Tuesday, December 3, 2013


By Michael H. Osinski
In California we are used to earthquakes. Hardly a day goes by without seismic activity. But an earthquake in Seattle? The Pacific Northwest Seismic Network, about a block from CenturyLink Field recorded an earthquake of about 2 magnitude. Not California-like, but an earthquake nonetheless.
The bigger seismic activity from Monday night's game may have been the shift in the balance of power in the NFC. Seattle clinched a playoff spot, and can still go 2-2 down the stretch and keep home-field advantage through the playoffs. They have won their last 14 home games.
Not going so far as to anoint Seattle Super Bowl champs, but at this point we know the NFC representative for the Super Bowl has to win a conference championship playing in Seattle in front of that loud crowd and possibly another earthquake. Home field advantage.
In Fantasy Football, nobody has a home-field advantage.  The only advantage (besides dumb luck) is consistent, superior scouting. You have got to be at it every week. You can rarely afford playing Nate Burleson when he doesn't score. Besides luck, the only way to avoid it is to look for options that are better.
Sure, not everyone is still in the hunt and as a result may have given up (I really hate what that does to competitive balance). But, if you are...keep at it. There are only a couple weeks left for changes.
There are not a lot of moves that make sense right now. But, if you have an underperforming RB3, WR3 or a defense that keeps frustrating you, you still have some time.
Just be decisive. And lucky.
We have noted here the past couple of weeks that after the bye weeks are done, there isn't much most of the teams are going to do with their QB situation. I have Cam Newton in a league, Russell Wilson in a league, and the combination of Nick Foles/Colin Kaepernick in the other. I am standing pat. If you have a Top 10 QB, you are playing him and not even looking at the waiver wire.
However, if you own Aaron Rodgers, Jay Cutler, Josh McCown or Andrew Luck, you are best served to look for additional help. Rodgers has tests on his shoulder Tuesday that will go a long way toward determining whether the team shuts him down for the season. Cutler may be back this week. Of course that means McCown's status may be in trouble. And finally, since losing Reggie Wayne, Andrew Luck has been pretty rough to watch. Even the games he wins have been ugly.
The Rodgers owners probably found or had a viable option. The Cutler owners have their fingers crossed. The McCown owners are nervous. The Luck owners have their hands over their eyes.
In most leagues, Carson Palmer and Ryan Tannehill are owned. If they are not, grab one or both of them and play the one with the best matchup from here on out. As for the rest of who is available, they all have fleas. But, if you really have a shot at the playoffs, you might have to do something risky.
Ryan Fitzpatrick might be the best option of the rest. That is especially the case considering he plays Denver this weekend. And, he gets Jacksonville in Week 16. You might want someone else in Week 15 when he is throwing interceptions in Arizona. Case Keenum and Matt McGloin have looked good at times, but if you are looking that far down the line, you are either in a deep league or too many owners are carrying too many QBs.
Just realize you will have to do something. And, because on most teams the QB is your biggest scorer, your fate kind of depends on whom you choose.
Not all teams have two stud RBs. Most teams have one stud and three or four guys they shuffle based on matchups. If you are one of the masses who shuffle, spend a little time looking for a back with good matchups coming.
Word out of Pittsburgh is Le'Veon Bell will recover from his concussion and play this week. Good thing since I am not prepared to tour Felix Jones or Jonathan Dwyer. No recommendation coming for any of the Panther's RBs either.
One guy who is interesting is Chris Ogbonnaya. The Browns are a pass-first team, but he has still managed to put up a couple good efforts the past month and he is an asset in the passing game. He plays against New England this week. The Patriots have been gashed the past two weeks by Knowshon Moreno and Ben Tate. If you have Darren McFadden or Lamar Miller near the end of your bench, you might want to consider Ogbonnaya.
None of the rest of what's available doesn't excite to the level of picking them up. One exception might be Stevan Ridley. He was waived in two of the three leagues in which I play. Coach will be release him from Fumble Jail at some point, and he has more burst and is a better RB than either LeGarrett Blount or Brandon Bolden. It's a risk since if he does fumble again, he will be exiled. It could turn into quite a reward.
Recently, this is where the volatility has been. Twitter has been flooded by all the owners who had Eric Decker benched while he was scoring 41 points. One owner actually had him benched in favor of Nate Burleson (He scored zero!).
Burleson scored zero. Jarret Boykin scored zero. Hakeem Nicks scored 3. So did TY Hilton. The landscape is littered with WR3s screaming to be placed back on your bench. Your job, especially at this time of year, is to swap out the right ones and keep the ones who will turn it around.
If you have a WR3 in which you have lost faith, consider Andre Holmes. He is catching passes from a QB with whom he developed trust while taking second-team practice reps. On Thanksgiving, he turned it into a seven-catch effort totaling 136 yards.
Ace Sanders has supplanted Mike Brown as WR2 in Jacksonville. Though they have won three games recently, they have spent most of the season playing from behind. Lots of passing. Lots of opportunity.
Brandon LaFell has TD catches in three of his last four games. That is the most consistency we have ever seen from him. And, Steve Smith tends to draw the opponent's best defender.
Most of the rest (Kenny Stills for example) just don't get the volume of targets to justify playing them. And, like we said above,  the only guys you pick up at this time of the season are ones you intend to play in a good matchup over the next three weeks. Otherwise, pass.
I have had issues with my TEs. I have Julius Thomas; Julius Thomas/Jordan Reed; Jordan Reed. I knew early enough that Thomas wasn't playing that I got Delanie Walker in time to get his .5 points and a concussion. The problem was Reed. All indications were he was playing. I lucked into Zach Miller's long TD.
I figure to be OK this week, but we will see.
If you don't have one of the top TEs, the rest are fungible. But, if you have tired of Brandon Myers and his inconsistency, or John Carlson or whoever, you have a couple options.
Stay away from the Rob Houslers and Mychal Riveras. Do take a look at Ladarius Green. I touted him as my TE sleeper in last week's Player Rankings. I wish I would've taken my own advice instead of Walker. He had six targets and 10.5 points on two catches. He has had two 80-yard games in the past three. He is an incredible athlete, and way faster than any 6-6 238 pound man should be.
Another possibility is Dennis Pitta. He has not yet been activated, but should be later this week. His matchup (Minnesota) is about as good as it gets. And, we all know the comfort level Joe Flacco has with him.
If you stream a defense each week, or if you have tired waiting for the Redskins 2013 defense to play like the 2012 version, you have a few choices.
The best approach is to look at the available defenses that are facing rookie QBs. A really good choice this week is Oakland against the Jets. Baltimore against Minnesota is a good choice as well.
I give up. I stream a kicker each week. A couple weeks ago, I had Adam Vinateri in time for him to score zero! So I got rid of him. Last Sunday he had five FGs and 20 points!
I have decided to take all the kickers playing in domes and good weather, put their team logos on a dartboard,  and throw!
Ugh...it landed on Graham Gano. I may rethink that.
Good luck everyone. Hopefully you are already in the playoffs or on your way. I am available for questions @mhosinskiLLP...

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