It's the final week of the regular season in fantasy football, and I am proud to say with a win last week my squad punched their ticket to the postseason. I have a "gimme" win this week... since I'm facing a chump manager that has abandoned his team. Don't you hate when people do that?
Oh well, here are my picks for week 13:
Russell Wilson: Quarterback, Seattle Seahawks
Wilson is coming off four high weeks and carried his three game fantasy scoring stretch to four after the bye. He has been solid lately, gaining yardage both on the ground and passing. This week, though, he faces a stout Chicago defense that can stifle the pass and the run. Da Bears defense has been ranked in the top three against opposing QBs for most of this season. I like Wilson but fear that this week is going to be a low fantasy point outing playing Chicago at Soldier Field.
Donald Brown: Running Back, Indianapolis Colts
Brown has been playing through a knee injury and has not been that healthy... not to mention that he is now in a complete time share with Vick Ballard. Indy will likely roll with the hot hand, one week Ballard might be on and another week it'll be Brown. This situation is always troublesome to fantasy owners. The Colts face a top ranked rush defense in Detroit on Sunday, so I feel Brown is better left on your bench.
WR Danario Alexander, SD
Yeah I know, Alexander has been leading the Chargers receiving core with the most yardage over the past four games... along with 3 TDs. This week, though, he faces a Cincinnati team that is ranked in the top ten pass defenses and will see better pass coverage than he did in the Tampa Bay and Denver games. Alexander is also suffering a thigh injury sustained last week, so he ends up on my sit list.
Beanie Wells: Running Back, Arizona Cardinals
Considering it was his first game action since week 3, Wells looked pretty good early on last week. He didn't, however, have the stamina to keep it up all game. He was able to rush 17 times for 48 yards, but more importantly scored 2 touchdowns. Look for his conditioning to improve each week as he gets back into game shape. Regardless, the Cards don't have any other real options at RB, due to being hit so hard with injuries. So, they will continue to give Wells the ball. This week that should be a good thing as the Cards face a Jets team, 3rd worst in rush defense, giving up 142 yards per game.
Brandon Stokley: Wide Receiver, Denver Broncos
Many fans thought that when Stokley was signed by the Broncos in the off season that it was a token for Peyton Manning, and that he wouldn't last. Well they were wrong. Two-thirds of the season has passed, and Stokley is still catching passes in Denver. If he keeps up this pace, he will have his best season since 2004. That was his only other full season playing with Manning. Despite the fact that Stokley is 3rd on the receiving depth chart, he has still managed to catch 36 passes for 449 yards and 5 touchdowns. This week the Broncos face what is easily the worst pass defense in the NFL in the Tampa Bay Bucs, who are giving up a league worst 315.5 yards per game through the air. If you need help at WR or flex, give Stokley a look.
Martellus Bennett: Tight End, New York Giants
Bennett, or the "black unicorn" as he likes to call himself, has cooled off after his blazing start to the season... when he caught 15 passes for 185 yards and 3 touchdowns over this first three weeks. Since then he has been dealing with some nagging injuries and inconsistencies. This week, Bennett has such a juicy match up, that it's time to get him back in your starting lineup. He faces the Redskins, who have been giving up 301 yards per game through the air. The last time Bennett faced the Skins he caught 5 passes for 79 yards. I would expect much of the same this week. Also look for Bennett to finally score his 4th touchdown of the season.
PICK UP OF THE WEEK
Chad Henne: Quarterback Jacksonville Jaguars
Henne delivered another solid line in his second start of the season this past weekend. Perhaps more importantly, he bought the Jaguars a small measure of self respect by helping to end a seven game losing streak. Since taking over for Blaine Gabbert in Week 10, Henne has thrown for 736 yards while completing 57 percent of his passes for seven touchdowns versus two interceptions. He has consistently been able to find his targets deep downfield and has helped ignite the play of Justin Blackmon and Cecil Shorts - now two of the hottest receivers in football. Henne's matchup in Buffalo this week makes him a borderline top 10 play, and there are some more soft opponents on the horizon... including Miami, New England and a week 17 rematch in Tennessee.
Its goes by so fast every single year and we now enter the final week of the college football regular season with 6 teams in the countries best conference ranked in the top 25 of the BCS. 5 are in the TOP TEN! Time to go Inside the SEC…
Florida (10-1) at Florida State (10-1) - Florida is excited to have QB Jeff Driscoll back after sitting out a game and half with an ankle injury. The Gators will surely need him against Florida State. The match-up to watch is the Gators offensive line against the Seminoles defensive front. Florida State is probably the only team with the luxury of not having to load the box against the run with the way they play, but no doubt they will get a heavy dose from Florida’s power run set. There’s one other reason I like the Seminoles, and it’s their quarterback E.J. Manuel. He’s not flashy but he’s played in a lot of games and knows how to win games without forcing plays or making debilitating mistakes. This is the game for you if you like defense and smash mouth football.
Mississippi State (8-3) at Ole Miss (5-6) - This game will be intriguing for a few reasons. Ole Miss is going for bowl eligibility, Hugh Freeze is trying to both exceed first-year expectations and continue to build what might be an impressive recruiting class, and Mississippi State is having a bit of a second-half skid. This game will not be like those of recent years, when the Bulldogs had the more aggressive, physical philosophy and could dictate terms to the Rebels. There is a lot of the line for Ole Miss, while many Bulldog fans are still trying to come to terms with how a magical 7-0 season suddenly became just another 8-3 campaign that will end in a mediocre bowl. I’ll give State the slightest of edges here.
South Carolina (9-2) at Clemson (10-1) - Don’t look now, but Clemson is trying to get an at-large BCS bid. The only way that happens is for the Tigers to knock off South Carolina. Fortunately for Clemson, South Carolina no longer has Marcus Lattimore, and the Gamecock pass defense has been erratic against better teams. South Carolina’s fortunes in this game largely depend on what kind of game Connor Shaw has at quarterback, an iffy proposition to begin with…but even more so given the potency of Clemson’s offense. While Steve Spurrier would dearly love to derail Clemson’s BCS hopes, the Gamecocks might not have the horses to get the job done this year.
Auburn (3-8) at Alabama (10-1) - About the only way Auburn wins this game would be a combination of Alabama not coming ready to play, and the Tigers suddenly finding a reserve of ability, energy and focus that it hasn’t displayed all season long. Oh yeah, I haven’t even addressed the coaching issue of whether Gene Chizik will be back for another round, or if this game will be his swan song to the plains.
Don’t look for a miracle upset in Tuscaloosa, but don’t be surprised by a closer-than-expected game, either.
Georgia Tech (6-5) at Georgia (10-1) - Both of these teams are slated to play in their respective conference championship games, but they are nowhere in the same league. Georgia’s offense should find plenty of room to run and throw against a porous Georgia Tech defense. And, having played against a triple option team last week, the Bulldogs defense will be ready to tackle the gimmick. Expect Georgia to roll big into the SEC Championship and send the Yellow Jackets fluttering into the ACC title game.
Missouri (5-6) at Texas A&M (9-2) - Thanks to an epic fourth-quarter collapse against Syracuse last week, Missouri must do the near-impossible and beat Texas A&M to get bowl-eligible. Defensively, the Tigers looks slow and undisciplined as of late, which is a poor recipe for stopping Texas A&M and its do-everything quarterback, Johnny Manziel. Were the game in Missouri, it might be possible to consider an upset given the fact that the Aggies looked sloppy and unfocused last week against Sam Houston State, a week after beating Alabama on the road. Alas, Mizzou is playing the A&M one week too late to take advantage of any potential letdown.
Kentucky (2-9) at Tennessee (4-7) - Stuck in the middle of a bunch of good games is this one, where the already-fired Joker Phillips will face a Tennessee team coached by Jim Chaney, thanks to Derek Dooley already being fired and already told to pack. There might be 30 people in attendance, counting families of players. Most fans will be at home, stuck on the internet, trying to figure out who the next coach of their respective teams will be. Meanwhile, neither of these teams has a defense, and the only thing a game like this does is enrage the officiating crew charged with having to work it.
Vanderbilt (7-4) at Wake Forest (5-6) - Vanderbilt dropped the hammer on Tennessee last week and will need to avoid the hangover to get by a pesky Wake Forest squad on the road fighting for bowl eligibility. The Commodores have played the last half of the season with incredible intensity. Expect Vandy to take the best of what the Demon Deacons have and find a way to get their eighth win of the year and ride a wave of momentum into their second straight bowl game.
In their regular-season finale, LSU travels to Fayetteville to take on SEC rival Arkansas in the Battle for the Golden Boot.
Coach Les Miles and his Tiger squad may not be in line to compete for the SEC championship but the campaign has still largely been a success for last season's national championship runner-up. The Bayou Bengals have won back-to-back games and are currently 9-2 overall and 5-2 in conference play. This matchup is only the fourth road game of the season for LSU which can earn its third consecutive 10 win season with a victory.
As for Arkansas, the Razorbacks' much anticipated season was derailed when Head Coach Bobby Petrino was let go amid controversy before the year began. Under interim coach John Smith, the Hogs, who were ranked as high as No. 8 in the polls early in the season, have stumbled to a 4-7 overall record, including a 2-5 mark against SEC foes. With a 45-14 loss to Mississippi State last weekend the Razorbacks were eliminated from postseason eligibility for the first time in three years.
This is the first series matchup in Fayetteville since 1992. LSU owns a 35-20-2 record overall against Arkansas.
On offense the Tigers are an old school team that likes to run the ball and utilize a short passing game. On the season, LSU is the fifth most prolific rushing team in the SEC, with 188 yards per game. However, the Tigers rank just 11th in passing, with 206 yards per contest. With that type of production LSU is near the middle of the pack in the SEC in terms of total offense.
There are a stable of running backs for Miles to utilize in the offense. The lead rusher is Jeremy Hill who has racked up 554 yards and nine touchdowns this season.
With the team pounding the ball on the ground, quarterback Zach Mettenberger has not had to put up a ton of numbers. On the season, he has completed 59% of his passes for 2,272 yards and 10 touchdowns to just 6 interceptions. He doesn't throw downfield very often, as he averages just 7.6 yards per pass attempt, the ninth lowest average in the conference. Mettenberger has not always had enough time in the pocket either as he has been sacked 23 times this season.
In terms of pass-catching threats for the Tigers, Odell Beckham has been the top receiver in total yards, while Jarvis Landry has been the more reliable receiver, especially on the underneath routes.
It's no secret that the strength of the Bayou Bengals resides on defense. While the offense manages games, the defense dominates them. On the season, LSU is the third ranked defensive unit in the SEC, a conference jam-packed with punishing defensive squads. The Tigers are surrendering just 281 yards of total offense per game, while constantly making plays on the ball with a league-leading 17 interceptions.
On the front line, Sam Montgomery and Anthony Johnson have proved to be difficult linemen for opposing offenses to stop. Linebacker Kevin Minter flies around all over the field and always seems to be able to make stops. In the secondary, Craig Loston and Tharold Simon have each collected three interceptions apiece.
The falloff on the offensive side of the ball has been a long one for Arkansas. The Razorbacks were the top-ranked offense in the SEC last season in terms of total yards and scoring, but this season the Hogs are just sixth in total yards with 416 yard per game and 12th in scoring averaging 24.5 points per contest.
Also falling this season is the draft stock of quarterback Tyler Wilson. Largely considered to be one of the top signal-callers, not only in the SEC but the country, he’s had a solid season, but not the type of year that has sparked a great deal of positive talk. Wilson has thrown for 3,028 yards and 20 touchdowns, while completing 62.5% of his pass attempts to go along with 12 interceptions.
Wilson really hasn’t spread the ball around particularly well to his receivers. That has really benefited SEC leading receiver Coby Hamilton, who has turned in a spectacular season with 80 receptions for 1,237 yards and five scores. No other player on the team has more than 22 receptions or 300 yards.
The running game also deserves some of the blame for the Razorbacks' fall from the offensive elite of the conference. Arkansas is gaining only 120 yards per game on the ground, the lowest mark among SEC teams. Dennis Johnson has been the most productive back with 727 yards and 8 TDs.
Such meager offensive numbers have been compounded by one of the conference's worst defenses. Other than Tennessee, there is no team in the SEC worse than Arkansas in both total yards allowed and scoring defense. The Razorbacks have not been nearly has opportunistic as LSU, having just 12 forced turnovers this season and a league-worst -17 turnover differential.
The defense could be even weaker this weekend with second leading tackler Rohan Gaines dealing with an injury. Safety Ross Rasner is the lead stopper while defensive ends Trey Flowers and Chris Smith are more than capable of getting to the quarterback.
This game would have been a classic matchup of strong defense versus prolific offense when looked at on the schedule in August. LSU has lived up to its end of that bargain, and will be able to man-handle the Razorbacks to keep the 10- win train rolling.
Oh, what a difference a couple of months make. Prior to the season's start, this game had the look of a late-season dramatic test for two division contenders. Now, it's just a pair of also-rans playing out the season. Arkansas fans' attention is about to turn full-time towards a coaching search, while South Carolina will play without star running back Marcus Lattimore. If the Razorbacks have any hope at a bowl this season, it must upset the Gamecocks in this game and Mississippi State next week, because they aren't getting by LSU this year.
Louisiana-Lafayette (5-3) @ Florida (8-1)
The Ragin' Cajuns are coming off a win over Louisiana-Monroe, the early-season media darling of the Sun Belt Conference. ULL hasn't been quite the team some thought they might be in the preseason, but this is still a well-coached outfit with a good, balanced offense and a decent defense against the run. Florida should win easily, but with the Gators' struggles on offense, don't expect a total blowout. A repeat of the Gators' opener against Bowling Green is probably more the order of the day.
Missouri (4-5) at Tennessee (4-5)
Missouri looked much improved, particularly on defense, last week against the Gators. But oft-injured QB James Franklin was too rusty to be of much help, and turnovers allowed Florida to sneak by. Tennessee is coming off a flag football display against Troy that saw the Volunteers very fortunate to emerge with a win in hand. Both teams need this game to become bowl-eligible, especially Mizzoui, who finish with Syracuse and Texas A&M. If the Vols lose this game, however, it could be the catalyst that finally ends Derek Dooley's tenure on the sideline.
Texas A&M (7-2) at Alabama (9-0)
There's no team in the conference playing hotter or faster than Texas A&M right now. QB Johnny Manziel is on track to rack up more yards than both Tim Tebow and Cam Newton amassed in their Heisman winning years.
The real problem for Alabama, and the matchup that I fell will turn this game, is how the Tide's secondary turns up against the Aggies wide receiver corps and whether they can get any effective pressure on Manziel. After watching Zach Mettenberger carve up Bama's short-range pass defense last week, one has to wonder how they'll do against a receiver corps that is twice as dangerous as what LSU brought to the table.
This game will likely be separated by single digits, and in the end I do see the Crimson Tide rolling to10-0.
Georgia (8-1) at Auburn (2-7)
Georgia keeps threatening to revert to form, as seen in its blowout loss to South Carolina, its near-miss win over Kentucky and the first quarter or so of its game against Ole Miss. Still, the Bulldogs are one of the league's most talented teams, and when Georgia is playing with its head on straight, few teams can stop the Dawgs. Auburn finally had something good happen last week against lowly New Mexico State, as the combination of a victory and the play of freshman QB Jonathan Wallace have convinced some Tiger fans that a full turnaround is on the horizon. But Auburn may come crashing back to earth this week. If Georgia shows up motivated, the Bulldog defense is capable of completely wiping out the Tiger offense, while the Bulldog offense is busy blowing the scoreboard to bits. Look for either a last-second nail biter or a blowout, with no in-between.
Vanderbilt (5-4) at Ole Miss (5-4)
It's no longer imperative for Vanderbilt to win this game to be bowl-eligible. The Commodores are 5-4 with winnable games against Tennessee and Wake Forest ahead, but Vandy could put all speculation to rest by beating the Rebels on the road. Ole Miss, meanwhile, would also become bowl-eligible with a win here, and with LSU and Mississippi State yet to appear on the schedule, Vanderbilt certainly makes for the easiest path to the postseason. The Commodores have handled Ole Miss with regularity lately, but the Rebels bring too much speed and offensive prowess this time out.
The 22nd-ranked Mississippi State Bulldogs and the ninth-ranked LSU Tigers attempt to rebound from tough losses last week as the two meet tonight in Death Valley.
MSU could not have asked for a better start, winning its first seven games of the season for just the second time in school history. The team was able to take advantage of a soft schedule as it has beaten just one team that currently owns a winning record. The Bulldogs were put to the test in the last two weeks against ranked opponents and failed on the road against Alabama and at home versus Texas A&M.
With big preseason expectations, LSU did what it was supposed to do by winning its first six games, but since then it has faced four ranked foes in a row, winning against South Carolina and Texas A&M, and losing to Florida and Alabama. The Tigers appeared to be on their way to putting themselves back in the national championship picture last week when they were leading the Crimson Tide late in the fourth quarter, but they coughed up that lead in the final two minutes to all but squander their hopes at an SEC Championship run.
LSU has had a firm handle on the storied rivalry between these two clubs, going 69-33-3. The Tigers have been especially dominant in recent years, winning the last 12 matchups.
Despite slipping up in its last two games, the Mississippi State offense has been one of the best the school has ever seen. The Bulldogs have scored 27 points or more in seven games for just the third time in school history, and 277 points through the first nine games is the most since the 2000 squad put up 307 points through nine contests.
Tyler Russell hasn't wowed anyone with his completion percentage or his passing yardage, but with 16 touchdown passes against only three interceptions, he is one of only seven quarterbacks in the nation with 15 plus TD passes with three or fewer picks.
After catching a touchdown pass against Texas A&M, Chad Bumphis now has 19 career TD receptions, adding to his school record. The senior needs 27 receptions to tie the program record of 162 set by David Smith in 1970.
Bulldog running back LaDarius Perkins has run into some trouble over the past two weeks, rushing the ball a combined 28 times for just 80 yards. Still, he's one of the SEC's best every-down backs with 908 total yards and eight touchdowns, including four 100 yard rushing games.
The story of the Bulldog defense has been their ability to take the ball away, as they have forced 21 turnovers and rank sixth in the nation with a plus 13 turnover margin.
With 45 tackles, four interceptions and a fumble recovery, Johnthan Banks is well on his way to another All-America selection. Darius Slay also has four interceptions, and Benardrick McKinney and Cameron Lawrence have been tackling machines from the linebacker position.
The LSU offense has found success with an outstanding rushing attack that puts up more than 200 yards per game, but the emergence of QB Zach Mettenberger last week against the most vaunted defense in the nation was a great sign.
Mettenberger has struggled for the most part this season, completing fewer than 59 percent of his passes and throwing for a meager 191 yards per game, but he had a career day against Alabama. Mettenberger completed 24-of-35 passes for 298 yards with a touchdown and no interceptions. He now has eight touchdowns and four picks on the year.
The Tigers have a stable of running backs they can rely on, but lately it's been Jeremy Hill who has been getting most of the work. With 107 yards last week, he became the first Tiger to rush for 100 yards in three straight games since 2008.
In the receiving game, Odell Beckham, Jr. has been the Tiger’s deep threat, while Jarvis Landry became the team leader in catches with 31 following an eight reception performance last week.
LSU's defense has been fantastic all season long, ranking third in the nation in allowing just 253 yards per game. The unit played well again for most of the game against Alabama, but couldn't come up with a stop when it needed it most in the final two minutes.
Kevin Minter is one of the best linebackers in the country, as he's putting together a career year with 82 tackles, 9.5 tackles for loss, three sacks and an interception. Eric Reid, Jalen Mills, Tharold Simon and Ronald Martin all have two interceptions apiece, and as a team LSU is tied for 10th in the nation with 23 takeaways.
Mississippi State was a great early season story, and its solid defense is sure to cause the Tigers some trouble. But the Bulldogs have proven over the past two weeks that they are not yet ready to take down the big boys in the SEC. After letting the Tiger Stadium crowd down last week, LSU will give fans something to cheer about in this one.
It's good to be back in the win column and above .500. My team remains ranked 4th in the league, but I do sit atop my division tied with 2 others with a 5-4 record. I have the lead on them thanks to points scored.
This week's victim for my team... morning show producer Jordan Fiegel and his Philosoraptors. His squad is ranked 3rd in the league, and I am very concerned since he has Brees as his QB. The Who Dat Nation won't be happy with me this week, as I'm hoping Drew's consecutive TD streak stops at 51.
Here are my words of wisdom for week 10:
Jamaal Charles: Running Back, Kansas City Chiefs
Man oh man has Charles has been a disappointment over the past few weeks, and he has been a killer for me and other fantasy owners. He started the season with great success, but has gone downhill quickly. Last week Charles suffered a neck injury due to a helmet-to-helmet hit, but concussion tests have come back negative, and it appears he'll play this week against Pittsburgh. However, with the poor performances in the KC running game over the past few games, I am going to let him ride the pine and suggest you do the same.
Percy Harvin: Wide Receiver, Minnesota Vikings
Harvin appeared to suffer a high ankle sprain last week and now it's being reported as a multiple sprain. This means he likely stretched multiple ligaments in his ankle and stretched his likelihood of playing Sunday versus the Lions. Sure the match-up is good, but Harvin is currently on crutches and has even been proclaimed a "long shot" to play.
Greg Olsen: Tight End, Carolina Panthers
This guy has not scored more than five fantasy points in each of the last four weeks. Now, he did catch five passes for 48 yards this past week vs. Washington, but this is very minimal scoring. Olsen was being looked at as a viable option for points in Week 9 with LaFell sidelined after a concussion, but he still did not perform. LaFell appears to be on track to be back on the field this week vs. Denver, so Olsen's targets and opportunities will likely dwindle. It looks like Cam Netwon has some chemistry with Olsen, but in my opinion, not enough to make him a viable fantasy option.
Matthew Satfford: Quarteback, Detriot Lions
The combination of a heating-up QB, a struggling pass defense and recent statistical trends inside this match-up make the Lions signal caller one of the more enticing plays of the week.
Stafford failed to crack 20 fantasy points in any of his first four games, but has now done so in two of the last four weeks. Meanwhile, the Vikings defense, has allowed 20 or more fantasy points in three of the last four weeks with teams throwing for eight touchdown passes in that stretch.
Finally, Stafford chewed up Minny through the air last season. In two games he threw for 605 yards, four touchdowns and zero interceptions! Sure sounds like a winning combo to me.
Jacquizz Rodgers: Running Back, Atlanta Falcons
Despite coming close to surpassing all his 2011 numbers, Rogers hasn't been used as much as the Falcons would have thought going into the season. Look for Atlanta to start to use him more as the season goes on though, to keep Michael Turner fresh for the finals. And no better game to start than this week vs. the Saints run defense. I see this game being a big shootout with lots of scoring and see Rodgers gaining more than 100 total yards.
Nate Washington: Wide Receiver, Tennessee Titans
On a team that has lacked consistency on defense and in the running game, Nasty Nate has been one of the only consistent players for the Titans this season. Averaging more than 3 receptions for over 50 yards per game, he leads Tennessee in receptions, yards, and touchdowns. This week the Titans meet the Miami Dolphins, who are giving up the 3rd most passing yards per game.
PICK UP OF TH WEEK
Taiwan Jones: Running Back, Oakland Raider
We're still waiting for the smoke to clear in Oakland after their crushing defeat at the hands of Tampa Bay and even more crushing is the fact that both Darren McFadden and backup running back Mike Goodson were knocked out of the game with what have been diagnosed as high ankle sprains. The Raiders opted to feature fullback Marcel Reese for the remainder of the game instead of Jones who is their speedy third-string tailback. Reese hauled in eight passes for 95 yards and a touchdown, though he didn't carry the ball once. So where does that leave us? Well, Jones had been dealing with a knee injury of his own, but Oakland was playing from behind on Sunday… so that could account for his minimal usage. As one of the last men standing, he should figure more prominently in Week 10. A timeshare going forward is likely, but Jones has far more rushing upside than Reece. This homerun hitter deserves an add to your roster.