Three Ways to Avoid Thursday Night Fantasy Disaster

Denver Broncos running back Knowshon Moreno

We’re hypnotized, sometimes, by flashes of brilliance and untapped potential. Fantasy owners aren’t into slow and steady; NFL coaches are.

Denver Broncos running back Knowshon Moreno
Denver Broncos running back Knowshon Moreno runs with the ball during the first quarter against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

Which brings me to Denver running back Knowshon Moreno, and three ways to guard your precious playoff-bound fake football squad from the ruinous Thursday night performances that have sunk so many teams this year.

The Broncos play in Oakland tonight.

Knowshon Moreno, RB, Broncos – The fantasy world rose as one and declared Ronnie Hillman the heir apparent to old man McGahee after the Broncos’ running back went down with a season-ending knee injury in Week 11. We wanted the full force of his shiftiness and long speed to be put to good use in one of the league’s most dynamic offenses.

John Fox, as you now know, hates your fantasy team, so he has given Moreno—the fourth year runner who had been deactivated since Week 2—40 combined carries in the games since McGahee was injured. Moreno also has eight catches in the past two contests.

He gets a Raiders’ defense Thursday that has gone through the motions for much of the past month. They are now second worst against running backs, allowing 21.4 fantasy points per game, and 66 points since Week 11. They’re coming off a game in which their front seven was pounded with more than 30 runs. They’re playing on a short week. Their own players are criticizing the defense’s recent play.

Moreno gets what’s blocked and nothing more. He’s a plodder with a little speed. You hate him, I know, and you resent Fox for relegating Hillman to a complementary role, but I think you’re missing a great chance to get a nice game out of Moreno to start your playoff push. He’s a high-end RB2 in this matchup.

I’d prefer Moreno over guys like Mikel Leshoure, Steven Jackson, and BenJarvus Green-Ellis, to name a few.

Brandon Myers, TE, Raiders – With the tight end position in shambles this season, I’ve resorted to streaming tight ends, much like defenses. Target teams that struggle in tight end coverage and hope for the best

There’s (almost) no one worse at defending tight ends than the Broncos. They allow a staggering 10.1 fantasy points per game to tight ends – a stat bolstered by a few huge games from Greg Olsen, Antonio Gates, and Jermaine Gresham.

Myers isn’t entirely touchdown reliant either. He has topped 50 yards receiving in six games this season, scoring four times. He’s coming off his best outing of the year – a 14-catch, 130-yard outburst against the Browns, fueled by a glut of Carson Palmer garbage time production.

Myers is the fifth highest scoring tight end this year, and he should be used as a top-5 option against a defense that has proven, time and again, susceptible to tight ends.

Denarius Moore and Darrius Heyward-Bey, WRs, Raiders – Probably you have better options, but I’d like to remind you not to get cute here, because I know the thought process that leads one to use one of these pass catchers in a fantasy playoff matchup.

I know it well, because I’ve used that thought process. It doesn’t work.

You’re banking on a blowout if you play these two Oakland wide receivers in 10-and-12-team leagues. Peyton Manning will have his way with Oakland’s cast of zombie defenders, you think, so the Broncos will have a 30-point lead at the start of the fourth quarter, yank many of its defensive studs, and Palmer and company will reward you with fantasy goodness.

A lot of guessing goes into fantasy football every week. Which cornerback will cover the team’s best receiver? Will the offense take an ultra conservative approach, or let it fly? If you’re predicting game flow, you’re only multiplying these guesses by another guess, complicating your job further. Garbage time stats are fantastic – we’ve seen that several times as the Raiders fold to superior opponents – but it shouldn’t bring us to shoehorn Moore and Heyward-Bey, two guys with terrible matchups, into an all-important Week 14 game.

Moore, a week after being benched for poor play, will likely draw coverage from Champ Bailey, the killer of fantasy hopes and dreams. Moore is no better than a high-end WR3 against Denver. DHB has eclipsed four receptions in only two games this season, regressing from his hot close to 2011. He’s on pace for 43 grabs.

You can do much, much better.

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C.D. Carter Fantasy Football Analyst
C.D. Carter is a reporter, author of zombie stories, writer for The Fake Football and XN Sports. Fantasy Sports Writers Association member. His work  has been featured in the New York Times.