As we approach the final playoff push in the world of fantasy, I am reminded of the 80’s hair rock anthem The Final Countdown, by the Swedish metal band Europe. My apologies to one and all, as I am sure you will now spend the next twelve hours with that “iconic” keyboard intro swirling around in your head. But it is apropos as in most leagues week 13 is the final week of the regular season and much is on the line. History can play a huige part in how you set your lineup, especially with the rash of injuries and questions surrounding some of the leagues high profile talent.
Yes, The Final Countdown. Hey, if it’s forever trapped in my cranium, I’m not suffering alone, folks.
We’ll start out with a two players who may very well be pressed into action due to circumstance. In his last three games against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Buffalo Bills QB Ryan Fitzpatrick has averaged 227 yards passing and has thrown a total of six touchdowns. Along those same lines, in that same three game time period, St. Louis Rams QB Sam Bradford as performed very well against a solid defense in the San Francisco 49ers. He has averaged a banner 274 yards receiving and has thrown four touchdown passes. It is not out of the realm of possibility that these two players will be pressed into fantasy action this week and history is on their (and your) side.
After a subpar performance last week against the New York Giants, fantasy owners will be looking for a bounce-back performance from Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers. I’ll go out on a limb and say from what I am seeing from him against the Minnesota Vikings in the past, it is likely to happen. If you just go back to 2009 to the present, Rodgers has thrown for 384 yards, 287 yards, 295 yards, 301 yards, 335 yards, and 250 yards respectively and tossed an insane 13 touchdown passes in those six games.
On the negative side of things we’ll focus on the aforementioned New York Giants and their QB Eli Manning. In his last five games against division rival Washington Redskins, Manning on has two touchdown passes and a whopping eight interceptions.
Let’s briefly take a look at some highs and lows from the running back position, for instance San Diego Chargers RB Ryan Mathews. The last time he faced the Cincinnati Bengals was back in 2008 and Mathews gained 83 combined yards and a scored a touchdown. While the yardage totals were not mind-blowing, Seattle Seahawks RB Marshawn Lynch was still a presence against a tough Chicago Bears squad. In 2010 he rushed for 44 yards and a touchdown, and again in 2011 ran for only 42 yards but tacked on two more touchdowns. It’s wonderful how a subpar yardage day can be saved by a touchdown or two.
I’ll drop in an “eh” performance to keep things interesting. That would be courtesy of New England Patriots RB Stevan Ridley. He last faced the Indianapolis Colts last season, and while the Patriots are a pass-first team, if you started him you undoubtedly expected more than thirteen carries for 64 yards and no touchdowns.
To close out the position, let’s look at some dominant history from Houston Texans RB Arian Foster when it comes to facing off against the Tennessee Titans. Did I just use a hockey reference? Good Lord, forgive me. What’s hockey? Anyway, In his last four games against the Titans, Foster has averaged over 151 combined yards and has scored four touchdowns.
As far as the wide receivers, let’s mix it up and take a look at a historically lousy performance. Of course it would be as a member of another team, but that doesn’t make it any less surprising. Tampa Bay Buccaneers WR Vincent Jackson, as a member of the San Diego Chargers. In his last seven games against the Denver Broncos Jackson has only managed one touchdown and has only eclipsed the 70 yard mark only once in those seven contests.
I’ll brighten things up from here on out, I promise, starting with Detroit Lions WR Calvin Johnson. The last time he faced the Colts was in 2008 and he hauled in nine passes doe 110 yards and a touchdown. New York Giants WR Victor Cruz was on the receiving end of one of those two Manning touchdown passes, as he was also able to tally seven receptions for 131 yards earlier this season against the Washington Redskins. Expect to see the salsa again at some point on Sunday, without question.
Finally, at wide receiver it might surprise many to see what San Francisco 49ers WR Michael Crabtree has done in his last six games against the St. Louis Rams. He has averaged over 83 yards receiving and has reeled in six touchdown passes. This makes him a no-brainer start in fantasy circles this week, the history is just to strong and headed in the right direction.
Regarding the mind-numbing position that is the fantasy tight end, here are some historical tidbits that just might help you in your decision making process this weekend. In his last two performances against the Buffalo Bills, Jacksonville Jaguars TE Marcedes Lewis has averaged over 60 yards receiving and caught two touchdown passes. With QB Chad Henne now in the mix, I would look for Lewis to again end the game with favorable results.
I don’t want to end on a sour note, so I will mention two subpar performances before closing out with a solid one! An enigma this season has to be San Francisco 49ers TE Vernon Davis. In his last five, that’s right FIVE games against the St. Louis Rams, Davis has yet to record a touchdown. That is mind-boggling from a player of his talent against a team he should be a force against. I am actually benching him this week, a playoff week, for New York Jets TE Dustin Keller. Just sayin’. Going from bad to worse would be Pittsburgh Steelers TE Heath Miller. The regularly reliable option has not caught a touchdown pass against the Baltimore Ravens in his last eight games against them. With QB Charlie Batch likely behind center again this week, Miller’s futility is likely to continue.
To close out this week’s lesson, let’s take a look at a finally emerging force in Cincinnati Bengals TE Jermaine Gresham, He has really become a focal point of the passing game, and that should be evident again this weekend against the Oakland Raiders. The last time he faced them was in 2010 and he grabbed four passes for 56 yards and a touchdown. He is building a solid rapport with QB Andy Dalton, and rightfully so as he’s a big target with good hands and a lot of power. With the Raiders issues on the defensive side of the ball, a repeat performance from Gresham is quite possible.
Have a great weekend, good luck and enjoy the games!!
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