All The Marbles

Me at the end of Week Fourteen: Don’t ever let me doubt Tom Brady, okay?

Me at the start of Week Fifteen: Guys, I’m beginning to doubt Tom Brady.

I know, right? I know. But hear me out here. He’s playing Denver this week. In Denver. And while sure, Denver isn’t the same team they were last year by any stretch – I’m not even convinced they make the playoffs this year, much less defend their Super Bowl win from last season – their defense is still very much for real. And that’s the part I have to be concerned with. They allow the fewest fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks in the NFL – and, in fact, are also #1 in fewest points allowed to wide receivers, which is disappointing to someone who relies on Julian Edelman to lead her wide receiver corps in A.J. Green’s absence.

This is the weekend I play for my playoff life. I don’t need matchup concerns on top of my injury concerns and general playing-from-behind concerns.

But here we are, and our QB options run thusly:

  • Play Tom Brady. Take the risk of his Denver matchup. Just know that Brady is that good and he can always step up.
  • Play Marcus Mariota, who, by the way, faces his own awful matchup against the Kansas City Chiefs. It’s not quite as bad as facing Denver, but I trust him less to step up in spite of it, so… wash?
  • Stream somebody. Tyrod Taylor would be an interesting choice here, as he has to face off against Cleveland, and you know I’m always going to pounce on that matchup when I can. But do I want to bet my playoff life on a streamer? Especially one that caused me such headaches and heartbreaks earlier this season?

At the moment I’m leaning towards Door Number One. Because it is Brady and I just promised not to doubt him. But I’ve got about a day to reevaluate this decision, and we’ll see where I come down when it’s showtime on Sunday.

But QB’s not the only position where I’ve had to scramble this week. There’s the obvious defensive streamer – we’re rolling with the Texans this week, facing a Jacksonville team that they already exploited for me once this year. There’s the obvious tight end – the matchup dial this week points to Kyle Rudolph against Indianapolis, which should be a high scoring game. But then there’s less obvious decisions. Decisions we haven’t had to make much this season. A new balancing act with a suddenly thinner corps of position players for the wide receiver, running back, and flex positions.

Melvin Gordon is still down with his hip injury. Maybe he’ll be back this year, but he’s ruled out for this week. Okay, sure. Plug Frank Gore into his slot and my RB production won’t take too serious a hit, but that leaves the flex spot open.

And A.J. Green is still down with his hamstring injury. He’s starting to practice with the team, but he’s been ruled out for this weekend. Alright, fine. We’ve managed without him since he went out – not as successfully, but we’ve managed.

This leaves me with three slots to fill, two wide receivers and a flex position. And the two wide receivers I feel most comfortable relying on are… Tom Brady’s #1 WR Julian Edelman and Marcus Mariota’s #1 WR Rishard Matthews.

I know.

I actually think the matchup for Matthews is better than for Mariota. Tennessee’s not going to get shut out, and there’s a great chance that Matthews will be the one that gets into the end zone for them. I’m happy to play him. Edelman makes me more nervous, but I’m going with it on the theory that, again, New England won’t get shut out, and Edelman will be Brady’s most used safety valve. He’ll pick up yards as a workhorse WR. He might not score but he’ll see work.

I also have Jamison Crowder, and his matchup lines up nicely too, against a Panthers team that hasn’t been good all year. He’s my flex man at the moment. And if he gets loose and scores as I think he could do, he could replicate Gore’s production in that slot and keep my score high.

I have two other wildcards on my bench that could be interesting in this week’s lineup, and I’m not convinced that I won’t end up throwing one or the other of them in there. Cameron Brate has an interesting matchup with Dallas this week, and while I like Kyle Rudolph’s slightly more, I reserve the right to change my mind. Especially now that Adrian Petersen is coming back for the Vikings this week – maybe I’d better see how that offense shakes out with its new primary weapon before I trust Rudolph much? I’m not sure yet. As for the other wildcard, I cut C.J. Fiedorowicz (who’s out this week with a concussion, and it’s not like I need a third tight end, really) to add Ty Montgomery, who carries WR and RB designations. He’s the primary RB, at this point, for Green Bay, and Green Bay has been playing like their playoffs depend on it, because they do. Sadly this has not translated to performance for Randall Cobb, who hasn’t been the same since his midseason injury and is the third WR option, at best, on that team. But it’s translated to Montgomery. And I can play him as a WR and gain his RB production, if I need to. Or I can play him as an RB if, God forbid, something happens to either of the two studs I have left.

If I make any switches I’ll let you know, but for now I’m rolling with Edelman, Matthews, and Crowder as my WRs and Rudolph as my TE.

So… where does that leave me in the final week of my matchup with There’s always next year?

w15-lines-shot

Behind, unfortunately.

w15-preview-shot

And remember that I’m in a hole already to start with. Last week ended with me down 13 points. I have to make that up, and make up the 10 points I’m projected to lose by this week, to take this playoff matchup and advance into the next and final round.

But here’s the little bit of good news that I have: Jimmy Graham, TANY’s tight end, already played on Thursday night and came in under his 6 point projection. He only had 3. Which isn’t 0, like I might have hoped for, but still. It doesn’t close the whole gap, but it helps.

So if you’re betting, I’m not going to be offended if you bet against me. The smart money probably would.

But I’m not out of it. I can do this. There’s a path that leads me into the playoff finals. It requires the best performances out of every player I have, but they’re all guys who can do it. They can get me there.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to spend the next twenty-four hours second-guessing every one of these lineup decisions. Because if I end up losing because of points I left on the bench…

Is that likely? No. But it’s possible. Just like it’s possible that I execute on this comeback.

Anything is possible.

I’ll just be repeating that from now until Monday night.

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