Fantasy Football

Bradshaw, Brown falter in Week 14

Studs and Duds
On behalf of all Seattle Defense owners, thank you, Arizona.
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Joel Beall

Joel Beall is a writer for FOXSports.com and WhatIfSports.com. He lives with a Golden Tee machine and a jump shot that’s currently broken. Reach Joel on Twitter @FOXSportsBeall.

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Studs

QB: Cam Newton, Panthers
Full disclosure: I carry an inordinate amount of acrimony toward those who have unwarrantedly wounded or wronged myself or those around me. Seems a bit irrational for a sports writer, I know, considering no matter what you write, at least 30 percent of the audience will take affront with said content. Moreover, I’m generally considered an affable, easy-going cat. But take a shot at my manhood and I transform into Liam Neeson after finding out his daughter has been kidnapped.

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Case in point: during August, a radio host inquired on my forecast for Newton. I made the case that the Carolina quarterback was undervalued, that his so-so second half of 2011 was being dissected a little too much and, for his average draft position in early FOXSports.com drafts, the 2010 Heisman winner was a steal. Fast forward a month after the G-Men laid the smackdown on the Panthers and Newton, and the aforementioned radio program invited me back, only to spend the first five minutes of the interview ripping apart my projection on the second-year signal caller. I tried to preach patience, the whole “the season is a marathon, not a sprint” spiel, but they were having none of it, almost questioning if I should look for a new profession.

So you can imagine my level of gratification during Newton’s recent revival, as his 10 touchdowns and zero turnovers (including three scores against the Falcons yesterday, along with 287 passing yards and another 116 on the ground) the past three weeks have skyrocketed Newton to second amongst fantasy producers at his position behind only Robert Griffin III. But instead of rubbing my vengeance in the face of my detractors, I’ll adhere to Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius’ advice when he said, “The best revenge is to be unlike him who performed the injury.”

Plus, pretty sure that host changed gigs, so not sure where I could send my vendetta basket of durians, “Vick for MVP” shirts and Taylor Swift CDs, anyway. Speaking of Vick…

QB: Nick Foles, Eagles
Now that’s why the City of Brotherly Love was clamoring for the neophyte field general. Foles was phenomenal for Philadelphia on Sunday, racking up over 400 total yards (32-for-51, 381 yards; three carries, 27 yards) and making three trips to the Promised Land to lead the Eagles to their first win since September. Granted, the Buccaneers have been one of the worst aerial resistances in the NFC this season, but when your town’s baseball team has more wins in the past two months than your gridiron gang, beggars can’t be choosers.

RB: David Wilson, Giants
Wilson was targeted in the preseason as a player with sleeper status, a standing that failed to come to fruition through the first three months and correlated to an ownership rate of just 19.1 percent in FOXSports.com fantasy football leagues. Look for that figure to fluctuate, however, after a breakthrough performance, rushing for 100 yards and two end-zone excursions off 13 carries versus the Saints. Better yet, in leagues that count special-teams contributions, Wilson’s 94-yard kickoff return to pay dirt provided extra dividends. Though starter Ahmad Bradshaw was battered and bruised after the game, don’t envision Wilson taking the reins at running back just yet. However, in deeper leagues, Wilson definitely merits a roster spot.

RB: Knowshon Moreno, Broncos
If the Broncos brass don’t bring back Moreno in 2013, expect the former first-round pick to receive his fair share of love on the free-agent market. Since stepping in for the injured Willis McGahee, Moreno has showcased the aptitude and faculty that made him such a highly-touted prospect coming out of Georgia, rushing for 273 yards and adding 88 more in the receiving forum in the past three outings. These conquests should continue in the final three weeks, as Baltimore, Cleveland and Kansas City have struggled against adversarial terrain games.

While we’re here, a few readers are worried that Denver entities, with Peyton Manning as the chief concern, will be on the sidelines during the fantasy championships. Understand the sentiment, but as the Broncos are still battling the Patriots for a first-round bye, all starters should be suited up in Mile High for at least Week 16.

WR: Mike Wallace, Steelers
Wallace ended his four-week statistical sabbatical in amazing fashion, scoring twice off seven receptions for 112 yards against San Diego. Admittedly, Wallace’s absence from box-score relevance mostly derived from the putrid play of Byron Leftwich and Charlie Batch, yet he was still receiving a sound dosage of targets and his opponents (Ravens, Browns, Chiefs) weren’t exactly the ’85 Bears. Luckily for the receiver and his proprietors, Ben Roethlisberger’s return under center ensures Wallace’s rotisserie relevance in the final weeks of the season.

WR: Danario Alexander, Chargers
The San Diego wideout is second only to Calvin Johnson in receiver fantasy points in the last five weeks, as Alexander hauled in seven receptions for 88 yards and two touchdowns on the top-rated Steelers secondary yesterday. More importantly, Alexander’s awesomeness has vaulted him to the front of the pack for the coveted Earnest Graham Award, given to a late-season roster addition that makes the biggest fantasy impact. This year’s nominees: Alexander, Montell Owens, Bryce Brown, T.Y. Hilton and Colin Kaepernick. Not invited: Mark Sanchez.

TE: Greg Olsen, Panthers
Clay Harbor and Anthony McCoy deserve credit as well, but outside of their family members, doesn’t look like anyone inserted the two tight ends into lineups over the weekend, so Olsen gets our nod for 55 yards and a score on five grabs. As you can tell, slim pickings this week from the position.

DEF: Seattle Seahawks
From last Wednesday’s Fantasy Basement column:

Betting against Ryan Lindley the last two weeks has paid my Christmas shopping bill. May he, John Skelton and Kevin Kolb bring as much joy to your household these holidays as they have mine.

Hopefully you took this counsel to heart and cashed in on the Arizona offense. They truly are the NFL’s gift that keeps on giving.

Duds

QB: Andrew Luck, Colts
We’ve warned you of Luck’s inconsistency and turnovers, yet that did not stop FOXSports.com owners from starting him in nearly half of formats this weekend. That move did not prosper, with Luck tossing two more picks to give the No. 1 overall selection 18 interceptions on the campaign, tied with Drew Brees for most in the league. Indianapolis will face Houston twice in the next three weeks, and while the Texans secondary has soured, it is still an elite unit, making Luck a risky play down the fantasy home stretch. In most standard formats, keep the Colts QB on the bench.

QB: Russell Wilson, Seahawks
I’m sure Wilson owners were delighted to see “Seattle 58, Arizona 0” on the bottom ticker, only for that excitement to extinguish when learning the quarterback had little to do with the blowout. I hate to place a performance that wasn’t necessarily bad in this forum, but from a statistical standpoint, Wilson disappointed his managers. Chalk this up as a victory for the anti-fantasy contingent. After all, what kind of sick, twisted game penalizes the victor from such a shellacking?

RB: Ahmad Bradshaw, Giants
He hasn’t been bad this year, yet those who possess Bradshaw wouldn’t claim they’ve been pleased with their investment, especially factoring in the departure of bruising back Brandon Jacobs. Bradshaw accumulated a scant 33 yards off 11 attempts on Sunday, the fifth time in 2012 that the Giants rusher failed to surpass the 50-yard plateau. Alluded to above, Bradshaw is not in danger of losing the starring role in Gotham City at the moment, although if the injuries continue to take their toll, Wilson could see an expanded role at the expense of Bradshaw playing time.

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RB: Bryce Brown, Eagles
Not a total surprise, as the Buccaneers entered the foray surrendering the fewest amount of fantasy points to running backs on the season. Still…just six yards on 12 carries after 347 yards the previous two weeks? Going out on a limb and proclaiming more than a few owners felt that stomach punch.

WR: A.J. Green, Bengals
The Dallas cornerbacks are formidable foes, but the Pro Bowler has reached the echelon where people expect him to put forth a display no matter the opponent. Green justifies inclusion on this list not just for a pedestrian output of three receptions for 44 yards, but for dropping a relatively easy touchdown grab in the Bengals’ loss to the Cowboys. Philadelphia should offer a platform to bounce back. That is, if Green’s feats, or lack thereof, haven’t already knocked his teams out of championship contention.

WR: Greg Jennings, Packers
Most sane people will rationalize the lack of harvest from Jennings (one reception, 27 yards) on the winter wonderland at Lambeau Field Sunday night, or that the receiver is still in the midst of assimilating back after a two-month absence with various injuries. However, most Jennings holders are not rational souls, given the receiver went from week-to-week to missing eight weeks of action. Plus, never good when Jennings’ fan base has a better chance of seeing him in a commercial rather than a highlight from that day’s game.

TE: Vernon Davis, 49ers
Davis’ latest frustration (one catch, four yards) marks the sixth time in eight games that the tight end finished with three receptions or less. That’s…that’s not good, Vernon.

DEF: Arizona Cardinals
In their, um, “defense,” the Cardinals counterparts did little to alleviate their stress with a plethora of pigskin security issues. Alas, the Cards still surrendered 46 points on their own accord.

Tagged: Bengals, Broncos, Packers, Colts, Saints, Giants, Jets, Eagles, 49ers, Seahawks, Buccaneers, Panthers, Cardinals, Steelers, Chargers, Ben Roethlisberger, Vernon Davis, Greg Jennings, Ahmad Bradshaw, Greg Olsen, Mike Wallace, Mark Sanchez, Knowshon Moreno, Danario Alexander, Cam Newton, A.J. Green, Andrew Luck, David Wilson, Russell Wilson, Nick Foles, Bryce Brown

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