Join SI.com's James Quintong in a discussion of some of the latest news in football, baseball and other sports and how it relates to fantasy teams and leagues.
12/28/2006 02:07:00 PM
Rex Grossman will have started all 16 games this season, but there's a good chance he'll only play sparingly Sunday night.
One reason why most fantasy leagues, especially head-to-head ones, closed up shop last week is that many top stars don't always play because playoff-bound teams rest them and teams out of contention try to see what they can get from their backups.
But for those of you still playing this week, especially in total points and salary cap leagues, there are a number of games that could be rendered meaningless and thus could be fantasy killers.
First off, the Giants-Redskins battle on Saturday night will cause a major ripple effect on a number of teams in the playoff hunt. Should the Giants win, the Rams, Panthers and Falcons would be knocked out of contention, although the Packers would still be mathematically alive. Should the Giants lose, then all those teams are still play. It'll be interesting to see how many fantasy values can change between Saturday night and Sunday afternoon.
Here are the games where there are question marks about top players not seeing full action on Sunday.
-- Panthers at Saints: New Orleans has the No. 2 seed locked up, so while Carolina may still be alive on Sunday morning, the Saints may not play Drew Brees all that much, which could mean Jamie Martin gets some snaps. If he weren't dealing with a hamstring injury, Aaron Stecker could've spelled Reggie Bush and Deuce McAllister.
-- Packers at Bears: Chicago has the top seed in the NFC wrapped up, so expect the starters to be pulled early. Rex Grossman will be the first Bears quarterback to start all 16 games since Erik Kramer in 1995, but then will give way to Brian Griese. Also expect Adrian Peterson to get a lot of work in place of Thomas Jones and Cedric Benson. The question is how much action the Bears top defensive players will see and how that might affect Brett Favre's stats.
-- New England at Tennessee: The Patriots have the AFC East title but won't have a first-round bye, so Tom Brady may not be all that busy this week. Expect a lot of Matt Cassel and an array of backup running backs, wide receivers and tight ends who seems to steal TDs all season long. One player worth watching from the Patriots is tight end David Thomas, who has a nice game last week in place of the injured Ben Watson.
-- Seattle at Tampa Bay: The Seahawks have the No. 4 seed locked up, but they've been beat up all season and have lost three straight, so coming into the playoffs with a victory would be crucial. Matt Hasselbeck and Shaun Alexander still look to be good bets, although Darrell Jackson probably sits out again with a toe injury.
-- Arizona at San Diego: The Chargers still need a win to lock up the No. 1 seed, but there's a decent chance Michael Turner picks up some extra carries while LaDainian Tomlinson rests up for the playoffs. As mentioned already, Kurt Warner starts for the injured Matt Leinart for the Cardinals and might not be a bad play.
-- Buffalo at Baltimore: The Ravens could earn the top seed with a win and a Chargers loss. Plus they need to win to keep that first-round bye, so don't expect anyone getting extended rest.
-- Miami at Indianapolis: The Colts still have a shot at a first-round bye if the Ravens lose, and since both teams are playing at the same time, don't expect Peyton Manning and friends to be rested.
-- Atlanta at Philadelphia: The Eagles clinch the NFC East title with a win, but they play the late afternoon game, so if the Cowboys somehow lose to the Lions in the early game, the game might be a moot point. A Giants loss keeps the Falcons alive, but that won't change any plans.
-- St. Louis at Minnesota: The Rams would be eliminated if the Giants win on Saturday, which could change some plans, but expect Marc Bulger to have a big game no matter what.
Tony Romo had a TD pass but threw for just 142 yards with two interceptions against the Eagles.
-- Is quarterback the most frustrating position to figure out in fantasy football? While receivers provide their share of aggravation, you're usually playing at least two or three, so maybe one of them makes up for the other. But most leagues go with just one quarterback, and it must've been a bit disappointing to see Tony Romo join Drew Brees and Michael Vick as top quarterbacks to come up short in the big fantasy spot.
Peyton Manning did have decent stats in Week 16, but even he's disappointed some owners who took him in the first round looking for really big numbers. And he's third in total fantasy scoring. But that's what happens when you expect consistent huge stats instead of consistent very good numbers.
-- Somehow the Jets keep on winning despite struggling to stop the ground game. Ronnie Brown got his third 100-yard game of the season (and second against the Jets) despite not starting as he was recovering from a broken hand. Meanwhile, Leon Washington must enjoy returning to his home state of Florida as he picked up a 100-yard rushing game against the Jaguars earlier this season and put up 100 yards receiving Monday night, most of it on a long screen pass to set up the winning field goal.
-- So how many league championships came down essentially to LaDainian Tomlinson vs. Steven Jackson? And how many of them were won by the team owning Jackson? What a nice way for Jackson to end the fantasy season -- 379 total yards and four TDs in the past two weeks even with the Rams out of the race. He's currently a distant second behind Tomlinson in total fantasy points, but he's definitely played himself into the top five, if not the top three, next season.
-- The most notable injury for fantasy owners still playing in Week 17 is that Matt Leinart will miss the season finale with a shoulder injury. Kurt Warner gets the start against San Diego.
-- Finally, congratulations to Mike Nazarek for winning his third straight SI.com Experts League title. Yes, he rode Steven Jackson to the title, easily beating John Georgopoulos 173.75-90.85.
For the rest of you who won your league's championship, congratulations! Feel free to gloat about your title and especially post your starting lineup to see how you got the gold? Did you ride Jackson to a title? Did you win despite Tomlinson not scoring a touchdown? Get lucky with a late waiver pickup like a Ron Dayne or Vincent Jackson?
-- Storylines such as Tiki Barber’s final home game or Brett Favre’s potential Lambeau farewell made for some nice copy or TV time, but for fantasy owners, relying on the recent past was a lot more crucial for championship week -- especially since Favre and Barber
While it’s notable that such guys as Ron Dayne, Maurice Jones-Drew and Ladell Betts put up huge stats in Week 16, they all came into the game playing very well. Betts has now run for 100 yards in five straight weeks, Jones-Drew’s touchdown streak is at six games and Dayne has five TDs in his last three games. It will be interesting to see what happens to their fantasy values next year since Jones-Drew and Betts may still share time with Fred Taylor and Clinton Portis, respectively. And for Dayne, who knows what this late-season surge will get him job-wise.
-- It was an interesting day for two-headed running back attacks. While Taylor’s injury meant Jones-Drew went nuts, but tandems of Reggie Bush (20-126-1) and Deuce McAllister (27-108-1), and DeShaun Foster (28-102-0) and DeAngelo Williams (21-82-0) were great. Plus, there were useful combos in Tampa Bay with Michael Pittman (16-86-1) and Mike Alstott (22-56-0), Chicago with Thomas Jones (12-62-0) and Cedric Benson (15-49-0), and Denver with Mike (16-69-1) and Tatum Bell (12-50-0).
-- On the other hand, LaDainian Tomlinson picked a bad time to end his streak of eight straight games with at least two touchdowns. Maybe that SI cover jinx kicked it once again. But at least Shaun Alexander came through with 140 yards and two TDs, although most of his owners were probably out of it. Also, how did Edgerrin James find his game so late in the season when his fantasy owners had probably given up?
-- Not the greatest of times for Drew Brees owners this late in the season. While he was in striking distance of the single-season yardage record, he went for just 339 yards and only one TD in the last two games. Against the Giants, Brees’ receivers started dropping things left and right, including Devery Henderson muffing a potential long TD for the second straight week.
-- Here’s an interesting thought for next season: Who will be drafted first in fantasy leagues next year: Vince Young or Michael Vick? And where will they be drafted?
-- And speaking of looking ahead to next season, where does Steven Jackson get drafted next season? Let’s assume Tomlinson goes No. 1. But would you consider Jackson at No. 2 over Larry Johnson? And what about guys like Frank Gore and Brian Westbrook? Jackson is really modeling his game after Marshall Faulk.
-- Speaking of the Rams, Marc Bulger was one of the few quarterbacks to put up big numbers in Week 16, but how did he not connect with Torry Holt with one of those four TD passes?