On to Round 2, and for those of you still scouring rankings and dreaming of a fantasy football championship, congratulations on making it this far.
As for others, there are a couple of big-name quarterback culprits who engineered many fantasy owners' demises last week. In no particular order: Peyton Manning, Phillip Rivers, Drew Brees.
Imagine the anguish Peyton Manning and Drew Brees owners felt on Sunday. If either were your starting quarterback and you still won, I salute you.
You were the lucky ones.
Most used a Top 7, or no worse than a first-round pick on Manning. Well, he didn't pass very much on Sunday. Manning finished with a whopping 173 yards passing and two interceptions for zero points. I am willing to bet Manning hasn't had a goose egg in fantasy ever.
Then there were the Drew Brees owners who began Sunday salivating over the potential point production. New Orleans was playing Carolina at the Superdome and the Panthers had been brutal against the pass this season.
Well, Brees did at least get in the end zone, but 235 yards passing and an interception gave him 12 points. That is the same number Philip Rivers produced.
Neither of these were catastrophic like Manning, but owners were looking for much more in the playoffs.
These words of empathy also go for unfortunate owners of TE Jimmy Graham (three receptions for 25 yards), WR DeAndre Hopkins (four catches for 49 yards), Andre Johnson (four catches for 17 yards) and especially Demaryius Thomas (two catches for 11 yards).
Then there were the unfortunate individuals that faced opponents who started Ben Roethlisberger, Aaron Rodgers, Andy Dalton and Matt Ryan. All three lit it up with Ryan giving an owner in my league the dream scenario of 104 combined points thanks to him having Ryan and Julio Jones.
Before anyone rushed to the waiver wire to pick up Johnny Manziel and put him in place of Brees or Manning, please take a deep breath and, as Rodgers said earlier this year, "Relax."
Start Brees and Manning with confidence this week for your semifinals because there is no way either will duplicate that futility. Also start Thomas and Graham (who else are you going to play at TE). They got you this far and you were able to withstand a dud from them and are still playing, so better things await.
For those owners with Cam Newton, Andre Johnson, Brandon Marshall and Torrey Smith as their receiver, all three should be on your bench this week. Marshall is out for the season while Johnson and Smith are big-time questionable. Jones may also be a game-time decision and Newton is out following his car accident, so be aware.
Always Be Working Report
Many leagues do not allow for transactions during the playoffs, but for those that do, here are a couple guys to target off your waiver wire.
Quarterback: Johnny Manziel, Cleveland — Johnny Football time has arrived. He is definitely an all or nothing roll of the dice, but if you are scrambling because of Cam Newton or an ineffective Jay Cutler, Manziel would not be a bad guy to pick up and play.
Running Back: Kerwynn Williams, Arizona — The Cardinals lost starter Andre Ellington for the season and Williams stepped into the role last week and delivered 100 yards rushing. The matchup is brutal this week at St. Louis, but if you are desperate, here he is.
Wide Receiver: Cole Beasley, Dallas — Don't look now but Beasley has caught three touchdowns in his past three games. Yes, he's considered the fourth option after Dez Bryant, Terrance Williams and Jason Witten, but Tony Romo seems to like him and he could be worth a flier if you're desperate.
Deep Starts of the Week
These are not normal starters, but rather players that should be able to take advantage of a good matchup
Quarterback: Kyle Orton, Buffalo (vs. Green Bay) — This guy has become the garbage-time master. Buffalo trailed 24-3 entering the fourth quarter last week against Denver until Orton threw a touchdown and ran in another score in the game's final five minutes to finish with 355 yards and two scores. Expect more of the same against Green Bay, which has jumped out to big leads against Mark Sanchez (Philadelphia) and most recently Matt Ryan (Atlanta) before allowing those quarterbacks to rack up the yardage and fantasy points in the second half.
Wide Receiver: Steve Smith Sr., Baltimore (vs. Jacksonville) — This has as much to do about opportunity as matchup. The bottom line is when Torrey Smith is not the main receiving weapon, Smith gladly takes those catches, yards and touchdowns. In the first four weeks of the season with Torrey and Joe Flacco not on same page, Smith Sr. exploded for games of 7-118-1, 6-71, 5-101 and 7-139-2. Torrey looks to be a game-time decision, which means Steve is going to benefit.
Running Back: James Starks, Green Bay (at Buffalo) — This is a good option for two reasons: Eddie Lacy may not be able to handle his full workload and the Packers may blow out Buffalo, which gives Starks plenty of garbage-time opportunity to rack up yards and possibly a touchdown or two.
How Did I Do Last Week?
Quarterback: Eli Manning (at Tennessee) — Manning delivered a serviceable 260 yards and a score. I expected more.
Running Back: Carlos Hyde (at Oakland) — This matchup was tailor made for the rookie in a blowout game where Gore got his early and Hyde delivered big plays and touchdowns in the second half. The Raiders had been torched on the ground a week earlier by St. Louis. Instead, Gore and really the whole SF offense struggled and Hyde never got a chance.
Wide Receiver: Mohammed Sanu, Cincinnati (vs. Pittsburgh) — The Bengals rolled up 327 yards passing in this game, but nearly all of it went to A.J. Green. Sanu did not even get the obligatory TD pass, which went to Jermaine Gresham. When Green is putting up 224 yards receiving, it doesn't leave a lot for anyone else.
Last Action Heroes Report
Thanks to big-time performacnes by Demarco Murray and A.J. Green, LAH (11-3) pummelled its first-round opponent Goodfellas 166-89 in Dereliction League on CBS Sports. Next up is a meeting with White Lines in the semfinals after that team scored 172 in its opening-round win.
A special acknowledgement to my wife. Her team, WATTer Girl (big J.J. Watt fan) not only has a 13-1 record, but she whipped me in the first round of our playoffs in a Yahoo league. Her first year playing fantasy football and she's eying a championship with two more wins!
Good luck in Week 15!