As I watched the games this weekend, it was hard not to notice that sooo many players who had come off the waiver wire were helping teams win.   With nine games being played at 1pm, it makes for a lot of matchups to be decided early.  Well, not so fast.  There was one guy who changed everything.  Here comes Jamal CharlesHe is not getting handoffs, but rather catching screens out of the backfield and turning them into pure magic.  He was watching his blockers, setting up cuts and making moves that left silver and black jocks littering the floor of the Black Hole.  So as a garbage time catch by Antonio Brown, gave me a 1.3 point victory, I thought about what movie to watch that made sense for this week in the NFL.  Hmmmm….then it hit me, for Fantasy Football owners, they either got beat by guys who were “pick-up” artists or “The King of Running Backs” in 2013.  The movie that came to mind was the 2005 hit comedy “The Wedding Crashers”.  Perfect.  John Beckwith (Owen Wilson) and Jeremy Grey (Vince Vaughn) are two of the best pick-up artists of all-time.  They learned this from The King of all pick-up artists, Chazz Reinhold (Will Farrell).  John and Jeremy are lifelong friends who love to crash weddings.  They make up complicated stories and pretend to be people related to the bride or groom in order to pick-up chicks…until, well, John falls for the daughter of the Treasury Secretary, Claire Cleary (Rachel McAdams).  Not smart, but it makes for craziness like we saw in Week 15. 

And as you come to your championship or are playing in Daily Games this week, look for the players that will make the difference for you with all the fire of Gloria (Isla Fisher) when she says in the high-pitched terror voice: “Don’t ever leave me…’Cause I’d find you!!”

Quarterbacks

We have to go all the way to the number 8 ranked QB this week to find ANYONE in the Top 10 pre-season.  I will argue that Drew Brees only got there because his team fell behind and need him to throw on every down (except the one he dove over the top Stafford-style to get the score).  There were 8 out of the Top 10 that were likely not even drafted.  We have to draw a line so, we decided to draw with those players that would likely be on a fantasy team and could have been in a lineup in week 15.  No one in their right mind would have picked up and started Matt Flynn (29.7), Matt Cassel (34), EJ Manuel (24.4) or Kirk Cousins (27.1).  That said, I did notice Cousins in many Daily Game lineups as Cousins had a tasty matchup with the Atlanta Falcons.  Next week he gets the Cowboys so if you were smart enough to pick him up, you could use him this week.  Some people are talking about sitting Drew Brees for one of these guys since he plays Carolina’s tough DT.  I say: “Rule #5: Don’t be an idiot.”

Nick Foles – Eagles at Vikings – 428 Pyds, 3 TD, INT plus 41 RuYds = 36.5 PPR Points

It started out slow for Slick Nick until he started to run.  He kept the ball on a pistol play and ran around the end for 9 yards and then scrambled for 21 yards.  He only ran three more times the whole day, but that began his work.  The Vikings jumped out on top on a bomb to Greg Jennings and the track meet began.  Foles had the chemistry going with DeSean Jackson as he hit him 10 times for 195 yards.  The scoreboard dictated that they keep throwing so they did all day.  The Eagles get the Bears 7th best ranked DT versus QBs so he will have a tougher road next week.

Ryan Fitzpatrick – Titans vs Cardinals – 402 Pyds, 4 TD, 2 INT plus 22 RuYds = 36.3 PPR Points

The game was tied at 10 at halftime, but the second half had a ton of scoring.  An OT victory for the Cardinals left one Fitz happy, but the QB named Fitz was likely frustrated.  Fitzpatrick brought the Titans back from down 17 with 6:12 left in the game.  Passing on just about every down in the last six minutes, Kendall Wright, Nate Washington and Michael Preston did all the damage versus a Cardinals DT playing in a two-deep set.  The Titans go to Jacksonville to face the 3rd worst DT versus QBs so maybe Ryan will bring home a Championship like a Ryan did for Colton & The Wolfman last year (Tannehill).

Alex Smith – Chiefs at Raiders – 287 Pyds, 5 TD plus 17 RuYds = 34.1 PPR Points

I almost pulled the trigger on this one this week.  Wanted to play him in some salary cap leagues, but Cutler and a couple of others had similar salaries and I remembered days of starting Smith and regretting.  Lemme ask a quick question: should we consider changing the fantasy rules so that screen passes count as rushing plays?  Not all of Jamal’s catches were screens, but when he goes to the house on one of those, it seems not fair.  Also, 195 or Smith’s 287 yards were to Charles.  Doesn’t seem fair.  Chiefs get Colts next week so Smith goes back to the bench.

Ryan Tannehill – Dolphins vs Patriots – 428 Pyds, 3 TD, INT plus 41 RuYds = 36.5 PPR Points

This week Colton and I grabbed Tannehill in the Sirius XM Hosts League as we believed that he would do well this week and we might need him next week.  We have Tony Romo as our QB, but may be considering Tannehill who keeps getting better and better each week.  Tannehill averages over 20 points per game with 250 points this season.  He is a matchup play each week.  This week he goes to Buffalo who does not let up a lot of points to QBs.

 

Jay Cutler – Bears at Browns – 428 Pyds, 3 TD, INT plus 41 RuYds = 36.5 PPR Points

Cutler looked really rusty with two early interceptions including a pick 6.  The Cleveland DT was giving the Bears fits, but it was the Bears DT that scored and allowed Cutler to begin to Marshall the forces and get them to a victory.  We listened to a lot of bull all week about who would start, but the Bears stuck with the franchise and it paid off.  Chicago gets the Eagles at Lincoln Financial.  The Eagles made Matt Cassell look like Drew Brees so Cutler is a good matchup play next week.

Running Backs

Interestingly enough, if you drafted Stephen Jackson or Trent Richardson in the first two rounds, you finally got some value out of them if you were brave enough to play them.  Honestly, I don’t know how anyone could have started T-Rich or sat S-Jax.  However, it was the rest of the craziness in this group that is really worth looking at.  Of the Top 10 this week, only Charles, Lynch and Murray would have been drafted in the first five rounds.  We won’t discuss Zac Stacy, Le’Veon Bell, Eddie Lacy or DeAngelo Williams since they would have been drafted and none of the guys below would have…AT ALL. Reminds us of “Rule #6: Do not sit in the corner and sulk. It draws attention to yourself in a negative way.”

Matt Asiata – Vikings vs Eagles – 51 RuYds, 3 TD plus 3 Rec, 15 Yds = 27.6 PPR Points

Interestingly enough, I didn’t see a lot of people pick him up and play him even in Daily Games.  He had 30 carries, but I am convinced that this is a function of matchup more than anything else.  Next week, at least one of his backfield mates will be back.  Adrian Peterson loves the game of football and I think they would have to shoot him with tranquilizer gun for him to not dress to get on the field.  Asiata goes back to the bench.   The Vikings are at Cincinnati next week so not an easy matchup anyway.

Rashard Jennings – Raiders vs Chiefs – 91 RuYds, 2 TD plus 3 Rec 12 Yds = 25.3 PPR Points

Rashard Jennings has made many owners forget that Darren McFadden even played football this year.  This week, I started both Rashards on my way to a victory in one league and Matt Stafford has to throw 3 TDs to beat me in the other.  Jennings has played harder than expected and was the back that everyone thought he could be when he was backing up MJD in Jacksonville.  Oakland plays the Chargers next week and could have a rough go of it as the Chargers are playing with fire and intensity and only allow 21 points per game to RBs.

Rashard Mendenhall – Cardinals at Titans – 69 RuYds, 2 TD plus 1 Rec 9 Yds = 20.8 PPR Points

All hail the King.  All hail the King.  After long deliberation yesterday, Colton and I decided that it was more than 80% likely that Mendenhall would score a TD and that was not true for Bobby Rainey or other players.  With confidence we sent Rashard number 2 to do his duty.  He was not stellar by any means, but against a defense that allows almost 30 points per game to RBs, he was a good start.  Time to drop him; he plays at Seattle this week.

 

Jordan Todman – Jaguars vs Bills – 109 RuYds plus 4 Rec 44 Yds = 19.3 PPR Points

As the news emerged that MJD would not play this week, leagues scattered to grab the back that would play against a Buffalo Bills DT that allowed an AVERAGE of 112 yards per game to RBs on the ground.  Todman’s 109 yards on the ground was 100% expected and could have been banked on.  Many teams did bank on it.  I played in a semi-final game where Todman was started of many other good possibilities.  I started him in almost every Daily Game I played in.

Wide Receivers

Wide Receivers seemed to be much more predictable.  Included in the Top 20 receivers this week were 11 of the Top 20 overall.  Of the remaining 9 in the Top 20, Kendall Wright and Mike Wallace were surely owned in played in almost all PPR leagues.  Only a fool like me would have had Kendall on my bench in favor of Corderrelle Patterson.  We will eliminate from the discussion Andre Caldwell since Welker will be back next week and for similar reasons will eliminate Robert Woods and Michael Preston. Like Vanilla Ice singing Ice Ice Baby, these guys are one hit wonders.  That leaves us with only two WRs that are crashing the Wedding.   Like the 40 year old Wedding Crashing teacher played by Will Ferrell says: “Mom, the meatloaf! We want it now!”

Greg Jennings – Vikings vs Eagles – 11 Rec, 163 Rec Yds, TD = 33.3 PPR Points

The chemistry between QB and WR is sometimes like Chaz Reinhold’s with his Mom like when he yells for the meatloaf.  Sometimes it just works.  Cassel throws a good deep ball and Jennings runs good deep routes.  He caught a lot of underneath balls too, but the 59 yard TD catch in the first quarter set the stage for the breakout day.  We were playing a team that was smart enough to start Jennings, but overcame that with Gordon, Jeffery, Dez and D-Jax, IMHO, the best WR group I have ever had starting each week.

Doug Baldwin – Seahawks at Giants – 6 Rec, 71 Rec Yds, TD = 19.4 PPR Points

Since week 9, Baldwin has emerged quietly.  He is likely owned in all leagues by now, but if you were the smart one, you get rewarded with a player would could be started next week.  Arizona plays well on defense, but is likely to be on the field a lot with Fitzgerald out and Floyd hurting.  This is an opportunity for Baldwin to put the stamp on him as a number 1 receiver with Harvin still nursing his way back and Rice out for the season.

Tight Ends

Since I do not draft TEs early, all my teams have Witten or Vernon Davis on them for the most part.  I look at matchups each week and select the best TEs that way – only this year.  This is what we do with kickers and defenses too so it is just a third position to maximize points form the waiver wire.  Arizona (21.3), Minnesota (15.4), Dallas (15.2), Jacksonville (16.9) and Washington (14) are the five worst defenses against the TE.  Simply put, make sure you get the best bargain against the bottom five.  If you look in the Top 12 TEs, you will find someone who played against each of these teams: Delanie Walker (19.3), Zach Ertz (17.7), Andrew Quarless (18.6), Scott Chandler (10.6) and Tony Gonzalez (18.2).  Play matchup or better live by Jeremy in Rule #71: “Seal the deal.”

Taking home the prize

Well, although Jeremy might not have been the prize, Gloria sure thought it was.  Winning is the only thing this weekend.  A friend of mine always told me to get as much information as you can before making decisions.  This week’s lineup decisions are no different.  Chart the performances of the players that you intend to start.  Look at the matchups.  Examine the weather.  Talk to people who know about the players (teams) that you have questions about.  That is all great.  There is one more important factor.  It is human nature for players to not try as hard when there is NOTHING to play for.  Check all the matchups and make sure you understand what YOUR players are playing for.  It is go time and like Jeremy says…

Rule #76: No excuses. Play like a champion!




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About Rick Wolf

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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