The Jaguars took over the fantasy circuit this weekend with Maurice Jones-Drew racking up 4 TDs and 136 total yards (85 rushing and 51 receiving) and the defense finishing #1 thanks to their 4 fumbles recovered, 3 sacks, 3 INTs and 2 defensive touchdowns on the day. And Blaine Gabbert finished as a respectable QB2 this weekend with his 217 yards passing and 2 TDs.
Now, I talk to a lot of Jaguars fans via email, Facebook and Twitter, and there are some that love the team and some that love to hate them. I talked to a first-time player recently who was disgruntled with the teams' performance and not winning in his fantasy league made him vent his frustrations to me.
Something my boss at the Jaguars told me last week rang true on two fronts: my love for writing and playing fantasy sports. He told me that this (writing) is a business and that has to be #1 above being a fan. I always preach that there is no loyalty in fantasy sports because when a player is no longer useful, you have to cut or trade him. I am a fan of the NFL; I LOVE THIS GAME! But, I also have to acknowledge that as a writer I am supposed to be objective. While that is a noble concept, it is one that is often taught and seldom practiced.
The hardest thing to do as a fan is to take your admiration for a player out of the equation and do what is the smart move in order to win your league title. Sometimes that means benching MJD, Philip Rivers, or even cutting your favorite player in the NFL, LaDainian Tomlinson. I've been playing fantasy sports since 1997 and I have had to cut and trade the likes of Michael Jordan, Shaquille O'Neal, Tomlinson and MJD, despite my fanatical admiration for what they can do on the field. It is never easy to let a player go, but you have to remember that this isn't an online card collection; it is a game we play and the point is to win.
The moral of the story is to play until the final whistle blows and never let the fan in your heart overrule the fantasy player in your brain! You won't win every league you enter, but you can have fun no matter what your record is.
Matt Ryan:Ryan was someone I was high on heading into this week and he did me proud. Matty Ice racked up 340 passing yards and 4 scores without throwing a single INT this week, and that ranked him #1 in standard scoring formats. I take a bow for this pick.
John Skelton: And the worst trade of the 2011 season is going to go down as Kevin Kolb to the Cardinals. Kolb was again forced from the game due to injury and Skelton stepped in. All Skelton did was throw for 282 passing yards, 3 TDs and 2 INTs. I can promise you that nobody played Skelton on purpose this weekend, so just take it as a missed opportunity.
Maurice Jones-Drew: MJD was a fantasy beast this weekend, as I mentioned earlier. The problem I have with Jones-Drew's owners is that they show him no love, despite owning him and refusing to trade him. The guy is leading the league in rushing, and I still have to tell owners to play him from week to week. MJD finished as the #2 fantasy player this weekend, missing the #1 spot (Matt Ryan) by a single point in standard scoring.
Ryan Grant: I read an article this weekend by a highly touted fantasy sports columnist and another by a guy that works under him. The veteran writer picked Grant as a waiver wire pick-up this week and the underling said he would take Brandon Saine over Grant. Who was right, you ask? Well, Grant finished the game with 85 yards rushing and 2 TDs while Saine had seven yards rushing and 14 yards receiving. I guess that is why one guy headlines the website and the other guy is a junior writer for the website.
Marques Colston: I had someone ask me just before kickoff if they should play Colston and I told them no, but it was because their other options were better on paper. You see, before this weekend Colston had hit the 100-yard mark just twice this season and he hadn't scored since week 7. That being said, Colston hauled in 7 passes for 105 yards and 2 TDs this week, giving him the #1 spot for WRs. Luckily the reader's other WRs did just fine and he only missed out on a few points with Colston on the bench.
Julio Jones: Jones was a WR I saw hit the waiver wire in a few of my leagues back when he was dealing with injuries mid-season. I snatched him up because of his raw talent and he is paying me dividends in the playoffs. This weekend he managed to hook up with Ryan just three times, but they produced 104 yards and 2 TDs as a result. Jones is a fine WR2 to finish the season and should be played accordingly.
Rob Gronkowski: Gronk set an NFL record for TD passes caught by a TE in a single season this weekend. Not only did he set a record, but he looked amazing while doing it as he hauled in 6 passes for 160 yards and 2 TDs. And to make things worse for Redskins fans, I counted 13 broken tackles and six red-zone targets. This kid is just 22 years old and could easily break more records in the future with Tom Brady at the helm.
Jacksonville Jaguars defense: Playing the Buccaneers in an intrastate rivalry game brought the best out in the Jaguars. I already laid out their accomplishments, but allow me to gloss on them a little more by saying this is a team with a lot of pride that gave their fans a much needed win in the aftermath of so much change within the organization. The team stepped up this weekend as a whole, and the Jaguars defense did their fantasy owners proud!
Carson Palmer: I should have known better than to trust Palmer, but I did and I was wrong. Palmer didn't get any of those fantasy garbage time stats after falling behind to the Packers, and he finished with a nasty line of 245 yards passing, one TD and 4 INTs. The Raiders are too young to be consistent and this just proved it as the Packers defense gives up a ton of fantasy points normally.
Michael Vick: Vick may have been victorious on the football field, but he failed to win any hearts over in fantasy leagues this week. He finished week 14 with 208 passing yards, a TD and an INT. Vick finished in the 17-20 range for QBs this week, far from the numbers you expected when you took him #1 overall in your draft.
Chris Johnson: CJ2K is the prime example of the type of player you have to cut your losses with earlier. Sure, he has the talent to break the NFL single game rushing record on any given week, but the same can't be said for his offensive line. This week they managed to get him 23 yards on the ground and Johnson managed to reel in 5 passes for 43 yards. There isn't anyone on the waiver wire worth owning in week 14, so your best bet is to just let Johnson rot away on the bench since he can no longer be trusted this season.
Arian Foster: And the hits just keep on coming in week 1 of the fantasy playoffs. Foster managed to run for just 41 yards on the ground, while racking up another 33 yards via the pass. Foster failed to score this weekend and he will go down as a week 14 bust in any format because of it. You have to play him to finish the season out, but with T.J. Yates under center, you might see these type of numbers again before the season is up.
Calvin Johnson: The loser's list is starting to look like a Pro Bowl roster this week! Megatron was a mega disappointment this weekend as he finished the game with 29 empty yards receiving and 11 yards rushing. He is another one of those guys that is far too talented to ever bench, so just write it off as a bad week at the worst possible time.
Greg Jennings: I wish I was making this list up as it is looking like a who's who of the NFL. Even though Aaron Rodgers threw for 281 yards and 2 TDs, he found Jennings twice for 20 yards and no endzone visits. I can assure you that with all the studs on the losers list, many of you were also losers in the first round, just like me in a few leagues. Jennings also suffered a knee injury in Sunday's win over Oakland.
Jermichael Finley: I am officially done with Finley this season. He was targeted just once this weekend and the ball ricocheted off his hands was intercepted. Finley has yet to hit 100-yards in 2011 and half his touchdowns (3) came in week 3. Finley is going to get you a few catches and maybe 50 YPG as we wrap up the season, so be aware and beware.
San Francisco 49ers defense: I am not very high on the 49ers this season as I think they are more a product of a weak division than they are a serious contender as we get into the NFL playoffs. The Cardinals proved me right this weekend by not only beating them, but holding their defense to just 2 sacks, 2 INTs and a fumble recovered. That may be good for most defenses in most weeks, but the 49ers were ranked so high in the week 14 projections that these numbers put them as a bust in terms of fantasy points.