Now we’re talking! Playoff season is coming fast! In fact, if you are in a deeper league, this is might be the last week of the regular season for your league. It is an exciting time of year. The pressure is on every week to win. If you lose, you go home. Even for owners who play in leagues in which the playoffs do not start until week fourteen, winning is the only option. Losing any game can either knock you out of a playoff spot or lower your seed. Lowering your seed is never a good thing. The lower your playoff seed is, the more likely you are to lose. Nobody wants to go against the top team in the league. Your championship run depends on your ability to make good decisions, so start to really break down your team and evaluate any possible weakness to ensure you are the last team standing.
The Panthers have been red hot lately. Their quarterback, Cam Newton, has been a huge reason the team has been so successful. Earlier in the season, fantasy owners were wondering why they spent a high draft pick on Newton. Now you know why he is valuable. Statistically speaking, Cam Newton always plays his best football late in the season. Last week for instance, he threw for 209 yards and three touchdowns and rushed for an addition 62 yards. Cam is a strong quarterback who is tough to bring down and can really throw the long ball. Experts tend to knock his ability to throw accurately, but in fantasy football he can regain the points from missing short passes with a couple good runs. Cam Newton should be in the starting lineup every week from now until the end of the season. He has a great opportunity to produce a huge stat line this weekend against the Miami Dolphin, who struggle against both the pass and the run.
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Russell Wilson is starting to produce very consistently. Last weekend the Seahawks’ young quarterback threw for 230 yards and two touchdowns. He leads the league in rushing yards from a quarterback with 409. He is a big time play maker that is starting to put up a good amount of fantasy points on a weekly basis. He is a strong candidate for any fantasy owner’s starting lineup every week. He will not let you down, and sometimes he will surprise you with a huge day. Wilson and the Seahawks have a bye this week, so look for a good pick up on the waiver wire. Luckily the quarterback position is deep this year, so you should not have much trouble finding a decent replacement.
Before Aaron Rodgers got hurt, Matthew Stafford was a largely underrated player. Now Matthew Stafford has shown how valuable he is in fantasy football. He produces massive stats each and every week. He is one of three players to have surpassed 3000 passing yards on the season. He also has thrown 21 touchdowns and has even run into the endzone once. Stafford was a steal in the draft this year. He was more than likely one of the last starting fantasy quarterbacks drafted, or picked up as a strong backup quarterback. He has shown this year his ability to be a big time player and can undoubtedly winning fantasy games for teams. Stafford is going up against the Bucs defense who has struggled against the pass this season. Their 18th ranked passing defense is a bit deceiving however. Tampa has been playing some good football lately, and Calvin Johnson will have to go up against the shut cornerback Darrell Revis. Still, Stafford is a good lock for 300 passing yards and at least one touchdown.
Fantasy owners should be thanking the refs in that game against the Niners last week. If it had not been for the call on a hit above the neck, Brees would have been charged with a fumble. Instead the great Drew Brees used the opportunity to throw his lone touchdown pass of week eleven. It is rare to see Brees play the way he did last weekend. His stats were not as pretty as we are used to seeing, but he still came away with a 300 yard passing day. This was against the 49ers, who are one of the best defensive groups in the league. Things should get better for the Saints’ quarterback from here on out. Everything is looking up for him this weekend against the Falcons who have been playing slop football all season.
Did anybody expect Peyton Manning to be miraculous against the Kansas City Chiefs? Though it is never a good idea to bench the best player in the league, fantasy owners always need to scale back their expectation when anybody on their team is going against the best defense in the league. However, even against the best, Peyton puts up pretty good numbers. He threw for 323 passing yards and one touchdown. Unfortunately, he did fumble the ball once on a botched handoff. Reviewing the play, it was more Montee Ball’s inability to properly secure the handoff than Peyton’s fault, but in that situation the fumble is always charged to the quarterback. Peyton has extended his impressive stat line on the season to 3572 passing yards and 34 touchdowns with only six interceptions. Like last week, fantasy owners should not expect a massive day out of Peyton this weekend in New England. The Patriots are notorious for being able to limit Manning. Still, you need to start Peyton because he will put up more fantasy points than anything you will find on the waiver wire.
Matt Forte is back in the top five. Following a pitiful week ten outing, he came out and performed beautifully in the season’s eleventh week. Forte had 125 yards from scrimmage and scored his first receiving touchdown of the year. He is now only two yards away from 1150 total yards this season. He should be able to have a big week against the Rams who have been very hit or miss against running backs this year. The Rams have either been able to shut down the opposing offense’s rushing attack or have literally been trampled by it. With Forte’s ability to be a massive threat in both the running and the games, he will have the Rams on their toes all weekend. St. Louis has not faced a running back with Forte’s skill set all season, so expect him to have a good day.
A few weeks ago, fantasy owners would have never expected Jamaal Charles to drop this low. Things have not been panning out for Charles lately. Until the Chiefs figure out how to throw the football effectively, Charles cannot be trusted to play the way he did during the first half of the season. He still needs to be in the starting lineup for the remainder of the season, but his matchups should have his owners concerned. This week’s matchup against the San Diego Chargers will be a great barometer of what to expect from the Chief’s running back the rest of the season. The Chargers have not been getting the job done recently, but they are not terrible against the run. If Charles can pull out a good game, then fantasy owners have nothing to worry about. If he fails, the playoffs might look much more difficult than they did only one week ago.
LeSean McCoy’s performance in week eleven was what fantasy owners have been craving all season long. He totaled 150 yards from scrimmage and scored two touchdowns. McCoy still leads the league in both rushing yards and total yards, and now he has posted his first multi-touchdown game of the season. If he can do this again in the next couple of weeks, McCoy could ever easily move higher up this list. Unfortunately, the Eagles are off this weekend. Unless something horrible happens to Adrian Peterson or Jamaal Charles more than likely he will be bumped out of the top three next week.
Fantasy owners need to be a little concerned about Adrian Peterson going into week twelve. He injured his groin last week. The injury definitely slowed him down. It caused him to have one of the worst performances of the season, only running for 65 yards. Fantasy owners would like to see more production from Peterson in the passing game. With Forte, McCoy, and Jamaal Charles all pushing 400 receiving yards this season, Peterson has yet to go over 200 yards on the season. Monitor the injury. If he is good to go, he should be able to have a dominant game against the Green Bay Packers. If it comes down to a game time decision, you should not expect much more from him than he gave you last week.
A very important thing to remember in fantasy football is always ride the hot hand. Right now, nobody is hotter than Marshawn Lynch. All season long, everyone has been harping on his consistency issues. That can be cut out now. Lynch has posted four good games in a row. Last week he ran for 52 yards and scored three times. He is now second in rushing yards and leads all running backs in touchdowns. It is unfortunate the Seahawks are off this weekend. Nobody wants their players to put up a big streak and have it broken by a week off work. The silver lining, however, is that the bye is this week. Hopefully, it will not cause Lynch to cool off. It is better to have this happen now than when it would really hurt; playoff time.
At this point in the season, we have noticed a trend. The three players on the list make it every week, while two of the spot are normally being swapped by a bunch of different players. That is about to change. Brandon Marshall has proved himself worthy as a permanent member of the list. Even after a poor outing last week, in which he would caught four passes for 42 yards, Marshall has put together a nice looking body of work throughout the 2013 campaign. Fantasy owners should expect a bounce back here in week eleven when the Bears take on the St. Louis Rams.
Prior to last weekend, A.J. Green was making a claim at the top spot on the wide receiver list. He posted four straight 100 plus yard game; then the bottom fell out on him. Last week against the Browns, Green caught only two passes for a pathetic seven yards. He was leading the NFL in receiving yards, and thanks to that measly game he surrendered his lead to Calvin Johnson. The Bengals have a bye week this week. Perfect timing! Green needs a week off to think about how many fantasy owners’ hearts he broke and he really needs to focus on how he is going to make it up to them.
Normally, Demaryius Thomas’ performance would not be good enough to warrant a top three position. However, A.J. Green was a total bust this weekend. Therefore, Thomas gets the three spot this week. Now, do not think the prior statement means Thomas had a poor week. He caught five passes for 121 yards against the best defense in the league. As far as fantasy owners are concerned, this is a great performance. Not only because it means double digit fantasy points, but it also shows he has the ability to produce good stats against tough defenses. Wide Receivers, more than any other offensive position, are normally started and sat based on their matchups. Aside, from Calvin Johnson, Demaryius Thomas is the only wide out who should be trusted to produce against the toughest of defenses. He is a strong start against the Patriots this weekend. Manning will be relying on him to help him beat his biggest rival, Tom Brady.
Week eleven gave a ton of insight to DeSean Jackson owners. He caught four balls for 82 yards. This is a very average day for fantasy wide receivers. So what about it should have Jackson owners jumping for joy? Coming into last weeks’ matchup, Riley Cooper was the most dominant receiver on the Eagles roster over the past two weeks. Though Jackson produced good stats in both games, fantasy owners were concerned Nick Foles’ presence meant Jackson was going to be pushed aside in favor of Cooper. Last week, in a game where Foles was human and the receivers came back down to earth, Jackson showed he is still the number one in Philly. Cooper only had 35 yards the entire game. This is a good thing to note going forward. Jackson is still the focal point of the Eagles passing attack and Riley Cooper’s performance is based on how dominant Jackson is. Cooper should only be started against easier matchups, whereas Jackson is a lock to start every week. This week the Eagles are on bye. This should not be too bad for Jackson owners, since he was more than likely drafted as a backup wide receiver.
Calvin Johnson has been the most valuable player in fantasy football over the past couple of weeks. He is currently tied with Marshawn Lynch for the most touchdowns in the NFL. He also leads all wide receivers with 1083 receiving yards. There are no signs of him slowing down in the future even against Darrell Revis and the Bucs. The Revis/Johnson matchup is one of the most interesting matchups in football. Fantasy owners should put their money on Johnson to come out of the battle with the upper hand.