Each week I'll attempt to bring some clarity to your questions about the pigskin and the men who throw, catch, run and kick it. To reach me with questions, scroll down to the end of the piece where you can find my e-mail address.
I quit. Adrian Peterson being ruled out at the last minute ruined my season. I hate fantasy football. -- Bryan, Chicago
I know this isn't a question, but I heard sentiments like this from so many people that I felt I had to give it a mention.
Unfortunately, situations like this are inevitable in fantasy football. No one cares much if Albert Pujols misses a game with a sore leg, but when a football player is out, we are talking about a guy missing 6.25 percent of the season (an equivalent number in baseball would be roughly 10 games, and then those baseball folks would be getting pretty upset about the loss of Pujols). What made this situation even worse was that there was no, and I mean no, indication that Peterson was going to miss the game. Honestly, all you need to know about how the NFL uses its injury report can be summed up by what the Vikings did in Week 15.
1. They deactivated a player that everyone said would play. 2. They took a player, Brett Favre, and declared him "out," which means in NFL terms that the player has a zero percent chance to play -- and they started him. No one can recall a team ever doing this on game day -- ever. Just goes to show you, as the Redskins' Mike Shanahan admitted earlier in the year, that teams aren't always honest about the health of their players -- not that this is a comfort to anyone who now has a lump of coal in their stocking after watching their playoff hopes dashed when AD was ruled out of Week 15.
All of this leads directly to the following question ...
Luckily, I was able to win in Week 15 even with Adrian Peterson hosing me at the last minute since I was able to start Toby Gerhart. I'm terrified of another zero performance in our Super Bowl, so is there any way I can start Peterson over Jonathan Stewart? -- Mike, San Francisco
This morning, Adrian Peterson Tweeted that he fully expects to play on Sunday. Whether you believe that or not after last week is up to you. What we do know is that HC Leslie Fraser came out in the Star Tribuneand said that Toby Gerhart could get more work even if Peterson is active as expected, so you have to also factor that into your decision. Still, remind yourself that AD had averaged 114 yards from scrimmage and 0.92 touchdowns per game this season.
Stewart has been a beast this year. Wait a second, that's not even close to being accurate, but he has been a beast in his last four games during which time he has rushed for at least 92 yards an outing. I have no idea what took him so long to get going, but he finally looks like the guy who scored 21 times in his first two years in the league. Unfortunately, he has only two touchdowns this season and just one the past four weeks despite running so hard. The bigger concern though is his matchup this week with the Steelers. Here is what the Steelers do to runners.
1. The Steelers have allowed 100-yards rushing only twice this season. 2. The Steelers have allowed an NFL-low 63.4 yards per game on the ground. 3. The Steelers have allowed five rushing touchdowns -- the best mark in the league. 4. The Steelers haven't allowed a single run this year of 25 yards. They are the only defense in the league that can make that claim. 5. The Steelers have allowed only 51 rushing first downs -- the best mark in the league.
Ugh is right if you are a Jonathan Stewart owner.
So what would I do? With the NFL's idiotic insistence on trying to play ever day of the week, you have to make your choice quickly given that the Panthers and Steelers play Thursday. As much as I dislike what I'm about to type -- I think you have to go with Stewart. I'd be shocked if he goes off against the Steelers, but at least you know he will play. You simply can't take a zero in the fantasy Super Bowl, and who wants to tempt fate again if you somehow skated by last week despite a no-show from AD last week?
And now to the rapid-fire portion of the show.
Ryan Torain or Marshawn Lynch? -- Hank, Wichita
Torain has produced 100 yards from scrimmage in each of his last four healthy games. This week he faces the Jaguars who have allowed 16 rushing scores this season. Lynch excited everyone with his three-touchdown effort in Week 13, but really, he is just a touchdown option given that he is averaging 3.6 yards a carry. Don't forget, he has rushed for fewer than 40 yards in four of his last six games. On the plus side, he faces a Bucs defense that is battered and ranks 29th against the rush.
Still, I'd go with Torain.
Which Williams should I start -- Mike from Tampa or Mike from Seattle? -- Danny, Ohio
Mike Williams North returned to action and caught eight passes last week, and in his last three healthy games he has caught 25 passes for 320 yards. At the same time he has but one touchdown all year. He faces a Tampa Bay squad that has permitted 16 scores the wide receiver and one that is without Aqib Talib, who regularly faced other clubs WR1's, so you have to factor that into your decision. Mike Williams South faces Seattle, and the Seahawks have a terrible time stopping wide receivers, allowing 13 WR scores in the passt eight games. Williams has also rebounded from his two terrible performances with two strong games the past four weeks.
Week 12: two catches, 20 yards Week 13: six catches 68 yards and a score Week 14: one catch, 15 yards Week 15: six catches, 96 yards and a score
Since Williams North never gets into the end zone, I'd go with Mike Williams South in a tasty matchup.
Should I bench Tony Gonzalez to play Jimmy Graham? -- Vince, Huntington, New York
Graham made a spectacular touchdown grab last week that maybe only 3-4 other tight ends could have made. He also scored a second time, so he is the hot waiver wire grab this week. Still, he has only three scores this season, has caught as many as four passes only three times, and he still has to share looks with Jeremy Shockey. Oh, and Drew Brees will hit whomever is open, and that always makes predicting a huge day for a Saints receiver, other than Marques Colston, difficult. Gonzalez has been a letdown this season, there is no way around that. Still, he has caught at least four passes nine times this year and is averaging 4.43 grabs per week. He also has two scores the past four weeks, and he faces a Saints D that is good against the pass but only moderately successful at shutting down the tight end (they have allowed the 22nd most fantasy points to the position this year).
Go with Gonzo.
Ray Flowers is Managing Editor for Fanball.com Owners Edge and RotoTimes.com. His work can be found weekly, exclusively at the home of fantasy football: Fanball.com. To e-mail Ray a question for next week's piece, drop him a line at email@example.com. You can also hear Ray's thoughts at the Fanball.com Sirius XM Homepage (Ray is the co-host of a daily radio show on XM 147 and Sirius 211 satellite radio).