The situation is this: It's the semis in the Fantasy Pros Invitational. I'm facing Team Funston, perhaps the league's pluckiest squad, a team that strung together late-season wins in order to qualify for the playoffs. Brandon's roster is loaded with players who have excellent Week 15 match-ups (Eli, Foster & Tate, Greene). My roster, at this stage, is loaded with injuries, decorated with sketchy bench options.
Earlier in the year, my team appeared to be a juggernaut ... and then it lost Miles Austin ... and Matt Schaub ... and Adrian Peterson, Ahmad Bradshaw, Jeremy Maclin, Julio Jones, and probably a few others. The names escape me. It was like a plague. It seemed as if the mere act of dragging-and-dropping a guy from one roster slot to another had the potential to injure the real-life player. A bloodbath.
Nonetheless, I've limped into the playoffs. My broken team closed the season by losing three of four, yet still secured a (much needed) bye thanks to a fast start. A few of my most important roster assets are on their feet again, so hope is not entirely lost. But my QB problem remains. I've been rolling with Carson Palmer, a guy coming off a four-interception game, playing without his team's best skill players.
So ... Jake Locker is looking pretty interesting, should he play in Week 15.
We don't yet know if Locker will actually start, of course — "If [Matt Hasselbeck] is healthy and ready to roll, he'll be the guy," says coach Mike Munchak — but the rookie clearly has momentum following his two-TD performance against the Saints. Tennessee has all the cover they need to send Hasselbeck to the bench, since he tapped out last week with a calf injury. Locker has a huge arm, he's plenty mobile, and — if he gets the nod in Week 15 — he'll have an ideal match-up. The Titans travel to Indianapolis, where they'll face a Colts defense that ranks dead-last in the NFL in points allowed (29.4) and 28th in total yards (384.8).
The biggest issue with Locker thus far has been accuracy. Or rather, inaccuracy. He's completed just 23 of 50 throws this season, and he wasn't unusually precise as a senior at Washington, either (55.4 completion percentage, 25.0 in two games vs. Nebraska). But Indy's defense doesn't exactly make you pay for misfires — they rank last in INTs, with only six — and they've allowed a ridiculous opponent's completion percentage of 71.9.
And then there's this fantasy intangible: Funston is a Seattle guy, a Washington fan. I would love to roll with Locker against him, just to put a cruel twist on the week. I have less interest in Hasselbeck, should he start, due to A) the lack of rushing stats and B) the threat of re-injury. Tennessee's passing game has a friendly home match-up vs. Jacksonville in Week 16, too, so there's a chance for Jake to have multi-week value. There's also a chance for him to have none at all.
Let's recall that the Titans are a 7-6 team chasing an 8-5 team for the final playoff spot in the AFC, so, as Munchak says, "We're looking at it as if we are in the middle of a playoff run here." Hasselbeck didn't practice on Wednesday, but his head coach reportedly still believes there's a decent chance he'll play. Either way, it's possible that the game plan is simply to run Chris Johnson all day, limiting the fantasy ceiling for whoever starts at QB. Funston better hope it's the vet.