NFL fantasy football: Tight ends can be a drag
By Jason Smith
Published: Dec. 13, 2012 at 11:43 a.m.
This week in Higher/Lower/Over/Under, it's the second week of your fantasy playoffs, and there are still questions to be answered. Thankfully for me, Walking Dead and Sons of Anarchy have wrapped their seasons, so I have extra time to devote to my lineup. However I'm eagerly anticipating the finale of Homeland on Sunday night. And my appropriate moves in my Homeland-only fantasy league for this week are: dropping Abu Nazir and picking up the new lie detector guy. I'm also starting Roya, I have a feeling she may have a big week. And I'm benching Galvez. He looked primed for a huge episode on Sunday but he turned out to be a dud. Okay, now to Higher/Lower/Over/Under.
1: Number of times I'll draft a tight end early or trade for a stud during the season for the rest of my life. Under. Just. Won't. Happen. I traded Victor Cruz for Jimmy Graham this season and Graham let me down immensely. The TE position is too much of a crapshoot to pick, so it's not worth trying to get an elite one when you can just surf the waiver wire for an acceptable play. Look at it this way: if you drafted Graham in the second round, going into the season you had a huge leg up on your opponent, who likely wasn't playing a TE nearly as good. But, when your opponent can pick up guys like Martellus Bennett, Jermaine Gresham and Brandon Myers and out-point you? You're at a huge disadvantage, because their lineup is better than yours immediately at either RB or WR, because they took an elite player at that position in the second round and you didn't. This week, for example? If I was in the market I would try to grab Martellus Bennett, Greg Olsen or Brandon Myers. And I'd be just as confident playing them as I would Graham or Owen Daniels or Aaron Hernandez.
2: Number of leagues I'm in where I'll play Reggie Bush this week. Push. Seriously, 65 yards against San Francisco is like 150 against anyone else. Daniel Thomas had just two carries Sunday so it's possible the job is out there for Bush to re-take full time again. It's crazy. An absolute belief one week gets turned on its head a week later. That by itself isn't enough to make me start Bush, but this is: the Dolphins host the Jaguars this week. The same Jaguars who gave up over 13 fantasy points to TWO different Jets RBs in Week 14 and are next-to-last in total rushing defense in 2012. I can't believe I'm going to do it but I'm going to start Bush with confidence.
12: Fantasy points for David Wilson this week. Under. Yes, he's worth owning. And yes, he's worth starting this week if Ahmad Bradshaw misses the game. Will he go nuts in Atlanta? I'm a little skeptical because their defense is just a tad better than the Saints (okay, a ton better). So that takes care of Week 15. But going forward, if Bradshaw returns? I'm lukewarm on it. Here's how the Giants do business: remember Andre Brown? He was supposed to take the starting job away from Bradshaw after his breakout game against Carolina. But what happened? Tom Coughlin went right back to Bradshaw. He talked about how big a presence Bradshaw is and how much of a leader he's become. So the team will continue to feed him the football first and foremost. David Wilson will be a flavoring, or an accent to the teams' offense. Yes, he'll get more snaps, and run more sweeps and catch the ball out of the backfield, but you can't count on him to break an electric run for a TD every week, which is what you'll need to make him worthy of playing.
25: Combined fantasy points for Shonn Greene and Bilal Powell this week. Over. Usually backfield committees are the death of fantasy rosters. But when you're splitting time and you're getting 17-20 carries each? That's worth starting both players. The Jets will try to run it exclusively the rest of the season, using the formula that won the game over Jacksonville: 42 rushing attempts, 19 pass attempts. And with their final three opponents being Tennessee, San Diego and Buffalo? The Jets will be able to stick to this formula for those contests.
40: How many "Can I really start Philip Rivers this week?" tweets I'll get before Sunday. Over. You know what? I actually really like Rivers this week. The offense seems to be hitting on most cylinders (I can't even bear to say Ryan Mathews' name much less write it) and they have a great matchup against Carolina Sunday. Danario Alexander has been as close to a must-start as you can be with his performance lately, and it's quite possible this is the usual late-season Chargers resurgence we've been getting the last few years. They could have rolled over against Pittsburgh and they didn't. If you have issues at QB, Rivers is a great play this week.
99.9: Percent of leagues that should start the Detroit Lions defense this week. Over. I'm not saying the Lions defense is going to get 41 fantasy points like Seattle did, but I'm a firm believer that at this point in the season, I'd rather play a defense with a great matchup than a great defense with a bad matchup. That's because teams who are bad don't rebound, and they tend to quit on the season because they just want it to be over. Teams in that boat right now, in addition to Arizona, are Kansas City and Jacksonville. So that means in addition to Detroit, play the Raiders and Dolphins defenses in Week 15.
Jason Smith hosts NFL Fantasy Live on the NFL Network and writes fantasy and other pith for NFL.com. Talk to him on Twitter @howaboutafresca, and listen to him on the NFL Fantasy Live podcast with Michael Fabiano and Elliot Harrison every week on NFL.com. He only asks you never bring up when the Jets play poorly.