Finding This Weekend's LeGarrette Blount
Only three games remain in what has been an electrifying season thus far. The four teams most people thought would be still standing are still alive, something that hasn’t been the case in recent years.
In past weeks, I’ve been focusing on crafting the best roster for NFL.com’s Fantasy Playoff Challenge. Clearly, if you took guys like Peyton Manning, Marshawn Lynch, Knowshon Moreno and Demaryius Thomas, you’re doing well in your league.
To state the obvious, if you have any players on 3x multipliers, hang onto them. The payoff is too large to switch to another player at this stage. The worst-case scenario is you have a 3x player for this round, his team loses and you have to pick up a new player at a 1x multiplier for the Super Bowl. The best-case scenario is they win and you get a 4x multiplier for the final game. Making the switch now gives you, at best, a 1x multiplier and a 2x multiplier if they win (and a measly 1x and 1x if they lose).
Even if your player is only on a 2x multiplier – say, for example, you took LeSean McCoy in the Wild Card Round, then Moreno last week – you’re still better off sticking with him. You’re getting a sure-thing 2x multiplier and the chance at a 3x multiplier if they win.
If you have spots to fill – for example, if you rostered Jimmy Graham – then your best bet is to decide who you believe will win this weekend and pick some of those players. Football Outsiders’ weighted DVOA as well as Vegas has Seattle and Denver as the favorites, so you’d be wise to load up on their players.
But what if you need to hit a home run? What if the leader in your pool is loaded with Broncos and Seahawks and the only chance you have of catching him is a surprise performance? We need to find the next LeGarrette Blount from last week and T.Y. Hilton from the week prior. With such a short and simple fantasy game like this one, those outliers may be the difference between winning and just doing well. So here are a few players I’d be willing to roll the dice with.
Of the remaining QBs, it’s Colin Kaepernick who has had the best fantasy postseason. While his completion percentage is down compared to the regular season (58.4% to 53.4%) and he doesn’t produce big yardage numbers, his rushing stats are what propel him to elite fantasy numbers. In five career postseason games, he’s rushed for 377 yards on 40 attempts and 4 TDs. Despite the 49ers being an underdog to advance, they have the playoff pedigree with this their third consecutive NFC Championship game. They’ll only go as far as Kaep will take them, but history suggests he’ll rise to the challenge.
While the obvious choice would be Blount, give some consideration to Montee Ball as well. Moreno had 23 carries last weekend but only produced 82 yards, which is a 3.6 ypc. He also had a reduced role in the previous five games, with carry totals of 6, 11, 8, 14 and 15 to go with a 3.9 ypc. Meanwhile, Ball has had back-to-back 10-carry games, producing 124 yards. He has averaged 6.3 ypc over his past six games and added 12 catches for 85 yards. He’s protecting the ball much better than the start of the year, with only one fumble since Week 3. He’s a long shot to take over the lead back role, but it’s likely that he’ll continue to be a factor.
Guess who is the most-targeted receiver over the past five games? None other than Julian Edelman, who has had at least nine targets in each of his last seven games. And this is despite the Pats moving to a more run-oriented offense: In the last three games, Tom Brady has averaged 25 pass attempts, compared to 38 in the 15 games prior. So while the other receivers are getting fewer looks, Edelman remains Brady’s primary weapon through the air. Couple that with the fact that Denver has allowed the seventh-most fantasy points to WRs, and you have a sleeper that most will be overlooking.