Week 14 Top 75

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So, a few weeks ago we were doing the live Fantasy Knuckleheads Sunday chat. It’s a fun show. We take live questions for an hour before kickoff. If you haven’t seen it, check back for the link this weekend. Anyway, there we are, in the middle of a live broadcast, and suddenly someone decides to play the timpani drums right on my office window… at least, that’s what it sounds like.

If you watch the replay of the week 11 chat, you’ll see me mute my mic and look out the window several times. Then back to camera. Then window shade, window, outside. Back to camera. Then I abruptly leave the show early.

What was I looking at? As it turns out, from my second-story office window I was staring directly at a gigantic funnel-shaped storm-front that consumed almost the entirety of the horizon. Later, I would learn this was the same storm system that wreaked havoc across central Illinois, devastating several small towns, including some near my residence, and even causing a lengthy delay of the Bears-Ravens game.

It really put things into perspective.

During the initial calm of the storm, after the hail had momentarily paused and I was sitting comfortably in my basement man-cave awaiting a return to football, I angrily cursed the newsroom weather staff for interrupting the broadcast of the first quarter of the Bears game. This was, of course, before the game itself was paused. Before 60 mph winds blew over trees, cars, and stoplights and caused major power outages throughout my hometown (boy, it sure does get eerily dark with no street lights).

Seriously, if you ever want a good luck at what a post-apocalyptic landscape might be, check out the midwest after a major winter storm. Total darkness, uprooted and transplanted fauna everywhere, flattened structures, mayhem. And I even avoided the worst of it… by a long shot.

Thus, therefore, such-forth and so on, after a week of spotty internet service and makeshift 4-way stop signs instead of lights, things returned to a relative semblance of normal for most of the state. Most, minus the unfortunate few who had no shelter, no vehicle, no home for the Thanksgiving holiday. Most, minus those whose entire neighborhoods were destroyed by gusts of wind and debris. Most, minus those for whom fantasy football or any host of other “fun” endeavors seemed like a luxury so far off it would never be attainable again.

And mine wasn’t the only escape caught on video. The immediacy of the moment was captured live on local TV when two news anchors were forced to abandon ship for shelter when a tornado struck the roof of their broadcast center.

Yeah, it puts things in perspective. So please understand, when I use the term “survive”, as in, “if you’ve survived thus far and breached the fantasy playoffs”, I do so with the utmost understanding, with the maximum amount of perspective and levity possible. Because, after the wind and hail and the photos and stories and the closeness of it all, I feel privileged to bring you this week’s top-75.

And if you have, in fact, made it this far, in the figurative sense of the phrase, well, let’s get back to business:

Week 14 Top 75

Playoffs?! Playoffs!? Yeah, it’s the special Jim Mora edition of the Fantasy Playoffs Flex Rankings.

1. Jamaal Charles
2. Adrian Peterson
3. Matt Forte
4. Calvin Johnson
5. Knowshon Moreno
6. Marshawn Lynch
7. Demarco Murray
8. LeSean McCoy
9. Eddie Lacy
10. Reggie Bush
11. AJ Green
12. Andre Brown
13. Brandon Marshall
14. Alshon Jeffery
15. Josh Gordon

The Big Boys

Perhaps some surprises, here. Look, most of the top 25-30 are no-brainer starts in all formats and so the individual rankings don’t matter that much. But yeah, I’m looking at matchups and I’m seeing the Dallas Cowboys defense unable to stop anyone or anything and I’m also seeing the Chicago Bears defense unable to stop anyone or anything, specifically opposing rushers. As such, Demarco Murray finds himself the highest he has been, or will be, all season at number 7. He won’t score three touchdowns every week, but I like him for a lot of yards and probably one or two long ones this week. On the other side of the ball, Dallas has been brutal against opposing passing attacks, so there’s no way you can bench Jeffery or Marshall, and their ranking reflects that opinion. I don’t like the Pack Attack but, whether or not Aaron Rodgers suits up this week, Lacy is a great play against Atlanta. Detroit in Philadelphia could be another shootout and I like all the skill position players in that one. Tennessee, meanwhile, is stronger against the pass then the run which is why you find all the Denver receivers outside the top-15 (though not by much). Look, you’re still using all your Broncos of course. They just got bumped down slightly because of the emergence of Jeffery and Gordon and some great matchups for top fantasy options this week.

16. Demaryius Thomas
17. Alfred Morris
18. Dez Bryant
19. Rob Gronkowski
20. Jimmy Graham
21. Le’Veon Bell
22. Andre Johnson
23. Desean Jackson
24. Wes Welker
25. Eric Decker
26. Torrey Smith
27. Vincent Jackson
28. Chris Johnson
29. Jason Witten
30. Ben Tate

Texans and Broncos and Cowboys, Oh My!

There’s the Denver receivers! And yes, you have to play all of them. The upside is so huge and, frankly, they’ve all been pretty consistent. Remember the part about the Bears being unable to stop anyone? They are particularly weak at linebacker and safety, so hello, Jason Witten! Clear top-30 play for me this week and a must-start. Gotta love Torrey Smith going against a Vikings secondary that just got lit up deep by Josh McCown and Alshon Jeffery. A lot. Obviously the Le’Veon Bell ranking assumes full health and workload. If he gets the bulk of the carries, I think he has a nice day, but there is risk and you should monitor his status during the week.

31. Zac Stacy
32. CJ Spiller
33. Shane Vereen
34. Antonio Brown
35. Keenan Allen
36. Victor Cruz
37. Pierre Garcon
38. Larry Fitzgerald
39. Julius Thomas
40. Kendall Wright
41. Michael Floyd
42. Chris Ivory
43. Bobby Rainey
44. Maurice Jones-Drew
45. Vernon Davis
46. Giovani Bernard
47. Frank Gore
48. Jordy Nelson
49. Riley Cooper
50. Ray Rice

Running Backs?!

Apparently, I really like running backs this week. It felt like an abnormally high number made it into my top 50. Some of it is matchups-- Ray Rice, for example, should have an easier time than normal against a bad Minnesota defense, and I think Bobby Rainey will have a decent day now that he doesn’t have to face the Lions or Panthers front lines. But some of it is also the fact that I think we hit a serious wall right around the Kendall Wright/Michael Floyd range. Below that, all of the receivers either have consistency issues or, in the case of Jordy Nelson, quarterback issues. Of course, I like Nelson a lot more if Rodgers indeed suits up, but I don’t expect that to happen. Looking at the top 50, the one player I may be way too low on is Frank Gore. He’s had a rough go of it lately, but if the 49ers have any chance in this game, it has to go through Gore and the ground game. I know the matchup isn’t great, but I could see him having a nice week.

51. Fred Jackson
52. Harry Douglas
53. Greg Olsen
54. TY Hilton
55. Ryan Mathews
56. Cecil Shorts
57. Danny Woodhead
58. Rashard Mendenhall
59. Donald Brown
60. Darren Sproles
61. Montee Ball
62. Pierre Thomas
63. Lamar Miller
64. Roddy White
65. Tony Gonzalez
66. Ladarius Green
67. Antonio Gates
68. Jordan Cameron
69. Rashad Jennings
70. Reuben Randle
71. Mike Tolbert
72. Joique Bell
73. Chris Ogbannaya
74. Dwayne Bowe
75. Julian Edelman

The Grand Finale

Quite a tight end rush at the end. I’ve been a pretty big advocate of using the tight end at flex but this week we have a lot of issues. Cameron has fallen off. Ladarius Green is the upside play in San Diego as Gates has seemingly lost a tiny step. The Falcons aren’t the Falcons (and Gonzo is thus suffering). Again, I see a lot of running backs here. Obviously, the Rashad Jennings rank shows my concern not only over his injury, but also his matchup. Chris Ogbannaya?! Look, at this level in my rankings I like to look for the upside play. The Patriots have been absolutely gashed on the ground in the past two games by Ben Tate and Knowshon Moreno. I don’t know if Ogbannaya gets the bulk of the carries, so this is sort of a gut call, but if he does, I think big things are in store.

Best of luck in week 14. As always you can tweet me: @pkaragianis (note the new handle!). See you next week, jive turkeys!