I could write something poetic and moving here. Something about a fake sports season that started in the simmering August sun, and now comes to its conclusion with championship week during the controlled insanity of the holiday season.
I could mention every little obscure waiver wire move that made this week possible if you’re fortunate enough to still be alive, and the remarkable skill you’ve shown by avoiding your family every Sunday for 15 weeks and counting.
And I could inspire by saying something about clawing for inches, or screaming while kicking someone into a dark, bottomless hole. All of this might be helpful, but it would more likely be pageantry where none is needed.
All you care about is money right now, and continuing to avoid your family for one more fantasy week. So good luck in your pursuit of both those goals, noble man cave hermit. Let’s move onward with our final edition of the weekly 2011 composite fantasy rankings featuring my musings, but mostly those of four other guys smarter than me (Yahoo’s Brandon Funston and Andy Behrens, ESPN’s Matthew Berry, and NFL.com’s Michael Fabiano).
|1. Drew Brees (vs. ATL)||2||1||1||1||1.25|
|2. Cam Newton (vs. TB)||4||2||2||2||2.50|
|3. Tom Brady (vs. MIA)||3||3||3||3||3|
|4. Aaron Rodgers (vs. CHI)||1||4||8||5||4.50|
|5. Matthew Stafford (vs. SD)||6||5||4||4||4.75|
|6. Matt Ryan (@NO)||5||7||6||7||6.25|
|7. Michael Vick (@DAL)||8||6||9||6||7.25|
|8. Philip Rivers (@DET)||9||10||5||8||8|
|9. Tim Tebow (@BUF)||7||9||10||9||8.75|
|10. Tony Romo (vs. PHI)||10||8||7||10||8.75|
|11. Eli Manning (@NYJ)||11||12||11||11||11.25|
|12. Mark Sanchez (vs. NYG)||12||11||15||12||12.50|
|13. Rex Grossman (vs. MIN)||15||13||14||13||14.25|
|14. Matt Moore (@NE)||13||14||17||14||14.50|
|15. Ben Roethlisberger (vs. STL)||15||20||12||15||15.25|
Roethlisberger oddly cracks the top 15 for all but one of our experts, and Funston has him at No. 12. A healthy Big Ben would certainly occupy top 15 real estate, but even then the Rams still wouldn’t present an overly appealing matchup. The St. Louis secondary is the lone bright spot during an otherwise putrid year for the team that will likely fire its coach in a few weeks.
It’s a unit that’s giving up only 206.3 passing yards per game, whereas the run defense has been ranked dead last for most of the year, and is coughing up 153.4 yards. Roethlisberger is officially a game-time decision, but even if he’s under center again at far less than 100 percent, he’s not worthy of any starting consideration whatsoever during the most important fantasy week of the season.
|1. Arian Foster (@IND)||2||1||1||4||2|
|2. Ray Rice (vs. CLE)||1||2||3||1||2.25|
|3. LeSean McCoy (@DAL)||3||3||2||3||2.75|
|4. Maurice Jones-Drew (@TEN)||4||4||4||2||3.50|
|5. Ryan Mathews (@DET)||5||6||5||2||4.50|
|6. Adrian Peterson (@WAS)||6||7||6||5||6|
|7. Michael Bush (@KC)||7||5||8||7||8.50|
|8. Rashard Mendenhall (vs. STL)||8||8||11||8||8.75|
|9. Michael Turner (@NO)||13||14||9||9||11.25|
|10. C.J. Spiller (vs. DEN)||19||10||16||10||13.75|
|11. Shonn Greene (vs. NYG)||9||19||14||17||14.75|
|12. Willis McGahee (@BUF)||15||15||15||14||14.75|
|13. Chris Johnson (@JAC)||14||11||12||23||15|
|14. Frank Gore (@SEA)||11||12||20||18||15.25|
|15. Marshawn Lynch (vs. SF)||12||16||19||15||15.50|
|16. Cedric Benson (vs. ARI)||16||18||18||20||18|
|17. LeGarrette Blount (@CAR)||23||21||13||16||18.75|
|18. Felix Jones (vs. PHI)||24||13||21||18||19|
|19. Roy Helu (vs. MIN)||21||20||17||21||19.75|
|20. Steven Jackson (@PIT)||17||22||28||24||22.75|
You’d think that C.J. Spiller would have earned respect across the board since he’s slowly proving himself after Fred Jackson went down for the year, and after 91 rushing yards and his first rushing touchdown of 2011 last week against a Miami defense that’s ranked third in the league, and is allowing just 3.6 yards per carry. Spiller has also been highly effective as a receiver, and added 76 receiving yards and a touchdown through the air against the Dolphins.
All of those numbers aren’t good enough for Berry and Funston, both of whom have Spiller ranked outside of the top 15, and Berry nearly has him out of the top 20. Meanwhile, Spiller will be running against a Denver rush defense that’s vastly improved from its disastrous 2010, but is still allowing 125.4 yards per game (20th).
The optimism isn’t nearly as high for Marshawn Lynch. Most of the elite running backs have favorable or at least serviceable matchups during championship week, but Lynch is the glaring exception against the 49ers, the best rushing defense in the league, and the only unit that hasn’t allowed a rushing touchdown. You can’t bench a running back whose last game without a touchdown was in Week 3, and while last week was a disappointment, Lynch still has at least 100 rushing yards or more in five of his last seven games.
The bench is a painful place for a player of that caliber, and it’ll cause the kind of mental stress that would even drive pleasant singing angels mad during the holiday season. Just expect disappointment, and be pleased with anything more.
|1. Calvin Johnson (vs. SD)||1||1||1||1||1|
|2. Roddy White (@NO)||2||3||2||3||2.50|
|3. Wes Welker (vs. MIA)||3||2||4||2||2.75|
|4. Brandon Marshall (@NE)||4||4||3||5||4|
|5. Steve Smith (vs. TB)||6||5||5||4||5|
|6. Larry Fitzgerald (@CIN)||5||7||6||10||7|
|7. Mike Wallace (vs. STL)||7||10||7||7||7.75|
|8. Marques Colston (vs. ATL)||9||9||8||6||8|
|9. Jordy Nelson (vs. CHI)||10||11||14||9||8.50|
|10. A.J. Green (vs. ARI)||13||6||9||8||8.75|
|11. Vincent Jackson (@DET)||8||8||13||15||11|
|12. Julio Jones (@NO)||13||12||11||11||12.25|
|13. Miles Austin (vs. PHI)||14||13||10||20||14.25|
|14. Victor Cruz (@NYJ)||11||14||18||18||15.25|
|15. Hakeem Nicks (@NYJ)||12||15||12||25||16|
|16. Dwayne Bowe (vs. OAK)||23||18||15||13||17.25|
|17. Dez Bryant (vs. PHI)||18||16||19||19||18|
|18. Demaryius Thomas (@BUF)||17||20||23||12||18|
|19. Antonio Brown (vs. STL)||16||23||21||14||18.50|
|20. Percy Harvin (@WAS)||24||21||17||16||19.50|
The disagreement with Vincent Jackson is presumably a product of his injury. Jackson missed practice for the second straight day today with a groin problem.
You should be worried about Jackson’s inability to practice, because if you weren’t that would mean that you don’t care about your imaginary football team during championship week, which would lead me to question how you’ve read this far into a fantasy post. Our medical knowledge ends at paper cuts and hang nails, but we can still base a Jackson hunch on experience and recent history, and we’re pretty sure he’s been hurt since the age of seven, yet he still finds a way to play every week and at the very least produce WR2 numbers. Prepare to play the Chargers wideout, but prepare a viable fall back option too.
Also, being down on Nicks is understandable. Hell, it’s encouraged, but taking an opinion to its logical extreme is like believing that saying “with all due respect” gives you the license to say whatever you want without consequence. Eventually you’ll look like a fool, as Behrens does by placing Nicks in his No. 25 hole.
Revis Island is still a scary place, and no opposing receiver has finished with 70 or more yards against the Jets over the last three weeks, with tight ends Brent Celek and Fred Davis doing most of the aerial damage recently. So I’d have no problem ranking Nicks low, and maybe as low as 18th. But 25th seems far too steep, because although the Eagles’ wide receivers couldn’t pull if off last week despite their easy win, eventually a team that’s deep and dynamic at wide receiver will be able the stretch the field against the Jets’ secondary.
Nicks and Victor Cruz are next up, and they’re more than capable.
|1. Rob Gronkowski (vs. MIA)||1||1||2||1||1.25|
|2. Jimmy Graham (vs. ATL)||2||2||1||2||1.75|
|3. Antonio Gates (@DET)||4||3||3||4||3.50|
|4. Tony Gonzalez (@NO)||5||4||4||5||4.50|
|5. Jason WItten (vs. PHI)||6||5||6||3||5|
|6. Jermichael Finley (vs. CHI)||3||7||5||6||5.25|
|7. Aaron Hernandez (vs. MIA)||7||6||7||8||7|
|8. Brent Celek (@DAL)||8||8||8||7||7.75|
|9. Vernon Davis (@SEA)||10||9||9||10||9.50|
|10. Dustin Keller (vs. NYG)||9||11||10||11||10.25|
|11. Brandon Pettigrew (vs. SD)||11||10||12||9||10.50|
|12. Kellen Winslow (@CAR)||16||12||11||12||12.75|
|13. Jermaine Gresham (vs. ARI)||13||14||14||13||13.50|
|14. Owen Daniels (@IND)||12||13||15||16||14|
|15. Jared Cook (vs. JAC)||15||15||13||17||15|
Daniels is already low, but I’d like to see him off of this list entirely for tonight’s game against Indy. With Andre Johnson still out, the overzealous Daniels owner may think he’s still reliable as a frequent panic button for T.J. Yates, the rookie quarterback who will spend most of his evening putting the ball squarely in the stomach of Arian Foster and Ben Tate. That same owner will look back on Daniels’ 100 receiving yards on seven receptions in Week 14 to support his cause.
But that game against Cincinnati looks more and more like a vicious aberration. If we exclude Week 14 while looking back on Houston’s four games since Matt Schaub went down prior to their Week 11 bye, Daniels is averaging a painfully pedestrian 31.6 yards per game, and he hasn’t scored since Oct. 2.
Our advent calendars indicate that Oct.2 was over two months ago. Yeah, we have advent calendars that encompass the entire year, and they’re not even counting down to anything. We just like to eat chocolate every day.