Congratulations to everyone in fantasy land who have made it to the playoffs. A big gold star goes out to those of you who managed to get first round byes thanks to your successful regular seasons. While a week without fantasy football stress sounds like the perfect antidote to pressure endured over the last few weeks of the regular season, beware. A weekend of lounging comfortably and relaxing with your family while others are glued to their televisions, computers and smartphones can actually be your undoing.
Bye weeks for actual NFL players are spent on the golf course or catching up on long neglected household chores. Clean yards and gutters are fine and dandy for NFL players, but yard and gutters will remain a blight on my neighborhood until the league championship is mine.
While you occasionally glance at the scores and check the updates on Monday for injuries, your opponents will have the upper hand of firsthand knowledge. While you adjust your starters based on box scores and injury reports, your opponents will be using their eyes and ears to help them gain an advantage. The box score does not tell the entire story of a game. For instance, you would never know about a snowstorm in Buffalo or a torrential downpour in Miami by reading the stats. You might just be looking at the stats with blinders on, not realizing the starting quarterback was knocked out in the second quarter leading to your receiver having a terrible day.
I suggest you play the week. Pick your starters by doing your homework. Watch the games with a keen eye. Spend your weekend looking for trends such as Denarious Moore being benched again, or Steve Smith getting more targets with Brandon Lafell on the mend. Has Colin Kaepernick actually found a go-to receiver in Michael Crabtree? Does John Skelton throw the ball to Larry Fitzgerald constantly, or does he get hooked faster than I would while performing at the Apollo Theatre?
Injuries are a huge part of the sport and a huge obstacle for fantasy owners. If you have been playing musical chairs with your second running back, you may want to give the job to Montell Owings this week. His bruising style and fresh legs might just be the answer to your RB2 prayers. Danario Alexander is obviously the guy to start if you have injury concerns at receiver. I would have pushed for Cecil Shorts III to overtake any of your other WR2 options, but a concussion suffered against Buffalo has me, and everyone else who rode his hot streak into the playoffs, concerned. If I were the coach and GM in Jacksonville, I wouldn’t risk a possible superstar when we have nothing to play for.
Russell Wilson has been consistent enough to overtake Phillip Rivers, and quite possibly Eli Manning, as a starter for your fantasy team. I would ride him one more week if you have Ben Roethlisberger on your bench. I wouldn’t play him over Tony Romo, Cam Newton, or even Colin Kaepernick yet.
Good luck, and hit me up on Twitter @Coachesser for any start/sit questions you might have.