If you’re still reading this column, then chances are you have a fantasy team either in the playoffs, or on their way to the playoffs after this week’s game. So, congratulations! Last week, I finally had a decent week of picks, getting 7 out of 8 calls right. Go me! After a string of bad picks the past few weeks, I was due for a turn-around (see Christian Ponder, it IS possible to improve!). In any case, we are at that point in the season where it is no longer ok to "get cute" with your lineup. You need proven commodities, and can’t miss picks from here on out. High risk, high reward plays are not for the faint of heart, and should only be reserved for the desperate. If you’ve been riding certain players to fantasy glory all year, now is not the time to bench them! If you were as clairvoyant as I was last week, then you probably knew to start the following players, because they all scored 15 or more fantasy points: Bryce Brown, Donnie Avery, Josh Gordon, and Rod Streater. And hopefully you benched these high profile guys, because they all scored 5 or less points: Antonio Gates (again), Julio Jones, Mike Wallace, Hakeem Nicks, Drew Brees (!), Larry Fitzgerald, and Roddy White.
As I have mentioned before, these articles consider the ESPN and Yahoo standard scoring projections for players at each offensive position (QB, RB, WR and TE). I’m going to choose 2 players at every position to highlight: one as a "stud" and one as a "dud". A Stud is one who I think will significantly beat their projected total, and a Dud is one who I think will fall short of their projected total. It’s also worth mentioning that generally speaking, I’ll try to avoid players with injuries as it’s too easy to pick them as Duds if they’re unlikely to play. I will keep a running tally at the end of the post each week to keep track of the accuracy of my predictions. If I can do better than 50% by season’s end, I’ll call it a success. So read on … to see who my picks are for Week 14.
QB Stud: Matthew Stafford vs GB
Maybe this falls more under what I want to happen, rather than I think will happen. But, Stafford has been on a roll lately. He and Calvin Johnson are finally on the same page, and Brandon Pettigrew is becoming more of a weapon in the passing game. It’s true that Ryan Broyles and Titus Young just went on IR, so they are a little thin at WR, but I don’t think that will phase Stafford one bit. He’s averaged 19.8 points per game the past 4 weeks. The last time he faced Green Bay, he didn’t do so hot, throwing 2 picks and fumbling once, amounting in a 9.8 point fantasy day. But, the GB defense will likely still be without Clay Mathews and Charles Woodson again (along with James Starks and Jordy Nelson).
ESPN Projection: 15.2
Yahoo Projection: 18.17
CCNorsemen: Beats ESPN by at least 3 points
QB Dud: Jake Locker vs IND
I had a very tough time finding a QB that was projected too high. I’d pick Ben Roethlisberger, because I think he’s projected way too high, but that would break my rule of picking injured players. So, this is as close a pick as there is. But, even so, Locker hasn’t been very productive since returning from his injury 3 weeks ago. He’s only averaging 13 fantasy points per game in the last 3 games. Indy has a slightly better pass defense than rush defense, but that isn’t saying much. Tom Brady torched Indy 3 weeks ago, but they held Ryan Fitzpatrick and Matthew Stafford in check. Locker is on the road too, so I’m skeptical that he’ll have a very good game this week. While he did break 300 yards last week, he also threw 3 interceptions, and fumbled twice.
ESPN Projection: 17.8
Yahoo Projection: 15.14
CCNorsemen: Falls short of ESPN by 3 or more points.
RB Stud: Jonathan Dwyer vs SD
This is a pick that is more about opportunity and matchup, than about talent. Dwyer isn’t a particularly fast or shifty runner, and isn’t going to blow anyone away with his speed. But, he’s the starter in Pittsburgh, and with Roethlisberger likely back, but not 100%, I expect the Steelers to lean on the run a little more. San Diego has an average run defense, so there’s no worry of them completely shutting down the rushing attack. They’ve allowed an average of 17 points per game to RB since their BYE. Isaac Redman might steal a few carries as he did last week, but the majority of the work should go to Dwyer.
ESPN Projection: 6.3
Yahoo Projection: 8.7
CCNorsemen: Beats ESPN Projection by at least 3 points
RB Dud: Reggie Bush vs SF
Bush hasn’t been very good for fantasy purposes recently. In the past 7 games, he’s scored double digit points in only 2 games, and he was outright benched in week 10. Last week, against a good Patriots run defense, he was held to 64 yards on 15 carries, and had no scores. This week he’s up against an even better 49ers run defense…on the road. I’m not buying.
ESPN Projection: 12.9
Yahoo Projection: 8.64
CCNorsemen: Falls short of ESPN by 4 points or more
WR Stud: Golden Tate vs ARI
Tate is emerging as a reliable weapon for Russell Wilson. He’s scored 4 TDs in the past 4 games, and has averaged 13.5 points per game as a result. But, it’s not just about the TDs. His yardage totals have increased in each of the past 4 games, culminating in 96 yards last week. Arizona is still a decent defense, but just slightly above average at this point in the season. With Sidney Rice dealing with a concussion (although he’s been cleared to practice again), Tate could see a little more usage.
ESPN Projection: 10
Yahoo Projection: 6.12
CCNorsemen: Beats Yahoo by at least 3 points
WR Dud: Steve Smith vs ATL
Atlanta has a dominating defense against WR in fantasy, allowing an average of only 17.8 points per game to opposing teams. While it’s certainly possible that Smith gets some garbage time stats like he did last week, I wouldn’t count on it. Smith has been up and down all year, and last week’s game aside, he put up point totals of 2.1, 6.1 and 6 the 3 weeks prior. He’ll get some targets, but I’m not sure he’ll be that productive with them.
ESPN Projection: 15.2
Yahoo Projection: 9.72
CCNorsemen: Falls short of ESPN by 3 points or more
TE Stud: Owen Daniels vs NE
Daniels has been a pleasant fantasy surprise this season. He’s 6th best in fantasy points, and has averaged 8 points per game. He gets New England on Monday night, and they are…how shall we say…bad at defending the TE. They allow an average of 10.3 points per game to opposing TEs. Daniels is a major part of the Houston passing attack, and this could be a shootout, as much as Houston would prefer to grind it out with the run game. I like his chances in this one.
ESPN Projection: 12.4
Yahoo Projection: 6.71
CCNorsemen: Beats Yahoo by at least 4 points
TE Dud: Antonio Gates vs PIT
Gates is a member of a long list of disappointing TE in fantasy. He’s currently ranked 17th at the position, not even starting material in a 12-team league. You know it’s bad when Jared Cook and Dennis Pitta have outscored you in fantasy. He’s averaging a paltry 5.5 fantasy points per game, and has appeared in my Dud column before. This week he gets the Steelers and their 2nd rated defense against the tight end, allowing an average of only 5.9 points per game. Blame Rivers, blame his age, heck, blame Norv Turner. I don’t care, but he’s barely worth owning in fantasy at this point, and owning him on name recognition alone isn’t enough.
ESPN Projection: 10.4
Yahoo Projection: 5.93
CCNorsemen: Falls short of ESPN by 3 or more
QB Stud: Andrew Luck (ESPN Projection: 14.3, My Call: 17.3+, Actual: 28.9)
QB Dud: Philip Rivers (Yahoo Projection: 17.02, My Call: 14.02 or less, Actual: 9.2)
RB Stud: CJ Spiller (Yahoo Projection: 10.6, My Call: 14.6, Actual: 14.4 (close enough!))
RB Dud: Ryan Mathews (ESPN Projection: 14.7, My Call: 11.7 or less, Actual: 5.1)
WR Stud: Pierre Garcon (Yahoo Projection: 7.29, My Call: 10.29+, Actual: 16.6)
WR Dud: Larry Fitzgerald (ESPN Projection: 12.2, My Call: 9.2 or less, Actual: 2.3)
TE Stud: Dallas Clark (ESPN Projection: 2.3, My Call: 5.3+, Actual: 8.1)
TE Dud: Jermaine Gresham (Yahoo Projection: 6.46, My Call: 3.46 or less, Actual: 7.5)
Overall Record: 49 – 47 (51% Accurate)
Daily Norsemen Fantasy Teams
Team CCNorsemen: 9-4 (1st place out of 10)
Death Star Vikings: 9-4 (2nd place out of 12)
Blair Walsh Project: 5-8 (6th place out of 8)