This was the best week of football I have ever watched. The end of the Ravens - Vikings game was outrageous. Follow that with the crazy end of the Steelers - Dolphins game and it almost stopped my heart. That 3/4s of an inch that Antonio Brown’s foot crosses the sideline cost my 7.4 PPR points making the difference between moving to the next round and being done. There was so much on the line this week, I was riveted to the television and could not believe all the white stuff that was blanketing the fields in Pittsburgh, Philly, Baltimore and DC. Add two late scratches of key Running Backs (Reggie Bush & Rashard Jennings) and owners were scrambling to find plug-ins for that last roster spot. The players who stepped up this week were like Ghosts coming out of nowhere. Did you get busted?
My mind was spinning with all the outlandish performances, crazy endings and more TDs than in any week of pro football EVER. So, late last night I broke out “Ghostbusters” to watch for the 153rd time. Ghostbusters is a classic and one of the most quotable movies ever. It has a star-studded cast led by super comedian, Bill Murray (Peter). It is brilliantly written by Harold Ramis (Egon), Dan Aykroyd (Ray) and Rick Moranis who brilliant steals the show as Louis Tully. So, the concept is that Peter, Ray and Egon are masquerading as University scientists and when their grants are taken away, they set up shop as paranormal investigators, Ghostbusters. Peter thinks it’s a joke, but what they don’t realize is that they will discover the gateway to another dimension leaving them as reluctant heroes destined to save New York City.
Why Ghostbusters for this week’s fantasy football lesson? I’ll tell you. Many leagues were infiltrated by Ghosts or players that should not have been in lineups. Some of them we should have known about, but some are surprising enough that we have to ask if they are worthy of capturing for our fantasy playoffs? Also, it is a fun and quotable movie, so let’s have some fun with it. We will take a look at each position and identify players who are “Ghosts”. After we analyze each position, we will close with a quote from the movie, more for fun than to be smart, literary or poignant.
Since the 10-15 QBs not named Manning or Brees all score within a couple of points of each other every week, QB is always a crap shoot. You have to go to the 21st QB to find one with less than 15 points this week and fourteen QBs had over 20 PPR points. If you drafted Rodgers, Kaepernick or even Matt Ryan, you could have made an argument to yourself that said you should pick someone up to play this week. And if you did, I hope it was one of these guys.
Peter: “We came, we saw, we kicked its ass!”
Dalton’s day is even better since the Colts were playing to clinch the playoffs. The Bengals defense showed up to play and Dalton spread the ball around beautifully. Dalton looked great and after Tannehill took apart the Steelers, Dalton's week 15 matchup looks tasty. The Bengals get Minnesota in Week 16, so Dalton owners should be salivating at the chance to have the poised talented young QB bring home the title to their fantasy team.
Campbell's performance is the function of the matchup. New England has a great secondary in name, but they have played poorly of late. With injuries and lackluster performance from Talib this week, Gordon and Cameron slapped a y” at the end of their opponent's name “Pats”. The schedule brings Chicago at home and then the Jets on the road. The Jets are good at MetLife stadium so if you were smart enough to pick up and start Campbell this week, you might get one more start next week, but send him to the bench in week 16.
Colton & The Wolfman will be forever indebted to Ryan Tannehill who last year was our QB for the playoffs after losing Tony Romo to injury. His steady performance gives fantasy players comfort that he will at a minimum get you 15-20 points. With the talent around him, he has a low ceiling though and probably not your best option. The Dolphins are vs New England and then at Buffalo. The Patriots were owned by Jason Campbell, but the Bills held Glennon to 90 yards and a TD.
Well, I would be surprised if Boig Ben was on your waiver wire, but I put him here since he was so untrusted that he might be. He has been hot recently, but now with not much to play for other than pride, there is WAY too much risk to put your playoffs in the hands of Big Ben. Playing Cincy on Sunday Night Football this week is nasty but the Green Bay matchup is good but weather could be a factor in frigid Lambeau field.
With Co-Host Glenn Colton, we preach that RBs are the key to success for fantasy football teams. Well, for this week, it is better to be lucky than good. These RBs gave their owners between 18 and 35 points this week. Vereen and Bell both were drafted, but in the late rounds as flyers. Reece and Rainey were grabbed off the waiver wire. These guys are ALL products of injury (or Ridley’s disease: fumblitious). You would have had to study hard to come up with these guys. Playing against them felt like this…
Ray: “You have been a participant in the biggest interdimensional cross rip since the Tunguska blast of 1909!”
Louis: “Felt great.”
Egon: “We'd like to get a sample of your brain tissue.”
Vereen has been a great player in the last four weeks since coming back from injury. He is rewarding the loyalty that has you keeping a player like him all season. No one expected Ridley to fumble the ball constantly. Vereen averages 8 catches. That is 8 free points in a PPR. He also scored in each of the last two weeks and with Gronk out for the rest of the season, the Pats will be relying on Vereen heavily and he could bring you a championship.
It is 11:05 am ET and Glenn has just sent out the panic note saying that Rashard Jennings is not playing today. With McFadden out, we are in a tough spot. We can play a WR, but the FSTA league is really deep and we are already playing Jacoby Jones and Terrence Williams so you can see how deep it is. He then writes that Marcel Reece is taken. I think to myself, they play the Jets who have the 2nd best run defense in the league and he is a Fullback. I dismiss it since we now don’t have to argue about whether to start Reece since someone else owns him (and he is on their bench). This one comes out of nowhere and is largely fueled by one long run on a blitz package. Better to be lucky than good.
I was listening to SiriusXM Fantistics Fantasy Football on Saturday morning while doing errands. Drew Dinkmeyer is one of the best salary cap game players. He gives his lineup and one of the producers on the channel gives his. The producer convinced Drew to make sure that he had Bobby Rainey in his lineup as the cheap alternative at RB. That producer was Phil Backert. Nice work, Jester. After Dinkpiece validated the move, I put him in all my rosters. Thanks.
The Reggie Bush injury happened so late that you had to be paying attention to get this one. Owners should have been ready to make the switch with the weather and the Lions saying that “Reggie Bush is not a mudder” about his inability to play in bad weather. I was ready and got Bell into my lineup in time plus grabbed him on the cheap in a salary cap game or two.
As we looked at the WRs, I decided to weed out a couple of players that I thought would not have under any smart circumstances have started for their playoff teams or teams seeking a playoff-birth. So like, Slimer in the Ball Room, these guys were trapped before they got to slime anyone. The three most prominent players excluded were Justin Hunter, Brazill and Da’Rick Rogers. Hunter had 22 points against Denver, but had only one catch in week 13 and few could trust him with their playoff week. Brazill would have been the more likely start, but going against a tough Bengals defense would have sent him to the protection grid. As for Rogers, the only thing good about him is that his first name is what George Wendt would call me: “Da Rick”.
Peter: “He slimed me.”
Ray: “That's great. Actual physical contact. Can you move?”
Peter: “I feel so funky.”
Maybe this one shouldn’t be here as many who drafted him expected and/or hoped that he would get hot at the right time. I am not sure that was the case. His Quarterback knows how to take what he is given. Brees saw that the Panthers were taking away Graham early in the game and he exploited that to get Colston to the kind of day that insures victory for his fantasy faithful. Jimmy Graham scored twice also, but that is because he cannot be stopped by anyone and after Colston was shredding them, Carolina needed to adjust. Colston was REALLY close to a third TD when his knee hit the ground before he could get the ball across the goal line. Although originally called a TD, his owners were robbed of that score minutes later when the ruling was corrected.
Like the quote above, he definitely slimed me. Yep - “That’s the guy that got me.” Yep, Streater’s the guy that got me. The Godfather of Fantasy Sports, Charlie Wiegert, started Streater against Glenn Colton, Stacie Stern and I in the FSTA Experts’ league. This one you should have gotten or at least that the Jets were going to get torched in the secondary. In all my salary cap leagues, I was banking on the more athletic Andre Holmes to emerge with the big day. Alas, Streater is the one that will cost us in the “Strive for Five” as we have won four of the last six FSTA league championships. We will need herculean efforts from Romo, Witten and Terrence Williams to take us to the next round.
The super talented WR for the Vikings had an average game until a minute left in the game when he caught a 79 yard pass for a Touchdown. More than half his yards and his only score were produced there. That opens the eyes to folks as to the talent that is there. Starting him was risky but paid off. He is on a couple of my teams and on all my dynasty teams. Talent comes out as time goes by. He is the real deal.
Someone asked me about starting him this week. I liked the match up, but the weather scared me. Like his counter-part in the same game, his production bloomed in the final seconds of the game as he scored the game winning TD. The matchups are pretty good with Detroit and Patriots. Question is whether his inconsistent play will be consistent for the two weeks you really need him?
Well on a crazy day in the NFL, it gets crazier for Tight End. In the Top 15 Tight Ends this week, there are arguably six Tight Ends that no one even considered starting: Mercedes Lewis (JAX), Gary Barnridge (CLE), Mychal Rivera (OAK), Luke Willson (SEA), Dennis Pitta (BAL) and Andrew Quarless (GB). For the most part, these guys like were on the benches of their teams. When asked about Pitta, I thought that it was too much of a risk. Personally, I am disappointed in Ladarius Green. Thought that he would have a number of targets and catches, but when the Chargers got an early lead on the G-Men, it all unraveled for Green owners. Below are three guys who likely gave their brave owners the rewards of a playoff victory similar to Peter’s plan for Mr. Stay Puft.
Peter: “We've been going about this all wrong. This Mr. Stay Puft's okay! He's a sailor, he's in New York; we get this guy laid, we won't have any trouble!”
Clay looked like a cross between a great Tight End like Jason Witten and a stud Full back catching out of the backfield like Tom Rathman. He was strong to the goal line in both his scores plus was blocking, picking up blitzes and playing special teams. A true all-around performance that helped his Dolphins hold onto victory and bring some fantasy players to victory.
We usually leave Thursday performances and only talk about Sunday, but Garrett deserves to be talked about. Targeted in many leagues to be grabbed for the playoffs, this is a case of the plan paying off. Graham has great hands in the middle of the field and does the chip and go screens as well as the great Tight Ends. Think we would not have seen that much of him if Owen Daniels did not get hurt.
Big blue got down early and had to rely on their passing game. Since Nicks and Murphy are not capable of catching balls that don’t hit them between the numbers, Victor Cruz and Brandon Myers are all that the struggling Eli Manning could count on. Eli has not been great this year, but I watch the entire Giants’ games and his entire team has let him down. Bad protection, bad blitz pick-ups, bad routes, bad reads, stone hands and of course popping up the ball for easy pick offs. Back to the drawing board, but at least fantasy players got 12 points from the Tight End this week.
When the Key Master meets the Gatekeeper
The skies opened up and this was the craziest football week ever. Here are some of the crazy numbers for us to examine and wonder if the game is changing and more importantly wonder if it will happen again next week. There were 90 TDs, the most EVER for one week; 14 QBs had more than 20 PPR points including McGloin, Geno, Flacco, Cassel and Campbell likely started in only the deepest of leagues; a record 5 QBs over 30 PPR Points; 16 different QBs threw for multiple TDs; Only 7 RBs had more than 20 PPR points and among them were Vereen, Reece, Rainey and Mathews; Only 3 RBs had receiving TDs; 14 WRs had more than 20 PPR points including LaVon Brazill, Justin Hunter, Marlon Brown, Cordarrelle Patterson, Rod Streater and Da’Rick Rogers; Tight Ends went FULL ON CRAZY with 18 of them having more than 10 PPR points including Barnridge, Lewis, Paulsen, Rivera, Myers, Luke Willson, Quarless, Garrett Graham and Charles Clay. Kickers were not even used in the Philly vs Detroit game as the conditions made it impossible.
For fantasy football players, it was…
Ray: “Old Testament…real wrath of God type stuff. Fire and brimstone coming down from the skies! Rivers and seas boiling! Forty years of darkness! Earthquakes, volcanoes…the dead rising from the grave!”
Peter: “Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together…mass hysteria”
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Rick Wolf is a leader in the fantasy sports industry. Wolf is a founding Board Member and one of only fifteen FSTA Hall of Famers including Bill James, Ron Shandler, Glenn Colton and Matthew Berry. Wolf is the Co-Host of Colton & The Wolfman every week on Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio. With college friend, Glenn Colton, he has won three LABR Expert baseball titles and four FSTA Expert football titles. Twitter: @RickWolf1
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