Welcome to Week 15!!! Hopefully you are still alive in your leagues and making a push toward a championship. Despite all the focus by most fantasy sites on the offensive side of things, IDP roster selections can often win or lose a playoff match for you. In one of my 32 team dynasty leagues, Morgan Burnett secured my victory as he kept up nearly point for point with Aaron Rodgers. In a league here at Major League Fantasy Sports, I hung on to a playoff win as Micah Hyde kept pace with Steven Jackson on Monday night. In most leagues, Week 15 represents the Final Four teams. This is when sh*t gets real! In MLFF4, I face off against fellow MLFS writer, Bryan Robinson, for the chance to play in the Championship game. B-Rob writes a weekly piece here called FLEXual Tension for those struggling with who to play in that all-important FLEX slot. I’m hoping to use his advice to take him down this week. Before we can get into Week 15, we need to do a quick recap of last week’s performance.
Biggest Hit — Morgan Burnett — ACTIVATE — 24.2 pts in MLFF, 23.5 in Real Deal (1 INT, 1 Sack, 7 Tackles, 1 Pass Defensed)
Biggest Miss — Dwight Lowry — AVOID — 19 in MLFF, 22 in Real Deal (13 tackles)
For those new to the column, I present my advice with two types of IDP scoring systems in mind. First is the tackle heavy scoring systems like the one I use in my Real Deal Dynasty leagues. This system rewards impact plays as in most standard scoring system bu has tiered value for tackles. Defensive lineman and Cornerbacks receive more points for tackles than Linebackers and Safeties. The scoring system here at Major League Fantasy Sports is driven more by Impact Plays made by defenders that can be game changes. Solo tackles are worth one points and assisted tackles are worth a half point. Large bonus points are given to impact plays such as interceptions, fumble recoveries and passes defensed to name just a few. The two players listed above represented the two highest scorers of all the players I wrote about last week. I recommended you start Burnett (for the win!) and bench Lowry (ouch!). All the other players I wrote about were basically serviceable, but likely didn’t help you win last week. But enough, about the past…who should we activate and avoid in Week 15? We will break down the defensive back plays from five intriguing games this week. I’m not suggesting that these are going to be great games, but rather they could play key roles in whether you win or lose this week. I like to address all the prime time games as they often cause fantasy owners the most anxiety. I will also look at an early Sunday game and late afternoon Sunday game. This will give you some players to consider at every NFL time slot of the week.
Arizona @ St. Louis, Thursday Night 8:30pm
TJ McDonald, S (STL) – Activate
Raise your hand if you called back to back shutouts by the Rams defense! We all knew that they had the talent to have a top 10 defense this year. Due to injuries and underachievement, St. Louis managed to allow 30+ points in six of their first nine games this season. Now they seamed to have put it together giving up only 34 points combined over the last four games. The defensive line has gotten healthy and has begun to apply pressure in the opposing QB. This has allowed their secondary to play more up to their potential. Over the course of 2014, the Rams have given up 6.9 yards per pass attempts. This puts them in the middle of the pack in the league. Over the last three weeks, they have improved this number to 5.4 yards per attempt which puts them at 3rd overall during that span. McDonald has taken advantage of the overall defensive improvement scoring double digits in MLFF scoring in four of the last five games. He has been very consistent during that span averaging six tackles and one pass defensed (PD) per game. The Cards have stayed strong on defense, but haven’t broken the 20 point threshold in the last four games. Ellington is done for the year, Fitzgerald in banged up and Stanton is…well…Drew Stanton. Arizona is averaging about 70 offensive yards a game fewer away then they do at home. I strongly recommend starting McDonald this week in all IDP formats.
Antonio Cromartie, CB (ARI) – Avoid
Cromartie is a Pro Bowl corner back who has had a few exceptional performances this season. Ever since Carson Palmer went down for the year, the defense has had considerably more pressure and Antonio has not been up to the task. He has scored two points or less in three of his last four games. The one game during that span that he had a respectable fantasy output was when he was getting torched by Julio Jones and he was able to tackle him on eight of his ten catches. Cromartie left last week’s win against the Chiefs with what they thought was an ACL injury. Fortunately, it turned out to only be a slight injury to a tendon in his ankle and Arizona is hopeful that he will play this week. If you hear prior to the game that he is active, DO NOT be tempted to start him in your league. This is the playoffs and you are better off going with a safe bet then the best talent. He will likely be hobbled and will have difficulty keeping up with the speedy Rams’ receivers. Keep him on the bench this week in all leagues as he his questionable to play and will likely struggle if he does.
Washington @ New York Giants, Sunday 1:00pm
Antrel Rolle, S (NYG) – Activate
Rolle has been the leader of the Giants defense this season and is a better actual player than his fantasy stats may indicate. He has had a respectable season with 70 tackles, 1 Forced fumble, 1 Fumble recovery, 3 picks and 7 PDs. He has been anything but a world-beater lately has he has struggled to get into double-digit scoring in MLFF leagues in five of the last seven games. So with this lukewarm intro, why would I activate him this week? Simple, he is up against the Washington NFL Football Team. The fact of the matter is this offense flat-out sucks (sorry, Corey) and I don’t think it will matter who is under center this week. The Giants finally put together a complete game on both sides of the ball last week and will be anxious to prove they can sustain this level of play against a division rival that comes in averaging only 281.3 total yards per game over the last three games. During that same span they have averaged only 13.3 points and two turnovers per game. I like Rolle to pick up 5+ tackles, at least one PD and a turnover of some kind. Start him with confidence this week.
David Amerson, CB (WSH) – Avoid
Amerson simply has not lived up to the expectations that Washington had for him entering the season. He was thrust into a starting position out of the gate with the injuries to veteran corners, DeAnglo Hall and Tracy Porter. He has failed to record an interception on the year and only has 46 tackles and 4 PDs on the season. He was deactivated in Week 12 for missing a team meeting showing a lack of commitment. Despite all this, David will likely continue to be the starting LCB and see nearly every defensive snap. This won’t be enough to bring any value to him as a fantasy starter. Don’t be tempted to start him because you think Eli is going to throw a pick. He does have 13 interceptions on the season but over a third of them came in one game against the Niners and Amerson just has not developed into a ball hawk to take advantage of an errant Eli pass. He should be avoided in all formats unless your stuck in a very deep league.
New York Jets @ Tennessee, Sunday 4:00pm
Jason McCourty, CB (TEN) – Activate
Last week, I talked up his brother, Devin. This week its Jason, who also went to Rutgers. McCourty has been a dependable IDP performer as the Titans starting LCB this season registering 10 games with 9+ points in the MLFF scoring model. The Jets come into this game with a league worst 5.3 yards per pass attempt and 169.4 yards per game. 5+ tackles per game is excellent for a corner back and I don’t see any reason not to expect him to get his five. Yes there will be less targets than usual, but Geno Smith is likely to make a mistake or two and McCourty will take advantage of them. I like him for multiple impact plays this week. He is a must start in leagues that require you to play at least one corner back and should be worth a start in DB leagues where you can start any defensive backs. This battle of two win teams could have an impact on your ability to win a championship.
Jaiquawn Jarrett, S (NYJ) – Avoid
Jarrett has been getting starters’ snaps over the last four plus games and led the Jets secondary with eight tackles last week against the Vikings. I still can’t recommend him or any other Jets’ defensive back this week. Other than last week, the only other productive game he has had this season was in Week 10 against Pittsburgh when he had a career day with three takeaways. Overall, the New York defense simply does not force enough turnovers and can’t be trusted to give you impact plays in the secondary. Don’t be fooled by Darrin Walls getting a pick in each of the last two games. He was just as surprised as we were on both interceptions with the later coming on a hail Mary to end the first half. After an embarrassing loss to the Giants this past week, the Titans look like they might be mailing it in for the remainder of the season. There is a decent chance we see Jake Locker this week, but I don’t think it will matter who is playing QB for the Titans. The Jets defense is just average and likely won’t produce enough pressure to force mistakes in the passing game. This will limit Jarrett to a few tackles and not much else. Do yourself a favor and stay away from Jarrett and any other Jets’ IDPs.
Dallas @ Philadelphia, Sunday Night 8:30pm
Barry Church, S (DAL) – Activate
Come Sunday night, your Championship aspirations may be slipping away. I typically don’t like
recommending Dallas defensive backs but this might be an exception and a sneaky play this week. Last week, Orlando Scandrick had a big week thanks to nine tackles and a Cutler pick. I could see a similar stat line for Barry Church this week and “Dirty” Sanchez has settled into the Quarterback we thought he was. Dallas will be looking for revenge after the ass-whooping it took from the Eagles on Thanksgiving day and the will have ten days to rest up and prepare and the high-octane Eagles offense was held in check by Seattle. If Dallas can contain McCoy and force Sanchez to throw a lot of passes, we could see several mistakes turn into points for Church and others in the Cowboys secondary. Church is a solid play this week and could net you a solid 7-8 tackles and at least one impact play. You won’t regret going to “Church” this Sunday.
Cary Williams, CB (PHI) – Avoid
Dallas will be rested and pissed. This should be a completely different game then we saw on Thanksgiving. Bradley Fletcher will likely be covering Dez Bryant which means Cary Williams will be covering the decoy known as Terrence Williams. His targets will be few and far between and just won’t have the opportunity to get tackles or impact plays. He has only recorded two interceptions and six passes defensed on the season. I see no reason to trust him this week with the season on the line.
New Orleans @ Chicago, Monday Night 8:30pm
Kyle Fuller, CB (CHI) – Activate
Kyle looked like the defensive Rookie of the year for the first quarter of the season. He has been a solid tackler for a corner back but has only one impact play (pass defensed) in the last seven games. He is still the unquestioned starter at RCB for the Bears and you can expect him to be busy covering a variety of Saints’ receivers. Look for Drew Brees to attempt to exploit the Bears porous pass defense as they allow 7.7 yards per pass attempt. Only Atlanta is worse against the pass. This should provide opportunity and targets for Fuller and I expect this to be a high scoring game. I’m not sure he returns to the form he was at the beginning of the season but he could go for approximately 4-5 tackles and get back on the board with at least one impact play. He has the skill and the motor, and hopefully, he puts it together this week for his fantasy owners.
Kenny Vacarro, S (NO) – Avoid
Kenny has been nothing short of a colossal disappointment this season for the Saints and for his fantasy
owners. He was drafted number 15 overall in last season’s draft, and he has had the skill but not the discipline to succeed. He has been over aggressive on plays and gets burned way too often. Rumor is he will be benched this week and will likely see a significant reduction of snaps. He is still the most talented safety on the roster, but Rob Ryan has to do something after last week’s embarrassment. Vacarro looks like the scapegoat. His stats aren’t great (66 tackles, 1 sack, 2 Ints, 5 PDs), but that is not the reason for his role change. He is playing out of control and giving up big plays. The Saints are getting killed on big plays and have not been able to overcome early deficits this year. You CANNOT go into Monday night with Kenny in your starting lineup in a close match. Keep him on your bench in all scoring formats until further notice.
Bryan Luhrs Real Deal Dynasty Sports, Creator & Executive Commissioner MajorLeagueFantasySports.com, Fantasy Baseball and Football Writer http://www.realdealdynasty.com @realdealdynasty ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ (Click the blue link below to listen live)Major League Fantasy Sports Radio: Join Ej Garr and Corey D Roberts on December 14th, 2014 from 11am-12pm EST for this week’s episode of Major League Fantasy Sports Radio sponsored by The Sports PaloozaRadio Network.
We will take your calls live at 646.915.8596. Our guests this week include Bryan Robinson and Ron McCleese. Bryan is a writer with MLFS and his focus is on the RB/WR positions. His articles are published every Thursday called “FLEXual Tension”. Ron McCleese is also a writer with MLFS and his focus is on the QB/TE positions. His articles are published every Friday called “Heroes & Zeros”. This should be a very spirited debate and we encourage listeners to join in!
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