For some of us, and in some of our leagues, “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year…” We’re heading to the playoffs. In some leagues there is money to be won, but in others it’s bragging rights and punishment decisions that we’re competing for.
It’s been a fun season, full of good trades and bad trades, bad starts and some lucky ones as well.
I might be one of only a handful of people who started Dennis Pitta this week and reaped the reward of his 90-yard and two-touchdown performance, but that was in my deepest league with the deepest rosters. I certainly didn’t expect that out of a guy who had been averaging around three or four points a game.
With that, here’s wishing you a Merry Christmas and Happy Fantasy Playoffs. So how’d the Sauce look last week? Let’s check it out.
Week 13 Hot Sauce
Tyrod Taylor – 191 yards passing, 30 rush yards, 1 rush TD 1 INT, 1 Fumble. BURNED
Jordan Howard – 117 rushing yards, 3 TDs. ON FIRE
Theo Riddick – 17 total yards, 1 TD. BURNED
DeAndre Hopkins – 3 catches, 58 yards, 1 TD. ON FIRE
Tyreek Hill – 5 catches, 72 total yards. Mild Sauce
Week 13 Weak Sauce
Cam Newton – 182 yards, 1 TD. ON FIRE
Latavius Murray – 105 total yards and 2 TDs. BURNED
Jonathan Stewart – 53 total yards. ON FIRE
Jordy Nelson – 8 catches 108 yards, 1 TD. BURNED
Allen Robinson – 3 catches, 31 yards. ON FIRE
The Overall Standings
Week 14 Hot Sauce
QB Jameis Winston, Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs New Orleans Saints
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are on the rise and have been playing really good team football of late.
The New Orleans Saints, on the other hand, are a team completely reliant on their offense. The Saints’ defense has allowed the second most passing yards in the NFL in 2016 (Atlanta is first).
Jameis Winston has been better this season than he was in 2015 when he averaged 200 yards passing against them and one touchdown without a turnover. Winston and the Bucs are on a role at the moment, and I expect him to take advantage of a flawed Saints secondary.
Flavorful Forecast: 275 yards passing, 3 touchdowns.
RB Thomas Rawls, Seattle Seahawks @ Green Bay Packers
For Thomas Rawls of the Seattle Seahawks, volume isn’t the issue at this point. With C.J. Prosise out for the year and Christine Michael now in Green Bay, Rawls is the man leading the charge for the Seahawks.
This was on display in week 13 as Rawls went up against the Carolina Panthers’ very tough run defense that had only allowed 3.8 yards per carry on the season, and had generally been pretty tough. In their loss to Seattle, the Panthers allowed over 200 yards rushing.
Facing a Green Bay defense that has been very up and down this season, Rawls will again be given an opportunity to touch the ball 15-20 times. He is an easy RB2 for me at this point in every format. Seattle will want to keep the Packers offense on the sideline as much as possible in this game, so they will look to run the ball.
Flavorful Forecast: 18 touches, 120 total yards, 1 touchdown.
RB Jeremy Hill, Cincinnati Bengals @ Cleveland Browns
This one should be simple for you. The Cleveland Browns have allowed the second most rushing yards, the eighth most rushing touchdowns, and 4.5 yards per carry in 2016.
Jeremy Hill is the last man standing in the Cincinnati Bengals’ backfield and he’ll get a heavy workload trying to keep their head above water in the AFC North. This offense needs Hill to be a workhorse.
Flavorful Forecast: 20 touches, 150 total yards, 2 touchdowns.
WR Jamison Crowder, Washington Redskins @ Philadelphia Eagles
In the last seven games, Jamison Crowder has had either 70+ yards receiving or a touchdown. That is pretty amazing consistency.
In week 14, Washington will face a very tough Philadelphia Eagles front-seven. Kirk Cousins will likely be under pressure for much of the game which will require him to get the ball out quickly. This will mean more opportunities for Crowder underneath and, as we saw in the Dallas game, he can be a dangerous opponent.
Flavorful Forecast: 7 catches, 90 yards, 1 touchdown.
WR Corey Coleman, Cleveland Browns vs Cincinnati Bengals
In every game in his rookie season, Corey Coleman has seen at least five targets, and in the last two weeks, he’s seen 19 total targets. He’s hasn’t taken full advantage of those targets yet, but at some point Coleman is going to show off the talent that made him the first wide receiver chosen in the 2016 NFL Draft.
Cincinnati sits in the middle of the pack against the pass and it is likely that the Cleveland Browns will need to throw in order to keep up.
Coleman is a solid flex-play this week.
Flavorful Forecast: 5 catches for 70 yards and 1 touchdown.
Week 14 Weak Sauce
QB Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions vs Chicago Bears
Matthew Stafford is quickly rising in the esteem of a lot of people this season, and for good reason too. Stafford hasn’t had much of a running game to lean on and he doesn’t have Calvin Johnson out there making plays for him.
A team that is sneakily getting really good on defense right now is the Chicago Bears. Pretty much a sieve the first few weeks of the season, the Bears’ defense has started looking like a unit that could win some games if they had any kind of consistency on offense.
The Bears currently rank sixth in the NFL in passing yards allowed, while ranking in the middle of the pack in rushing defense. They’ve also been able to get more pressure on the quarterback over the last several weeks of the season.
Since week three when the Dallas Cowboys mauled them for 447 yards of total offense, the Bears have been more stingy. Since that loss to the Cowboys, they’ve only allowed one team to go for more than 400 yards of total offense.
Stafford is going to have a tough time getting going this week.
Flavorless Forecast: 200 yards passing one touchdown, 1 interception.
RB Mark Ingram, New Orleans Saints @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Speaking of another defense that has gotten really good over the last couple of months of the season, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are a team on the rise. After starting the season 3-5, the Bucs have rolled four straight wins and have shown a better defensive effort with each game.
Mark Ingram is hobbled right now and with him splitting touches with Tim Hightower and, at times, Tavaris Cadet, Ingram is a RB3 and at worst a flex option this week. If you have a better option with a better match-up, I’d look another direction.
Flavorless Forecast: 15 touches, 55 yards.
RB Latavius Murray, Oakland Raiders @ Kansas City Chiefs
I’m a week late on Latavius Murray, and I’ve had a hard time believing in him all season after losing touches early on. This week, he’ll face a Kansas City Chiefs team that may give up a lot of yards on the ground, but have only given up six rushing touchdowns.
Murray has heavily relied on the short yardage game in scoring his touchdowns, and while he may put up a decent yardage total this week, don’t be surprised if he’s kept out of the end zone.
Flavorless Forecast: 18 touches, 75 total yards.
WR Odell Beckham Jr., New York Giants vs Dallas Cowboys
Yes, I must be crazy here. I know. Why would anyone expect a low output game from Odell Beckham Jr. against a team like the Dallas Cowboys, who have shown little resistance in stopping the pass the last few weeks.
Against the Dallas Cowboys, Beckham has had some difficulty putting up monster games. In five games against the Cowboys, Beckham has only gone over the 100 yard mark one time. He does have four touchdowns in those five games, but with the way the offense as a whole is playing right now, I have low expectations for Beckham this week.
You’re going to start him, but I don’t think he’ll have a huge game against the ‘Boys.
Flavorless Forecast: 5 catches, 60 yards.
WR Jordy Nelson, Green Bay Packers vs Seattle Seahawks
Jordy had a great game last week against the Houston Texans in the snow at Lambeau. This week, also playing at Lambeau, Jordy is going to be left out in the cold.
As the most consistent wide receiver on the Green Bay squad, I get the feeling that Seattle will use Richard Sherman on Jordy when they line up in man, which I expect them to do a lot. If you sit back in zone and give Aaron Rodgers any kind of time, he is going to find the weak spots and exploit you.
Seattle needs a win to try to take the lead for the second first round bye in the NFC playoffs and to keep pace with Dallas. They won’t let Jordy Nelson beat them.
Flavorless Forecast: 4 catches, 45 yards.
Joe Flacco, QB, Baltimore Ravens – Not sure where that game has been all season, but I’m sure that this is what everyone was expecting when the Baltimore Ravens hired Mark Trestman as the offensive coordinator. Flacco’s match-up this week with the New England Patriots isn’t great, but his week 15 and 16 match-ups will likely require them to throw the ball against Philadelphia’s stout run defense and to keep up with Pittsburgh’s explosive offense.
Terrance West, RB, Baltimore Ravens – There probably isn’t a player like West sitting on your waiver wire, but if he is, snatch him up. He has a favorable match-up in week 15 against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Zach Zenner, RB, Detroit Lions – With Dwayne Washington suffering an injury in the Detroit Lions’ win over the New Orleans Saints, Zenner came in to be the milk-the-clock back. If you have to dig deep, Zenner could be the guy you look to as Theo Riddick isn’t getting to carry the ball much these days.
Josh Bellamy, WR, Chicago Bears – Someone in Chicago has to catch the ball and Bellamy was that someone last week, taking four passes for 93 yards and adding 12 yards rushing to his stat total. Alshon Jeffrey is going to be out another week, so Bellamy will be required yet again.
Dennis Pitta, TE, Baltimore Ravens – The Baltimore Ravens and Joe Flacco decided to open up the offense in week 13 and they were quite successful. Pitta was a direct beneficiary of the more aggressive play calling as he racked up nine catches for 90 yards and two touchdowns.
Ladarius Green, TE, Pittsburgh Steelers – Coming to their week 13 match-up against the New York Giants, the Steelers hadn’t gotten a lot of production out of their tight ends. Green changed all that with his six catches on 11 targets for 110 yards and a touchdown. In a high-volume passing offense, he’s worth an add and probably a start if you’re weak at tight end.