I played a lot of poker when I was in college. Nothing crazy - just enough to win beer money off my friends or online for low stakes. Playing poker was a lot of fun and there were always the poker stories from a night of playing. The best stories were never the hands you won, but the hands you ended up losing because some idiot chased an inside straight draw and hit it. In poker, that's called a bad beat. I think we should have something similar in fantasy football.
In one league, I had a tight game with Emmanuel Sanders and New England defense playing against Tom Brady. It was back and forth all game (as was the real game) until it looked like I was going to squeeze out a 0.5 point victory with Denver driving down for a game winning field goal. Of course, the CJ Anderson break away TD put Denver at 30 points - over the 28 point barrier - taking away a point for the Patriots D, thus losing the match by a half point. It was a crazy, high scoring matchup that was decided by less than a point because the Patriots defense couldn't tackle CJ Anderson on a toss sweep. As much as it pains me to say it, the bad beats are part of what makes Fantasy Football fun.
- Russell Wilson takes the top spot this week with 345 yards and 5 TD tosses in a crazy game against the Steelers. Now is about the time the Seahawks start heating up as they need to get it going for any kind of playoff push. Wilson's 5 TDs came on only 30 attempts so the big play offense of the Seahawks was a surprise to say the least. Wilson gets the Vikings this weekend, so that sucks, but I'd feel pretty darn good about Wilson after that against the Ravens, Browns, and Rams.
- The Philadelphia Eagles defense is an absolute dumpster fire right now as evidenced by Matthew Stafford having a ridiculous game, basically mirroring Russell Wilson's stats. I don't trust Stafford for any kind of stability, but...wow, you've got to love that fantasy playoff schedule of New Orleans Saints and the San Francisco 49ers in Weeks 15 and 16.
- I think it's worth mentioning Tyrod Taylor in a losing effort against the Chiefs. Taylor was able to throw for 291 yards, 3 scores, and run for an additional 46 yards. It looked like Taylor was back to healthy and provides an interesting option down the stretch. After this week's game against the resurgent JJ Watts, Taylor gets to feast on the NFC East with Philly, Washington, and Dallas. I'm looking at picking up Taylor for the stretch run to pinch hit for Matt Ryan, who is flirting with "dead to me" territory.
- I don't really understand the day Ben Roethlisberger had against the Seahawks. I thought he looked pretty bad but he managed to throw for 456 yards despite sitting out the last series. If you're rolling with Big Ben, you'll probably play him down the stretch, but I'd consider a caddy against the Broncos in Week 15.
- Adrian Peterson not only retains the yellow jersey but puts some distance between him and the rest of the field. Peterson is a generational talent and has a handful of carries every game that are highlight worthy. With a 126 yard lead over Doug Martin with 5 games left in the year, it looks certain that AP will run away with another rushing title. More importantly for our game, AP plays two weak run defenses in the fantasy playoffs at home.
- This week proved to be a redemption of sorts for C.J. Anderson and Eddie Lacy. Both backs have been massive disappointments this year but both topped 100 yards on the ground, contributed in the passing game, and got into the end zone. Both backs appear to have regained their starting roles and as bigger backs, they could prove important down the stretch. If you somehow survived this long with those guys on your bench, it looks like you're getting a real RB back into the fold at the perfect time.
- Andy Reid takes a lot of crap for his in game management (deserved) but he's a heckuva offensive coach. The next man up, Spencer Ware, took 19 carries against the Bills defense and topped 100 yards and a score. If Charcandrick West sits another week, look for Ware to feast on the Raiders.
- I thought Javorius Allen looked pretty good against Cleveland but Matt Schaub isn't doing him any favors in that offense. The remaining schedule for Buck has the Dolphins, Seahawks, Chiefs, and Steelers. I'll be rolling with Buck in one league so I'd like to see some more volume over the final stanza of the season.
- Let's start with Sammy Watkins, who burned down the Chiefs secondary in the first half, racking up 158 yards and 2 scores. Watkins grabbed a milkshake and some wings at halftime and didn't do anything in the second half but for 30 minutes of football we saw what makes this guy so interesting. We talked about it in the preview - he seemed due to have a big game against a suspect Chiefs secondary, but he's tough to trust. Maybe Watkins is just a boom or bust guy, but his ceiling is so high you've got to roll with him if you have him.
- Our old friend from the waiver wire, Doug Baldwin, led the way this week with 145 yards and 3 scores. That's two big lines in three weeks and with Jimmy Graham put out of his misery, Baldwin might be an interesting add for the stretch run. Again, the Seahawks will get the Ravens and the Browns soon.
- Two very different types of receivers squared off in the Meadowlands with Brandon Marshall and Jarvis Landry. Marshall has had an excellent year, adding 9 catches for 131 yards and two scores to his season totals. Landry has been more inconsistent, but busted out with his biggest game of the year, securing 13 of 16 targets for 165 and a score. I have zero shares of both guys but I imagine I'll see plenty of both in the playoffs. These are guys that are paying a profit from draft day.
- Can we just tip our cap to Odell Beckham Jr. for yet another amazing catch? He's really good. Too bad he has to play for the Giants.
- Let's start off with the scary scene. Rob Gronkowski, friend of the column, was writhing in pain on the ground after a shot to the leg. My immediate thought was profanity laced, but I quickly began to hope that he avoided one of those season ending issues. It looks like that's the case and we'll get Gronk back at some point - the problem for your fantasy squad is we don't know when. My guess is that they'll bring him back slowly and try to grind out wins without him. You have to hope for Week 15, but don't be surprised if he doesn't play until the real life playoffs. Scott Chandler becomes interesting for the first time since...well, ever.
- Overall, it was a good weekend for tight ends, with Julius Thomas having the best week. Thomas grabbed 9 balls for 116 and a score. Here's a fun fact - Thomas plays the Saints in Week 16. If he's sitting out there for some reason, go get him just for that.
- Hats off to Antonio Gates for gutting it out this season. I don't know that Gates has been 100% at any point this year but he scored twice this week. Gates is still relevant, as someone needed to remind me this weekend as he rotted on my bench.
- Jay Cutler - Cutty delivered an Alex Smith line against the Packers - 19 of 31 for 200, 1 TD, no picks. Yeah, whatever, we won, so who cares? With the Bears' next two opponents, Cutler could be a viable play, but we just haven't seen a reliable volume or a secondary receiver to make Cutty a smart play.
- Alshon Jeffery - Alshon had a nice game but failed to get into the end zone for the third straight game. The main thing for Alshon is getting and staying healthy, but I'd like to see Jeffery convert some of these targets to scores. I've got high hopes this week.
- Matt Forte - It didn't look like Forte was fully healthy but you can imagine why he'd want to hurry back with Langford breathing down his neck. Another 10 days of rest will help immensely and I imagine Forte will have a strong run to finish the year. Remember, Forte is in a contract year so even if he isn't going to play here next year, he's got 5 more games to show to the league that he's got a lot left in the tank.
- Jeremy Langford -As expected, Langford was the #2 back against the Packers. However, the gap wasn't very large and Langford got the TD run. I would imagine that gap will start to widen back as Forte gets healthier - not to mention the drop problems that have started to rear their ugly head.
- Zach Miller - Well...at least he scored. I like Miller, but I don't think you can play him unless you're absolutely desperate.
Anybody got a bad beat story to share? 2 games left of the regular season - we're almost there.