If you aren't already a week into the fantasy playoffs, then in most standard leagues, Week 15 marks the beginning of the playoff race for that coveted fantasy title. Considering your squad was good enough to help you make it into the first round, you should always keep the saying that opened up our column this week in the back of your head... "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." This means not over-thinking things when setting your starting lineup from here on out. The team that got you into the playoffs is the team that is going to win it for you. Why start taking chances when every win is crucial in helping you advance to the next round and ultimately to the fantasy championship game?
Let's look at a specific scenario say back in Week 9, you played Jacksonville RB Fred Taylor as one of your starting fantasy backs? Sounds like a good idea, right? The previous week, Taylor had 103 rushing yards and a touchdown against Philadelphia. In Week 9, Taylor faced a weak Tennessee defense and was bound to keep the ball rolling. So, instead of playing your usual starter, RB Rudi Johnson, because he and the Bengals were facing Baltimore (ranked 2nd against the run) that week, you went with the hot hand Fred Taylor. Well, in most standard scoring leagues, you lost out on six total fantasy points (and remember the overall motto each week: "maximize your fantasy points"). Taylor rushed for 79 yards that week against the Titans, where as Johnson put up 77 yards and a touchdown. The point is, when you gamble and it doesn't work out, you end up regretting taking a chance. On the other hand, if you do play your studs and they struggle, the aftermath is not as bitter you're still playing your top guys.
As previously stated, if you're headed into the playoffs, roll with the guys you have been playing all year. Many times, when playing match-ups, you face the topic of consistency. Having good players on your squad that produce each week can build a fantasy dynasty. Of course, every player has his bad day, but that's when your other fantasy studs may pick up the slack and post ridiculous numbers. Playing match-ups each week can cause your team to hit tremendous peaks and low valleys. One week, a squad may put up 103 fantasy points and get you a huge win but then struggle and produce 67 fantasy points the following week. Chances are, if your team performed like this during the season, you're not in the fantasy playoffs.
Now is not the time to roll the dice go with what you've got. Don't start worrying about match-ups and projected points. Instead, feel confident with putting the best players in your fantasy starting lineup. Now, if you have two guys that are comparable who can be inserted as your #2 wide receiver, then look at current trends and weekly opponents. Yet, if you've had a set lineup the entire regular season, there is no reason to start switching things around in the playoffs.
PATRIOTS FANTASY REPORT
After being shutout for the first time since Week 1 of the 2003 season, look for the New England Patriots to bounce back in a big way as they host the Houston Texans this Sunday. Though the Houston defense has been improving over the last few weeks, the unit still ranks 28th in the NFL (allowing an average of 22.8 points and 349.6 total yards per game). The Texans are equally as poor against the run (21st in the NFL) as they are against the pass (26th in the NFL) however, their corps of young defensive backs has been this defense's Achilles heel in 2006. Houston has been able to contain their oppositions' running attacks recently, and has not allowed a 100-yard rusher since Week 9 against the NY Giants. Yet, on the other hand, the secondary has been allowing 225.8 passing yards per game thus far, largely due to their inexperience. The constant change from a 3-4 to a 4-3 defense over the years in Houston has led to mass confusion and missed assignments resulting in big plays for the opposition. That's why the New England passing attack should explode on Sunday, especially after posting only 189 yards of total offense last week against Miami.
In Week 15, the Patriots fantasy focus will be on the New England receiving corps namely WR Reche Caldwell. Although QB Tom Brady has had six touchdown passes since Week 8, only two of them have been directed towards a Patriots receiver (both to Caldwell). That means neither Troy Brown nor Jabar Gaffney nor Chad Jackson has seen a touchdown reception in six weeks. Yet, the perfect opportunity for the New England receiving corps to break this trend should be on Sunday. Considering that Brady and Caldwell appear to have built a solid relationship, coupled with the recent release of WR Doug Gabriel, Caldwell should see a majority of the looks at wide receiver this week.
In addition, Brady seems to almost always have a big game following a Patriots' loss. Since 2003, Brady has posted an 11-1 record in the week after losing with a 102.4 QB Rating. In those twelve games, he has thrown for just about two touchdown passes in each contest. So, things are looking good for the New England passing attack in Week 15. Throw in the fact that the conditions will be favorable at Gillette Stadium on Sunday (54 degrees and cloudy), and things could get ugly for the young Houston secondary.
Another sign that the Patriots receiving corps will have some good opportunities this week involves the status of TE Ben Watson. Watson has been the Patriots leading receiver thru Week 14 with 643 yards receiving and three TD's. Nevertheless, things don't look too good for Watson this week after injuring his leg in last week's game against Miami. The fact that New England scrambled to bring in tight ends Walter Rasby and Lamont Hall for tryouts (ultimately signing TE O.J. Santiago on Wednesday, then cutting him on Friday and signing another in Matt Kranchick) can't be good news for Watson. He is currently being listed as questionable for Sunday's game
and without Watson, Brady should look to his other favorite target, Caldwell, for big passing yards.
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Patriots Insider has partnered with guest sports writers to provide insightful, expert advice for readers interested in fantasy football. This week's Patriots fantasy report is brought to you by Matt Hinzpeter at FantasyInsiderOnline.com. If you have any questions for Matt, you can reach him, or any of the other FIO experts, at TheTeam@FantasyInsiderOnline.com.
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