Fantasy playoffs are finally here, and I have to say this hasn't been my best season overall. It all started when I put my faith in Matthew Stafford way back in August and he sunk me early in the year. I came back strong is some of my leagues, but in others I just dug myself too big a hole that first month.
My best performance actually has come in FFPC's Pros vs. Joes contest, where I'm currently 14th overall with four weeks to go. I may have even had a shot to win the entire thing if Eric Decker hadn't fallen off the face of the earth over the last couple of weeks. For a guy that loves to make moves, I find it funny that a draft I did in July and doesn't allow owners to trade or use a waiver wire ended up being my best effort this year.
So the end is near, and I hope you have all had a great season. Just a couple of more columns left for me before I call it quits. Before then, though, here are the players I'm buying and selling heading into Week 14:
Nick Foles, QB, Philadelphia -- Foles is a guy I liked in college at Arizona. You have to remember one thing about Foles: he played for Mike Stoops. If you don't already know, Stoops is the worst coach in the history of organized football.
Stoops was so busy screaming at his players and getting on TV that he didn't realize Arizona had one of the worst offensive lines in the country and his players quit on him. The one guy who didn't quit was Foles, who took a massive beating every week and made plays while running for his life.
I thought Foles showed a lot of leadership and toughness in college, and I've been impressed with his limited action in the NFL. I think people are being a little tough on the guy. I talked above about his college team quitting. Well, it's not like all the Philadelphia Eagles are playing like their lives are on the line either. Anyone who saw their game against the Carolina Panthers two weeks ago can see that much.
Foles is playing behind basically a second-string offensive line and without DeSean Jackson, but he's still getting better every week. Does Foles have a ways to go? Sure he does, but the kid has stepped into a hot mess on a team that is about to go through a lot of changes. I think with an entire offseason under a new regime, Foles will be much improved in 2013.
It's still very early in his career, but I liked what I saw out of Foles in college. I witnessed many of those same traits on Sunday against Dallas. If you play in a keeper league, Foles is a guy I would target, and, if he's the starter in Philadelphia next season, he sets up as a nice later-round sleeper.
As for Michael Vick, he's all done. He can't play quarterback in the NFL anymore. Vick had that great seven-game run three years ago but since then he's been an average turnover machine. Anyone who thinks Vick is still a starting NFL quarterback will face a harsh reality next season. So will the team that signs him. At this point in his declining career Vick is just stealing money.
Joique Bell, RB, Detroit -- I not only really like Bell as a player, I really like how the Lions are using him. I don't think Bell would be as effective if a team tried and make him a 20-carry back, but, in his role with the Lions, he's not only a productive NFL player, Bell is also productive most weeks for fantasy owners.
Because of his role as a receiver, Bell obviously has much more value in points per reception leagues, but in that format he's averaging just short of 10 fantasy points per week. That's not bad for a part-time player. As a matter of fact, Bell has scored double-digit fantasy points in five of his last six games, so as the season has gone on he's really made the most of his opportunities.
Bell won't win you a fantasy title on his own, but he's the kind of player I love to have on the bench. You never know what's going to happen to your roster late in the season. Bell is a guy you can plug into your lineup and hope to score double-digit fantasy points virtually every week now.
The Lions really like Mikel Leshoure. I don't share the same opinion. I think he's a guy who runs over bad defenses and can score from two yards out. They have a name for running backs like that. They're called Brandon Jacobs.
While I don't ever expect Bell to be an every-down starter, I won't be surprised if his role increases a little bit next season. Bell has shown that when he gets the ball in his hands, good things happen. I would be more than happy to use a later-round pick on Bell next year and let others overpay for Leshoure. Then again, the Lions love to use high draft picks on offensive players, so there could be another guy in the mix by then as well.
Darren McFadden, RB, Oakland -- It appears that McFadden will return just in time for fantasy playoffs. As a McFadden owner this year I have only one question: so what?
First of all the Raiders are trash. When I say trash I mean you can take any aspect of that team and it is trash. There isn't one thing about the Raiders that's good right now, so McFadden is returning to a team that would be a slight favorite over Alabama. To be honest, I would probably take the points.
Second of all, McFadden was playing awful before he got injured. Sure, you can blame the offensive line, but the fact is Marcel Reece has been more productive behind the same line and has also made more plays as a receiver out of the backfield.
That's the most alarming thing for me. I can understand if McFadden wasn't doing anything behind a bad line, but he was catching a lot of balls and not going anywhere. Then every time Mike Goodson came in I would see him running down the sideline for a big play after a reception.
In my opinion, you can blame this and that, but some of the blame has to fall on McFadden. Last season when McFadden played, he was the best running back in the NFL. This year he hasn't been the same player and I don't see why that is going to change all of a sudden, especially with Reece now eating into his touches.
I know some are excited to be getting McFadden back right now, but don't count me in that group. The bottom line is McFadden has failed to reach 10 fantasy points in three of eight games and only topped 20 fantasy points once all year (Week 1). Considering that the Raiders are an even bigger mess now, fantasy owners should expect more heartache out of McFadden in the weeks to come.
Jacquizz Rodgers, RB, Atlanta -- OK, I'm finally giving up on Rodgers. It took until Week 14 but it's over. Mike Smith won. I lost.
Those who follow my work know I may be the quickest fantasy writer on earth to admit when I'm wrong. I don't hold onto a prediction if I feel I made the wrong call. Instead, I will simply tell you I was wrong and to abort as soon as possible. I actually can't stand those who hold onto a prediction when it's so obviously wrong. It makes no sense to me. It's fantasy football. We make predictions on the stats of other human beings. Here's a newsflash: sometimes we're wrong.
I honestly thought at some point Rodgers would start getting more touches, and we got to a point where Rodgers and Michael Turner were splitting touches, but Smith is just one of those coaches who thinks he has to run the ball to win. That's why the Falcons will lose their first playoff game again this year. I don't care what their record is - you can go and mark that down right now. I still think Rodgers can be a bigger part of the Falcons offense but it's just not going to happen while Turner is around.
I should have known I was wrong on this one from the start because too many people liked Rodgers. I'm one of those guys who is right when I'm on an island like when I declared Stevan Ridley the steal of the draft, while most other people thought it was an awful pick. That's my kind of prediction.
In contrast, a couple of years ago me and 1,000 others loved Kevin Kolb when he was named the starter in Philadelphia and we all know how that turned out. Usually when 90 percent of the fantasy world is making the call, the call is wrong.
I really thought Rodgers would be a big part of Atlanta's offense by December, and he's still basically a role player that makes a big play here and there. For fantasy purposes, that isn't good enough, so mark this one down in my "misses" column.
Week 14 Sneaky Starts
Josh Freeman, QB, Tampa Bay -- The Philadelphia pass defense is atrocious right now, and Josh Freeman has feasted on bad secondaries this season. He should put up big numbers on Sunday.
Montell Owens, RB, Jacksonville -- If Rashad Jennings and Maurice Jones-Drew can't go on Sunday, Owens should get most of the touches and he has a pretty good matchup against the New York Jets. He's worth a shot if you're desperate for a running back.
Riley Cooper, WR, Philadelphia -- Tampa Bay technically has the worst pass defense in the NFL, although the Eagles will certainly fight them for that honor. Cooper has scored at least 10 fantasy points in three of his last four games in points per reception formats, so you can do worse.
Coby Fleener, TE, Indianapolis -- Like I said last week, if I can start a tight end against Tennessee's defense, it's worth a play. Fleener scored last week, and, with this favorable matchup, he could end up having the best game of his rookie year.
Cleveland D/ST -- Kansas City will be coming off one of the most emotional weeks in the history of the NFL, and now the Chiefs have to travel to Cleveland where the Browns play solid defense. This has the makings of an ugly offensive outing for Kansas City.