Fantasy football Bold Strategies: Start Cousins and one of these Ds
Congrats. If you're reading this, you've (likely) made the finals of your draft league! Now trust us, and consider handing over your precious franchise to a bench player or waiver pickup this week. Seriously.
Hey, at least we're throwing it right out there and not trying to con you.
Half of all lineup decisions that end up poorly are because of indecision and misinformation, and a lot of that bad info comes from what we think we already know about a player.
We're here to help disseminate truth from fiction and carry that through to the proper lineup choices -- however bizarre they might seem -- for the all-important Week 16 coda.
Doing the same old thing might have gotten you to this point, but changing strategies smartly is what's best for you and your roster. With that in mind, here are some off-the-grid moves you should consider making this week:
Start Kirk Cousins
Yes, in this Season of the Backup Quarterback, it's perhaps only fitting that you and the Washington Redskins can both safely turn their fortunes over to the formerly overlooked second-stringer.
Why? Because he's playing the Dallas Cowboys.
Their epically putrid defense has reached a level so low that even quarterbacks who were not their teams' opening-game starters -- and they've seen three of them the past three weeks -- have feasted.
The Raiders' Matt McGloin threw for 255 yards against them in a short week.
The Bears' Josh McCown, who was out of football last year, went for 348 yards and four TDs passing, with another rushing. The Bears scored eight times in eight possessions.
The Packers' Matt Flynn (Cut by the Raiders this year! And the Bills!) stung them for 299 yards and four touchdowns.
It's to the point where Jerry Jones has admitted that he knows the Cowboys can't stop anyone; they just need to go for interceptions. (Don't worry: That doesn't work, either.)
Enter Cousins, who is fresh off flame-throwing the Falcons for 381 yards and three touchdowns, with two excusable interceptions -- one likely not his fault. This is a dream matchup. Maybe better than Tom Brady vs. the Ravens, Colin Kaepernick vs. the Falcons or Philip Rivers vs. the Raiders (and that's saying something).
Watch Cousins outduel Tony Romo in this one and crack open your finest bottle en route to a fantasy title.
Consider dropping an injured star this week
You can manage your roster in an entirely different fashion this week. If you're in the finals, you're playing one other team head to head, and nothing else matters. Your bench players who are not a factor -- consider dropping them all.
You can drop Maurice Jones-Drew or Larry Fitzgerald or, if we hear about him early enough in the week, Aaron Rodgers. If it looks like they are not good to go this weekend, slice them off your roster and add a potential one-week wonder to help fill in.
It's crazy to think that Jordan Todman or Andre Caldwell might hold more fantasy value than those players right now, but it's true.
Three one-week defenses to consider
An interesting strategy that pays off more than fantasy gurus care to admit is the rotating-defense approach, where an owner just picks up and tosses away defenses on a one- or maybe two-week basis, trying to play matchups and just capture the most points possible as opposed to riding one top unit to the title.
Because, honestly, other than the Seahawks and Panthers, who do you honestly consider an elite unit? The Chiefs make plays many weeks. So do the Niners, and a few others. But otherwise, it's a middling lot. So why not try to find the team playing the poorest of offenses and go that route? It's a perfectly noble approach, even in the final week of the fantasy season.
In Week 16, there are three defenses — most of whom could be on your waiver wire — that are worth picking up.
The Browns face the Jets, and that means one thing: Turnovers. Last week, the Browns picked Jay Cutler twice (and it should have been three), and Tashaun Gipson ran one back for a score. Against Geno Smith, that INT number could double. After some early buzz, the Browns' "D" has lost some fantasy buzz, but it could finish strong here.
The Dolphins face the Bills, and there are fantasy points to be claimed. The Bills have been sacked 43 times (only three teams have given up more) and have been held to 17 or fewer points four times in the past seven games. E.J. Manuel, like Smith, is prone to some frustrating stretches, and given that the Dolphins can hemmed in Tom Brady last week, they can do the same to the Bills in Week 16.
People might be jumping off the Lions' bandwagon for many reasons, but that really has little fantasy correlation in this case. The defense still gets after teams with a fierce rush, and the Giants -- this week's opponent -- block about as poorly as any team the Lions have faced. That, plus a pick-prone Eli Manning (five interceptions last week, and a league-leading 25 now) makes for tasty fantasy potential.
All's well that Caldwell
It seems an awful risk to consider playing a wide receiver who came into Week 15 with five catches for 87 yards and one touchdown on the season in such a critical position. But that's what we're doing.
Caldwell has entered the slot position for Wes Welker, who could miss another game with a concussion, and if he does, Caldwell's production in Week 15 against the Chargers (six catches, 59 yards, two touchdowns) shows that he's a possibility worth mulling over.
Peyton Manning's favorite receiver, the old saying goes, is the one that's open. Last week that was Caldwell, as the Chargers chose to take Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker out as best they could.
That same thing could play out Sunday as the Houston Texans host the Broncos. They allowed Griff Whalen to score last week, and Caldwell could outplay slot corner Brice McCain in a head-to-head matchup without safety help.
Is Caldwell a no-questions-asked play this week? No. But if you're down at receiver, he's a possibility.
Give Delanie Walker a shot
Why it has taken this long for fantasy owners to recognize what Delanie Walker is doing this season, it's hard to figure out. He has ranked 10th among tight ends in catches this season and eighth in touchdowns-- and Walker has done most of his damage since about Week 6.
After a brief dry spell, Walker got back in the fold last week with eight catches and a touchdown, and he has a glorious matchup against the Jaguars, who have allowed nearly 1,000 yards receiving and eight touchdowns to tight ends this season.
With so many other TE options lacking this week, plus injuries at the position, you could do far worse than Walker -- especially in PPR leagues.
Team Miglio -- 115.4
Team Edholm -- 108.2
This survivor league has been quite fun, and it's set up for a photo finish. Team Miglio has pulled ahead by one game with one to go. Eric and I could wind up in a tie, and I only have seven total points more. What more could we ask for in terms of drama here?
It's going to be tough sledding this week given what Eric has up his sleeve. A.J. Green and Michael Crabtree? We can add James Jones to that if Aaron Rodgers is cleared to play. That's almost unfair at this juncture.
Among my biggest regrets is I didn't get to use Rodgers this year. I was saving that bullet, which turned out to be a blank because of his midseason injury. There is a chance he could play this week, but that pick would have been a mighty risk. I did have a nice consolation prize with Philip Rivers, however. After all, the Raiders have given up 12 combined touchdown passes to Nick Foles and Alex Smith this season -- hopefully Rivers can get in on some of that action.
Of course the difference between Rivers and Cousins isn't likely going to be nearly enough to cover the difference between Eric's receivers and mine. I saved up at running back at the expense of receiver, and it appears to be biting me here in the end. Andre Holmes, Aldrick Robinson and Cordarrelle Patterson are all high-ceiling guys, but they can also easily net me a combined 10 points. Hopefully Rashad Jones, Bobby Rainey and Steven Jackson can outduel Team Edholm's running backs or my season will end with a whimper, not a bang.
What else was there left to do but empty the kitchen sink? I felt a little like a coach -- like Mack Brown, let's say -- heading into his final game, with nothing to lose, legacy written. Needless drama aside, I took one basic approach: Go down the line and play every last stud I had. It's Week 16. There's nothing past this.
So I discovered that I somehow had overlooked ... A.J. Green! How? I don't know. No reason to hold him back; he's in. But my first pick might have been smarter. I chose Kirk Cousins because I think he's absolutely going to lambast the Cowboys. But after Alex made Andre Holmes his first pick, I probably should have considered the double-up Bengals choice of Andy Dalton, as quirky and inconsistent as that ginger can be.
Oh well, no looking back. We piled on with every pretty-looking fantasy name we could think of ... they're all starting for me this week.
Will it work? I don't know. But you can't blame me for going out being cute. This is smashmouth fantasy football right here.