Fantasy Clicks: Schedule quirks, Big Ben's impact, more Week 14 advice
Allowing top seeds to pick opponents in the fantasy playoffs offers fairness, fun
Mike Wallace should benefit from the return of Ben Roethlisberger this week
Jermaine Gresham could be the first tight end to have a big day versus Dallas
With the fantasy playoffs now upon us, odds are you've spent this week obsessing over your matchup more than you did in the regular season. After all, you have plenty of time to bounce back from all but the most damaging of regular-season losses. But as Barry Sanders said in the NFL Network's great "A Football Life" about him, there's such a finality to a playoff loss. When you lose in the regular season, you'll have an opportunity to get on the right track in just one week. A loss this week means no more fantasy football until September 2013.
Thanks to the randomness of fantasy football, a high seed doesn't guarantee you a favorable matchup. For example, in one of my leagues, the top two teams in points scored came in sixth and seventh in the regular season standings, respectively (I won't say where I stand in the league, other than to say I'm one of these two teams). That means the teams that came in second and third face, realistically, the two best teams in the league. While good luck may have helped them to their top seeds, they still earned them over the course of a 13-week regular season. Their reward (other than the money paid out for regular season standings, of course)? The two most challenging first-round matchups. Well, that just doesn't seem fair. That's why it's time for every fantasy league to adopt a rule change I've been championing for years: allow the top seeds to choose who they play in the playoffs.
The logic behind this proposed change is simple. The higher the seed, the more favorable the matchup should be. Let's take our scenario above. If the seventh-place team lost one more game, that owner would be the eighth and final team in the playoffs, earning a first-round game against the regular season champion, ostensibly the best team in the league. That regular season champion should not have to play a team that scored the second-most points in the league in the first round of the playoffs. Instead, in my scenario, he'd get to choose whom he plays. The only caveat is it that it would have to be a team in the bottom half of the playoff bracket, guaranteeing that the top four seeds play the bottom four seeds. After he chooses his opponent, the No. 2 seed chooses his, followed by the No. 3 seed. The remaining two teams play each other.
After the first round, you re-seed, and the process repeats itself. The highest remaining seed chooses his opponent from the two lowest remaining seeds, and the other two teams match up against one another.
I don't see how anyone could be against this. Instead of being subject to the whims of the scheduling and fantasy gods, whom we all know to be cruel and vindictive, we are allowing the top seeds to hold their destiny in their hands. If you lose because you picked a bad matchup, you have no one to blame but yourself. And think of the bulletin board material. Seriously, half the fun of fantasy leagues is talking trash to your friends. How fun would it be to say, "You know what, Nate? Your team stinks. I want to play you this week." Conversely, how much fun would it be to be in Nate's shoes and pull the upset? A boat load. That's how much. Come on fantasy gamers. Let's make this happen.
And that's what I think. Here's what I think about what other people think for Week 14.
With the always entertaining over/under column put out by the Yahoo! guys this week is a wager on Greg Jennings going over or under 79.5 yards. I'm going to agree with Andy Behrens and Scott Pianowski and say over. Jordy Nelson is out, which should automatically mean more targets for Jennings. Detroit's pass defense isn't anything to get excited about, either. Start Jennings this week, and you'll be rewarded with something on the order of 90 yards and a touchdown.
In his weekly East Coast Offense column, RotoWire's Chris Liss (subscription required) points out that Marcedes Lewis has put together a nice run since Chad Henne took over. In three games with Henne at the helm, Lewis has 11 receptions for 164 yards and two touchdowns. What does this tell us? Well, outside of the elite at the position, the tight end rankings shuffle from week to week. Remember when we all thought Dennis Pitta was going to end up among the positional leaders? However, this consistency from Lewis portends well for him during the fantasy playoffs. If you're looking for help at the position, look no further than Lewis.
Michael Fabiano at NFL.com says owners should be wary of starting Mike Wallace this week. I'm going to disagree with that. The return of Ben Roethlisberger is undoubtedly a boon for the speedy wideout, and the Chargers, though middle-of-the-pack defensively, will be playing their first game under a lame-duck coach after word broke that Norv Turner (along with GM A.J. Smith) will be fired after the season. Hmm ... a hungry, playoff-worthy team in a must-win game getting its starting quarterback back on the field for the first time in three weeks, against a lackluster squad playing for a coach none of them have to worry about in a few weeks? I'll be lining up all my Steelers this week.
At the bottom of this column by RotoWorld's Adam Levitan are three recommendations for defensive spot starts this week. I'm a huge proponent of playing the defense carousel from week-to-week. Unless you get lucky with an elite, consistent defense at a cheap price, you're better off playing the matchups. With that said, I love all three of his suggestions this week, especially the Browns and Jets. The Browns' defense has been one of the better units in the league since getting Joe Haden back, and host a simply dreadful Chiefs' offense this week. Meanwhile, the Jets travel to Jacksonville, where the Jaguars could be without Maurice Jones-Drew and Rashad Jennings, and Cecil Shorts is recovering from a concussion. They'll both be top-five defenses this week.
Nathan Zegura at CBS.com has a quality public service announcement this week: Antonio Gates is no longer Antonio Gates. It not just that he has lost a step, which he has. San Diego's offense is in a quagmire right now, and Gates really hasn't put anything together this season. In his last three games, he has a total of 10 catches for 79 yards. You can't start him with any confidence. As such, there's no reason to start him.
More good stuff at Yahoo!, where Brad Evans lists Jermaine Gresham as one of his lames this week. Still, if you are a Gresham owner, you should feel good about starting him. Dallas hasn't surrendered a big day to a tight end yet, but outside of Tony Gonzalez and Greg Olsen, they haven't played a tight end anyone is starting with any confidence in a fantasy league. Get Gresham in there.
Chat with me on Twitter, @MBeller.
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