Grab your Jiffy Pop and favorite brand of peanuts, and stock up on donuts. It’s almost fantasy playoff time for the majority of leagues that qualify four teams for the playoffs, and those of you in leagues that qualify six teams start the second season Sunday.
So for most of you, this is the final playoff push, and the week that crushes dreams, creates nightmares, and starts the holiday season with either elation or despair. If you’re like me, your entire existence hinges on the fate of a pretend team made up of real people that plays its pretend games solely in the dark isolation of the Internet. Don’t judge me.
This is the second week for our new composite rankings of quarterbacks, running backs, tight ends, and wide receivers, and we’ve made a slight line change from last week, inserting Yahoo’s Brandon Funston. Remaining in the lineup are ESPN’s Matthew Berry, NFL.com’s Michael Fabiano, and Dave Richard of CBSSports.com.
|1. Aaron Rodgers (vs. OAK)||1||1||1||1||1|
|2. Drew Brees (@TEN)||2||3||6||2||3.25|
|3. Cam Newton (vs. ATL)||4||2||2||8||4|
|4. Tom Brady (@WAS)||5||4||5||3||4.25|
|5. Tony Romo (vs. NYG)||6||7||4||4||5.25|
|6. Matthew Stafford (vs. MIN)||3||5||7||6||5.25|
|7. Eli Manning (@DAL)||8||6||3||5||5.50|
|8. Philip Rivers (vs. BUF)||11||8||8||7||8.50|
|9. Michael Vick (@MIA)||7||11||9||9||9|
|10. Matt Ryan (@CAR)||9||14||12||11||11.50|
|11. Ben Roethlisberger (vs. CLE)||12||15||11||10||12|
|12. Tim Tebow (vs. CHI)||10||10||16||15||12.25|
|13. Carson Palmer (@GB)||13||9||10||17||12.25|
|14. Rex Grossman (vs. NE)||15||17||13||13||14.50|
|15. Joe Flacco (vs. IND)||16||13||15||18||15.50|
It’s a strong/sad statement on how weak New England’s secondary has become when three of our four experts rank Grossman ahead of Flacco, and the Ravens quarterback isn’t exactly facing a staunch pass defense either (the Colts are allowing 242.9 yards per game).
Placing the wayward but strong-armed Grossman ahead of Flacco at the bottom end of these rankings is the right call, especially with Ray Rice on fire. He’ll likely roll over Indy early, leaving Flacco to do little other than hand off the rest of the game and kill clock. If you’re in a league that starts two quarterbacks, Grossman is a quality flex play, and he should benefit from a healthier Santana Moss who’s getting back into a rhythm after missing a month.
|1. Ray Rice (vs IND)||1||1||1||4||1.75|
|2. Arian Foster (@CIN)||3||2||3||3||2.75|
|3. Maurice Jones-Drew (vs. TB)||2||4||2||1||2.25|
|4. LeSean McCoy (@MIA)||5||3||6||5||4.75|
|5. Marshawn Lynch (vs. STL)||7||5||5||2||4.75|
|6. Michael Turner (@CAR)||4||7||4||9||6|
|7. Chris Johnson (vs NO)||6||6||7||6||6.25|
|8. Ryan Mathews (vs BUF)||9||9||11||8||9.25|
|9. Rashard Mendenhall (.vs CLE)||12||8||10||10||10|
|10. Michael Bush (@GB)||10||12||12||11||11.25|
|11. Reggie Bush (vs PHI)||13||13||13||7||11.50|
|12. DeMarco Murray (vs NYG)||11||11||8||17||11.75|
|13. Roy Helu (vs NE)||14||15||9||13||12.75|
|14. Frank Gore (@ARI)||8||10||19||15||13|
|15. LeGarrette Blount (@JAC)||18||18||16||12||16|
|16. Shonn Greene (vs. KC)||17||16||14||14||16.5|
|17. Darren Sproles (@TEN)||20||14||15||19||17|
|18. Willis McGahee (vs. CHI)||16||17||17||21||17.75|
|19. C.J. Spiller (@SD)||19||19||18||16||18|
|20. Steven Jackson (@SEA)||15||20||20||23||19.5|
The wide split on Gore is a product of his habitual bumps and bruises. Jim Harbaugh can spout off all the PR-friendly quotes he wants, but with the NFC West clinched and his team rolling, there’s little reason to risk a needless injury for the highly-talented but still notoriously brittle Gore.
Also, through just two weeks of this post it’s become clear that Richard is the risk taker, and that’s fine. But ranking Rice fourth and out of the top three is insane. Ravens offensive coordinator Cam Cameron has remembered that Rice exists, and last week he torched Cleveland’s 31st ranked run defense for 204 rushing yards and a touchdown.
Next on deck is the Colts’ 30th ranked run defense that’s ahead of the Browns in average weekly rushing yards allowed by just seven yards.
|1. Calvin Johnson (vs. MIN)||1||1||1||1||1|
|2. Greg Jennings (vs. OAK)||2||4||4||3||3.25|
|3. Roddy White (@CAR)||3||5||6||6||5|
|4. Wes Welker (@WAS)||4||2||3||12||5.25|
|5. Victor Cruz (@DAL)||10||3||5||4||5.50|
|6. Hakeem Nicks (@DAL)||6||6||7||5||6|
|7. Steve Smith (vs. ATL)||5||7||2||14||7|
|8. Percy Harvin (@DET)||14||10||12||2||9.5|
|9. Brandon Marshall (vs. PHI)||8||16||8||10||10.5|
|10. Mike Wallace (vs. CLE)||9||11||9||16||11.25|
|11. Dez Bryant (vs. NYG)||15||13||10||7||11.25|
|12. Jordy Nelson (vs. OAK)||11||12||14||11||12|
|13. Vincent Jackson (vs. BUF)||12||9||15||15||12.75|
|14. Larry Fitzgerald (vs. SF)||7||15||11||20||13.25|
|15. A.J. Green (vs. HOU)||13||8||16||18||13.75|
|16. Stevie Johnson (@SD)||20||17||19||9||16.25|
|17. Anquan Boldin (vs. IND||17||14||17||24||18|
|18. Marques Colston (@TEN)||22||21||18||18||19.50|
|19. Laurent Robinson (vs. NYG)||24||19||30||8||20.25|
|20. Antonio Brown (vs. CLE)||17||27||24||21||22.25|
Again keeping it entertaining, Richard rolls with Welker down in his No. 12 slot. Now, we understand that DeAngelo Hall is an above average corner, although he’s not elite. And we understand that Tom Brady has increasingly grown fond of Rob Gronkowski, which left Welker in a secondary role briefly between Weeks 10 and 11, and he had just 68 receiving yards between those two games.
Since that dry spell Welker has 225 yards and two touchdowns. The Redskins’ secondary is effective, and they’re allowing just 208.8 passing yards per game, so expecting a drop in value this week for Welker is reasonable. But a tumble down to 12th is way too far.
|1. Rob Gronkowski (@WAS)||1||1||2||2||1.50|
|2. Jimmy Graham (@TEN)||2||2||1||1||1.50|
|3. Jason Witten (vs. NYG)||3||3||3||5||3.50|
|4. Antonio Gates (vs. BUF)||4||5||4||3||4|
|5. Tony Gonzalez (@CAR)||5||4||5||4||4.50|
|6. Jermichael Finley (vs. OAK)||6||6||6||6||6|
|7. Aaron Hernandez (@WAS)||7||7||8||10||8|
|8. Vernon Davis (@ARI)||8||8||10||7||8.25|
|9. Kellen Winslow (@JAC)||9||11||7||15||8.75|
|10. Dustin Keller (vs. KC)||12||9||9||14||11|
|11. Brent Celek (@MIA)||10||10||15||9||11|
|12. Jermaine Gresham (vs. HOU)||11||13||12||18||11.25|
|13. Jake Ballard (@DAL)||13||17||11||12||13.25|
|14. Owen Daniels (@CIN)||15||12||14||18||14.75|
|15. Brandon Pettigrew (vs. MIN)||15||16||13||17||15.25|
This is again the area of near consensus, and I mostly agree with the above picks.
My only nitpick is Jermaine Gresham, the Bengals tight end who’s facing a vastly improved Texans secondary, and he could be dropped down at least two spots so that he’s below Jake Ballard and Owen Daniels.