Outside the Huddle: Week 15

Holiday Playoff Special: Fantasy football suggestions for when you play against your league’s Ebenezer Scrooge and want nothing more than to exacerbate his misery.

It’s that wonderful time of the year! The snow is falling, the stockings are hung, the beer is cold, and you cruised through your first round fantasy playoff game thanks to gifts like Derrick Henry against the Jaguars and Lamar Jackson against the Browns. You’re two wins away from raising that trophy, and what better way to celebrate the holiday season and the survival of 2020 with a little extra scratch in your pocket. Aside from drinking too much spiked eggnog and overindulging on holiday cookies, my favorite tradition is binge-watching movies to keep my spirits up. So if you need a visit from the Ghost of Christmas Past or Scut Farkus reminding you to come when he says come to maintain your fantasy focus, here’s a run-down of matchups this weekend to consider giving your opponents, with a holiday twist.

Drew Brees, QB, New Orleans Saints (vs Chiefs)

The Ghost of Christmas Past, played by David Johansen in Scrooged, is a loud-mouthed, cigar-smoking New Yorker who takes Frank Cross back in time in a taxi with the type of bravado we all could use sometimes. Brees is also in need of Johansen’s spiritual intervention. He’s had an amazing career and just came back from multiple broken ribs, but he’s also not even ranked in the top-twenty against an average Chiefs defense, which means the Saints are counting on his leadership and game management much like the Broncos did with Peyton Manning in his final years. That’s not good for fantasy numbers.

James Connor, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers (@ Bengals)

Scott Calvin went outside one snowy Christmas Eve and inherited the role of Santa Claus after the jolly old elf fell from his roof. When James Connor took over for disgruntled Le’Veon Bell, he too had massive boots to fill. He proved to be an equally formidable replacement and saved the Steelers run game the same way Scott saved Christmas. But the miles are catching up with Connor and after a season riddled with injuries, he ran for 18 yards last week against the Bills, his worst performance of the season. His production should improve against the Bengals but not the world of presents in one night we’ve come to expect.

Saints D/ST (vs Chiefs)

Clark Griswold strung up all the lights, overcame the slick shingles and the unlocked extension ladder, but when it became time to show the family, he plugged the final cords together to a roaring drumroll and—nothing. That’s what the Saints D looked like last week against the Eagles and Jalen Hurts, who ran all over them in an awful display we hadn’t seen since the Packers beat them in Week 3. This week, against the Chiefs, we could possibly see another kicked Santa and more chopped reindeer antlers. 

Deshaun Watson, QB, Houston Texans (@ Colts)

You remember when Kevin McCallister woke up to an empty house? Not when he ran around cheering, jumping on the bed, making monster sundaes, and watching dirty movies, but when he walked down the steps Christmas morning and realized his family had abandoned him. Imagine Deshaun Watson dropping back to pass and seeing the top-ranked Colts defense coming at him? Yeah, he’s going to be palming his face and letting out a giant scream. The Colts held Watson to 19 points with no touchdowns and 1 interception two weeks ago but with a little extra tape and game experience, expect the Texans offense to run like Harry and Marv breaking into Kevin’s house.

Eagles D/ST (@ Cardinals)

The Eagles have been a Charlie Brown Christmas tree all season. A fragile base with a couple reliable branches and needles falling off with a single shake. But last week, they lost a number of key players in their secondary, and the Arizona Cardinals are now that jingle ball that will pull them down to the ground. DeAndre Hopkins likely watched tape of Davante Adams and DK Metcalf burning the Eagles secondary, and this time, there’s no Linus with his blanket to swaddle their base. 

Terry McLaurin, WR, Washington Football Team (vs Seahawks)

For much of the season, McLaurin has led the Washington offense down the streets of town and right through the traffic stop. But his place among the NFL receiving elite has succumbed to a gust of wind the last week two weeks, blowing the magic hat from his head as defenses zero in on containing him. And this week, with Alex Smith ruled out, he’ll have Dwayne Haskins behind center, who had four TDs, 3 INTs and 2 fumbles in his four starts before being benched at the beginning of the season. Despite being a top-ten fantasy receiver, McLaurin could very easily turn to a puddle from the warmth of the North Pole greenhouse.

Cody Parkey, K, Cleveland Browns (@ Giants)

Buddy the Elf had a brilliant idea on how to put the star on top of the tree. He started from across the room, ran, jumped off the coach and slammed into the middle of the tree, taking the whole thing down with him. Kicking in Met Life Stadium can be like that, too, with its frigid swirling winds. And after a blizzard followed by a deep freeze, the kicking conditions will not be ideal for the King of the Double Doink who missed from close range last week and hasn’t attempted anything over 50+ this season.

Greg Oldfield’s stories have appeared in HobartCarveBarrelhouse, and Maudlin House, among others. He also writes about soccer for the Florida Cup and the Brotherly Game and often rambles about soccer on Twitter. 

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