The first week of the fantasy playoffs is nearly at an end and if you are still alive and moving forward then congratulations are in order. It also means you either had the Seattle defense/special teams or at least did not face them this week. I'm sure the shellacking that Seattle's defense put on Arizona led many an owner to a first round victory (I'm raising my hand).
It was a crazy week and a few names that we've mentioned here fulfilled on their promise as David Wilson, Jason Avant and Joique Bell all had excellent week fourteen performances.
Which makes me feel better because it felt like the '10 Names You Need to Know' article was carrying an injury curse after Mohamed Sanu, Cedric Peerman and James Starks all suffered significant injuries after making the list.
OK, let's examine some names that stood out this week and whether they are worthy of helping fantasy teams continue their championship run.
Rod Streater, WR, OAKLAND: Streater is actually a viable fantasy option heading down the stretch in 2012 as a big play, high-ceiling prospect. Over the past four games Streater has hauled in 10 passes on 18 targets for 233 yards and has scored one touchdown. He is a rookie and suffers from the occasional easy drop and has six for the year but has racked up seven grabs for 196 yards and a score in the last two games alone. The Raiders will continue to trail and be passing the ball a lot while playing catch-up in the second half of games. Streater is 6' 3", 200 pounds and has been the go-to guy for quarterback Carson Palmer of late and that looks to continue moving forward as the Raiders are in talent evaluation mode.
Micheal Spurlock, WR, SAN DIEGO: Remember back in training camp when Chargers' soon to be ex- head coach Norv Turner was raving about Eddie Royal? About how sharp his route running was and that he'd be an excellent addition to the passing game. I believe he had in mind the type of performance that Spurlock turned in on Sunday. Seven receptions on seven targets for 64 yards for the much traveled return specialist was a pleasant surprise, especially considering Spurlock was released by the Chargers in October. San Diego had just resigned him the last week in November off of waivers from Jacksonville so this performance came out of nowhere. While it was a very nice week for the journeyman wide receiver, it will not be the norm and do not buy in on Spurlock.
Kirk Cousins, QB, WASHINGTON: Cousins has to be on the list until the full extent of the leg injury suffered by Robert Griffin III is known. He came in to replace RGIII in the final minute; completed two passes for 26 yards including an 11-yard touchdown to Pierre Garcon and then ran in the game tying two point conversion. The rookie from Michigan State is a capable quarterback who lacks elite arm strength but can make all the throws and is a natural leader. He racked up 560 yards in the preseason while throwing for three touchdowns and completing 57% of his passes. He'll have a full week of practice to get up to speed with the game plan and look for head coach Mike Shanahan to scheme to his strengths. Owners could do worse than Cousins in week fifteen should RGIII be unable to go.
LaMichael James, RB, SAN FRANCISCO: It took more than three quarters of the season but James finally got to see some action, albeit limited, and he did not disappoint. He did not overwhelm anyone with his performance either, but he did offer the change-of-pace style that the 49ers want to combine with veteran running back Frank Gore. James finished the day with 45 total yards on eight carries and one reception. He brought back a look to the San Francisco offense that was there when Kendall Hunter would spell Gore for a few plays. With three weeks left in the season there is plenty of time for head coach Jim Harbaugh to tamper with just how he wants to use his new toy and James should put up some nice fantasy numbers.
Anthony McCoy, TE, SEATTLE: The numbers the Seahawks rolled up on the Arizona Cardinals were staggering and quite frankly, embarrassing. McCoy stood out mainly due to the 67-yard catch and run he had early in the game on his way to a career high 105 yards on only three receptions. McCoy is a talented tight end that much was expected of when he left USC and headed to the NFL. Then he was drafted by Seattle, the NFL equivalent of the witness protection program for tight ends, and fell off the map. Over the past two weeks he has begun to make some noise as the Seahawks have taken the handcuffs off of rookie quarterback Russell Wilson. While Zach Miller caught the touchdown this week in the victory over Arizona don't be surprised when McCoy starts hitting paydirt very soon. Wilson threw eight of his 33 touchdowns last season for Wisconsin to the tight end position.
Robert Turbin, RB, SEATTLE: Another huge performance out of the Seahawks thrashing of the hapless Cardinals was the 108 yards rushing for rookie running back Turbin. While it looks very impressive do not run out and pick up Turbin unless you already own Marshawn Lynch and have not done so already. Arizona's defense would barely hit the sideline before a turnover would force them back on the field. Turbin will be a fantasy force as the eventual replacement for Lynch in Seattle but that time is not now.
Anquan Boldin, WR, BALTIMORE: It is time for folks to pull the plug on the wildly inconsistent, hit-or-miss Torrey Smith and do what Joe Flacco has decided to do. Focus on the wily veteran Anquan Boldin. Over the past two weeks Boldin has been targeted 15 times, hauled in eight passes for 159 yards and scored three touchdowns. In those same two games Smith has amassed 54 yards on four receptions and been targeted 11 times. Boldin may have lost a step since his time in Arizona but he is still one of the gutsiest wide receivers in the game and Flacco has been looking his way often. The Ravens have stumbled lately and need to get things back on track and look for Boldin to play a big part in their offense moving forward.
Nick Foles, QB, PHILADELPHIA: A last second, come from behind victory can do wonders for a rookie quarterback's confidence and throwing for 381 yards along the way doesn't hurt, either. Foles put up some excellent fantasy totals this week in leading the Eagles to their first victory since September. Foles passed for a pair of touchdowns, ran in another score and for good measure was the Eagles leading rusher on the day. While it was a banner day for the rookie from Arizona, we need to keep in mind that he did all this against the woeful Tampa Bay Buccaneers pass defense. He's still a work in progress and is worth keeping an eye on but too risky to plug in lineups at this crucial stage of fantasy seasons.
Clay Harbor, TE, PHILADELPHIA: Replacing a concussed Brent Celek, Harbor had six receptions for 52 yards and a touchdown on Sunday against Tampa Bay. It's highly unlikely that Brent Celek will pass the concussion tests in time for a Thursday game and Harbor is a natural pass catcher that caught all of the passes thrown his way this week. You can bet Nick Foles noticed that as well and will continue to look his way against the Bengals on Thursday night. Rookie quarterbacks tend to look to certain players they are comfortable throwing to and they also look to the tight end position as a security blanket.
Chris "Beanie" Wells, RB, ARIZONA: The Cardinals took a pummeling of epic proportions on Sunday against Seattle and Wells had 18 yards on six carries. Arizona never found a semblance of an offense on Sunday and Wells was rested quite a bit in the second half in favor of William Powell. This is why I like Wells next week at home against a Detroit team that is imploding. The Lions habitually struggle when they play in Arizona and the Cardinals will be fired up to save face at home after what happened in Seattle. Look for the Cardinals to feed Wells the ball a lot against an over aggressive Detroit defensive line and for him to have a surprisingly good fantasy week.
There they are, 10 names to consider when getting ready to set your lineups for the next round of the fantasy playoffs. Some can step in and help lead teams to victory and others should be left for other owners to chase.
As always, good luck next week and remember to have some fun along the way!