Whenever a running back places his name next to Walter Payton’s in the record books, he has achieved a pretty impressive feat. Sweetness, make some room for Le’Veon Bell.
Bell almost certainly carried his fantasy owners into the second round of the playoffs by running all over the Bengals on Sunday. He had 185 yards and two touchdowns on 26 carries, and as we all know by now, he isn’t a one-trick pony. Bell also caught six passes for 50 yards and a score, going north of 200 yards from scrimmage for the third consecutive game. Before Sunday, Payton was the only running back in NFL history who had ever amassed 200 total yards three weeks in a row.
While reaching the playoffs in your fantasy football league is not something to put on your professional résumé, it does feel nice to own bragging rights for a year.
Those fantasy champions will know that what separates winners from posers is delivering the goods: plugging in the right players in the right games to go undefeated during the season’s home stretch. It requires thoughtful planning weeks in advance. Whether you’re already assured a playoff spot or still in the running, there are variables you should be analyzing today to help ensure December dominance.
Week 13 is typically the final week of the regular season in fantasy leagues. So often fantasy owners look to their stars for salvation in must-win games. If you count Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, Calvin Johnson or Julio Jones among your stars, then your stars certainly delivered. However, almost as frequently it’s the unheralded players who pop up for a game or two and end up earning the unyielding devotion of their owners. Three guys who were under the radar heading into Week 13 almost certainly carried anyone who started them to a huge win.
You have one last bullet left and time is running out. It’s Week 13 and your window for getting into the fantasy playoffs (or earning a first-round bye) might be closing.
If you’re on the outside of the playoffs looking in — needing not just a win, but some help in the “Total Points Scored” category to help boost you into the playoffs, then it’s time to start considering a “boom or bust” strategy.
Rather than choose steady players who often score 10 fantasy points per week, think about starting high-risk, high-reward guys who score either 20 points or three points. Deep threats (John Brown, Kenny Stills) and home-run third-down backs (Darren Sproles) might make more sense than medium-scoring consistent players. If you’re seventh or eighth in the standings, you don’t want consistent — unless you lead the league in scoring and have just had a brutal schedule.
Each week, we’ll share 8-12 players we think are worth a look in standard fantasy football leagues based on performance and upcoming matchups. Each of these players listed are owned in fewer than 30 percent of leagues on CBS Sports, ESPN and Yahoo! leagues.
Since they are barely owned in more than 30 percent of CBS leagues, you won’t see these rising players on this list: Josh McCown, Dan Herron, LeGarrette Blount, Justin Hunter, Andrew Hawkins, Kenny Stills and the Browns defense.
The AFC North and NFC South are polar opposite divisions, and not only because of their cardinal directions and conference affiliations. Heading into Week 12, all four teams in the AFC North were over .500. Meanwhile, every NFC South team was at least two games under .500, presenting the very real possibility of a division winner with fewer than eight wins. Those two divisions have met all season in inter-conference play, and, even if you don’t already know, you can probably guess how those games have gone. Through 11 weeks, the AFC North was 9-1-1 against the NFC South. Perhaps the most surprising element about all of this is that the only win was by the Buccaneers over the Steelers in Pittsburgh.
Two of those teams met each other on Sunday, with the last-place 6-4 Browns visiting the first-place 4-6 Falcons. Brian Hoyer threw three interceptions, but led the Browns on a successful two-minute drill, setting Billy Cundiff up for a game-winning 37-yard field goal in Cleveland’s 26-24 victory. However, we’re much more interested in the fantasy implications in this space, and there were a few big ones on the Cleveland side of the ball.
Some notable names made their way to free agency this week, when both Ben Tate and LeGarrette Blount were given their walking papers. Both have found new homes since (Tate in Minnesota, Blount in New England). Do they still have any value in fantasy football leagues? How do they affect the value of their new teammates? We explore below.