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Start your studs.
It’s an old saying in fantasy football. Despite the matchup, you keep the players in your lineup who have gotten you this far. But what if you can’t? What if you have so many good options that it’s legitimately possible to bench a guy like LeSean McCoy against the Seahawks? Many fantasy players assume that just because it’s the playoffs, you have to start the big name players, and only the big name players. But at the end of the day, we’re still playing the matchups, finding guys with upside. So just because it’s win-or-go-home, doesn’t mean you have to play conservative.
There are still home runs to be had.
Shaun Hill @ Washington Redskins- Shaun Hill and Ryan Fitzpatrick combined for nine touchdowns last week. Shaun Hill and Ryan Fitzpatrick combined for nine touchdowns last week. Nope. No matter how many times I say it, the thought of it is still difficult to believe. Hill played very well during the massacre of the Raiders on Sunday, throwing for two touchdowns, while running in another one. This week, he gets an even friendlier fantasy matchup against the Redskins, who are allowing the most fantasy points per game to opposing signal callers this season (21.33). They are also surrendering 2.2 passing scores per game this year, which is tied for the worst in all of football. This secondary is really, really bad, and when looking for quarterbacks to stream, I like finding teams facing strong run defenses, but horrid pass defenses. Washington fits the bill, ranking top-10 in the NFL in terms of stopping the run, but towards the bottom against the pass. Washington has allowed five quarterbacks to finish as top-12 fantasy passers, including two signal callers to rank as the number one fantasy option.
Andy Dalton vs Pittsburgh Steelers- It may be difficult to trust Dalton in your fantasy playoffs, but if you don’t have one of the four or five elite options, he’s definitely worth a look. The Steelers defense has been horrible, especially lately, surrendering 59 points over their last two games. They are coughing up the 10th-most fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks this year, and lately, have been getting absolutely gashed by the deep ball. Over the last five weeks, Pittsburgh has allowed long pass plays of 69, 80, 67, 35 and 52 yards. And on the year, they have allowed 11 passing plays of 40 yards or more, good for a bottom-five rank in the NFL. I foresee a handful of deep balls towards A.J. Green, and after watching Ike Taylor get roasted by Kenny Stills last week, I’m excited to see what the superior Green can do.
Jonathan Stewart @ New Orleans Saints- With DeAngelo Williams nursing a fractured middle finger, Stewart could be in line for an expanded role on Sunday against the Saints, a team he has seen a good amount of success against throughout his career. He’s coming off a nice game, posting over 100 total yards, and the Saints defense has been getting absolutely gashed by the run as of late, surrendering a 100-yard back in three straight contests. New Orleans is now allowing the fourth-most fantasy points per game to opposing running backs on the season, and 37 percent of their total touchdowns allowed have come from the ground, good for the third-highest rate in the NFL.
Cecil Shorts vs Houston Texans- I’m not entirely sure what it is, but I’ve always been a sucker for Shorts. The guy just always seems to have a nagging injury, however. But he’s healthy now, playing over 90 percent of the snaps and has a good matchup against Houston. Opposing number one wideouts have had a great deal of success against the Texans this year, and receivers in general are accumulating 28.30 fantasy points per game against Houston this season, good for the 2nd-most in the NFL. Shorts is averaging a healthy eight targets per game in an offense that is passing the ball 63 percent of the time, the 6th-highest percentage in the league. Meanwhile, opposing offenses are averaging a healthy 38.4 pass attempts per game against the Texans this year. Only the Broncos and Bengals are seeing more passing volume against them on the year. Below are some notable number one receivers’ stat lines against Houston this season:
Week 3- Victor Cruz: 5 catches, 107 yards, 1 TD.
Week 4- Sammy Watkins: 4 catches, 30 yards, 1 TD.
Week 5- Dez Bryant: 9 catches, 85 yards, 1 TD.
Week 6- T.Y. Hilton: 9 catches, 223 yards, 1 TD.
Week 7- Antonio Brown: 9 catches, 90 yards.
Week 9- Jeremy Maclin: 6 catches, 158 yards, 2 TD.
Week 11- Andrew Hawkins: 6 catches, 97 yards, 1 TD.
Week 12- A.J. Green: 12 catches, 121 yards.
Week 13- Kendall Wright: 7 catches, 132 yards, 1 TD.
Stedman Bailey @ Washington Redskins- Bailey appears to be Shaun Hill’s binky. Over the last two games, Bailey has hauled in a strong 12-of-15 targets for 189 yards and a touchdown. I mean, the guy had 100 yards against the Raiders last week — in the first quarter alone. Again, the Redskins secondary is putrid, and if he can draw coverage against David Amerson, I’ll be thrilled. According to PFF, he is the fourth-worst coverage corner in the league, surrendering six touchdowns, good for a bottom-three ranking among corners. Donte Moncrief had two long touchdowns on just three catches against this secondary last week, so I think Bailey can make some big plays as well.
Scott Chandler @ Denver Broncos- No, Chandler isn’t playing the Jets this week, so I can’t exactly guarantee a touchdown. However, I do like his matchup with Denver quite a bit on Sunday. On the year, the Broncos have surrendered 63 catches for 697 yards and five touchdowns to the tight end position this year, as well as the 8th-most fantasy points per game to the position, too (9.37). Buffalo should be behind in this game, so Chandler should see some decent volume as well. The tight end position is so brutal that if you don’t have one of the three or four elite guys, you’re basically streaming anyway. And if you can’t get a guy like Jordan Reed or Kyle Rudolph off waivers, give Chandler a look.
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