Hats off to you if you’re still alive in your fantasy football league. You’re now just one week away from a championship appearance, and hopefully you can credit some of your success to us over here at Breaking Football.
Heading into, we’ll call it ‘conference championship’ week, you’re more than likely to slate more reliable options in your starting lineup rather than a high risk/high reward type guy who are usually featured in these weekly installments. However, some of you may have poor matchups or were bitten by the injury bug forcing you to go outside the box heading into your most crucial game of the year. Don’t worry, we’re here to help.
QB, Blake Bortles, Jacksonville Jaguars
I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but Blake Bortles is going to finish the season as a top 5 fantasy QB. He’s conducting the high-powered Jacksonville offense that is fresh off a 50+ point showing. Bortles has thrown for 10 TDs to just 1 interception the past three weeks, while also making an impact on the ground as well. He’s as reliable as they come – doing his thing week in and week out.
This is a guy who is still owned in about 30% of leagues. While he is most likely snatched up, if you’re wise enough to have kept him on your team, he is a must start going forward. Bortles continues to grow each week and should finish the season strong as Jacksonville is still alive in the playoff hunt.
RB, Isaiah Crowell, Cleveland Browns
Last season Isaiah Crowell was a useful running back in fantasy football during his rookie season. However, he’s been overshadowed by Duke Johnson, despite the larger workload. Nonetheless, Crowell finally made a substantial impact this past week with a career-high 145 rushing yards on a season-high 22 carries, for 2 TDs – his first time reaching the endzone since week 2.
The new look Browns offense with Johnny Manziel under center surely are more fun to watch, especially if the backfield continues to compliment him the way they did this past week. Based on his performance this past week, Crowell warrants a FLEX start at the very least – you’d have to think Mike Pettine and the staff will continue to feed him the rock.
RB, DuJuan Harris, Seattle Seahawks
Next man up. This has been the theme in Seattle’s backfield. DuJuan Harris is a guy who has been around during his 4 year career in the NFL, but hasn’t seen the field very much. However, he has gotten playing time for the first time all season in the past two weeks with the Seahawks. When Thomas Rawls was forced to leave the game, Harris filled the void and was given 18 carries – although, he racked up an underwhelming 42 yards.
While Harris’ performance this past Sunday doesn’t jump out at you, he’s still going to be the starting running back on a red-hot Seahawks offense. You know the Seahawks love to run the football, so his numbers will likely be inflated by that fact. I wouldn’t trust him as a FLEX play this week unless you’re desperate. A guy like Fred Jackson is an intriguing fantasy add as well, though he may not receive the workload like Harris.
RB, Tim Hightower, New Orleans Saints
Yes, this is the same Tim Hightower who broke onto the scene more than 5 years ago with the Arizona Cardinals. He’s back. This past Sunday he did a tremendous job at filling in for Mark Ingram who will miss the remainder of the season. Hightower made a statement 85 yards and a TD on a loaded 28 carry game. He’s a typical workhorse back who is going to grind out yards.
With nothing left to play for, I can see the Saints feeding Hightower a lot in the final stretch as he’s a player trying to revive his career. He’s a guy who scored 23 TDs in his three years with the Cardinals – clearly he can find the endzone. Hightower can rack up solid fantasy points on a high volume of touches. Play him as a FLEX if you have no better options.
WR, Ted Ginn Jr., Carolina Panthers
With an often case of “butterfingers” as a notorious pass dropper, Ted Ginn has played role reversal on us the past two weeks as he’s emerged as the top target for Cam Newton. Ginn is a legitimate deep threat for Newton, which pays off from time to time for the scarce fantasy owners of Ginn. In the past two weeks he’s caught 4 TD passes with 200 receiving yards even. I don’t know about you, but I’ll take 100 yards and 2 TD a week without thinking twice.
Despite his great performances the past two weeks, Ginn still draws many red flags from fantasy players based on his inconsistencies. The way I look at it, there aren’t many other weapons for Newton to choose from, so at least you know a guy like Ginn will get targets. He’s the definition of high risk/high reward.
QB, Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers
Entering the season, I would’ve said Big Ben was a top 5 fantasy QB without thinking twice. Between the injuries and failure to establish chemistry on offense, the season just hasn’t gone to plan for the Steelers signal caller. He’s coming off a TD-less performance where he threw an interception against Cincinnati and has struggled against the better defenses so far this season.
While he still has the potential to go off on any given week, proven by his 350+, 4 TD performance just two weeks ago, he’s just not a reliable starter at this point of the season, or his career. You never know if he’s going to complete a game, and you never know what you’re going to get from him. Only one game away from a fantasy football championship appearance, I wouldn’t start him.
RB, Shaun Draughn, San Francisco 49ers
One of the hottest waiver wire names of the past week or two, Shaun Draughn turned in an underwhelming week 14 performance with only 43 rushing yards. In the past two weeks he’s averaged less than 40 yards per game and has found the endzone only once all season. He hasn’t carried the ball more than 16 times in a game all season, so he may not evolve into that workhorse running back many had anticipated.
With the emergence of Blaine Gabbert, Jim Tomsula has begun to lean more-so on the passing game than anything else, which obviously hurts Draughn’s fantasy value, along with his poor production.
WR, Dez Bryant, Dallas Cowboys
If there’s been a player to struggle this season, it’s been Dez Bryant. Dez has been immensely ineffective the entire season and isn’t worth a starting slot on your fantasy team by any means. In 8 games so far this season, he has only one 100 yard performance and only 2 TDs to his credit.
Obviously, the absence of Tony Romo has affected him. However, as a #1 WR in the NFL, and an elite one at that, you should still be able to create for yourself and help your backup QB – he’s done very much of the opposite. This past week he was held to one catch for 9 yards, cementing him as a non-factor in fantasy football.
WR, Calvin Johnson, Detroit Lions
Following his 3 TD performance on Thanksgiving, Megatron hasn’t done much. He did follow that up with a TD against Green Bay, but was held to just 3 catches in that game. Then this past week, he caught just one pass and was shutdown by the Rams’ Trumaine Johnson.
With the Lions now officially eliminated from playoff contention, I don’t expect the players to show much drive from here on out – especially Johnson and Matthew Stafford. He’s a tough player to stash on your bench, but you may have to do that with a championship appearance on the line.
TE, Antonio Gates, San Diego Chargers
Every week I tell myself Philip Rivers and the Chargers passing attack are going to turn it around and go off, and every week I am wrong. I always expect Antonio Gates to play a key role in San Diego’s offense, but he just isn’t the player he once was. He has 4 TDs on the season, half of which came in two separate games.
Now at 35 years old, it’s apparent that Gates isn’t that lethal weapon he was just two or three years ago. Combined with the lackluster offense that San Diego has put on the field week after week, he’s a borderline starter at TE, but not a trustworthy one.