INDIANAPOLIS --- It's an exciting time at Colts.com for fantasy football fanatics. In addition to this weekly Fantasy Football Friday column, we launched Scout Shout on Thursday.
Each week the scouts of the Indianapolis Colts are picking their top fantasy performers at each position. For those that also play daily fantasy or games like NFL.com Perfect Challenge, Scout Shout needs to be part of your research on a weekly basis. We'll try to make you laugh along the way too.
As the fantasy playoffs approach, it's time for all of us to make some important decisions. Those decisions depend on your team's current situation.
If you already know you'll make the playoffs (congratulations), start tailoring your roster around optimal playoff match-ups. For example, in my league of record, I've earned a first round bye and won't play until week 15. I picked up the Ravens defense (vs. Jaguars week 15) and Kenny Stills as a possible flex down the road (Saints WR, deep sleeper, Brandin Cooks on IR, at Chicago week 15).
If you're still trying to make the playoffs, you don't have that luxury. So, if you're still holding onto Adrian Peterson, it's time to drop him and get somebody you can use now. That's where we come in, with our Week 12 Start 'Em & Sit 'Em recommendations:
Kevin Bowen: Matthew Stafford (DET QB, @ NE) - Kevin's pick surprises me here. The Lions are on the road against the hottest team in the NFL, but a deeper dive into the match-up reveals where Kevin was going with this. The Patriots defense has allowed a quarterback to score 20 or more fantasy points three straight weeks and four of the past seven games. Those other three games were solid outputs too: 18, 18, and 16 points. Kevin is clearly not scared off by Stafford's six points last week, because he is not one to fall for recency bias in fantasy football (and you shouldn't either). One bad game does not make a trend. For the season, Stafford is averaging 15.7 points per week, with some of those coming without Calvin Johnson. Our Start 'Em baseline for quarterbacks has been 15 points all year. So, this choice makes sense.
Steve Andress: Trent Richardson (IND RB, vs. JAX) - Richardson had seven points in standard leagues and 10 points in PPR leagues in the Colts week three win at Jacksonville, but Ahmad Bradshaw is not in the mix now, after his season-ending fractured fibula. That means more touches for Richardson. From what the coaches and players have been saying this week, Boom Herron will have a role, but Richardson is the primary ball carrier this week in a good match-up against a Jaguars defense that ranks 24th against fantasy RBs, having given up 319 yards on the ground and 3 touchdowns the past two weeks. With the mine field that has been fantasy RBs this season, Richardson can provide some much needed volume for teams needing RB2 help.
Jim Sorgi: Josh Gordon (CLE WR, @ ATL) - It's time to unleash Flash. Sorgi is right on here. If you've been stashing him and aren't sure to start him right away, what are you waiting for?! He's in a dome, on turf, facing a defense that is 29th against fantasy WRs. Somehow, he's still only owned in 70.6% of leagues on NFL.com. If you're playing in a league where he hasn't been picked up yet, first of all WAKE UP! 2nd of all, shame on your competition. Pick him up and make them pay. He can get you into the playoffs and win you a championship. HE WAS THE #1 FANTASY WR LAST YEAR (WITH BRANDON WEEDEN AND JASON CAMPBELL THROWING HIM THE BALL). Rant over.
Jim Sorgi: Philip Rivers (SD QB, vs. STL) - Rivers just doesn't seem right. I agree with Sorgi's pick. Antonio Gates said he has a rib injury. His recent numbers would back that up. Three weeks ago, zero points against Miami. Last week after the bye, only 11 points against Oakland. Oakland! The Rams may be 23rd against opposing quarterbacks, but over the past month, they've only allowed 10, 10, 15, and 17 (Peyton Manning) points to quarterbacks. Rivers is a bench until he shows he's right again candidate. There are far too many other viable QB options in fantasy football right now: Cutler, Kapernick, Sanchez, Romo, Tannehill, Stafford, Flacco, and McCown --- all guys I'd start over Rivers this week.
Steve Andress: Shane Vereen (NE RB, vs. DET) - This isn't a pick endorsing Jonas Gray (because I wouldn't start him either this week). This is a pick endorsing the Lions defensive line. It's been one of, if not, the best against stopping fantasy running backs this season. The Lions have not given up 75 yards rushing since week 4 against the Jets. They've allowed exactly one rushing touchdown in that six week span. This is a game for Brady and his receivers/TEs to me.
Kevin Bowen: Michael Floyd (ARI WR, @ SEA) - Yes, Larry Fitzgerald is battling a banged up knee. Yes, Floyd woke up to score two touchdowns last week. No, you shouldn't start him at Seattle. First of all, John Brown continues to see the most targets with Drew Stanton at quarterback. Floyd had two touchdowns on a total of two catches last week. That's not a stat line you can invest in on a weekly basis. Again, avoid recency bias. Look at the whole sample size of data this season. Floyd has not had more than 5 targets in a game since week 6 against Washington.
BONUS DEEP SLEEPER STARTS: The quarterbacks listed in the Rivers Sit 'Em above, Isaiah Crowell (unless the Browns start West, then West), Bishop Sankey, Charles Sims, Sammy Watkins (not a sleeper, but goes from Buffalo blizzard to friendly dome confines), Jordan Matthews, Kenny Stills (slight edge over Marques Colston b/c of deep threat possibilities), Charles Clay, Austin Seferian-Jenkins
BONUS COLTS START 'EM: TE Coby Fleener --- Start him, Don't think twice.