By Ladd Biro
Special to the Sun-Times
With just two weeks to go in most fantasy leagues’ regular seasons, it’s crunch time for teams on the postseason bubble. And things are about to get very interesting.
Josh Gordon is set to return in Week 12 against a very vulnerable Falcons secondary. With Andrew Hawkins stepping up and tight end Jordan Cameron nearing his return from a concussion, the Browns’ offense is about to get turbo-charged. Don’t be surprised if Brian Hoyer turns in some stellar performances in the weeks ahead.
The Adrian Peterson saga might be resolved at any minute, giving the Vikings a fresh-legged superstar to carry the load down the stretch.
Marginal teams that have socked Peterson and/or Gordon away might become contenders overnight.
The mercurial Marshawn Lynch is unhappy with his lame-duck status with the Seahawks, so he presumably will be gunning for a massive payday in the offseason. I’m glad I’m not one of the poor souls that has to tackle an angry, motivated Beast Mode.
Meanwhile, just when we thought we never could trust Jay Cutler or Andy Dalton again, both quarterbacks reminded us how quickly things can change when you have talented receivers at your disposal. Which is why you shouldn’t count out Matt Ryan or Matt Stafford after their subpar performances and why Ben Roethlisberger will continue to make your start/sit decisions so confounding.
Even Josh McCown is worth a gamble in favorable matchups, thanks to the emergence of rookie Mike Evans and his equally explosive counterpart, Vincent Jackson.
Apparently, a well-stocked receiving corps and solid running game isn’t enough for Robert Griffin III, though.
Several other players served notice in Week 11 that they might be factors in the second half of the season, including Ryan Tannehill, Tre Mason, C.J. Anderson and the Packers’ defense.
And remember…if you’re the Raiders of your league, don’t just tank it. The integrity of the competition depends upon everyone putting up their best fight every week. If you can’t win it all, at least spoil someone else’s season. Isn’t that what friends are for?
FREE-AGENT PICKS AND PANS
To win a fantasy championship, it helps to start with a great draft. But filling in your roster throughout the season with the right free agents is also important. Here’s a look at players worth considering — and others who would look better in someone else’s lineup.
Catch ’em while you can
Jonas Gray, RB, Patriots. Talk about a great way to vault onto the fantasy radar! If you watched the game Sunday night, you don’t need me to tell you to grab Gray. Just be warned: What Bill Belichick giveth, Belichick loves to taketh away. Gray certainly looks like workhorse material, especially with the winter weather kicking in. But how the undrafted free agent will be deployed going forward is anybody’s guess.
Isaiah Crowell, RB, Browns. Ben Tate had his turn. Then came the Terrance West experiment. Now, the starting job in Cleveland is in Crowell’s hands. And while he didn’t exactly soar with the opportunity, he seems destined to get another shot this weekend. Given the aerial firepower at the Browns’ disposal and Crowell’s effectiveness around the goal line, he certainly merits consideration for teams dealing with injuries and/or ineffectiveness at running back.
Josh Gordon, WR, Browns. Somehow, the most prolific fantasy receiver last season is set to return to action this weekend, yet he’s still available in about a third of all leagues. If your league is one of those, what on earth are you waiting for?
Coby Fleener, TE, Colts. When Dwayne Allen was carted off with an ankle injury Sunday, Fleener became Andrew Luck’s go-to receiver. The Stanford teammates obviously have a good rapport, and if Allen misses more time, Fleener will have the dreaded tight end “committee” job all to himself.
Don’t be fooled
Charles Sims, RB, Buccaneers. Any starting RB is worth a fantasy roster spot. Unless he plays in Oakland or Tampa Bay. Sims took over for Bobby Rainey, who made everyone forget Doug Martin. But despite the favorable matchup and plenty of opportunities, Sims managed only 44 combined yards. Thanks, but I’ll pass.
Michael Floyd, WR, Cardinals. There’s a reason Floyd is available in a third of all fantasy leagues: If he doesn’t deliver in the first half, he doesn’t deliver. Fortunately, he reeled in two touchdown receptions in the first quarter Sunday. Then he promptly disappeared and didn’t have another catch. If you grab him, be prepared for more frustration.
Kenny Britt, WR, Rams. Britt is notorious for underachieving, and he’s unlikely to put that reputation behind him in St. Louis. His physical skills always have made him intriguing, but it’s hard to trust a guy that has squandered every chance he has been given.
Ladd Biro was named Football Writer of the Year by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association for two consecutive years (2010, 2011). He was a finalist again in 2013. Follow all his advice daily at the Fantasy Fools blog (fantasy-fools.blogspot.com), on Facebook and via Twitter (@ladd_biro)