Dissenting Opinions, Week 14: Debating Austin, Ganther, Garrard

Brandon Funston
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We're taking the Fantasy Guru Catfight!™ approach this week, as the playoffs begin. When experts disagree on a player, they're asked to show their work. Let's play the feud…

Miles Austin(notes) - Pianowski's rank 8, Funton's rank 24

Scott says: I don't have a strong track record going head-to-head with Funston. With the exception of tavern shuffleboard, I don't recall a win over BFun from the last few years. That said, the Austin stat profile speaks for itself. Miles the Man has totaled eight touchdowns in his last eight games and even the non-score starts weren't complete washouts (he had four catches in each). I don't see anything special about this San Diego secondary; over the last four weeks the Chargers are 10th when it comes to handing out fantasy points to wide receivers. Let's stick with what's working.

Brandon counters: If you look at the three teams that have beaten San Diego – Pittsburgh, Baltimore and Denver – they all played it very conservative, running the ball more than they passed it. Considering Dallas is the second-most successful backfield in the league in terms of YPC (5.0), I think it will consider stealing a page from those previously victorious against the Chargers – at 4.4 YPC allowed, the rush defense is clearly the biggest weakness of the San Diego D. Even if Dallas goes with a more pass-heavy approach, a big-play receiver like Austin (most catches of 20-plus yards – 16) might still have a difficult time against a Chargers secondary that has yielded the second-fewest 20-plus yard pass plays.

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Quinton Ganther(notes) - Evans' rank 15, Pianowski's rank 25

Brad screams: Anointed the lead rodent in Jim Zorn’s three-headed ferret backfield, the former Titans third-stringer could make Raiders fans’ mascara run. Over the past two weeks, he’s shown marked explosiveness, averaging 6.0 yards per carry. Though he’ll lose a few touches to Rock Cartwright(notes) and Marcus Mason(notes), he will be emphasized against a Raiders front that has surrendered 5.3 yards per carry, 172.3 total yards per game and three scores to rushers since Week 9, equal to the ninth-most fantasy points allowed. Many owners will immediately dismiss him because of the generic name, but with 15-18 touches he has strong odds of accumulating 70-90 total yards and 1-2 touchdowns.

Scott responds: I realize the Oakland rushing defense is weak and Ganther certainly played well in the last two games, pushing Rock Cartwright out of the way. Nonetheless, The Q is the No. 4 running back on the Redskins depth chart and I'm skeptical that he has enough juice to make Washington's run blocking look good. For the season the 'Skins average just 3.9 yards a carry and have five piddly rushing scores – and Ganther may not fit the goal-line plan anyway, weighing in at just 215 pounds. If you want to roll with Ganther as your third back this week or deep-league flex play, okay, I'm on board. But I'm not going to start dreaming of Ladell Betts, 2006.

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David Garrard(notes) - Evans' rank 9, Behrens' rank 16

Brad lobs softball: Garrard isn’t the type of player who typically becomes a positive statistical outlier, but this week in the battle of the Sunshine State, he could stand out. Miami’s secondary, albeit improving, is still very green. Rookies Vontae Davis(notes) and Sean Smith(notes) have made strides in coverage, but have been prone to yielding explosive pass plays. Over the past five weeks the duo has generously allowed 270.6 passing yards per game and six touchdowns to passers, equal to the sixth-most fantasy points.

The Beer Truck has poured liquid gold at home this season, averaging 276.2 yards per game with nine scores. Toss in his multipurpose abilities (20.1 rush YPG) and he’s a strong candidate to puncture the QB top 10. He may not be the sexiest name in the biz, but his Week 14 upside is certainly hot.

Andy hacks away: First of all, the idea that Garrard benefits from any serious home field advantage is just, well…kind of amusing. Count the empty seats in the image above. That must seem like Hell itself to visiting teams. It's a wonder they even get off the bus.

Secondly, while I'm willing to acknowledge Garrard's upside this week, it's the downside that worries me. Garrard has failed to throw a touchdown pass in six of Jacksonville's 12 games. He's currently 24th in the NFL in TD passes. Receiver Mike Sims-Walker(notes) (calf, knee) is beginning to sound like a game-time decision, too, which does not help the case for Garrard. If for some reason I needed to start an off-brand quarterback in Week 14, I'd prefer Alex Smith at home versus Arizona or Joe Flacco(notes) in Baltimore against Detroit. Does Garrard offer the possibility of a 20-point fantasy week? Sure. But there's at least an equal possibility of an eight-point fantasy week.

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Brandon Marshall(notes) - Funston's rank 2, Behrens' rank 17

Brandon claims: I think this game sets up very well for Marshall. The Colts don’t give up big plays very often in their Cover-2 alignment, but they give up a ton of the short stuff – second-most receptions allowed to receivers. The underneath passing game suits QB Kyle Orton’s(notes) skills, and a yard-after-catch monster like Marshall (third-most YAC among WRs) should be heavily targeted in this environment. I think he can have a 10-catch, 120-yard, TD type of impact this week.

At the very least, Marshall should be good for 8/100, a line that Andre Johnson(notes), Randy Moss(notes), Derrick Mason(notes), T.J. Houshmandzadeh(notes) and Ted Ginn Jr.(notes) have all crossed over against Indianapolis this season.

Andy answers: Just to be clear, I ranked Marshall as a fantasy starter for Week 14. I'm not telling you to bench him. If you're going to send me a "Rankings FAIL" email on Monday morning, you're not allowed to say that I hated Marshall. That's not the case at all.

The reason I didn't rank him among the WR1s is simple: Indy's defense doesn't allow many points (16.8 per game, third lowest) and Denver's offense doesn't score many (20.0, 21st in the NFL). Typically, the wide receivers at the top of my weekly ranks are players who seem well-positioned for massive days, not merely good days. I'd be surprised if Marshall delivered a top-of-the-charts performance against the Colts. That said, I'm starting him myself in at least one league, so let's hope Funston nailed the projection.

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