By: Justin Lynch
With just one more regular season week, Lynch looks ahead to the fantasy playoffs.
A brutal Patriots loss pushed the recap back a day, but at least now I can include the Monday night game!
C. J. Anderson
The running back that I desired the most coming into the season (outside of Bell) was Anderson. Thus far, he could not have disappointed anymore. However, if you have not given up on him yet, the tide may be turning. After playing big-boy football in the snow versus then-undefeated New England (by the way, Patriots got absolutely hosed, but that’s for the Big Three Podcast), Anderson should find himself back as the starter going forward. Anderson has been running with a little more pep in his step since the bye week, and his increase in yards per carry shows. In September his yards/attempt was 2.3, in October it was 3.0, in November it has been 6.3. He also added his only three touchdowns and has increased his workload.
Going forward, look for the Broncos to ride the hot hand, but also expect the hot hand to be Anderson. It is unrealistic to expect him to end this season like he ended last season, but his next four games are against San Diego, Oakland, Pittsburgh, and Cincinnati. SD and Oak should be walks in the park, and then he can relish in the cold weather of Pittsburgh and Denver in the fantasy playoffs. I’m back on team Anderson, but this time, proceed with caution.
Kamar Aiken/Javorius Allen
Aiken put together his fourth straight double-digit performance, and now has scored 10+ in PPR leagues in seven of his last eight appearances. The lack of Steve Smith has brought Aiken more targets, as expected, and he’s now scored in back-to-back weeks. Likewise, Allen made the most of his opportunity in relief of Justin Forsett. Despite only carrying the ball 12 times, Allen gained 55 yards (4.6 average) and hauled in four catches (on five targets) for 29 yards and a score. Obviously, the receiving score is not something to put stock in, and the Ravens have a tough schedule going forward in which they will have to throw (good for Aiken), but Allen is clearly the lead dog and they can’t just have Schaub throw the ball 50 times every game. Allen will get his touches and he’s good enough to take advantage of them. The same goes for Aiken.
Jeremy Maclin/Jordan Matthews
The game of peek-a-boo these two are playing is downright annoying. After starting off the year looking like a top-7 receiver, Matthews hit the skids for five weeks, before bursting back onto the scene for 9-133-1 in week 9. He proceeded to gain a total of 33 yards the next two weeks (combined), and then came back to life this week, scoring in garbage time and ending up with 3-60-1. Maclin started off a little slower but then scored 28, 25, and 16 points (PPR) in weeks 3-5. Since then he has been irrelevant scoring 7, 0, 12, 4, and 5 points his next five outings. This week, he lit up Buffalo’s Stephon Gilmore for 9-160-1.
The moral of the story is with four weeks left in the fantasy season, you cannot trust these guys under any circumstances. There is no rhyme or reason to when and why these guys breakout. So, if you have to have one of the two, I would rather Maclin because he has a significantly easier schedule, but so far schedule has not really mattered with these two. I would only dare start them if you are a huge underdog and need to take a chance on someone having a huge game, and even then it’s a stretch.
The Return of the Running QB’s?
WIlson is officially back. The Seahawks are poised to make their run and Wilson is at the helm. With eight passing TD’s in his last two games, Wilson should be on a roster in every league and he needs to be considered for the start every week. He does not have a cupcake of a schedule going forward, but it certainly is not super difficult either. Wilson, like Anderson, could be peaking at the right time.
He’s been back for a while, but has not been posting the numbers he did before his injury. This week he returned to his pre-injury form throwing for 291-3 against a strong Chiefs defense. With Houston, Philly, Washington, and Dallas remaining, Taylor should have no trouble putting up 20+ points/game from here on out.
Mariota also left us for a few weeks due to injury, and his 32 points followed by seven made me a little concerned about his reliability late in the season. I’m am officially off the Mariota fantasy train for this season. He has not posted double digit points against a decent defense yet (he was 10+ against TB, Cleveland, Indy, New Orleans, Jacksonville, and Oakland) and against tougher defenses he was awful (9 points versus Buffalo, 4 versus Miami, 7 versus Carolina). He gets to beat up on Jacksonville this week, but then has NYJ, NE, and Houston in the fantasy playoffs. Stay far away from Mariota after this week.