So, I play a lot of fantasy football. I’m in 6 leagues this year. They range greatly in terms of rules. Some of them are generic leagues with generic scoring. Some are not. Some have normal rosters with 1 QB, 2 RB, 3 WR, 1 TE, 1 K & 1 DEF. Some are crazy with Flex spots or multiple players at every position. One thing I’ve learned is that each league is different. Each league offers a little bit of uniqueness that allows me to manage them differently.
I usually check all the rankings on ESPN, Yahoo and Rotoworld every week. I try to find all the information I can to help me make my decisions each week. It drives me crazy looking at so-called predictions for each week. You could almost copy and paste these numbers from week to week. I’m sorry but if Calvin Johnson is going against the Jets and Revis is covering him, I don’t feel like he’s a good play. That doesn’t mean I’m sitting him, but how in the world do these website still project a guy like that to get 100 yards? In fact this week Calvin is facing a super tough match-up against Chris Gamble on the Panthers. And he’s projected to have 7 catches for 115 yards and a TD on ESPN. No number one receiver has gone for more than 66 yards against Gamble this year. Rotoworld, ESPN and Yahoo all have Calvin as the #1 WR this week. That is crazy to me. Am I sitting him in the league I have him? Not a chance. But, his QB has a banged up hand. He got banged up last week. And he’s facing a tough match-up. I would be willing to bet he won’t be in the top 10 of WRs this week.
The one thing that seems to avoid me each week is trying to decide between lower tier players. Everyone knows that I should start Aaron Rodgers this week. Everyone knows I should start LeSean McCoy this week. As long as these guys are healthy, I’m playing them. I don’t care who they are matched up against. There’s no decision that needs to be made there. I know all of these sites rank 20-30 players at each position (if not more), but I want to see more information about guys who could end up being sneaky plays. Maybe I’m the only one who is in leagues where this matters.
I have one league that is especially difficult. It’s a 14-team league with 16-man rosters. Last week I actually had to play Javon Ringer and Danny Woodhead at RB. See I have Felix Jones, Darren McFadden and Jahvid Best, but they are all hurt. This is the kind of league where I’d love to be able to find information about deep match-ups. Not that these predictions are very easy to predict, but it wouldn’t hurt to see a little more information about potential match-ups.
I’m in another league that is a roto league and not head-to-head. In this league I have to play 2 QB, 4 RB, 5 WR, 2 TE, 2 K & 2 DEF and only have 2 bench spots. This means I have to be very careful with moves and often have to drop a player who I normally wouldn’t. Again, I often have to go deeper than most leagues because of the amount of players that are on rosters.
Okay, enough about my teams and leagues. Let’s take a look at some players who are far from mainstream that could make an impact this week. Keep in mind that all of these guys will be players who you probably aren’t going to find in the top of any rankings. These are guys who have a good chance of being free agents in most leagues.
Carson Palmer- I would assume he’s been picked up in most leagues. However, if you were hit by the injury bug this week and he’s still out there, I think he’s definitely worth playing. Minnesota is ranked 30th against the pass and gives up the second most points per game. I think Palmer has a real shot to throw for 300 yards and at least 2 scores.
Tyler Palko- I’m guessing a lot of lists might have him somewhat high. He’s playing against New England who has been terrible against the pass. I like that fact. However, what I like better is the fact that I think the Chiefs are going to be losing big in this game. I don’t think Palko is going to be amazingly efficient. I could see him throwing a few picks. I could see him getting sacked a good bit. However, I could see him picking up 100-150 yards and a TD or two in garbage time. If you have a great option, I don’t recommend playing Palko instead. However, if you have to decide between Alex Smith and Palko, I like Palko better.
John Skelton- This one will probably surprise you and I could be dead wrong. However, several QBs have had monster games against San Fran. Romo threw for 345 yards and 2 TDs. Vick threw for 416 and 2 TDs, Stafford threw for 293 and 2 TDs. And this last week, Eli threw for 311 and 2 TDs. Now these are all Elite type of QBs, but it shows that SF is susceptible to big passing games. Even Tarvaris Jackson threw for 197 yards and 2 TDs. San Francisco is the best team, by far, against the run. And they don’t give up a ton of points. But when they do, it’s through the air. In fact, San Francisco has given up a total of 11 TDs this season and they have all been through the air. On average they are giving up 260.3 passing yards and 1.22 passing TDs on the year. If you’re in a bind and had to play Skelton, I think you’d be happy with 260 yards and a TD.
Kregg Lumpkin- I’m sure you’re all laughing at this right now. Hear me out. Lumpkin is the 3rd down back. He plays a lot more when Tampa is losing. In a blowout loss last week, he finished with 31 rushing yards and 30 receiving yards with 5 receptions. Do I think Lumpkin is a guy I want to be playing? No. But, if you’re stuck in a tight spot and need a play for one week, you could do much worse. The Bucs play at Green Bay this week. Is there anyone who thinks this is going to be a tight game that comes down to the wire? If it’s like the Vikings game, I could see Lumpkin getting at least 50 total yards and a potential garbage-time score. He’s worth taking a flier on especially if your league rewards receptions.
Dexter McCluster- He is similar to Lumpkin. The Chiefs play at the Patriots this week. I value Dexter like I valued Palko. Is he going to kick butt from the beginning and be super productive? Probably not. But, can he contribute once they fall behind and pick up some stats in garbage time? Absolutely.
James Starks- This guy probably isn’t a free agent in most leagues. But, he is a guy who might not be in a lot of starting line-ups. He’s only being started in 52% of CBS leagues and is a free agent in 26% of Yahoo leagues. I like him because I think they will crush Tampa and because Ryan Grant is a little banged up. Again, I don’t think Starks is going to rush for 150 yards and 2 TDs. But, I could see him getting 75 yards and a TD. Call me crazy, but I’d start him over Frank Gore this week.
BenJarvus Green-Ellis- Another guy who is probably not a free agent, but a guy I think should be starting this week. He’s only being started in 47% of Yahoo leagues and 50% of CBS leagues. KC is not good against the run. In fact, they are one of the worst teams against the run. Green-Ellis will play more this week for that reason. Woodhead has been getting more playing time of late, but he’s been playing because they’ve spread it out more. I see them banging it a little more on Monday night. I think Green-Ellis has a good chance for over 50 yards and a TD.
Titus Young- I mentioned above that I think Calvin might not have a great week. And that’s exactly why I like Young this week. Number 2 receivers have done well against Carolina. Young has also been getting better as the season has progressed. I like him for 5-6 receptions, 50-75 yards and a score.
Jonathan Baldwin- I’ll admit this is a total hunch pick. I like when young/inexperienced QBs come in and throw the ball to a guy that the offense had kind of been ignoring. I think this could happen with Baldwin. I’m not sure why this happens, but it does sometimes. I also like the entire Chiefs’ passing game this week, in case you can’t tell. Nothing is better for fantasy passing stats than a team falling behind early.
Mike Williams- For the same reason I like Jonathan Baldwin, I like Mike Williams. Tampa is going to be losing and they are going to have to pass. Freeman claims he is closer to 100% now and should have the ability to put up some better numbers. Williams is probably on a lot of teams, but I bet he’s been on a lot of benches. He’s only being started in 37% of CBS leagues this week. His numbers on the year have been very disappointing. I think he’ll turn it around a bit this week. Look at what Vincent Jackson did against Green Bay two weeks ago. The Packers pulled out to 21-7 lead and Jackson got 2 late TDs as San Diego was trying to come back. I could see something similar from Williams this week.
Percy Harvin- Another guy who is probably on a lot of teams, but not being started. He’s sitting in over 50% of CBS leagues. I like his chances against an Oakland team that has really struggled on D this year. They turned it around a bit last week, but I still like Harvin’s chances. I think if you have him on your team, you have to play him this week. I’d play him over a guys like Roddy White, Dez Bryant and Victor Cruz. ESPN has all three ranked higher than Harvin. As does Yahoo.
David Nelson- Nelson has been very consistent this year. He’s only had 2 games this season where he scored under 6 points in a normal scoring league. This is a guy who’s only being started in 26% of leagues in Yahoo and 29% in CBS. He’s a free agent in 35% of CBS leagues. He has a great match-up at Miami. It’s great for three reasons. Number one is that Miami is 25th in the league against the pass this year. Number two is that Steve Johnson is really banged up and iffy to play this week. Number three is that you know there’s not going to be bad weather in Miami. I like Nelson as a solid #2 WR this week.
That’s all I’m going to do for now. Not a ton of names, but I’m trying to pick guys I actually think will do something. I could list every player that has a chance to go off, but what’s the point in that? Hopefully these few names will give some of you a player or two to consider this week. I’ll report back next week to see how these players did this week.