Now that the fantasy semifinals are here, the little man inside your head will tell you to dance with the girl you brought to the party. Squash that voice.
The increased stakes only mean we need to follow our process even tighter now. All year we’ve been aggressively playing matchups and getting ahead of the points, not chasing them. That means taking some risks with unproven guys, even in the playoffs. The best options:
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It took the Colts nearly four months, but they now realize freakishly talented rookie Donte Moncrief (50 snaps Week 13) is better than washed up Hakeem Nicks (18 snaps). That’s exciting by itself, but what makes it really scintillating is the demise of Reggie Wayne. It’s gotten so bad for Wayne that the Colts are openly talking about shutting him down for a bit, which would turn Moncrief into the No. 2 receiver for Andrew Luck. In a home game against a Houston defense giving up the second-most fantasy points to wideouts, “Man” Crief is likely a better option than the No. 3 wideout on your playoff squad.
Mr. Wilson’s hood
Brandon Marshall’s season-ending rib/lung injury is Marquess Wilson’s gain. This is a 6-foot-4 wideout that was highly productive in the Pac-12 before getting into a spat with his coach. So the Bears got a mid-round talent in the seventh round of the 2013 draft and he earned the No. 3 job with exemplary play this offseason, impressing pass-game guru Marc Trestman. Wilson gets his big breakout chance on Monday Night Football, where he’ll be facing a terrible Saints secondary at home. Top Saints corner Keenan Lewis projects to shadow Alshon Jeffery, leaving Wilson to do work.
Browns OC Kyle Shanahan knows how to handle a running quarterback. All we have to do is go back to 2012, when a then-healthy Robert Griffin III went berserk with Shanny at the controls. Now he has Johnny Manziel, more of an improvisational runner than RG3 but just as dangerous. Manziel will also have Jordan Cameron and Josh Gordon, and is at home facing a Bengals defense that has struggled to contain running quarterbacks. Johnny Football is set up for a big statistical splash in his first NFL start.
Pickups of the Week
Jonathan Stewart, RB, Panthers – As long as DeAngelo Williams is inactive, Stewart is a great bet for top-20 RB production.
Harry Douglas, WR, Falcons – If Julio Jones (hip) can’t go, Douglas has proven he can step in and perform at a very high level.
Jaguars D/ST — Don’t use the Jags at Baltimore this week, but stash them for a Week 16 home game against the woeful Titans.
Fire up these borderline pass-catchers in Week 15
1. Roddy White vs. PIT – Julio Jones is banged up, the Falcons are in the dome and White is facing some of the league’s worst corners.
2. Travis Kelce vs. OAK – This is both a revenge game for KC and a letdown spot for OAK. Additionally, Kelce’s usage is finally on the rise.
3. Jared Cook vs. ARZ – Cook has absolutely lit the Cardinals on fire since joining the Rams. That’s not a surprise as ARZ is inept at defending tight ends.
Thankfully, Cam Newton emerged from Tuesday’s car crash in relatively fine condition. However, he’s not expected to play in Sunday’s game against the Bucs. Kelvin Benjamin owners still shouldn’t fret, as Derek Anderson showed he has command of this offense when he started in Week 1 against this same leaky Bucs defense. On that day, K-Benji announced himself to the NFL with a 6-92-1 stat-line.