Now that the fantasy playoffs are here, the Fantasy Doctor will be making regular house calls, answering readers' fantasy questions each Wednesday and Thursday. Send your questions to the Doc at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I am in a 16-team keeper league in which each team gets to keep one player, and I was hoping to get your advice on whom to keep out of Peyton Hillis, LeGarrette Blount, Stevie Johnson and Arian Foster? Thanks.
Now is the time to start thinking about keeper choices for 2011, Josh, and you definitely have some viable players to pick from.
For as well as Johnson and Blount played this season, I would have to narrow it down to Hillis and Foster as your best options. Each was a fantasy stud for a bulk of the campaign and looks like he will be again next season.
As much as I like Hillis, the fact that he plays for a Browns team with little passing game really hurts him, in my opinion. You saw toward the end of the year how defenses began to load the box to shut him down, and that's likely to continue unless Cleveland drastically upgrades its passing attack. Plus, Montario Hardesty will return from his torn ACL in the offseason to challenge for carries.
Foster does not have to worry about those issues. The Texans' passing game is one of the league's best, and he basically has zero competition in their backfield. When you look at the gaudy numbers he has posted through 15 games — 2,030 yards from scrimmage and 16 TDs — it's very difficult to argue against Foster being your keeper. Honestly, there's a good chance he enters 2011 as the No. 1-ranked player in all of fantasy football.
This question should be right up your line. I'm in the championship game even with Tony Romo out for the year and the rest of my team plagued by injuries. My question is how to weigh medical/injury information this late in the season when most players are nursing bumps and bruises and some teams (like the Vikings) seem to be playing games with the injury report. Even though you regularly check multiple sites for the latest injury info, it seems like there are too many players who are expected to play who don't end up playing. Thanks for any medical advice you can offer.
— Mike, Fargo, N.D.
That's a very good question, Mike. You're right, injury situations do become harder to sort out as we get to the final weeks of the season.
Since it's virtually impossible to know what's actually going on with some of these hurt players, the best advice I can give you is to stay on top of the available information. I know that doesn't always help, but it's the most you as a fantasy owner can do. Pay close attention to each report that comes out involving your guys, and if it looks like there's a chance one of them won't play, be sure to have an alternative ready. You don't want to be caught without a replacement in a critical late-season matchup.
Another thing to keep tabs on is the meaningfulness of each game. If you have someone from the Patriots this week, for instance, you have to be prepared for him to play little, as New England has the AFC's No. 1 seed locked up. Similarly, if a team has been eliminated from contention, don't be shocked to see them deactivate any key players who are banged up. This is one of the reasons most fantasy leagues don't play into Week 17, as too many guys sit out the season finale.