Depending on the format and playoff bracket in your league, This may be the week that you are wondering if you have the formula for success. I call it gut-check week because this is the week that you read more advice than any other. It's like all of a sudden you can't decide who has the best matchup. I know it all too well. Veteran owners ride their horses to glory and newcomers read every piece of analysis to determine what they should do.
Relax and take a deep breath. There is nothing magical that you are going to read that is going to take you over the top unless you happen to be reading my weekly column. All kidding aside, I have a five point plan this week that doesn't involve schools in my home state.
1. Pick a kicker on a team that has a chance to be successful. Don't worry so much about misses. You simply need an offense that moves the ball and isn't ultra red zone efficient or has a matchup against a defense that limits scores. Now I am no swami, but I am scared of Matt Prater this week. Peyton Manning has carved up some pretty good defenses and while Prater had some success last week, Baltimore hasn't put up much resistance lately. I'd skip this play all together.
I really like Jason Hanson of Detroit this week in Arizona. Arizona was absolutely embarrassed last week and they will rebound at home. I suspect that the Lions will move the ball, but not at will. This game will not get out of hand early. I expect this to be a real grind it out game. Arizona will run the ball a ton limiting the clock and the defense will force Detroit to kick early. I'm calling this one Detroit 30 Arizona 20. That translates into three field goals and 3 xpa ( 12 points).
Check the status of "Cat Scratch Fever" Mike Nugent who missed last week's game with a calf injury. Josh Brown filled in last week and connected on four field goals. Nugent has averaged seven points a week without any real dips in production. While that stat won't make you run to the wire, Philadelphia ranks in the bottom third in points given up to kickers. Thursday night games this year have been field goal heavy. That is they have not lived up to any of the shootout hype. This week's game in Philadelphia will not be a shootout by any means. If Nugent can't go then Brown makes a pretty solid play as well. Check the injury status before the game.
2. If you are playing musical tight end this year, Look at Clay Harbor because Brent Celek is out. Cincinnati will grab the lead early and Nick Foles looks the part. I believe that Philadelphia will move the ball by checking it down to the safety valve. That valve will alternate between Bryce Brown, and Clay Harbor. The Bengals weak spot has been covering the tight end. Harbor has pretty good speed and should produce low end TE1 numbers. Look for him near the stripe as a good bet to get into the end zone this week. Exceptional value in PPR this week.
3. I play musical defense in my leagues almost every year. This year was the exception as I chained my wagon to San Francisco. The 49ers defense has managed to stay in the top ten (currently at #7). The matchup this week against Tom Brady and company has me a bit worried so I am going to change it up. This is the week to try another one. I have several pretty solid options for you. The Bengals have been good at getting to the quarterback. Forty-three sacks good, and have gotten to every quarterback but Peyton Manning. They have shut down some pretty darn good teams. They have averaged almost eight points per week. I see a spike in production this week because of the Eagles suspect line. This play won't win your game, but it won't lose it either.
The San Diego Chargers defense would be even better if Philip Rivers wasn't stinking up the joint. Being on the field as much as this group is has really impacted their numbers. The Chargers held Pittsburgh to 69 yards rushing last week. Many folks will scoff at the matchup against Carolina because of Cam Newton's performance last week. It's okay to be weary, but Newton will have his hands full with the secondary this week and will have to dink-and-dunk to get down field. This isn't his forte and expect the ball hawking safeties to have an answer for the deep pass. This is a decent option as the turnovers are bound to come.
4. Start your best players regardless of matchup. Who cares if your receiver happens to draw the best defense against the pass? Take for instance the Law Firm of BenJarvus Green-Ellis against the 10th best defense in fantasy points allowed. He has been pretty good as of late and starting an unproven back like Jonathan Dwyer because he faces a worse run defense is only hurting your cause. Dance with the girl that brung ya.
5. Don't look at the projections on popular sites as fact. They are estimates based on what has happened. That is the past. Be a forward thinker and reap the benefits about what is going to happen. Think about how badly the Arizona Cardinals defense wants to erase what happened last week. While the offense won't help much, they are a high risk/high reward play this week. Be a week ahead of your competition and grab that defense for next week. You have to think that you will be there to play in Week 16.
The suspension to Brandon Jacobs was looming all year. LaMichael James is the handcuff to Frank Gore. Expect that they give him an additional 5-7 opportunities this week. When he hits 12 opportunities, some great things are really going to happen.
Give up on Ronnie Hillman unless you play in a dynasty league. The Broncos don't trust him to block for Peyton Manning and you shouldn't either. Time to cut bait and pick up a guy like Brandon Bolden who will eventually steal Stevan Ridley's job next season.
Is there any reason that Ryan Lindley is playing professional football? I simply can't find one. Maybe Arizona should start Larry Fitzgerald at quarterback? He could throw it to himself with more accuracy.
I finally figured out why my friend's dad watches the television with no sound. After suffering through that awful MNF game this week where Jon Gruden talked more than any broadcaster in the history of MNF. I think he needs to return to the field where I can't hear him and just see him sneer.
The sharp dresser of the week goes to Brad Nessler who clearly gets dressed in the dark. Either that or he is used to black and white broadcasting days where no one could really see what he was wearing. This guy has as much fashion sense as Merrill Hoge who redefines the word tacky. Looks like he's getting wardrobe tips from Michael Irvin. If I didn't have to see, or listen to these guys before, during, or after games... That would be nice.
Thanks for the read folks!
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Michael Sarmento is a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association and can be contacted at Michaelfsarmento@gmail.com