The NFL UK Fantasy Football competition is reaching a critical stage with a month of regular season action to be played. And if you harbour hopes of making it to the Super Bowl this year, you won’t touch this column with a barge pole.
Firmly rooted in last place in the Sky Sports ‘celebrity’ division, I took to theming my teams over the past two weeks. That worked out well on Thanksgiving Day but not quite so well (68 points) last week when I focused solely on the four teams heading to Wembley Stadium in 2013.
So it’s back to some old-fashioned, basic, stats-based fantasy football advice after I’ve teamed up with my friends at ProFootballFocus.com. Hopefully something in what you’re about to read will get you into that draw to win a trip to Super Bowl XLVII in New Orleans.
6… He may be facing the Chicago Bears again this weekend but Adrian Peterson ($3m) remains a strong play at running back for the Minnesota Vikings. Peterson has topped the 100-yard rushing mark in each of his last 6 games and went for 210 and a touchdown against Green Bay last week. I cannot see any reason why you shouldn’t pick this guy every single weekend.
20… That was the number of points the Oakland Raiders allowed against the Cleveland Browns last weekend. The Raiders still lost but it marked the first time this season they had held an opponent under 22 points. Oakland has allowed an average of 31.3 points per game this year. Over the past five games – all losses – they have conceded an average of 37.8 points per game. That is a very long-winded way of saying feel free to load up on Broncos for this week’s Thursday night game. Quarterback Peyton Manning ($3m) is the top-rated passer in the NFL with a rating of 104.6 and he has thrown 29 touchdown strikes. Wide receiver Demaryious Thomas ($3m) could also enjoy a big day and add to his season totals of 69 catches for 1,114 yards and 8 touchdowns.
91, 30 and 23… Chicago Bears wide receiver Brandon Marshall ($3m) continues to catch a disproportionate number of passes for his team and he is clearly their focus in the passing game. Marshall has 91 receptions this season. The second-placed player in terms of receptions for the Bears is running back Matt Forte. The next-most productive wide receiver is Earl Bennett with 23 receptions. Marshall has been targeted 130 times by the Bears this season while Bennett has seen 41 passes thrown his way. There are no signs of that trend to end or change any time soon, so look for Marshall to add to the 91 catches for 1,182 yards and 8 touchdowns already racked up this season.
118, 88 and 1… Be careful when it comes to selecting your fantasy tight end because finding a guy who can score a touchdown or two can make all the difference (so they tell me!). For example, Jason Witten ($3m), of the Dallas Cowboys, leads all NFL tight ends with 118 targets. He also ranks first with 88 receptions. But Witten rates just 48th among tight ends with an average of 9.3 yards per catch and joint-35th with just 1 touchdown. A cheaper and more productive alternative might be Brandon Myers ($1m), of the Oakland Raiders. Myers has caught more than 80 per cent of passes thrown his way this season and has 69 receptions for 721 yards and 4 touchdowns to his name.
17.5… Now might be a good time to get behind the San Francisco 49ers defense ($2m). I know that is a little pricey at $2 million but they are taking on a Miami Dolphins club being led by a rookie quarterback who is now playing without his starting left tackle (Jake Long has been placed on injured reserve with torn triceps). That will make 49ers linebacker Aldon Smith feel confident about adding to his league-leading sack total of 17.5. This could turn out to be a very productive game for the Niners D.
36… The New York Giants are kicking way too many field goals instead of scoring touchdowns this season but it makes picking Lawrence Tynes ($1m) a sensible move for your fantasy team. Tynes has attempted an NFL-high 36 field goals this season and has converted 32 of them. The native Scot leads the NFL in scoring with 127 points this term.