Fantasy Clicks: Playoff rules to live by

Publish date:

Recent Fantasy Clicks 12-09-09: Fantasy Playoff Rules To Live By 12-07-09: Week 13 Revelations 12-04-09: Thursday Night Revelations (Week 13) 12-02-09: The Believers Of Calvinism 11-30-09: Week 12 Revelations 11-27-09: Turkey Day Revelations 11-25-09: All Hail The Perfect Showdown 11-23-09: Week 11 Revelations 11-20-09: Thursday Night Revelations, Week 11 11-18-09: Trade Deadline Rules To Live By 11-16-09: Week 10 Revelations 11-13-09: Thursday Night Revelations, Week 10 11-11-09: The Ballad Of Alex Smith 11-09-09: Week 9 Revelations 11-06-09: The Daffy Dichotomy Of DeAngelo 11-04-09: A Pre-Flight Trade Checklist 11-02-09: Week 8 Revelations 10-30-09: Meet The Avoidables 10-28-09: Rodgers vs. Favre -- A Lambeau Reunion 10-26-09: Week 7 Revelations 10-23-09: Fright ... For Old D.C. 10-21-09: Shoot For The Moon With Brady 10-18-09: Week 6 Revelations 10-16-09: The Pittsburgh Shell Game 10-14-09: The Tailback Honeymoon's Over 9-28-09: Week 3 Revelations 9-25-09: LT -- An Age-Old Question 9-23-09: Don't Sweat The 0-2 Blues

Fantasy Playoff Rules To Live By

Tom Brady: Drew Hallowell/Getty Images

If you're still reading Clicks at Week 14 of the NFL season, either you've made the playoffs in your respective fantasy league and need a few pointers to clinch a long-awaited championship ... OR you're looking to capture the less-coveted, but still-uplifting Toilet Bowl title in fantasyland. Either way, we're happy to present the Seven Rules To Live By During The Fantasy Playoffs:

1. Never bench your studs when playing in fair weather: There's a reason why you spent countless hours building an immense draft board back in August. There's a reason why you resisted the urge to trade UP for Matt Forte or Brian Westbrook during the summer -- in hopes of keeping your back-to-back picks in Rounds 1/2. And there's a reason why you traded Miles Austin, Brent Celek and Shonn Greene at the heights of their fantasy momentum to land Panthers RB DeAngelo Williams. Bottom line: If your particular stud is nimble enough to tie his shoes before gametime, or do 50-yard sprints without the aid of crutches leading up to kickoff ... they MUST be in all starting lineups. After all, the regret of starting a stud in tough circumstances could never exceed the regret of NOT starting a stud ... about 20 seconds after his second touchdown of Week 14!

2. Don't be afraid to bench your stud QB/WR when playing in horrible weather: At first blush, this one runs in direct conflict with bullet No. 1 ... but there's a method to our madness here -- and history to back it up: In Week 15 of the 2007 season, at the tail-end of a record-breaking year of 50 touchdown passes, Patriots QB Tom Brady faced the Jets at Foxboro, amid a torrent of heavy rains, cold temps and a tornado-like crosswind. The result: He threw for only 140 yards and zero touchdowns, while singlehandedly crushing the playoff hopes of every fantasy owner who literally rode Brady's coattails to the postseason. Obviously, if you're not equipped to bench a stud quarterback ... you'll have no choice but to start him in inclement weather. But for those owners who possess a solid QB on the bench -- and preferably one who's playing in a comfy dome OR going against the Chiefs, Lions, Browns, Rams or Buccaneers -- you owe it to yourself to ponder a change at the top. Let's clarify our position here: Snow without high winds is not a big deal (as evidenced by Brady's 6-TD game against the Titans in October); and for the most part, rain without high winds is doable, too. But for any game that offers a wintry mix with winds at 25 mph or more ... it may be time to cut bait with that big fish.

3. Don't sweat the small stuff, like kickers and defenses: It's real simple here: If you have a top-10 kicker, don't mess with success. And if you have a top-10 defense or one that gets to face Detroit, Kansas City, Cleveland or Tampa Bay in Weeks 14, 15 and 16 ... therein lies the key to playoff success!

4. When in doubt about receivers, always use Targets as the tiebreaker: For every Wednesday Clicks, we focus on Targets for wide receivers, running backs and, space permitting, tight ends. In other words, there's no excuse for not being aware of target ratios that easily differentiate a top-15 receiver ... from a top-30 pass-catcher.

5. Don't fear the Ravens or Steelers defenses: No one's saying the Browns or Lions will rack up 30 points against the Steelers or Ravens, respectively. In fact, we'd be surprised if either club generated more than 20 points in Week 14. However, stars like Kevin Smith, Calvin Johnson and Mohamed Massaquoi are solid bets for reaching their per-game averages on the season -- if not exceeding 'em. In fact, don't be surprised if Brady Quinn, Chris Jennings or Aaron Brown perform well, too.

6. DO fear Darrelle Revis: We employ a fantasy man-crush on Antonio Bryant when fully healthy (he had five catches for 116 yards in Week 13). However, we'd be morons to think Bryant has a shot at 70-plus receiving yards this week against Jets CB Darrelle Revis, who has passed Oakland's Nnamdi Asomugha as the NFL's greatest lock-down, forget-about-doing-anything-today corner.

7. Unless there's breaking news, don't change your lineup AFTER 12:45 p.m.: Take it from someone who barely missed making the & Friends playoffs last week. Changing out Matt Hasselbeck for Matthew Stafford or Davone Bess for Kevin Walter right before kickoff -- even though Hasselbeck and Bess had been starting-lineup fixtures all week -- is never a good idea. Rule of thumb: Stick with your gut on these matters ... especially when it involves average players who aren't injured.

QB Locks For 275 Yards and/or 3 TDs

1. Drew Brees @ Atlanta
2. Peyton Manning vs. Denver
3. David Garrard vs. Miami
4. Matt Schaub vs. Seattle
5. Brett Favre vs. Cincinnati
6. Philip Rivers @ Dallas
7. Tony Romo vs. San Diego
8. Donovan McNabb @ N.Y. Giants
9. Kurt Warner @ San Francisco

Target Practice

A receiver is only as good as his quarterback ... and the number of opportunities he gets to make a catch (known as Targets -- an absolutely critical stat for PPR leagues). This underrated category is the best way to safeguard against one-hit wonders during a looooong fantasy season. To wit, presents a list of the 22 wideouts with at least 40 Targets since Week 9:

1. Roddy White, Falcons -- 61 Targets
2. Wes Welker, Dolphins -- 60 Targets
3. Calvin Johnson, Lions-- 56 Targets
4. Brandon Marshall, Broncos -- 53 Targets
5. Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals -- 52
6. Derrick Mason, Ravens -- 51
7. Andre Johnson, Texans -- 50
8. Santonio Holmes, Steelers -- 49
9. Randy Moss, Patriots -- 49
10. Davone Bess, Dolphins -- 46
11. Hines Ward, Steelers -- 46
12. Pierre Garcon, Colts -- 45
13. T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Seahawks -- 45
14. Reggie Wayne, Colts -- 44
15. Miles Austin, Cowboys -- 43
16. Steve Smith, Giants -- 43
17. Sidney Rice, Vikings -- 42
18. Michael Crabtree, 49ers -- 41
19. Mike Sims-Walker, Jaguars -- 41
20. Devin Hester, Bears -- 40
21. Greg Jennings, Packers -- 40
22. Chad Ochocinco, Bengals -- 40

Target Practice, Part II

One good turn deserves another. Here are the 23 RBs with 15 or more Targets since Week 9:
1. Frank Gore, 49ers -- 37
2. Ray Rice, Ravens -- 32
3. Justin Forsett, Seahawks -- 30
4. Matt Forte, Bears -- 27
5. Steven Jackson, Rams -- 26
6. Chris Johnson, Titans -- 26
7. Kevin Faulk, Patriots -- 25
8. Kevin Smith, Lions -- 24
9. Pierre Thomas, Saints -- 24
10. Darren Sproles, Chargers -- 22
11. Joseph Addai, Colts -- 21
12. LeSean McCoy, Eagles -- 21
13. Jamaal Charles, Chiefs -- 20
14. Adrian Peterson, Vikings -- 19
15. Steve Slaton, Texans -- 19
16. Rock Cartwright, Redskins -- 18
17. Jerome Harrison, Browns -- 18
18. Maurice Jones-Drew, Jaguars -- 18
19. Marion Barber, Cowboys -- 17
20. Reggie Bush, Saints -- 17
21. Tim Hightower, Cardinals -- 17
22. Fred Jackson, Bills -- 17
23. Brandon Jackson, Packers -- 15

It's Leftovers Wednesday!

Here are the 20 best available free agents for 12-team, standard-scoring leagues:

1. QB Jason Campbell, Redskins
2. WR Robert Meachem, Saints
3. WR Pierre Garcon, Colts
4. RB Justin Fargas, Raiders
5. WR Devin Thomas, Redskins
6. QB Chad Henne, Dolphins
7. RB Glen Coffee, 49ers
8. WR Kenny Britt, Titans
9. WR Louis Murphy, Raiders
10. RB Jerome Harrison, Browns
11. RB Tashard Choice, Cowboys
12. D/ST New York Jets
13. QB David Garrard, Jaguars
14. RB Chad Simpson, Colts
15. QB Josh Freeman, Buccaneers
16. RB Chris Jennings, Browns
17. RB Fred Taylor, Patriots
18. WR Josh Morgan, 49ers
19. RB Jerious Norwood, Falcons
20. RB Donald Brown, Colts

Welcome Back, Accuscore!

We channeled the lovable eggheads at AccuScore to solve a mini-crisis around the office: Who are the best five fantasy RBs from this point forward? ... prompting these computer findings (as simulated one billion times -- or something like that). Conducted before Slaton went on IR. :

Rushing Yards
1. Chris Johnson (575)
2. Maurice Jones-Drew (376)
3. Adrian Peterson (360)
4. Jamaal Charles (356)
5. Thomas Jones (344)

1. Chris Johnson (5.75)
2. Maurice Jones-Drew (3.56)
3. Michael Turner (3.46)
4. Adrian Peterson (3.45)
5. Thomas Jones (2.51)

1. Frank Gore (18.42)
2. Ray Rice (17.62)
3. Steve Slaton (16.44)
4. Steven Jackson (15.97)
5. Matt Forte (14.21)

For more amazing NFL-related information from Accuscore, simply click here or access the home page @ AccuScore ... and while you're there, check out The Dave Dameshek Show -- the only fantasy-related show in Podcastland that stars Gleek of Super Friends fame (he/she was the blue monkey that catered to the Wonder Twins' every whim.)

RB Locks -- 120 Total Yards and/or 2 TDs

1. Rashard Mendenhall @ Cleveland
2. Frank Gore vs. Arizona
3. Chris Johnson vs. St. Louis
4. DeAngelo Williams/Jonathan Stewart @ New England
5. Maurice Jones-Drew vs. Miami
6. Steven Jackson @ Tennessee
7. Ray Rice vs. Detroit
8. Fred Jackson @ Kansas City
9. Jamaal Charles vs. Buffalo
10. Joseph Addai vs. Denver
11. Thomas Jones @ Tampa Bay
12. Pierre Thomas @ Atlanta
13. LeSean McCoy @ N.Y. Giants
14. Knowshon Moreno @ Indianapolis
15. LaDainian Tomlinson @ Dallas (never underestimate the power of Texas natives -- and future Hall of Famers -- playing in their home state once in a blue moon)

I Tweet, Therefore I Am

Michael Turner: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

@embrace31 says: Help! I need two running backs out of Cedric Benson, Chris Johnson, Ricky Williams, Tim Hightower, Pierre Thomas. And I need two receivers from Roddy White, Vincent Jackson, Greg Jennings, Percy Harvin, Anquan Boldin. I need a flex starter, too.

Answer: I'd ride Chris Johnson and Pierre Thomas at running back ... with Cedric as your primary flex option. As for the wide receivers, let's ride Boldin/Roddy. Thanks!

@dolphinsfinsdol asks: Please rank the following RBs for Week 14: Cedric Benson, Jamaal Charles, Michael Turner (assuming Chris Redman plays) and Jonathan Stewart (if DeAngelo Williams is out). Also, please rank Miles Austin, Mike Sims-Walker, Chad Ochocinco at wide receiver. Thanks.

Answer: Since you brought it up, let's attack this so-called dilemma in two ways: IF DeAngelo starts against the Patriots, go 1)Charles 2)Benson 3)Turner 4)Stewart. And IF D-will doesn't start against New England, let's adjust things to 1)Charles 2)Stewart 3)Benson 4)Turner. Thanks!

@mongoose5271 asks a favor: Pick three running backs for this week: Adrian Peterson, Rashard Mendenhall, Knowshon Moreno, Jamaal Charles, Fred Jackson.

Answer: Looking at this quintet of runners, I actually think Peterson (vs. Cincinnati) has the worst matchup of the group. Of course, I would never, ever suggest sitting potentially the greatest fantasy back of our time. So, let's ride 1)J-Charles 2)Mendenhall 3)Peterson 4)Jackson and 5)Moreno. But I would feel extremely confident starting any back for the fantasy playoffs. (In other words, congrats on getting to Round 2 ... ha!)

@Shadyhippie poses these questions: Okay, it's big time next week. Vince Young vs. St. Louis or Joe Flacco vs. Detroit? After that, which three running backs: LaDainian Tomlinson, Frank Gore, Pierre Thomas, Jamaal Charles, Darren Sproles, Knowshon Moreno?

Answer: Uh, yes, we are all aware of how big this week is, Shadyhippie -- which is why I'd ride V-Young over Flacco (just barely though) ... and Gore, LT and Charles over Knowshon, Sproles and Thomas (although I also have Moreno and Pierre as "locks" for 120 yards and/or 2 TDs in Week 14).

@mikezap wonders: Is it too soon to dump Michael Turner? I'm in the playoffs for the first time and need the spot for a RB who's going to be able to play.

Answer: As an Atlanta resident, I'd be willing to bet that Turner plays against the Saints this weekend. But that's not the point here. How in the world are you considering the notion of dumping Turner? Please show me your roster -- I'm dying to know how Turner suddenly became so expendable. I understand and appreciate your Now or Never approach to this playoff weekend ... but Turner (864 rushing yards, 10 TDs in '09) is a must-stash in all leagues -- no matter the circumstances. It's not like Clinton Portis or Brian Westbrook, where no one expects either one to play the rest of the season, due to concussionary symptoms. Turner has an ankle sprain on a club that's still alive (albeit barely) for a playoff spot; and at the very least, the Falcons franchise would love to get one sizable monkey off their back: In 44 seasons, Atlanta has never posted back-to-back winning seasons.

America's Top 10

It's foolish to guarantee 100 yards and/or one touchdown with tight ends, since their stats -- stars included -- tend to fluctuate wildly from week to week. Instead, here's our top 10 most productive tight ends for Week 14:

1. Jason Witten vs. San Diego
2. Greg Olsen vs. Green Bay
3. Vernon Davis vs. Arizona
4. Antonio Gates @ Dallas
5. Dallas Clark vs. Denver
6. Brent Celek @ N.Y. Giants
7. Zach Miller vs. Washington
8. Visanthe Shiancoe vs. Cincinnati
9. Fred Davis @ Oakland
10. Tony Gonzalez vs. New Orleans

Digital Underground

Mainstream fantasy sites, like, are obviously a hit with fantasygoers. But there's always room for alternative media in the marketplace, especially when the authors are hilariously shouting from the rooftops about how/why Bruce Gradkowski can look like Tom Brady when compared to JaMarcus Russell, Jeff Garcia, Andrew Walter, Marques Tuiasosopo ... OR what took the Tampa Bay coaches so long to throw rookie QB Josh Freeman into the proverbial fire this season?

The first must-see blog is; and the site's signature page involves Snake's Takes (running every Tuesday) -- comprising a collection of unfiltered thoughts so random, so emotional, so bitter, so twisted ... you'll wonder how the man even survives an NFL Sunday, let alone write about it come Monday.

Next up ... Fantasy Football Toolbox. If you're looking for updated depth charts, weekly cheat sheets, injury reports and even -- sacre bleu! -- an updated listing of the NFL's Top 10 punters (insert joke here) ... then welcome home!

There's even a weekly podcast during the season -- although the Clemons/Ritter podcast offers more hard-hitting fantasy analysis and abject mocking of one another's lineup decisions.

WR Locks -- 110 Total Yards and/or 1 TD

1. Larry Fitzgerald @ San Francisco
2. Miles Austin vs. San Diego
3. Sidney Rice vs. Cincinnati
4. Reggie Wayne vs. Denver
5. Hines Ward/Santonio Holmes @ Cleveland
6. Anquan Boldin @ San Francisco
7. Lee Evans @ Kansas City
8. Marques Colston @ Atlanta
9. Andre Johnson vs. Seattle
10. Donald Driver @ Chicago
11. Randy Moss vs. Carolina

Decade Of Decadence: Running Backs

In terms of fantasy football, we couldn't have asked for a better 10-year run with running backs -- from Priest Holmes and Jamal Lewis to Adrian Peterson and Steven Jackson. In fact, perhaps now would be the perfect time to put the decade in better perspective ... while listing the Best Single Seasons of Fantasy RBs from 2000-2009:

1. LaDainian Tomlinson, Chargers -- 2,323 total yards, 31 TDs (2006)
2. Shaun Alexander, Seahawks -- 1,958 total yards, 28 TDs (2005)
3. LaDainian Tomlinson, Chargers -- 2,370 total yards, 17 TDs, 100 catches!!!! (2003)
4. Priest Holmes, Chiefs -- 2,110 total yards, 27 TDs (2003)
5. Marshall Faulk, Rams -- 2,189 total yards, 26 TDs (2000)
6. Priest Holmes, Chiefs -- 2,287 total yards, 24 TDs (2002)
7. Steven Jackson, Rams -- 2,334 total yards, 16 TDs, 90 catches (2006)
8. Ricky Williams, Dolphins -- 2,216 total yards, 17 TDs (2002)
9. Brian Westbrook, Eagles -- 2,104 total yards, 12 TDs, 90 catches (2007)
10. Jamal Lewis, Ravens -- 2,271 total yards, 14 TDs (2003)

The Relentless Pursuit Of Perfection

In case you're scoring at home, here's my perfect lineup for Week 14:
QB Drew Brees
RB Chris Johnson
RB Ray Rice
WR Reggie Wayne
WR Marques Colston
RB/WR Jamaal Charles
TE Jason Witten
PK Stephen Gostkowski
D/ST Tennessee Titans (simply follow the strench-trail that is the Lions, Browns, Bucs or -- in this case -- Rams)

Have A Link, Comment or Question For Us?