If you’re reading this…. congratulations! – or…. Thank you! Either you’re onto the semifinals, or you are a genuine supporter of both myself and the #Footclan.
I don’t have much to say in terms of strategy, because at this point it’s all about survival. Let’s take a look at what we learned in the first fantasy playoff week:
Raheem Mostert is the RB1 in San Francisco
Last week I discussed how Tevin Coleman likely lost his job, and it turned out to be even worse than that. Not only was Mostert the 1A, but he was also clearly the better option in every facet of the game. He somehow managed to drop more than 22 fantasy points against a daunting Saints front, including a receiving touchdown that proved to be key in their comeback victory. Mostert was a preseason hero and he’s one of my favorite backs in the league (there’s a reason I call him Raheem Must-Start), and he may just be a league winner too. His meteoric rise reminds me a lot of Damien Williams in 2018, and if you’ve survived to this point there’s a solid chance you can use Mostert next week against the Falcons. Both Tevin Coleman and Matt Breida will see some work going forward, but the way Mostert has played certainly earns him a spot in lineups in an easier matchup next week.
Alvin Kamara is a Bust (Even if You Can’t Admit It)
The Saints and Niners played the game of the year this weekend and over 90 points were scored in total. Usually, when you see something like this you assume Alvin Kamara found the end zone multiple times, or at the very least once. Instead, what we saw was 14 players in total outscoring Kamara in one of the highest-scoring games in NFL history. Kamara hasn’t found the end zone since Week 3, and he’s becoming increasingly tough to trust in lineups at all. A lot of people will recommend you to “start your studs” next week, but is it really fair to call him a stud at this point in the year? Through 14 weeks, he’s the RB15 and has only eclipsed 11 fantasy points one time since that outing back in Week 3. Kamara was a consensus top-five pick, and he’s barely returned value as an RB2 in most weeks this year. He’s a bust in every sense of the word, even though people will try to defend it. Most owners drafted him to be the foundation of their roster, but at this point, he’s barely a starter. If you have to choose between Mostert and Kamara next week, call me crazy – but in my opinion, only one of those guys is a must-start.
OBJ Can’t Be in Your Lineup
The Browns are like that one ex-girlfriend or boyfriend that you keep going back to hoping things will be different the next time around. On paper, everything should be great, but when push comes to shove – they just keep letting you down. To keep things simple, I’ll just say this: OBJ cannot be in your lineup. Not only is he reportedly working through a hernia, but he’s also working through a case of the “terrible football performances”. The Browns had a dream matchup this weekend, and OBJ barely notched 3 fantasy points in total. The reports are flying in about what may be going on in the locker room (I have my own theory about two spots down), but regardless of the why – the what is clear. Stop playing OBJ, unless you have no other reasonable options.
Julio Jones is a Ghost
Juli-ohhhhhh boy! Things are bad. The joke last year was that Julio was incapable of scoring touchdowns, but then he lit the world on fire the last seven weeks of the season. This year we’re dealing with a similar narrative, but the regression has failed to hit. Jones belongs in the same conversation as all three of the guys on this list that I’ve mentioned so far. He’s a bust, and if you drafted him I’d be surprised if you’re still alive in Week fifteen. With that being said, if you don’t have Julio on your team and you’re looking to learn from this, please do. Any player can bust at any time, so in-season management and an ability to disregard name value is extremely important. Offensive line play is so incredibly valuable in the NFL that even someone like Julio suffers when Matt Ryan has little time to get the ball down the field. Jones has been a staple of the second round in fantasy drafts for years, so he’ll likely find his way back there next season. If you’re paying close attention this offseason, make sure that the Falcons upgrade their line and keep an eye on playcalling changes if you want to roll the dice on Julio again in 2020.
Freddie Kitchens? More Like Freddie Pantry
I know, that’s a terrible pun. I’m so frustrated with this man that he’s actually blocked me from most of my basic common senses. I went on a small rampage on Twitter this weekend when I saw that Nick Chubb, the NFL’s rushing leader, had THREE CARRIES AT HALFTIME AGAINST THE BENGALS! Okay, apparently I’m not over it if you can’t tell. But seriously Freddie, three carries? I know you don’t have to eStABLiSh tHe RuuUuuN (Spongebob meme) to win games, but you weren’t winning the game, and Nick Chubb is a DAWG (notice the W, so you know I mean it).
The Bengals can absolutely be run on, and Nick Chubb is arguably the most talented pure runner in the entire league. Chubb finished the game with fifteen carries which still isn’t enough, and they needed a few boneheaded plays by the Bengals to put them away. Kitchens has been the main reason for the disaster in Cleveland this year, and I won’t hear otherwise. Countless times this year they’ve run idiotic plays in the wrong situations, and they completely lack identity. The Pantry has remained stubborn with playcalling which is the first sign of a coach that doesn’t have what it takes to be in this league. John Harbaugh and Kyle Shanahan have literally built offenses around the players they have, while Kitchens has a Range Rover in his backfield and a Ferrari on the outside and can’t even manufacture points against a team intentionally losing games. Kitchens belongs on a staff somewhere, but not as a head coach. The Browns will be better off the second he’s replaced (which will likely be soon).
Joe Mixon Could Be a League Winner (but not this week)
If you made it this far with President Mixon on your roster, you’re a dynamite drafter. He’s been one of the tougher backs to own this season, up until about Week 10. As of late, Mixon has been one of the best assets to have in fantasy. In the last two weeks, he’s accumulated 41 fantasy points, and finished Week 14 as a top-five back. The one problem with Mixon is that he faces New England this week, and that’s a tough sell even for someone who’s playing at a high level. If you are rolling Mixon out in your flex, you may want to look elsewhere. If you have no choice but to start him, it’s important to counter the potential flop with high ceiling options at other positions. Mixon will likely have a low ceiling this week, but he should SMASH in Week 16. He faces a Dolphins team that has been giving up a lot on the ground, and if you can survive to championship week he can carry you to glory. I want every share of Mixon possible in 2020 and beyond, which means this will be the last week for the rest of the time that I don’t want him in my starting lineup if I can avoid it.
Derrick Henry is Breaking The Mold
Who says running backs need to catch passes to do well in fantasy football?! Well, most people say that. Derrick Henry is showing us that a top three ceiling is possible for a one dimensional back, as long as that one dimension is the fifth dimension of fantasy glory that can only be accessed by bone-crushing stiff arms and the ability to squat 80,000 pounds. Henry has been glorious this season, and since Week nine he’s been an even better asset than Christian McCaffrey on a PPG basis. Henry is winning people matchups, playoff spots, and very likely championships. The Titans have covered the spread four weeks in a row, and they’ve gone 6-1 since Ryan Tannehill took over. Tannehill is the second-highest scoring QB in the last five weeks, and the team is firing on all cylinders. Henry is an absolute monster, and he’s doing it without much work in the passing game. He doesn’t care about your stupid regression, he just wants to snatch hearts and break linebackers in half.
Tyler Higbee is a TE1
Forget the offensive line, forget Todd Gurley, forget Bobby Trees, forget Jared Garf, forget them all. The reason the Rams are turning it around is a fourth-round tight end from Western Kentucky with a name that makes it seem like he owns a yacht and wears Sperry’s. Tyler Higbee has been a top-three tight end in the last three weeks, and he seems to be a massive part of the offensive gameplan McVay has turned to. A lot of his production is the result of an injury to Gerald Everett, but the production is there nonetheless. I would be shocked if McVay goes back to a pure split when Everett returns, especially with how well the Rams have looked overall. I was joking at the beginning of this snippet obviously, there’s much more happening in LA than Tyler “Boat Shoes” Higbee. Either way, he should be in your lineups if Everett sits, and even if he returns, it would be a tough sell to bench him unless you have a very reliable option on the bench.
Jimmy G Deserves More Credit
For one reason or another, people love to question Jimmy G as a quality quarterback in this league. There’s a huge “yes, but” narrative on the Niners signal-caller, but it should be put to rest right here, right now. He’s performed very well in the Niners primetime contests this season, and this past weekend he was absolutely electric and returned every Drew Brees haymaker with his own decisive counter-punch. San Francisco is a complete team, and Jimmy G is a big part of whether people want to give him credit or not. Jason Moore always discusses how handsome he is, but his game is pretty damn sexy as well. Stop doubting Jimmy G and stop looking for a reason to think he’s not the guy. Every quarterback can’t be Tom Brady, and sometimes “system quarterbacks” are just talented players who play for teams good enough to allow them to be risk-averse. Jimmy G is a G, let’s stop with the drama.
Fantasy Football is a Cruel, Evil Beast
This week was ugly. Mike Evans, Rashaad Penny, Vance McDonald, Calvin Ridley, Jameis Winston, Pat Mahomes, Derrius Guice, and a few more. The injuries piled up and not all of them were season killers, but a few of them could have had major impacts on fantasy playoff matchups either this week or next. On top of that, a bunch of high-end fantasy studs continued to disappoint or let you down for the first time all year, during the worst week possible. We already covered Kamara, Chubb, OBJ, and Julio… but the list goes on. Davante Adams, Russell Wilson, Tyler Lockett, and a few others to an extent, all let you down. The funny thing about fantasy playoffs is that it functions the same way for the real NFL teams, but it’s everything to us. We put 100% of the season’s weight on three weeks that are the same as any other week for most teams in the league. It’s a cruel setup, and every year crazy things go down, but we keep coming back. If you’re reading this and you felt the sting of the ups and downs this week, I’m here for you. The important thing is…. that we all come back next year.