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NFL Fantasy Football Lister Week 12: The next two weeks may very well define your season

By Marc Hardin
NKyTribune contributor

Stand-up comedian Steven Wright has been making me giggle for a long time. Some of the jokes he told as a guest on Late Night with David Letterman buckled me over with laughter or made me look out of the corners of my eyes with thought. His slow, dead-pan delivery has made me ponder many things in new ways.

I wanted to know how Wikipedia described his comedic style so I went there and it said he uses nonsensical jokes, one-liners with contrived situations, non-sequiturs and paraprosdokians. Paraprosdokians? That’s a word you don’t see every day. I learn a lot of cool stuff on the way to learning about a lot of other cool stuff, so I had to look up the definition of paraprosdokian.

Here’s one: “A derivative of a Greek word that means ‘beyond expectation.’ It is a wordplay type of literary device in which the final part of a phrase or sentence is unexpected. Its shift in meaning appears at the end of a phrase as a linguistic U-turn that results in surprise. This unexpected ending causes readers (or listeners) to reinterpret the opening phrase, often with amusement.”

Here are some paraprosdokians said by famous people:

“Time flies like an arrow; fruit flies like a banana.” — Groucho Marx

“He taught me housekeeping; when I divorce I keep the house.” — Zsa Zsa Gabor

This may be an unexpected U-turn, but if things aren’t quite under control with your squad with just two weeks left before the fantasy playoffs, you may need to do some housekeeping in order to divorce yourself from the also-rans. With most of the top talent unavailable, here are some under-the-radar recommendations to put you over the top and help define your season as a success.

UP AND DOWN QUARTERBACKS TRENDING UP

Some people might guess that the roller coaster, with early iconic images from New York’s famed Coney Island, is an American-made thing. But did you know that it’s believed to have originated in Russia in the 17th century? Look up the definition. There you might find that in 1784 Catherine the Great is said to have constructed her own sledding hill using a car on a track in the gardens of her palace at Saint Petersburg. The first modern roller coaster opened in Paris.

One of the latest incarnations of roller coaster rides can be found in fantasy football, where up-and-down quarterbacks provide thrills, chills and belly aches. But some QBs stay up for a while, minimizing the downs. Here are some lightly owned signal callers who are ready to roll with some opportunity to coast over the next few games as you pursue a playoff spot.

Eli Manning (Giants): The definition of beleaguered, but he should be owned in leagues with 10 teams or more that require the carrying of two QBs. He’s unowned in 85 percent of leagues, and I get it. If you’re allowed to carry just one QB in a league with 12 teams or fewer, then maybe you don’t want him. The season TD total remains low. But, he’s crept into the QB top 20 thanks to yardage totals and few interceptions and he’s thrown five TDs the last two games. If you think he should have done that against the 49ers and Bucs, then here: He’s thrown for at least 300 yards in three of his last six games and he’s averaging 17 points per game since Week 2. He’s playing better right now than top 20 QBs Kirk Cousins, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Blake Bortles, Andy Dalton and Matthew Stafford, ostensibly putting Manning in the top 15 at the position. With Odell Beckham, Sterling Shepard, Evan Engram and Saquon Barkley, he’s working with better targets than most quarterbacks and he’s usually working from behind, upping his attempts. His next opponent, the Eagles, rank in the bottom six against fantasy QBs and given up at least 20 points to the last four. If he tanks this week, you can email me. If he doesn’t, you can win.

Baker Mayfield (Browns): The definition of inconsistent with the sixth-worst completion percentage in the NFL. For Mayfield, to be sure of hitting the target, throw first and call whatever you hit the target. The good news is he’s getting better and his next opponent is the Bengals who rank second-worst against fantasy QBs. Mayfield, 65 percent unowned, is averaging 19 points over his last four games. With pass-catcher Duke Johnson and feature back Nick Chubb keeping defenses honest coming out of the backfield, Mayfield is going to have more chances to get vertical with the passing game where receivers Jarvis Landry, Antonio Callaway and Rashard Higgins are finally showing signs of integration. Plus, there’s talented tight end David Njoku. Cleveland was on a bye last week so there could be a few of these Browns available in your league, if you’re needful.

Dak Prescott (Cowboys): Unowned in 55 percent of leagues, he’s been up and down the last month as the Cowboys struggle to find their identity. Even so, he’s averaging 20 points a week the last five weeks. Recently acquired Amari Cooper gives him a bona fide No. 1 at receiver although the two aren’t quite on the same page yet. When they start clicking in the red zone, watch out. Their next opponent is the Redskins, who rank in the bottom 14 against fantasy QBs. The Saints, who have the fourth-worst defense against fantasy QBs, are up next.

Jameis Winston (Buccaneers): Available in 90 percent of leagues, his next two opponents, the 49ers and Panthers, both rank in the bottom 10 against fantasy QBs. Yes, Ryan Fitzpatrick is there to confound things so long as the Bucs continue being impatient with their QBs. As Steven Wright once said: “I used to be indecisive; but now I’m not sure”. That’s the Bucs these days, but they eventually turn back to Winston, who better fits the profile of QB of the future. When provided opportunity, he can put up huge numbers amid the tight turns, steep slopes and inversions. After Fitzpatrick was picked off three times Sunday against the Giants, the Bucs turned to Winston who promptly led them to 28 second-half points for a near comeback win while throwing for 199 yards and two TDs in basically a quarter and a half. He averaged 345 passing yards and 20 points per game Weeks 6-8. You know he’s got great receivers. I’d get him or hang on to him.

OVERLOOKED RUNNERS GETTING TOUCHES

Everybody uses the description “bell cow” to describe high-volume, multi-use feature backs. Where did that come from? Let’s go to the dictionary where the definition of bell cow is “a cow, especially the lead cow of a herd, having a bell attached to a collar around its neck so that the herd can be located easily”. Sounds simple. But, oddly enough, that didn’t work this year for Le’Veon Bell. We still can’t find him. This is fantasy football and all the bell cows have come home. Yet we see glimpses of what could be from a sampling of sleepers who could be available in your league. Here are some quick hitters:

Josh Adams (Eagles): Has become team’s best short-yardage, goal-line option. What’s next?
Peyton Barber (Bucs): Game scripts limit him but ran for 106 yards last week with a touchdown.
Gus Edwards (Ravens): Just shredded the Bengals, and the Ravens are mixing it up on offense.
Rashaad Penny (Seahawks): Penny for your thoughts: 4.8 yards per carry, 6.1 since Week 3.
Jalen Richard (Raiders): Doug Martin’s injured. Richard, a PPR maven, is now getting carries.
Theo Riddick (Lions): Kerryon Johnson’s hurt. Riddick could add to his PPR status with totes.

JILTED RECEIVERS GETTIN’ JIGGY WIT’ IT

According to the Urban Dictionary, the phrase “gettin’ jiggy wit’ it” entered every day jargon in 1998 with rapper Will Smith’s No. 1 hit single “Gettin’ Real Jiggy Wit It”. It means to dance, get your groove on, to be in style, among other things. The song is known for its sample mash-up of Sister Sledge’s disco hit “He’s the Greatest Dancer” in the verse and the Barkays’ “Sang and Dance” in the chorus. Likewise, these receivers owned in less than 50 percent of leagues are bustin’ a move.

Adam Humphries (Bucs): Why is he still available? Averaging 13 PPR points over last 6 games.
Dontrelle Inman (Colts): Sneaky PPR play with upside. Better hurry. Word is getting out.
Christian Kirk (Cardinals): Small bandwidth but worth monitoring, 10 points 3 of last 6 weeks.
Anthony Miller (Bears): Incredibly, he’s 50 percent unowned and Bears are throwing it.
D.J. Moore (Panthers): Devin Funchess is in a funk. Moore just had 7 grabs, 157 yards, TD.
Josh Reynolds (Rams): Injured Cooper Kupps’ volume has to shift and he just had a nice game.
Curtis Samuel (Panthers): 55 points over last 5 games in PPR. Easy upcoming schedule.
Tre’Quan Smith (Saints): I keep touting him. He backed it up again: 10 grabs, 157 yards, TD.

TOUGH TIGHT ENDS GETTING TARGETED

Nostalgia isn’t what it used to be so a group of aging, lightly owned tight ends continue to defy the odds after already making names for themselves. These guys define persistence:

Antonio Gates (Chargers): Unowned in 87 percent of leagues and just had a big week.
Vance McDonald (Steelers): A touchdown in each of the past 2 games. 50 percent unowned.
Jordan Reed (Redskins): Also had a big week and available in some larger leagues.

Youngsters: Chris Herndon (Jets), Jeff Heuerman (Broncos), Jonnu Smith (Titans)

BOOTED KICKERS GETTING THEIR KICKS

Two of my favorite country songs are “I Love a Rainy Night” by Eddie Rabbitt and John Anderson’s “Swingin'”, which received a mention on Jon Gruden’s QB Camp episode with Patrick Mahomes. Last week was a week of haves and have-nots for kickers — 13 scoring in double-digits, 10 scoring six points or less — so you have to be careful. But this week some unappreciated legs who may have been released in your league could be swingin’, hopefully without a rainy night. By the way, the definition of lucky is fortuitously benefiting from happenstance.

Ka’imi Fairbairn (Texans): Elite since Week 2 but unowned in 63 percent of leagues.
Robbie Gould (49ers): 55 percent unowned, scored 13, 10, 7, 6, 15 points last 5 weeks.
Josh Lambo (Jaguars): 90 percent unowned, scored 12, 9, 16 points last 3 weeks.
Cody Parkey (Bears): 65 percent unowned, scored 11 and 12 points 2 of last 3 weeks.
Aldrick Rosas (Giants): Virtually unowned, scored 10, 9, 7 points last 3 games.

ORDINARY DEFENSES GETTING OPPORTUNITY

Here’s a paraprosdokian: Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit; wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad. Same with defenses. Food for thought: The Bills and Colts, the very definition of sour in November, play weak offensive teams over the next two weeks, opening a door of fruitful opportunity for their previously vegetating fantasy defenses, both of which scored double-digit points last week after some terrible games. I took a look at the lowest scoring teams in the NFL and their next two opponents. What I discovered is below. Like I’ve always recommended, if in fantasy doubt, do some research. And remember, outside of a dog, the internet is man’s best friend. Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read.

Bills (13.7 points per game): Benefiting defenses: Jaguars, Dolphins
Cardinals (14.5): Benefiting defenses: Chargers, Packers
Raiders (17.0): Benefiting defenses: Ravens, Chiefs
Jaguars (17.6): Benefiting defenses: Bills, Colts
Titans (17.8): Benefiting defenses: Texans, Jets
Dolphins (19.9): Benefiting defenses: Colts, Bills

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