Man, it's safe to say I've been through some rough times lately when it comes to my sports life. And seeing as we all likely share the common fate of rooting for those damn Buffalo sports teams for all eternity, none of us can be feeling very good right about now.
We all know the stories.
The Bills were doomed from the beginning. Even at 5-2, we all knew the wheels were destined to fall off. Subsequently, the inevitable happened: The Bills officially made it a glorious 12 consecutive seasons without qualifying for the playoffs last weekend.
These Bills ultimately folding was, or should have been, common knowledge since the onset of the season. Deep down inside somewhere, even after the win over the Patriots, we all knew somehow, some way, they would tear our hearts out once again, remembering Ralph Wilson is still alive and so surely they'd find a way to lose because, well, they're the Bills and that's what they do.
But hey, at least we'd have the Sabres to bail us out once everything came crashing down for the Bills.
After all, Terry Pegula spent an unprecedented amount of money in the offseason, and certainly, this is the year the Sabres are winning the Stanley Cup.
Yeah, at least we have that.
Wait, what? You mean the Sabres are bad now, too?!
How could this be?! We have Robyn Regehr and Ville Leino and... dammit, Lindy Ruff is still the coach. That's why we suck! Fire him. What the hell is he still doing here?! What a terrible coach. And while you're at it Mr. Pegula, fire Darcy, too! He's a bum. Why would he spend all that money on players in free agency? We hate it when teams overspend in free agency! Look where it has gotten us now. Absolutely ridiculous!
Safe enough to say that seems to be the consensus uproar around Buffalo these days? Days are dark in Queen City right now, indeed. The Bills are 5-8, and in all likelihood will never win another game ever again. The Sabres have lost 10 of their last 15 games and are an embarrassing 7-9-3 in front of their own fans this season.
But for many people, especially myself, fantasy football can typically be utilized as an escape from the hell that is Buffalo sports.
I mean, you get to run your own team. You make the executive decisions. Who starts. Who sits. Who gets traded or signed.
In fantasy football, that unmistakable feeling of elation, or sports high, if you will, that we all seek is not reliant on incompetent owners or ineffective general managers. No. Only you control how good or terrible you feel in fantasy sports. How cool is that?
Well, if you're like me, it hasn't been very cool lately.
Like many of you, I'm very good at what I do when it comes to my fantasy teams. I've enjoyed a ton of success over the past years and have won gobs of money along the way for my achievements.
However, there has been one league that always seems to get the best of me.
I have been a member of this league for upwards of 10 years now. It was the first league I was ever a part of, joining way back when, long before I knew the ins and outs of this crazy sport we all call football.
Last season, my team was unquestionably the best team in the league. Aaron Rodgers, Arian Foster, Antonio Gates and Calvin Johnson all graced my lineup with their presence. I dominated on the way to an 11-3 record, a first-round bye and cruised through my first playoff matchup. But then the unexpected happened. I lost by a rather large margin in the championship game.
The season before that was nearly a mirror image of the success and ultimate failure.
Needless to say, I've never won the ultimate prize in this league. But this year was going to be the year.
After all, I once again stole Aaron Rodgers right out from under the nose of my fellow owners. He and Wes Welker carried me to a 6-0 start. Nothing could be better. This year was indeed the year!
But then, the unexpected happened. Suddenly, I was without my two starting running backs due to injuries. Plagued by crappy tight end play all season after I gambled with Brandon Pettigrew, I had lost two in a row. But a win the next week and phew, everything was ok again.
Then, I lost three consecutive matchups, scoring 95+ in each, only to be ousted by the luckier owner. But still, there's no way I was missing the playoffs.
As it turned out, my season's fate hinged on last week's matchup. Holding the points tie breaker for the fourth and final playoff berth, all I needed to do was win and I was in.
But a last-minute switch against my gut replaced Pettigrew with Brent Celek at the TE slot. And instead of starting the red-hot Laurent Robinson, scared off by injury, I elected to keep Maurice Morris at the flex because, well, lately my running backs produced better.
That hurt. Morris' 1-point performance left me reeling and dammit, DeMarco Murray went down! Celek failed to come through, while Pettigrew and Robinson each scored a touchdown from my bench. My sure-fire pick-me-up Aaron Rodgers couldn't even bail me out this time, throwing for a mere two touchdowns.
But I still had a chance to win heading into Monday night's contest between Seattle and St. Louis. Down 18 points, I would need 19 from the Seahawks defense. While an unlikely feat, I've certainly seen wackier things happen before. So I watched the game I would have otherwise never watched in a million years. Right off the bat, a punt block for a touchdown gave me hope. And at halftime, Seattle held the Rams to a mere three points. Things were looking good after all.
An early third-quarter sack and low and behold, I had taken the lead. All I needed was for the Seahawks to maintain the score and I'm in. But another Rams' field goal put doubt in my mind, and not long after Steven Jackson finally found the endzone, giving the Rams the seven points they needed to drop my D/ST points down enough. Barring a kickoff return/turnover miracle, my season was toast.
Final score: 98-96.
I had lost, dropping six of my final eight games of the season to miss out on the playoffs all together, Buffalo Bills style.
With the loss, also heading out the window was my escape from the wretched beginning to what has been a god-awful Buffalo sports season. Hey, there's always next year, I'd say. And I remain in good standing in each of my other fantasy leagues, most of which my team has earned first-round byes, but that one was the one I wanted. It's the crown jewel of my fantasy sports leagues, and now I'll have to wait another year to win that elusive title.
I thought I'd share my heartache with you seeing as I'm sure many of you have experienced similar hardships as this season winds down, especially since our beloved Buffalo sports teams are doing very little to make us feel good right now.
Without further adieu, time to get to this week's picks. With the season winding down, next week will be the last fantasy column I write for this season. So let's make these last two count!
A "stud" constitutes a player I feel is a must-start as he displays a very favorable match-up and is primed to put up a ton of points for that particular week.
A "dud" is a player who I feel is put into starting lineups far too often for that particular week or simply won't perform up to expectations. In all likelihood, there is a much better option for your starting lineup than a "dud" based upon match-ups for the week.
*All statistics and projections are based off of the standard Yahoo! Sports PPR league scoring system.
Before we get to the Studs and Duds of Week Fifteen, excuse me as I gloat (and bite my tongue) while we look over my predictions from last week.
Week 14 Told'ya So (Studs)
Ryan Mathews RB SD
Projected: 124 TOTYDS, 3 REC, 1 TD, 16 PTS
Actual: 148 TOTYDS, 6 REC, 0 TD, 14 PTS
Marshawn Lynch RB SEA
Projected: 131 TOTYDS, 2 REC, 1 TD, 16 PTS
Actual: 123 TOTYDS, 2 REC, 1 TD, 15 PTS
Santana Moss WR WAS
Projected: 7 REC 97 YDS, 1 TD, 16 PTS
Actual: 3 REC 81 YDS, 1 TD, 12 PTS
Percy Harvin WR MIN
Projected: 8 REC 103 YDS, 1 TD, 18 PTS
Actual: 10 REC 109 TOTYDS (40 RUSH), 1 TD, 20 PTS
Week 14 Eating Crow (Studs)
Carson Palmer QB OAK
Projected: 316 YDS, 3 TD 2 INT, 22 PTS
Actual: 247 YDS, 1 TD 4 INT, 6 PTS
Anthony Fasano TE MIA
Projected: 5 REC 78 YDS, 1 TD, 14 PTS
Actual: 3 REC 56 YDS, 0 TD, 5 PTS
Weeks 1-6 Success Rate: 20/36, 56%
Week 7-13 Success Rate (excluding Week 12): 14/36, 39%
Week 13 Success Rate: 3/6, 50%
Week 14 Success Rate: 4/6, 67%
Tim Tebow QB DEN
Matchup vs New England
Can't.. stop. Must.. fight.. urge.. to.. talk.. about.. Tebow.. Ah. It's useless. So if you're sick of me joining the thousands of other media guys caught up in Tebow Mania, you'll just have to deal with it for one more week. I mean, how could you stop this weekend of all weekends? If you're reading this week, it means you're likely still in the playoffs. And that means there's a good chance you have Tebow. And if you haven't started him up to this point, you're absolutely insane. While he may not be the most talented quarterback, fantasy numbers don't lie. And with the league's worst pass defense standing in front of him this week, I see no reason for the numbers to stop here. Can someone say shootout?
Week 15 Forecast: 19/34 297 YDS, 3 TD (1 RUSH) 1 INT, 22 PTS
Honorable mention: Rex Grossman (seriously), Ben Roethlisberger (if he plays)
Donald Brown RB IND
Matchup vs Tennessee
I'm almost as surprised I'm including an Colt here as much as you guys are. But if you break it down, it shouldn't be all that surprising. By far Indy's most consistent offensive player this season, Brown faces a less-than-stellar Titans run-D that has given up the 12th-most points to opposing running backs on the season. In fact, in recent weeks, their run defense has been so bad they may even draw comparisons to the Bills. Not to mention Brown has already scored a touchdown in Indy's first game against Tennessee this season. What can Brown do for you?
Week 15 Forecast: 107 TOTYDS, 3 REC, 1 TD, 16 PTS
Felix Jones RB DAL
Matchup vs Tampa Bay
What a strange season for Felix Jones. After being highly regarded as one of this season's top breakout candidates, Jones laid an egg like many Cowboy running backs who have come between him and Emmitt Smith. Obviously the injury really hurt his season, but it also paved the way for DeMarco Murray to step up in his place an excel. Well, much to dismay, Murray's season came to a screaching halt last weekend, and Jones ran for 100 yards in his absence. This week, the Cowboys face the league's current worst rushing defense as the Bucs have given up a whopping 19 touchdowns to running backs this season. Maybe drafting Jones will finally pay off this week when you need it most?
Week 15 Forecast: 124 TOTYDS, 4 REC, 1 TD, 18 PTS
Honorable mention: Shonn Greene, Cedric Benson
Antonio Brown WR PIT
Matchup vs San Francisco
In the past, I talked about Victor Cruz and how I continuously passed him up on waiver wires with the belief he would fail sooner or later, the same could be said of Brown. Here's another case where the receiver has a great week, he's written off for certain inconsistency only to prove everyone wrong week after week after week. Well, this week I'm finally buying in. And even though he's against a tough 49ers D, just look what Larry Fitzgerald did to them last week. Neither team will be able to run here, so I think if there are points to be scored, it will be done so through the air.
Week 15 Forecast: 6 REC 89 YDS, 1 TD, 15 PTS
James Jones WR GB
Matchup vs Kansas City
The Packers lost Greg Jennings last weekend for what will likely amount to 2-3 weeks, which is great news if you own any other receiver on the defending champs' roster. Despite facing a surprisingly very tough Chiefs pass defense, I think if anyone has the ability to become Rodgers' new go-to guy, it's Jones. He's actually very similar to Jennings, and Jordy Nelson will probably draw the attention of top-CB Brandon Flowers all game. Jones is a very nice flex play this week.
Week 15 Forecast: 4 REC 98 YDS, 1 TD, 13 PTS
Honorable mention: Demaryius Thomas, Percy Harvin
Owen Daniels TE HOU
Matchup vs Carolina
Daniels has quietly been very effective the past few weeks, which is surprising, especially when you consider the absence of Schaub and Johnson. But Daniels has established himself as T.J. Yates' rookie security blanket, and he's been piling up the catches of late. Last week, Daniels had 10 targets from the rookie and reeled in seven of those for 100 yards. This week, I wouldn't be surprised to see him duplicate that while adding a touchdown against one of the league's worst defenses.
Week 15 Forecast: 7 REC 64 YDS, 1 TD, 15 PTS
Honorable mention: Brent Celek, Anthony Fasano
Gut Call: Ben Tate RB Houston Texans vs Carolina Panthers
I've really grown to enjoy these gut calls, because it allows me to make entirely reckless decisions that hold zero outcome on how bad I feel about myself come Tuesday. This week's installment is good ol' Ben Tate. He's a backup, you say. But that's when I say "ah ha!" and brilliantly tell you that he actually out-performed his superior Mr. Arian Foster last week against the Bengals. Kubiak loves running the ball. And he's shown this season that he's not afraid to allow the two backs to share the workload. I love each in this matchup against a terrible run defense. Who knows, use him as a flex play and maybe he hits a home run for you.
Week 14 Told'ya So (Duds)
Michael Vick QB PHI
Projected: 243 YDS, 1 TD 3 INT, 9 PTS
Actual: 208 YDS, 1 TD 1 INT, 9 PTS
C.J. Spiller RB BUF
Projected: 62 TOTYDS, 3 REC, 0 TD, 7 PTS
Actual: 56 TOTYDS, 3 REC, 0 TD, 6 PTS
Beanie Wells RB ARI
Projected: 52 TOTYDS, 2 REC, 0 TD, 5 PTS
Actual: 30 TOTYDS, 1 REC, 0 TD, 2 PTS
Brandon Lloyd WR DEN
Projected: 4 REC 54 YDS, 0 TD, 6 PTS
Actual: 5 REC 82 YDS, 0 TD, 8 PTS
Week 14 Eating Crow (Duds)
Larry Fitzgerald WR ARI
Projected: 3 REC 49 YDS, 0 TD, 4 PTS
Actual: 7 REC 149 YDS, 1 TD, 18 PTS
Tony Gonzalez TE ATL
Projected: 4 REC 34 YDS, 0 TD, 5 PTS
Actual: 7 REC 82 YDS, 0 TD, 10 PTS
Weeks 1-6 Success Rate: 18/36, 50%
Week 7-13 Success Rate (exlcuding Week 12): 19/36, 53%
Week 13 Success Rate: 2/6, 33%
Week 14 Success Rate: 4/6, 67%
Overall (Combined Studs & Duds): Week 8-4, Season 79-76.
Ryan Fitzpatrick QB BUF
Matchup vs Miami
I decided I'm going to use this week's column to bash the Bills and, especially, Ryan Fitzpatrick, because well, that's just what I enjoy doing the most. (There's a rumor that maybe, if we're all lucky enough, following Fitz's latest terrible performance on Sunday I will formally rip him apart in a highly-anticipated Fitz Bashing post right here at Buffalo Wins. Stay Tuned.) So yeah, needless to say, I think Fitz and the Bills continue their horrid stretch of play this week. The Dolphins' D = much better than the Bills' offense has been. You really want to entrust your fantasy playoff hopes with this guy?
Week 15 Forecast: 17/31 196 YDS, 1 TD 2 INT, 7 PTS
Not-so-honorable mentions: Phillip Rivers, Michael Vick
Rashard Mendenhall RB PIT
Matchup vs San Francisco
I've ripped Mendenhall enough this season and typically he's proven me wrong each time I do it, but I decided what better way to redeem myself for those missed chances and make my self really smart by picking him to fail against the most sure-fire rushing defense in the entire league? Genius, I know. I've said this numerous times the past week: The 49ers have yet to allow a rushing touchdown on the season. And after holding Beanie Wells to about 30 yards last week, that stat still holds true. Look, neither team will be able to run the ball, which leads me to...
Week 15 Forecast: 54 TOTYDS, 1 REC, 0 TD, 4 PTS
Frank Gore RB SF
Matchup vs Pittsburgh
Another guy I've consistently ripped on all year and another hopeless fantasy starter this week in Frank Gore. Injuries or no injuries, teams just seem to either figure him out as the year progresses or he simply runs out of gas each season. Either way, the Steelers don't give up much to opposing rushers and Gore has yet to tally a 100-yard performance since Week 9. Put two and two together and boom. See, my job really isn't all that hard.
Week 15 Forecast: 59 TOTYDS, 2 REC, 0 TD, 5 PTS
Not-so-honorable mentions: Steven Jackson, BenJarvus Green-Ellis
Stevie Johnson WR BUF
Matchup vs Miami
Round No. 2 of my Bills bashing and I couldn't be more certain about this one. Since writing my post defensing Stevie a few weeks ago, he's consistently rubbed Bills fans the wrong way by calling them out on radio shows and doing his best to whine about virtually everything pertaining to the fallout of the Bills' poor play. That alone is enough to earn him a week in the Duds section, and it's justifiable because Stevie had a terrible showing against the Dolphins a few weeks back. Vontae Davis is a top CB in this league, and he seems to know how to contain Johnson who had less than 20 yards in their last meeting. Advantage Davis.
Week 15 Forecast: 3 REC 27 YDS, 0 TD, 4 PTS
DeSean Jackson WR PHI
Matchup vs New York Jets
Jackson owners are either giddy or outraged after his performance last week that came literally out of nowhere. After being irrelevant for weeks, Vick comes back and instantly Jackson plays to his potential. Coincidence? Maybe. But I'm not willing to bet my playoff hopes on it. So Jackson rides the pine again for me as he goes up against Revis Island and the Jets. Can you say bye bye to the Eagles?
Week 15 Forecast: 1 REC 23 YDS, 0 TD, 1 PT
Not-so-honorable mentions: Jordy Nelson, Vincent Jackson
Jermaine Gresham TE CIN
Matchup vs St. Louis
Is anyone else as shocked as I am that despite how absolutely terrible the Rams defense has been this season the team has only allowed one touchdown to tight ends all year? It's baffling, but a trend you should keep in mind heading into this week. On most weekends, Gresham has been a pleasant surprise this year. But the Rams have shut down the likes of Jimmy Graham, Vernon Davis, Jason Witten and Jermichael Finley this season and I expect Gresham to join those ranks as the next TE to fall victim to opposing teams running the ball down the Rams' throat all game long.
Week 15 Forecast: 3 REC 26 YDS, 0 TD, 4 PTS
Not-so-honorable mentions: Antonio Gates, Aaron Hernandez
Gut Call: Mark Sanchez QB New York Jets vs Philadelphia Eagles
Why is Sanchez a gut call this week? Because for some insane reason, the dude has managed to put up crazy numbers in two of his previous three weeks, and it's so fluky to me that this just needs to be addressed. Look, the Eagles defense has been bad this season, but they played relatively well last week and are actually ranked second in the league in sacks. With that said, Sanchez will almost certainly feel the pressure all game long, and he typically doesn't do so hot when that happens. This should be an interesting game with a ton of turnovers.
Buffalo Bills Fantasy Meter: Bills vs Miami Dolphins
What else can I say here, really? I've already discussed how pissed off unsure I am of Fitz and Stevie this week, so that can be said about the rest of the crew, as well. I heard that Easley may make his return this week, obviously you're not looking towards that as a fantasy option. Nelson may be a decent play in some leagues as Johnson draws the attention from Davis, but I still don't see many points scored by the Bills. Oh, and please, please don't start Spiller. He's played three weeks and had one decent one of the three. It's worthless, just like this Bills' season.
Disagree with something I said? Well, let me hear it in the comment box! Better yet, follow me on Twitter if you seek answers to any additional fantasy questions you may have @THWGoldSchlager.