So, for those of you who don’t already watch The League on FX, I highly recommend it. It is a hilariously spot-on parody of a group of friends in a fantasy football league–totally relate-able. But whether or not you’ve seen it, I’m sure anyone who plays fantasy football understands the feeling that the show coined “Lineup Nirvana.” It’s when you know you’ve started all the right players for a week and your not going to leave anything on the bench.
Unfortunately, this week I ain’t feelin it. The pressure is on, because it’s the semi-finals, and I’m facing The Canadian Juggernaut (my name for his team, not his). He’s the team I had as the favorite to win the title all year. Through a combination of loyalty to the guys who got me where I am (Mike Wallace, Steve Smith), the temptation of high upside players (Julio Jones), the resurrection of draft pick duds (Felix Jones) and an eagerness to get value out of my trades (Reggie Bush, Ben Tate), I find myself with waffling between 6 players for five spots.
My first gut feeling was to start Ben Tate over one of my WRs in the flex. He has an easier match up than any of the others (vs. Carolina), and I’m guessing the Texans will want to go easy on Arian for the playoffs. That said, I’m not totally behind that strategy, so I enlisted two of my friends to help me think it through. We’ll call them TB and Mustache.
Here’s the analysis:
— Felix Jones and Reggie Bush are obvious must-starts. Reggie, who I acquired in a trade from Mustache, is on a rampage to prove himself to ex-, Kim Kardashian, and just 230 yards away from having his first 1K season–facing the Bills this week and Pats next week, I think he gets there. Felix is really the only back in Dallas now, so he should get around 20 carries, and he wants to put himself back on the map after Murray almost stole his job. He looked good and hungry against the Giants last week, and he faces the Bucs who are giving up the most fantasy points to RBs.
— Steve Smith is impossible not to like. He’s had some stinker weeks, and may have slowed down some from the beginning of the season, but a couple of his stinker games came on days when D-Willy had a big game. Houston’s even tougher against the run than they are against the passing game, so I think they’ll have to look to Smith a lot if they want to get anything done on offense.
— Benching Mike Wallace, my second round pick, would seem to be out of the question, but he’s not a definite starter. Big Ben has been liking Antonio Brown (who I happen to be up against this week) more and more, but still looks to M Dubs in the endzone. The question is, will Big Ben be behind center this weekend? As TB pointed out, Charlie Batch won’t be able to get Wallace the ball…especially against the 49ers. He’s a wait-and-see.
— Julio Jones scares me, because he hasn’t exactly been consistent this year, even when healthy. He faces Jacksonville, which has been tough on fantasy WRs, but, as TB suggested, the Jags play more man-to-man and Julio can use his speed to take advantage of that. I still worry that he’s a risky start, but his tremendous upside could be much-needed for me in this match-up.
— That puts Ben Tate on my bench (assuming Roethlisberger is a go). While I still think the circumstances are attractive and he’ll have a good week, I think my analysis is clouded by the trade I made to get him. That trade was predicated on his usefulness to me in Weeks 15 and 16, and part of me hates to see the draft pick I traded away go to waste. Then again, at the time I made the trade, I thought Felix Jones would be of little to no use to me, but things have changed now that he’s a solid start.
So that’s that. I guess the lesson is just because you drafted someone early, spent a lot of FAAB money or made a big trade for someone, doesn’t make him an automatic play. Winners know when to say a move might not have panned out. Thanks to TB and Mustache for putting that in perspective for me.