I hate Tom Brady. I hate Shayne Graham. I hate David Akers. I hate the fantasy playoffs. I hate Santa. And I especially hate Terry McAulay.
So what if I’m in a bad mood. It’s only been a few days since my team choked on a Monday night in Foxborough, Mass., when it looked like The Mojo Xpress had a berth in the conference championship game locked up. Instead of starting Akers, I decided to go with Graham, who had been more consistent. Oh, and I love Monday night magic. Instead, I got a Monday night nightmare. And instead of winning with Akers by two points, I lost by five with Graham.
I can’t even tell you what I’d like to do to Tom Brady. I’d probably be incarcerated if I said what I’d like to do with the blankity-blank McAulay, who officiated the game, and must have had either a bet on the game or had Brady on his fantasy team.
Nah, I’m not bitter.
So why do I hate Santa?
Because that fat S.O.B. hasn’t given me what I’ve asked for six years now. I mean it really isn’t much to ask for a championship; they might even have some on the Island of Misfit Toys. Yeah, I’m blaming him for LeSean McCoy’s and Cecil Shorts’ concussions and Percy Harvin’s ankle injury. I’m even blaming him for allowing me to make the decision to keep Michael Vick and trade for Philip Rivers. Yeah, he even made me pick up Alex Green, Daniel Thomas and Dustin Keller and made me cut Jermaine Gresham and keep Jermichael Finley.
It’s going to be a long offseason. But y’all can still make me look good.
Just don’t ask for anything from that idiot in the red suit. Remember, if you lose, it’s his fault.
P.S. If you have anyone in the Chargers-Panthers game, prepare for plenty of holding calls. Especially if McAulay has Cam Newton on his fantasy team.
Josh Freeman, Bucs at Saints (30th vs. pass)
Last time these two teams faced off a couple of months ago, the waiver wires lit up after Freeman destroyed the Saints secondary. While he’s not available in many leagues any longer, if he’s sitting on your bench and you want to swing for the fences, this is the time to use him.
Honorable mention: Philip Rivers, Chargers vs. Panthers (Now he decides to become a real fantasy option)
David Wilson, Giants at Falcons (23rd vs. run); Darren McFadden, Raiders vs. Chiefs (27th vs. run)
As I type this, there’s speculation Ahmad Bradshaw might not even make the trip to Atlanta, and I still have nightmares of Wilson making the Saints special teams and defense look like Swiss cheese. Wilson thinks he’ll be the best running back in football, and he’ll have something to prove if he gets his first NFL start. … It seems like it was 1983 the last time McFadden had a good game, but this is his best chance in what has been one long season for him to have a great performance.
Honorable mention: Alex Green, Packers at Bears (Finally had a decent game last week); Daniel Thomas, Dolphins vs. Jaguars (No team has given up more rushing touchdowns than Jacksonville)
Brian Hartline, Dolphins vs. Jaguars (24th vs. pass); Golden Tate, Seahawks at Bills (14th vs. pass)
About once per year I advocate starting a Dolphins receiver. Well, this is it. After some tough matchups, Miami will do what it does best – beat up on bad teams. And Hartline deserves to be on a better team with a quarterback who actually can get him the ball. … Although Sidney Rice probably will play, look for Tate to be the go-to guy for Russell Wilson this week. The Bills actually have played decently on defense the past few weeks, but have been stronger against the run, so while Marshawn Lynch will get his carries, the Seabags likely will have to pass a bit more.
Honorable mention: Joe Morgan, Saints vs. Bucs (Becoming the new Devery Henderson); Emmanuel Sanders, Steelers at Cowboys (Increasingly becoming more important to offense)
Dallas Clark, Bucs at Saints (30th vs. pass)
You didn’t think I was going to let it go with just Freeman against this joke of a defense? Clark scored in the first meeting between these two teams, and there’s a good chance he’ll do it again. Of course, there’s a chance everyone will score. Probably even some Bucs linebacker.
Honorable mention: Scott Chandler, Bills vs. Seahawks (Physical, red-zone threat against this tough defense)
KICKER: Olindo Mare, Bears vs. Packers (Gould’s out, Mare takes over and becomes big weapon for stalling offense)
Colin Kaepernick, 49ers at Patriots (29th vs. pass)
So we all know the struggles New England has had on defense, but when push comes to shove and they have a goal within their sight lines, forget it. And this team is determined to win out and find a way into the top seed and grab home-field advantage. Did you see what happened to a real NFL quarterback, Matt Schaub, last week?
Not-so-honorable mention: Matt Ryan, Falcons vs. Giants (Playoffs are inching closer; queue his inner bum)
Stevan Ridley, Patriots vs. 49ers (2nd vs. run); Ryan Mathews, Chargers vs. Panthers (21st vs. run)
Rule is not to start any non-elite running back against San Francisco, and Ridley is far from elite. That’s especially true considering how many options New England has, including the return of Brandon Bolden. … If you’re still counting on Mathews, you either are very stubborn or have no other options. If it’s because you’re stubborn, do yourself a big favor and go with someone else.
Not-so-honorable mention: Ray Rice, Ravens vs. Broncos (Can’t sit him just yet, but his hip is ailing and Denver has allowed just five rushing touchdowns all season)
Dez Bryant, Cowboys vs. Steelers (1st vs. pass); Wes Welker, Patriots vs. 49ers (2nd vs. pass)
So he says he’s playing. And he might. No way, however, is it worth the risk of starting the Cowboys top receiver. The fractured finger definitely is one of those injuries where he tries to give it a go, and then realizes he can’t – or the coaches realize it. Either way, in the playoffs, you just can’t take that chance. … Speaking of injuries, Welker is struggling with his ankle and had a tough go last week catching just three passes. Against this staunch defense, if you have a comparable option (or even slightly less one), go in that direction.
Not-so-honorable mention: Roddy White, Falcons vs. Giants (We’re just going to stick with the injury theme); Kenny Britt, Titans vs. Jets (Only slightly injured, but tough matchup)
Greg Olsen, Panthers at Chargers (22nd vs. pass)
Although San Diego hasn’t been great against the pass overall, they have been tough against tight ends. Olsen has scored two weeks in a row, but has just six catches in those games.
Not-so-honorable mention: Dennis Pitta, Ravens vs. Broncos (Has been stellar, but Denver not a favorable matchup)
KICKER: Sebastian Janikowski, Raiders vs. Chiefs (Rain in the forecast)