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Fantasy Football 2011: Week 15 START HIM! SIT HIM!

on Tuesday, 13 December 2011.

DAN AND DEMARCO MURRAY'S SEASONS COME TO ABRUPT ENDS IN THIS WEEK'S START HIM! SIT HIM!

Fantasy Football 2011: Week 15 START HIM! SIT HIM!

It can all change in a split second.

 

One second, the fantasy God’s giveth with the emergence of DeMarco Murray, and in one play, they taketh away with a season-ending ankle injury.

 

One second, the fantasy God’s taketh away Greg Jennings with a regular season-ending knee injury, and they giveth Donald Driver and James Jones as viable options in the fantasy playoffs.

 

Fantasy football is just as unpredictable–if not more so–than NFL football. The same way Aaron Rodgers and the Packers have to maintain their march towards perfection without their best wide receiver, fantasy owners have to find a way to replace their second-round pick with a waiver wire free agent in the middle of the playoffs.

Depth can be overrated in fantasy. On one hand, you only have so many spots to fill, so it can be frustrating watching a perfectly good player on your bench put up points and go to waste because you don’t have room in your lineup. That can lead you to make two-for-one trades to consolidate your talent into one or two studs down the stretch.

 

On the other hand, that can be a dangerous strategy. Dealing from a position of strength–in this case, overall depth–to make the starting unit stronger has its rewards, and can win you your league. However, it also leaves you susceptible to that one injury that takes you from being a legitimate contender to someone who is just happy to make it to the playoffs.

 

For an example: last season I traded Fred Jackson and Matt Ryan at the deadline for Peyton Manning, and won my league handily due, in no small part, to that move.

 

Fast-forward a year and at this year’s deadline, in separate moves, I sent Marshawn Lynch and Denarius Moore to another owner for Frank Gore, as well as trading Vincent Jackson and James Starks for Matt Forte.

 

If you have been paying attention to the recent performance of any of those players, you know by now that I didn’t get the better of either of those moves. Gore and Forte have been slowed by injuries and have been relatively ineffective of late, where Lynch somehow transformed into the best running back in the league in the last several weeks.

 

Both moves were done with the same goal in mind: Consolidate talent to put a better weekly lineup together and win the league.

 

I’m not saying I would have won the league had I stayed the course, but I probably wouldn’t be out of the playoffs.

 

That’s right, the guy that you take some of your fantasy football advice from missed the playoffs in the league he pays the most attention to.

 

When I crash and burn, I try to do it as dramatically as possible. Kind of like Tony Romo, who, not coincidentally, was my fantasy QB this season.

 

The point is: You have to live with the choices you make. If you lose by six points after deciding to sit one guy who tallies 21 points and start a guy who only gets you five, live with it. If you traded two good players for one great one in hopes that he would put you over the top, then you have to live with the results. It may work out in your favor one year and blow up in your face the next, but you have to live with it.

 

It’s the unpredictability that makes sports as well as fantasy sports so entertaining. If you knew how everything was going to turn out, then what’s the point of playing in the first place?

 

If you look like an idiot one year and you look like a genius the next, then it’s all worth it in the long run. You can always brag to your friend about how you swindled him out of his star player for your two scrubs and won the championship because of it.

 

Don’t believe me? Wait for my article next year after I trade Matt Stafford and Darren McFadden for Aaron Rodgers in Week 9 and win the league because of it.

 

Now before we get into Week 15, it’s time to look back at Week 14 to see how I did:

START HIM!

 

QB Alex Smith - Projected * 269 yards, 2 TD, 1 INT (16 Points)

Actual * 175 yards, 0 TD, 0 INT (7 Points)

This was a pretty weak performance by Smith and the rest of the 49ers in a game they really needed to have in order to secure a first round bye in the playoffs. This week, in a very tough matchup against the Steelers, Smith goes back on the fantasy scrap heap.

 

RB Marion Barber – Projected * 61 yards, 1 TD (12 Points)

Actual * 108 yards rushing, 32 yards receiving, 1 TD, 1 Fumble (17 Points)

Fantasy owners aren’t affected the same way as the Bears or their fans were by Barber’s poor play near the end of the game this past Sunday, and we’ll happily take the 17 points he delivered in Denver. He showed a burst that he hasn’t since he was healthy a few years ago in Dallas, but his inability to stay in bounds towards the end of regulation and inexcusable fumble in overtime mars an otherwise stellar performance.

Also, more Tebow Time!

WR Malcom Floyd – Projected * 111 yards, 1 TD (17 Points)

Actual * 29 yards, 0 TD (2 Points)

Philip Rivers and the Chargers’ passing attack predictably lit up the laughable Bills’ secondary on Sunday, but the team’s top two receivers, Vincent Jackson and Malcom Floyd, were kept out of the end zone.

Disappointing showing by Floyd in particular, and he will be hard to trust this week in a tough matchup at home against the Baltimore Ravens.

 

TE Ed Dickson – Projected * I just think he’ll score (6+ Points)

Actual * 19 yards, 0 TD (1 Point)

Not. Even. Close.

 

Seahawks Defense – Projected 16 points allowed, 3 sacks, 3 turnovers (10 Points)

Actual * 13 points allowed, 3 sacks, 1 turnover, 1 blocked kick, 1 TD (18 Points)

 

This was pretty much a guaranteed win just 5:03 into the game on Monday Night when Michael Robinson returned a blocked punt for a TD on only the second possession of the game. Seattle’s defense has been playing well of late, but at this point you’d have to think LSU and Alabama’s defenses would be solid fantasy plays against the St. Louis offense.

 

Keep the Seahawks’ defense rolling this week against Caleb Hanie and the Chicago Bears. All it takes is one defensive TD for your D/ST unit to be a top performer in fantasy, and with Caleb Hanie at the helm, you have to like Seattle’s chances.

 

SIT HIM!

 

QB Matt Hasselbeck – Projected * 222 yards, 2 TD, 3 INT (10 Points)

Actual * 44 yards, 0 TD, 0 INT (1 Point)

This win is slightly tainted by the fact that Hasselbeck was hurt early in Sunday’s showdown against the Saints, but it counts all the same.

Hasselbeck hadn’t been playing well in recent weeks, which is why I thought it was odd he was ranked so highly in fantasy circles before Sunday’s game. Tennessee may decide to peer into the future and continue to roll with Jake Locker the rest of the season; making Hasselbeck irrelevant in fantasy for the remainder of the season.

RB Beanie Wells – Projected * 43 yards, 0 TD (4 Points)

Actual * 27 yards, 0 TD (2 Points)

Patrick Willis or no Patrick Willis, you simply cannot run on San Francisco.

After holding Beanie Wells in check on Sunday, the 49ers extend their incredible streak of not allowing a running back to score a rushing touchdown against them into the second-to-last week of the season. This week they will be tested by Rashard Mendenhall and the Pittsburgh Steelers, but I’ve seen enough–start Mendenhall at your own risk.

 

WR Johnny Knox – Projected * 47 yards, 0 TD (4 Points)

Actual * 37 yards, 0 TD (3 Points)

On one side of the field, you had Tebow Time, and on the other side you had Hanie Time.

 

It’s safe to say Bears’ fans aren’t clamoring for t-shirts to be made in honor of their young QB with questionable NFL talent the same way Broncos’ fans are.

 

Knox’s 37 receiving yards actually lead the Bears last weekend and should tell you everything you need to know about the outlook of all of Chicago’s receivers as long as Caleb Hanie is under center.

 

TE Brent Celek – Projected * I just don’t think he’ll score (Sub-6 Points)

Actual * 39 yards, 0 TD (3 Points)

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I’ll take 1-1 in Tight End Roulette every day of the week.

 

Eagles Defense – Projected * 27 points allowed, 2 sacks, 1 turnover (4 Points)

Actual * 10 points allowed, 9 sacks, 3 turnovers (22 Points)

 

It’s safe to say I didn’t see this one coming, though I hardly feel alone.

 

I’m just going to chalk this up as one of those random NFL occurrences where things just inexplicably happen. The Rams beat the Saints in Week 8. Vince Young threw for 400 yards in one game in Week 12. The Eagles played like the Eagles are capable of playing in Week 14.

 

Seriously, nine sacks? That’s only three off the NFL record. Nine?

 

I’ve basically run out of ways to go 6-4 at this point, but be sure to tune in next week to see if I can get both Tight End Roulette predictions right in the same week for only the second time all season!

 

On to Week 15!

 

START HIM!

QB Andy Dalton – Projected * 253 yards, 2 TD, 1 INT (16 Points)

If you’re in a bind, you could do a lot worse the Andy Dalton at QB this week against the Rams.

 

Coming off of a five-game stretch where they have played some of the top pass defenses in the league (Pittsburgh twice, Houston, Baltimore and Cleveland) Cincy will probably look to get things back on track this week against St. Louis.

 

A.J. Green looks to be fully healthy, and a banged up Rams’ secondary could be exactly what the doctor ordered for Dalton and company. Unless you have a top-flight option this week, he should be in your lineup.

SIT HIM!

QB Michael Vick – Projected * 222 yards passing, 21 yards rushing, 1 TD, 2 INT (10 Points)

I’m onto you, Michael Vick. While nobody else seems to notice it, I’m onto you.

 

I saw you quietly stink up the joint in Miami last week even though your team put up 26 points on the road. I saw you only rush for nine yards while trying to protect your ribs and avoid contact all game. I saw you complete a Dan Orlovsky-esque 15 of 30 passes. I saw it.

 

I see that you’ve thrown only one TD compared to four INTs since Week 8 (don’t be fooled–he had three starts during that time and wasn’t hurt for all of them). I see that you haven’t thrown for more than 213 yards in any of your last three starts. I see your best WR going through the motions while in a contract dispute and your second-best WR coming back from a concussion this week.

 

I also see that you’re taking on a frightening Jets’ defense who are fighting for their playoff lives this week. You may have everybody else fooled, Michael, but not this mediocre prognosticator!

START HIM!

RB Ben Tate – Projected * 93 yards, 1 TD (15 Points)

Unless you have Ben Tate on your fantasy team I would be willing to bet that you would be surprised to learn that Arian Foster’s backup has 820 yards rushing this season. I bet you would also be surprised to learn that his 5.6 yards-per-carry average is the highest in the NFL among players with more than 70 carries (Tate has 146 carries).

 

So, now that Houston has locked up it’s first playoff birth in franchise history, don’t you think they are going to want to give some of their players a breather down the stretch in preparation for the postseason? Arian Foster is probably going to be used very heavily in the playoffs, so I think the team is going to lean on Tate down the stretch to help take some of the pressure off of T.J. Yates and Houston’s passing game.

 

Don’t be surprised if Tate breaks out this weekend, but even if he doesn’t score he should be well worth a flex-play. After all, Carolina (Houston’s opponent this week) has the second-worst run defense in the league.

 

SIT HIM!

RB Rashard Mendenhall – Projected * 48 yards, 0 TD (4 Points)

 

I touched on it briefly earlier, but I just wanted to make sure we are all on the same page here.

 

Mendenhall has been getting a steady diet of 16+ carries of late, but when you face San Francisco’s run defense it really doesn’t matter. They have swallowed up everyone from Marshawn Lynch to LeSean McCoy to LeGarrette Blount to Ray Rice to Stephen Jackson and Beanie Wells twice. There is no reason to think they won’t shut Mendenhall down this weekend and keep him out of the end zone, something that is becoming old-hat in San Fran.

 

Just to illustrate that I really do believe in my own brand here, I own Mendenhall in one league and am sitting him this week in favor of either a banged-up Kevin Smith or a lackadaisical Dez Bryant as my flex-play. The Steelers’ RB belongs on your bench this week, regardless of how high you drafted him.

 

START HIM!

WR Demaryius Thomas – Projected * 84 yards, 1 TD (14 Points)

 

If only there was a way to start someone else for three quarters and then start Tim Tebow’s receivers for the fourth quarter.

 

Thomas has received 20 targets in the last two games combined and has clearly emerged as Tebow’s favorite target. His 6’3” 235 pound frame should prove to be a real problem for the lowly Patriots’ secondary, and Thomas should have a very productive day this Sunday.

 

He still isn’t an every-week option at this point, but against New England’s secondary, you simply have to play him and hope that he finds paydirt.

 

SIT HIM!

WR Pierre Garcon – Projected * 55 yards, 0 TD (5 Points)

 

Some of the other WR I don’t believe in this week: Michael Crabtree (facing Ike Taylor and the Steelers), DeSean Jackson (may break out in tears in the huddle soon if he doesn’t get a contract, oh, and he faces Revis this weekend), Miles Austin (looked hobbled Sunday Night from his lingering hamstring issue) and Jeremy Maclin (first game back from a concussion and he gets the Jets’ secondary. Philly figures to run much more than they pass).

 

But I’ll stake my reputation (or whatever is left of it) to Garcon. He’s coming off a poor performance on Sunday and still has Dan Orlovsky throwing him footballs. You can do better than Garcon against Tennessee this weekend, because while their rush defense leaves something to be desired they certainly can cover in the secondary.

 

START HIM!

TE Owen Daniels – Projected * I just think he’ll score (6+ Points)

 

Did you know that women end up digesting most of the lipstick they apply?

 

SIT HIM!

TE Jermaine Gresham – Projected * I just don’t think he’ll score (Sub-6 Points)

 

Did you know that the average worker spends 50 minutes a day looking for lost files and other items?

 

START HIM!

Browns’ Defense – Projected * 20 points allowed, 4 sacks, 2 turnovers (10 Points)

 

Whether it’s John Skelton or Kevin Kolb starting under center for the Cardinals, they figure to have their hands full with the Browns' defense this weekend.

 

Cornerback Joe Haden will likely shadow Larry Fitzgerald on Sunday and dare Arizona to throw to him. They will, and likely quite often, but all it takes is one bad pass to end up in a defensive TD. Start Cleveland’s defense, as they have one of the higher ceilings for fantasy points in Week 15.

 

SIT HIM!

Patriots’ Defense – Projected * 27 points allowed, 1 sack, 1 turnover (4 Points)

 

New England’s defense has actually been a solid source of fantasy points in recent weeks, recording double-digit fantasy points in three of their last five games. But this week they travel to Mile High and get their first dose of Tebow Time.

 

Whether you are on the Tebow bandwagon, are standing in line waiting to purchase a seat, or are contemplating slitting the tires, one thing should be clear: this isn’t a good matchup for New England’s defense.

 

Denver has a big, physical receiver in Demaryius Thomas and an underrated route-runner in Eric Decker going against the abominable New England secondary this week. The Broncos’ also don’t turn the ball over or allow sacks, which is something that makes for a very difficult fantasy matchup.

 

Barring a defensive touchdown on Sunday, New England’s defense has one of the lowest fantasy ceilings for the week and should be strapped to your bench. After all, the last thing you want as a fantasy owner is to be scrounging for points and see Denver down by 10 with five minutes to go in the game.

 

Cue the music!

 

Good luck to everybody this week, and that goes double for all of the championship-hungry owners out there who just lost DeMarco Murray and Greg Jennings for the rest of the playoffs.

 

START HIM! SIT HIM! Season Record: 78-62

 

If you have a fantasy football question that you want answered, e-mail me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

Follow me @Dan_LaLonde where I wonder aloud if David Stern actually has the power to veto decisions that I make in day-to-day life.

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