And down the stretch they come! That's right fantasy footballers, it's that time of year when you're going to make that final push to either make the playoffs or secure your divisional crown. Many fantasy leagues start their playoffs in weeks 13 and 14, so now is the time that you want to comb through your roster and weed out any players that might have cooled off since the start of the season.
Taking a quick look at things right now, you're going to find a few big name players that you may want to either sit on the bench, trade or dump in the final weeks of the season. These are some players that started the season off on a hot streak, but have cooled off considerably and may not get you many fantasy points the rest of the season. It's sometimes easy to pick out the hot players, but projecting cold streaks is where the skill comes in and separates the average fantasy footballer from the consistent winner!
The biggest name in this bunch is Giants QB Eli Manning. Manning, the younger brother of fantasy stud, Peyton, has taken a turn for the worse this season, after starting it with a hot hand. The younger Manning hasn't topped 200 yards passing since week 5 and he's only averaged 1 touchdown a game the last four weeks. The offense has suffered some key injuries with Amani Toomer lost for the season and Plaxico Burress is less than 100 percent with back spasms. The outlook for the future shows some very tough matchups. The schedule has Jacksonville (5th in passing defense), Dallas (9th), Carolina (17th), Philadelphia (8th) and New Orleans (7th). You may want to think about dealing Manning now, since his name will still carry some significant value.
Another couple of players you're going to want to take a very close look at are Jets teammates Chad Pennington and Laverneous Coles. Both of these teammates started off the season hot. Coles started the season off red-hot, averaging 103 yards receiving in the first four weeks of the NFL season. The last five week has seen Coles numbers drop dramatically with him averaging only 44.6 yard receiving per game. Pennington has seen a similar falloff in numbers. Through the first three weeks of the season, the former Marshall QB had thrown 5 TD passes and only 1 interception. In the last five weeks though, Pennington has thrown only 4 TDs and 7 interceptions. Is this the quarterback that you want leading your team on a playoff run? We don't thinks so!
Here are a few players that you might want to take a look at plugging into your starting lineup this week to either turn around your luck or keep your success going! They may not be the top names in fantasy football, but most are the ‘in between' guys that you might have to make a tough decision on. The good fantasy owner is able to pick these players out from a crowd and stick them in their lineup for fantasy success!
QB – Tom Brady – Brady has had a rough couple of weeks, throwing 1 TD and 5 interceptions in his last two games. He will be facing the Packers this week and they may be the cure for what ails him. The Packers rank 26th in the NFL when it comes to defending the pass from a fantasy perspective. The give up a league-high average of 242 yards per game and have also given up 14 passing touchdowns. Expect Brady to get out of his funk and score you some quality points this week.
RB – Kevin Jones – Jones has been one of the pleasant surprises of this fantasy season with 7 total touchdowns, rushing and receiving. We think you'll be pleased with his production this week as he will be facing the Cardinal defense. The Cards have been deficient at defending the run this year and currently rank 25th in the NFL in run defense from a fantasy perspective, giving up over 124 rushing yards per game along with 10 rushing touchdowns. Look for Jones to heat up the Lions offense as it travels to Arizona.
RB – Julius Jones – Jones has been carrying the load for the Cowboys this season, but we have seen his production tail off in the last four weeks. During that timeframe he has only averaged 60 yards rushing per game and has scored only 1 TD. We are expecting him to bounce back this week though, as he will face the Colts and their 31st ranked fantasy rushing defense. The Colts are giving up a league-high 159 yards on the ground to go along with 10 rushing TDs.
WR – Joey Galloway – Galloway has seen an upswing in his number in the past couple of weeks, catching 9 balls for 184 yards and 2 TDs in the month of November. Rookie QB Bruce Gradgowski has been relying on this former Buckeye and it has been paying off. We think the chemistry between Gradgowski and Galloway will continue this week vs. a Redskins pass defense that gives up the most fantasy points through the air and has given up a league-high 17 passing TDs. Expect Galloway to post some good numbers for you and possibly find the endzone this week.
WR – Larry Fitzgerald – Larry Fitzgerald has been a fantasy disappointment this season, mostly due to injury. He returned from a shoulder injury last week to catch 6 balls for 80 yards. We are expecting more of the same this week as he faces a Lions defense that is ranked 29th in the NFL from a fantasy perspective when it comes to defending the pass. The Lions give up nearly 215 yards passing per game and have given up the 3rd most passing TDs in the league with 15.
TE – Todd Heap – Heap has been one of the most consistent tight ends in the league this season. He will be facing an Atlanta defense that has just tanked against the pass this season. The Falcons have given up 9 passing TDs in the past four weeks after giving up just 2 in the first 5 weeks of the season. Look for Heap to be one of Steve McNair's main targets again this week as they will be facing a banged up Falcons defense that will be missing both John Abraham and Patrick Kearney.
Def – Miami – The Dolphins defense has been tough the past couple of weeks, surrendering only 21 points, intercepting 3 passes and sacking the QB 3 times. They will be facing a Vikings offense that has been struggling lately. The Vikings have only scored 20 points the last two weeks against two teams (Niners and Packers) who aren't known for the defensive prowess. Look for the Dolphins to shut down the Vikings in Miami.