1. DO Pick Up Colin Kaepernick
Let me blow your mind real quick: Colin Kaepernick, firmly ensconced as the starting quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers and on a 16/18/19 three-game fantasy-point run, is owned in only 42% of leagues. That’s insane. This guy is the starter for one of the league’s best teams and a combination run/pass threat, capable of putting up three TDs with relative ease in any given week. And if you’re stuck with any number of underperforming quarterbacks, it would be worth snatching him up at least as a safety net for the playoffs.
3. DON’T Wait For Ben Roethlisberger
Waiting For Ben Roethlisberger is the tentative title of my upcoming screenplay about one blue-collar Pittsburgh teenager’s coming-of-age, but it’s also what you shouldn’t be doing as the quarterback recovers from a bizarre and sort of unpredictable rib injury. If you’ve been relying on Roethlisberger, try and find another option either on waivers (Kaepernick!) or on your bench — I would assume that, in most leagues, the trade deadline has come and gone, but if not, there’s that option as well.
5. DO Prepare For The Eli Manning Revival
It’s the end of the year, and you know what that means: The Giants and their open-mouthed quarterback Eli Manning are about to rattle off a string of wins and then win the Super Bowl over Team Uggs. Manning has had a much-ballyhooed disaster of a fantasy season this year, taking his tremendous first few games — 18.2 points per game Weeks 1-5 — and burying them under a string of remarkably ineffective performances. But last week, following his bye, Manning bounced back, putting together 22 points in the Giants’ rout of Green Bay. Part of why Eli Manning is a fascinating player is because he tends to amplify his play when the pressure’s on, unlike, say, Tony Romo, his division rival and constant foil. And we’re in that neck of the woods now, so we should expect more from the Goofy Manning.
7. DON’T Forget That Cam Newton’s Actually Having A Very Good Fantasy Season
I was actually kind of surprised to see this, considering that 1) he got off to a slow start, 2) the Panthers are terrible, and 3) people have been so critical of him in 2012 — but fantasy-wise, Cam Newton’s been the sixth-best QB, and he’s coming off a monster 37-point performance against Philadelphia. This week’s Kansas City, so it’s likely that he’ll drop another 25-plus points, and as the Panthers attempt to salvage what’s left of their season, don’t be shocked if Newton goes out of 2012 with a Big Bang. Ha ha, physics.
9. DO Prey On Teams That Have Given Up
All year, you should’ve been looking for matchups against the league’s weakest teams: Kansas City, Oakland, etc. But now, there’s a new list: the teams that have just completely given up on their coaches, their ownership, whatever. As of right now, this list includes known losers like the Chiefs, Raiders, and Jags but also more talented squads like the Jets and Eagles. Other teams that are on the verge of surrendering are the Arizona Cardinals, St. Louis Rams, Buffalo Bills, and Detroit Lions; none of them are quite there yet, but keep an eye out.
11. DO Ride The Hot Hands At Wide Receiver
Wide receiver is one of the streakiest positions in football, dependent on chemistry and rhythm as well as skill. Guys will often get hot and stay hot for a stretch of time before re-becoming whatever they once were. The way it often happens at the end of the year, though, is that players who were expected to be titans but struggled early finally put it together. Right now, Dez Bryant is a clear example of that: Bryant has 54 points over his last three games after taking heavy criticism early on for basically being a doofus. After getting screamed at because he wasn’t scoring, Calvin Johnson has three TDs in three straight games. But you’re probably starting these dudes anyway. The players you might be overlooking — like T.Y. Hilton, a rookie who’s clicking big-time with Andrew Luck; Cecil Shorts, Chad Henne’s new favorite player in Jacksonville; and Brandon LaFell, an up-and-comer in Carolina — have developed into solid players by this point of the season, and they should ride that motivation to solid finishes and, in many cases, big contracts.
13. DON’T Bother With The Legacy Guys
Before the season, there were some high hopes for Randy Moss in San Francisco as an end-zone target. This didn’t pan out. Moss hasn’t caught more than two catches in a game since Week 3, and he hasn’t scored since Week 8. You should not be starting him — you shouldn’t even have him on your roster — just because his name is Randy Moss. Same goes for Steve Smith, the Panthers receiver who seems to have been leapfrogged by Brandon LaFell in Cam Newton’s pecking order; Jeremy Maclin, who’s being dragged down by the sinking ship that is the Eagles (even without DeSean Jackson this week, I’d still be hesitant to start Maclin with Nick Foles under center); Anquan Boldin on the Ravens; Dwayne Bowe on the Chiefs; and Greg Jennings, who’s been decimated by injury. Even Larry Fitzgerald is a questionable start at this point, considering how much of a mess the Cardinals’ QB situation is. And if you’re actually starting Plaxico Burress or Braylon Edwards, I don’t even want to talk to you.
15. DO Something Else If You’re Team’s Out Of The Running
Look — if you can’t make the playoffs, and you’re not going to get penalized by your league for coming in last or something, then go and actually enjoy yourself. Stop thinking about fantasy. You were probably tortured enough this year as it is.