It’s here. It’s finally here.
Feels like just yesterday we were drafting our teams. Some of you probably thought you were sneaky, taking Maurice Jones Drew in the late rounds. Others probably couldn’t believe they got Rob Gronkowski in the 4th round. And everybody who drafted Andrew Luck is likely bragging about where they picked him, right?
Then you had 13 weeks to tinker and toy with your lineup. Early on, it was adding Steve Smith Sr. for Eric Decker, Dwayne Allen for Jordan Reed, and Justin Forsett for Knowshon Moreno.
In October you saw Branden Oliver added for CJ Spiller, Odell Beckham Jr. for Victor Cruz, and Denard Robinson for Adrian Peterson.
And when it mattered most down the stretch, CJ Anderson for Ronnie Hillman, Jarvis Landry for Larry Percy Harvin, and Kenny Stills for Larry Fitzgerald.
So what do you do to have the edge in the playoffs?
You have your players that have been reliable all year and got you where you are, but you can always add help every week.
Colts RB – Daniel “Boom” Herron: Even after fumbling twice the last two weeks, the Colts are committed to running with Boom Herron. Herron has picked up where Ahmad Bradshaw left off by making Trent Richardson look sillier and averaging 7.65 yards per carry since Ahmad Bradshaw went on IR.
Washington TE – Jordan Reed: I mentioned it a week ago, and I was right. Jordan Reed is a better player when RGIII isn’t throwing to him. Colt McCoy gets the start last Sunday and Reed catches 9 passes on 11 targets for 123 yards. If you’re in need of a tight end or Julius Thomas’s status is making you pull your hair out, pickup Reed.
Panthers RB – Jonathan Stewart: DeAngello Williams has a broken hand. Broken hand or not, Jonathan Stewart was running better than Williams anyway. Stewart gained 110 yards total (85 rushing, 25 receiving) against the Vikings defense on Sunday. Even with a 3-8-1 record, the Panthers are in the playoff hunt and establishing some kind of illusion of a run game will be key if they want to steal the horrible NFC South.
Colts WR – Donte Moncrief: The word out of Indianapolis is that Donte Moncrief has surpassed Hakeem Nicks for the #3 receiver role. He’s a boom or bust type of player much like Terrance Williams was for Dallas in the first half of the season, but Reggie Wayne’s production is sloping the wrong way. 134 yards and 2 touchdowns on 3 catches last week makes Moncrief very attractive for more Andrew Luck targets and for you to grab him if he’s available.
- Ryan Fitzpatrick…WHA-HAPPENED? One minute, the “bearded one” was being benched for Ryan Mallett. The next he’s throwing 6 touchdown passes. This is the same Fitz-Beard that averaged an INT per game, and couldn’t find Andre Johnson in the end zone (he did on Sunday). It seems head coach Bill O’Brien has taken off the training wheels finally and airing it out. DeAndre Hopkins had 9 catches for 239 yards and 2 TDs while JJ Watt caught his 3rd off the season. They won’t be playing stats padding Titans again, but they will see the Jaguars this weekend for more air-time.
- Can we talk about the Rams? They only have 5 wins this year, and really that could have them first in the abysmal NFC South. 3 of those 5 wins have come against playoff contenders (Broncos, Seahawks, 49ers) and they just beat the Raiders 52-0. For a team decimated by injuries, they sure don’t act like it. Stedman Bailey (another guy to pick up for your playoff run) has emerged as Shaun Hill’s go-to receiver with 12 catches, 189 yards and a TD on 15 targets the past two weeks. Bailey had 100 yards in the first quarter alone against the Raiders. And Tre Mason just scored 3 touchdowns (2 rush, 1 rec.). He may have just scored again on the Raiders, I’m not sure.
- And bouncing back from having his winning streak snapped, Tom Brady catapults himself to MVP frontrunner…of commercials. That mullet is…beautiful.
And now for YOU time.
DB Moenning on Facebook: “Got two burning Flex spot questions for you. Pick 1: Keenan Allen or Giovani Bernard. Fred Jackson or Denard Robinson.”
Normally I lean toward running backs in this situation for guaranteed touches. Before his injury, Gio Bernard would have been a no-brainer. But since returning, the Bengals have given the starter reigns to Jeremy Hill, as well as the red zone carries. I could see them riding whoever the hot hand is against the Steelers…The Phillip Rivers target machine Keenan Allen is finally making the most of his opportunities. 3 touchdowns in his last 2 games (3x his total before then) and coming off an 11 catch 121 performance against Baltimore. The Packers 3rd WR just put up similar numbers against the Patriots and that’s why I like Allen better than Gio this week.
For your second conundrum, I like Denard Robinson better and here’s why. While Fred Jackson dispelled the running-back-by-committee approach for the Bills last weekend, he’s running into a buzz saw that is the Broncos run defense. The D-line has found their groove, and allowed Jamaal Charles just 59 yards total (35 rush, 24 rec.). The Bills have a defense that could prevent the Broncos from getting out to a crazy early lead that has forced most teams to give up on the run, but I’m not necessarily counting on it…Shoelace has had a tough go the last two weeks, and it’s mostly been because of game-flow circumstances. The Jaguars had to come back from a 20 point deficit in the first half last week and that helped Marqise Lee out more than Robinson. They should have better luck with time of possession early on against the Texans defense and that bodes well for Robinson, who even got some effective Wildcat plays against the Giants.
Ryan Ricci on Facebook: “Larry Donnell or Jordan Reed?”
As I mentioned earlier, Colt McCoy throwing to Jordan Reed only means good things. Tight ends are what makes McCoy tick. If he’s healthy, go with Reed…I really don’t get Larry Donnell. I think some the occasional drop in his numbers is because the Giants OL can’t handle pass rushers without him blocking. He has a solid matchup against the Titans this week though. If Reed can’t go, Donnell will be a decent play in his place.
Craig Bucy on Facebook: “Romo or Tannehill?”
Tony Romo had a tough one last week. He’s dealing with a bad back but seemed to have a weekly routine to rest it. Romo throws 4 touchdowns in Week 12, goes just 3 days without taking a hit, and he has his worst game of the season. A full week with his regular routine against the Bears secondary may be the bounce back Romo needs. He threw 3 touchdowns against Chicago the last time he traveled to Soldier Field and the Bears are allowing 326.4 yards per game to competent quarterbacks (Stafford, Rodgers x2, Brady, Ryan)…Tannehill has good matchup against Baltimore, but Romo will be your guy.
Sam Kalmar on Facebook: “Terrance Williams or Malcom Floyd? Any potential waiver pickups suggestions welcome also.”
Terrance Williams has really fallen off in the last month. He started off hot and then Dez Bryant, Jason Witten, and DeMarco Murray stopped sharing the targets from Romo. Bryant and Witten will benefit the most against the Bears soft press defense this weekend. Malcom Floyd would have been a nice play if he wasn’t going to draw Darrelle Revis or Brandon Browner….I would recommend either Donte Moncrief or Stedman Bailey who I mentioned either, as well as Robert Woods who has emerged as a startable WR thanks to #OrtonMagic and a beat up Sammy Watkins.
I’ll be on a work trip in Phoenix till Sunday, but feel free to keep asking questions on either Facebook or Twitter.