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Fantasy Fool: Regular season goes out with a bang

By Ladd Biro

Special to the Sun-Times

Whether you sailed into the fantasy postseason en route to a first-round bye or squeezed in by the hair on Andrew Luck’s chinny chin chin, the important point is that you made it to the Big Dance.

My assumption is that anyone who failed to reach the playoffs now recoils at the word “fantasy” and would no sooner read this column than send a Christmas present to Jimmy Graham (he of the no-catch, not-even-one-target debacle in Pittsburgh).

For the rest of us, playoff seeding was on the line this weekend, and there was no shortage of heroes and villains to laud or disparage.

You probably weren’t the one person on the planet that started Ryan Fitzpatrick, but you may be singing his praises anyway for his supporting role in DeAndre Hopkins’ career day.

Feel free to pat yourself on the back for starting Tre Mason against the “Just Rollover, Baby” Raiders, or for giving Joique Bell the nod on Thanksgiving. No one would mock you for sending a lovely gift basket to C.J. Anderson or Julio Jones in appreciation for their fine work this weekend, either.

And if you survived despite the untimely implosion of Tony Romo, the early exit of Andre Ellington or even the inexplicable disappearance of Graham, find comfort in knowing that you get to start all over next weekend with a clean slate.

It’s playoff time, my friend: The culmination of an embarrassing amount of draft prep and research hours, weekly angst over start/bench decisions and waiver-wire bids, and countless zombie-like viewing sessions of the Red Zone Channel.

The grand prize awaits, whether your payoff is counted in dollars, your name etched on the side of a traveling trophy or a year of bragging rights over your fellow owners. So this is no time to get cute. The old fantasy axiom remains: “Dance with the ones that brung ya.”

Ask any Calvin Johnson or Drew Brees owner. They know what I’m talking about.

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 during the postseason.

Catch ‘em while you can

Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB, Texans. The last thing you want to do is chase points in fantasy football, and latching onto Fitzpatrick after his career day is the definition of that practice. That said, next week’s opponents (the Jags) are every bit as vulnerable as the Titans. Fitzpatrick should be in for another solid, if not stellar, outing in Week 14; though your best strategy may be simply to grab and bench him so you don’t have to worry about your opponent getting lucky.

Michael Bush, RB, Cardinals. Depending on the severity of Andre Ellington’s hip pointer injury, the newly acquired Bush could be pressed into action next week. He’ll first have to vault over Marion Grice and Stepfan Taylor, so he comes with caveats. But Bush has starting experience and the pedigree you would expect to get the nod going forward. Only Ellington’s owners should be interested, however.

Jordan Reed, TE, Redskins. Struggling at the tight end position? Reed seems to have finally put this season’s injury woes behind him, and he’s available in roughly three-quarters of all leagues. Following his nine-catch, 123-yard outing against the Colts, Reed is poised to contribute to a championship contender.

Don’t be fooled

Johnny Manziel, QB, Browns. You wouldn’t launch your postseason run with a rookie QB making his first start, would you? Of course you wouldn’t. And you shouldn’t. The Johnny Football era may have arrived in Cleveland, but that just means the growing pains are about to begin in earnest. Sure, he’ll dazzle us a time or two; but his mistakes are likely to be too much to overcome.

Donte Moncrief, WR, Colts. I told you after his Week 8 explosion that you couldn’t count on this rookie to be a consistent contributor, and I was right. Following Sunday’s monster outing, nothing has changed. More often than not, Moncrief will remain behind T.Y. Hilton, Reggie Wayne and the tight end in Luck’s pecking order.

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).