by GEORGE KURTZ
Generally speaking, I don’t change my lineups based on weather. Every team has to play in the cold, rain, or snow at some point or another, probably quite often. Might I use it as a tiebreaker? Absolutely, but I’m not going to sit a star player and go with someone ranked a half dozen spots lower because the weather is bad. There is, however, one piece of weather that does concern me, wind. If it’s windy then quarterbacks are going to have a tough time throwing the ball on target, especially those QBs that don’t possess a cannon for an arm. If you had listened to any of the podcasts that I do, you know that earlier in the week I was high on Eli Manning. He was facing a Dallas defense that had been a sieve against the pass (versus the run too), but once the weather report came out (living in New York helps also) I moved Eli out of the Top 10. Outside of a major storm, constant wind is the only piece of weather I downgrade players for. It’s late November now; weather will play a part in more and more games. Don’t panic, start your best players. However, I do have one more little caveat. When it comes to kickers, I have no issue with replacing just about anyone playing in windy conditions. We’ve all seen the funny highlights of a kicker trying to hit a field goal only to see the wind take it from one side of the field to the other. When it comes to kickers, if I have any doubt, I’ll find someone else, preferably someone in a dome. Now, onto what happened in Week 12.
Pierre Thomas hasn’t gotten enough love this season, especially from me. Over the last four games, in PPR leagues Thomas is averaging 18 Fantasy points per game. He has only scored twice in the span so just think what the numbers could be if the Saints were to use him more often inside the five-yard line. Thomas has taken on the role that we expected Darren Sproles to occupy even though it seems like Sproles is healthy.
You almost have to feel sorry for the Browns, don’t you? They start the season with Brandon Weeden behind center, needing to figure out if he is the future or not. They then switch to Brian Hoyer. He looks great but suffers a season ending ACL tear. Jason Campbell is next, really nothing more than a backup now, but has played well. Now he is out with a concussion, forcing the team to go back to Weeden. There is some good news here for Fantasy owners, specifically Jordan Cameron owners. While Campbell rarely seemed to look his way, Weeden likes to throw to his big target over the middle. Hopefully, Cameron will once again become relevant in the passing game.
Start your studs regardless of the weather unless the wind is howling. Photo Credit: pnther60 
On some days we have the good Matthew Stafford and on some days we have the bad. The bad, though, is still pretty good, even though Stafford threw four interceptions Sunday (at least two weren’t his fault). He also threw for almost 300 yards and three touchdowns. So even in those leagues that take away points for picks, he still had a solid afternoon. I’d look for Stafford to have another big game on Thanksgiving Day versus the Packers, which should go a long way towards deciding who wins the NFC North. One other little note – I’m not a big fan of leagues that take away points from a QB when he throws an interception. Not every pick is the QBs fault. How many times have we seen a ball bounce off a receivers hand, or the pick is because he runs the wrong route. It seems a little silly to me to always penalize the QB.
The Scott Tolzien era looks to have come to an end in Green Bay. After getting off to a rocky start he was replaced by Matt Flynn, who rallied the Pack from a 16-point deficit to tie the Vikings. This week, the story is who will start versus the Lions on Thursday. We know it won’t be Tolzien. The question is whether or not Aaron Rodgers will be sufficiently healed from his broken collarbone to suit up in just three days. Obviously, you’re going to start Rodgers if he plays, but what about Flynn? He has been a disaster since he left Green Bay via free agency after the 2011 season. His best start, however, did come versus the Lions. Perhaps he can do it again. I’m not betting on it, however. With the byes over he will be out of my Top 12 QB rankings.
What has happened to the Kansas City D/ST? They now have only two sacks in four games and that is unlikely to change with the loss of Tamba Hali and Justin Houston. Both outside linebackers left the game versus San Diego – Hali with a sprained ankle, Houston with a sprained elbow. Neither one is expected to be ready to play the Sunday versus Denver. Remember all those questions about what to do when KC had their bye week? Do I carry two defenses? This is one good reason why you should just move on if you don’t have a dead spot on your roster.
What are we supposed to do with Tavon Austin? He is starting to become the player the Rams thought he could be when they drafted him, someone who is a threat to take the ball to the house every time he touches the ball. But he still only had three touches. If the Rams don’t try and get the ball into his hands more often it’s going to make it almost impossible to start him, especially during the playoffs. He’s going to be extremely touchdown dependent.
Now, I know the Dolphins offensive line is pretty depleted with the loss of Richie Incognito and Jonathan Martin but that is still no excuse for the paltry rushing totals that Lamar Miller is putting up. He has rushed for a whopping 27 yards over the last three games. Yeah, that’s not going to get it done. Even with Daniel Thomas done with an ankle injury, it would seem to be best to bench Miller and find a safer alternative.
This should be a fun week in New York. The Jets are still technically in the playoff hunt but will have to make a decision on what to do with struggling rookie quarterback Geno Smith, who is coming off two really awful games in a row. They need to decide if they are playing for this year or the future. Will benching Smith hurt his progress? Should they go to Matt Simms or David Garrard? Either way, it would seem to be best to stay away from all Jet offensive players for the immediate future.
Well, if you’re wondering who the hot waiver wire pickup will be this week you need to look no further than the Texans Dennis Johnson. Ben Tate was completely ineffective yesterday, rushing for one yard on seven carries, allowing Johnson to take over and gather 74 yards on 13 carries. It would seem likely that at the very least Johnson and Tate will split the load this week. As for Case Keenum, yeah, I know he spit the bit Sunday, but the Texans had said before the game that they expected Keenum to start the rest of the season. They are another team that needs to figure out whether or not they have to find a starting QB after the season. With the way the Texans are playing, they may actually be in line for the first overall pick next year. Yeah, who saw that coming?
There is no way I can start Ryan Fitzpatrick in anything but a two-QB league, but still he is putting up solid numbers. Fitz was always an all or nothing kind of QB when he was with Buffalo. Perhaps a couple of years of being a backup have allowed him to mature a bit and become more consistent.
It looks like Darren McFadden will be ready to play Thursday versus the Cowboys. After watching the Saints and Giants tear up the Cowboys rush defense one would think this would be a good spot to get McFadden back into your lineup. But with the way Rashad Jennings has played in his absence, one has to believe some kind of time share is in order.
This is going to be the week that I’m going to have to move Carson Palmer up in my rankings. He’s just playing too well. Is it fool’s gold? Maybe, but he will go up against a Philly defense that is playing better, but can still be exploited through the air.
Ever since Reggie Wayne went down for the season with the ACL tear, Andrew Luck has been leaning on tight end Coby Fleener. He is becoming a must-start week in and week out.
Where to begin about the Giants? Andre Brown looks to be the real deal and is an absolute must start as long as he remains healthy. Hakeem Nicks, however, is a different story. He missed the game yesterday with a groin/abdominal injury, an injury even some of his own teammates seemed to question the severity of. As long as Nicks is out, Reuben Randle certainly moves up into flex consideration. As for Eli Manning, this is obviously just not going to be his year. Sure, the weather was far from ideal Sunday, but that still isn’t an excuse for not being able to make any plays versus a suspect Dallas secondary.
As for the Cowboys, it was certainly good to see them finally devise a scheme to get the ball to Dez Bryant more often. Sixteen targets may be a bit of overkill, but you do need to get the ball into the hands of your best playmaker. Dez still has some maturing to do, however. The only interception Tony Romo was credited with was an easy pass that went off of Dez’s hands. Dez also had a fumble after a reception, a fumble that came as he was fighting for every last yard he could get. Wanting to get that extra yard or two is great, but you need to secure the ball also and know when to get down.
This would be an incredibly small sample size but Peyton Manning was simply awful Sunday night. He finished the game 19-for-36 for 150 yards. Many of his passes that were longer than 10 yards floated. This could be just one bad game or it could be what Fantasy owners fear the most. When the weather turns frosty, Peyton loses quite a bit of zip on his fastball. Given that his home games are in Denver, this is not the best of news. More bad news is the ankle injury to Knowshon Moreno. He rushed for 224 yards in the loss to New England but hurt the ankle in overtime. He will have a MRI on Monday to determine how long he might be out for. Montee Ball (if he can stop fumbling) and C.J. Anderson would take over the starting role if Moreno can’t go.
Thankfully there are no more byes.
Family, food, football, and friends – I love Thanksgiving. I hope everyone has a great day.
As always feel free to follow me on Twitter and ask any questions you like, @georgekurtz.
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