Please rise from your fetal position, and assume a proper thinking posture. That means something different for everyone, as some might sit straight, while others will remain in that fetal position. Either way, it’s a few hours before kickoff on the first Sunday of fantasy playoffs. So embrace the fear, and let’s walk out on some limbs together.
Specifically, let’s strut out onto the Ryan Fitzpatrick limb, which is always a dangerous and horrible thing. Just maybe not today(?).
Fitzpatrick continues his replacement tour with a stop in Denver, a matchup that will likely be perfect for ballooning numbers. Oh sure, he may chuck an interception or two, because decision-making isn’t exactly his strength. But at the end of the afternoon that could matter very little, as he’ll have plenty of opportunities to compile yards in a game that won’t be close, but with the Titans’ strong secondary it likely won’t be an all-out pummeling either.
That means an abundance of second-half passing against a highly vulnerable Broncos defense that’s giving up 284.0 yards per game through the air (29th), and they’ve allowed 23 passing touchdowns (tied for the fourth most). Please recall just a week ago when the Broncos gave up 293 passing yards to Alex Smith, he of the pass attempts that rarely travel beyond 15 yards, a formula which had led to an overall average of only 222.1 yards per game prior to Week 13. Between Smith and Tom Brady, Denver has watched balls sail for 637 yards over the last two weeks.
So all of that sounds mighty nice for Fitzpatrick, as does the quite chunky 52 receptions for 20 yards or more that the Broncos have allowed (third most in the league). And it gets better when we note the Broncos’ continued brutishness against the run while allowing only 3.9 rushing yards per carry and 100.2 per game. When Chris Johnson is inevitably stuffed, Fitzpatrick’s deep chucking to Kendall Wright and Justin Hunter will increase even further.
This may be the best number for you: right now as I type this just over an hour before the early games kick off, Fitzpatrick — a quarterback who could easily have a top 10 fantasy day, and is therefore a potential QB1 — is owned in only 14% of Yahoo leagues, and 5% of ESPN leagues. Now, let’s be clear here: I’m not advocating that you do something truly absurd like bench a super stud on Pey Pey’s level for Fitzpatrick. But there are a good handful of awful matchups that you should think long and hard about,and avoid them in favor of Fitzpatrick.
Highest on that list is Colin Kaepernick, because starting any quarterback against the Seahawks in the fantasy playoffs is a pain I wouldn’t wish on anyone. Remember earlier this year when Kaep chucked three of his seven interceptions on the season against the Seahawks, and he did that while averaging only 4.5 yards per attempt, adding a fumble for good measure? Yeah, that sucked.
You Andrew Luck owners should also be involuntarily shaking while giving the likes of Fitzpatrick and Josh McCown a serious look. December football is very much upon us, and of all the NFL outposts today where crappy weather looms in the form of fluffy white stuff (including Philadelphia, Baltimore), Cincinnati appears to be the most threatening, with gusts and blowing snow a possibility. Luck will be throwing in that, and he’ll be doing it against a still daunting Bengals pass rush even with the absence of Geno Atkins (14 sacks over the past four weeks, and 36 overall while allowing an opposing passer rating of just 74.5).
Starting Fitzpatrick over anyone in the fantasy playoffs is difficult, mostly because he’s Ryan Fitzpatrick, and also because familiarity and comfort usually trump risk. But at the very least, he’s worth some serious consideration given this appealing matchup, and the lack of appeal elsewhere.
On another weather note
This is happening in Philly right now…
Lincoln Financial Field from the parking lot an hour before kickoff. pic.twitter.com/3dPU6KoY9I
— Bart Hubbuch (@HubbuchNYP) December 8, 2013
Will that continue? I dunno. Weather is just wind and stuff, it blows everywhere. A few minutes ago Cincy looked just as horrific, and it now seems pleasant enough. All we can go by is the weather report for Philadelphia, which says that it will indeed snow throughout the day, but only a pretty moderate 2-4 inches will fall in total by 5:30 p.m. ET. That makes me believe we’re seeing a brief dump right now that won’t last, and conditions will improve by kickoff. But yeah, that’s only a somewhat educated guess.
Here’s what you can’t do, and this applies for all the notable guys you’re planning to start in Baltimore and Cincinnati too: you can’t freak the hell out and bench, say, Nick Foles, DeSean Jackson or Matthew Stafford, basing that decision solely on the weather. As I did with Luck above, the weather can certainly be a factor in your thinking, but it can’t be the factor. Again, weather isn’t a thing that’s predictable, so you’ll be kicking yourself in private areas if heavy snow for the Eagles-Lions game lasts for just one quarter. Don’t be that guy.
Say, remember when Tom Brady threw for 380 yards with six touchdown passes in this crap?