Information is the most powerful tool/weapon/defense any person can have in virtually any situation. Knowing things others don’t produces better decisions, which produce better results.
Bad information, well, it takes everything we said before and puts a “bad” in front of it. (Yeah, we know “most bad powerful tool,” etc., doesn’t make grammatical sense, but you get the point.)
Fantasy owners got some bad information Sunday morning before the 1 p.m. kickoff of nine early games. They saw reports that Todd Gurley — listed as questionable and considered a game-time decision for a 4:05 p.m. kickoff after tweaking his knee last week — was going to play.
This was, if not good news, at least encouraging. You still weren’t sure how much of his normal workload Gurley would get, if he would get pulled early if the Rams pulled ahead, or if he would make it through the game healthy.
But if your alternative options weren’t the kind you hate to bench anyway (think: a team stacked with running backs that added Nick Chubb midseason), you likely weren’t inclined to bench Gurley because he was playing the Cardinals — among the most generous defenses to fantasy RBs.
Then, around 2:30 p.m., we learned Gurley, in fact, would not play. Players whose games kicked off at 1 p.m. were now locked, so any alternatives had to be from later games. And if that meant you were choosing between Gurley backups, well, good luck.
With Malcolm Brown and Justin Davis already down via injury, the only on-the-fly handcuff options were John Kelly, who looked unready in limited work last week, and C.J. Anderson, who was added less than a week ago and previously discarded this season by the Panthers and Raiders.
If choosing between the two, you were hoping: 1. They didn’t cancel out each other; 2. You picked the right one; 3. The one you picked actually produced.
That’s a whole stocking full of “ifs.” So if you gambled on an earlier alternative, hedging against Gurley’s workload, that was perfectly acceptable. However, if you flipped a coin between the Rams’ backup options and landed on Anderson? Well, you gambled well. He went for 167 rushing yards and a touchdown on 20 carries. Conversely, Kelly got 10 carries and turned those into just 40 yards.
The good news is: For those foolish leagues that incorporate Week 17 into the fantasy playoffs, we now have some clarity. With the Rams headed into a season finale versus the 49ers, a marginally favorable matchup for RBs, you should have confidence in Anderson getting the work.
The Rams are in the playoffs. They have a game they should win, regardless of who is the feature RB. They anticipate Gurley will be healthy for the playoffs. Their need to win isn’t significant enough to risk a Gurley injury, but it is important enough to go back to the well that fed them well this week. If you’re playing in Week 17, Anderson is an essential addition.
Rest your case
Teddy Bridgewater QB, Saints
With home field locked up, Drew Brees might not get a full game, if he plays at all. Bridgewater would take his place, against a defense that has been a sieve vs. the pass in the second half of the season.
Rod Smith RB, Cowboys
Dallas is locked into the No. 4 seed. No reason to risk Ezekiel Elliott’s health. The Giants’ run defense works in Smith’s favor.
Mike Davis RB, Seahawks
Seattle has clinched a wild-card spot and has a recent history of facing RB injuries. Don’t be surprised to see limited work for Chris Carson, with Davis the beneficiary.
Taquan Mizzell RB, Bears
For the Bears to earn a playoff bye requires a Rams loss to the 49ers. Don’t expect the Bears to take a big gamble on the health of Tarik Cohen or Jordan Howard, especially if they’re watching the scoreboard and the Rams pull ahead.
Brian Hill RB, Falcons
No Devonta Freeman or Ito Smith, and with Tevin Coleman now dealing with a groin issue, Hill could get a lot of use.
Nyheim Hines RB, Colts
In a play-in game for the postseason, Titans are stiff against the run, but Hines gets work in the passing game and a surprising number of red-zone carries.
D’Onta Foreman RB, Texans
If Lamar Miller can’t go, Foreman, coming off an Achilles tendon injury, is an interesting option, particularly in PPR. Not the best matchup vs. the Jaguars, but the other option is … yawn … Alfred Blue.
Justin Jackson RB, Chargers
Pay attention to waivers to see if he gets dropped. Chance of Chargers taking division is slim, so little reason to risk the health of Melvin Gordon.