Jeff: Unless you're in one of those stupid fantasy leagues that holds its Super Bowl in Week 17, you're probably starting the playoffs this week. I have only one piece of advice for you that's not blindingly obvious: stack your bench with sure scorers. You don't need a depth at WR or TE any more. Grab an extra kicker and QB to guarantee yourself bench points in case of a tie. With that said, here's why I hate Week 17 Super Bowls.
A few years ago I joined one such league. On draft day, I suggested that maybe the Super Bowl should be held in Week 16 so as to reduce the chances of the finalists having to play a scrub because their starters were sitting out to rest up for the real playoffs. I was that guy. The Chargers had locked up their playoff spot and decided to sit LaDainian Tomlinson for the last game, leaving me with Lee Suggs and Jamal Lewis as starters. Yeah, not good times. Suggs did nothing while Lewis had 8 tries from the one-yard line and failed to score every time. On top of that, Jimmy Smith dropped a sure TD pass and Darrell Jackson lost a fumble, giving me -2 points for the day. I did get 3 TDs from Chris Cooley, which went for naught.
My opponent started Daunte Culpepper (he was with the Vikings at the time). On the last play from scrimmage in a blowout loss to the Redskins, Culpepper threw a 50 yard Hail Mary TD and followed it with a 2-point conversion pass. Those two plays accounted for 9 points. I lost my game by 2. Thanks a lot, Darrell Jackson. Let's get to the picks.
Jason: B-O-O-H-O-O. You're breaking my heart. I was in a touchdown league and had my guy down by 30 points with only his defense left to play. The Ravens defense. Jermaine Lewis returned two kicks for scores and the defense took another two back to the house. With yardage bonuses it gave him 33 points. Hey, on the bright side, I went 6-3 in my picks last week by going against my instincts. I'll try and see if my own logic can keep the streak going this week.
Thomas Jones vs. San Francisco
Look at TJ's stats for the last seven games: 769 yards, 8 TDs. You're a moron if you're not starting him, regardless of the opponent.
Larry Johnson vs. Denver
The Chiefs seem to have given up on the Jamaal Charles experiment, which should mean big yards for Johnson against the brutal Denver defense.
Matt Cassel vs. Seattle
The Patriots tend to let Matty air it out against bad defense. It just so happens that Seattle has a bad defense.
Joe Flacco vs. Washington
That's right-- Joe Stinkin' Flacco. He's like Trent Dilfer, but throws touchdowns. If you're in the playoffs with no solid options at QB, this guy could help you steal the W.
Leon Washington at San Francisco
Jeff's right-- Thomas Jones should be huge again. But Washington has had a few great games at the same time and every now and then takes over the whole running game. I think he has the potential to bust off a big run or two and if you're banged up at RB this could help.
Calvin Johnson vs Minnesota
I am still holding out that the Lions will not go unlossless. If they do win it will be this week and to do it they need a huge game from CJ.
Jeff's Risk/Reward Picks
Tony Romo vs. Pittsburgh
It's normally a really bad idea to start any QB against the Steelers, but Romo has been on fire the last couple weeks and he's going to have to throw the ball more with Marion Barber dealing with an injury.
David Garrard vs. Chicago
The Bears have one of the worst pass D's in the league and have been torched twice this year by the immortal Gus Frerotte. But Garrard is sketchy at best (I should know, he's been a starter all year on one of my teams) and could easily kill you this week.
Kevin Smith vs. Minnesota
On the surface, this looks like a pick William Clay Ford would make. But if a federal court decides Friday to uphold the suspensions of Vikings DT's Kevin & Pat Williams, Smith might have a fair amount of running room. Wait until you know for sure if the Williams Wall will be active or not... and only start Smith if you don't have any better options.
Jason's Risk/Reward Picks
Antonio Bryant at Carolina
Bryant has been having a solid season, but has been a little lost the last few weeks. If it wasn't for his 39 yard TD last week it would have been another rough one. But, he has the potential to get into double digits in fantasy points this week.
LeRon McClain vs. Washington
Even if McGahee does play, McClain will get his touches and probably find the endzone.
Ben Roethlisberger vs. Dallas
Big Ben has come back with some solid games the last two weeks, but this is one with potential for him to get sacked a few times and throw a few picks.
Jeff's Players to Avoid as if They've Been Dipped in Ebola
Joe Flacco vs. Washington
Flacco has been all right against weak teams but this week he's going against a desperate, and good, Redskins defense.
Donovan McNabb vs. New York Giants
Don't be fooled by last week's eruption against the Cardinals. Arizona had to fly across the country three days after playing at home. The Eagles' offense was a mirage and the Giants have a great defense.
Marion Barber vs. Pittsburgh
As mentioned above, Barber is dealing with an injured toe. Pittsburgh has shut down healthier and better RB's this season.
Jason's Players to Avoid Like They Were Drafted by Nick LaFave
Clinton Portis at Baltimore
Tough to sit one of the best backs all season. If you're a "dance with the girl that brought ya" kind a guy then play him. If you have another option leave Portis and his injuries on the bench against a stellar Ravens D.
Dominic Hixon vs. Philadelphia
He didn't make a dent in the stat sheet before when Plex didn't play, don't count on him now.
David Garrard at Chicago
At first glance, playing against the Bears weak pass D looks appetizing. But snow is in the forecast and that could make for a tough environment to throw at windy Soldier Field.
Jeff's Conference Championship Game Picks
MAC Championship: Ball State (-15) vs. Buffalo
I know nothing about Buffalo except that the Bulls won the weaker of the two MAC divisions and lost the second and third-place teams in Ball State's division.
Conference USA Championship: Tulsa (-13) vs. East Carolina
Ummm. Yeah. I like the Golden Hurricanes. Sure. Sounds good to me.
ACC Championship: Virginia Tech (Pick 'Em) vs. Boston College
This will be the dullest of all the title games this weekend. I think the BCS should be allowed to leave the ACC and Big East winners at home this year.
Big 12 Championship: Oklahoma (-17) vs. Missouri
Missouri hasn't beaten a good team all year while the Sooners are lighting up every defense they play. Missouri's defense is garbage and their offense is not as good as advertised. Heck, they just lost to Kansas last week and Kansas stinks.
SEC Championship: Alabama (+10) vs. Florida
I know Florida is the man-crush of every sportswriter not employed by an Alabama media outlet, but do you really want to give Nick Saban 10 points in a big game?
Navy (-10.5) vs. Army
I know Navy is halfway decent. I know Army stinks. Ten and-a-half sounds about right.
Jeff's NFL Picks
Minnesota (-9) at Detroit
Everyone says this is the Lions' last remaining chance to win a game. When your last remaining chance to win a game is against the current division leaders and the best RB in football... let's just say your teams stinks and move on.
Green Bay (-6) vs. Houston
Don't read too much into the Packers' loss to Carolina last week. The Texans have no defense and Matt Schaub is going to be rusty coming off an injury.
Pittsburgh (-3) vs. Dallas
I don't trust the Cowboys on the road against the best defense in the NFL, especially when the Steelers only need a FG to push.
Atlanta / New Orleans +51.5
Two excellent offenses, two below-average defenses.
Lock of the Century
New York Giants (-7) vs. Philadelphia
Easiest pick of the week. The Giants are going to kill Philly if for no other reason than they're sick of hearing about Plaxico Burress.
Last Week: 4-5
Lock of the Century: 6-4
Jason's Conference Championship Game Picks
MAC: Ball State (-15) over Buffalo
You could give hapless Buffalo 30 points and they couldn't win this one.
Conference USA: Tulsa (-13) over Eastern Carolina
This line opened at 11, which means smart money is on Tulsa.
ACC: Va Tech (pick 'em) over Boston College
Big 12: Oklahoma (-17) over Missouri
Oklahoma owns Missouri.
SEC: Alabama (+10) over Florida
I'm sorry. Giving an undefeated SEC team 10 points? Bama's pretty good.
Navy (-10.5) over Army
My grandpa was a boxer in the Navy... but never cared about this game. Weird.
Jason NFL Picks
Detroit (+9) over Minnesota
This is the week. Yep, definitely the one.
Baltimore (-5) vs. Washington
Washington will be lucky to score 14.
New Orleans (-3) over Atlanta
Atlanta won the first game and who ever heard of division rivals sweeping the season series? It's unheard of outside of the NFC North.
Kansas City (+9) over Denver
Ever have a piece of pumpkin pie and immediately want another piece?
Jason's Lock of the Century
Arizona (-14) vs. St. Louis
The spread is 14 and that's divisible by 7 100 percent of the time.
Last Week: 6-3
Lock of the Century: 4-5-1