Fantasy football clicks: Depth an unnecessary luxury after byes
Fantasy owners should use depth to acquire top talents after bye weeks end
Averaging 7.2 yards per carry, C.J. Spiller has making of a feature back for Bills
Bears may counter Texans' defensive pressure by using Matt Forte often Sunday
For the first time in about a month, the bye week doesn't take a huge bite out of fantasy lineups. Outside of the guys from Green Bay, only Robert Griffin III, Alfred Morris and Larry Fitzgerald are regular fantasy starters taking a seat this week. No doubt you've already budgeted for those losses. Moreover, next week is the final week any teams are on bye, with the Vikings, Giants, Seahawks and Titans getting the week off. At this point, the depth that got many through the middle of the fantasy regular season is not nearly as important. Now is the time you want to marginalize the decision-making process and maximize the starting lineup. If you've got excess depth, now is the time to sell it for an upgrade that can put you over the top.
The strategy behind this is simple enough. When regular starters are going on bye, you need guys like Vick Ballard and Rashad Jennings and Sidney Rice on your roster. Now that your team will be at full strength every week, barring injuries, those guys become a lot less important. Unless you're spectacularly thin at running back, you probably won't have many opportunities to start Ballard again this season. However, there invariably is an owner in every league who is spectacularly thin at running back who would love the option of starting Ballard every week. That guy becomes your target in a two-for-one trade.
Pulling off a two-for-one trade is easier said than done. The goal is to trade the second and third best players in the deal for the best. For example, let's say in a league where you can only start two running backs, you have Adrian Peterson, Michael Turner and Ahmad Bradshaw. If you can find an owner who is thin in the backfield, but has, say, C.J. Spiller, dealing Turner and Bradshaw for the Bills' back makes sense. You no longer need the insurance that Turner and Bradshaw provide for each other. The name of the game at this stage of the year is getting the absolute best weekly lineup. Spiller, or someone else like that, allows you to field a starting lineup with a higher ceiling.
This is likely the last chance to make an impact trade before most leagues hit their trade deadline. Look for owners who are particularly weak at a position where you have some depth, and see if you can pull off one of these two-for-one deals. You'll be happy you did come the end of December.
That's what I think. Here's what I think about what other people think this week.
Over at Yahoo!, two of the three writers participating in their weekly over/under column say Emmanuel Sanders will have less than 59.5 receiving yards this week. I'll join Scott Pianowski and agree that Sanders goes over that number. With Antonio Brown out, he should see increased targets against a very bad Kansas City team. Even though Pittsburgh should build a big lead that has the Steelers running the ball a ton in the second half, they'll have the pedal to the metal the first 30 minutes. That'll be enough for Sanders to get to 60 yards and a touchdown.
Michael Fabiano at NFL.com suggests that Denarius Moore will have a rough day against the Ravens, and that he should be benched. I could not disagree more. To begin with, Moore has reached never-bench status. He has given fantasy owners at least 6.5 points every week this year in standard scoring leagues. Benching Moore would be a case of taking a seemingly tough matchup way too seriously. Make sure he is active this week.
Aaron Rodgers is on a bye this week, but there's reason to believe he may be even better when Green Bay returns. Jonathan Bales at RotoWire (subscription required) finds that Rodgers has thrown an "abnormally low" number of passes inside the 10-yard-line, given the Packers' pass/run ratio. Only 32 percent of Rodgers' throws have come from his opponents' 10 and in. Fifteen of the other 19 quarterbacks in the top 20 have had a higher percentage of their passes come from that part of the field. For Drew Brees, that number is 55.6 percent. Peyton Manning is at 52.4 percent. Robert Griffin III is at 47.1 percent. Chances are that number will start to even out for Rodgers, and that should result in an even greater boon for his owners.
Mixed into this Start 'Em, Sit 'Em column by CBS.com's Jamey Eisenberg is a note on why the Bills need to make C.J. Spiller a true feature back. Neither of us are exactly splitting the atom by saying this, but it's time for Spiller to start getting 18 touches per game. Last week he touched the ball 11 times against a very good Houston defense and racked up 102 total yards. He's getting 7.2 yards per carry this year. Fred Jackson is at 3.7 YPC. Spiller also has 24 receptions for 236 yards. It's time for Chan Gailey to allow him to be the star he can be.
Heading back over to Yahoo!, Brad Evans has Matt Forte as one of his weekly "lames" this week. No doubt, Forte has a tough matchup with Houston coming to town. Still, I think this is a game in which the Bears will try to run the entire offense through Forte. A team with Houston's front four will have confidence it can dominate the Bears' O-line and make Jay Cutler uncomfortable, which is the surest way to stifle the Bears' offense. I think the Bears will try to counter that by feeding Forte early and often. I have him as my No. 4 running back this week, and I make that ranking with confidence.
Finally, Matthew Berry at ESPN hates Jeremy Maclin this week. I do not. Most of the evidence suggests we all should hate Maclin this week. Call it a gut feeling or blind faith, but I think this is the week Maclin finally registers for the first time since exploding against the Lions in Week 6. Dallas has been strong against the pass this year, but has surrendered big games to Brandon Marshall and Julio Jones. We'll add Maclin's name to that list after this week.
Chat with me on Twitter, @MBeller.
NHL playoff preview: Boston Bruins vs. Detroit Red Wings
NHL playoff preview: Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Columbus Blue Jackets