I say it every year around this time.
So in the effort to be consistent, I'll say it again.
Start. Your. Big. Boys.
Now is not the time to sit Adrian Peterson just because he's playing a stout Bears defense.
It's playoff time for fantasy football leagues and now is not the time to get cute with your lineup.
Sure you have some borderline positions, but for the most part, you likely have four or five solid starters that should be every-week starters or you are not in the postseason.
So don't go sitting the big boys (i.e. Aaron Rodgers or Drew Brees) just because of a favorable matchup (i.e. Joe Flacco playing Washington).
Now you may still have some spots that you need some help, and that's where I hopefully can assist.
Hopefully you're OK at QB if you are in the playoffs. If you're not, you must have a pretty solid lineup across the other positions.
But we'll look at the players who are available in better than half of most leagues: Colin Kaepernick, Russell Wilson, Chad Henne and Nick Foles.
Kaepernick had his worst start since getting the job three weeks ago (208 yards, no scores) but also rushed for the most yards he has yet with 84. He also lost a fumble. But Jim Harbaugh said he hasn't lost his job. Three of his next four matchups are against teams who have been stingy on fantasy QBs this year: Dolphins, Seahawks and Cardinals. His matchup against the Patriots in Week 15 is the only favorable one of the bunch.
Wilson has been a man child the last five games. He has thrown 11 touchdowns to just one interception and rushed in another one. He's also averaged better than 35 yards rushing over that span. He's clearly comfortable with an NFL offense at this point. But like Kaepernick, he has some tough matchups coming up: Cardinals, 49ers and Rams. His lone favorable matchup is at the Bills in Week 15.
Speaking of the Bills, it was the Bills who had slowed down Henne's hot streak, holding him to 208 yards passing and a score with an interception and a fumble lost. He did punch one in on a sneak, but it wasn't a stellar day for the Michigan grad. He's started three games since taking over for Blaine Gabbert and has averaged about 275 yards passing and better than two scores a game. His rough spot with the Bills may have been more indicative to his starting running back (Rashard Jennings) and top receiver (Cecil Shorts) getting hurt early in the game more than the Bills being tough on him. His next two weeks aren't great (Jets and Dolphins) but faces defenses in the final two weeks (Patriots and Titans) that are in the top 10 in points yielded to fantasy quarterbacks.
Foles is a case of a team that admitted the season is a lost cause. Coach Andy Reid said this week that Michael Vick, who has been out for four weeks with a concussion, won't return to the starting job when he's cleared to play. Foles is a starting quarterback in the NFL and that's about all you can say about him at this point. He's averaged 198 yards passing and thrown just two scores while throwing three interceptions and fumbling away another ball in the four weeks since he's been the starter. If you are trying to hasten your postseason exit, please pick him up and start him.
Here again, hopefully you have at least one stud and maybe just playing running back merry-go-round with your other running back spot. With that said, there are still a handful of backs who could be available in your league: Knowshon Moreno, Bryce Brown and Montell Owens.
One of those three could keep you alive in the fantasy playoffs.
Brown has been so electric in his two starts for the Eagles that he may force a timeshare of sorts with LeSean McCoy when he's cleared from his concussion. Brown's rushed for 347 yards, caught eight balls for 25 yards and scored four times. Now for the bad news. He's also fumbled three times. But no one can deny the impact the rookie has had on the Eagles. I doubt McCoy is back this week, so Brown could be a very safe play at running back. But monitor those injury reports to be sure.
Moreno is exactly what we've seen before. After a surprising start last week where he had 111 total yards on 24 carries, he followed it up with 24 touches for 83 yards. He's just not good and falls into that category of emergency start only.
Owens is the most recent Jaguar to get significant time because of Maurice Jones-Drew's injury. This time though, it was Jennings being knocked out with a concussion that caused Owens to be thrust to the forefront. Owens had a modest 40 yards on eight touches after Jennings left the game. But truthfully, you want no part of the mess that is the Jacksonville backfield at this point.
We'll talk about four guys here that could have a nice impact on your fantasy postseason from a second receiver, or more likely, flex position: Chris Givens, T.Y. Hilton, Josh Gordon and Mike Thomas.
Givens has been particularly hot the last two weeks, combining for 16 catches for 207 yards and a score. But he's quietly put together a nice season prior to that. He had 352 yards on 17 catches and two TDs prior to that, particularly on deep balls. Rams coach Jeff Fisher said now that the rookie has improved his short game, he'll be more involved in the offense down the stretch. With only one bad matchup in the next four weeks (Week 17 against the Seahawks), Givens could be a nice points boost to your team in the coming weeks.
For three of the last four weeks, Hilton has had over 100 yards receiving and in case, he's had six catches. In the last four weeks, he's made four touchdown grabs. While Reggie Wayne is still the guy you want on the Colts, Hilton is becoming a good flex play, particularly with four favorable matchups the rest of the way.
After a hot three week stretch about a quarter of the way through the season, Gordon cooled off. But the last three weeks, he's averaged five catches and 76 yards. Last week, he cleared 116 yards on six grabs with a score. His next two matchups (Chiefs and Redskins) are ideal but his last two (Broncos and Steelers) are miserable. Could be a nice flex play in Weeks 14 and 15.
Thomas is an interesting pickup. With Ryan Broyles (ACL) and Titus Young (knee) put on injured reserve Tuesday by the Lions, Thomas stands to move up to the No. 2 spot as the starter for the pass happy Lions. I wouldn't start him any week going forward though. He has matchups against three of the toughest defenses against fantasy receivers and the other (Packers) is this week and they are the middle of the road. With no track record to base it on, I wouldn't start Thomas expecting him to pick up where Broyles left off.
Short of buying a billboard and doing some skywriting, I'm not sure what more Brandon Myers has to do to get picked up in fantasy leagues.
He is owned in less than 30 percent of most leagues across the most popular sites, and I don't understand why. He's in the top six in most leagues in points scored among fantasy tight ends. And he's not slowing down. In a year where Vernon Davis, Antonio Gates and Jermichael Finley have disappointed many owners, Myers continues to win games for the fantasy owners who have him. On the season he has four touchdowns (all in the last five games) and has 69 catches for 721 yards. He could easily eclipse 1,000 yards this year. And he's largely unowned.
While much of the Vikings passing game has struggled, Kyle Rudolph has shined the last three weeks, with a touchdown grab each week as well as averaging 56 yards a game receiving.
After scoring the first three weeks of the season, Martellus Bennett went quite until last weekend when he finally got back into the end zone against the Redskins, a team everyone seemingly rights their fantasy wrongs against. Take it for what it's worth. Since Week 3, his biggest game prior to Monday night was also against the Redskins in Week 7, where he had five grabs for 79 yards.
In case you skipped right over the beginning of the column, let me reiterate it again: Start. Your. Big. Boys. If you get cute with your lineup come playoff time, your playoff exit falls on you.
Aaron Korte is the fantasy sports columnist of The Advertiser-Tribune.
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