December 17, 2020


You know how you remember so much about the great calls you make in setting fantasy football lineups? Well, if you’ve been playing fantasy football long enough, you’ll see your share of calls that go wrong. And they stick with you just the same.

Ryan Tannehill has been a smashing success against the lesser defenses, and the Lions have given up 304.6 yards passing per game the last 5 weeks.

My most maddening was Week 16, 2013. I was in the championship in one of my leagues. Not a top seed, but definitely had a representative roster. I was staring at a flex position question with a couple receivers who were very close to each other in ability and production. While I don’t remember the player I ultimately started, I remember the player I sat.

Roddy White had had a solid career by that point, having finished a six-year run as a 1000-yard receiver. But this season was his age-32 season, and the decline was happening. He would finish the season with 63 catches for 711 yards, though there was still something left in the tank. He hadn’t scored a TD in four weeks, and he was playing a road game in San Francisco during the 49ers’ run as a dominant defense, especially the secondary. The game was going to be under the lights of Monday Night Football in raucous Candlestick Park. I thought there was no way that he was going to do much of anything, so to the pine he went. 

The result? He caught 12 balls on 15 targets for 141 yards and 1 TD. Naturally, the difference between me winning what at the time would be my second title in the True Blue Fantasy Football League with the sharks in the Dodger front office and losing was the difference between White and the player I ultimately picked.

What keeps me from going insane and banging my head against the wall was my thought process in making my ultimate choice. It was a dome player going on the road to play on grass against one of the best secondaries in football. I’d make the decision every time, with the only exception being if I wanted to roll the dice with a player on Monday Night Football to have that potential for a comeback.

That’s what you have to aim for during the semi-finals of the fantasy playoffs. Make a well-thought-out decision, take the hand off the chess piece and just sit back and (hopefully) enjoy the result. Let’s have some playoff fun with Adentro y Afuera for Week 15. Vamonos!


Ryan Tannehill vs DET
The only thing standing in the way of Tannehill having a big day is Derrick Henry dominating the game on the ground because the Titans ran away with the game. The leaky Titan defense, which is #28 against QBs and #25 against RBs in Fantasy PPG, is very giving. The Lions are even more generous, as they’re allowing 304.6 yards per game the past 5 weeks. At $6700, Tannehill is $1200 cheaper than Patrick Mahomes.

Lamar Jackson vs JAX
The reigning MVP has decided to empty the tank to close out the season, leaving it all on the field. Or some in the locker room (OK, dad jokes are done).With 218 yards rushing in the past two games after missing a week on the COVID list, Jackson is looking like hte 2019 vintage. The Jaguars have allowed a league-worst 744 yards rushing the past five weeks. Jackson has Marquise Brown back from the COVID list (close contact who tested negative), but he’ll have plenty of time to find Mark Andrews and others because the Jaguars have registered only 16 sacks. That number is 4th-worst in the league.

Jared Goff vs NYJ
It’s easy to want to pump the brakes before inserting Goff in this section, but his presence is warranted here. The Ram QB has been inconsistent, to be kind, yet he’s still thrown for 3509 yards this season – 8th in the league. The Jets are allowing 89 yards rushing the past four weeks, which is good considering how much they’ve been trailing. The play-action game and working in rhythm are key for Goff, and if the Jets are selling out to stop the run, that will leave Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp open all game.

Teddy Bridgewater @ GB
Playing in frigid temperatures in Wisconsin during prime time is tough enough, add in that the Packers have sacked opposing QBs 35 times this season, 10th best in the league. Bridgewater has been brought down 23 times, and Jaire Alexander will be lurking on the other side of the ball looking to lengthen Bridgewater’s stay in the pocket. While Bridgewater has thrown for a respectable 3103 yards this season, he’s thrown for only 14 TDs – 21st in the league. 

Cam Newton @ MIA
Newton was benched in the last game when the score was out of reach, and fantasy managers would do well to look elsewhere this week. Newton has surpassed 174 just two times since his 397-yard explosion in Week 2. Once he threw for 365 yards against the Texans and another time he chucked it for 274 yards against the Jets. The Dolphins have emerged as one of the top defenses against the pass, 4th against QBs in Fantasy PPG allowed. Add to it that funny things happen when the New Englanders go to Miami in December. 


Jonathan Taylor vs HOU
Taylor is $2300 cheaper than Derrick Henry in DraftKings. That’s almost the same difference as going from Tony Pollard ($5200) to Alvin Kamara ($7400). Taylor has been on quite a run since he took over the lead caballo duties for the Colts, culminating in his 150-yard effort in Week 14 against the Raiders. The Texans have been all-around bad on defense, and against RBs they are 29th in Fantasy PPG allowed. They’re getting stomped on for 126.2 YPG on the ground the past five games.

Wayne Gallman vs CLE
The memory of the Ravens rolling up 231 yards rushing against the Browns is still fresh. Gallman is also getting the bulk of the carries for the Giants, and even had a 5-game stretch starting in Week 7 where he scored 6 TDs. With Colt McCoy likely the starter behind center, Gallman may be the only chance for the Giants in a game that should be dominated by the run.

Kareem Hunt @ NYG
On the other sideline, Hunt’s all-around talents were on display for everyone to enjoy in amassing 110 total yards, including 77 receiving yards on 6 receptions and a score (adding another on the ground). The Giants are  #5 in most receiving yards allowed to RBs at 43 YPG over the past four weeks. Look for Hunt again to be a threat on the ground and in the air. 

Miles Sanders @ AZ
Sanders breaking off the 82-yard TD run against the Saints helped take the bad taste in the mouth of fantasy managers who drafted him either late first, or early second round. The Cardinals are #26 against the RB in Fantasy PPG allowed the past 4 games, and now they have to contend with Jalen Hurts being a second running option in the Philly backfield. 

Ezekiel Elliott vs SF
I drafted Elliott 2nd overall in our Familia league, so I’ve suffered along with so many people who probably had their season shot because of the high draft pick fizzling with the Cowboys’ season. But I have something to play for after all, as I’m in the consolation bracket and the winner is guaranteed a Top 4 pick next year. That said, I’m playing Cam Akers, J.K. Dobbins and D’Andre Swift over Elliott. It’s part performance, better options and matchup. Mixed in with a little spite. Elliott sits at RB7 in a lost season, but if he keeps at this rate he’s likely going to fall out of the Top 10 by season’s end. The 49ers remain solid on their run defense, as they’re #6 in Fantasy PPG allowed to the RB. 

Leonard Fournette @ ATL
Ronald Jones has a broken pinkie and just got put on the COVID IR. The next man up theoretically would be Fournette. Hold on. Fournette was a healthy scratch in Week 14, so does that appear to be a player who would sub in for Jones and take over lead caballo duties? And as bad as the Falcons have been against the pass, they’ve allowed the 2nd-fewest rushing yards per game at 70. It doesn’t appear that Fournette will have much room to run. 


DeAndre Hopkins vs PHI
That mini-slump that Hopkins went from Week 9-13 with only a single 100-yard game is over. He’s seen double-digit targets the past two games, and he is catching the Eagles at the right time. The Philly secondary was hit hard with injuries, withHopkins’ likely foil Darius Slay missing the game. The Eagles have also been plucked by stud WRs D.K. Metcalf, Davante Adams and Michael Thomas the past three games. Hopkins is very much flying in their rarefied air. 

Calvin Ridley vs TB 
Ridley is going to be El Hombre lining up outside for the Falcons, with Julio Jones ruled out. Last week’s 12 targets that netted 8 receptions, 124 yards and 1 TD is a good example of what Ridley does in a Julio-free zone. And the Bucs have been more easy to throw against lately, as they’re #32 defending the WR in Fantasy PPG. This game has a 50.5 over/under, so there will be points scored. 

Brandon Aiyuk @ DAL
What’s more to like about Aiyuk? The 16 targets? The 10 receptions for 119 yards? Or that the Dallas defense is 25th against WRs in Fantasy PPG this season. That number would likely be higher except for the fact that Dallas has been even worse against the run, especially lately. The 49ers use Aiyuk very much like an RB, with so many screen passes. Also note that Deebo Samuel has been ruled out for the game (and may be done for the season).

Cooper Kupp vs NYJ
Kupp must be salivating at the thought of lining up against Javelin Guidry, an undrafted free agent who is being pressed into duty because of the attrition in the Jets’ secondary. Kupp’s performance against the Bucs in Week 11 was spectacular: 11 receptions on 13 targets for 145 yards. Goff will often target Kupp and Robert Woods, who is also a great play.

Robby Anderson @ GB
Anderson gets the pleasure of drawing Jaire Alexander’s coverage. The ace cornerback is only the #2-ranked player at the position, according to PFF. Anderson has not topped 100 yards since Week 5. Last week he saw 12 targets, but that was without D.J. Moore in the lineup. Moore returns from the COVID list this week, which should spread the target wealth.

Alshon Jeffery @ AZ
Don’t be fooled by the nice, back-shoulder 15-yard TD pass from Jalen Hurts to Jeffery last week and start thinking that there might be some connection. That was the only target that Jeffery saw last week, as Hurts only targeted receivers on 11 of his 30 pass attempts. Add to it that Jeffery is a candidate for the Patrick Peterson treatment, and it’s not good.