Unlike at Candlestick Park, the lights are shining bright on this column -- for one more week, anyhow. Most leagues are hosting their own version of the Super Bowl this weekend, which means the fantasy season is winding down. In recognition, I am shifting the focus from waivers, largely obsolete at this point, to a couple of early Week 16 start/sit recommendations. Please feel free to ask about your specific lineup conundrums in the comments section below.
Because the last week of fantasy coincides with the pinnacle of the festive, jolly holiday season, I am bringing you 10 festive, jolly things I love about fantasy.
But first, for you Super Bowl-qualifying owners (congrats!), here are a couple of guys wearing "Owners Beware" wreaths this week:
Marshawn Lynch vs. San Francisco: Lynch has been in beast mode the entire second half of the season, with at least one touchdown in his past 10 games. He has five touchdowns in his past three games, and three 100-yard rushing games out of his past four. But this week he faces a San Francisco rush defense that, at least statistically, is rivaling the all-time greats. The Niners have not given up a 100-yard rusher all season (in fact, the best rushing output came from Michael Vick, who had 75 yards in Week 4), and they're the first team in NFL history to not allow a rushing touchdown through 14 games. They may also get Patrick Willis back this week.
Anquan Boldin vs. Cleveland: Boldin, initially considered a top-10 receiver by many, has disappeared lately. In his past seven games, Boldin has scored once, and has not eclipsed the 100-yard mark. His targets have also gone down as the Ravens' passing attack has struggled. Boldin's two-catch, 32-yard effort against the Browns in Week 13 does nothing to inspire confidence.
And here are a couple of contenders for your starting lineup:
Ryan Grant vs. Chicago: Grant has picked up the slack for James Starks, who has missed Green Bay's past two games, and topped 100 total yards last week. With Starks and Brandon Saine still on the mend, it appears Grant will keep his starting RB role for one more week. The Bears do have an elite defensive line, but they still give up enough on the ground to make Grant a good play.
Felix Jones vs. Philadelphia: Jones has stepped back into the starter role in admirable fashion. He has two straight 100-yard rushing efforts and has a good shot at a third against an Eagles run defense that has had issues all season.
Again, these suggestions are just intended to whet your start/sit appetites. If you'd like my advice on any of your lineup decisions, please ask in the comments section. I will also be hosting my weekly chat on Thursday at 3 p.m. ET.
For the majority who failed to make the Super Bowl -- and I admit it, I'm right there with you -- Week 16 is the perfect time for fantasy reflection. While it may be torture to see your evil fantasy rival vying for the championship, let us remember the elements of fantasy football that keep us coming back for more.
Here are the top 10 things I love about fantasy:
10. When you're talking to an NFL fan, any NFL fan, you don't have to make boring, idle conversation about the weather or your job. That's because you can almost always cite some random tidbit about his or her actual team, as you probably either owned a member or played someone who did. You'll always score coolness points when you can whip the ol' "Davone Bess was open all game, but he had only two catches for 21 yards" knowledge at a Dolphins fan.
9. While many people like to complain about fantasy changing the way you watch football for the worse, I disagree. You watch more teams. You have a keener eye. By osmosis, you learn more about the game.
8. Fantasy has become completely dummy proof. Every fantasy service is designed to help you -- most notably through suggesting lineup maneuvers and highlighting waiver trends.
7. To quote a line from one of Patrick Dempsey's greatest works of art, "Can't Buy Me Love," fantasy football has gone from "totally geek to totally chic." Fantasy players come in many forms. It's not just fat, balding, single mathematician wannabes.
6. Along those lines, the number of us ladies playing is through the roof. An estimated 5.4 million women played fantasy football this year alone, and those numbers keep growing. "Knocked Up" and its "must hide fantasy baseball from disapproving wife because she is female and women by nature hate fantasy sports" narrative are so 2007.
5. You get to come up with and share fun, time-tested fantasy team names like Vick in a Box and Double Dwayne Bowe, and bring in new instant classics like What if Tim Tebow Were Jewish?
4. You can be annoying and brag about your fantasy success to anyone who also plays fantasy. Even though they couldn't care less (because no one really cares about anyone else's fantasy team) and want to roll their eyes, they won't because they are guilty of the same crime.
3. You get to be in the company of Elizabeth Banks, Jesse Williams from "Grey's Anatomy," Jennifer Garner and other cooler-than-your-average-bear celebrities who play fantasy. I repeat, totally geek to totally chic.
2. Fantasy is so customizable now that every league gets its own spin. Think a passing touchdown should be worth six points (or 60 points) instead of four? Done.
1. The sweet joy of victory. And the hope for next year. Unlike the Colts, you have the opportunity to draft a whole team of Andrew Lucks in 2012.
That's a wrap, folks. Thanks to everyone who read my advice on a weekly basis. I hope I didn't completely screw up your lineups. Have a great "offseason," and I'll see you back here in the summer.