For some leagues, it is now officially fantasy football playoff season. This is the time of year where some people are reaping the benefits of sound draft strategy, savvy team management, aggressive trading maneuvers, and clever handling of the waiver wire. This is also the time of year where others think of ways to explain to their spouses why they wasted money on fantasy sports and now must attempt to make up for it with quality holiday gifts and spending more time with in-laws. So without further adieu, here are the top ten fantasy football headlines heading into Week 14.
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10. Bush on Bush. No, this is not an erotic story. This past week, we saw two Bushes go at it as Reggie Bush of the Miami Dolphins went up against Michael Bush and the Oakland Raiders. Reggie Bush has continued his resurgence as he reached 100 yards rushing and had another touchdown. On the other hand, Michael Bush did not do much as Oakland was playing from behind all day. It looks like Darren McFadden may be back soon, so that should spell the end of Michael Bush’s days as a must start player.
9. Rely on Eli. The Giants are officially in desperation mode after losing four straight games, but they control their own destiny the rest of the way. It is now plainly obvious that they have no consistent running game, so their fate rests solely in the hands of Eli Manning. Manning is having the best season of his career thanks to the development of new offensive weapons in Victor Cruz and Jake Ballard. But it cannot be overlooked that the Giants defense has been horrible which has prompted several high scoring games and the need for additional passing attempts. This will not change down the stretch, so consider Eli an elite option because he will be going all out the rest of the way.
8. Did I hear a Niner in there? That is a reference to Tommy Boy in case you were wondering. If you haven’t seen it, get it on Netflix immediately. Last week I stepped out a bit by talking about a kicker in Sebastian Janikowski. I will continue this trend by mentioning one of the best defenses in the league – the San Francisco 49ers. Team defenses can make a big difference in fantasy leagues. Now that San Francisco has clinched the NFC West, they don’t have much to play for outside of staying sharp for the playoffs. But given Jim Harbaugh’s attitude, the Niners won’t let up too much as they try and establish dominance as the NFC’s #2 seed. Ride their defense out if you can.
7. Stay Classy, San Diego. It has been an abysmal season for the San Diego Chargers, as well as fantasy owners who expected big things from Philip Rivers, Vincent Jackson, Antonio Gates, Ryan Mathews, and Matt Tolbert. The Chargers have been one of the biggest disappointments of the year, and their poor performance has caused much agita in fantasy football leagues. But this past Monday night, they turned it all around against Jacksonville with big games from Rivers, Jackson and Mathews. If this is truly the turnaround we have all been waiting for, that could make a huge difference in your league’s playoffs.
6. Shonn of the Dead. One of the biggest disappointments this season has been New York Jets’ running back Shonn Greene. He was projected to be a #1 running back as Rex Ryan looked to re-establish their ground and pound game. Up until recently, Greene wasn’t worth even starting in your fantasy lineup. But after racking up a few 100-yard games, he broke out this past week with three rushing touchdowns. The Jets will look to continue this trend as they refuse to let Mark Sanchez be an NFL quarterback.
5. Ray of Light. Ravens’ running back Ray Rice (nice alliteration there) tore it up last week as he turned the Browns’ defense into soggy risotto. Rice has been somewhat inconsistent week to week, but expect him to be the driving force behind Baltimore’s playoff push down the stretch. Joe Flacco has been terrible most of the season, so the game plan will begin and end with Rice. Now is the time where he will truly justify his top five draft selection.
4. How the Lynch Stole Christmas. With so many running backs injured or having down years, Marshawn Lynch has emerged as one of the most consistent in all of fantasy football. Seattle has played very well of late and relied upon Lynch’s running. Lynch is averaging over four yards per carry and has eight touchdowns. Look for more of the same as he is the focal point of the Seahawks’ offense. Not only is he a must start, but he is tinkering on RB1 status.
3. Sister Christian is motoring. Don’t look now, but the Vikings may actually have a long term solution at quarterback. After messing around with veterans like Brett Favre and Donovan McNabb, Minnesota has finally handed the reins to a young QB with plans to build around him. Christian Ponder has been playing extremely well despite the Vikings record. He has established a great rapport with Percy Harvin and the two of them are quickly becoming a tandem to watch for 2012.
2. Not your Forte. After the Bears lost their starting quarterback in Jay Cutler for the rest of the season, it was obvious that Matt Forte would be relied upon to carry their entire offense. This boded well for Forte’s fantasy owners, but that theory quickly went out the window after he injured his knee this past week. He is expected to miss 2-4 weeks which is devastating for both the Bears and fantasy owners. Forte has been an elite running back all season, especially because of his receptions. Now teams will have to make due without him which will have serious fantasy playoff ramifications.
1. Pursuit of Perfection. – The Green Bay Packers are now 12-0 and have clinched the NFC North. The biggest question in the NFL right now is whether they will try and go undefeated or choose to rest their players and prepare for the playoffs. This could have major implications on fantasy football playoffs if superstars like Aaron Rodgers, Greg Jennings, Jermichael Finley, etc. do not play regularly or with the same fervor as they have all season. Rodgers will be the league’s unanimous MVP even if he doesn’t play another down this season, but that won’t help you much if he is on your team. Watch this situation closely and make arrangements to have depth just in case the Packers don’t take the Belichik approach to perfection.
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