As the playoffs start in earnest in fantasy leagues from coast to coast, sadly, some higher profile players will rip the rug out from under your season and stink up the joint. Ah yes, there is nothing better than a classic bust performance from a player you are counting on. Take for instance last week, with New Orleans Saints QB Drew Brees. Who in their right mind expected him to throw five, yes FIVE interceptions against the Atlanta Falcons? Safe to say he derailed more than a few teams when they needed him most.
A key player falling short at key times is never desirable, but unfortunately it happens and if I may quote ABC’s Wide World of Sports (I am dating myself yet again, as I remember Slovakian ski-jumper Vinko Bogataj tumbling helplessly over the side of the ramp..) It’s the The Thrill of Victory and the Agony of Defeat!
Well in hopes that you don’t endure the latter, let’s take a look at some potential fantasy football busts for this weekend!
Phillip Rivers, San Diego Chargers – The stage is not set for a banner performance from Rivers to say the least. Firstly they are traveling cross country to face the Steelers in a hostile environment. Secondly, Pittsburgh will undoubtedly be on a high with the likely return of their leader, QB Ben Roethlisberger. Finally the Steelers bring a pretty solid defense to the table that will be set on giving the Chargers signal caller trouble all afternoon.
Ryan Fitzpatrick, Buffalo Bills – The only saving grace for me in regards to Fitzpatrick is the fact that they are playing at home and the weather could be “interesting”. Aside from that, he could be without some of his down field weapons, or at the very least they could be limited, and the St. Louis Rams are playing very solid defensive football under Head Coach Jeff Fisher.
RB Bryce Brown, Philadelphia Eagles – Not exactly what you wanted to see here, after Bryce has been lights out for the Eagles despite the ball security issues. Well, while he has been amazing filling in for the injured RB LeSean McCoy, the Buccaneers pose a difficult test for the young Eagles back. He’s been quite a surprise thus far, but faces a Tampa Bay team surrendering 80 yards rushing per game, and are in a must win situation as they vie for wild card positioning.
RB Stevan Ridley, New England Patriots – Granted, Ridley has been extremely solid this year, and I don’t expect most owners that have him to sit him. That said, the Houston Texans are extremely stout against the run, and this game will be won through the air. That will relegate Ridley to a marginal Monday Night Football performance at best.
RB Vick Ballard, Indianapolis Colts – Yes, I am well aware that RB Donald Brown is out this week against the Tennessee Titans and Ballard is getting the start. However despite Ballard’s touchdown this past week, the Colts are a pass-first team and Ballard’s overall lack of touchdown production is a little unsettling as the fantasy playoffs are in full swing.
WR Dwayne Bowe, Kansas City Chiefs – I have to give QB Brady Quinn props last week, he actually looked like an NFL quarterback, and that bodes well for Bowe. However what doesn’t bode well for him is playing against a vastly underrated Cleveland Browns defense, and the fact that CB Joe Haden will be in his back pocket all afternoon. I would keep expectations relatively low.
WR Stevie Johnson, Buffalo Bills – He stated numerous times that his hamstring was just “tight” and he is fine. However, the words “hamstring” and “fine” rarely go in the same sentence. There has to be a level of concern here, regardless of what Johnson is publicly stating. He might play, but could make a quick exit and that is never good when the fantasy stakes are at an elevated level.
WR Steve Smith, Carolina Panthers – Smith has been coming on as of late, and his timing is perfect for fantasy owners. However he also tends to take a powder at the worst times, and I have a strange suspicion this happens this weekend as he goes up against CB Asante Samuel and the Atlanta Falcons. Samuel is not 100%, but will be geared up for this matchup, for sure.
TE Antonio Gates, San Diego Chargers – It goes without saying that Gates has disappointed fantasy owners this season. I don’t really think fortunes will change this week as I would imagine he’ll get a fair amount of attention from Pittsburgh defenders making for a long frustrating afternoon for both Gates and his QB Phillip Rivers.
TE Vernon Davis, San Francisco 49ers – Like the aforementioned Gates, this guy has been a head-scratcher all season. All the talent in the world, but the disappearing act is very unsettling. I am not overly confident that there is any change in this trend, as while the Miami Dolphins are a work in progress offensively, their defense should do a solid job on Davis this weekend.
TE Dwayne Allen, Indianapolis Colts – Unfortunately with the return of fellow rookie TE Coby Fleener, Allen is looking at more of a second-fiddle role. They are two talented players for sure, but unlike the situation in New England, the Colts tends to favor one tight end over the other. Truth be told, the value of both players could actually take a hit until roles become clearer.
Good luck this week – and if I can help, drop me a tweet – @djleason
Have a great weekend!
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