For those of you in fantasy leagues that have Super Bowls this week instead of last, I have put together one final "sit 'em start 'em" just for you.
I had a great year in fantasy land. While I was one and done in the league I am commissioner in; my other squad, the Bombay Sapphires, did manage to win it all. The championship is extra special since it was the first year my mom decided to get involved in fantasy football, and we were co-owners of the team. It was very cool getting calls from her about our weekly match-ups and waiver moves. See, fantasy football brings families closer together!
Anyway, here’s my take on week 17:
Colts QB Andrew Luck
Looking for a QB this week to help you win the championship? Well, look no further than Senor Luck. The Colts are still holding out hope they can get a first round bye, so they will do what they can to win the game and then wait and see what happens with the other games. Luck should have no problem putting up at least 250 yards and two touchdowns, like he did when he faced this week's opponent, the Jacksonville Jaguars, earlier in the season.
Packers WR Jarrett Boykin
Boykin had a rough go with Matt Flynn at quarterback… until the last two games, when he caught 11 passes for 137 yards and a touchdown. It doesn’t matter though because Aaron Rodgers is back under center for the Pack in a must-win game for them. That only boosts up Boykin’s fantasy value.
Panthers TE Greg Olsen
Olsen has been one of the most consistent TEs in fantasy this season. He will never be mistaken for Jimmy Graham, but Olsen has caught less than four passes only three times this season and had less than 40 yards on just five occasions. Carolina clinched a playoff spot, but still wants to win the NFC South and the #2 seed, so they will be going all out this week. With WR Steve Smith highly doubtful, look for Olsen to have a big week vs. the Falcons in a very important game.
Falcons QB Matt Ryan
The Panthers are playing for a division title and a first-round bye and their defense has been excellent all season. Carolina has allowed just one QB to throw for multiple TDs in a game this year and it was Drew Brees, who passed for four in Week 14. Ryan is coming off a good game, but the Cats held him to one TD and picked him off three times in Week 9. I just cannot trust Matty Ice in this one.
49ers RB Frank Gore
Boy oh boy, I know it’s tough to bench a stud like Gore, but this week’s matchup against Arizona just isn’t favorable. The Cardinals defense has given up the fewest fantasy points to opposing running backs this season. To me that is all you need to know.
Ravens TE Dennis Pitta
I really thought that the return of Pitta to the Baltimore offense would help their anemic offensive attack, but the tight end has only managed 12 catches for 22 yards and 1 touchdown in 3 games. This week the Ravens take on the Bengals, who have surrendered the third fewest fantasy points to opposing tight ends since Week 13. I would look elsewhere for TE production.
Can you believe we are already in week 16? Time flies when you're having fun and the home team is winning ballgames. Things haven't been pretty the last couple of weeks in Seattle and St. Louis, but a win at Carolina secures the Saints with the NFC South division crown and the #2 seed in the NFC postseason.
I'm still not sold on the Panthers offense and see the Saints pulling out the victory. They haven't lost back-to-back games under Sean Payton since 2009 for crying out loud.
PREDICTION: SAINTS 27 - PANTHERS 23
Now here's who I'll be watching on game day:
LT Terron Armstead
What a game to get your first career NFL start at left tackle. Armstead faces a Panthers defense that is 2nd in the league in sacks, with 45, as he's been tabbed to replace Charles Brown. The rookie was the Saints 3rd round draft pick out of Arkansas Pine Bluff and will be counted upon to protect Drew Brees' blindside in a game where the stakes are high.
LB Junior Galette
"The Beard" was kryptonite to "Super Cam" in that Sunday night beat down in the Superdome tallying 3 sacks. He's hungry for a second helping of some Newton, but like the team, Galette has been more effective at home than on the road. Out of his 9 sacks this season just 1 has come on the road. I want to see if Galette will show up big in a game they need his pass rushing ability the most.
K Shayne Graham
It will be very interesting to see how Graham does in his first action of the season. I feel like the fluidity involved between snap, hold and kick has to be difficult to develop some sort of chemistry in just a couple of days. The good news is that Graham has been a pro kicker for 13 years. So, he should be fine getting acclimated to things here. This game just may come down to a last second field goal, so we may get to find out just how clutch Graham can be now.
DE Greg Hardy
Hardy is 2nd on the team in sacks with 8 this season and I'm curious to see how his match-up against the rookie LT Armstead goes. In week 14, Hardy did not take down Brees once and will be licking his chops going up against some fresh meat. If the Saints are forced to provide Armstead with a little more help against Hardy, that could mean the Panthers' sack leader Charles Johnson could end up having a monster day.
RB DeAngelo Williams
After seeing Zac Stacy run all over the Saints defense last week, ANY running back would be on my watch list versus the Black & Gold this week. Williams has averaged 84 yards in his previous 13 games against New Orleans along with 7 touchdowns. He is also a receiving threat out of the backfield.
With teammate Jonathan Stewart sidelined with a knee injury, Williams will get the majority of the workload in the backfield and still has quite the speed burst at age 30.
I slobbered all over Kuechly in my write-up for the last game between these two and just couldn't help it; I had to mention him again. In his 2nd year in the pros he has established himself as one of the top middle linebackers in the NFL. He leads one of the best, if not the best front sevens in the league. Kuechly will have his hands full in this one, as he will likely be given the daunting task of trying to contain Jimmy Graham. Carolina did not stop Graham last time out, as the Saints TE managed 6 catches for 58 yards and 2 scores.