The fantasy football season never ends: Keeping up with offseason changes, injury updates, and team depth charts is a grueling task if you wait until the week before the draft. Serious fantasy owners will monitor much of this throughout the offseason, taking notes of potential sleepers, busts and situations to watch as next season approaches.
SETTING YOUR LINEUP
QB Michael Vick (at DAL) – After two weeks back in the saddle look for Vick to explode this week as he faces the Cowboys, a team that he had his best fantasy day of the season against in Week 8 as he passed for 279 yards and a pair of touchdowns with no picks and added 50 yards rushing. Expect similar numbers this time around as the Eagles play for their post-season livelihood.
RB Reggie Bush (at NE) – Few players have bigger down the stretch than Bush have to be for his owners. He has scored six times in the past seven games and has averaged 19 fantasy points per contest. This week he faces a Patriots’ D that ranks amongst the worst in the league. Expect at least 100 total yards and a score from Bush in Week 16.
RB Brandon Jacobs (at NYJ) – Jacobs his three-game scoring streak snapped last week vs. the Redskins and is now set to face a stiff Jets’ D playing for a wildcard spot. With Ahmad Bradshaw back into the picture, Jacobs is nothing more than a low-end flex matchup this week and one that owners should look to avoid.
WR Brandon Lloyd (vs. PIT) – The quarterback issues have stalled the production of the Rams’ top wideout and that won’t change this week. Add to it a matchup with the Steelers ahead and owners should temper their expectations.
RB Chris Johnson (ankle) – Johnson has been limited in practice, but all signs point to him playing. It wouldn’t be a surprise is backup Jamie Harper got some action.
RB Roy Helu (toe/knee) – Helu was limited in practice and his production suffered last week as he was not 100 percent. It appears as if he is going to give it a go in Week 16.
RB Felix Jones (hamstring) – Not at 100 percent, Jones appears ready to play through sore hammy. He’s always an injury risk.
WR AJ Green (shoulder) – Owners should start Green with confidence. Barring a setback he’s ready to go against Arizona.
QB Ben Roethlisberger (ankle) – The Steelers should rest him. Whether or not they will is a different story. I'm not expecting much.
Other injuries of note: Willis McGahee (hamstring), Maurice Jones-Drew (ankle), Stevie Johnson (groin)
Here’s a look at some valuable lessons can learn from the 2011 fantasy season...
Gettinng an elite QB is a must – You have to get production at the QB position and the top tier guys payoff consider this the average production of the top 3 guys (Rodgers, Brees, Brady) is 410 fantasy points (thru 15 weeks). The average of the next 10 QB’s on the list is 283 points. That’s the difference in nearly 8.5 points per week.
The running back position is a deep as ever – There are so few elite fantasy running backs any more. In non-PPR formats after you take the top five scorers (McCoy, Rice, Foster, MJD, Lynch) off the board the difference in fantasy points in the sixth-best and 20th best scoring fantasy RB is (42 points) less than three points per week.
Rookies can help sooner than you think – While some members of the 2011 rookie class disappointed owners that took a chance on them there were others that made a big splash once given the opportunity including Cam Newton, DeMarco Murray, Roy Helu, AJ Green and Julio Jones. It requires patience, but going with young players with upside can payoff.
Depth is the key to success – There seemingly has never been a year more riddled by injuries than this season. That makes building great depth even more important. Some of that occurs on draft night, but hitting the waiver wire consistently is also important. For further proof look no further than the impact made by Victor Cruz and Laurent Robinson, who both performed as top 10 wideouts during stretches of the season and neither were drafted in many leagues.