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Fantasy Basement: Week 12
The Fantasy Basement is a weekly piece that provides fantasy advice on lineup calls, sleepers, waiver-wire moves and rookie spotlights, along with the occasional ramble or four. Why “Fantasy Basement” you ask? There is a common misconception that sports writers dwell in their childhood cellars, that the institution promotes an arrested development. However, instead of railing against this claim, I am embracing this subterranean bourgeoisie. After all, who wouldn’t enjoy coming home to fresh-baked cookies and having their laundry done? But I digress…Enjoy.
Alas, Ryan no longer falls into this self-evident echelon, as the Atlanta arm has 11 turnovers versus nine touchdowns since his scintillating September performance (12 scores, two turnovers). Granted, Ryan has averaged over 318 passing yards per contest in this time span, and last week’s five tosses to the wrong team certainly distorts the total damage. Nevertheless, considering Ryan was a candidate for fantasy MVP through the first quarter of the season, it’s been quite the precipitous drop since the onset of October.
Luckily, hope is on the horizon in the form of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who are surrendering a league-high 312.6 yards per game, as well as the third-most fantasy points to quarterbacks in the NFC. Expect this one to be a shootout, and with the Falcons’ impropriety on the terrain, Ryan will get the opportunities to blow up the box score.
Other starts: Andrew Luck, Ryan Fitzpatrick
RB: BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Bengals
The Law Firm has been a frequent target of derision this year, and with good reason: despite a healthy workload (seventh-most carries in the league), Green-Ellis owns a middling average of 3.5 yards per carry. Worse, the Bengals back headed into Week 11 averaging just 53 yards per game over his last seven contests. In his defense, the Cincinnati offensive line was riddled with injuries, yet owners expected more out of the former Patriots rusher in an attack constructed on the ground game.
However, Green-Ellis finally showed signs of life last weekend, amassing the 100-yard plateau for the first time this fall. Those drinking the Haterade would question these merits, as they came against the lowly Chiefs, yet I would counter that a matchup this Sunday versus the Raiders, whose rush resistance is giving up the fifth-highest output in 2012, is just as opportunistic. I’m still not high on his prospects for the rest of the season, but for Week 12, feel free to roll with Green-Ellis.
Other starts: Rashard Mendenhall, Vick Ballard
WR: T.Y. Hilton, Colts
Full disclosure: this is a risky play, as Hilton is a feast-or-famine play. On the “pro” listing, Hilton’s 100-yard ballgame against the Patriots marked the second occasion in three weeks the rookie wideout hit triple digits in the yardage column, and facing a susceptible Bills secondary should facilitate a third conquest in four games. On the other end of that spectrum, it’s worth noting that Hilton failed to take advantage of an exploitable matchup in Jacksonville in Week 10, held without a catch by a team that just permitted 527 yards to Matt Schaub. I’m leaning toward the upbeat side, as Hilton, owned in only 6.7 percent of FOXSports.com leagues, is quickly developing into a solid complement to Reggie Wayne. And while we are on the Colts, I love me some Andrew Luck, but hopefully that Foxborough whoopin’ silences the growing, “Luck for MVP!” fervor. Cat’s had a few strong games, yet also rocks a disconcerting 17-17 touchdown-to-turnover mark. Call me crazy, but I demand slightly better production from the position than those pedestrian figures.
Other starts: Miles Austin, Stevie Johnson
TE: Dustin Keller, Jets
Sure, he only has 21 receptions for 236 yards in six games this season, but he racked up seven grabs for 93 yards and a touchdown in his previous matchup with the Pats. Know it’s never easy entrusting your fantasy fruition to Mark Sanchez, but count on Keller to do work on a New England unit relinquishing the fourth-highest harvest to tight ends.
Other starts: Jermaine Gresham, Marcedes Lewis
DEF: Denver Broncos
Any time the Bengals defense makes you look bad, you got some serious offensive issues. Von Miller might end up with 11 sacks in this one.
Other starts: St. Louis Rams, Pittsburgh Steelers
QB: Matthew Stafford, Lions
Stafford has been effective the past month, averaging nearly 310 yards and two touchdowns per game, and I’m sure a multitude of managers are thinking, “If Chad Henne can knock up the Texans for 350 yards and four scores, imagine the carnage Stafford can do!” Although I understand the sentiment, don’t see Houston taking it on the chin two consecutive weeks. If anything, envision the Texans playing with a Gladiator-like vendetta. After all, wouldn’t you be embarrassed watching CHAD HENNE torch your defense all week?
RB: Trent Richardson, Browns
The Browns back has been on a tear as of late, collecting 322 rushing yards and another 92 in the receiving arena in the last three games. Unfortunately, that accrual did not come at the hands of arduous opponents, as the Chargers, Ravens and Cowboys have all struggled to stop the run. An encounter with Pittsburgh should bear a different outcome, taking into account the Steelers are holding adversarial rushing attacks to 89.8 yards a game, fourth-lowest in the NFL. Besides, it’s Thanksgiving, a time of kinship, goodwill and festivity. Basically, the exact opposite of the Cleveland sports scene.
Other sits: Michael Turner, Fred Jackson
WR: Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals
#FreeFitzgerald. (Usually I reserve player plights to fan bases, but since there are a grand total of 17 Cardinals fans, this responsibility falls on us, fantasy community.)
If Kevin Kolb is able to go, Fitzgerald’s value sees a slight uptick. Sadly, though he posted one of his more productive outings in their first meeting (eight catches, 92 yards), St. Louis has quietly been stout against air assaults this season. The perennial Pro Bowler only warrants a starting nod in deeper formats this weekend.
Other sits: Lance Moore, Jeremy Maclin
TE: Martellus Bennett, Giants
I’m still a believer in Eli Manning down the fantasy home stretch and, as a corollary, in Bennett’s relevance, but the Packers have been tough against tight ends, yielding an average of just 46 yards per game to the position. Throw in the fact that Bennett has not surpassed 40 yards receiving in six of his last seven games and it further illustrates that owners inserting the former Cowboy are dancing with the devil.
Other sits: Jared Cook, Brandon Pettigrew
DEF: Dallas Cowboys
Hate going against my boy, defensive coordinator/Sons of Anarchy Motorcycle Club member Rob Ryan, but Robert Griffin III is too explosive to bet against. Um, not that I’m betting on NFL games or anything, because that would be illegal…
Other sits: Detroit Lions, New York Jets
The Sports Movie Head Scratcher of the Week
There’s an inherent petition from most sports films that the patrons must suspend belief regarding some of the picture’s narrative. However, while a grain of salt is usually acquiesced from the audience, there remain storylines from these athletic classics that defy logic and reason that need to be examined with greater scrutiny. These preposterous plot points will be analyzed along with a questionable call from the previous week of football.
In the movie Leatherheads, George Clooney and John Krasinski, playing stars of a 1920s professional pigskin league, fight for the affection of Renée Zellweger, who is donning the role of a reporter. I know football didn’t hold the same veneration in the nation’s consciousness back in the day, but come on, Clooney and Krasinski are still good-looking, witty, charming athletes. Pretty sure they could do slightly better than Zellweger, right? Seems like casting dropped the ball on this one.
Speaking of dropping the ball, has anyone procured any answer from Mike Tomlin on why he kept Byron Leftwich on the field Sunday night? Leftwich took more hits than a Louisville Slugger, and at one point seemed to be dry-heaving on the gridiron, yet the Pittsburgh head coach kept rolling him out there despite his ailments and ineffectiveness. I know Charlie Batch is, well, Charlie Batch, but not like Leftwich has a great deal of acumen under center, either. If the Steelers miss the playoffs by a game, Sunday’s loss to Baltimore will be one Steel City fans circle as a blown opportunity.
Waiver Wire Watch: Ronnie Hillman, Broncos
Willis McGahee is down for the count, meaning Hillman steps into the Mile High spotlight. A third-round pick out of San Diego State, Hillman has been decent in abbreviated appearances this season, rushing for 188 yards on 49 carries and adding 10 receptions for 62 yards in the receiving game. Though Hillman is predicted to handle the running responsibilities with Lance Ball, the latter will primarily be utilized in pass protection coverages, bequeathing the fantasy prospects to the rookie rusher. Available in over 63 percent of FOXSports.com fantasy football leagues, Hillman is a must-own with potential keeper status for 2013.
Email of the Week
This week’s winner comes from BH in South Hampton, who writes:
“Garrett Graham. Seriously? Is (Owen) Daniels worth dropping now?
I know, right? As I wrote on Monday, “Congrats to Graham on his induction into the 2012 class of the Kevin Curtis One-Week Wonder Hall of Fame. Pretty big contingent this year: Dante Rosario, Kevin Ogletree, Andre Brown and Brandon Bolden, with the jury still out on Christian Ponder and Brian Hartline. Frankly, holding out hope for a Joe Webb sighting in December.”
However, Daniels was making his return from injury and still managed a decent afternoon with six receptions and 57 yards. With Daniels near full health, consider Graham a no-go.
Fantasy Flyer: Jalen Parmele, Jaguars
Thank the gridiron gods the Rashad Jennings Experiment has nosedived into its demise. Watching Jennings continually fall behind the line of scrimmage reminded me of background extras in war reenactments on the History channel dramatically hitting the turf. Anyway, Parmele was admirable in replacement of Jennings last week, compiling 80 yards on 24 attempts against Houston’s formidable front seven. Maurice Jones-Drew is expected to return in Week 13, making Parmele a one-shot deal, but taking on a Tennessee team that is handing out the fourth-most fantasy points to running backs, insert him as a flex play in standard formats.
The Real Debate
Amazing we have made it this far in the column without discussing the excellence of Colin Kaepernick, who lit up the vaunted Chicago defense in his first professional start Monday night. The tour de force has many in the Bay Area clamoring for a quarterback change, as the San Fran offense has stalled with Alex Smith as signal caller. But the discussion should not center on the 49ers field generals; rather, the Real Debate should be this: has there ever been worse trio of starting quarterbacks than John Skelton, Kevin Kolb and Ryan Lindley? In my extensive research on the subject (read: two minutes Googling), the only trifecta of transgression that comes close is the 2001 Bengals, who rolled out Jon Kitna, Gus Frerotte and Akili Smith. Admittedly, when I saw Lindley inserted in Arizona, I briefly regretted hanging up my spikes after a promising Pee Wee career. I mean if Lindley could suit up, the rest of us have reasonable shot, right?
Rookie Review: Ryan Broyles, Lions
Titus Young, who was considered to be the complement to Calvin Johnson, was sent home for conduct detrimental to the team, a phrase usually employed in the college ranks. Enter Broyles, a highly-touted second-round selection out of Oklahoma. After seeing little action in the start of the fall, Broyles has slowly worked his way up the receiving depth chart, bringing in 15 catches the past five weeks, including a six-reception performance in Jacksonville in Week 9. With good speed and sound route-running, Broyles could eventually be a dependable possession receiver for the Lions. Mike Thomas is slated to start on Thursday, yet Broyles is the entity with higher upside, and garners a look in deeper formats.
This Week in Kevin Walter
Talk about selflessness. Knowing his partner in crime was having an underwhelming campaign, K-Walt single-handedly took out most of the Jacksonville secondary on Sunday, juking defenders out of their shoes with route precision and Usain Bolt-like speed, leaving Andre Johnson all alone in open field. How else would you describe Johnson’s masterpiece of 14 balls, 273 yards and a touchdown? The man is as altruistic as he is awesome.
Walter’s 2012 Stats: 29 receptions, 391 yards, two touchdowns
Walter’s Cornerback Body Count: 10
Gatorade Shower Goes to: Chad Henne, Jaguars
Not only did he give Justin Blackmon owners hope, but now that the Jacksonville brass has finally realized that Blaine Gabbert’s Blaine Gabbertness is not convalescing, maybe, maybe it will prove the catalyst for an offseason acquisition of…that’s right…TEBOW!!!!!!!! Just spitballin’, but such an obtainment might cause a slight pulse in Jacksonville’s presence on the national sports scene.
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