Merry Championship Week, everybody! It's the best week of the fantasy season (unless yours has ended, in which case you probably don't care and aren't even reading this article). For those of you still alive, congratulations! Making it this far in any fantasy season is an accomplishment that requires time, skill, knowledge, and a lot of good luck. Hopefully you've had your share of good luck this fantasy season. I certainly know I have.
Just to keep track of how things have been going in my personal fantasy leagues, I was able to go 3-0 again last week and have no made it to the Championship game in all three of my fantasy leagues! I told you I've had a lot of good luck. Let's recap the three leagues I'm in:
My first league is a 10-team league that has standard scoring. I ended the season as the regular season champ and had the #1 seed in the playoffs. In this league, the top four teams make the playoffs. My championship match-up pits me against the #3 seed who has been very strong all year. I was carried last week by big performances, yet again, from DeMarco Murray and Le'Veon Bell. Obviously I'll be monitoring the Murray situation closely this week.
In our resident Hogs Haven Writers League, I finished the season as the #5 seed. We have 12 teams in that league (all writers who you've seen on this site) and the scoring is .5 PPR. The top six teams made the playoffs with the top two receiving a first round bye. Well, I knocked off a couple "upsets" in the first two rounds and find myself going against the #2 overall seed in the Championship after knocking off the #1 seed just last week. Le'Veon Bell has been paying off for me big time.
My third league is the biggest at 14 teams. It's a true PPR league and I ended the regular season as the #2 seed. The playoffs are the same as our HH league with the top six making the postseason while #1 and #2 receive first-round byes. Well, this league has held up pretty much chalk with a bout against the #1 seed looming in the Championship game. He's been great all year and it'll certainly be tough. I probably shouldn't have made it this far after getting burned by Kendall Wright not playing last week. I thought he was going to play and left him in my lineup and then got all drunk and pissed during the 'Skins game. Turns out he didn't play and it really almost destroyed me. Luckily Matt Forte didn't come through for my opponent in MNF like he needed and I narrowly escaped even with the goose egg from Wright. That's as lucky as it gets. Still, it's good to have Le'Veon Bell.
If this isn't your Championship Week (some leagues are set up differently), fear not! I'll still put this article out next week for those of you that will be playing your final game next week.
Let's take a look at who will help and hurt the most in this most important week:
Matt Ryan, ATL (@ New Orleans Saints) - This is the week to trust Matt Ryan with your Championship regardless of Julio Jones' status. Ryan's been hot recently and Harry Douglas has filled in fine and seems to have great chemistry with Ryan. There's also this little fact about them getting to play against a very weak Saints defense. Both teams are still in the playoff hunt and this has the potential to be a very high scoring affair with two high-powered offenses and two very weak, beatable defenses. 325-350 yards and 2 TD's.
Matthew Stafford, DET (@ Chicago Bears) - If you're in the NFL, you want to be playing the Bears right now. A team in disarray with a HC that will probably be fired and Jimmy Clausen starting at QB. Plus Brandon Marshall is on IR. Wow. The Lions are fighting for their division and the Bears defense already wasn't good. Stafford to Calvin Johnson could happen quite a few times this week... 325 yards and 2 TD's.
Robert Griffin III, WAS (@ Philadelphia Eagles) - I know. I'm crazy. Take this advice only if you don't have someone clearly ahead of him as your QB. Maybe you were a Cutler owner? I don't know. I'm just saying, RGIII will have an above average (by his standards) week this week. He was decent last week. He actually looked pretty good and even has Jay Gruden saying nice things. We also have to factor in the fact that the Eagles are horrible against QB's. They give up points just about every game. Lots of points. 300 passing yards, 2 TD's, and 30-40 rushing yards.
Eli Manning, NYG (@ St. Louis Rams) - The Rams front should terrorize the weak Giants offense at home and unlike our Redskins last week, that defense should be able to hold Odell Beckham under 3 TD's. The Rams have been good against opposing QB's all year and the Giants offense seems relatively easy to hinder... it's all about Beckham. 225-250 yards, 1 TD, and 1 INT.
Philip Rivers, SD (@ San Francisco 49ers) - The 49ers defense is still really good and they're the home team. Add on to that the fact that Rivers has already been slumping lately and you have a perfect situation to avoid for your Championship. Less than stellar QB play + good opposing defense = avoid. 225-250 yards, 1 TD, and 1 INT.
Russell Wilson, SEA (@ Arizona Cardinals) - The sledding is tough for an opposing QB in Arizona as they've been one of the best at limiting QB's all season. Plus, we all know that Seattle loves to run the ball. Arizona has dominated the league with their defense and it's gotten them to the #1 spot in the NFC despite an unfortunate QB situation. Not the week for Wilson. 175-200 passing yards, 1 TD, 1 INT, and 40-50 rushing yards.
Mark Ingram, NO (vs Atlanta Falcons) - This should be a high scoring game with two teams fighting for the playoffs. The Falcons defense has been garbage all year, especially against the run. I expect the Saints to make a strong attempt to get Ingram established and keep the Falcons offense off the field. He'll get plenty of opportunities. 90 rushing yards, 1 TD, and 10-20 receiving yards.
Joique Bell, DET (@ Chicago Bears) - Again, going against the Bears. The Lions could blow the doors off this thing which might mean a heavy dose of Bell. It's helpful that he's active as a receiver, too. Bush is out of the picture and the Bears are imploding. Big day for Bell. 80 rushing yards, 1 TD, and 20-30 receiving yards.
Alfred Morris, WAS (vs Philadelphia Eagles) - Again, the Eagles defense is very bad from a fantasy perspective. Morris has been bad for a couple weeks in a row now and he's due. Our offense is going to do some good things on Saturday and I think you can trust Morris, especially with RGIII in the line-up. We all know Morris benefits greatly from that. 80 rushing yards, 1 TD, and 10-20 receiving yards.
Steven Jackson, ATL (@ New Orleans Saints) - He's been consistently productive recently and the Saints defense is pretty bad. There's not a lot of upside there with this aging back, but he's a safe bet to get some decent points. Safe and consistent are the mottos for Championship Week. 80 rushing yards, 1 TD, and 10 receiving yards.
Andre Williams, NYG (@ St. Louis Rams) - Again, the Rams defense is good, especially their front. It's very difficult to run on that team, even more so at St. Louis. Why risk it? 70 total yards.
Gio Bernard, CIN (vs Denver Broncos) - The Broncos are a brutal defense to run on and the Bengals offense (and Andy Dalton) isn't going anywhere fast. Bernard's been back for about a month now and hasn't done anything in that time. He only passed 50 rushing yards once and has a grand total of 0 TD's. It's Jeremy Hill's show right now. 35 total yards.
Matt Forte, CHI (vs Detroit Lions) - Jimmy Clausen is playing QB. No one is scared of that. The Lions and their incredible defense (especially DL) will be solely focused on Mr. Forte. It's going to be a rough game for him. I expect domination by the Lions. 70 total yards.
Mike Evans, TB (vs Green Bay Packers) - He's their best target and they're going to be behind, at home, and having to throw to keep up. He's been one of the best fantasy WR's this year. I like the opportunities this guy gets and he's a major red-zone threat. Something good is bound to happen with all those throws/targets. 90-100 yards and 1 TD.
Julian Edelman, NE (@ New York Jets) - The Jets secondary (and entire team) is pathetically weak and Edelman gets tons of looks from one of the greatest QB's of all-time. What's not to like here? 80-90 yards and possibly a TD.
DeSean Jackson, WAS (vs Philadelphia Eagles) - D-Jax against his old team. With another week of getting healthy. The Eagles pathetic defense. Call it a hunch. 100 yards.
Larry Fitzgerald, ARI (vs Seattle Seahawks) - Who's playing QB here? It doesn't matter. AZ doesn't have an explosive offense and they're going against one of the best defenses in the league. This is a run-heavy, big defense, low scoring game and the aging Fitz just doesn't have what it takes to produce for your Championship, especially with that QB situation. Oh yeah, it's Lindley... Ryan Lindley. 40 yards.
Percy Harvin, NYJ (vs New England Patriots) - Who's playing QB here? It doesn't matter. Look, the Pats defense has been pretty darn good and Percy gets to tangle with Aqib Talib. The Patriots look like a buzz-saw right now and the Jets look like... well, whatever the opposite of that is. I wouldn't do it this week. Oh yeah, plus he's all banged up. 20-30 receiving yards and 10 rushing yards.
Coby Fleener, IND (@ Dallas Cowboys) - This guy gets to go against the Cowboys defense which has been ridiculously generous to TE's all year. It'll be another high scoring game and you have to like Andrew Luck throwing him the ball. I know Allen is there, but I think both will have big days. I'm starting Fleener. 60-70 yards and 1 TD.
Travis Kelce, KC (@ Pittsburgh Steelers) - He's been great all year, coming off a great game, and getting to play an incredibly favorable match-up against a team that leaks TD's to TE's like few others can. They don't have WR's in KC, they have Kelce. 60-70 yards and 1 TD.
Martellus Bennett, CHI (vs Detroit Lions) - Clausen's going to have to throw it to somebody. This is one of the few areas that the Lions aren't stellar in (covering TE's, that is). 60-70 yards and possibly a TD.
Antonio Gates, SD (@ San Francisco 49ers) - TD potential. The 49ers are a pretty good match-up against opposing TE's. He's perhaps the best red-zone target you'll find at TE outside of the guaranteed start guys (Gronk, Graham, Thomas, etc.). 65 yards and probably a TD.
Vernon Davis, SF (vs San Diego Chargers) - He's just not good this year. I don't know what else to tell you. Hopefully you figured that out before reading this. He doesn't score. Don't be this desperate. In fact, you're not in the Championship if you've been starting this guy. 10-20 yards.
Jordan Cameron, CLE (@ Carolina Panthers) - Go watch Johnny Manziel's play from last week. 20-30 yards.
Please leave any fantasy related questions you might have in the comments section and I'll try to answer as many and as quickly as I can. It's fun to get everyone's perspectives on this week's match-ups floating around down there and I'm always interested to see what kind of decisions different fantasy players have to make. These are just general ideas for standard leagues, but we can all give and receive advice for unique situations as they come up. Good luck!