In August, the RotoExperts staff had a mock draft. We used a site that didn’t do mock drafts and it would end up playing out the league. The mock draft ended up being a bust because one person didn’t show up and the auto draft didn’t account for injured players. I have a few other leagues on this site, so I decided that I’d set a lineup each week and see how it goes. One other guy did the same. What would you think the result would be? I’d be winning, right? My record is 8-5. I’m in fifth place and only four teams make the playoffs. I need to win this week in order to make it. The team in first place has Stevan Ridley, Jared Cook and T.Y. Hilton starting every week. The team in fourth place – ahead of me – is starting Aaron Rodgers and Percy Harvin every week (and has started them every week of the year). Yet that team is 9-4.
What’s the lesson to be learned here (other than let sleeping leagues lie otherwise you don’t feel good about yourself)? Don’t overthink your lineup. Start the guys you drafted that are healthy and doing well. Don’t overthink the matchups. Stop worrying about Calvin Johnson’s knee or Adrian Peterson’s groin. C.J. Spiller? He seems to be over the ankle injury. Ray Rice? Well, if you have better options, you can still bench him.
But let’s see what else the Pink Football has to say:
1. There is no one on Cleveland worth starting (Josh Gordon may be an exception, but only MAYBE).
The quarterback situation in Cleveland has been a mess all year, and it’s just getting worse. As of this writing, both Jason Campbell and Brandon Weeden have not been cleared for practice. That leaves Caleb Hanie and Alex Tanney as the two healthy quarterbacks on the roster. After already losing Brian Hoyer for the year, Campbell was a serviceable quarterback, although Jordan Cameron did struggle with him at the helm. Once Weeden came back in last week, it appeared that Cameron might regain TE1 status, but he only posted a four-catch, 43-yard game. At this point, Cameron is worth dropping in all leagues.
The running back situation is just as messy. Willis McGahee scored a touchdown in Week 13 (his first since Week 5). Don’t get excited about this; it likely won’t happen again all season. Behind him is Chris Ogbonnaya, who did well in Week 11 (69 rushing yards, six receptions for 30 yards), but since has struggled to get over 40 total yards. He’s only scored two touchdowns all season (both receiving) and isn’t worth starting in any formats.
That just leaves Josh Gordon. Sure, it may be controversial to say that someone who was targeted 15 times and caught 10 balls for 261 yards and two touchdowns is only maybe worth starting, but this depends entirely on who the quarterback in Cleveland is. Factor in that Aqib Talib will likely be covering Gordon in Week 14 and if you have better options, this may be a week to consider benching Gordon. Hanie was just signed this week and hasn’t played in an NFL game since 2011. Tanney was just recently signed as well. Neither QB should be trusted, which means no one in the passing game should be trusted. If Weeden and Campbell aren’t cleared to play on Sunday, Fantasy owners need to seriously consider if they want to start Josh Gordon in a must-win playoff (or last week of the regular season) game.
2. Stop waiting for players to develop if you need something now.
Hopefully by now you’ve dropped the likes of DeAndre Hopkins and Mohamed Sanu. However, there are plenty of people that are still on rosters that shouldn’t be there. I’m not going to make a list (for ideas, see last week’s column). But here’s the thing: you need to win now. If you aren’t going to start any of the guys on your bench, drop them for something better. Fill your roster with players that will help you. Especially if your waivers lock for the rest of the season, make sure your roster is full. Even if waivers don’t lock, you don’t want to have to play the waiver wire each week if you don’t have to. Grab a backup quarterback if there’s anything decent available. Grab a backup tight end, especially if you own a guy that’s banged up. Grab a second defense if they have a good matchup a few weeks down the road. Grab running back handcuffs even if you don’t own the starter.
Guys to target include: Kendall Hunter (49ers), Bryce Brown (Eagles), Michael Bush (Bears), Toby Gerhart (Vikings), Knile Davis (Chiefs) and any other handcuff you deem necessary. There have been so many injuries to running backs that these handcuffs are going to end up saving your Fantasy season if a stud goes down.
3. An overreaction and an underreaction: Eric Decker is a must-start and Bobby Rainey is ready to perform in the Fantasy playoffs.
Reality: Eric Decker had an amazing Week 13 game. But he had a lot of terrible games before Week 13 to the extent that while Decker is owned is nearly 100 percent of leagues, but he only was started in about 80 percent of them for good reason. He had three touchdowns in 11 games, and was averaging five receptions and a little over 70 yards a game. In Week 12, to the delight of Fantasy owners, he had one reception for five yards, resulting in a zero in standard scoring, non-PPR leagues. Sure, he turned that around for 41 points in Week 13, but why do you trust that he’ll repeat that? Decker has three 100-plus yard games this season. He’s followed his first two 100-yard games with a 5/88/0 line and a 4/42/0 line. Denver spreads the ball around. Peyton Manning tries to make sure all of his pass-catchers are “fed” and happy. Decker was due. (Perhaps Wes Welker is next?)
Bobby Rainey came onto the Fantasy scene when Tampa Bay needed a starting running back after losing both Doug Martin and Mike James. He responded by posting a 163-rushing yard game with two touchdowns. For good measure, he added a receiving touchdown. In the two games following, he ran for 35 and 63 yards, respectively. He did play against Detroit and Carolina, two tough run defenses. This week Rainey gets Buffalo. Fantasy owners may be ready to give up on him, but don’t give up just yet. (See: Ben Tate for an example of what happens when you give up too soon). I know it’s tough, but trust Rainey this week.