FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

What's On Tap: Week 15
Harley Schultz
December 13, 2013
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Well, wasn’t last week special? If you happen to have had the luck to survive the loss of superstars like Rob Gronkowski, Adrian Peterson, and Reggie Bush; then I wish you congratulations. If you managed to eke out a win despite starting DeSean Jackson, Calvin Johnson, Matthew Stafford, and other passing-game elements in some of the Snowpocolypse games. Then pip to you as well.

For the rest of you, who have bid a fond adieu to your 2013 Fantasy Championship dreams, there is no time like the present to go deep in weekly leagues. If the prize money isn’t coming to you, perhaps it is time for you to go to the prize money. This week we are back at one of my favorite sites www.draftkings.com. I had a fabulous time there last week riding huge performances from Josh McCown, Matt Forte, Shane Vereen, and Jimmy Graham to some extra holiday spending money. Of course, that money didn’t quite make it all the ways to the holidays. I got a call from my local beer sales professional at www.tournamentliquor.com, and that extra money quickly went into the beer fridge.

I guess it is only appropriate that my financial gains from my pretend sport gambling addiction would help fund my other addiction to malt and hops. It couldn’t have happened at a better time too as some of the most expensive and best tasting limited release beers come out this time of year. Most of these limited release beers need to age for a while. So instead of giving you a too early review of these brews, I’m going to place them into the cellar so that I can share them with you at a later date.

Quarterback

Your Fantasy Four Pack

Nick Foles, Eagles @ Vikings
Minnesota has allowed the most passing touchdowns and third most passing yards this season. Even in the Snowpocolypse game last week, Nick Foles scored a pair of touchdowns. This marked the fourth time in five starts that Foles has accounted for multiple touchdowns. Against this defense I would expect a minimum of three scores.

Cam Newton, Panthers vs. Jets
The New York Jets are amongst the league leaders in stopping opposing running quarterbacks. They also have not allowed a quarterback rushing touchdown yet this year. Of course, they have allowed 24 touchdowns through the air which ranks them eighth worst in the league. Over the last four weeks, Ryan Tannehill, Matt McGloin, Joe Flacco, and E.J. Manuel have averaged 273.5 yards against them. In addition, three of those guys threw for multiple touchdowns against them.

Tony Romo, Cowboys vs. Packers
Speaking of teams that have given up 24 passing touchdowns, The Packers are equally futile with the aforementioned Jets. Romo is averaging more than two touchdowns per week, and even when he puts up a stinker yardage-wise (104 yards last week), he stills gets you the scores (three TDs).

Matt Ryan, Falcons vs. Redskins
I’ve been maligning the Redskins secondary all season, and with good reason. They have actually improved over the last few weeks. They are now only the third worst in terms of passing touchdowns allowed. Of course, it is less about them improving and more about the two teams ahead of them getting exponentially worse. Ryan only has five touchdowns over the last four weeks, but he has averaged 266 yards per game over that span.

Sleepers

Joe Flacco, Ravens @ Lions
You think Joe Flacco was happy to get his safety blanket, Dennis Pitta back last week? It spelled the first time since Week 10 that the Ravens had thrown for multiple TDs, and the first time all season that he has thrown for more than two touchdowns. The Lions have allowed every quarterback except Matt Flynn to score multiple touchdowns against them since Week 5 (which ironically was when they held Aaron Rodgers to just one touchdown).

Colin Kaepernick, 49ers @ Buccaneers
The Bucs defense isn’t very good. They have given up the seventh most passing scores including five over the last three weeks. They have also given up the most rushing touchdowns to quarterbacks this year, including allowing Cam Newton to run for 68-1 two weeks ago and 50-1 in Week 8. Colin Kaepernick hasn’t been very good this year either, but he now has all of his weapons healthy. With a couple games under their belt, I expect Kaepernick to find Michael Crabtree early and often this week.

Drink It:
Drew Brees ($9300), Russell Wilson ($8800), Andrew Luck ($7900), Andrew Luck ($11854), Alex Smith ($7300), Andy Dalton ($6400), Jason Campbell ($6000), Case Keenum ($5800), Matt Flynn ($5500), Kirk Cousins ($5400)
Dump it:
Tom Brady ($8400), Carson Palmer ($8000), Matthew Stafford ($8000), Ben Roethlisberger ($7600), Ryan Tannehill ($7600), Aaron Rodgers ($7600), Eli Manning ($5400), Ryan Fitzpatrick ($5400)

Running Back

Your Fantasy Four Pack

DeMarco Murray, Cowboys vs. Packers
Green Bay is allowing a 5.1 yard per carry average to opposing rushers over the last three weeks. Two weeks ago they let Joique Bell and Reggie Bush to combine to post 310 combo yards against them. The week before that Adrian Peterson and Toby Gerhart combined for 244 combo yards. DeMarco Murray just got done running over, under, and through the Three Little Bears Defense to the tune of an 8.1 YPC average. On the season, he is averaging 5.3 yards per carry. Oh yeah, he’s also an ample part of the Cowboys’ passing game as well.

Jamaal Charles, Chiefs @ Raiders
The top two spots this week are virtually interchangeable. Oakland has allowed five rushing touchdowns over the last three weeks, and they have given up over 400 rushing yards over that span. Charles is a stud. Even against tough defenses, he doesn’t get sat. Against a pansy like this Charles should absolutely dominate.

LeSean McCoy, Eagles @ Vikings
Minnesota is giving up an average of five yards per carry over the last three weeks. LeSean McCoy is coming off a huge week in the snow against a tough Detroit run defense…Edge – McCoy. Adding more positive traction to McCoy this week, only Dallas has allowed more receiving yards and receptions to opposing backs than Minnesota.

Zac Stacy, Rams vs. Saints
Despite dealing with some dings, Zac Stacy has scored in four of five games. I expect that the Rams will have to try to establish a running game to slow down the Saints’ offense. This should mean a healthy dose of Stacy. This could work since the Saints are allowing the third most rushing yards per carry on the season.

Sleepers

Chris Ogbonnaya, Browns vs. Bears
Chris Ogbonnaya is getting the super-sexy salary of only $3000 on DraftKings. This is just begging you to use him. I guarantee that he will be on every single roster I submit this week. Chicago has allowed over 700 rushing yards over the last three weeks. To put this staggering total into perspective, The Browns’ three-headed backfield monster of Ogbonnaya, Fozzy Whitaker, and Willis McGahee has a total of 680 rushing yards all season. McGahee is hurt and won’t play. Whitaker has no talent and shouldn’t be playing. This leaves the Lady Doctor as a super-stud-sleeper (perhaps even top ten) for the week.

Maurice Jones-Drew/Jordan Todman, Jaguars vs. Bills
The Buffalo Bills are allowing 150 rushing yards per game over their last three games. They have also given up five rushing scores over that span. As of Thursday Maurice Jones-Drew was still not practicing, he’ll need to get in at least a little work Friday to have a chance to play this weekend. If he can go he gets a great matchup. If he cannot go Todman would make a sneaky fill-in play.  He hasn’t gotten a lot of work this year, but this preseason he averaged 7.7 yards per carry.

Drink It:
Matt Forte ($8000), Shane Vereen ($7500), Eddie Lacy ($7000), C.J. Spiller ($6400), LeVeon Bell ($6200), Andre Brown ($6000), Rashad Jennings ($6000), Alfred Morris ($5900), Ben Tate ($5800), Gio Bernard ($5700), Steven Jackson ($5600), Daniel Thomas ($5500), Darren Sproles ($5300), Toby Gerhart ($5000), Fred Jackson ($5000), Andre Ellington ($4700), Donald Brown ($4500), BenJarvus Green-Ellis ($4100), James Starks ($3500)
Dump it:
Marshawn Lynch ($7500), Adrian Peterson ($12542), Reggie Bush ($7300), Ray Rice ($6500), Chris Johnson ($6300), Bobby Rainey ($6200), Joique Bell ($5600), Pierre Thomas ($5200), Frank Gore ($5200), Chris Ivory ($4900), DeAngelo Williams ($4000)

Wide Receiver

Your Fantasy Four Pack

Josh Gordon, Browns vs. Bears
This week, we get the hottest player in the league versus arguably the leagues’ worst defense over the past few weeks. Yeah the Bears’ pass defense has been very solid in terms of limiting yards, but they still just gave up three touchdowns to the Cowboys. Oh yeah, they also have allowed opposing number one wide receivers to score in five straight. It is gonna be six after this week.

Torrey Smith, Ravens @ Lions
No team has given up more wide receiver touchdowns than the Lions. Torrey Smith has scored in three of his last five and Dennis Pitta is back to free up some room for Smith to work deep. This game will also be indoors so Smith won’t be hampered by bad weather this week.

Dez Bryant, Cowboys vs. Packers
Dez Bryant has scored in seven games this year and in 14 of his last 21. The Packers are tied with the Lions for the most wide receiver touchdowns allowed. This one has a lot of potential points written all over it, especially if Aaron Rodgers decides to give it a go. In that case I want the best pass catching weapon for the team I expect to win.

Riley Cooper, Eagles @ Vikings
Only eight teams have allowed more passing touchdowns to wide receivers than Minnesota. So you’d think that I’d be telling you to start DeSean Jackson right? WRONG! Over the last four weeks (or roughly coinciding with the introduction of new starting cornerback Xavier “The Colossus at” Rhodes), opposing number one wide receivers have combined to post a line of 10-140-0. Meanwhile, opposing number two WRs have had a much easier time of it. Over that same four game span, they have totaled a line of 28-484-4. A little quick math tells me this works out to 7-121-1. That is top level production.

Sleepers

Michael Crabtree, 49ers @ Buccaneers
My sleepers this week are a tale of two injuries. The first one is Michael Crabtree who sat out most of the season rehabbing an injury. He has come back and not done much yet. Fortunately for him, this week, he gets to face a Tampa Bay team that has allowed the fifth most WR touchdowns. Do I need to remind you what Crabtree did over his last four games last year, the answer…28 catches, 457 yards, and five touchdowns.

Roddy White, Falcons vs. Redskins
My second sleeper is a wide receiver who has also been dealing with an injury all season. Unlike Crabtree, who rested and rehabbed his injury; the iron man, Roddy White tried to play through the pain. That was a mistake as he managed a crappy 20 receptions over the first 12 weeks. The last two weeks, he seems to have shaken most of his limitations hauling in 18-217 on 24 targets. The Redskins are atrocious against the pass. Opponents’ number one WRs are averaging 5-81 against the Skins over the last four weeks, they have also scored three touchdowns over that span.

Drink It:
Calvin Johnson ($9400), Andre Johnson ($8300), Alshon Jeffery ($7900), Antonio Brown ($7500), Jordy Nelson ($6800), Marques Colston ($6200), Pierre Garcon ($6000), Dwayne Bowe ($5900), Brian Hartline ($5900), Cecil Shorts III ($5500), Harry Douglas ($5500), Steve Smith ($5400), Cordarrelle Patterson ($5300), Stevie Johnson ($5100), Da’Rick Rogers ($4700), Greg Jennings ($4700), James Jones ($4500), Marlon Brown ($4300), Terrance Williams ($4200), Jacoby Jones ($3900), Jerricho Cotchery ($3900), Robert Woods ($3400)
Dump it:
Brandon Marshall ($8300), A.J. Green ($8100), Larry Fitzgerald ($7300), Julian Edelman ($6400), Vincent Jackson ($6200), Victor Cruz ($6000), Michael Floyd ($6000), Mike Wallace ($5600), T.Y. Hilton ($5600), Kendall Wright ($5500), Danny Amendola ($5500), Hakeem Nicks ($4600)

Tight End

Your Fantasy Four Pack

Jimmy Graham, Saints @ Rams
Here is a quick formula for you to remember:
(ALL NFL TE – Rob Gronkowski) < Jimmy Graham
We have no Gronk so Graham returns to the number one slot for the rest of the season. The Rams have only given up four tight end touchdowns this year, but they haven’t faced a lot of extremely talented TEs this year. In two matchups against Vernon Davis (arguably the best tight end they have faced) they have allowed him to score. They also gave up a score to Martellus Bennett just a couple weeks back.

Jordan Cameron, Browns vs. Bears
Jason Campbell and Jordan Cameron finally got on the same page last week. After rolling a 9-121-1 in that last matchup, Cameron has to be licking his lips at the thought of facing a Bears team that has given up the third most yards to tight ends.

Dennis Pitta, Ravens @ Lions    
Dennis Pitta was targeted 11 times last week. I get the feeling that Flacco was probably standing outside the window of Pitta’s house the last few weeks holding a Boom Box above his head blaring Peter Gabriel.

Tony Gonzalez, Falcons @ Redskins
Tony Gonzalez has scored in back-to-back games. Washington has allowed the third most tight end touchdowns. This includes three touchdowns over their current five-game losing streak.

Sleepers

Delanie Walker, Titans vs. Cardinals
It’s the Cardinals, they make every opposing tight end look like Jimmy Graham. Here’s a change to my formula.
(ALL NFL TE – whichever TE is facing Arizona) < Jimmy Graham
Delanie Walker is back from his concussion, and he was concussing the competition prior to his injury. Start him with a smile this week.

Brent Celek/Zach Ertz, Eagles @ Vikings
Arizona is the leagues’ worst, the second worst team in the league against tight ends is Minnesota. They have allowed 11 tight end touchdowns. Brent Celek has scored in three different games. Zach Ertz has scored in two different games. Strangely enough in both of the games Ertz scored in Celek also scored. Against the Vikings both of them will score again.

Drink It:
Jason Witten ($5100), Vernon Davis ($5100), Greg Olsen ($5000), Coby Fleener ($4400), Jared Cook ($3900), John Carlson ($3400)
Dump it:
Charles Clay ($5000), Garrett Graham ($4200), Brandon Myers ($4200), Tim Wright ($4000)

GAMETIME BREW

Since most of those limited release beers I just purchased haven’t quite reached their peak, I’ve decided to mix things up this week, literally, with the help of a great little toy that the folks at theperfectblackandtan.com were kind enough to let us try out. I’m sure many of you have attempted to produce your own pub quality layered beer-tails at home. Unfortunately the most common layering tool, the LagerHead Turtle doesn’t always work as well as I’d like.

The Perfect Black and Tan is made from an easily cleanable stainless steel and it is shaped like an ash tray. It actually fits perfectly atop your standard pint glass. When you look at it from above you’ll see a ring of holes around the inner portion of the tool. Its construction and design reminds me a lot of a much larger version of the skim located within the faucet that is typically attached to a Nitrogen-pushed draft beer. The beer cascades down through those holes topping off the bottom layer with a second and potentially third or fourth layer for your beer. Most traditional black and tan beers feature a heavy stout such as Guinness and another pale brew (originally Bass Ale). This week I will be concocting some of my own layer cakes for your enjoyment.

1) Minnesota Coffee and Biscotti
Featuring: Biscotti from Lift Bridge Brewing Company out of Stillwater, MN and Cherry Bean Stout from Brau Brothers out of Lucan, MN
Layering: Layering failed on this combo
Overall: 0 for 1 on the layering here, this beer combo didn’t hold up the black portion and it all settled together. The flavor combination was nice though as we get a bit of honey, anise, vanilla, and cinnamon blended with the roasted coffee. Unfortunately without the layering the Belgian yeast profile is lost some on this one.

2) The Monkey and the Banana
Featuring: Banana Bread Beer from Wells and Young’s Brewing Company out of Bedford, UK and Zombie Monkie from Tallgrass Brewing Company out of Manhattan, KS
Layering: Layering is better on this but still not perfect
Overall: Well this one was a push when it comes to layering, but the flavor is a real winner. The banana pairs gorgeously with the robust chocolaty porter. I just wish the banana was a little more real banana and a little less banana Popsicle flavor. I still really like it, it just tastes artificial.

3) The Choklat Covered Raspberry
Featuring: Choklat from Southern Tier Brewery out of Lakewood, NY and Framboise Lambic from Brouwerij Lindemans out of Vlezenbeek, Belgium
Layering: Winner Winner Layering Dinner! I’m taking it to mean that some beers just layer better than others. The density of the Belgian limbic supports the Choklat better than either of the others did.
Overall: It’s like a chocolate raspberry truffle. I think I’d serve it a little more chilled next time, but it was the best most real flavor combination tasting of the three combos. I can say this I was expecting a little more tartness in this lambic. I’d like to retry this recipe with a raspberry flavored sour beer.


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