“Sauer Notes” Staying Alive: Lock-ett Up, Championship!
Ok good, you are still with us.
That is not the week most of us had envisioned to kick off the fantasy football playoffs. In a perfect world, we would hope our stars would show up, and our complimentary players to produce moderate games to keep our scores afloat. Unfortunately, we do not reside in a perfect world, and we were plagued by a rash of injuries to kick off the postseason.
The plethora of injuries were more prevalent in terms of running back, with the quarterback position mainly losing Dalton and the streamable Brian Hoyer to another concussion. You also could have been bitten by another injured Bengal in Tyler Eifert, who will have to be monitored later in the week for his game-time availability.
We are conscious, alive again.
Along with all of the injuries, some of our teams could have rostered some under-performing stars like Deandre Hopkins or Calvin Johnson. If you took a loss in the opening week of playoffs due to the underwhelming performances of some, do not second guess yourself why you started these guys. One simply can not justify sitting a starter who has helped carry your team to the postseason.
(Breathing stops, fading in and out of consciousness.)
The fight is over, hopefully you had a proverbial late bullet in the MNF game. Odell Beckham Jr. may have resurrected your playoff aspirations with his gutsy performance. Maybe it was Jarvis Landry who pushed your squad over the top to advance forward in the playoffs. Lamar Miller had a big first half scoring two touchdowns who may have provided just enough to go to the next round. Lastly, maybe it was Eli Manning who’s four touchdown performance could have been the chest compressions your team needed to stay alive.
(Stabilized heartbeat. All vitals are normal.)
So here we stand heading into Week 15, with a chance to advance to the championship. Per usual, we well take a quick look at the past week, and then move forward to this coming week and assist you in some tough decision making you may have. The receiver position remains thin at this point in terms of waiver wire mining, and should be used to address other positional needs.
Good luck to all.
Week 14 MVP’s
Odell Beckham Jr.- This example is especially deserving as it came on MNF. Maybe after the Sunday slate of games you sat in front of the set by your lonesome and pondered, “well if I only would have started player A instead of player B, I would not need a 35 point miracle from ODB tomorrow night.” Well, you got your Monday night miracle as Beckham delivered his season best 7/166/2 performance. Through the first 25 games of his pro career, Beckham, has more receptions, yards, and touchdowns than any WR since these stats were recorded. When your name is accompanied by the likes of Jerry Rice and Randy Moss to start your career, I would go out on a limb and say he is pretty good. In Week 15, ODB will face his toughest test of the year, and probably the toughest matchup in all of football, as he will be matched up against Josh Norman. Julio Jones was just held to 4/33/0 in a battle with Norman, before he had a 46-yard garbage time reception late in the contest when Norman was resting on the sideline. Do not expect a similar stat-line he produced against the Dolphins this week, but since Eli has nobody else to throw to, I envision Beckham being peppered with a bevy of targets no matter what the coverage is.
Doug Baldwin/Tyler Lockett/Russell Wilson- I know, I know, I am breaking loose from the mold that I have used for 14 weeks now by adding a QB in the bold crowning of the weekly MVP’s. Furthermore, you would not see both of the former names listed without the latter. The Seahawks’ aerial attack has been on fire lately, and probably helped a ton of people clinch a playoff spot with a five touchdown performance two weeks ago, only to have a repeat output last weekend. Russell Wilson had his second straight five touchdown game, and veteran Doug Baldwin, and explosive rookie Tyler Lockett have been the main beneficiaries. Both WR finished in the top-five of the position this weekend as Baldwin finished with a 6/82/3 line, and Lockett not far behind with a 6/104/2 game himself. Just to put something in perspective really quickly: Subject A- 31/386/3 (drafted rounds 3-6). Subject B- 23/381/8 (drafted as late round flier or waiver wire add). Subject A, is Andre Johnson, followed by his season long statistics. Subject B, is Doug Baldwin, followed by his stat-line for the past FOUR games. This game of football, and strictly that of fantasy, never ceases to amaze me.
Week 14 Busts
Amari Cooper- Well one fortunate soul may say, “he had a horrible matchup against the Broncos so I started Amendola instead.” Unfortunately, not everybody has that luxury, as one can be hampered by roster size, injuries, or other inept options. You know who scored the same amount of points as the rookie did in Week 14? Plaxico Burress, Aaron Hernandez, you, and myself just to name a few. Something we as fantasy owners can not have in any week, and especially in the postseason, is a big fat goose-egg. Lets just say if you had this zero on your squad in conjunction with any of the RB injuries, Andy Dalton, or Tyler Eifert, you are probably not reading this article for assistance going forward. Nevertheless, if you did make it through the first round, you can feel much better about the looming matchup when the Raiders take on the Packers in Week 15. Of the four single digit performance Cooper has had this season, he has bounced back nicely from all of them by putting up at least 18 points in each of the following games.
Mike Evans- Definitely one of the more frustrating players to own in fantasy this year. The frustration continued to build for his owners, and quite possibly could have ended any further frustration by getting the owners who started him booted from the big dance. Evans, as well as the whole Buccaneers team, largely disappointed those banking on big performances in the most dreamy matchup in all of football. A weekend tilt with the Saints, had owners of any significant Buccaneers licking their chops. Much like his fellow teammates, Evans left those who started him out to dry with a 3/39/0 dud performance. This was especially disappointing because Evans’ running-mate Vincent Jackson missed most of this game due to injury, which should have meant more targets and production to go his way. Evans came up small, and saw his season low in targets (4) since Week 1. This leaves owners in a risky predicament as Evans has the talent to post massive production, especially with the expanded workload expected now that V-Jax is done for the season. Furthermore, if he could not get it done against the most porous of secondaries, what can we expect going forward? To assist in your decision making stands a stingy Rams’ defense, who has allowed the second-fewest points to the WR position all season. In such a crucial week, if you have an option that is a sure-fire better bet for double-digit points, you may want to look their way, as we now have seen the propensity for Evans to put up dud performances in the best of matchups.
There were several other candidates who could have made this list such as Deandre Hopkins, Calvin Johnson, Emmanuel Sanders, Brandin Cooks, Dez Bryant, and Allen Robinson. All of these players came up small in a spot where we could not afford it. Hopefully, you were smart enough to sit Dez as that offense as incompetent as they come without Romo. Lastly, even though Allen Robinson made his lone four-yard catch count, as it was in the end zone, you would have expected better production coming from a stud playing for a team that scored 51 points.
Doug Baldwin/Tyler Lockett- There has not been a hotter passing attack than Seattle’s over the past three weeks, and Baldwin specifically has eight touchdowns over that span. Now, the law of averages will eventually work against Baldwin, as he simply can not keep up the astronomical production he has had over the past three weeks. Nevertheless, Seattle’s offensive fireworks may continue as they are set to face a Cleveland defense who has allowed the seventh-most points to opposing WR. Even though Lockett has not been as hot as Baldwin over the last three weeks, he should garner much consideration as a WR 2/flex play, with significant upside in leagues that reward points for return stats. Do not fall into name recognition and sit either half of this dynamic duo for a guy like the aforementioned Mike Evans.
Deandre Hopkins- Do not get cute here. Yes, Hopkins has scored in single digits two out of his last three contests. Yes, his starting quarterback did suffer another concussion against the Patriots and looks to be in doubt for this week. But, if there is any player this season who has shown to be match-up proof, as well as, quarterback proof, it is the one they call Nuk. There is not a scenario that could make you bench the fourth best WR in total points. To further my point, he gets division foe Indianapolis Colts, who have given up the fourth-most points to the WR position since Week 11. Again, no reason to overthink this one, roll out Hopkins in Week 15 despite the recent struggles.
Jeremy Maclin- Another player who may have left a bad taste in your mouth following a 6/68/0 performance in Week 14. This game featuring the Chiefs and Chargers had no fantasy merit as it ended in a 10-3 dud fest. This week though, Maclin will take on a Baltimore team that has given up the most touchdowns (24), and most points to the WR position in 2015. Look how Seattle just dismantled this secondary, with less talented wide-outs than the speedy Maclin. Game manager, Alex Smith, may not have the same ability as Wilson, I fully expect Andy Reid to formulate a game-plan to feast on this secondary, with Maclin being the main beneficiary.
Golden Tate- Obviously you are going to start a guy like Calvin Johnson even though he is coming off of a one catch performance. Both of these Lion WR get the aforementioned match-up that is the Saints in Week 15. Tate has not had the year that some expected following his career season in 2014. We can assume that Megatron being healthy this season, unlike last season, has surely taken away the target volume Tate witnessed in 2014. Although, this has not been the case over the past four games, as Tate has seen more targets than Johnson in that span. He can not be counted on to find the end zone as his two touchdown performance last week tied his season total, but with four consecutive games of at least seven receptions, he has an advantageous match-up that will allow him to make it five games in a row. Lastly, he also gives you the late bullet that is a player in the MNF game, and one that should feature copious amounts of points.
Dez Bryant- Assuming that if you are in a position to advance to the fantasy championship, you have done so without the use of Dez. With the reinsertion of Cassel at the helm, this offense has been atrocious, and a Saturday night tilt with the Jets will not mend any fences. The lingering foot issue for Bryant coincided with the separate collarbone injuries to Romo, have really put a hinderance on Bryant’s production in 2015. Even though Bryant fell victim to another debatable catch in Week 14, he still only managed to see five targets, with all but one reception materializing from those looks. The Jets also expect to have Revis back in the fold this week, and although he has not been the same caliber of corner this season, you could still make a case that he is a top-five corner despite his declining play. Again, do not fall into the name recognition trap, as you would be doing yourself a disservice starting Dez in your semi-finals.
Randall Cobb- Now here we have another player that has largely disappointed those who took him as their WR 1 in the wake of the Jordy Nelson injury. Cobb, who was expected to see an increased role from the prominent one he already had, has only eclipsed 100 yards once this season. The six touchdowns he accumulated is not awful, but if you take away his three touchdown performance against a beat up Kansas City in Week 3 you would not be pleased. To further this juncture, Cobb has only had more than five receptions in five out of 13 contests. On a positive note, he did not crush you in the opening week of playoffs having his best performance since Week 9 as he finished with 8/81/0. That kind of production is not winning you any games either, especially in a standard league. In Week 15, the match-up with the Raiders may look like an advantageous one from the onset, but since Week 11 they have allowed the sixth-fewest points to the WR position. In a PPR setup you could definitely do worse, but I would seriously weigh other options in standard formats.
There is not much to like as far as WR on the waiver wire. There were a ton of injuries at the RB position and options there should be plentiful. If you need assistance in regards to the RB position I would strongly advise you to read Mike Stromme’s article for some help.
As far as the pass catchers go, you should not have to make any moves unless there are still guys like Tyler Lockett (read above), or Devante Parker available. I have talked in the past about guys like Dorial Green-Beckham who if still available can be added for some depth, but wouldn’t advise you to thrust him in your lineups as the Titans’ offense is wildly inconsistent. If for some odd reason, and I have seen worse, an owner needed to make room and dropped Julian Edelman obviously you should pick him up as he is nearing his return.
These three players all find the end zone despite tough match-ups: Antonio Brown, Martavis Bryant, Odell Beckham.
In the wake of the Red Rocket busting up his trigger finger, McCarron delights A.J Green owners as he finishes with a 7/125/1 line.
Stefon Diggs makes a surprise appearance as he sits on most peoples bench with a 6/105/1 performance.
In the “that helps nobody” category, rookie Seth Roberts has another random two touchdown performance against Green Bay, finishing with 4/77/2.
If you have any questions about lineup decisions, or potential adds of the waiver wire, you know where to find me. Also, I should note, if you have any questions in terms of fantasy basketball, season long or daily, you could always give me a shout.
Find me on twitter: @zaksauer
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Major League Fantasy Football Weekly: Join Lou Landers and Zak Sauer for our 2015 Grand Finale of Major League Fantasy Football Weekly on Tuesday December 22nd from 8-10pm EST. This show is your one-stop shop for a weekly recap and what to focus on for the coming week in fantasy football. We will be discussing key games, and performances from players from the prior week’s games. We will also prepare you for the coming week in regards to waiver wire claims, and a break down of the Thursday night game. For the final show the boys will also prepare you for championship week 16 as well. This is a live call in show so feel free to do so at 323-870-4395. Press the #1 to speak with the host.
Our guests this week are Davin Joseph, Corey D Roberts, and Mike Stromme. Davin is a 2-time Pro-Bowl Guard and former first round pick of the Tampa Bucs. Corey is the owner/creator of Major League Fantasy Sports, and Mike is a writer with majorleaguefantasysports.com and the assistant editor.
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