Look to the desert for help as the fantasy football postseason approaches.
The Arizona Cardinals are 7-4 and have won four straight games. The offense installed by coach Bruce Arians started like a Pinto at the start of the season, but is currently purring like a Ferrari.
Quarterback Carson Palmer threw at least one interception in his first nine games - during which time he threw for 300 yards only once. He’s thrown for 733 yards and four touchdowns in his past two games, however, and has thrown for at least two touchdowns in his past four games.
Palmer and the Cardinals have the potential for another big day in Week 13 when they travel to Philadelphia. The Eagles allow the seventh-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks.
Palmer is a good spot start in the case of injury to your regular starting quarterback, but he’s not the only Cardinals player worth adding.
Wide receiver Michael Floyd is benefitting from single coverage as teams try to slow Larry Fitzgerald. As a result, Floyd has 13 catches for 297 yards and one touchdown in the past two weeks. The Eagles’ defense has given up the most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers. That’s also good news for Fitzgerald, who has four touchdowns in the past four weeks.
Even running back Rashard Mendenhall, who was left for dead in most leagues earlier in the year, has got a spring in his step recently. Mendenhall has scored touchdowns in back-to-back weeks, and averaged 4.0 yards per carry in Week 12 against Indianapolis. His resurgence has meant rookie Andre Ellington’s usage has gone down. Ellington has not scored in the past three weeks, making Mendenhall the better play at this point - especially because he’s getting the goal-line carries.
Time to sit RGIII
Washington quarterback Robert Griffin III is under fire. RGIII has been sacked at least four times in the past three games. According to ESPN Stats and Information, the Redskins are 0-5 the past two seasons when Griffin has been sacked at least four times.
More importantly, Griffin just doesn’t look healthy. His throws have lacked their usual accuracy, and his running ability has been compromised by the torn ACL he suffered in last year’s postseason. Griffin is coming off his worst game of the season, throwing for only 118 yards and one interception against the 49ers on Monday Night Football. For the season, he’s accounted for 14 touchdowns and 14 turnovers.
He’s also been criticized for some of his comments off the field, including after Washington’s last game, when he deflected blame for an interception.
Washington faces the New York Giants on Sunday. They have held opposing quarterbacks to an average of just over seven fantasy points over the past five games. Griffin’s being started in more leagues than he should because of his name recognition. There are better-performing options available.
Analyzing the Bills
This could be a breakout week for Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller, both of whom had the benefit of the bye weekend to get healthy. The Falcons have given up nearly 170 yards per game on the ground over the past five weeks. Jackson, who is still looking for his first 100-yard game, should get between 15-20 touches against Atlanta.
Spiller, meanwhile, is in desperate need of a big game. He’s averaging only 1.9 yards per touch over the past two games.
Receiver Stevie Johnson returns to the lineup after missing Week 11 because of a right groin injury. The Falcons have given up 14 touchdowns to opposing wide receivers this year. Johnson should be targeted often by rookie quarterback EJ Manuel.
On the Atlanta side, quarterback Matt Ryan has more than one touchdown pass in a game just one time over the past five weeks. The biggest problem for Ryan is an erosion of protection. He was sacked on 16 percent of his dropbacks in Week 12 against New Orleans, and the Bills’ defense can rush the passer as well as any team in the league. Buffalo’s ability to force turnovers on defense, and its pass-rushing ability, makes the Bills’ defense an attractive sleeper play, which is also true of kicker Dan Carpenter, who’s having a solid fantasy season.
Falcons receiver Harry Douglas has scored the seventh-most fantasy points since Week Seven. He’s emerged as the team’s top wideout with the season-ending injury to Julio Jones and an injury-plagued season from Roddy White.
White’s fantasy value has all but disappeared. In Week 12, he played all but two offensive snaps, but finished with just two catches for 24 yards.
The Bills have given up at least 100 yards and a touchdown to opposing running backs in the past two weeks, so Atlanta’s Steven Jackson has some value in a flex position.