Waiver review: Let Snelling run

BY foxsports • December 22, 2009

The waiver wire figures to churn at a less frenetic pace this week, as the number of eliminated teams rose markedly following the Monday night beatdown laid down by the Giants. The Redskins were run over, literally and figuratively, and even the hearty fans who braved the elements started to take cover and head home before halftime.

As I watched the game, I couldn’t help but think of that morning’s news that all “non-essential” government employees had been advised to stay home. It would appear that a number of players from the Redskins did just that, as that effort didn’t constitute “showing up” in any sense of the word.

I digress. We’re churning through the names and numbers on the wire for this all-important championship week in the fantasy realm. Some of the names are fairly obvious given their big performances in Week 15, but other long-term consistent options still reside in the fantasy netherworld.

Let’s break out this week’s holiday edition of the Baker’s Dozen and start in Cleveland, where I have no doubt that Eric Mangini will mock us all with a random backfield configuration against the Raiders.

Jerome Harrison, RB, Cleveland Browns

Harrison and teammate Josh Cribbs were the obvious top stars (if we can steal the hockey analogy for a moment) of Week 15 in a game nobody saw except the highlights. He rushed for 286 yards and three touchdowns, demonstrating great burst and power at the line with separation speed once he reached the secondary. Eric Mangini does us no favors, of course, as Chris Jennings received the bulk of the workload after Harrison’s last big game. Either way, Harrison warrants a pickup and Flex play.

Don’t be sucked in too much by the overall stats on the Oakland defense. They can obviously play better than the averages when an opposing quarterback is a non-factor. How many teams have you seen score 41 points with a quarterback passing for 66 yards and two interceptions?

Michael Bush, RB, Oakland Raiders

Bush took the reins for Oakland against Denver once Justin Fargas departed with an injury. Somehow, the normally reliable Denver run defense suddenly forgot how to tackle or hold the gap as Bush ran wild (18 carries for 133 yards and a touchdown). Fargas and Darren McFadden (more of a receiving threat, it would appear) will eat into the workload, but it seems that Bush would certainly warrant a sizable touch count against the woeful Cleveland run defense.

Jason Snelling, RB, Atlanta Falcons

Can I throw up the white flag for Michael Turner from 2,500 miles away? Seriously, can we stop subjecting his ankle to more wear and tear and let him sit out the final two weeks? Turner has twice tried to return from his ankle injury and has twice exited quickly after aggravating the injury. Sit him down!

If the Falcons take the judicious, measured and long-term approach to their backfield, then Snelling is clearly the No. 1 option this week against the run-deficient Buffalo defense. Snelling amassed 59 yards on 16 carries in relief of Turner in Week 15 against the Jets. Coach Smith, please do fantasy owners a favor and let Snelling play!

Fantasy owners should claim and start Snelling in the Flex (or raise him up to an RB2). Even if Turner plays, I’m not optimistic that he can finish a game at this juncture.

Julius Jones, RB, Seattle Seahawks

Jones remains a large part of the Seattle run game alongside speedster Justin Forsett. Seattle's makeshift line is one reason this isn’t the most efficient of running attacks in the league. Still, any back that logs double-digit touches on a weekly basis certainly warrants consideration of a Flex play. Jones has averaged 14 carries and 57 rushing yards in the past three weeks.

Matt Moore, QB, Carolina Panthers

I put Moore down for a slot on this list following Sunday night’s effort against the Vikings. He was flinging the ball downfield without hesitation en route to his huge 299-yard, three-touchdown day. I almost removed him from the list after watching the Giants torture Jason Campbell on Monday night. Clearly, somebody put them in the “wayback machine” and let the New York front seven find the attitude, tenacity and technique that had been sorely lacking.

Still, Moore’s performance against the Vikings is something I can’t ignore. He played like a man with absolutely nothing to lose. That’s a very dangerous thing. Moore is clearly enamored with the big-play potential of Steve Smith downfield (they’ve connected on big touchdown passes in back-to-back weeks). I suspect that we see a few more errant throws along the way, but his decisiveness could make things interesting versus the Giants. You won’t play him unless in a deep two-quarterback league, but I’d been remiss if I failed to at least acknowledge Moore this week.

Vince Young, QB, Tennessee Titans

Young was questionable because of a knee injury as of mid-week. He not only played, but notched his first career three-touchdown game against the Dolphins. Young is a difficult play this week against the Chargers’ secondary, but he definitely warrants a look-see depending on your quarterback situation. He now has Justin Gage (see below) back in the mix to work opposite rookie Kenny Britt.

Alex Smith, QB, San Francisco 49ers

Smith posted his worst effort of this run under center for the 49ers against Philadelphia. He completed 20-of-37 attempts for 177 yards, three interceptions and a single touchdown in the two-touchdown loss to the Eagles. Smith has thrown five interceptions in the past two weeks, and his four-game streak of multi-touchdown performances came to an end.

He’s been shut out only once in nine contests and represents a tremendous “Hail Mary” option this weekend against the Detroit secondary. If Smith can avoid throwing the ball to rookie safety Louis Delmas, he could post a big day against one of the league’s worst pass defenses.

Josh Morgan, WR, San Francisco 49ers

If I’m going to spotlight Alex Smith, then I clearly need to roll back and give a nod to one of his top targets. For this matchup against Detroit, I’ll focus on second-year receiver Morgan. He caught seven passes for 61 yards and a touchdown against the Eagles. Taken further, Morgan has caught six or more passes in three of the 49ers’ past four games.

Justin Gage, WR, Tennessee Titans

Gage returned from a five-week absence and played a huge role for the Titans in the dramatic win over the Dolphins. He registered only two receptions, but demonstrated a knack for body control and balance with his two touchdown grabs from Vince Young. Gage finished the game with 43 receiving yards. He’s a solid pickup for Christmas night, even with the strong San Diego pass defense on tap.

Laveranues Coles, WR, Cincinnati Bengals

Coles hasn’t been the consistent No. 2 option opposite Chad Ochocinco that the Bengals envisioned after allowing T.J. Houshmandzadeh to depart via free agency. He’s amassed just 37 receptions for 452 yards and four touchdowns. Coles did catch four passes for 48 yards and scored in the near-miss against the Chargers in Week 15. I put him on the radar as a flier option for Week 16.

If you’re in your league’s title game, then you probably have a more consistent, reliable third receiver in the mix. However, you may find yourself as a heavy underdog in need of a proverbial dice roll. Coles is worthy of a look-see against the Kansas City secondary.

San Francisco Defense/Special teams

I don’t often trumpet the kicker/defense options on the wire, but this one seems like too ripe an option for title week to ignore. The opportunistic 49ers take on the Lions. Will the team come out flat after being eliminated from playoff contention? I don’t see Mike Singletary’s team laying down in this one. I also don’t expect to see Detroit rack up points as they did against the Arizona squad in Week 15. They’ll get after whichever quarterback Jim Schwartz decides to roll onto the field.

Fred Davis, TE, Washington Redskins

Nearly everything that could go wrong for the Redskins did during Monday night’s 45-12 drubbing at the hands of the Giants. However, Davis shone brightly for fantasy owners once again. He caught five passes for 65 yards and scored for the fourth consecutive game. He has caught a total of 33 passes for 389 yards and six touchdowns since relieving an injured Chris Cooley in Week 7 (4.1 receptions and 48.6 yards per game).

Jermichael Finley, TE, Green Bay Packers

Fantasy owners must be married to their original draft choices at the position. Despite Finley’s stellar production in the past month, fantasy owners have not jumped aboard the bandwagon. Sunday’s leaping touchdown catch against the Steelers, a grab made as if he were a power forward in the low post, should have turned the tide! Finley returned from a knee injury in Week 11 against the 49ers. He’s averaging 6.2 receptions and 60.4 receiving yards with three touchdowns in this five-game period. Finley has finished three straight games with at least 70 receiving yards. The second-year tight end from Texas is a top-notch play against the Seahawks this week.

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