For some owners the end of the playoffs is a satisfying culmination of a season's worth of good drafting, smart maneuvering and a little bit of luck. For other, less fortunate owners, this time of the season means countless nights studying the free agent pool, reading more advice columns than is humanely tolerable and scraping along week-by-week. Those are the owners that I'm speaking to this week. If you've found yourself feeling like MacGyver trying to turn waiver wire remains into a workable lineup, I've got you covered. We'll be taking a look at some players who have been floating just along the fringe of startability who are ready to shine for a final time. And don't fret, deep league/incredibly desperate owners, I've also identified a deep sleeper at each position that you may find some use in. Without further ado, let's do some tiering.
Ben Roethlisberger: It's true, "Big Ben" took a giant steaming Roethlisberger all over fantasy owners this year. Drafted as a top-5 QB based on his outstanding 32-touchdown campaign in 2007, the burly Steeler hasn't even halved that number this season, and he's been under 15 fantasy points in nine out of 14 games.
The Titans have suffered more injuries than a boozed up fat kid at Ozzfest -- they'll be missing
Chad Pennington: Hardly an inspiring choice, but he's the smart play if you're facing the prospect of starting someone like Thigpen, Rivers, Garrard or Garcia this week. He's not going to bring you negative points by turning the ball over -- he's thrown six touchdowns with one interception over the last month -- and he's visiting Kansas City, where the Chiefs have been inexplicably worse than on the road. They're giving up just over 30 points a game while at home and only 24 when they're away from Arrowhead. Don't expect huge yardage numbers from the weak-armed Pennington, but two bills and two scores are a near certainty. I don't know about you, but I could sure use 20 fantasy points out of my QB position this week.
Brett Favre: Favre reminds me of the Doc Holliday character toward the end of
Dan Orlovsky: OK, you can stop laughing now. Seriously, are you done? I'll admit, the first thing that comes to mind when I think of Orlovsky is the sight of a grown man, shrieking like a woman, being chased out the back of the end zone by
After watching New Orleans struggle mightily to contain
Tashard Choice: After witnessing Barber stumble his way to two yards on eight carries, I think we're all in agreement that he's not 100 percent healthy, right? He may see some action against the Ravens, but it's Choice who makes the intriguing play. Baltimore is an aggressive, pursuing defense that can be neutralized by the Cowboys' aggressive passing attack. With the Ravens on their heels just a bit, it'll give Choice plenty of opportunities to find room on draw plays and screen passes. He's accumulated 309 offensive yards over the past two weeks against such defensive behemoths as the Steelers and the Giants, so don't let
Darren McFadden: OK, so I haven't exactly been shy about tooting the McFadden horn once every few weeks, and I sincerely apologize for my misguided belief that at some point
Kevin Faulk: So the most consistent fantasy producer in the New England backfield is a 32-year-old career third-down back that started the season on the suspended list? In a Belichickian sort of way, that actually makes perfect sense. Faulk has topped 80-plus total yards in six of his last eight games, and ranks second among all running backs in both catches and receiving yards. As a flex or RB3 play, it doesn't get much Faulking better than plugging in the Patriots utility guy and watching him craftily contribute nothing but positives.
P.J. Pope: Pope became the sixth Broncos running back to lead the team in rushing with his 51-yard effort this past Sunday. He was also involved prominently on passing downs and scored a receiving touchdown. The only thing I know about Pope is that he was pretty dominant in NCAA Football '06 running the option with
Steve Breaston: Listen, I hate to keep belaboring the Patriots defense, I really do, but the fact is they let Seneca Wallace and Deion Branch have a field day two weeks ago, and last Sunday were unable to contain the JaMarcus Russell to
Kevin Walter: This is what Kevin Walter does. He throws up a huge number one week, and then completely disappears the next. In fact, I took a look at his game logs to confirm my point about him being an every-other-week performer, and I was amazed at what I found. On odd-numbered weeks (1, 3, 5 etc.), Walter's caught 21 passes for 291 yards and a touchdown. He had just one game where he went over 50 yards during those weeks. In even-numbered weeks, Walter's got 34 catches for 568 yards and seven touchdowns! He has at least 70 yards in every even-numbered week. And here's the kicker, he's played one more game in odd numbered weeks! Can somebody remind what week this is? 16 you say ... that's an even number, correct? Hmmmmm ...
Dennis Northcutt: I would hate to be a Jaguars fan right now. Besides the obvious reasons (terrible record, team quitting on coach, coach benching best player etc.), just knowing that my team guaranteed $10 million to
Josh Cribbs: Did you know that Cribbs has been the leading rusher for the Browns since Dorsey became the QB? Sure, he's only picked up 49 yards on 11 carries, but it sure beats Jamal Lewis' 21 attempts for 39 yards. Cleveland has been running a variation of the Wildcat package, a thing they like to call the "Brown Streak" formation -- alright, that's a lie. They call it something stupid like the "Flash" formation. Anyway, Cribbs is the point man when they go to this package, and he's run well out of it and has even attempted two passes. These Bengals/Browns matchups have a tendency to get wacky, especially when both teams are terrible (as is often the case), and what would be wackier than Cribbs pulling a
It took me a little while to warm to Carlson, but man, 19 catches for 250 yards over the last three weeks? Those are some big boy numbers right there. I see no reason why his torching play won't continue against the Jets ... You know who hasn't been very good lately? Bo Scaife. After catching 10 balls against the Bears in Week 10, he's only caught 11 more in the five games since. I'd say he's no longer startable ... The middle of the Chargers defense is like a swampy breeding ground for tight end fantasy points. I mean, they can't stop anyone. The worst game that a TE has had against them was Fasano's three catch, 47 yard outing in Week 5. If four points is the floor, you might want to consider plugging-and-playing Stevens this week. Heck, give Alex Smith a whirl if you're feeling frisky ...