Quick note here. We are the little fish. We get this. This is for fun, not money, and we’re obviously not super popular. Something like 7,000 people visited last month. Here are some other numbers to put that figure in perspective:
* Dave Richard eats approximately 7000 jars of Wabash Valley Farms white cheddar popcorn in a given work week
* Over the course of his life, Matt Berry has been rejected by roughly 7000 average-looking women because he looks like Robert Wuhl’s uglier older cousin
* Andy Behrens looks in the mirror no fewer than 7000 times a day and wishes that he didn’t have such big-ass chinchilla ears
* With all of his extra time from not having a real job, Brad Evans learns and ignores 7000 new words a week…then just says the same old boring shit (like calling running backs ‘plow shares’ and ‘tug boats’ and blaming all injuries on ‘the injury imp’)
* For 7000 straight days some bully Deeboed Eric Karabell for his lunch money…yeah, even on weekends and holidays
* I just wish Nate Ravitz would punch himself in the face 7000 times
* 7000=the number of consecutive articles that CBS has published by Nathan Zegura that offered advice that was about as accurate as my two-year-old if he just pooped on my laptop keyboard. Seriously, who is this guy? Nathan Zegura, who the fuck are you? Why are you here? Where did you come from and when will you go back there?
So really, 7000 isn’t that much. But apparently, and I’m not making this up, it was enough for CBS to take notice. Okay, let me explain.
We have this really innovative feature here called “The Matchup Tool.” You can Google it right now. Here, I’ll just do it for you (we’re 6 spots down). You can also Google “fantasy points allowed by position” (we’re 6 spots down there too…though that particular post is a year old, you get the idea). As far as I can tell, we own the only points allowed by position tracker at or near the top of the Google search that is called “The Matchup Tool,” and one of, if not the most, accurate PPR points allowed by position trackers on the entire internet. If we had software people here, we’d reach warrior status (instead we have, um, Pandamonium). But on the CBS fantasy podcast the other day, Pandamonium noticed that when one ‘expert’ called their points allowed by position tool a “Matchup Tool” Richard quickly corrected him, calling it a “Matchup Tracker.” Listen at the above link, from Wednesday November 17th’s podcast, around 17:55. That’s right, bitch.
Okay, this doesn’t prove anything, but with all the Tweets and emails we’ve sent their way trying to get a shout-out, and how high we’re getting on Google (without anything shady or anything we’re paying for, I might add), I’d like to think Richard knows who we are. He’s not scared of us, and he shouldn’t be. But he knows we’re out there.
Again, we’re not in this to make money. We could give a shit less if we ever see a red cent off of this. That’s why it’s just a hobby site. It really just started as a way to see if we could help people out, and produce a quality site with as good of innovations and ideas as the big boys (but without obviously, all the time and money that they have because, you know, we do this all for free and we spend the majority of our time at our actual jobs). It turns out that all those times you’ve screamed at Evans that you could do a better job than him, well, you were right. We were just a handful of regular people who follow fantasy football a ton, and do pretty well at playing it. All that money you pay for the “KaraBlog” or for The Football Guys’ premium content, yeah, you could get that shit for free here…or at least close to it. Our stuff isn’t as pretty, and we don’t have as much content, but between us and hundreds of other amateur fantasy sites like ours (and better) you can cobble together some solid research, some entertaining stories and, if you’re lucky, pictures of boobs (NSFW). People who get paid to do this are lucky, because it’s really pretty easy. Some folks collect classic cars. Some collect pornography. Some just drink a ton. My hobby is making fantasy football content that’s as good or better than all of that other bullshit.
And giving it away for free.
The moral of the story is these guys you give your traffic and ad revenue to, these people who have what many of you (and me) consider a “dream job” are just regular assholes like the rest of us. Their only discernable talent (besides writing persuasive pieces as cogently as your garden variety 8th grader) is that they have the extra time to pay attention to football and we don’t. So I guess when I say “talent” I really mean “luxury.”
On to the start/sits (which, ironically, I’m pretty bad at…you really want Redbraham doing this, but he’s indisposed)
Maurice Morris and Kevin Smith vs. CAR: The Lions threw 63 times last week and lost. In fact, they’ve lost three of their last four, after an inexplicably-fast start. In those three losses, the team’s only losses of the season, the Lions averaged 48 pass attempts per game. In their six wins they’ve averaged 37. Obviously this has something to do with a couple of factors beyond in-game strategy, including Jahvid Best’s early-season health (he’s a helluva lot better than any other RB on the Lions’ roster) and also the fact that they haven’t had to pass as much when they’ve been in games or ahead. Big leads=more rushing opportunities, even for pass-happy teams like Detroit. This week vs. the most fantasy-friendly defense for opposing RBs, looks like a potential blowout, especially at home. Even if Carolina hangs tough, there will be fantasy points to be had for one of the Lions rushers. Now, read carefully: I’m not advocating that you start either of these fools over reliable options. I put Morris as a fringe top-15 RB this week, thanks to byes, making him a viable option in all PPR leagues. The Panthers have allowed 20 or more PPR fps in all but one week this year, and have allowed 29 or more six times. The one successful week the Panthers’ rush D had vs. opposing fantasy backs was week 7, and they had to tear Tim Hightower’s ACL to contain the Redskins’ rushers. As for Smith, I’m not confident enough in him to rank him as a starter, but he has some man-crush history with me, and I can’t help but think he could be viable in 12-14 team PPR leagues if you’re desperate.
Jackie Battle @ NWE: Tyler Palko looks like KC CocoaButter and has thrown 13 career NFL passes. As bad as the Patriots’ defense is, I still expect Palko to struggle in his first career start. Hence, the struggling Chiefs will probably lean on Battle. The former special teamer has averaged 73.2 rushing ypg in his five starts and is averaging nearly 5 ypc on the year. While he hasn’t provided many receptions (just three in five starts) or TDs (just one), I have a feeling this weekend he’ll see 20+ carries, which would be a season high. The Patriots have allowed the 7th-most fppg to opposing RBs. In standard leagues he’s an RB2, and he’s a likely flex in deep (12 team+) PPR leagues.
Marshawn Lynch @ STL: We all doubted Lynch last week vs. the Ravens, but he was unexpectedly awesome. As every fantasy expert has noted, ad nauseum, he’s almost a must-start. That said, I bet since I’ll finally start him this week, he’ll most likely suck. The Rams have “improved” vs. the run over the last two weeks, but they played two struggling run offenses in that span (Cleveland and Arizona). On the year they’re allowing the 4th-most to opposing RBs. Roll Lynch out there, but beware the LukeNukem curse.
Cedric Benson @ BAL: While I’m forced to start Benson in two leagues, unless you’re in the same boat as me (get it, Cedric Benson…boat? Never mind), you should find some way to avoid it. Benson’s been putrid lately, putting up just 15 total PPR points over his last two games, both of which vs. teams more exploitable than the Ravens. In 2009 Benson was dominant vs. Balmer, but it’s a whole new ball game this year. The plodding vet has been boring overall, for fantasy purposes, all year, and Balmer’s the toughest matchup for opposing RBs. Stay away.
Beanie Wells @ SFO: Beanie Wells has been hobbled for weeks, and over the last two weeks he’s really been exposed, putting up just 11 points on 35 combined touches. And those horrible games came vs. bad run Ds (STL and PHI). Now he gets the 2nd-toughest matchup for opposing RBs at their home field. While I believe in Skelton and the Cardinals’ passing game, every way I look at it there’s literally no chance Wells gets it going this week.
LeGarrette Blount @ GNB: Blount makes my shit list again, and this time it has very little to do with how bad and overrated he is, and almost everything to do with the situation. Green Bay is middle-of-the-road vs. RBs (after starting the season very strong), but they’re the cream of the crop when it comes to blowing out inferior teams, which Tampa most certainly is. Given Blount’s deficiencies in the hurry up (he’s caught just seven passes on the year) I don’t see much involvement from him starting in the second half, or whenever Green Bay goes up by two scores, whichever comes first.
Jordy Nelson vs. TAM: Jordy is pretty fly for a white guy, and he knows it. The speedster has caught four TDs over his last four games, and has gone over 100 in two of them. While Aquib Talib tries (most likely in vain) to contain Greg Jennings, Aaron Rodgers will be busy exploiting the rest of the Bucs’ overmatched secondary. Tampa is average vs. WRs, but Rodgers makes “average” defenses look like “shit” defenses.
Mike Williams @ GNB: I do this every week. I know I’m setting myself up for failure. But dammit, I’m heavily-invested in Williams (I’ve got him in two leagues) and it’s about damn time he does something besides just stand there. Luckily, the Packers’ pass D allows the 4th-most points to opposing receivers, and Williams will run plenty of routes against them in a potentially very lopsided affair. I have no stats to backup my Williams affliction; just trust me…I hope.
Michael Crabtree vs. ARI: Throw out Crabtree’s stinkfest last week vs. the Giants, and he’d caught 19 balls and a TD in a three-game stretch vs. better defenses than Arizona. The Cardinals are the 8th-worst at limiting opposing WRs, and with Frank Gore gimpy, Crabtree has a chance for tons of looks in the underneath game, making him infinitely valuable in PPR.
Dwayne Bowe @ NWE: Bowe is, as a rule, as hit or miss as they come. But this year he’s been relatively consistent. So why bench him vs. an atrocious Patriots secondary? Two words: Tyler Palko. Bowe was ineffective last week with just two catches. Look for Kansas City to get back to the ground game this week as they attempt to avoid an embarrassing blowout and escape Foxborough with their dignity. This spells doom for Bowe and all other KC passing options.
Mario Manningham vs. PHI: Don’t get me wrong, I like Manningham as a fringe starter this week. The Eagles have been absolutely reeling vs. the pass. Thanks to injuries in the secondary and their offense’s general inability to generate sustaining drives, they’ve allowed more than their season average to opposing WRs in three straight weeks, and allowed more to that position last week than any other team. So yeah, the potential for a big game is there for Manningham. But recall that Hakeem Nicks is not on the practice report this week at all. If he goes into the late game at full strength, Manningham, not Victor Cruz, will most likely suffer the biggest target drop-off. In the six games that Manningham and Nicks played together (for either full or partial games) prior to Nicks’s hamstring injury, Nicks accumulated 56 targets to Manning’s 45. In fact, Manningham didn’t record his first relevant fantasy line until week 8, and of his current three game TD streak, two of those games came in contests where Nicks was either a game time decision or out all together. I predict Cruz and Nicks to both record double-digit targets, with Manningham floating back to the 7 targets he was averaging per game over the first four. Oh, and by the way, Nnamdi Asomugha won’t necessarily shut down any one of the Giants’ big-time receivers because, unlike his Raiders days, he covers sides with Philly, not individuals, so he could see coverage time on Nicks, Cruz or Manningham.
A.J. Green @ BAL: I ranked Green just outside the top-10, so obviously I’m starting him in most leagues. But bear in mind I’m hugely in love with this guy, think he’s an absolute freak of nature, and on any given matchup would rank him as an elite-level, top 5-7 receiver. But coming off of a knee hyperextension and facing the 7th-toughest matchup vs. opposing WRs (and 4th of the active teams this week as of this writing) I say start him still, but temper expectations. If he blows up, I’m not surprised; he’s that good. But this smells like a bit of a letdown to me.
Carson Palmer @ MIN: The Vikings have been absolutely terrible against opposing QBs this year, allowing the 2nd-most points to them on the season. Over the last four weeks they’ve allowed 20 or more in every contest, and have allowed more than any other NFL team over the last three weeks (leading all NFL teams in points allowed to QBs in each of their last two games). However, there is a caveat: Minnesota has faced three elite QBs in a row (Aaron Rodgers, Cam Newton, then Rodgers again). But they did allow Cutler to put up 20+ to start that putrid streak, and Palmer, coming off of a two-game stretch where he put up a combined 621 passing yards and 5 TDs to 5 TOs, has a chance to repeat Cutler’s numbers. You know Adrian Peterson will exploit the Raiders’ run D, and Christian Ponder, despite his dud vs. the Packers, has the goods to keep the game interesting at home against an underwhelming Oakland pass D. So Palmer should be throwing all day. In fact, I like him so much I’m ranking him ahead of such household names as Cam Newton, Tony Romo and Matthew Stafford.
Ryan Fitzpatrick @ MIA: Here I’m going out on a limb, and completely bucking the current, widespread “hate on Fitzpatrick” campaign that’s going on among my “peers.” But remember from the nut graf (big ups to Nancy Duke), I’m just as likely to predict this stuff accurately (and so are you) as the rest of these douche stains. Yes, Fitzpatrick and the Bills have been struggling lately, having been outscored 71-18 over the last two weeks. But what better time to get back on track than this week, against the “surging” Miami Dolphins? CBS’s Jamey Eisenberg accurately points out that Fitzpatrick is suffering from some severe o-line injuries. But seriously, Eisenberg? Really? The Dolphins are 25th in the NFL in passing yards allowed, tied for dead last in INTs, and tied for 6th in passing TDs allowed. They are fourth in the league in fantasy points allowed to opposing QBs, and were hovering near first before their unimpressive little two-game winning streak (or losing streak, if you’re a depressed Dolphins fan) vs. Rex Grossman and Matt Cassel. I’m pretty sure Fitzpatrick can handle them and put up respectable, top-10 QB numbers this week (I have him ranked #5). In fact, he’s averaged 231 passing yards, 2.5 TDs and just 1 TO per game in four games vs. KAN, WAS, PHI and OAK. So he’s got the goods to march into good weather in South Beach and put it to the team with the league’s worst home field advantage.
Jay Cutler vs. SDG: I was tempted to recommend Josh Freeman here (and I actually do rank Freeman ahead of Cutler this week, but it’s purely wishful thinking, and I admit that). But Cutler seems like a safe bet for start-worthy numbers in 12-team leagues, while Freeman has big upside in a potential shootout vs. one of the league’s softest secondaries. Anyway, on to Cutler. If you want some solid, but not great numbers out of your QB, look into him this week. Cutler is the most-sacked QB this year, but San Diego has just 18 sacks on the season, better than just seven other NFL teams. For fantasy purposes, the Chargers allow the 8th-most fppg to opposing QBs, and have been beaten in four straight games, and three of those losses came at the hands of QBs who are probably not much better (or who are significantly worse) than Cutler. While a Rodgers freakout game does significantly skew the numbers (and that’s typical; he’s great vs. everyone), don’t forget that this is the same Chargers team that let Mark Sanchez throw three predictable TDs to Plaxico Burress, and allowed Carson Palmer, just last week, to throw for 299 and two scores in just his second start in almost a calendar year. And that was at home. Start Cutler with confidence vs. the drowning Bolts.
Alex Smith vs. ARI: I know there’s a lot of Smith love out there this week. And I like the guy. I really do. I think he does well as a game manager for a run-heavy team, especially in crunch time. All that said, he’s not a legit fantasy QB. Never will be, not even this week vs. a great matchup in the Arizona Cardinals. Smith has two 20+ fps games to his name this year, two single-digit games and ranked 18th in the league among QBs in fppg. He’s been outscored, on a per game basis, by Matt Hasselbeck, Philip Rivers, Andy Dalton and Mark Sanchez (even after Thursday’s debacle). I know the Cardinals suck against QBs, but unless you have safe matchup advantages elsewhere, don’t expect big things from Smith this week, or in any week following. He might throw it around a little bit, especially underneath, with Frank Gore hobbling. He just won’t deliver big numbers.
Joe Flacco vs. CIN: This is a big game for both teams. It’s pretty much a must-win for Cincy, and the Ravens need it almost as badly. Needless to say, Flacco will suck in the face of heavy extrinsic pressure and vs. a very solid Bengals’ pass D. That is to say, he’ll be about as good as he always is. The ‘Gals are 7th-toughest vs. QBs, allowing around 13 fppg. Flacco, meanwhile, is averaging around 14 fppg, good for 19th in the league. If you’re keeping track, that’s even worse than Alex Smith. Two out of Flacco’s first three games to start the season were very nice showings, but since then he’s been hurried and pressured into mistakes on a weekly basis. The result has been an ugly stretch of four single-digit fps output games, and zero games over 20 fps since week 3. The Ravens should continue to keep the game plan conservative this week. Expect heavy doses of Ray Rice, and just a couple (probably failed) long attempts sprinkled into a relatively vanilla short passing game.
Matt Hasselbeck @ ATL: After starting the season with three games of 20 or more fps in his first four, Hasselbeck has averaged about 14 fppg since, recording just one 20+ fps game since week four. While Atlanta is not great against QBs, they seem to have turned it on over the past few games. In week 6 they forced Cam Newton into his worst passing line of the year, and the week later limited Matthew Stafford to his second-lowest fantasy output of the season. Hasselbeck is a borderline starter, and I’d trust him as my QB2 in a start-two league, but other than that there are probably better options.
Fred Davis vs. DAL: There are several things stacked against Fred Davis this week. He was shut down last week vs. the Dolphins. His opponent this week, the Cowboys, have allowed under 13 combined fps to TEs over their last two games. The last time Davis played the ‘Boys was his worst game of the season, as he caught just one pass for 23 yards. But let’s address these issues individually. The Dolphins are not good vs. TEs, but over the last four games they’ve improved, allowing just 8.9 PPR fps to the position over that span. So Davis clearly caught them on an upswing. As far as the Cowboys, well, even with their lockdown numbers over weeks 9 and 10 they’re allowing the 3rd-most fppg to the position on the year, and the two starting TEs they faced over the last two games were chumps (Scott Chandler and Zach Miller). In fact, in games where the ‘Boys have played TEs as legit as Davis (even including the game where they actually played Davis) they have been exploited. In all the games leading up to those two, Dallas allowed an average of 13.4 fppg to opposing TEs, by far the most in the league. The main TE targets in question were Dustin Keller, Vernon Davis, Brandon Pettigrew, the Patriots duo of stud TEs, Lance Kendrick and Brent Celek. Even in the Washington game they allowed double digits to the position, though Chris Cooley was healthy for that game and did most of the TE damage. That helps explain why Davis was so ineffective in the first game vs. Dallas. Including the game Cooley was injured in, Davis has averaged 18.8 fppg over the last five (all without Cooley for most or all of the game). So to sum up all these numbers, the Cowboys are clearly the worst team in the league at defending the TE right this moment (though the Bears are very close), Davis’s worst games came in contests against teams much better at defending the position, and since he’s been the featured option for the Redskins’ passing attack, Davis has been nothing short of elite. Start him with confidence.
Kellen Winslow @ GNB: I’ve been down on Winslow all year thanks to his inconsistent production and disappointing volume. But he’s definitely one of the best options in a crappy passing attack. While that’s not a glowing endorsement on its own, the Packers allow the 6th-most points to opposing TEs on the year, and as I’ve already mentioned several times, I assume Tampa will be throwing a lot in this game. After Green Bay goes up big, and starts to relax into deep zones, Winslow could rack up some catches over the soft middle. In a PPR league I could totally see him reaching season highs in catches and yards, making him useful even if he doesn’t score.
Ed Dickson vs. CIN: It’s tempting to start Dickson after his monster, two-TD outing last week. But as usual I’m leery about anyone up against the Bengals and their stiff defense. While Balmer tends to play down to its competition, they’ve been great vs. winning teams, and this week’s game looks like a classic vs. the division-rival Bengals; it would surprise me if they didn’t get up for it. Still, Dickson is iffy. Prior to last week, he had gone seven consecutive games without a TD. His 10-catches, 79 yards and 2 scores were all career highs, but he achieved them vs. a Seahawks team that allows the 4th-most fppg to opposing TEs. The Bengals are closer to average vs. opposing TEs, so I see Dickson definitely regressing to the pre-Seattle game mean.
Brandon Pettigrew vs. CAR: It’s hard to bench a reliable pass-catching weapon who plays for a team that passes more than anyone in the league except for New Orleans. And I think Pettigrew is a viable starter in 10-team leagues this week thanks to byes. But he’s been awfully disappointing lately. He’s averaged just 6.6 PPR fppg over the last three, and couldn’t exploit the pillow-soft zone looks the Bears were showing Detroit last week (though Detroit’s other TE, Tony Scheffler, did manage a score). The Panthers will likely be a tougher matchup. Even without studly MLB Jon Beason, Carolina has been very good against TEs this year, allowing the 8th-fewest fppg to them on the season. Over the last two they’ve allowed just 13 combined fps, good for 6th-fewest in the league over that span.