Joe Dolan is the managing editor of FantasyGuru.com and a host for SiriusXM Radio. A former writer for PhiladelphiaEagles.com, Joe still contributes to the site with on-camera segments and written columns. He can be heard hosting "SiriusXM Fantasy Football Gameday" every NFL Sunday from 1-7 PM on Sirius 210, XM 87.
Should I be worried about LeSean McCoy against Seattle this week?
LeSean McCoy has been rolling lately, but he's going to face as tough a matchup as there is in the NFL this week to try to keep it going. McCoy has now scored in three of his last four games, has topped 80 rushing yards in seven of his last eight, and all of a sudden, is No. 3 in the NFL with 1,018 rushing yards. Yes, he's been a fantasy disappointment because of just four total touchdowns and only 24/111 receiving on the year, but he's hitting his stride at the perfect time and getting Evan Mathis and Jason Kelce back has surely helped.
But facing Seattle this week may give some the willies – even though Seattle's lost defensive tackle Brandon Mebane, a great run defender, it's very possible the Seahawks keep Kam Chancellor in the box and attempt to force Mark Sanchez to beat them on the perimeter, which will make things tougher for Shady. The Seahawks gave up a huge game to Jamaal Charles a couple of weeks ago, but otherwise have been very stout against opposing RBs. Your hope for fantasy is playing at home helps McCoy and the Eagles, and that he busts off a long run or gets more receptions than we've come accustomed to. He's impossible to bench, but it's fair to downgrade expectations. I consider McCoy more of a low-end top-10 back this week.
How do you break down the potential Jeremy Maclin/Richard Sherman matchup?
Anyone who has Maclin on his or her fantasy team knows he's been a stud this year, so I don't have to discuss that too much. But everyone also wants to know what's going to go on this week with Maclin going up against the "Legion of Boom." And it's absolutely a valid question. Unlike last year, the Seahawks do move Sherman around quite a bit, and they will play matchups if they feel it's necessary. And my guess is that the Seahawks will view playing man on the perimeter and inviting Mark Sanchez to beat them will be the way to go.
Look, Chip Kelly is going to throw every man-beating concept he has in his playbook at the Seahawks, and it's very possible Maclin makes enough catches to make up for a lack of big plays (see: Jordy Nelson in Week 1). But if Sherman shadows Maclin, Kelly may simply tell Sanchez to take what the defense gives him, whether that's throws to Darren Sproles, Jordan Matthews, Riley Cooper or Zach Ertz/Brent Celek. It's going to be fascinating. Maclin is benchable, but you're not benching him unless you have legitimate depth (in other words, I'm not benching him for any schmoe off the waiver wire).
What should we expect from the Seahawks offense, most notably Russell Wilson and Marshawn Lynch?
When it comes to fantasy, it's not just that Wilson and Lynch are the "most notable" Seahawks; they're pretty much the only Seahawks who matter. And Seattle is just fine trying to win that way and with its elite defense. But it won't be easy – Lynch is going up against the Eagles' defensive line, which to me is one of the most underrated lines in the entire NFL. Defensive end Fletcher Cox is one of the most underrated players. Last week, Philly held DeMarco Murray to a season-low 73 yards rushing, and Murray plays behind a better offensive line than Lynch. But Lynch is probably a better overall back. The Seahawks should be able to keep this game close enough that he sees big volume. You have to start him, as he's posted 100 yards from scrimmage in four of his last five games, including dominating the 49ers last week.
We know Lynch will be fed, but what about Wilson? The point overall: if he doesn't rush for big yardage, there's a good chance he'll hurt your fantasy team. On Thanksgiving against the Niners, he went 15 of 22 for 236 yards with a touchdown and rushed for 35 yards on seven carries to finish with a mediocre 19.3 output. Wilson has topped 240 passing yards only twice all year and hasn't done so since Week 7. So while you may still view the Eagles as a beatable team through the air, Wilson doesn't really have the weapons to take advantage. And I would expect defensive coordinator Bill Davis to actively spy Wilson to prevent him from racking up rush yards – hello, Mychal Kendricks. Wilson's a low-end starter, as I typically view him.
AROUND THE LEAGUE
The fantasy playoffs are here. Is it better to go with consistent players or more volatile players who have better matchups?
This is going to seem like a total copout answer, but everything in fantasy football is situational. For me to answer this question and cover all bases, I'd have to examine each situation individually.
Let's use Jeremy Maclin this week as one example. Needless to say, Maclin has been among the best receivers in all of fantasy this year. Through 12 games, he's already reached a career high in receiving yards, and he's gone below 10 FP in a PPR league just twice (blowout wins over the Giants and Panthers when he wasn't even needed). He has gotten it done with two quarterbacks. He's entering as tough a matchup as there is in the NFL, in both a huge game for the Eagles and for fantasy teams. Why wouldn't he?
If you don't use Maclin, you could take a home-run swing on someone like Donte Moncrief, who could have a good matchup as Joe Haden focuses on T.Y. Hilton this week. I think you can make the argument, given the situation, that a Hail Mary on Moncrief is the right play.
Think of it like a baseball game. If you're the manager of a big-league club, and your team is down one run with the bases loaded and nobody out, and the pitcher's spot comes up, you may default to your best contact hitter to put the ball in play and get the game tied up. But if you're down four and the bases are juiced with two outs, you're almost certainly going to send up the power hitter who may strike out a bunch, but has the chance to get a hold of one.
This is where you have to look at your roster, and almost mentally create a Venn diagram. Maclin has a tough matchup, sure, but he's someone you might group as both a "batting average" play and a "power threat" play, to continue the baseball analogy. Is Maclin really going to be less likely to put up, say, 15 FP than someone like Mohamed Sanu? Sanu may have the easier matchup, but he has a quarterback who frankly isn't playing as well and he isn't the number one option on his team. He's more of a singles hitter who needs to luck out to get a hold of one. I'd stick with Maclin in this situation.
But you also have to look at your opponent. Maybe your opponent had a lot of shares in Thursday's Cowboys/Bears game, which was a fantasy fest. Or maybe he had the misfortune of using both Brandon Marshall and Jason Witten. Your decision on an upside play versus a "safe" play could vary just based on what happened on Thursday.
Let's boil it down to this: if you think you're the favorite, it's probably best to just use the guys who got you to that spot, the guys who have been consistently getting you points. If you think you're an underdog, especially a heavy one, be prepared to swing for the fences.
|FantasyGuru.com's Week 14 Flex Rankings: 31-60|
|31||WR Jarvis Landry, Dolphins||46||WR Jeremy Maclin, Eagles|
|32||WR Kelvin Benjamin, Panthers||47||RB Andre Williams, Giants|
|33||RB Tre Mason, Rams||48||WR Stedman Bailey, Rams|
|34||WR Golden Tate, Lions||49||WR Anquan Boldin, 49ers|
|35||RB Jonathan Stewart, Panthers||50||WR Torrey Smith, Ravens|
|36||RB Alfred Morris, Washington||51||WR Vincent Jackson, Buccaneers|
|37||WR Keenan Allen, Chargers||52||WR Michael Crabtree, 49ers|
|38||WR Mike Evans, Buccaneers||53||WR Jordan Matthews, Eagles|
|39||WR Brandon LaFell, Patriots||54||RB Fred Jackson, Bills|
|40||WR Kendall Wright, Titans||55||WR Mohamed Sanu, Bengals|
|41||WR Julian Edelman, Patriots||56||RB Joique Bell, Lions|
|42||RB Frank Gore, 49ers||57||WR Robert Woods, Bills|
|43||WR Sammy Watkins, Bills||58||RB Denard Robinson, Jaguars|
|44||WR DeSean Jackson, Washington||59||RB Giovani Bernard, Bengals|
|45||WR Kenny Stills, Saints||60||RB Dan Herron, Colts|
QB: Eli Manning, Giants – I don't feel confident in this one, but a number of similarly tiered quarterbacks have tough matchups this week and the Titans' defense is very beatable.
RB: Frank Gore, 49ers – Looking at Gore's schedule, this may be your last chance to start him for the year in a nice matchup with the Raiders. The Niners need to feed him and keep the ball out of Colin Kaepernick's hands.
WR: Stedman Bailey, Rams – He's come on with two big games the last two weeks, and he goes up against a Washington defense that gave up nearly 20 yards per completion to the Colts last week.
TE: Delanie Walker, Titans – He had a disappointing game last week, but I think he gets back in the saddle against the Giants this week.
QB: Colin Kaepernick, 49ers – I know his matchup against the Raiders is solid, and in theory, he can take advantage of it. But Kaepernick has accounted for five touchdowns over his last six games. By comparison, Ryan Fitzpatrick accounted for six touchdowns in his last game alone.
RB: Steven Jackson, Falcons – He had 100 yards last week, but most of it came on a 55-yard run that would have topped his overall total in eight full games this year. I don't expect him to repeat against the Packers this week.
WR: Reggie Wayne, Colts – If you need three catches in a PPR league, Wayne will almost certainly get you that. Unfortunately these days, he's getting you little else.
TE: Owen Daniels, Ravens – Man, what happened to this guy? He's been a non-factor even in a favorable offense and the matchup with Miami is tough this week.
Who are some important most added/most dropped players I should have on my radar this week?
MOST ADDED ...
RB Dan "Boom" Herron, Colts (added in over 16,000 NFL.com leagues) – This one was obviously going to happen. Herron should have been picked up already, but a lot of times the "trends" in general fantasy lag a week or so behind. I don't think Herron is a special player by any stretch, but the Colts have clearly determined that anyone not name Trent Richardson is their best option in the backfield. Now, watch Richardson get a "REVENGE GAME TOUCHDOWN" (caps intended) against the Browns this week. That seems like something Chuck Pagano would do.
MOST DROPPED ...
RB Jonas Gray, Patriots (dropped in over 13,500 NFL.com leagues) – I hope you took my advice a few weeks ago.
INJURIES TO WATCH
Zach Mettenberger, Titans – Mettenberger (throwing shoulder) left last week's game and couldn't finish. He expects to play this week in a good matchup with the Giants, but if he can't, Jake Locker will start.
Andre Ellington, Cardinals – Ellington (hip) has been ineffective for a number of weeks, and unfortunately his injury woes finally stopped him last week when he left early with a hip injury. If he can't play this week, expect youngster Marion Grice to start, but remember the Cardinals still have Stepfan Taylor and signed Michael Bush. This could be messy.
Justin Forsett, Ravens – Forsett (knee) has missed multiple practices this week. He's still expected to play, but watch him closely.
Arian Foster, Texans – Foster (groin) played well last week and is still expected to go this week, but keep checking his status as he's "surprised" us in the past.
Rashad Jennings, Giants – Jennings (ankle) has missed multiple practices this week, and if history is any indication, I'd be prepared to plug in Andre Williams in a good matchup with the Titans.
Isaiah Crowell, Browns – Crowell (hip) missed practice Wednesday but is expected to go this week.
DeAngelo Williams, Panthers – DeAngelo (hand) may not play this week against the Saints, opening up an opportunity for Jonathan Stewart in a good matchup.
Reggie Bush, Lions – Reggie (ankle/back) is practicing in full and is expected to play this week. Coach Jim Caldwell says he still considers Reggie his starter in the backfield, which means this is going to be a headache, potentially.
Latavius Murray, Raiders – Murray (concussion) has been cleared but it remains to be seen what his role will be for a tough matchup against the 49ers.
Jerick McKinnon, Vikings – The Vikings said last week that McKinnon (back) just needed some rest, but the fact that he isn't practicing this week isn't a good sign.
Khiry Robinson, Saints – Robinson (forearm) is expected back this week, which could potentially be bad news for Mark Ingram's volume.
Demaryius Thomas, Broncos – Demaryius (ankle) was hurt on Wednesday after getting stepped on in practice. He didn't practice on Thursday, but is expected to be OK for this weekend.
Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals – Fitz (MCL sprain) has missed the last two games. He expects to play this week, but the fact that he likely won't be 100 percent and has struggled with Drew Stanton makes us want to shy away from him.
Torrey Smith, Ravens – Torrey (knee) was hurt last week against the Chargers and had to leave the game. He has missed multiple practices this week, but still expects to play against Miami. Keep checking his status.
Roddy White, Falcons – Roddy (ankle) missed last week's game, and missed practice on Thursday. He typically advises against starting him in fantasy when he doesn't practice, and you had better have a backup plan if you plan on waiting until Monday to see if he's active against the Packers.
DeSean Jackson, Washington – DeSean (shin) didn't practice on Wednesday or Thursday and may not go this weekend.
Kendall Wright, Titans – Wright (hand) has a fracture in his hand, and is likely going to be questionable for this weekend. If he can't play, Nate Washington could be an interesting play with Justin Hunter on IR.
Julius Thomas, Broncos – Here we go again. Julius (ankle) has missed the last two games. He's been limited in practice this week heading into a potential third straight missed game. And once again, the Broncos play a late afternoon game, meaning you may have to make a decision earlier in the day. He's expected to play this week, but keep an eye on him throughout the weekend.
Jordan Cameron, Browns – Cameron (concussion) continues to be limited in practice but has yet to be cleared for full play.
Greg Olsen, Panthers – Olsen (knee) has been limited in practice this week. He's still expected to play this weekend.
Dwayne Allen, Colts – Allen (ankle) is expected to return this week against the Browns. He's simply a better football player than Coby Fleener, but Fleener has been an absolute fantasy stud of late, so both guys may be viable fantasy options.
Charles Clay, Dolphins – Clay (hamstring) missed last week and may not play again this week. The Dolphins got a nice contribution from Dion Sims last week, if you're reaching deep.