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Fantasy Basement: Week 13
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.
QB: Tony Romo, Cowboys
Miles Austin may be out with hip and hamstring ailments, yet we’re riding Romo versus a Philly secondary that is withering by the week, evidenced by the unit surrendering the eighth-most fantasy points to the position. For his part, the Cowboys QB averaged 321 yards per game in November with seven scores and just two tosses to the wrong team. As DeMarco Murray is once again questionable, the lack of terrain game will force Dallas to the skies, providing an elevated amount of opportunities for Romo proprietors to strike gold. Speaking of the ‘Boys running back, on behalf of Murray owners everywhere, I’d like to send a special Christmas card to the Cowboys training staff this holiday season for their epic mishandling of the Oklahoma product. Somehow, a player who was day-to-day heading into WEEK 7 has missed six consecutive games with a sprained foot, and will probably be sidelined for a seventh. Even Dr. Nick Riviera isn’t this incompetent. So, yeah, just forward those addresses and we’ll send our gratitude. Also, Murray’s predicament gives you greater appreciation for the fortitude of Adrian Peterson, who leads the league in rushing after suffering a torn ACL and MCL last Christmas. Purple Jesus, indeed.
Other starts: Cam Newton, Eli Manning
RB: Beanie Wells, Cardinals
The yardage accrual left much to be desired (48 yards on 17 carries), but two end-zone excursions facilitated fantasy fruition for owners that gambled on Wells’ return from a two-month sabbatical last week. The periphery isn’t pretty – a battered offensive line, a trip to the East Coast, the Ryan Lindley Experience – yet we’re endorsing Wells this week versus a Gang Green front seven that is giving up the sixth-highest output to running backs this season. Good as a flex play in standard leagues or a No. 2 RB in deeper formats, feel free to insert Wells in the starting lineup.
Other starts: Trent Richardson, Mikel Leshoure
WR: Eric Decker, Broncos
In last Sunday’s chat, I was blown away by readers’ loss of conviction in Decker. Sure, the third-year wideout was coming off back-to-back disappointments (four receptions, 38 yards, a touchdown), but he also had eight ventures to pay dirt in the previous seven contests. Though he posted another pedestrian performance in Week 12 (four grabs, 64 yards), he endures as one of Peyton Manning’s favorite targets, with 87 balls in his direction this season. Expect Decker to demolish Tampa Bay, one of the worst air resistances in the NFC, in Denver this weekend. Moreover, the upcoming schedule for Decker and the Broncos (Oakland, Baltimore, Cleveland and Kansas City) bequeaths a thumbs-up for the rest of the campaign.
Other starts: Davone Bess, Jeremy Maclin
TE: Dallas Clark, Buccaneers
Clark has quietly gained relevance the past two weeks, hauling in 11 receptions off 15 targets for 123 yards and a touchdown. Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams remain the primary bull’s-eyes for Josh Freeman, yet the former Indianapolis tight end has been garnering more attention from the quarterback inside the 20. Denver has struggled against the position this year, making Clark, available in nearly 90 percent of FOXSports.com fantasy football leagues, a sneaky start. While we are here, why didn’t Clark follow Manning to Denver? Think of the fantasy implications of that move. The Broncos have been running two-tight end packages most of the year, negating the worth of Jacob Tamme and Joel Dreessen, but feel like the historical affinity between Clark and No. 18 would have been rotisserie gold. And yes, these are the things that keep me up at night.
Other starts: Martellus Bennett, Jermichael Finley
DEF: New York Jets
The record and recent box scores would state otherwise, but the Jets haven’t been that bad on defense. Plus, either Kevin Kolb or the Ryan Lindley Experience will be lined up on the other side of the line. It might seem contradicting to endorse both Wells and New York, yet in deeper leagues, the Jets warrant the start.
Other starts: Baltimore Ravens, New England Patriots
QB: Carson Palmer, Raiders
The Fantasy Basement has been a proponent of Palmer all season long, and with December rendezvouses with Denver, Kansas City, Carolina and San Diego, the two-time Pro Bowler retains his fantasy relevance as a sound substitute if your starter is besieged by bad weather or injury. Unfortunately, while a date with the middling Browns will do little to scare owners away, the truth is Cleveland has been one of the more impenetrable units when Joe Haden has suited up. (Haden has missed five games due to suspension and injury, though is expected to play this weekend.) Worse, Palmer’s ball security has been anything but, with 16 turnovers in 11 contests.
Admittedly, Oakland’s penchant for the pass has the chance to correlate to big numbers for Palmer. Just be aware that the start is far from being a slam dunk.
Other sits: Colin Kaepernick, Josh Freeman
RB: Chris Johnson, Titans
A fantasy transpiring that has flown relatively under the radar has been the resurgence of Johnson, who has racked up 732 rushing yards and four visits to the Promised Land in his last six games. Alas, the forecast is ominous for Johnson and the Tennessee soil strike this weekend, given that the Texans are allowing the second-lowest production from rushers in 2012. I know some owners will still give Johnson the start, so please, at least heed this advice: whatever you do, don’t start Rashad Jennings. That guy is the worst. Trust me, don’t do it. The amount of tweets and emails we’ve received regarding Jennings’ output, or lack thereof, would bring tears to the most callous of souls. He’s only averaging 2.8 yards per carry on the season. Friends don’t let friends start Rashad Jennings. He’s been the Bizarro Adrian Peterson. You hear me? DON’T DO IT.
Other sits: Rashad Jennings, Steven Jackson
WR: Mike Wallace, Steelers
The Ravens secondary has been susceptible this season, yet don’t use this as your catalyst to roll with Wallace. At time of article push, Ben Roethlisberger is a questionable call against the Ravens. If Big Ben is under center, Wallace is worthy of starter status. But if Charlie Batch is handed the reins? No way, Jose (or whatever your real name is). In three games sans Roethlisberger, Wallace has a meager eight receptions for 47 yards and a touchdown. Not exactly what we in the biz call “good.” I know Wallace isn’t the only receiver working with an ineffective arm (#FreeFitzgerald), but with so many viable receivers, it’s not worth the gamble. In leagues that lock on Thursday, go the safe route and rest Wallace until Roethlisberger returns to good health.
Other sits: Torrey Smith, Sidney Rice
TE: Benjamin Watson, Browns
Watson has become a coveted asset this week with a seemingly exploitable matchup in Oakland. While I understand the sentiment, Watson has brought in three catches or less in nine of 11 games this year. Not helping matters is Brandon Weeden possibly sitting this one out with a concussion. Granted, not that Weeden has been a paragon of passing brilliance, but Colt McCoy won’t raise your stock, either.
Other sits: Coby Fleener, Brandon Myers
DEF: Green Bay Packers
A matchup with Christian Ponder is enticing, but too many stars on this side of the ball are injured. Plus you can count on Peterson wreaking havoc against this depleted crew. Stay away from the Pack in all formats.
Other sits: Seattle Seahawks, Pittsburgh Steelers
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.
Saw Silver Linings Playbook this past weekend, which the Fantasy Basement highly recommends. Without giving much away, one of the stories involves the behavior of Robert De Niro and Bradley Cooper at Eagles games, conduct which leads to some run-ins with the law. While I loved the movie, had to call shenanigans on this one. Unruly etiquette by Philly fans? Get out of here! If anything, a movie should be built around the premise of two Eagles patrons who don’t get into fights or scream obscenities, right?
Speaking of shenanigans, Denver coach John Fox pulled a Mike Shanahan last weekend by inserting Knowshon Moreno just an hour before kickoff over Ronnie Hillman, who had been targeted as the backfield beneficiary of Willis McGahee’s injury. Even after the Moreno news broke, most Broncos beat writers believed Hillman would get most of the work. Apropos, then, that the former first-round pick Moreno finished with 24 touches on the afternoon compared to Hillman’s three.
Damn you, Shana…whoops, my bad, old habit…damn you, Fox. Damn you!
Waiver Wire Watch: Donnie Avery, Colts
T.Y. Hilton has been a popular pick-up the past few weeks, and rightfully so. However, don’t disregard Avery, who is second on the Colts in targets (87) and receptions (44), figures which are exponentially better than the output of the rookie Hilton (57 and 33, respectively). Owned in just 6.6 percent of FOXSports.com fantasy football leagues, Avery has upside this week, as the battle between the Lions and Colts should be a shootout, illustrated by Matthew Stafford’s 61 pass attempts last week and Andrew Luck’s 87 aerial efforts in his last two games.
Email of the Week
This week’s winner comes from A. Bach in Knoxville, who writes:
People keep saying (Cam) Newton has been the worst fantasy pick, but it has to be Greg Jennings. Jennings went from being out one week in early October to missing two months. As soon as I cut him last week trying to make a move for (the) playoffs, he gets picked up and is going to play this week against ME.
I’d still vouch for Dallas’ Murray as the serial killer of fantasy squads thanks to his elevated draft stock, but you are far from the first to deride the extended absence of Jennings. Worse, I think Jennings has milked the injury a little too much, and I say that as an observer who thinks its criminal that teams often rush players back on the field before they’re fully ready. Thing is, I somewhat empathize with Jennings’ situation, as he’s about to hit the free-agent market, and you certainly don’t want to test those waters on a bum body. Then again, I’ve had to answer, “What should I do with Jennings?!?!?” inquiries since Week 3, so excuse me if I’ve coming off apathetic to his plight.
Luckily, A. Bach, Jennings will be on a snap count the next few weeks, so he shouldn’t bite you in the behind in your matchup.
Fantasy Flyer: DeAngelo Williams, Panthers
Usually we shoot for performers that are obtainable in most formats, meaning Williams’ 63 percent ownership rate falls outside of this constraint. However, confidence in the Panthers back is fairly low, reasonable since Williams has just 292 yards and three touchdowns on the season. Nevertheless, with Jonathan Stewart likely out with an ankle injury, Williams will get the starting spot in the Carolina backfield versus a Kansas City squad conceding over 126 yards on the ground per game. A good bet for 15-18 touches, Williams is a flyer with a high potential.
The Real Debate
With just a month to go in the season, the argument for Rookie of the Year has heated up between the aforementioned Luck and Robert Griffin III. But the discussion should not center on which fledgling field general has been better this season; rather, the Real Debate should be this: how disheartening has Nick Foles been thus far? For weeks, every comment deriving from the City of Brotherly Love proclaimed the Eagles as a possible playoff team if Michael Vick’s turnover-prone ways were benched in favor of Foles. Going out on a limb and saying this decree might have been embellished, given that Foles has failed against two advantageous opponents in Washington and Carolina. The lesson, as always: be careful what you wish for, it might just come true.
Rookie Review: Mohamed Sanu, Bengals
The receptions and yardage from the past three games hasn’t been eye-catching (11 receptions, 98 yards), but Sanu’s red-zone prowess has turned some heads, with four touchdowns in that span. A third-round selection out of Rutgers, Sanu remains a reach in most rotisserie formats, as A.J. Green and Jermaine Gresham persist as the primary receiving weapons for the Bengals. Still, Sanu has the capacity to serve as a solid complement to Green, especially in regard to drawing attention in the middle of the gridiron. In 2013 drafts, mark Sanu as a late-round sleeper.
This Week in Kevin Walter
Quiet week for K-Walt, snagging two balls for 20 yards in Houston’s win over Detroit. Just spitballin’, but this low-key afternoon probably paralleled to Walter’s pre-game endeavors, as the Pride of Ypsilanti personally hunted, slayed, and prepared turkey for thousands of Motor City residents on Thanksgiving morning. I’m assuming the Lions secondary was part of the contingent that was fed. How else do you explain Justin Forsett’s 81-yard scamper…too soon, Motown?
Walter’s 2012 Stats: 31 receptions, 411 yards, two touchdowns
Walter’s Cornerback Body Count: 11
Personal Foul on: the Cleveland Browns
Reminds me of the conversation between Ron Burgundy and Baxter in Anchorman: “You faced Charlie Batch, had eight turnovers…and you only won by six? How’d you do that? Heck, I’m not even mad, that’s amazing!”
Gatorade Shower Goes to: Ray Rice, Ravens
You saw Rice’s conversation on 4th-and-29, right? Man’s game, son.
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