Tuesday Top Ten Fantasy Football Headlines – December 13, 2011

It is now officially fantasy football playoff season.  Where has the time gone?  It seems like just yesterday the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Buffalo Bills were at or near the top of the standings in their respective divisions.  At this point in the season, you need to pay special attention to teams that have clinched playoff berths and could possibly start resting players.  Hopefully you accumulated enough quality depth on your rosters to have flexibility in switching guys in and out.  So without further adieu, here are the top ten fantasy football headlines heading into Week 15.

10.  Big Ben hurt again.  The Pittsburgh Steelers have transitioned into a team that relies on a heavy air attack instead of their once dominant running game.  This has proven successful as Ben Roethlisberger has one of the best receiving cores in the league with Hines Ward, Antonio Brown, Mike Wallace and Emmanuel Sanders.  But last week, Big Ben sustained a high ankle sprain in their victory against Cleveland.  If Roethlisberger misses any time, this will have a significant effect on all of the Steelers receivers as they will conceivably return to a more conservative attack.  Watch the situation closely because you may want to consider alternatives at WR if Roethlisberger is out. 

9.  Cowboy Up.  America’s Team has found some new and interesting ways to lose games these past couple weeks.  It has put Dallas in a situation where they do not control their own destiny which means they will be playing with desperation.  They match up with the terrible Tampa Bay Buccaneers this week and should have no problems lighting up the scoreboard.  Tony Romo got Miles Austin back last week despite losing running back DeMarco Murray for the season.  Felix Jones reclaims his starting role and he looked good against the Giants.  If you have any Cowboys offensive players on your roster, get them in your lineup. 

8. The Grossman always rings twice.  I can’t believe I am saying this, but Rex Grossman is a decent option to play this week.  He tore the Giants to shreds in Week 1 and now he gets to play them again.  The Giants defense has been horrendous for most of the season and they haven’t given any indication they can stop anybody from scoring or piling up yards.  While the Giants will likely win this game, it should be more high scoring than it has any business being.  Roy Helu should eat the New York defense alive with rushing the ball and catching it out of the backfield.  Given how well Eli Manning and the Giants offense has played, the Redskins will need to keep up with them which means Grossman could be in for a 300 yard game.

7. A Rivers Runs Through It.  The Chargers have finally figured it out, but it may be too little too late.  They will need some help, but San Diego is back in the playoff picture coming off another dominant win.  Philip Rivers looks like his old self, Antonio Gates appears to be healthy, and Ryan Mathews is finally fulfilling his potential.  These are all great options to play in your fantasy playoffs because the Chargers will be going balls out to make a postseason run.  They have too much talent to be held down, and now that they have momentum I don’t see them giving it up.

6. It looks easy being Greene.  As I indicated last week, Shonn Greene has broken out for the New York Jets.  He has rushed for multiple 100-yard games and has been scoring touchdowns at will.  The Jets offensive line has finally gelled and that trend should continue this week against the Eagles inconsistent defense.  Mark Sanchez doesn’t take risks as it is, so there is no need to even consider throwing towards Santonio Holmes who will likely be covered by Nnamdi Asomugha.  This means the Jets will be running and running and running some more.  Greene could easily see 30 carries, so get him in your lineup if you haven’t already. 

5. Sleepless in Seattle.  All of a sudden, the Seahawks have a chance to make the playoffs.  They have been one of the hottest teams in the league thanks to Tarvaris Jackson and Marshawn Lynch.  Lynch has been a beast this season and he continued to perform with another 100-yard game and a touchdown on Monday night against St. Louis.  Seattle will stick with the same formula, so keep Lynch in your lineup and consider Jackson if you need a backup because of an injury. 

4. They Might be Giants.  Putting my fandom aside, the New York Giants offense is playing at a level I have never seen before.  Eli Manning has been a legitimate MVP candidate all season with six 4th quarter comeback wins, surpassing 4,000 yards already, and tying an NFL record for most 4th quarter touchdowns with 14.  He has made everyone around him better.  Because the Giants have the worst rushing offense in the league and their defense has more holes than Swiss cheese, Manning needs to throw the ball 40 times a game and utilizes all of his receivers.  If you have Hakeem Nicks, Mario Manningham, Victor Cruz or Jake Ballard, get them in your lineup because Manning will get them the ball. 

3. Tight End in the 1st Round?  The following statement can be considered fantasy football blasphemy – you should take a tight end in the first round of your league’s 2012 draft.  But this is no joke.  Patriots’ tight end Rob Gronkowski has had an incredible season and can legitimately be considered a first rounder next season.  In his sophomore year he has amassed 71 receptions, 1,088 yards, and a record-setting 15 touchdowns.  These are numbers that stand out for wide receivers.  He is so much better than every other tight end that he should be treated as though he was an elite receiver.  As long as Tom Brady is throwing the ball, Gronkowski has a chance to do something special.    

2. Falcon Crest.  It has taken quite some time, but it looks like the Atlanta Falcons have figured it out.  Matt Ryan has been terrific lately and he is utilizing all of his potent weapons that he has at his disposal.  As Atlanta positions itself for a playoff berth, take a ride on the Matty Ice train because he has Roddy White, Julio Jones, Tony Gonzalez and Michael Turner to wreak havoc on opposing defenses.  It hasn’t been pretty, but Ryan gets the job done and puts up the numbers at the right time of year. 

1. Leader of the Pack. – As I mentioned last week, you should closely monitor whether the Green Bay Packers pursue perfection or simply prepare for the playoffs.  This could have major implications in your fantasy football playoffs as we have already seen.  Star wide receiver Greg Jennings had to be carted off the field with a MCL strain.  Early reports are that he could be back by the playoffs, but it all but assures fantasy owners that his regular season is over.

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