Smoke ‘em, pass ‘em: First week of the playoffs

This week I will receive about twice as many direct messages on my Twitter feed as any other week. They will consist of nervous owners wringing their hands over a last-minute lineup decision.

“Do you think CJ Spiller is back?”

Josh McCown or Russell Wilson versus that San Fran D?”

Brandon Bolden or Donald Brown?”

Obviously some will be more desperate than others. It’s playoff time so tensions are high. No one wants to spend 13 weeks laboring over lineups and reading countless shitty fantasy articles to bow out in the first round. Here’s hoping you all win, unless you’re playing me, in which case I hope you lose miserably.

Smoke ‘em


Josh McCown v DAL- They are currently giving up 295 yards per game, good for second worst in the league. Chicago can’t stop anyone on the ground and there’s a solid chance there’s plenty of scoring in this contest. Both of these teams sport a history of being incapable of getting out of their own way. Kicking a field goal on second down? I made better decisions in college. Seriously, Macbeth thought that was a bad decision. There’s blood on your hands, Marc Trestman.

Sleeper: Joe Flacco v MIN- This Vikings defense has given up 26 passing touchdowns, which is the worst in the league. Normally I’d hesitate telling you to start a guy who looks like the son of Fredo Corleone and Margaret McPoyle, but this matchup is juicier than Christian Ponder’s wife. If this guy can’t succeed here it’d be best to take him out on the lake and leave him for dead.

Running Backs

Eddie Lacy v ATL- That gawdamm milk-livered, pumpkin-pie haircutted hillbilly Shea McClellin should be crucified for ruining thousands of fantasy seasons. The Aaron Rodgers injury had more rippling effects than going back in time and killing a mosquito in the Mesozoic Era. The positive thing, at least for Lacy, is that this Atlanta defense can’t stop anyone. They haven’t held an opponent to less than 100 yards since week three.

Sleeper: Giovani Bernard v IND- In the last five weeks they’ve surrendered 120-plus rushing yards in every contest. Now this Indy D is traveling to Cincinnati, a team on a two-game winning streak and looking confident. The Cincy defense should ensure that their offense can establish a run game and chew clock. This Cincy defense is a raging fire that makes Andy Dalton’s crotch jealous.

Wide Receivers

Kendall Wright @ DEN- In PPR leagues this guy has been a solid WR2 all year. He has posted 6-plus catches in eight of 13 games and Ryan Fitzpatrick loves the guy. This week they travel to Denver and will try to keep up with that sprinting offense. Much like Chicago, this team finds monumental ways to lose. The real loser is Nashville, however. This city has one street and they promise you might see the next Elvis, but really it’s just a lot of cheap beer and drunken hillbillies puking in the street. The only real hope would be seeing Kerry Collins at the end of a bar completely hammered. Then having him tell you a story that Ray Lewis actually threatened to kill him unless he threw Super Bowl XXXV. That would be the only way Nashville would ever be better than Chicago.

Sleeper: Rueben Randle @ SD- Randle has been wildly inconsistent this season, but San Diego has given up the fifth most amount of receiving yards this season. I sure wish I could’ve made it to the Manning Family Thanksgiving. Each time Eli would pass a dish, Peyton would grab it and say “Another interception.” And Archie would laugh and say, “Even Cooper could out-perform you.” Then Peyton would take Eli’s wife upstairs and afterwards the family would watch old film of Archie projected onto Peyton’s forehead. Of course later that evening they’d all eat magic mushrooms Jim Irsay brought and sliced up onto Papa John’s pizzas. Manning Family Thanksgiving is better than your Thanksgiving.

Tight Ends

Jared Cook @ ARI- In his first contest against Arizona this season he had seven catches for 141 yards and two TDs. He went into hibernation afterward, but Arizona has continued to struggle against tight ends. They are, in fact, the worst in the league against the position. Cook it up like Walter White gone RVing.

Defense/Special Teams

Oakland @ NYJ- This Jets team was so putrid they were forced to put a Simms in at quarterback last weekend. Is there a more insufferable family than the Phil Simms clan? Maybe the Harbaughs. Oh, shit, I forgot about the Pounceys. Couple of cankers on the cracking lips of society. They can shove their “Free Hernandez” hats up their fat, clownish asses.

Pass ‘em


Colin Kaepernick v SEA- This guy should get a tattoo on his bicep that reads: “Draft Beer, Not Me.” The disappointment is bigger than his ears and there’s no hat to shove it into. Seriously this guy flopped so badly Manu Ginobli was embarrassed for him.

Andrew Luck @ CIN- Speaking of flops, this mouth-breather makes disappointment en vogue. Facing a defense giving up only 233 yards per game, this won’t end well for him. The fact that this team is currently first in their division is sadder than the first fifteen minutes of “UP.”

Running Backs

Rashad Jennings @ NYJ- The Jets can’t stop anyone through the air, but they hold opponents to a league-best 77 yards per game on the ground. Jennings is coming off a concussion and will likely cede some carries to Darren McFadden. McFadden, like Kaepernick and Luck, breeds sadness and under-performing. I’m convinced the real reason we play fantasy football is to be reminded how much we hate ourselves. It’s nothing but chaos and misery. I’m quite certain Jean-Paul Sartre would’ve made the perfect fantasy analyst.

Pierre Thomas v CAR- He’s done a good job ruining Darren Sproles’ value this season, but this weekend things get straight dicey. Carolina has given up just three rushing TDs on the year and rushers are averaging just 80 yards per game. Judging by how this Saints team performed on the road, they better hope the Superdome welcomes them back.

Wide Receivers

Anquan Boldin v SEA- After disappearing for awhile, he bounced back with two games of 90-plus receiving yards. He’s also found the end zone three times in the last three weeks. But like Homey D. Clown, Seattle don’t play that. They have given up just 13 passing TDs, good for fifth in the league, and picked off 16 passes, good for second best in the league.

Cecil Shorts v HOU- Lately this Houston team has been hard to watch. But it’s not like Jacksonville has been prime-time worthy. On short rest, as this is a Thursday game, it would be best to avoid most of this game. If I were a Jaguars fan, I’d be livid that this team has been winning. Are you fucking kidding me? You’ve all but wrapped up a number one draft pick and now you’re going to start winning? I know from personal experience that it’s not hard to give-up and be a failure. I did it ten years ago and it was easy as shit. You’d think a team could do it for a few Sundays.

Tight Ends

Coby Fleener @ CIN- You probably get the idea that I don’t like the Colts or Niners this week. Of course my hatred for the Colts and Luck are higher than Sam Hurd working as a Sherpa. I went all-in on Luck in several leagues and though in both I’m in the POs, it’s no thanks to his scruffy ass. For me, he’s like tequila or J.K. Rowling books: trying it once was good enough.

Defense/Special Teams

New York Giants @ SD- An east coast team traveling west with an offense that is more lethargic than me on Sunday morning translates to disaster. This defense has played well, but I’ll be damned if I want to test these waters. Good luck in your playoff matchups. Remember that there’s more to life than fantasy football. I can’t think of anything right now, but I’m sure there is.

Kenneth Griggs is a writer and bartender living in Chicago, IL. He has hitchhiked through the Australian Outback; lived in a small fishing village in Japan; climbed Mount Kilimanjaro; and ran with the bulls in Pamplona. He spent six years as a feature writer for a daily and weekly newspaper and has two unpublished novels to his name. But his finest accomplishment is not yet sprouting a gin blossom nose.