For some of you week 1 of the fantasy playoffs has come and gone, and for others the playoffs are just starting. As you all know, I get countless emails each week from fantasy owners wanting some insight on each week's plays. The thing that I answer most of all is about sleepers from week-to-week. Let me lay it to rest, there are no sleepers in week 15. If they are sleeping right now, it is called a coma! That being said, there are a few players you'll want to grab off the waiver wire due to injury, so let's go through them now.
Felix Jones: Owner/GM Jerry Jones confirmed Tuesday that Felix Jones will assume DeMarco Murray's role as the workhorse back in the Cowboys offense. Felix was cut in virtually all leagues after Murray emerged and should be picked up immediately.
James Jones: With Greg Jennings likely out for the remainder of the regular season, there is an opening for a WR to step up in this high-powered offense. Many people are giving Randall Cobb the edge because of his playmaking ability in the open field, but I go the other way and say Jones is going to be the best addition from the Packers' receiving corps. He is tried and true and still has the skills to produce, whereas Cobb is inexperienced and doesn't have Aaron Rodgers' trust just yet.
Jake Locker: There are rumors that Matt Hasselbeck won't be able to go this week and that means Locker could make his first start in the NFL. Locker has the type of athleticism that can be a difference-maker for the Titans and the cannon he has attached to his shoulder doesn't hurt either. He might have butterflies in his first start, so he is really only an option in 2-QB leagues against a Colts team that is going to run the table in reverse.
Tim Tebow: The Bucs give up the 8th-most fantasy points to opposing QBs this season at 21.0 PPG, not to mention that I am 100 percent convinced that Jesus is on Tebow's side. Being that this is the Christmas holiday countdown, I think Tebow will have a little extra help and finish as a top 10 fantasy QB this week.
Andy Dalton:The Bengals have a cupcake schedule to finish out the fantasy season and I like Dalton as a sleeper pick at QB this week. The Rams secondary gives up too many plays and Dalton is about to become only the 4th rookie to pass for 3,000 yards. Dalton is underrated and flying under the radar.
Felix Jones: Jones will step into DeMarco Murray's spot and be the Cowboys' workhorse back to finish the season out. He doesn't have the skill set that Murray had, but if you get enough carries you are bound to make some noise in fantasy terms. I see him as a bubble RB1/RB2.
Roy Helu:In a PPR league, Helu is a plain and simple beast, and the Giants give up the 10th-most fantasy points to RBs in PPR leagues (24.4 PPG). The Redskins have Helu and little else on offense, so he will get touch after touch after touch.
Percy Harvin: After Adrian Peterson went down, Harvin stepped up and showed he can be a great playmaker at the WR spot for the Vikings. He is finally past his migraines and is paying dividends for owners who stuck with him. Over the past four weeks, Harvin is averaging 8 catches for 98.3 yards and is scoring 1.3 TDs per game.
Julio Jones: Ok, sorry to do it Jaguars fans, but the secondary is banged up and Jones has elite playmaking ability. Matt Ryan is no slouch at QB and I expect Jones to finish as a respectable WR2 with WR1 upside this week.
Anthony Fasano: Fasano is available in virtually all leagues and he is a great TE sleeper this week. He saw 8 targets in week 14, which tied him for the team lead with Brandon Marshall. Add to that the fact that the Bills give up the most fantasy points to TEs this season and I think you can have waiver wire gold right here.
Arizona Cardinals defense: The Browns offense is awful and the Cardinals have an amazing return man in rookie Patrick Peterson. The Browns offense has trouble moving the ball, so this should be a low scoring game; some leagues even give defensive points to special teams when they score, so that is another added value for the Cardinals this week.
Arizona Cardinals QBs: Yes, both of them. Kolb may or may not play, but that isn't really a good thing either way. He is hurt too often to count on and is inconsistent when he is in the game. Then you have John Skelton who looks good until he sees real time on the field and then defenses figure him out and he looks like the backup that he is. Just stay away from anyone on the Cardinals roster not named Beanie Wells or Larry Fitzgerald.
Ben Roethlisberger: Big Ben is in a walking boot still and probably won't practice until the last second this week. What that means is he is going to have some sync issues and be a little rusty, not to mention immobile in the pocket. I'm sure he will do something to make a blip on the fantasy radar, but I'd play it safe and find another option.
Marion Barber: I am surprised Barber wasn't outright cut this week after the two mind-numbing plays he made last weekend to lose the game for the Bears. That being said, you can rest assure that Kahlil Bell will see an increase in his touches and Barber will be little more than bench depth for you until he proves he isn't the player we all saw last week.
- Side note to Barber, Chris Da Bears fan has been put on a liquid only diet as the doctors fear he could choke just as the Bears are doing as a sign of what they are calling "misguided loyalty transference."
Rashard Mendenhall: With Roethlisberger ailing, there isn't going to be much to keep the 49ers defense from stacking the line and stuffing Mendenhall every time he gets the ball. This pick is completely out of respect for the tough defense the 49ers have. I don't even want Mendenhall as a flex play for me this week.
Torrey Smith:Smith is that WR you hate to cut because you know as soon as you do he will have a big game. However, you can't play him because every time you do he bombs and does nothing. The Chargers give up the 10th-fewest points to WRs this season and Smith has a way of disappearing when you need him most.
DeSean Jackson: The Jets give up the 4th-fewest points to WRs, D-Jax hasn't hit 100-plus yards since week 4, and before last week he went seven straight games without reaching the endzone. Jackson has been a major fantasy bust this season and I expect more of the same against a superior defensive backfield this week.
Jermaine Gresham: Gresham is pretty much a TD-or-bust, which can be said for a lot of TEs around the league. However, he only ranks #14 for TE targets this season in the NFL and the Rams are #1 in fantasy points allowed to TEs with an average of 3.5 PPG.
Houston Texans defense: This is a testament to just how good Cam Newton is already. The Texans defense currently ranks #6 in standard fantasy formats for the season and yet I want absolutely no part of them in any circumstance this weekend because of the dynamic playmaking ability of the rookie QB.
Question of the week
Q: Thanks to your advice I've been the number one overall seed in both of my leagues, in the championship of one, and playing my first playoff game this week in the other. Loving it! Anyways, I have a question about a WR. Am I crazy for thinking to start Percy Harvin over Steve Smith? It's a PPR league and I am also starting Wes Welker and Roddy White. Just need to fill out the other WR spot.
Also, your article on the Jags website was spot on. I am a huge Jag fan, season ticket owner, and every year in the fantasy draft I try to draft one of my Jags. It's a homer thing, I know, not always smart. This year was Marcedes Lewis in the 6th round of an 8 man league draft. I thought that was going to be the pick that was going to be the quintessential good/homer pick. Boy was I wrong! It hurt, but I had to drop him. Luckily, I was able to pick up Gronkowski for him! Yes this has been a good year in fantasy for me! I am 11-2 in this league and the highest point scorer. Love your writing and advice; it always seems to help me. (Eric Harris)
A:Glad to hear I am helping. I take as much enjoyment in knowing that readers are winning because of my advice as I do from winning my own league titles.
As for Harvin... not at all! I love Harvin this week as he has emerged as a playmaker in the absence of Adrian Peterson. He should finish as a top 5-7 WR this week, whereas Smith is closer to the 10-12 range. Given that you already have Welker and White, you are in a pretty good spot with having to choose between four top-10 plays this week.