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Thoughts from the FFChamps

Posted Dec 11, 2013

Strategies for advancing to your fantasy football championship game

The questions, tweets and comments have been rolling in to www.FFChamps.com since Andrew Luck put up 353 yards and 4 TDs in week 14. Most members and readers were second guessing sitting him, and some were of course blaming me. For weeks, I have strongly suggested trading Luck or sitting him if you did not trade him. Andrew Luck is going to be a great NFL QB, maybe the best of the current bunch of rising stars. It just isn’t going to be this season and certainly not from a fantasy football perspective. This was based on the loss of Reggie Wayne, one of the toughest strength of schedules from Week 11 on, and the overall lackluster performance by the Colts in those weeks. Reality is, in most scoring formats, Luck was mediocre at best all season, only scoring 30+ points once, in Week 7, and scoring 20 or less points five times, including the past three weeks. In Week 14 he was playing the Bengals, one of the better defenses in the NFL, on the road, in freezing temperatures, snow and sleet. There is no scenario where a fantasy football owner with a viable option at QB should play Luck in that situation. While there is no worse fantasy football feeling than seeing points left on the bench, this is the reality within the fantasy.

Week 14 was a tough week for yours truly. I needed to win my game and hope a competitor lost his game to be one of the four playoff teams in our format. I went into Monday Night Football up 8 and had Brandon Marshall going against DeMarco Murray. The team I needed to lose was down 7 and needed either a TD or 90 yards from Bears TE Martellus Bennett on Monday night. It did not happen and my season ended. In a cruel twist, the team I needed to win had David Akers as its kicker. Akers ended the game without a field goal or extra point, a rare occurrence. The snow was so bad in Philly that the Lions tried two point conversions on their two initial TDs, and had a PAT blocked after that. Kicking a field goal was nearly impossible. Meanwhile, they left Nick Folk on their bench, 19 points later. I was disappointed this fantasy GM did not check the weather but the word from our FFChamps radio host and Eagles season ticket holder Todd Devries was that even the forecasters missed the boat on the timing of the snow. To add insult to injury, this player also had Wes Welker who exited early with a concussion and left Marques Colston on his bench, missing out on three TDs by the Saints wideout. Colston is another example of a player that has struggled all season long and was playing against a tough match-up in the Panthers. They decided to start the young, hot hand in Kendall Wright, which led to zilch. As with Luck above, it’s hard to second guess the Colston decision but of course, I did and it cost me the season.

We are certain so many of our members and readers have stories of last second victories or losing on some fluke play. How many of you were affected by Brent Celek deciding to take a dive on the 1 yard line to run out the clock rather than score? Tweet us your stories of victory or agony of defeat to @FFChamps #Agony or #Victory.

Week 13 was a brutal for NFL injuries. The No. 1 RB in most drafts this season, Adrian Peterson, was carted off the field and he is not likely to play in Week 15, a crushing blow for his owners who are in the playoffs. At www.FFChamps.com, we preached that you must draft your Stud RBs back-up as a handcuff. Toby Gerhart exploded for an incredible 41-yard TD after Peterson left the game. He also tweaked a hamstring but may be an option for you if he is starting vs. the Eagles in Week 15. Reggie Bush also was injured and is likely out for at least Week 15. Joique Bell came in and did not miss a beat. Bell is a No. 2 RB starter assuming all Bush owners made sure that he was on their roster.

We all know about Gronk. This was a horrific loss for the Patriots and for Gronk’s fantasy owners. Gronk was in beast mode and he is not replaceable at TE in either situation. If Charles Clay is still on your waiver wire, he is your starter. He had a huge game in Week 13 with 98 yards and 2 TDs and has a great match-up vs. the Patriots banged up secondary at home Week 14. Another sleeper waiver option is Ravens TE Dennis Pitta. In his first game of the season after returning from injury, Pitta had 6 receptions on a team high 11 targets for 48 yards and one touchdown. Quarterback Joe Flacco looks for Pitta early and often and were it not for the very poor weather conditions and getting his game legs under him he could have had a huge game. He also has a good match-up vs. the Lions this week. The other injury of note was the concussion to Welker. We cannot imagine he plays in Week 15, especially with this being his second concussion in 3 weeks. While this hurts Welker owners, especially in PPR formats, it will boost Eric Decker and Julius Thomas owners.

Remember to always start your Studs if they are healthy. This is not the time to bench the guys who are carrying you week in and week out. If you are dealing with a tough decision on who to start or sit in playoff Week 15, you definitely want to pay attention to the FFChamps.com strength of schedule, http://www.ffchamps.com/p/resources.sos/ and to the weather. Last week, we strongly urged you to check the forecast and make decisions based on it and the weather was a game changer in Week 14. The Akers example above was just a careless move, and could have been avoided as it was clearly awful weather in Philadelphia 45 minutes before kickoff. It was a no-brainer to play Nick Folk in much better conditions, than Akers in a driving snowstorm. Denver has a great match-up but you will be playing Peyton Manning regardless so we want to focus on some less obvious plays. The Falcons and Redskins play each other in a match-up of the NFL’s two most disappointing teams. Note that the Redskins announced that RGIII will be inactive for the game and Kirk Cousins is the starter, not what RGIII owner’s envisioned for their playoff weeks. This does have the potential to be a high scoring game. If you are in a 2QB league, you may want to consider starting Ryan. Alex Smith has a strong match up at Oakland, Nick Foles at Minnesota in the dome, and Colin Kaepernick has a favorable opponent in Tampa as well. The Bills play Jacksonville, a good opportunity for CJ Spiller owners, and Shady McCoy should run wild vs. the Vikings.

We wanted to reprint last week’s advice on offsets and injuries. Offsets are when you have a WR such as Eric Decker and your opponent has Peyton Manning. The strategy depends on the score of your game and if you have the window to react based on how your game is unfolding. If you have a good sized lead, you would definitely offset Decker in this case but if you are down big and need to catch up, an offset will not gain you any ground and you may need to roll the dice and play a different player. As with the weather, offsets should be part of your decision process as you make your playoff line-ups. Injuries are a part of football, this season more than ever. You cannot afford to play a player that is a game time decision and then does not play. A zero from a positional player is hard to overcome. At playoff time, especially, you need to be on top of the news right up until your line-up deadline. Active/Inactive announcements are made well before kickoff, giving you plenty of time to react. If you have a player that you know is banged up, pick up a waiver wire replacement early in the week just in case it is needed. The same rules about your Studs apply to injuries: If a Stud is active and starting, you need to play him. NFL players play through and perform at high levels, even when hurt.

Looking ahead to the 2014 draft for those who are done, who do you like as the first overall pick? Who will be the top QB, RB, WR, or TE? This depends so much on FFChamps Commandment No. 1: Know Thy Scoring System. If your league awards 6 or 7 points for a QB touchdown, then QBs take on a much more prominent role. Even in formats that award 4 points for a QB touchdown, Peyton Manning is almost 100 points ahead of every other positional player year-to-date and in leagues where the QB touchdown counts for more, the gap is even wider. It’s clear that WRs are becoming much more important than ever and maybe more so than running backs. Most leagues start 3 WRs, they play the whole game and they are not in tandems or committees where one guy doesn’t play between the 20 yard lines and then comes in for the TD inside the 5. Does Josh Gordon overtake Megatron as the top WR drafted? Does Peterson fall into the bottom of the second round at RB? Let us know your thoughts @FFChamps #fantasydraft2014.

Good luck this week to all those still playing. If you are serious about winning your league you can jump on the FFChamps championship bus today and you will be a member for all of the 2014 season, from the Draft to your championship. Our loyal Patriots.com fans can get 50% off for life if you become an FFChamps.com member today at https://www.ffchamps.com/subscribe/.

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