FOX Sports Exclusive
Fitzgerald, Wells searching for help
For most NFLers, life ain’t bad. Opulent contracts, endorsements, free swag and fame, all deriving from their aptitude in a child’s game. Yet living life in luxury doesn’t preclude football players from creating their own wish lists during the holidays. Luckily, we were able to obtain a copy of their desires from the duds and studs of Week 13:
Christmas List for Studs
Andrew Luck: A Backfield Sans Donald Brown
Cat continues to force throws, with three more tosses to the wrong team on Sunday bringing his season total to a conference-high 16 interceptions. Yet Luck’s prosperous passing numbers have mostly negated this shortcoming, as the No. 1 overall pick posted 391 yards and four touchdowns to finish as the day’s top performer at the quarterback position. The deft display in Detroit vaults Luck to the seventh spot among fantasy field generals, a rank that’s fascinated even his most ardent proponents. Indianapolis does have Houston twice in the next month, but also has two respites against Tennessee and Kansas City, making Luck a major asset heading into the fantasy playoffs.
Now, just imagine the carnage Luck would be capable of with a viable terrain attack. And by that, we’re referring to a backfield featuring rookie Vick Ballard, not Donald Brown, as the latter is averaging just 2.8 yards per rush over his last four contests. C.J. Spiller he is not. By the way, in case you needed any more proof of Peyton Manning’s magnificence, check out Indianapolis’ first-round selections from the past decade: Marlin Jackson, Joseph Addai, Anthony Gonzalez, Brown, Jerry Hughes…my goodness, is that a multitude of mediocrity. How Manning consistently won (and to some extent, what Luck is doing now, albeit against a weaker schedule) with such a motley crew never ceases to amaze.
Russell Wilson: A Bigger Mailbox
It wasn’t pretty, yet given the environment, atmosphere and opponent, Wilson gets nothing but love for pulling off the overtime upset in the Windy City, putting Seattle in solid position for a playoff berth. As Chicago was a top-five unit against adversarial signal callers, the Wisconsin product’s production (23-for-37, 293 passing yards, 71 rushing yards and two scores) was an unexpected surprise and provided further evidence that the Seahawks brass did know what they were doing when Wilson was named starter over offseason acquisition Matt Flynn.
This conviction was not evident in the season’s first five weeks, as the rookie had five touchdowns versus seven turnovers and was averaging a meager 163 passing yards per game, leading to many pigskin pundits questioning Wilson’s merits as starter. Admittedly, I was in this Doubting Thomas contingent. So for Wilson, we bestow a bigger mailbox to host all the apology letters that will be heading in his direction.
Bryce Brown: Stick ‘Em
Brown’s late-game fumble to seal the deal for Dallas reminded me, and I’m sure many of you shared this sentiment, of Jester’s admonishment to Maverick in Top Gun: “That was some of the best flying I've seen to date …right up to the part where you got killed. You never, never leave your wingman.” Save for security issues, Brown delivered dividends to his owners for the second straight week, accruing over 180 total yards with two end-zone excursions versus the Cowboys on Sunday night. With LeSean McCoy dealing with concussion issues, Brown is a top-10 back with an exploitable slate (Buccaneers, Bengals, Redskins and Giants) the rest of the way home.
Need to keep that rawhide from hitting the ground though, son. As Hot Hands Hannon showed us in Little Giants, a little stick ‘em should do the trick.
Adrian Peterson: Jugs Machine
Purple Jesus continues to work miracles, this time with 210 yards off 21 carries in a losing effort in Lambeau. To think, three months ago, Peterson’s fantasy forecast was ominous, as offseason knee surgery started to slow the running back’s participation in training camp. Now he’s averaging a league-leading 120.5 yards per game despite the absence of an ample arm under center.
By the way, considering Christian Ponder was just 12-for-25 for 119 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions, as well as the array of inadequacy Peterson has dealt with at the position, it’s not unfathomable to think the All-Pro back would wish for such a device. After all, it certainly can’t hurt their chances, right?
Calvin Johnson: A sidekick
Calvin Johnson: Maintain the Status Quo
Originally Megatron wished for a receiving complement to lessen some of the focus from opposing secondaries. Unfortunately, Johnson realized this would correlate to a cutback in targets, and since he already catches everything in his general direction in the face of double and triple coverages, figured that whole sidekick thing is overrated.
Johnson’s most recent conquest (13 grabs, 171 yards, touchdown) now gives the perennial Pro Bowler 790 yards in the past five games, and puts the Detroit wideout in legitimate range of reaching Jerry Rice’s record of 1,848 yards in a season.
Dez Bryant: A Babysitter
Bryant’s first two months mirrored his conduct on and off the field from the previous two seasons: inconsistent and disruptive. Yet in the last four weeks, Bryant has illustrated why he was such a highly-touted prospect, snagging 29 balls for 475 yards and six trips to pay dirt. Thing is, Bryant is still extremely raw in terms of turning his natural talents into unwavering results. And it would be a misnomer to mention that concern over Bryant’s behavior away from the Cowboys complex has been alleviated. As long as someone is keeping diligence on the 24-year-old, that kid’s star will continue to rise.
Demaryius Thomas: Flowers
As in a bouquet of roses to John Elway for having the brass to acquire the venerable-but-vulnerable Manning and exile franchise favorite Tim Tebow. The move has proved fruitful for Thomas, who has seen his yards-per-game average jump from 50.1 in 2011 to 92.8 in the current campaign. Combined with eight ventures into the Promised Land (including two on Sunday versus Tampa Bay) Thomas enters Week 13 with the fourth-highest point production among receivers.
Jason Witten: An Extortion Plan
In PPR leagues, only Tony Gonzalez and Rob Gronkowski rank higher than Witten, but in standard leagues, the Dallas tight end resides near the eighth slot thanks to issues inside the 20, with only one touchdown on the season. Seriously, how does a man with 88 receptions (with six catches for 108 yards yesterday) have just one scamper for six? Only one answer to this predicament: blackmail. We need to devise a scheme against Jason Garrett and Tony Romo so every red-zone look is in Witten’s vicinity. Perhaps we get “proof” that Romo purposely botched the snap against Seattle in the playoffs in 2007 to pay off gambling debts, or that Garrett was on performance-enhancers when he led that epic Thanksgiving comeback in 1994. And yes, all this is coming from a disenchanted Witten proprietor.
Christmas List for Duds
Drew Brees: NyQuil and a DVD of Super Bowl XLIV
Owners can’t be too upset at the five picks on Thursday night. Sure, the contest may have altered or ended playoff aspirations for some unlucky souls, but Brees has produced the most points among quarterbacks in 2012. If anything, this statistical aberration cements that the Saints can’t catch a break this year. As Brees is one of the most universally liked and respected athletes of our era, we don’t want further failures in his immediate future, hence the NyQuil and game tape, so he can go to sleep with images of better times in his head.
Philip Rivers: Travel Itinerary
He wasn’t terrible by any means, though in that same vein, Rivers won’t receive much acclaim for his efforts on Sunday. The Bengals have improved over the past month, yet they’re hardly viewed as a formidable foe, making Rivers’ day (26-for-48, 280 yards, two turnovers and zero scores) disconcerting. Worse, it’s put another dent in the season-long stat line, as Rivers now has 20 turnovers compared to 18 scores, and his 247.4 passing yards per game is his lowest mark since 2007.
Think there is still gas left in his tank, but don’t think he should be reviving his engines for the Chargers’ offense in 2013.
Rashad Jennings: A New Profession
In substitution of starter Maurice Jones-Drew, Jennings has amassed 237 yards on 88 carries. For you math scholars out there, that equates to a whopping…2.7 yards per rush. As a former investor of Jennings, in the words of my hero Ty Webb, “You’re not…you’re not good, Al. You stink.” Might be time to bulk up and go the fullback route, friend.
Beanie Wells: An Offensive Line
Years from now, we’ll be discussing the Ryan Lindley – Mark Sanchez duel as a turning point in our country’s history. Towards change or anarchy, I’m not sure, but that encounter of incompetence needs to be memorialized with a statue or reflecting pool, with the words, “NEVER FORGET” entrenched.
Anyway, lost in the array of overthrows and one-hops was the performance, or lack thereof, of Wells, who finished with scant 22 yards on 15 carries. In his defense, the bruising back was met in the backfield multiple times before getting the train started, as the Cardinals’ front line is a beat-up crew. Unfortunately, if he keeps operating behind such porous protection, Wells is going to find himself back in the infirmary. Even in deeper leagues, stay away from Wells facing a ferocious Seattle front seven next weekend.
Larry Fitzgerald: A Hug
Joel: Larry, you see this, all these poor passing numbers? It’s not your fault.
Larry: Yeah, I know that...
Joel: Look at me, son. It’s not your fault
Larry: I know.
Joel: It’s not your fault.
Larry: I know..
Joel: No, no, you don’t. It’s not your fault.
Larry: I know.
Joel: It’s not your fault.
Joel: It’s not your fault…it’s not your fault.
Larry: Don’t mess with me…
Joel: It’s not your fault…
Larry: DON’T MESS WITH ME! NOT YOU, JOEL…
Joel: It’s not your fault…
(Both of us embrace as Larry begins to cry.)
Sorry, my little brother watched Good Will Hunting for the first time ever (putting him a slight 104 viewings behind me) and I thought the exchange was apropos for the grieving receiver. #FreeFitzgerald
Danny Amendola: Good Health
If this guy could stay on the field, he’d be a PPR god. Instead, he’s been stuck on the sidelines with shoulder, ankle and concussion issues. Here’s hoping that Amendola, who has 51 receptions in eight abbreviated appearances this season, is able to return this week, as the Rams have an advantageous schedule in December, with Buffalo, Minnesota and Tampa Bay on tap. If he’s able to suit up, Amendola, available in more than 52 percent of FOXSports.com leagues, could be a deciding factor in the fantasy postseason.
Vernon Davis: Microsoft PowerPoint
In order to present Jim Harbaugh why, when thrown to, he’s one of the best tight ends in the league, an attitude seemingly not held by the coaching staff or San Francisco quarterbacks this season, as Davis has a meager 53 targets in 2012 for 37 receptions. I know the Niners like to keep it on the ground, and an enhanced receiving corps has paralleled to a decrease in looks, but this is ridiculous. Davis finished with two receptions for 15 yards in the team’s loss to St. Louis in Week 12.
Mark Sanchez: An Accountant
Better make sure those checks are clearing, Mark.