Fantasy football Roundtable: Charles the obvious fantasy playoff MVP
Another fantasy football season is officially in the books, so with the turn of the New Year, we present our final fantasy football roundtable of the season. Our fantasy experts Michael Beller, Brian Flood and Alessandro Miglio tell who earns MVP honors for the fantasy football playoffs, discuss who owners should hang onto in keeper leagues, dish on their fantasy playoff success and more.
1. Who is your MVP of the 2013 fantasy playoffs?
Beller: I bounced back and forth between Jamaal Charles and LeSean McCoy on this one, but ultimately settled on Charles. Why? It's because Charles truly painted his masterpiece in the fantasy playoffs. While both had big games Week 14, 99.9 percent of Charles owners still alive in the semifinals advanced to the championship thanks to his five-touchdown performance in Week 15. McCoy outscored him by eight points championship week, but his owners may not have even made it to the final game after he scored just 10.6 points the prior week. Charles put up at least 20 points all three playoff weeks, including one a 51-point thing of beauty.
Flood: Jamaal Charles is the obvious answer, so I'll go with Andy Dalton. Yes, Andy Dalton. The Bengals quarterback had a monster run for fantasy owners, throwing nine touchdowns without an interception from Week 14 through Week 16. In those three games, Dalton averaged 290 passing yards and three touchdowns with a whopping 366 yards during the Week 16 championship. Dalton's four touchdown passes in the fantasy title game helped owners that started him win the crown.
Miglio: Assuming we are talking about Weeks 15 and 16, it has be Jamaal Charles. The studly running back scored 79.3 standard points in those two weeks, largely thanks to his five-touchdown supernova during championship week. Owners who drafted Charles and made it to the playoffs were handsomely rewarded, in both the regular season and the fantasy playoffs.
2. Guys like Jamaal Charles and Josh Gordon will be protected in nearly all keeper leagues, but who is a below-the-radar player that you'd keep?
Beller: If I own Cordarrelle Patterson in a keeper or dynasty league, there isn't a chance I let him get away. He sputtered at the beginning of his rookie season, thanks in large part to the offensive environment surrounding him in Minnesota. He got more involved during the second half of the season, posting 29 catches for 323 yards and four touchdowns in the final eight games. He also had 156 rushing yards and three scores on the ground in that stretch. The Vikings' quarterback situation may remain unsettled next season, but it can't possibly be worse than it was this year. Patterson may be a star in the making. I'd be sure to hold onto him if possible.
Flood: Assuming you have to sacrifice a draft pick in exchange for keeping a player, I'd recommend Nick Foles. The Eagles quarterback wasn't drafted in standard fantasy leagues entering the season, because he was merely Michael Vick's backup. His owners picked him up off the waiver wire, which typically means he'll count for a late-round pick in keeper leagues. In Chip Kelly's offense, Foles will easily be a top 10 fantasy quarterback entering next season and savvy fantasy owners will take advantage.
Miglio: There are a lot of obvious keepers, but if you are looking for a guy you can keep for relatively cheap -- assuming you have to give up a draft pick to keep him -- perhaps Kendall Wright is your huckleberry. The second-year receiver caught 94 balls for 1,079 yards this year -- not too shabby for a guy who had Ryan Fitzpatrick for a quarterback over half the time. The problem is Wright scored just two touchdowns, depressing his fantasy score. Given he was targeted 139 times, a positive regression should be in store for 2014.
3. Time to own up, guys. How much success did you have in the playoffs?
Beller: Unfortunately for me, not a whole lot. On the plus side, I made the playoffs in all my leagues. That's where the positives end, though. I lost in the first round across the board, and suffered one particularly stinging defeat. After going 11-2 in an auction league with a team that featured Peyton Manning and Jamaal Charles, I lost to the bottom-seeded team in the playoffs. Of course, had I won that game, I would have won the playoffs. I guess I'll have to console myself with my regular season championship in that league. It's also more proof than ever that fantasy football is a total crapshoot, especially the playoffs. Don't take it too seriously, guys. Enjoy it for the ridiculously fun hobby that it is.
Flood: I made the championship game in two leagues, but only brought home one title. Dennis Johnson hurt my team in the championships, but even if he had performed well, my opponent was loaded with Peyton Manning, Marshawn Lynch, Eric Decker and A.J. Green. The league I won was legendary; I'll elaborate in the next answer.
Miglio: Of course this season has been terrible to me in terms of fantasy football. I made the playoffs in the majority of my leagues leagues, but only one of my teams made it to championship week. There were a couple of instances where my fantasy team lost only to outscore everyone else the rest of the way, rubbing salt into the wounds.
4. We all have our favorite fantasy moments of the season. What was yours?
Beller: Mine came right in the first game of the season. I admit that I was a bit apprehensive about how much I paid for Manning in the league I referenced in the last question. He assuaged all my worries when he put the league on notice and lit up the Ravens for 462 yards and seven touchdowns on opening night. Given my supreme confidence in Charles, I knew right then and there that I had a monster on my hands.
Flood: My favorite moment of the season is probably the greatest ending to a matchup in my fantasy career. In Week 15 I was down 22 points heading into Monday night. Justin Tucker, my kicker, was my only player remaining and my opponent was finished for the week. I thought I was eliminated; kickers don't score 22 points. I didn't even check live scoring until the fourth quarter when I realized Baltimore was only kicking field goals. Well, Tucker scored 23 points, with the last five coming on a game-winning field goal with seconds left to put me up 130-129 to win a trip to the championship. My opponent (and former roommate) dodged my calls for the remainder of the night.
Miglio: Sorry Flood, but I'll tell you what wasn't my favorite fantasy moment -- Justin Tucker and Dan Bailey scoring a combined 48 fantasy points. Well, that's more like a series of moments, but you get my drift. Kickers shouldn't be outscoring 70 percent of starting quarterbacks. On the flip side, it was a hoot to see Nick Foles tie the all-time touchdown record when he annihilated the Raiders in Week 9. His 45 points -- depending on scoring format -- was just fantastic to see in a few of my lineups.
5. Which team, other than Denver, are you targeting for playoff fantasy leagues?
Beller: SI.com's own Peter Bukowski (follow him at @BukoTime) pointed out an interesting fact on Twitter on Monday. The Packers are 6-2 in games started and finished by Aaron Rodgers this season. The losses came at San Francisco and at Cincinnati, and the Packers had the ball late in the fourth quarter with a chance to win both of those games. Rodgers looked rusty in his return against the Bears last week, but did he not just shake that rust off in the win? Given the ceiling of this team, I'm willing to bet that he did. Green Bay is the most dangerous team in the playoffs that does not hail from Denver. Where possible, I'm loading up Packers in playoff fantasy leagues.
Flood: I personally think the Seahawks are heading to the Super Bowl. Russell Wilson should be a strong fantasy quarterback for the postseason and Marshawn Lynch would be my No. 1 ranked running back. I'm not a huge Percy Harvin fan, but he would help the entire offense if he were able to suit up. And I wouldn't want any defense for the postseason other than Seattle. The Seahawks defense is dominant at home, and they have home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.
Miglio: It has to be Seattle, right? If things play out like everyone expects -- and they rarely do -- Denver will be meeting Seattle in the Super Bowl, making Marshawn Lynch and Russell Wilson highly valuable. Golden Tate and Percy Harvin -- who appeared headed to injured reserve before a surprise announcement that he was practicing this week -- are also good pickups. If scoring out of the gate is important for you, Kansas City players might be your best bet to get at least a couple of weeks' worth of points. Aside from the obvious Charles, guys like Dwayne Bowe and Alex Smith should put up nice cumulative numbers.