Fantasy 411 - Week 14 fantasysharks.com Dec 04 '12

December has a reputation of being a crazy month. Businesses are scrambling to tie up loose ends and wipe the slate clean for a fresh start and new year. The holiday season and all the parties, programs, travel and family commitments bring its own set of challenges. Some parts of the country experience the craziness that comes with the changing of the seasons to winter and its unpredictable weather.

December also marks playoff fantasy football for many of us. The craziness that accompanies the playoff season can have strange effects on fantasy owners. With fantasy football immortality within their grips, some owners are overcome with the craziness and make a costly mistake that prematurely ends their title run. I'm here to analyze some of the late-season trends and help you separate the fact from the fraud on your way to claiming your league title.

There is nothing wrong with riding a hot hand in to the playoffs. The real challenge is knowing what a true hot hand is and what players are destined to let you down. Many owners try to get cute and play a trendy pick. Slow and steady is the name of the game in playoff fantasy football. You can't play defense in fantasy football, so your best bet is to plod along and play the reliable, most sure option. Here is a look at several developing fantasy football storylines and how I suggest you approach them over the season's final month.

Matt Ryan is everything I love about fantasy football. Ryan was my sixth-round pick and the 11th quarterback taken in my league this year. There was no value in the upper tier quarterbacks and so I waited, expecting to pair Ryan with another reliable quarterback and play matchups unless one of my quarterbacks emerged. Ryan emerged and has been an every week start. His breakout season has carried many teams this season. Looking at the numbers from Thursday night's matchup with the New Orleans Saints would concern some owners. Don't count me among those who are worried.

Ryan and the Falcons were the beneficiary of five Drew Brees interceptions and found themselves playing a ball-control game which throttled their passing attack. I expect a big bounce back for Ryan against the Panthers this Sunday. In their Week 6 matchup, Ryan carved the Panthers up for 369 yards and three touchdowns. A bigger concern is how the Falcons are walking away from the rest of the NFC and the possibility that they may elect to rest some starters in the last couple of weeks of the regular season.

Andrew Luck is running the Colts' offense like a seasoned pro. Luck kept his composure and lead another last-second drive to earn the win on a pass to Donnie Avery as time expired in Week 13 against Detroit. You already know what Luck has been doing over the course of the season. The news here is that with the matchups on tap for the Colts, Luck deserves your consideration to start down the stretch in the playoffs.

Games against Tennessee and Kansas City are sandwiched with two matchups with division foe, Houston. The Texans will present a challenge, but the Titans and Chiefs have made a practice of yielding points to quarterbacks all season long. Consider your other signal caller's matchup, but Luck should be considered for a slot in your starting roster for the rest of the seasons, and many more to come.

No position in fantasy football has been more confusing this season than tight end. Injuries and overall inconsistency (I'm looking at you Rob Gronkowski and Vernon Davis) have made the tight end position a weekly nightmare for owners. Muddled among all the mediocrity, Oakland's Brandon Myers has been a pleasant surprise. Despite his emergence from nowhere, Myers has been a consistent, if not spectacular, play each week. This week, however, Myers broke out in a big way hauling in 14 catches on 15 targets, eclipsing 100 yards and scoring a touchdown.

The matchups the rest of the way for Myers are overall average, but the increased role in the Raiders offense is enough to make him a weekly option for your lineup. In the big game for Myers, Denarius Moore only caught two passes for 31 yards. Moore has disappeared of late, as Myers has emerged. In the previous two weeks, Moore only managed one catch per game. Myers enters the postseason stretch as a reliable weekly option with a nice upside.

We can't possibly make it through a season without some Tebow-mania, can we? With Mark Sanchez benched and Tim Tebow on the mend, it is entirely possible that the New York Jets choose to use Tebow under center before the season is over. Don't go overboard and consider adding him just yet, but keep a close eye on Tebow and what the Jets do with him over the next several weeks. Tebow offers little value in my eyes, but putting in a strategic claim to block another owner (maybe a Matt Ryan owner who is preparing to have his star possibly rested) from providing their team with options at quarterback is a possibility if you have a disposable roster spot.

You got this far in the season by smartly managing your team through the regular season. Now is the time to dig in and plug your best lineup in for the playoffs and ride their successes to a fantasy title.

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