This is it. Let the playoffs begin! Right now, you are either in the fantasy playoffs, watching from the sidelines, or else you have a “do or die” matchup in Week 14. With a veritable panoply of serious injuries to key fantasy stalwarts, the 2016 football season has undoubtedly knocked down many would-be championship contenders off their perches, and conversely launched more unsuspecting team managers to winter glory than ever. My seasonal teams are all over the map this year, and some weeks have really caused me to question my sanity and my ability to make cool, rational lineup decisions. And yet, in other leagues, I look at my rosters and still can’t believe I got all those big names on one squad.
But, that’s the name of the game, and that’s why we chase it… because it’s hard. It’s a challenging grind for months just to get a shot. Because, for every season where we feel like we floated all the way from the draft to the championship, as if we were hoisted upon wings rising from the shoulders of angels, there’s a darkness waiting for us all… that no one escapes. From the analyst whose start/sit accuracy percentage is at an all time high to the first year player who reads a couple pre-draft blurbs and then dominates every seasoned veteran who crosses his or her path… No player is less susceptible to the crushing blow of fantasy football failure than anyone else. It is the perfect, utopian, democratic socialist society for competitive geeks worldwide. I feel this phenomenon is best illustrated by a video of the Jackass guys getting repeatedly hit in the balls.
Remember, whatever happens in your seasonal leagues over the next couple of weeks, you can play DFS (daily fantasy sports) anytime! I know I’ve got my lineups set for the week!!
Eli Manning (QB - NYG) VS. DAL (FantasyAces - $6,300)
If you want to have a prayer in hell of stopping the Cowboys, you have to do it in the air. Eli is just that kind of quarterback. He delivered 207 yards and 3 touchdowns against the ‘Boys in Week 1, along with their only loss, to date, in the regular season. With a less-than-impressive backfield, and a halfway decent defense, as well as going up against one of the strongest offenses in the NFL, expect major airtime from the twice Super Bowl champion.
RANKING: BELL'S EXPEDITION STOUT
Jimmy Graham (TE - SEA) @ GB (FantasyAces - $4,950)
Snow showers are expected in a bitter cold matchup at Lambeau Field. Long pass production could be limited. I really believe that the Seahawks defense has enough power to keep the Packers contained just enough so that Russell Wilson can focus a bit more on the short passing game, which lends itself very well to Jimmy’s abilities in the middle of the field. Also, it’s very likely that Graham’s red zone prowess could be a little more than the Pack’s middling secondary can handle. Either way, Jimmy Graham is one of my favorite active NFL players, and I’m really glad he’s settling into Seattle’s markedly different offensive scheme after leaving one of the best QB-TE combos ever with Drew Brees.
RANKING: DESCHUTES THE ABYSS
Carson Palmer (QB - ARI) @ MIA (FantasyAces - $6,550)
Miami’s defense has allowed the 5th most fantasy points to quarterbacks, and are equally generous to wide receivers. This should give Palmer a boost, as he continues to struggle for consistency. It’s a great matchup, and Palmer has definitely been trending up in recent weeks. That being said, rain could hurt him… and my accuracy percentage.
RANKING: HAIR OF THE DOG BREWING MATT
DeMarco Murray (RB - TEN) VS. DEN (FantasyAces - $5,750)
Denver has been extremely vulnerable to the run this year, and Murray has been his usual fantastic self. Also, the Titans’ passing game is still shaky, so expect him to keep catching passes out of the backfield. Murray is an RB1 against the Broncos.
RANKING: MIKKELLER BEER GEEK BRUNCH WEASEL
Matt Forte (RB - NYJ) @ SF (FantasyAces - $5,200)
Here’s my expert analysis: Matt Forte is going up against the 49ers. Play him. I don’t care that he’s only gotten 129 yards from scrimmage in his last two games. Todd Bowles merely has to build Matty his “field of dreams”… “If you give him the workload, he will produce.”
RANKING: LOST ABBEY CABLE CAR
Sleeper - Kai Forbath (K - MIN) @ JAX (FantasyAces does not roster Kickers)
Kai’s numbers have been decent since he got picked up by the Vikings, and there is no one more generous to the kicker than the Jacksonville Jaguars. If you are hurting at the position, it might not be bad to take a flyer on him.
RANKING: FOUNDERS KBS
Sleeper - Jason Witten (TE - DAL) @ NYG (FantasyAces - $4,200)
Cornerback Janoris Jenkins got beat down in week 12 by the Browns’ Terrelle Pryor, Sr. for 131 yards on 6 receptions. Jenkins handled it like the apparent piece of shit scumbag that he is. Pryor, in typical form, was all class.
RANKING: PERENNIAL BARREL AGED ABRAXAS
Sleeper - Brandon LaFell (WR - CIN) @ CLE (FantasyAces - $4,700)
Speaking of the Browns, there are few better teams to exploit in the passing game than the lowly, logo-less orange helmet wearing ne’er-do-wells. A.J. Green is officially Out for the contest on Sunday, leaving a potentially higher workload for LaFell, Boyd, and Eifert. I suspect they will all benefit, at least to some degree. LaFell is a WR3, with some upside. I also predict that LaFell outscores Tyler Boyd in fantasy, this week.
RANKING: TOPPLING GOLIATH KING SUE
Blake Bortles (QB - JAX) VS. MIN (FantasyAces - $5,650)
Unless Blake can start putting the ball into his own WRs’ hands, and less into the hands of opposing defenses, it’s going to stay ugly. That being said, Allen Robinson could be rendered impotent by shutdown corner, Xavier Rhodes. Rhodes has put down some of the best in the league, all year long. Expect that to continue in Jacksonville, with a 66% chance of rain (most QBs would rather throw in the snow than in a deluge). Ever watch an NFL game played in a “swamp?” Trust me, it’s worth the two-and-a-half minutes.
RANKING: BEER 30 LIGHT
Ryan Tannehill (QB - MIA) VS. ARI (FantasyAces - $6,000)
On the other side of the ball, in Miami, is a defense that has dominated against the pass all year, and everything else. If Tannehill can’t connect, he’ll have to lean heavily on Jay Ajayi and the ground game. I really wish it wasn’t going to rain in Florida this weekend, because it often punches a hole in an otherwise solid game flow prediction, but what can I say?… I like to live dangerously.
RANKING: TUBORG T-BEER
Jeffrey Gray is a fire spinner, actor, fitness consultant, and works with M.D. and Osteopathic students on clinical skills. Fantasy Football has ruined his life, and he wouldn't have it any other way. Unless, squirrel! You can reach him on Twitter @graydog or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jeff "The Guru" Gray owns Gray Area Fitness, has a BA in Biology from Whittier College, works with osteopathic and medical students at 2 universities, is an avid shooter, acts, writes, and spins fire. Animal lover, Burner, traveller, fantasy football analyst, he's just your typical Tourette's/A.D.D. kid from the suburbs. He currently looks after his codependent dog and neurotic cat. Passion and experience sums it up for The Guru, and new destinations, great shows, cars, and crazy animal adventures are always within his purvey.