If you were knocked out of your fantasy league playoffs (or if you missed the postseason all together), grab a friend and hug it out. Also, start these bros this week. (USA Today Sports Images)
These are the dorks that selected Russell Wilson in the MLB Rule 5 Draft. Assuming he doesn't go join up with the Texas Rangers, start the Seahawks QB with confidence this week. (USA Today Sports Images)
By: Tony Andracki, Scott Krinch and Mark Strotman
Welcome to another edition of CSNChicago.com's Start'em and Sit'em, where three totally unqualified guys give their take on the best and worst plays in the upcoming fantasy football week.
We're not experts, but then again, how can anybody truly be an "expert" at fantasy football? This is a game of luck and nobody can predict the future.
We don't have special powers, but we are pretty obsessed with fantasy sports. Just ask our girlfriends...if we had any.
Every week, each of us will comprise a trio of players with the best matchups or situations on tap for the week ahead and a corresponding trio of guys who are most likely to run into a metaphorical brick wall.
And because we're men and we love perpetuating stereotypes, we, of course, turned this into a competition. Why not?
After three weeks (and all of last year), we realized a major flaw in our scoring: If we assign 0-5 values to each player's performance, there's nothing worse than a zero. And Mark's Week 3 sit of Antonio Brown (who went off for 31 ESPN standard points) should have been bad enough to sink his entire week (as Tony's picks of Cam Newton and DeSean Jackson in Week 6 did), instead of just that one pick.
So we've instituted a new system. We will add up the ESPN standard fantasy points for all of our "Starts" and subtract the points from all our "Sits" and the difference will be the weekly score. If one of us winds up with a negative score, so be it.
[RELATED: Week 14 picks]
(Scoring example: If Scott's three starts total 45 fantasy points and his three sits total 20, he would finish the week with 25 points.)
So without further ado, here are our picks for Week 14:
Mark Strotman (Week 14 points: -9; Total: -69)
The semifinals are upon us. After a giant week from my Bengals and Eddie Lacy, I find myself there in my top money league.
On one hand, you want to go with the players who got you to this point; if you drafted Gio Bernard, you can't bench him even though he's got a tough matchup in Pittsburgh Sunday night. You're going to ride out Tony Gonzalez even though his yardage and health is down late in the season. Tom Brady has to be started even though he just lost Rob Gronkowski.
I get that. But remember that, here in Week 15, the waiver wire is more important than ever.
And that's what I'm focusing on this week in my starts and sits. You know who you're going to start unless you picked up someone. And if you've been on the ball, you were ahead of the game on getting these players as potential plays. I'm here to tell you whether or not to play them this week.
Kirk Cousins, QB -- WAS (@ ATL)
For the RGIII owners, tough luck. We all knew he wasn't healthy and wasn't leading the Redskins to victory, but he was still the No. 12 fantasy quarterback with a fantastic playoffs schedule these last two weeks. Fear not, there's another quarterback in Washington that will do just as well. The Falcons are allowing the fourth-most points to opposing quarterbacks and weather won't be an issue in the Georgia Dome. In Cousins' only start last season, he threw for 329 yards, two touchdowns and roughly 21 fantasy points. Trust the Redskins this week; Cousins is your play.
James Starks, RB -- GB (@ DAL)
For the Eddie Lacy owners, the likely Offensive Rookie of the Year looks like he's going to play this week, but you need Starks as a handcuff. And even if Lacy does play, I wouldn't mind tossing Starks in the flex. As with all ankle injuries, there's a chance it flares up in the opening minutes and he sits the rest of the game. The Cowboys allow the most points to opposing running backs, and if Matt Flynn is still starting, Starks is going to get his carries. If Lacy doesn't play, Starks is certainly your man.
DaRick Rogers, WR -- IND (vs. HOU)
For the Reggie Waye owners, who were so disappointed when the All-Pro went down with a torn ACL weeks ago, here is your answer. Rogers went for six catches, 107 yards and two touchdowns last week against the Bengals, and with Andrew Luck rolling and facing an awful Texans defense, I think Rogers continues to go off. Per ESPN.com, Rogers was on the field for 68 percent of Indianapolis' snaps last week. That's going to happen again, and Rogers is your guy.
Jay Cutler, QB -- CHI (@ CLE)
Congrats if you were smart enough to pick up Josh McCown and use him during his ridiculous stretch of play the past month. But now that McCown has been relegated to the bench, odds are you are looking for a replacement. I'm here to tell you Cutler isn't that guy. I don't think he'll be rusty and I don't think he'll have chemistry issues with Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery (that catch, though!). My issue is that he's facing a sneaky good Browns defense. True, they were sliced up against Tom Brady last week, but that was on the road. In Cleveland, a secondary led by Joe Haden isn't going to let Cutler go off. Look elsewhere, McCown owners.
Bobby Rainey, RB -- TB (SF)
Owners of the Muscle Hamster, Doug Martin (and likely Mike James), this is a tough one. Odds are Rainey's numbers have been a big reason why you're here in the semifinals, but this is a reeealllly tough matchup. The Niners' defense has not allowed 100 rushing yards since Week 6 and are 10th in the NFL in rushing defense. The great Marshawn Lynch was held to 72 yards on 20 carries (3.6 ypc) but was able to find the end zone. That may not be the case for Rainey. Also consider that the Niners need this game as they inch closer to the Seahawks in the NFC West. I could see a bloodbath coming Sunday, and it would mean Rainey is limited.
Steve Smith, WR -- CAR (vs. NYJ)
Not really an injury to be had here, other than Smith's ego this season. He finally found the end zone against the Saints (albeit in the final minutes with the game out of reach), but Cam Newton's maturation has meant a more spread out offense, with Brandon LaFell, Greg Olsen and Ted Ginn seeing a fair amount of targets each week. If you're in the semifinals, you're there despite Smith, not because of him. Use someone with more upside; though Smith has a great matchup, he just can't be relied on. And you need reliability with a spot in the Super Bowl on the line.
[RELATED: Week 15 AFC Target Watch]
Tony Andracki: (Week 14 points: -18; Total: 51)
What do you do to help your favorite team win?
Do you wear the same pair of socks? Eat the same thing every game? Sit in the same spot?
We all have our little quirks and we believe, at our very core, that we have an impact on the game. Even though that's pure BS.
For example, the Chicago Bears are 6-0 when I wear my Brandon Marshall Project Borderline shirt. Does something shift in the Bears locker room when I put on that shirt, and they suddenly realize they are meant to win that game?
Of course not. But do I wear that shirt every time, insistent that it is the Bears' lucky shirt? OF COURSE. I'm not an idiot. I want my Bears to win and if I feel more comfortable in my -- and the Bears' -- lucky shirt, then, by golly, I'm going to wear it.
The same can be said for fantasy. You can't will your team to victory. Once the games start, you have no impact on the fantasy output at all. Even in your lucky shirt.
When I saw all the snow affecting games last week, I was insistent it would throw a wrench in fantasy matchups and we'd have some record-setting low-scoring games.
I was right and wrong. A record was set, but actually in touchdowns scored. That's right. In a week where half the games were played in snow and frigid temps, an NFL scoring record was set, with more than 100 total touchdowns.
All of this is just a long-winded way of saying "I'm sorry." Sports -- and fantasy sports -- are unpredictable. My bad if you sat Andrew Luck last week on my advice. I did, too.
But sometimes, even when you make a bad move, you can still luck out into a victory, which I did on a team where I sat Luck and also had my two studs -- Adrian Peterson and Rob Gronkowski -- leave the game with serious injuries. Yet I still won, even after I threw my phone down in disgust and thought my season was over mid-day Sunday.
Sometimes, it's just meant to be -- win or lose.
Colin Kaepernick, QB -- SF (@ TB)
Before shutting down the high-octane Bills passing game last week (sarcasm, obvs), the Bucs had gone eight straight games allowing multiple passing tuddies. Kaep has all his targets back and he's on a roll.
Shane Vereen, RB -- NE (@ MIA)
If you're not starting him in PPR leagues, you're doing it wrong. If you're not starting him in standard leagues, you're also probably doing it wrong. He's a stud.
[MORE: Rotoworld Week 15 Rankings]
Keenan Allen, WR -- SD (@ DEN)
Philip Rivers' favorite wide receiver target will get his chances in a game in which the Chargers will be forced to throw, throw, throw.
Ben Roethlisberger, QB -- PIT (vs. CIN)
The Bengals gave up four passing TDs last week, but that was all garbage time, when the game was in hand. They're a very good pass defense and they allowed just 46 fantasy points in the five games prior to last week.
Oakland RBs (vs. KC)
The Chiefs defense is back and there are way too many question marks in the Oakland backfield. Will Rashad Jennings return, and if so, will he or Marcel Reese get more touches? Will Darren McFadden ever come back? Too much uncertainty in the semifinal round of the playoffs. Lay off.
Marques Colston, WR -- NO (@ STL)
Colston has been as inconsistent as they come this season, enjoying a 24-point day after totaling just 14 points in the three previous weeks. Also working against him: In seven home games, Drew Brees has 23 passing touchdowns and 350 yards a game. In six road contests, Brees has 10 TDs and 275 ypg. Sit Colston with confidence.
Scott Krinch: (Week 14 points: -4; Total: -1)
So I didn't have my best week, what else is new? But Tony's brutal Week 14 performance allowed me to get back in the mix with the slim possibility of passing him up in the standings with two weeks to play.
Who saw Ben Roethlisberger lighting up the Dolphins for four touchdowns? Mark and I sure didn't, that was my big miss of the week. At least for my sake I hit on a few of my starts.
Anyways, with two week left in your fantasy season, it's not the time to get cute. Stick to your horses because that's why you're still standing. Don't risk starting a player who's battling the injury bug. If there's somebody on waivers who's a sure-fire starter, pick him up ... HINT HINT: Toby Gerhart and Dennis Pitta.
Russell Wilson, QB -- SEA (@ NYG)
DangeRuss wasn't so dangerous against the 49ers last weekend. He tied for his lowest output of the season with only nine fantasy points. Don't be scared. It will get better against the Giants. Wilson had been on a roll and is an MVP candidate in 2013, he will add to his stellar numbers this week. New York has allowed six passing touchdowns in their last three games. Expect that number to be at least nine by dusk on Sunday.
Ben Tate, RB -- HOU (@ IND)
Will the real Ben Tate please stand up? For everybody that thought Tate would put up insane numbers while Arian Foster is out has been sadly disappointed. He only has four touchdowns, three of them came in one game. So why am I starting him? Well, for starters he's going up against the Colts, who have been a complete mess against the run the last few weeks. They made BenJarvus Green-Ellis look relevant again. They've also allowed six touchdowns to opposing backs in their last five games. I know it's risky, but trust me on this one. Tate will find the end zone at least once on Sunday.
[ALSO: Week 15 sleepers]
Julian Edelman, WR -- NE (@ MIA)
I love this matchup, but I also love what Edelman has been doing lately. In his last three games he's registered 24 receptions, 275 yards and three touchdowns. Most of those came with Rob Gronkowski and Danny Amendola in the lineup. Well guess what? Gronk is out. Amendola is dinged up again. The Patriots offense is going to rely on Shane Vereen and Edelman down the stretch which means HUGE fantasy playoff points. This weekend, Edelman draws a banged up Dolphins secondary, who just allowed a season-high 42 fantasy points to Steelers wide receivers. Please, please, please get him in your lineup on Sunday if you want to advance to the championship.
Carson Palmer, QB -- ARI (@ TEN)
Palmer finished last Sunday's game against the Rams with a career-best 84.4 completion percentage. Guess what that equated to? Just 14 fantasy points. Yeah, probably not what you want out of your QB1 in a fantasy playoff matchup. Palmer has been serviceable this season, but these are the playoffs. You need to play your big guns. It doesn't help that he's squaring off against a Titans defense, who had allowed only two touchdowns in eight games prior to Peyton Manning's four tuddie outburst on Sunday. That's a Hall of Famer though which clearly Palmer is not. Don't be fooled. Sit him with confidence.
Frank Gore, RB -- SF (@ TB)
What have you done for me lately? The answer for Gore is nothing at all. Gore has only scored once since Week 8. He's also had fantasy stinkers of 4, 3 and 8 points in that stretch. Those old legs are starting to show and Kendall Hunter looks primed to takeover in the near future. I just don't trust the veteran running back anymore. When you saw the Buccaneers on his schedule this week you were probably jumping for joy, but guess what? They have been ridiculously good against the run the last three weeks. Tampa Bay hasn't given up a rushing touchdown in that span and have allowed just 76 yards per game on the ground. Oh and they shutd own Buffalo's two-headed monster of Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller; Reggie Bush and Carolina's ground attack. There are better plays this week, I promise you that.
Michael Floyd, WR -- ARI (@ TEN)
I get it, you were probably fooled by Floyd's three week stretch of double-digit fantasy points and you started him with confidence in Week 14. What did he do? Just two catches for 26 yards. He's also been hampered by an ankle injury which won't help his prospects on Sunday. The Titans secondary is fantastic, allowing the second-fewest amount of fantasy points to opposing wideouts. Yeah, still want to start Floyd?