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Fantasy Football: Postseason rankings, strategy 01.02.14 at 10:27 am ET
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The fantasy football season has concluded, but as most of you know, fantasy football lives on with postseason leagues. We’€™re here to help you stack the odds in your favor or at least to avoid doing the opposite.

Playoff leagues can be a lot of fun, and they are completely different than regular-season fantasy football. The key difference is that predicting game outcomes is perhaps the key factor in your team’€™s success. In most situations, you’€™d rather have your player advance than have a big game and lose. That’€™s because once your player’€™s team is finished, so is the player. That means no more points and a big old dead spot in your lineup. For this reason, it is important to project the number of games each team will play.

You may think Philip Rivers is a better quarterback than Colin Kaepernick, but if you think the Chargers are a one-and-done team as I do, and if you think the 49ers have a chance to play four games (the maximum), as I do, then you’€™d be kooky to draft Rivers ahead of Kaepernick.  This is true even if you project Rivers to outscore Kaepernick by a factor of two on a per-game basis. This is how you must think in a playoff draft. Get in that frame of mind — the same frame of mind that makes you want LeGarrette Blount over Jamaal Charles. Yes, really.

Since leagues are different sizes and many use different sets of rules, I am going to keep the rankings somewhat general. The first thing you need to do is to decide how you think the playoff games will go, then follow those predictions. I’ve laid out my current take below, but I won’€™t lie to you, I could flip a few games this week as I continue to think about things and assess the injury situations. Some of these games are very close. Value players accordingly. For example, I think Kaepernick plays twice, but I also think he’€™s the player with the best chance at playing four times. It will take an upset of the Seahawks in Seattle to make that happen, but Frisco probably is the best bet to pull that off at this point.

GAMES PLAYED PROJECTIONS

Broncos, 3 games
Seahawks, 3 games
49ers, 2 games
Eagles, 2 games
Patriots, 2 games
Panthers, 2 games
Colts, 2 games
Bengals, 2 games
Saints, 1 game
Packers, 1 game
Chargers, 1 game
Chiefs, 1 game

If you look at the projections, you might assume that Peyton Manning and Russell Wilson are the players to own. And they certainly are players you’€™d like to have, but a few of the quarterbacks with two projected games played are potentially as or more valuable. I already mentioned Kaepernick, but Tom Brady will have a very good chance at a third game, and I see most of the early round games being competitive. For this, I suggest that you play your own hunches if you have strong ones and if you trust your instincts. That’€™s really what make these postseason leagues so much fun. You get to do more prognostication.

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Fantasy Football: Week 17 starts, sits 12.27.13 at 10:38 am ET
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Welcome to the final installment of the 2013 starts and sits. Week 17 is always tricky, which is why the vast majority of fantasy leagues opt to use Week 16 as their bowl week. It’€™s tricky because you never know which teams are going to pull their starters early and which teams will play to win for 60 minutes. I’€™ll do my best to warn you off of a few options and to highlight some safer plays. We’€™ll be doing full Week 17 lineup rankings at Rotobahn, so feel free to head over if you require any additional clarity. I’€™ll also be back at WEEI at 11 a.m. Sunday for our final chat, so stop by if you have any lineup questions.

QUARTERBACKS

START

Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers vs. Browns

They play at 1 p.m., so the Steelers will go out there guns blazing to see if they can put some pressure on the teams ahead of them. They post big numbers when they get the offense going, so Roethlisberger is a solid option in any league this week against a Browns defense that’€™s been shaky lately.

Andrew Luck, Colts vs. Jaguars

He’€™s got a decent home matchup and it’€™s indoors, so we don’€™t need to worry about weather. The Colts have something to play for at this point, though they would need some help from the Patriots and Bengals. It’€™s an early game, so they won’€™t know their fate when they play. Luck is a viable starter in any home matchup. Start him if you need him.

Andy Dalton, Bengals vs. Ravens

The Bengals play early and they can put pressure on the Patriots in the race for the bye if they can win. You can count on the Bengals pushing as hard as they can for four quarters. Dalton is a solid play if you need a Week 17 quarterback. His offensive weaponry makes him dangerous on a weekly basis.

Kirk Cousins, Redskins at Giants

If you really need an option, Cousins should give you solid production, though this is not as good a matchup as he had last week. Washington’s€™ temporary starter is a viable option in 12-team leagues with a hot No. 1 receiver and a stout running game to work off of. There is a chance of rain in the forecast, but nothing as epic as what we saw last week.

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Fantasy Football: Week 17 waiver wire 12.24.13 at 8:57 am ET
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Welcome to the Week 17 waiver wire. I know it’€™s championship week for those of you left out there and it’€™s a really tough way to play your biggest game, because we’€™ll have a lot of players taking this week off or at least playing under very limited snap counts. So I’€™ll do my best to find you a few good options. One good idea is to come back later this week for the starts and sits, where I will try to find some of the key sits based on playing time or a predictable lack thereof. As always, I will be expanding the waiver wire for those of you in deeper formats, so head over to Rotobahn if you are a deep leaguer in need of even more ideas. I will also be doing our usual Rotobahn lineup rankings for Week 17, so check back later this week for that.

QUARTERBACKS

Jay Cutler, Bears

He was mediocre last week, but he is one of the more talented options out there, so he is very worthy of a plug-n-play this weekend at home against the Packers. Green Bay has been suspect defending the pass and the Bears have incredible talent at all of the receiving spots.

Kirk Cousins, Redskins

He’€™s a viable play at the Giants in a game that is meaningless for both teams. Washington is not going to play conservative when it is trying to increase Cousins’€™ market value. The ball is going to be in the air. Cousins is not a QB1, but he can help you if you need an option.

Terrelle Pryor, Raiders

Pryor will start in place of Matt McGloin this week and he’€™s an very interesting option. The Broncos are locked in and they will be playing without stud pass rusher Von Miller. Pryor may not be the long-term answer for Oakland, but he has fantasy upside this week because he makes plays with his arm and with his legs. If you are hurting in a deep league, he’€™s a viable option.

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Fantasy Football: Week 16 starts, sits 12.20.13 at 9:09 am ET
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Welcome to the Week 16 starts and sits! I’€™ve tried to find some good recommendations that aren’€™t too obvious. I’€™ve thrown in a few that I just wanted to emphasize, like Chris Johnson and Shane Vereen, who I think should be locked into lineups. Obviously, there is a lot of talent that we do not address in this article, so hit Rotobahn for our full lineup rankings. And on Sunday, stop by WEEI for our Sunday chat at 11 a.m. I’€™ll be happy to address any last-minute decisions you may have. Good luck to all this week! Bring home the hardware!

QUARTERBACKS

START

Kirk Cousins, Redskins vs. Cowboys

Talk about tricky! There are some very compelling reasons to consider Cousins as your quarterback for Week 16. The obvious one is the matchup at home against the defenseless Cowboys. I know a lot of people are talking about risk. Sure, there always is some uncertainly with an inexperienced quarterback. Then again, there’€™s risk playing Tom Brady on the road vs. the Ravens. At least there is from a fantasy football perspective. With Cousins, we see a lot more reasons to play him than to sit him. Here’€™s the most compelling one: Washington is marketing the player. Cousins is an asset that the Redskins need to maximize, as they have holes all over their roster. A lot of football experts see Cousins as a potential NFL starter, and we agree. The Redskins wants draft pick compensation for Cousins, and they are going to throw the football. And, with their defense, they’€™ll need to do it for four quarters. Cousins can help you if you have a need at quarterback. He’s an obvious choice for those who’€™ve been using Robert Griffin III.

Andrew Luck, Colts at Chiefs

Quite simply, he is capable in any matchup. I would not hesitate to play Luck in Week 16. Yes, the matchup is tough, but Luck has stepped it up on the road against tough defenses before. Look at what he did to the Bengals a few weeks ago. Luck is a viable option in any format this week. Check out our lineup rankings if you have a strong second option to consider.

Andy Dalton, Bengals vs. Vikings

As with Luck, Dalton falls outside of my top 12 for Week 16 but remains a very solid option with plenty of scoring potential. Dalton can be your starter this week if you need him. He has outstanding receiving options, and most of them are red zone guys.

Alex Smith, Chiefs vs. Colts 

It’€™s often ugly or random, but Smith almost always ends up with good numbers at the end of the day. Another fact worthy of a mention is his success at home, where he’€™s had only one weak fantasy start all year long. Smith can be your quarterback this week if you need him.

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Fantasy Football: Week 16 waiver wire 12.17.13 at 9:23 am ET
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And then there were two … Congratulations to all the teams in their league’s final game. The Week 16 dynamic is a bit unusual and this article reflects that. What we want this week are players that might be available, who can tip the scales for either you or your opponent. There are some leagues that have different rules. Perhaps your league has a second game between the semifinal losers, for third place. Whatever the case, the team you want to work against in this week’s free agent market is your opponent.

First, look at your roster. Do you have a weak spot in your lineup that can be strengthened in free agency? That should be your first priority — maximizing your Week 16 lineup. Second, look at your opponent’s roster. Do they have a weak spot that can be improved via the waiver wire? If they do, that is a move that you might consider blocking if you have waiver priority or a larger remaining free agent budget. Lastly, you can be aggressive with your cuts now. There’s nothing left to save for. You’re here. The only players you truly need are the ones who will be in your lineup this week, so don’t be afraid to manage your roster with that in mind and cut players who can’t help your opponent this week.

For example, let’s say that you have Rashard Mendenhall as your fifth running back.  You are not playing him this week and he’s got a brutal matchup at Seattle. Your opponent has injuries at running back and horrible matchups with what he has left. You think he’ll go after Jordan Todman in free agency. In this case, I would dump Mendenhall and add Todman, who I project to outscore Mendenhall by about 10 points this week. You won’t play Todman as you would not have played Mendenhall, but you’ve hurt your opponent’s potential score and helped yourself.

So, get in that frame of mind and see all the angles. One more win and you’re a champion. Having said all that, I will be back next week just in case you play in one of those bizarre leagues that use Week 17 as its championship week. We’ve got you covered. As always, I will be adding talent throughout the day at Rotobahn as I continue to work through the film from Week 15. Come by later if you play in a really deep format.

QUARTERBACKS

Kirk Cousins, Redskins

He had a very nice outing against Atlanta, and he is a very good fantasy play in Week 16 if you’ve been streaming quarterbacks. A home matchup against Dallas is about as good as it gets right now. Cousins is a very good option.

Jay Cutler, Bears

He was dumped in a good many leagues after his injury, so he could be a nice addition for those of you looking for quarterback help. Cutler has a very nice Week 16 matchup at Philadelphia, and his receivers are insanely good.

Ryan Tannehill, Dolphins

Give Tannehill a lot of credit for hanging tough behind a reconstructed offensive line. He continues to make plays on a weekly basis and is on a nice four-week run of production. He’s a solid option this week at Buffalo if you need help at quarterback.

Joe Flacco, Ravens

He’s available in about 50 percent of leagues, so he’s worth mentioning, since he’s playing for something and has a solid Week 16 matchup at home vs. the Patriots. I’d rather start Cousins, Cutler or Tannehill, but Flacco is viable.

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Fantasy Football: Week 15 starts, sits 12.13.13 at 10:35 am ET
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Welcome to the Week 15 starts and sits! If you are reading this, then congratulations are probably in order. It’s semifinal week in most leagues, so you are one win away from a bowl appearance and a shot at glory. Hopefully these recommendations will help you maximize your lineup, but if you need more, then head over to Rotobahn and check out our full lineup rankings. Additionally, you can attend our weekly Sunday chat right here at WEEI. You’ll find a link to the chat Sunday on the home page under “This Just In.” I hope to see you all there.

QUARTERBACKS

START

Matt Stafford, Lions vs. Ravens

Stafford had a rough Week 14 due to the weather, but if you survived the storm, you should stick with him. He’ll be much better at home, even in a tough matchup. The Lions probably will lose, but Stafford will get his stats.

Andrew Luck, Colts vs. Texans

He’ll be solid this week at home vs. a pretty good defense. Luck now has enough weapons to get the job done. Da’Rick Rogers is a big upgrade over Darrius Heyward-Bey. Luck may not give you a big number, but he’ll produce like a top-10 quarterback.

Tom Brady, Patriots at Dolphins

Brady owners must feel cursed at this point. The rug got pulled out from under them this past Sunday when Rob Gronkowski was lost again, with perhaps his worst injury so far, and that is saying something. Giving up on Brady is a logical move, but I think even with significant missing parts, the Patriots offense as a unit is clicking now. Brady should be good for a few scores and 250-plus yards.

Jay Cutler, Bears at Browns

He should be the starter, but just to be clear, this recommendation goes for whomever starts for the Bears this week. If Cutler has another setback, go ahead and start Josh McCown, who has been astoundingly good this year in Marc Trestman’s offense.

Matt Ryan, Falcons vs. Redskins

Yes, the Falcons already are toast, but they have most of their offense back on the field and probably will cut through the Washington defense like a hot knife through butter. Ryan is a viable option this week in any format.

Jason Campbell, Browns vs. Bears

The one thing to keep on top of here is the weather. There is some snow in the forecast, and if it gets really ugly, you’ll want to have a backup plan. Still, Campbell can help you if you are in a jam. The Bears have few answers for what the Browns will be throwing at them, namely Josh Gordon. The second-year receiver has been a one-man wrecking crew lately.

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Fantasy Football: Week 15 waiver wire 12.10.13 at 10:28 am ET
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Welcome to the Week 15 waiver wire! If you are still reading, then you must have survived the snow last week — and all the injuries. In most leagues, you now are two wins away from glory, and we’re here to help if you have a few holes to fill or if you just want to keep your roster maximized. If you play in a really deep league, check out Rotobahn later today as I will be adding more talent as I continue to work through last week’s game film. I’ll be back later in the week with WEEI’s fantasy football podcast and the starts and sits.

If you need any last-minute lineup help, stop by our Sunday chat, which has been very lively lately. It’s nice to know that so many of our readers are doing well. For those of you in keeper leagues and dynasty formats, you’ll want to check in with us at Rotobahn throughout the offseason, as we will be increasing our offseason content again this year, with scouting reports for the 2014 rookie class and frequent dynasty updates for key veterans. Stop by and check it all out if you’re a fantasy football diehard.

QUARTERBACKS

Ryan Tannehill, Dolphins

Tannehill is rolling right now, and with Lamar Miller injured, you have to think he is going to throw the ball a whole lot next week against New England. The Dolphins starter is a good pickup right now in 12-team leagues, and he’s got a good remaining schedule.

  • Week 15 – Patriots
  • Week 16 – at Bills

Jay Cutler (or Josh McCown), Bears 

Cutler has been dropped in a lot of leagues, and he is a decent option if he starts in Week 15. If McCown ends up getting the start, then he is an equally solid play. Rostering both of them is a very sound move in deep leagues.

  • Week 15 – at Browns
  • Week 16 – at Eagles

Joe Flacco, Ravens

With Dennis Pitta back, the Ravens finally have their intended offensive paradigm in play. They have a diverse backfield and a dependable possession receiver at tight end plus a potent vertical attack. We saw how well that mix can work last year, and, as I said last week, the closing schedule is very playable.

  • Week 15 – at Lions
  • Week 16 – Patriots

Jason Campbell, Browns

I don’t think I need to explain how good Josh Gordon is to my friends in New England. Campbell throws to Gordon, and the matchups are solid the rest of the way. He can help you in 12-team leagues if you have a problem at quarterback.

  • Week 15 – Bears
  • Week 16 – at Jets

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