both products of The Ohio State University (now that’s how you tie it all together… Boom). Herron has done the most with the opportunity presented due to Ahmad Bradshaw’s injury, posting 153 yards on just 20 carries the last two weeks. I expect him to be closer to the 17 touches he had in Week 12 rather than the 10 he received last week and, against a vulnerable Browns defense, that could be enough to support an RB2-worthy day.
Expectation: Top-24 RB
Andre Williams, RB (NYG) – Let’s run with the information we know at this point. Rashad Jennings left last week’s game early with an ankle injury after a very productive game. Although he sounded confident that he would be back for this week’s dream matchup with Tennessee, the Giants decided to sign free agent Chris Ogbannaya as insurance. Then, the biggest red flag so far, Jennings proceeded to miss Wednesday practice. Despite Jennings still being optimistic about playing Sunday, if you held my feet to the fire, I would lean towards him sitting this one out. New York has nothing to play for this season other than pride and risking one of their main offensive contributors in a meaningless game seems counter-intuitive to me. In my handcuff primer a few weeks back, I deliberately left Williams off the list, citing his poor performance in his handful of starts as reasoning for not holding onto him. This one game is the exception and would be the only time I’m comfortable starting Williams should Jennings not play. Only the Raiders have allowed more points to opposing running backs in 2014 than the Titans. No team has given up more rushing yards to opposing backs and no team has given up more touchdowns to opposing backs. Hell, even no-good, I-can’t-stop-running-into-my-own-linemen Trent Richardson scored 15 fantasy points against Tennessee. Could you possibly need any more of an endorsement than that?
Expectation: Top-30 RB
Chris Ivory & Chris Johnson, RB (NYJ) – I mean, if all you’re going to do is run the ball, then run it again, then run it some more, I can get on board with a pair of RBs from the same team. A [49:13] run-pass distribution is unheard of today’s day and age of pass-first offenses, but the combination of a QB you don’t trust plus trying to send a message to the suits upstairs led Rex Ryan and the Jets to accomplish such a feat. Is this week against the Vikings, a team with the 6th-ranked pass defense and 24th-ranked run defense, really going to be all that different? I don’t see Ivory and Johnson both getting 16+ carries like they did last week, but I wouldn’t put 12+ each out of the realm of possibility. The slight edge here should go to Ivory as he’s the more likely of the two to see the goal-line opportunities, but running an offense in such a manner doesn’t exactly lend itself to a whole lot of goal-to-go chances. Nonetheless, both Ivory and Johnson make for safe yardage plays with a limited upside.
Expectation: Top-36 RB for both
Nate Washington, WR (TEN) – I do still have a couple of recommendations for deep leaguers, starting with this oldie but goodie. Justin Hunter was lost for the season on Sunday with a lacerated spleen, meaning Nate Washington returns to a starting role opposite Kendall Wright. Very quietly, Washington has posted some useful totals recently, going for 204 yards and two touchdowns over the past three weeks. Granted, one of those weeks consisted of one 80-yard TD strike as his only catch, so if you feel the need to throw that result out, I understand. Still, at least four catches and 60 yards each of the past two weeks is nothing to sneeze at. I don’t really care if it’s Mettenberger or Locker delivering passes his way either, so my recommendation won’t vary due to QB. If you’re feeling lucky (and a little conservative), Washington is a sneaky name who could give you some decent fantasy returns.
Expectation: Top-45 WR
Nick Toon, WR (NO) – If, on the other hand, you feel like taking a walk on the wild side of the wide receiver waiver wire (try saying that five times fast), I’ve got your man. It’s only fitting that this week’s edition of FLEXual Tension, lovingly named after a favorite Nickelodeon show of mine, is capped off by Nick Toon himself. The former Wisconsin Badger reeled in his first NFL touchdown last week and has all five of his catches for the season in the last two weeks. He appears to have surpassed Robert Meachem on the depth chart (hard to believe Meachem is still on a depth chart) and has seen the field much more in the wake of Brandin Cooks’ injury. How much more? Try more than Kenny Stills. That’s right, last week Stills was on the field for 25 of the Saints’ 56 plays while Toon was called on 29 times (Marques Colston led all Saints’ WRs with 38 snaps). Understand contextually that this is in part because Toon is a very good run blocker. I’m not at all saying Toon will outdo Stills in the receiving department. But if you’re in the mood to play roulette with a New Orleans wideout, which can be a very lucrative game at times, put a small bet down on Toon and hope he pays it off big.
Expectation: Top-50 WR
_____________________________________________________________________________________________________(Click the blue link below to listen live or recorded after the show) Major League Fantasy Sports Radio: Join Ej Garr and Corey D Roberts on Sunday December 8th from 11am-12pm EST for this week’s 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