Bye Weeks: N/A
Grab a Helmet
Allen @ DEN: Allen commanded an unusually low number of targets
in the Week 14 win over New York (three), but still managed to
convert his opportunities into fantasy gold by tallying three
receptions, 59 yards, and two scores for 17.9 total points in
the Chargersí big win. It was his third consecutive double-digit
day and his sixth this season, not bad for a guy who was on basically
nobodyís radar back in August. Well, except mine, of course. What
I liked about Allen then was his size, his athleticism, and his
potential role in the San Diego offense (thanks to Danario Alexanderís
season-ending injury). That potential has clearly been realized
and heís now unquestionably Philip Riversí most important pass-catcher.
There should be plenty of passes to catch on Thursday night as
the Bolts attempt to keep pace with the leagueís most lethal offensive
machine. Allenís must-start material.
Johnson @ IND: The Gary Kubiak era finally ended last week in
Houston, a predictable, yet sad conclusion for only the second coach
in the franchiseís history. The Texans entered 2013 as Super Bowl
contenders, but are instead mired in an 11-game skid and will likely
end it holding the #1 pick in the draft. Thatís if they donít turn
things around these last three weeks under Wade Phillips. Iím not
sure they actually want to (wink, wink), but Johnson will be a huge
part of that turnaround if it happens. Heís been targeted more than
any other receiver this season (including Megatron) and posted the
second highest point total for a wide receiver this season back
in Week 9 (40.9) against these very same Colts. In case youíre wondering,
Case Keenum was his battery mate that evening and will be again
this Sunday. You donít sit him despite his teamís struggles.
Andre Johnson had 229 yards and 3 TDs against
the Colts in Week 9.
Smith @ DET: Smithís uncharacteristically poor performance last
Sunday (one snag, 11 yards, and thatís it) may have got you bounced
from the playoffs. If you managed to cover for his ineptitude, however,
and are hesitant to roll him back out there, Iíd urge you to reconsider.
It was only his second useless outing of the season (his first came
in Week 6 against the Pack) and, despite those two throwaway efforts,
heís still ranked 19th at the position. This despite playing in
an offense thatís been far from explosive in 2013. If thatís not
enough to convince you, maybe this will: The Lions are allowing
27 points per game to opposing wide receivers. Yes, theyíve faced
some of the best the league has to offer (Josh Gordon, Antonio Brown,
A.J. Green, Brandon Marshall), but Smith has the deep speed to really
hurt a Detroit secondary especially susceptible to the long ball.
Give him another shot.
Grab Some Wood
Cruz v. SEA: Eli Manning has been a fantasy vortex this season
and Cruz has just barely avoided being completely sucked into
it. The breakout star of 2011 was slightly less spectacular in
2012 and has been even less so in 2013, but heís still the 18th
best at the wide receiver spot, directly in front of the guy we
just talked about, and looks like a solid WR2 statistically. Looks,
as they say, can be deceiving. Cruz scored 66.5 points in the
Giantsí first four games, but has only tallied 54.8 in the nine
games since. Thatís an average of only six per game, about what
Greg Jennings and Nate Washington are averaging this year. Heís
better than those guys, agreed, but you wouldnít know it by watching
him these past two+ months. Nor will you know it by watching him
square off against the leagueís most dominant corner, Richard
Sherman, this Sunday. Avoid Cruz.
Austin v. NO: Jeff Fisher is one of my favorite NFL coaches.
Heís smart, has a dry sense of humor, and sports one of the worldís
best (read: bushiest) moustaches. Heís also been hugely successful
over the course of 19 professional seasons as a head man and is,
unsurprisingly, getting tons out of his under-talented Rams team
this year, a team that plays in the leagueís toughest division.
All that aside, Iím puzzled by the way heís currently utilizing
his most talented player. Austin scares the bejesus out of opposing
defensive coordinators and has scored 52.6 points in his last
four games. Yet, hereís how many times heís touched the ball in
that same span: 13. How does a guy capable of scoring every single
time he touches the leather command only three or four opportunities
a game? Fisherís smarter than I am so Iím guessing thereís a pretty
good reason, but.... Too risky, folks. There are way more reliable
Amendola @ MIA: Amendola started the season as, inarguably,
New England’s most important receiver. Minus Wes Welker
and the injured Rob Gronkowski, the Pats needed him to be that
many-targeted slot guy who could serve as Tom Brady’s release
valve and keep the chains moving. And for about one week (Week
1), he proved to be exceptionally good at this. Predictably, he
was injured late in that first game and has never once received
double-digit looks since, despite being continuously healthy the
last couple months. Moreover, he’s now clearly fallen behind
Julian Edelman and Shane Vereen in the New England pecking order.
I don’t expect that to change even with Gronk now out for
good and a tough matchup with Miami’s vastly underrated
secondary doesn’t make him very attractive this weekend.
I’d stay away from Amendola if my playoff life depended
on it and you should too.
Good luck, folks!