Fantasy Football: sit or start?

I was talking to some fellow football fans this week about why some teams rise to the top of the NFL.  Why are the Oakland Raiders consistently so bad while the Green Bay Packers are consistently so good?

I don’t think there’s a better indicator to the success of a team than the ability to draft.  Ted Thompson, general manger of the Packers, consistently drafts well.  Whether it be Jordy Nelson, Aaron Rodgers, Randall Cobb or Clay Matthews, the Packers always have depth and talent.

The Raiders, on the other hand, don’t have very good drafts.  Ever.  They did select Jamarcus Russell, after all.  In the same draft that Calvin Johnson and Adrian Peterson were eligible.  Just saying.

But the point I am attempting to get to is the parallel between the real NFL and fantasy football, especially in this sense:  why are some of us in the playoffs while others had terrible seasons?

Injuries?  Well every team has that problem at some point.

Poor play?  Again, every team has this issue.

It’s actually the ability to draft well that determines whether you’re in the thick of things or bitterly watching your friends play for the championship.

You have to hit on your first-round picks.  The difference between selecting Rodgers (248 points) or Peterson (8 points) is huge.

You have to find diamonds in the rough.  Brandon LaFell was a great value pick with 108 points this year.  Cordarelle Patterson, meanwhile, was not.  He has 33 points since Week 2.

So if you’re in the playoffs, don’t get cute with your lineup.  There’s a reason you made it this far.  Start your studs, like A-Rod, and your diamonds, like LaFell.  Add a little bit of luck to the equation and you may be holding the championship trophy when it’s all said and done.

Let’s get to it:

There was one point during the Green Bay game last week where Aaron Rodgers had about 10 seconds to throw the ball.  Ten seconds in the pocket is equivalent to an eternity.  He takes on the Falcons’ putrid pass rush this time around, and 10 seconds may be the norm.  This is my top quarterback for the week.

You’ll notice a theme this week.  I’ll give you one obvious name just to make sure you still have your sanity, and then one wild-card player in case of injuries.  A wild-card quarterback this week will be Johnny Manziel of the Browns.  I don’t like how he carries himself off the field.  Don’t really like him on the field.  But he can run, which could rack up a lot of points quickly.

Denver running back C.J. Anderson is running wild as of late.  He’s got two straight games of more than 150 yards and has all kinds of trust from his quarterback.  Not an inviting matchup against the Bills, but you have to start him.

Joique Bell and the Lions face off against Tampa Bay this week.  Tampa has not, surprisingly, given up a 100-yard rusher since Week 6.  The streak could end against Bell, who ran well last week and has a matchup that should be friendly for running backs.

The Broncos take on a middling defense in Buffalo that will give up some points.  If my team has both Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders, I have no problem starting both of them with confidence.  Thomas has averaged 15.5 points this year and hasn’t put up single digits since Week 3.  Sanders has averaged 13.5 points and has only put up single digits three times this year.

A real gut call here, but I could see Doug Baldwin having a big game for the Seahawks.  Baldwin takes on the Eagles, who put up a lot of points on the scoreboard while giving up a lot of points to opposing wideouts.  That is a recipe for a good game for the Seahawks’ offense and the receivers.

The New Orleans Saints give up the fewest fantasy points to opposing tight ends.  There have been cracks in the past couple of weeks, though.  Enter Greg Olsen.  Tough matchup, no doubt, but you have to start him if he got you this far.

This part of the column is where I would normally give you some “sits.”  But the fact of the matter is this:  you should know who to sit by what I said at the beginning.

Start the guys who got you there and bench the ones who didn’t.  Telling you to “sit” Demarco Murray because he has a mediocre matchup would be silly, counter-productive and confusing and would surely blow up in my face.

I’ll mention one last tip for this first week of fantasy playoffs:  Don’t feel obligated to start a defense or kicker because of who they are.  While the Seahawks are supposed to have an amazing defense, they fall victim to great offenses like any other team.  Start a defense that has a good matchup.  Same with kickers.  It can result in a number of extra points to your final score.  Good luck everybody.


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