The fantasy football playoffs are getting close — time to keep an extra eye out for maneuvers that seem wacky and unexpected opportunities.
Seattle and Cincinnati on byes, don't be all that surprised if their
defenses get dropped along with Seahawks kicker Steven Hauschka, the
top fantasy kicker in the game and also the second-most dropped player
in Yahoo as of Tuesday night.
Or maybe owners will keep them and
drop a running back likely to get plenty of touches the rest of this
season. Among the top 25 most dropped running backs on Yahoo are Fred Jackson with Buffalo on a bye, Miami's Lamar Miller and Atlanta's
A tiny sliver of owners on ESPN and Yahoo are
even dropping Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers, apparently unable to
wait out his injury.
Besides Rodgers and the Seattle defense, perhaps, the moves aren't as
desperate as they might seem.
put, the weeks before the playoffs regularly force fantasy players into
tough decisions that result in names on the waiver wire that are higher
than replacement level.
That's when — if the circumstances are right — you pounce.
make sure if you pick up someone's leftover Ray Rice or Roddy White,
you're doing it with a purpose beyond feeling as though the player
should be owned in your league. Unless you're in a deep keeper league,
every player you carry on your roster should have some reasonable
chance to start for you between now and the championship, either
because of a favorable matchup or injury.
Some fantasy players
will take things even further, either tanking a game to try to
manipulate playoff seeding or sacrificing one week for better
positioning for a playoff run. If this sounds like you, just remember a
— Make sure everything you do falls in line with your league rules.
It doesn't matter if you're in first place and have a two-game lead on
the next guy or girl. You haven't clinched anything until your platform
— Even if you handpick your opponents and path to the
title, your top mission is still scoring the most points you can each
week. That's on you, not someone else.
Gamesmanship is great, but don't outsmart yourself.
THE REAL BUSTS
a conversation every year: Who are the biggest breakouts and busts?
There are many ways to measure, and here's another: The following
players are owned the most often on last-place teams in CBS Sports
QB: Tom Brady, New England; Colin Kaepernick, San
Francisco. Some people believe Brady is on the upswing after throwing
for 296 yards and a touchdown Monday night against Carolina.
Kaepernick's rushing numbers aren't enough to make up for his low
passing totals. There are 15 quarterbacks who have more total points in
standard leagues that tally four points per touchdown passing.
C.J. Spiller, Buffalo; Trent Richardson, Indianapolis; Ray Rice,
Baltimore; Steven Jackson, Atlanta; Maurice Jones-Drew, Jacksonville.
All five players were taken on average in the first two rounds of
fantasy drafts this year.
WR: Roddy White, Atlanta; Marques Colston, New Orleans; Hakeem Nicks, New York Giants; Larry Fitzgerald,
Arizona; Steve Smith, Carolina. It's probably not hard to guess that
Fitzgerald has been the most productive of this group this year. But 20
receivers have been even better, including Riley Cooper and Jerricho Cotchery.
No tight ends made CBS's top 12 list of players most
often on last-place teams. But as a bonus, here's a list of the players
most often on first-place teams:
QB: Peyton Manning, Denver; Matthew Stafford, Detroit.
LeSean McCoy, Philadelphia; Jamaal Charles, Kansas City; Matt Forte,
Chicago; Marshawn Lynch, Seattle; Knowshon Moreno, Denver.
WR: Calvin Johnson, Detroit; DeSean Jackson, Philadelphia; Jordy Nelson, Green Bay; Demaryius Thomas, Denver.
TE: Jimmy Graham, New Orleans.
RINGER TIME: STEPHANIA BELL
injury expert, Stephania Bell, doesn't think it's a sure thing that the
NFL is seeing more injuries this season than in years past, though
she's kept plenty busy and fantasy owners certainly seem to believe
it's the case.
"Somehow I hear people say that every year. Is
every year the worst we've ever seen? It's a fascinating question,"
said Bell, a licensed physical therapist who has a practice in
California and analyzes injuries for ESPN (http://es.pn/16d6Odh).
"I, for one, would be reluctant to throw that out," she said.
Bell says NFL teams are approaching injuries differently in terms of
how they're handled and reported. And while it might be easy for fans
to point to rules governing hits, concussions and the league's
collective bargaining agreement, spikes or dips are possible in any
given season, making it hard to judge even one year in isolation, she
"They're removing players from injury now differently than
they were before," Bell said. "Think about the fact that now
everything's much more public."
But no matter how 2013 ends up
comparing with other years, Bell says this season has reinforced for
her that running backs are the most fragile position in fantasy
"It's playing out again this year — not that it's
always going to be dramatic abuse but we see all these guys banged up,"
Bell said it's tough to find any top running backs
who haven't appeared on their team's injury report at some point this
season, making it understandable why more teams are turning to
two-running back sets.
As a fantasy player, Bell said she uses
her expertise most often on draft day, changing her priorities based on
players she believes have a higher chance of hurting themselves during
the year. She says that the biggest predictor of future injury is prior
injury, and soft-tissue injuries are often more troublesome than bone
breaks or other random contact injuries.
"I will hear people
talk about guys and if there's something about their injury history I
don't like, they become undraftable for me," she said.
She's happy if they end up staying healthy and performing well, but
"I'm still going to say I made the right decision for me."
Case Keenum getting benched really hurt in a two-quarterback league
where my running backs also underperformed and I left Michael Floyd on
the bench in favor of Jarrett Boykin. At 5-6, I'm one spot from the
playoffs. Went 1-4 overall in Week 11 — which stinks but didn't
dramatically alter any playoff hopes. Was 3-2 in daily leagues.
another league where I'm 8-3 and in first place, I have the Bengals
defense, Hauschka and a concussed Jordan Reed, with my worst running
back C.J. Spiller and worst wide receiver Josh Gordon. Looks like some
decent players will have to be dropped.
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