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You never know what teams are going to look like from year to year. That is the case this year more than ever since there hasn’t been an early free agency period. Knowing that it’s ridiculously early to look ahead to Weeks 14-16 of a season that remains in question, I’ll forge ahead anyway. It’s beats thinking about the lockout. Click here to go the NFL.com’s interactive schedule.
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Week 14
Pittsburgh opens to fantasy playoffs taking on Cleveland at home in a short week (Thursday). Cleveland ranked 27th against the run. Though the Browns did a good job limiting Rashard Mendenhall to 120 yards in the two games, he managed to score three touchdowns against them.
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Cincinnati is holding out hope that Carson Palmer returns.  Chad Ochocinco likely won’t be back. Jerome Simpson and the other players in the passing game will welcome the sight of Houston’s league-worst pass defense in Week 14.
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Washington had the second worst pass defense last year, and it won’t get any easier in Week 14 as they have to take on the Patriots powerful attack.
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Matt Forte gets a crack at Denver’s second-worst run defense while Ryan Mathews gets Buffalo’s league-worst run defense.
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Dwayne Bowe gets to spend some time on Revis Island.
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Week 15
We don’t know who will be running the ball for the Dolphins next year, but we do know they have a good match-up in Week 15 against  Buffalo.
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Arian Foster should do some heavy lifting against Carolina.
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DeSean Jackson will get put to the test on Revis Island.
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Week 16
Peyton Manning have to be licking their chops when they see Houston on the schedule for the fantasy football championship. He combined for 701 yards and five touchdowns against them last year.
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Knowshon Moreno has yet to live up to his expectations, but this could be the year with John Fox as coach. He draws Buffalo this week.
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Hakeem Nicks has a date on Revis Island. Peyton Hillis faces Baltimore. Rest assured they know who he is now.


Image courtesy of Icon SMI
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I was asked to participate in the FantasyPros.com Featured Pros segment this week. Click here to see the full article and the responses from from The Scores Report, Chet Gresham from Razzball.
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Question 1
Give us 2 or 3 players that might be available off of waivers that you would target to stash away now for the playoffs (weeks 14-16), and tell us why.
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My Response:
Beanie Wells’ knee concerns me. Even if he’s able to go this week, I’m not convinced he comes away Monday without swelling. If they lose as expected to Kansas City this week, they will be 3-7. With nothing to play for, Arizona’s front office could shut down Beanie Wells, meaning Tim Hightower could get some starts down the stretch. They have a favorable schedule ahead with St. Louis, Denver, Carolina, and Dallas looming in Weeks 13-16.

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Arrelious Benn has scored in consecutive weeks and is finally showing up on the fantasy radar. He too has a nice stretch of games in Weeks 13-16 as he faces Atlanta, Washington, Detroit, and Seattle. If you aren’t able to get his teammate Mike Williams, Benn may be a sneaky force down the stretch. continue reading »

The NFL schedule was released yesterday. I know it’s hard to speculate which teams will be good and which teams will be bad in early September, let alone late April. I’m gonna do it anyway. Here’s a look at some key match-ups in the fantasy football playoffs.

Week 14
Dream Match-ups:
Green Bay @ Detroit
If you are keeping Aaron Rodgers, Ryan Grant, Greg Jennings, or even Jermichael Finely for you dynasty folks, you have to be thrilled with this opening round draw.

St. Louis @ New Orleans
My guess is the Saints will not have the NFC South wrapped up at this point and will lay the hammer down on the Rams. Good news for Brees and company.

Kansas City @ San Diego
Philip Rivers, Antonio Gates, and Vincent Jackson get a nice match-up as well.

Tough Draws:  
Miami @ NY Jets 
Brandon Marshall owners can’t like his date with Revis.

Marquee Match-ups:  
Tennessee @ Indy, NY Giants @ Minnesota, Philly @ Dallas, Baltimore @ Houston

Week 15
Dream Match-ups:
Cleveland @ Cincinnati 
Weather could slow the passing game, but Cedric Benson should run wild.

Kansas City @ St. Louis
Jamaal Charles, Thomas Jones, and Steven Jackson could all rack up the yards in this match-up.

Marquee Match-ups:  
Houston @ Tennessee, New Orleans @ Baltimore, Philly @ NY Giants, NY Jets @ Pittsburgh (welcome back Santonio), Green Bay @ New England

Week 16
Dream Match-ups:
Tennessee @ Kansas City
Chris Johnson should go off.

Baltimore @ Cleveland
Joe Flacco, Ray Rice, and Anquan Boldin are drooling.

San Francisco @ St. Louis
Frank Gore, Vernon Davis, and Michael Crabtree are licking their chops.

Detroit @ Miami
If you survive Week 14 with Brandon Marshall, here’s your payoff.

Marquee Match-ups:
Minnesota @ Philly, NY Giants @ Green Bay, San Diego @ Cincinnati, New Orleans @ Atlanta

Before we get started, check out my Week 17 NFL picks.

Fantasy Football Forum
How did the championship round go? You take home a title? Brag it up if you did. I am also pleased to offer you $10 off at Iwonmyleague.com if you want to get a trophy to commemorate your victory. Simply go to Iwonmyleague.com and enter the promo code AFIL2009. Be sure to check out their new Pigskin Collection trophies.

Here’s a look at how I fared in my leagues.

KFFL Analysis League
Record:  9-4, Eliminated First Round of Playoffs

Fantasy Football Search League – I played in the third place game. Ryan Grant, Randy Moss, San Francisco Defense were my top performers. Marion  Barber III, Steve Smith (NYG) and Ocho played well for my opponent. I won the third place game.
Record:  7-6, First Round Bye, Eliminated Second Round of the playoffs
3rd Place Finish

Rotoprofessor Challenge
Record:  7-6, Eliminated First Round of Playoffs, Won 5th Place Game

My Keeper League – I played in the fifth place game. Kurt Warner, Ryan Grant, Pierre Thomas, Andre Johnson, Ocho, Larry Fitzgerald, Brent Celek, and Atlanta Defense were solid for me. Jonathan Stewart, Greg Olsen, and Santonio Holmes were solid for my opponent. I simply crushed him.
Record:  6-8, Won first consolation round game, Won 5th Place game

Fantasy Trifecta League
Record:  3-10, Last Place Finish

Weekly Record:  2-0
Regular Season Record: 32-34
Fantasy Playoffs Record:  0-3
Consolation Round Record:  4-0
Overall Record:    36-37

I also participated in a couple of optimal lineup fantasy leagues. These are leagues that you aren’t allowed to make any waiver wire moves or trades. Each week your best lineup is automatically submitted.

FFPC Pros vs. Joes
Six divisions of 12 teams, each comprised of six experts and six average Joes. I won my division and finished third out of 72 teams. See the complete standings here.

Fantasy Players Network Challenge

Three divisions of 12 teams comprised of member sites of the Fantasy Players Network. I finished seventh in my division and 19th overall.  See the complete standing here.

That’s how my weekend of fantasy football went. How did you do?

Before we get started, check out my Week 16 NFL picks.

Fantasy Football Forum
How did the second round of the fantasy playoffs go for you? You advance to the title game?

I’m in five leagues so I’ll recap each one.

KFFL Analysis League - I was knocked out of the playoffs last week. Such a shame as I would have dominated this week (Peyton, Mendenhall, Beanie, Chambers, Andre Johnson, Wayne, Gates, Baltimore D).
Record:  9-4, Eliminated First Round of Playoffs

Fantasy Football Search League – Reggie Wayne got me off to a nice start. Randy Moss, Laurence Maroney, and Fred Davis played well for me. Donovan McNabb, Jamaal Charles, Chris Johnson, Todd Heap, Brandon Marshall, and Fred Jackson played well for my opponent. I got cute and started Arian Foster, which blew up in my face. My playoff woes continued.
Record:  7-6, First Round Bye, Eliminated Second Round of the playoffs

Rotoprofessor Challenge - I was knocked out of the playoffs last week, but was in the fifth place game. I started off with Wayne and my opponent countered with MJD. Donovan McNabb, Ricky Williams,  John Carlson, and DeSean Jackson played well for me. I destroyed my opponent.
Record:  7-6, Eliminated First Round of Playoffs, Won 5th Place Game

My Keeper League – I missed the playoffs, but had a loser’s bracket match-up. My opponent got off to a big start with Dallas Clark. Fitz, Ocho,  and Andre Johnson were solid. Chris Johnson and Baltimore D was tough for my opponent. I managed to pick up the win.
Record:  6-8, Won first consolation round game

Fantasy Trifecta League – My nightmare came to an end.
Record:  3-10, Last Place Finish

Weekly Record:  2-1
Regular Season Record: 32-34
Fantasy Playoffs Record:  0-3
Consolation Round Record:  2-0
Overall Record:    34-37

That’s how my weekend of fantasy football went. How did you do?

Weather often plays a factor in the fantasy playoffs. Here’s a look at some key games where weather could play a role.

New England Patriots @ Buffalo Bills

Normally Buffalo would be the problem site, but fantasy owners are fortunate this game isn’t in Foxboro. Feel free to use all of your regulars for both teams. The Bills running game gets an upgrade as New England is hurting up front.

Atlanta Falcons @ New York Jets
It will be cold, but nothing the players can’t handle. If Matt Ryan and Michael Turner are able to go, I would start them with caution though.

Oakland Raiders @ Denver Broncos
It’s going to be a beautiful day in Denver. Use your Broncos with confidence. I hope you don’t have to rely on any Raiders.

San Francisco 49ers @ Philadelphia Eagles
Now we get to the game that will have the weather people excited. Luckily most of the snow will have fallen. Wind will likely be the main factor. Don’t bench McNabb, DeSean Jackson, Brent Celek, Michael Crabtree, or Vernon Davis because of the weather. I would be reluctant to use Alex Smith, however, but I would be reluctant to use him even if weather wasn’t an issue.

Green Bay Packers @ Pittsburgh Steelers
Weather shouldn’t be an issue in this one. Plus, both teams are accustomed to weather this time of year.

Chicago Bears @ Baltimore Ravens
Snow shouldn’t be an issue, but the wind will be. This could be the worst weather game of the weekend. Downgrade both passing games. Ray Rice and Matt Forte should be very active both running and catching the football.

Minnesota Vikings @ Carolina Panthers
It’s going to be cold in Bank of America Stadium tonight, but wind shouldn’t be much of a factor. Brett Favre doesn’t play as well when it’s cold anymore, plus Sidney Rice and Percy Harvin aren’t 100%. I’d downgrade their passing game. Adrian Peterson and Chester Taylor should be busy tonight.

Before we get started, check out my Week 15 NFL picks.

Fantasy Football Forum
How did the opening round of the fantasy playoffs go for you?

I’m in five leagues so I’ll recap each one.

KFFL Analysis League - Petyon Manning, Andre Johnson, and Antonio Gates played well for me. Ray Rice, Frank Gore, and Ocho played well for my opponent. I finished with a decent score, but just ran into a buzz saw. I would have beat either of the other two playoff teams, but those are the breaks.
Record:  9-4, Eliminated First Round of Playoffs

Fantasy Football Search League – I earned a bye in the playoffs in this league, which is surprising given my record. This league was as even as any I have ever been in. There was one 9-4 team, one 8-5 team, six 7-6 teams, two 6-7 teams, one 5-8 team, and one 2-11 team. This league was split into two division, and I had the most points of the four 7-6 teams in my division. In fact I had the most points in the league.
Record:  7-6, First Round Bye

Rotoprofessor Challenge - Donovan McNabb, Ricky Williams, LT, T.O., DeSean Jackson, and Baltimore D played well for me. Tony Romo, Chris Johnson, Jamaal Charles, Fred Davis, Brandon Marshall, and Tennessee D played well for my opponent. It wasn’t meant to be. The RP assembled an incredible team. Not only did I face the highest of the playoff scorers, I faced the highest score in the league all year.
Record:  7-6, Eliminated First Round of Playoffs

My Keeper League – Andre Johnson, Ocho, Brent Celek, and New York Jets D played well for me. Adrian Peterson, Jamaal Charles, Rob Bironas, DeSean Jackson, Vernon Davis, and Marques Colston played well for my opponent. My loss put an end to a frustrating season. If I had anyone else’s schedule I would have made the playoffs. That’s fantasy football for you.
Record:  6-8

Fantasy Trifecta League – My nightmare came to an end.
Record:  3-10

Weekly Record:  0-3
Regular Season Record: 32-35
Fantasy Playoffs Record:  0-2

That’s how my weekend of fantasy football went. How did you do?

Time for another Fourth & 1 Roundtable Debate.   It’s my week to provide the topic.  Here goes.

This Week’s Topic
Which unheralded player is going to play the part of Billy Volek or Drew Bennett and make a huge splash in the opening round of the fantasy playoffs?

4th Down Marker
Ryan Lester of
www.lesterslegends.com:
A player that I’m loving this week is
Jamaal Charles. He’s averaging 97.3 total yards and a score in his  last four games since taking over for Larry Johnson. Not only has he been hot, but he faces Buffalo’s run defense that ranks dead last with 172.1 yards allowed per game. They have also allowed 16 rushing TDs, which ranks 30th.

Another player I like this week is Joe Flacco. He is facing the Detroit’s pass defense that ranks dead last in both passing yards allowed (274.8 per game) and passing TDs allowed (28). If you have Flacco paired up with Jay Cutler (vs. GB), Kyle Orton (@ INDY), Carson Palmer (@ MINN), or Eli Manning (vs. PHI), you may want to roll with Joe this week.

4th Down Marker
Hatty of www.hattywaiverwireguru.com:
I think Vince Young makes a big splash going into playoffs with his light schedule: Rams, Dolphins, Chargers, then Seahawks.  If you have been frustrated recently by your QB’s lack of performance then turn to Vince to carry you through the playoffs.  If you are in a monster league and need to dig a bit further then go after Brady Quinn for week 15 against the Chiefs then week 17 against the Jaguars.

4th Down Marker
Kurt Turner of www.top-fantasy-football.com:
As Tab Bamford points out in his Playoff QB Primer Bruce Gradkowski (WAS, @ DEN, @ CLE) could arise to the occasion. “The Raiders are throwing the ball all over the place and Gradkowski’s been successful doing it. Washington’s not as bad as paper would tell you they were on Sunday, and the Broncos and Browns could get you some points in critical playoff matchups. If you’re sitting on a quarterback with a tough championship matchup (Orton, Hasselbeck, Roethlisberger), he might be a solid value add this week for the stretch.”

4th Down Marker
Smitty of www.fantasyfootballxtreme.com:
If you’re looking for an unheralded hero in Week 14, consider giving Steelers WR Mike Wallace the green light for your third wide receiver spot. He shouldn’t be anyone’s fantasy WR2 heading into round one of the 2009 fantasy football playoffs, but with Hines Ward a long-shot to play in Week 14 (Thursday night game), Mike Wallace could see a grip of targets against the Browns. Wallace is a rookie, and he has a lot of learning to do, but he has shown flashes of brilliance at times this season. In Week 3, Wallace pulled in seven passes for 102 yards, and he also looked good in Weeks 5-9 (bye in Week 8), where he scored touchdown in three out of those four games. Take advantage of the match-up and the situation if you own Wallace and expect a a good 4-5 receptions, 70-80 yards and a score in this one. This kid has a bright future in Pittsburgh if he can stay healthy and refine his game.

4th Down Marker
Bryce McRae of www.kffl.com:
The Washington Redskins stole my thunder a bit by naming Quinton Ganther their starter at running back; he’s still works for this question … AND he should still be available in your fantasy league.

With Clinton Portis (concussion) out and now done for the year, Ganther had been sharing part of the workload carrying the ball with Rock Cartwright and Marcus Mason. The Rock had started the last two games; he totaled just 77 yards on 29 carries, though. Mason has received a few token carries in each game but with 14 yards combined and just 33 yards on 12 carries this year, he hasn’t really accomplished anything for the ‘Skins.

Which brings us to Ganther. His workload has increased in each of the last two games; he received the ball five times for 32 yards in Week 11 (6.4 yards per carry) and eight times for 46 yards last week (5.8 yards per carry). He’s 5-foot-9 and 214 pounds and can be a bull in the running game. Offensive coordinator Sherman Smith has familiarity with Ganther from their time on the Tennessee Titans together.

Ganther will get his first taste of starter’s work against the Oakland Raiders, too; they aren’t exactly a top-notch run D. His final three matchups are tough, but quarterback Jason Campbell has looked better behind center, giving teams something to think about fromWashington’s receiving game. It isn’t a ton, but it helps.

4th Down Marker
RC of www.junkyardjake.com:
Rookie
Mohamed Massaquoi has been rather inconsistent, but I think he has a chance to be a week 14 fantasy playoff hero against the struggling Steelers secondary.  Pittsburgh has been alarmingly bad against some awful offensive units over the past three weeks.  They gave up 119 yards to Chris Chambers, and let Kansas City QB Matt Cassell throw for 248 yards and 2 TDs in week 11.  Then last week against the Oakland Raiders, Pittsburgh somehow permitted Bruce Gradkowski to throw for 308 yards and 3 TDs as they ended up on the wrong end of perhaps the most shocking upset of the year.  If the Steelers’ recent defensive trend of folding against the worst offensive teams in the league holds up this week, you might be glad to have Mohamed Massaquoi in your lineup.

4th Down Marker
Jacob of www.fantasyfootballfools.com:
Injuries have opened the door for many unheralded players in the fantasy football playoffs this year, including running backs like Cleveland’s Jerome Harrison and Kansas City’s Jamaal Charles, but in Week 14, my pick to make a splash is San Francisco quarterback Alex Smith.

The San Francisco 49ers have catered to Alex Smith’s skills with a spread offense similar to the one he ran in college, and within this new offense, Smith has taken advantage of receiving options like Vernon Davis, Michael Crabtree, and Josh Morgan. In Week 14, Smith faces the Cardinals’ secondary, a unit that likes to take chances and allows plenty of scoring through the air.

According to FF Today, Arizona ranks ninth in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks, allowing an average of 20.2 points to quarterbacks each week.

Coming off a 310-yard, two-touchdown performance in Seattle, I believe Smith will make a game of it and do his best to keep up with the Cardinals explosive air attack. Chances are good that he scores a place among the top 10 at quarterback once again.

If your top fantasy quarterback is bound for trouble this week, and you can’t get your hands on Joe Flacco, who faces the Lions, take a chance on Smith. Best of luck in the playoffs.

The NFL schedules have been released.  Obviously you never know how teams are going to perform.  Here’s an early look at who could disappoint during the fantasy football playoffs.

Quarterback
Week 16
:  Ben Roethlisberger vs. Baltimore, Jay Cutler vs. Minnesota, Philip Rivers vs. Tennessee

Week 15:  Aaron Rodgers vs. Pittsburgh, Jay Cutler vs. Baltimore, Carson Palmer vs. San Diego

Week 14:  Carson Palmer vs. Minnesota, Donovan McNabb vs. NYG, Eli Manning vs. Philadelphia

Running Back
Week 16
:  LT vs. Tennessee, Le’Ron McClain vs. Pittsburgh, Willie Parker vs. Baltimore, DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart vs. NYG, Marion Barber III vs. Washington, Matt Forte vs. Minnesota

Week 15:  Marshawn Lynch vs. New England, Ronnie Brown vs. Tennessee, Ryan Grant vs. Pittsburgh, Matt Forte vs. Baltimore, Cedric Benson vs. San Diego, Brandon Jacobs vs. Washington, DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart vs. Minnesota

Week 14:  Steven Jackson vs. Tennessee, Kevin Smith vs. Baltimore, Cedric Benson vs. Minnesota, Brian Westbrook vs. NYG

Wide Receiver
Week 16
:  Vincent Jackson vs. Tennessee,  Santonio Holmes and Hines Ward vs. Baltimore

Week 15:  Greg Jennings vs. Pittsburgh, Chad Ocho Cinco vs. San Diego, Brandon Marshall vs. Oakland

Week 14:  Calvin Johnson vs. Baltimore, Chad Ocho Cinco vs. Minnesota, Santana Moss vs. Oakland

Stay tuned as these lists are bound to change.

The NFL schedules have been released.  Obviously you never know how teams are going to perform.  Here’s an early look at who should shine during the fantasy football playoffs.

Quarterback
Week 16
:  Matt Cassel vs. Cincinnati, Aaron Rodgers vs. Seattle, Donovan McNabb vs. Denver, Kurt Warner vs. St. Louis

Week 15:  Tony Romo vs. New Orleans, Tom Brady vs. Buffalo, Kurt Warner vs. Detroit, Matt Cassel vs. Cleveland, Matt Schaub vs. Houston, Donovan McNabb vs. San Francisco, Philip Rivers vs. Cincinnati

Week 14:  Ben Roethlisberger vs. Cleveland, Matt Ryan vs. New Orleans, Peyton Manning vs. Denver, Matt Schaub vs. Seattle, Kurt Warner vs. San Francisco

Running Back
Week 16
:  Michael Turner vs. Buffalo, Darren McFadden vs. Cleveland, Ryan Grant vs. Seattle, Derrick Ward vs. New Orleans, Brian Westbrook vs. Denver, Steven Jackson vs. Arizona, Frank Gore vs. Detroit

Week 15:  Marion Barber III vs. New Orleans, Brian Westbrook vs. San Francisco, LT vs. Cincinnati, Darren McFadden vs. Denver, Derrick Ward vs. Seattle

Week 14:  Willie Parker vs. Cleveland, Michael Turner vs. New Orleans, Chris Johnson vs. St. Louis, Joseph Addai vs. Denver, Marshawn Lynch vs. KC, Le’Ron McClain vs. Detroit, Steve Slaton vs. Seattle, Adrian Peterson vs. Cincinnati, Clinton Portis vs. Oakland

Wide Receiver
Week 16
:  T.O. vs. Atlanta, Dwayne Bowe vs. Cincinnati, Chad Ocho Cinco vs. Kansas City, Greg Jennings vs. Seattle, Antonio Bryant vs. New Orleans, DeSean Jackson vs. Denver, Larry Fitzgerald, Anquan Boldin, and Steve Breaston vs. St. Louis, Calvin Johnson vs. San Francisco

Week 15:  Fitzgerald, Anquan Boldin, and Steve Breaston vs. St. Louis vs. Detroit, Dwayne Bowe vs. Cleveland, Andre Johnson vs. St. Louis, Chad Ocho Cinco vs. San Diego, Vincent Jackson vs. Cincinnati, Antonio Bryant vs. Seattle, Calvin Johnson vs. Arizona,

Week 14:  Santonio Holmes & Hines Ward vs. Cleveland, Roddy White vs. New Orleans, Reggie Wayne vs. Denver, T.O. vs. Kansas City, Andre Johnson vs. Seattle, Larry Fitzgerald, Anquan Boldin and Steve Breaston vs. San Francisco

Stay tuned as these lists are bound to change.


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