Fantasy moves to make for Week 15
Somewhere way beneath the beautiful and glorious cloud of Tim Tebow that has settled over the NFL landscape lies this insignificant little thing called the fantasy playoffs. I'm hoping you were playing in them last week, and I hope your journey continues this week. I'll get to your best waiver options, including injury replacements for DeMarco Murray and Greg Jennings, in a moment.
But first, because 'tis the season for lists and reflection (and narrowly failing to advance to the next round), I'd like to quickly present a few of the worst things about fantasy football. Next week we'll get all shiny and happy as we close out the waiver column for the year with the top-10 greatest things about fantasy.
Plain old bad luck: Have you ever been the owner with the most points in your league, yet not gotten within a sniff of the playoffs? Such is the common outcome in a head-to-head fantasy league, and there is a strong argument to be made for a total points free-for-all. However, this format does parallel the actual NFL more than any other rule or component. Just ask the Chargers. They've scored 34 more points than anyone else in the AFC West, but at 6-7, they would need a Christmas miracle to make the playoffs.
The insufferable owner: You know that whiny owner who likes to say, "I know more than anyone about football, and would have been so awesome and not in last place if only so-and-so didn't tear his ACL." Well, this year there was such a proliferation of injuries that there is no way he or she deserves the woe-is-me spotlight. Blame the lockout or blame Tebow, but fantasy owners were denied a full season of Jamaal Charles, Darren McFadden, Jahvid Best, Matt Schaub, Michael Vick and many more.
The dark side: On the subject of injuries, and to steal a theme from "Dexter," fantasy brings out the dark passenger within each of us. This is the evil place embedded deep in your brain that has you hoping for injuries in a way you never would as a normal fan. Try facing a fantasy rival, or fighting for your playoff life, and shutting it off. Not going to happen.
The time suck: Fantasy has grown exponentially over the past few years, and it has become the norm to play in multiple leagues. Myriad formats (standard, IDP, keeper, etc.) and a variety of social commitments (family leagues, friend leagues, co-worker leagues, girl-power leagues) can add up to fantasy overload. I love fantasy as much anyone, but having to spend two hours double-checking a multitude of starting lineups is not the most productive use of a Sunday morning.
OK, venting over. Let's move on to the main event: improving your rosters.
The biggest order of business is the season-ending ankle injury to Murray. Look no further than Felix Jones, who rushed for 106 yards and a 6.6 yards-per-carry average Sunday night, thanks in part to the return of fullback Tony Fiammetta. Upcoming matchups against the Eagles and Bucs are a positive for Jones.
If Jones is unavailable, Ryan Grant is your next best bet. After an ineffective Week 13, he had a crushing performance Sunday with two touchdowns and 85 yards. Aaron Rodgers looked surprisingly comfortable handing him the ball.
If neither Jones nor Grant is available, a distinct possibility, then Danny Woodhead is worth a look. Woodhead quietly had more carries than BenJarvus Green-Ellis on Sunday and ran quite well overall. The only caveat, besides the Patriots' lack of emphasis on the running game, is that the Pats face an emerging Broncos run defense, followed by the Dolphins, who boast a top-five run defense.
On the wide receiver front, look for my pickup of the week, Demaryius Thomas. Thomas was an integral part of the Broncos' offense against the Bears on Sunday with a whopping seven receptions, 78 yards and a touchdown. Even though Thomas had a couple of drops, Tebow seemed very comfortable looking his way. The targets should only increase as more teams start to figure out the read option. Another bonus for Thomas: He'll be facing the worst secondary in the league this week, the Patriots'.
Early Doucet is an interesting option if you are in desperation mode. He is wildly inconsistent but is always a contender for a long touchdown, as evidenced by his 60-yarder against San Francisco on Sunday. But caution, the Cards do face the Browns and their second-ranked pass defense this week.
Far more impressive than the seating assignment for T.J. Yates' family in Cincinnati was Yates' performance there. The rookie put up big numbers with 300 yards and two touchdowns, and he even had 44 attempts Sunday (though it's worth noting Houston was playing from behind for much of the game). That was the third-most attempts for the week, behind only Eli Manning and Drew Brees, who each had 47 attempts. In two starts, Yates has showed poise and an ability to spread the ball to his receivers. And the Texans have a soft schedule for the next two weeks, facing Carolina and Indianapolis.
One final note to you lucky Aaron Rodgers owners: Unless your playoffs go to Week 17, I wouldn't worry about him being rested for the playoffs. The Packers have been openly discussing their quest for a perfect season for several weeks now, and Rodgers is chasing a record of his own: Dan Marino's single-season passing record of 5,084 yards.
And no need to worry about elite players Tom Brady and Brees sitting down prior to Week 17, as neither the Pats nor the Saints have clinched their respective division titles yet, and both teams will be competing for a first-round bye in Week 16, regardless of what happens this week. Every other team is jockeying for position or trying to finish the season on a winning note.
If you have any waiver questions, would like to add to my list of fantasy vents or want to get started on the positives for next week, please weigh in below. And as always, I'll be chatting at 3 p.m. ET Thursday, ready to answer all your important start/sit questions or anything else NFL-related.