Championship week is upon us! Before we get into what you need to dominate your championship game, I would like to review last week. I put Ben Roethlisberger and Odell Beckham Jr. on my players to avoid list. Big Ben was a bad call. I’m defending my OBJ pick as he should have been thrown out for his childish antics on the field, but that is a completely different discussion…. As always any specific line up questions or dilemmas you have email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Here we go…
Kirk Cousins – QB Washington Redskins – What an up and down season it has been for Kirk Cousins, who wasn’t even supposed to be the starter going into the year. He is coming off a great game against the Buffalo Bills where he threw for 319 yards and 4 touchdowns with no interceptions. They play the Eagles this week with a chance to wrap up the NFC East. Look for Cousins to put up big numbers again against the Eagles who are giving up more points to opposing quarterbacks then every other team except for the Saints
Antonio Brown – WR Pittsburgh Steelers – So after disrespecting the Steelers offense last week, I want to do the complete opposite this week. I know that if you have Brown on your team, he is starting every single week, but I cannot express how big of a game I think Brown is in for this week against the Ravens who give up more points to opposing wide outs than any other team in football. I’m going to go bold; 200 yards and a pair of scores for Brown on Sunday.
David Johnson – RB Arizona Cardinals – Next man up for the Arizona Cardinals. Thing is, he might be the most talented running back on the entire roster even though he found himself third on the depth chart for most of the season behind Chris Johnson and Andre Ellington. Those days are over for Johnson who had 187 yards and 3 touchdowns on the ground Monday night. This week he faces the Green Bay Packers defense that is ranked 22nd in the league against the run. Although a repeat of the numbers he put up last week may be unfair, look for him to have a good follow up week against a less than stellar Packers defense.
High Risk, High Reward
Houston Texans Defense – The Houston Texans are ranked 4th overall in term of yardage given up. They have, however, had games where they looked bad. Also J.J. Watt has been fairly quiet since he broke his hand two weeks ago. The upside with starting the Texans defense this week is they are playing the Titans who have the 30th ranked offense and have lost starting quarterback Marcus Mariota for the year.
Antonio Gates – TE San Diego Chargers – Still producing at age 35, he had a decent week last week. Against the Dolphins who rank in the top half of the league of points given up to opposing tight ends, Gates recorded 6 catches for 88 yards. The Chargers face the Raiders in the Thursday night match up who give up the second most points to opposing tight ends. The risk here comes in how poorly the Chargers have played this season. It also doesn’t help that he hasn’t found the end zone since November 29th.
Teddy Bridgewater – QB Minnesota Vikings – The former Louisville stand out is coming off one of his better games as a pro where he threw for 4 touchdown passes and has now gone two straight weeks without throwing an interception. They are playing the New York Giants, fresh off allowing a huge game to Cam Newton where he threw for 5 touchdowns. The Giants give up the 4th most points to opposing quarterbacks. Everything sounds good right? Don’t forget though, the Vikings are ranked 31st out of 32 teams in passing yards per game, so this match up dream could always turn into a nightmare.
Players to Avoid
Todd Gurley – RB St. Louis Rams – Congrats to Todd Gurley for making the Pro Bowl in his rookie season. With that being said, Gurley has a visit with the 12th man in Seattle. True Seattle’s defense hasn’t been as dominating this season as it has the last few years, but there is one area where they are excelling. They are number on in the league for fewest points given up to opposing running backs. Oh yeah, they have been playing pretty well lately so the Rams will probably be playing catch up in this one.
Brock Osweiler – QB Denver Broncos – I am aware that I told you to pick up Brock a few weeks ago. He has filled in admirably for the Broncos in Peyton Manning’s absence, but this is the week the Broncos are going to be informed that it may be time to put Peyton on top of the depth chart. He goes against a Bengals team this week, looking to wrap up a division title, that give up less points per game than any other team in the league. They allow the third fewest points to opposing QB’s. The Bengals are going without starting quarterback Andy Dalton, and are looking to the defense to pick up the slack. It is going to be a long day for Osweiler.
Tom Brady – QB New England Patriots – Alright here I go with my crazy bold picks again. Brady is having an MVP caliber season. He usually finds success against the New York Jets. With their season on the line, however, I think that the Jets defense is going to give Brady fits this weekend. Look for Sheldon Richardson, Leonard Williams and big Mo Wilkerson to make Tom Brady uncomfortable behind center. Remember though, an off Brady is still better than a good number of quarterbacks.
Waiver Wire Gem of the Week
Cameron Artis-Payne – RB Carolina Panthers – I wanted to use the top candidate to be an immediate starter in my waiver wire gems, since most league are in their championship week. This is him. With Jonathan Stewart going down, he saw 14 carries to Mike Tolbert’s 5 carries and Fozzy Whittaker’s 2. He gained 4.1 yards per carry and is in line to receive the start and more work this week against a poor run defense in the Falcons. If you need a plug and play guy, this is him.
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