The fantasy football playoffs begin for a lot of people this week who were lucky enough to make it. As I found out this year, sometimes you need more than a good team to make it as far as you want to go. It’s been a weird year in fantasy football and it appears scheduling anomalies have made things even weirder.
I wrapped up the regular season in one 14-team league last week where the two-highest scoring teams of the regular season failed to make the playoffs. I’ve never seen that before in my fantasy football history. It’s not even that those two teams were volatile week-to-week in a way where their point totals weren’t consistent. They’re comprehensive record (record if they played every team in the league each week) were first and second in the league. It just happened to be that whomever they played most weeks was slightly better than they were. As leagues move forward, I think you’ll see a lot of them changing their playoff qualifications to not just be straight standings, but to include comprehensive record in some way as well.
As always, here are some guys I’m highlighting for fantasy lineup decisions this week. If you’re curious about players you don’t see listed here, you can always find me on Twitter (@MrT_BroBible) to ask questions, but remember to mention league specifics like PPR.
You Know Who You Should Start?
Josh Freeman (QB - Tampa Bay)
The Buccaneers haven't been as explosive offensively in the last two weeks as they've been all year, but the Eagles should provide Freeman a canvas to paint a glorious picture. The Eagles are giving up the second-most points to fantasy quarterbacks and don't have much of a pass rush. Freeman should blow up back to the fantasy start he was in mid-season.
Ahmad Bradshaw (RB - N.Y. Giants)
Ahmad and his fiery personality were squashed at times this season by the success of Andre Brown. Bradshaw became the bell cow last week with Brown's injury and David Wilson barely played. The Saints are the worst defense in the league against fantasy running backs, so expect Bradshaw to find success and keep it all to himself.
Shonn Greene (RB - N.Y. Jets)
A second New York running back appears in this space because of two factors. For starters, Jacksonville has one of the worst run defenses in the league as they showed again last week. Secondly, Mark Sanchez threw three interceptions last week, so look for the Jets to scale things down and focus heavily on running the ball. That means good things for Greene and Bilal Powell -- and there should be plenty for everyone.
Lance Moore (WR - New Orleans)
He's not the most consistent player, but Lance Moore has the ability to come up big. His 123 yards on seven catches last week could've been even better had he not dropped an easy touchdown. The Giants have had problems in the secondary all season and are currently giving up the fourth-most points to fantasy wide receivers. Look for Jimmy Graham and Marques Colston to draw the focus of the coverage while Moore finds his way to get open over the middle.
Danario Alexander (WR - San Diego)
San Diego's offensive line is in shambles, so starting Alexander is slightly riskier than it has been in recent weeks. Still, you have to admire how Alexander has grabbed at least five balls and recorded at least 74 yards in his four starts. He's clearly taken over as Philip Rivers' favorite target and there's no reason to doubt his ability anymore. The guy is a monster.
Jared Cook (TE - Tennessee)
The new offensive coordinator was the best thing that could've happened to the disgruntled Cook. He was unhappy with the amount of looks he was getting under the old regime and that quickly changed as he saw 12 targets last week. Cook has immense physical ability and should put up quality numbers if he continues to see the ball. This week provides the next step in him doing so.
You Know Who You Should Sit?
Carson Palmer (QB - Oakland)
Fantasy owners have found success with plugging Palmer into their starting lineup this year, but this Thursday night game will not be another opportunity for that. Outside of Thanksgiving, NFL teams are throwing less than one touchdown a game on Thursday nights. Since Oakland's offense has stumbled in recent weeks, do you expect him to surpass that tonight? I don't...
Ryan Mathews (RB - San Diego)
If you're a Mathews' owner like me, you're probably very tired of his act. He hasn't exploded for the big plays this year. Whether that's because his offensive line sucks, he's worried about fumbling, or both, it's not good for us owners. I'm not saying you bench Mathews for an inferior option like Bilal Powell, who splits carries, but you can definitely sit Mathews if you have a good alternative like Bryce Brown or Mikel Leshoure. The Steelers are pretty good at limiting the run as well, so things don't look like they're perking up for Mathews any time soon.
Alex Green (RB - Green Bay)
If you're an Alex Green owner I offer caution with this statement: Rashad Jennings showed 100 percent of the carries doesn't make up for having 20 percent of the talent. Don't expect a miracle just because he's now the only healthy running back on an elite offense.
Justin Blackmon (WR - Jacksonville)
Cromartie Island will be shadowing Blackmon all game on Sunday, but the other concerning thing is Cecil Shorts might not play due to a concussion. If that happens, extra focus will be on Blackmon, who will be left as Jacksonville's only legitimate wide receiver. It's also worth noting that Blackmon's breakout performance of 236 receiving yards looks like an anomaly given that he hasn't surpassed 62 in the other four most recent games he's played.
Donnie Avery (WR - Indianapolis)
I understand why people are so excited about Indianapolis' passing offense and I am too. The problem for Avery is he's still the third option in the passing game despite starting opposite Reggie Wayne. Last week's touchdown grabs were the first since Week 1 and Avery had only managed to put up more than 65 yards in one of his previous six games prior to last week. T.Y. Hilton is the more talented player and is showing more consistency week to week.
Vernon Davis (TE - San Francisco)
Davis' performance last year looks very far away in the rearview mirror as we head towards the end of this season. Davis has only had one game in his last seven in which he caught five or more balls. He's put up two bagels in that timeframe as well. There are better options at the tight end position until Davis figures out where he stands with Colin Kaepernick behind center.