Fantasy Clicks
By Jay Clemons
Thursday Night Revelations
Peyton Manning: AP
Indianapolis 35, Jacksonville 31
  • After five unsuccessful attempts, the NFL Network finally got a Thursday night game worth talking about in Week 15 ... with a sellout crowd at the old/new Gator Bowl to boot! Perhaps the NFLN can make more of a concerted effort to schedule Peyton Manning or Maurice Jones-Drew before the Thanksgiving holiday in 2010 -- or, at the very least, build a tighter marketing campaign around Jamaal Charles, Chris Johnson, Matthew Stafford, Calvin Johnson, Michael Crabtree, DeSean Jackson, LeSean McCoy and Knowshon Moreno -- all budding megastars for the next decade. But alas, we'll save that ambitious plan for another day (like after the holidays, courtesy of the Fantasy Clicks Year-End Spectacular).

    In the meantime, here are five Revelations off the high-scoring and fantasy-pleasing Colts vs. Jags:

    1. Peyton Manning should never be benched in fantasyland:: You wouldn't believe all the Why should I start Peyton against Jacksonville, if he's only going to play a half? queries on Twitter this week ... from nervous, short-sighted, itchy-trigger-fingered fantasy GMs who (hopefully) missed out on Manning's 308 passing yards and four touchdowns on Thursday -- including the 65-yard game-winner to Reggie Wayne (which helped yours truly in two "expert league" playoff games). And with that, we must reiterate our stance on playing Manning in Week 16 against the Jets: He should start in 100 percent of leagues ... UNLESS head coach Jim Caldwell publicly states that Peyton will only see one quarter or one half of action. Otherwise, he's a no-brainer start. Duh!

    2. Dallas Clark is singlehandedly controlling fantasy playoff games: For certain, we respect and admire Clark's body of work in the last 3-4 years; and we're particularly blown away by his five TDs in the last two games. But amid this run of greatness, he is slowly killing the fantasy fortunes of Joseph Addai (73 total yards vs. Jacksonville), Pierre Garcon (2 catches, 16 yards) and Reggie Wayne -- at least before his unlikely touchdown reception that saved an otherwise-mediocre 4-catch, 67-yard night. Clark's Thursday output: 7 catches, 95 yards and 2 TDs ... the same kind of numbers he'll likely see in Week 16 against the Jets (unless Darrelle Revis decides to shadow-box with the tight end).

    3. Maurice Jones-Drew apparently isn't hitting the wall: On Carl Nicks's wildly popular drive-time show on KNFC radio in Houston for Thursday, I told everyone that MJD was a lock for 110 total yards and one TD ... "but don't expect anything more than that, like 140 yards and two touchdowns. He's not going to go crazy on the Colts." Well, as luck would have it, MJD finished with -- you guessed it -- 140 total yards (110 rushing) and two touchdowns ... simultaneously making me a fool and unwitting genius. All this begs the question: What can fantasy owners expect at New England for Week 16? Well, he's a lock for 125 total yards and zero TDs ... but it's not like he's going to go for 175/1 TD against Bill Belichick.

    4. David Garrard could be a No. 1 quarterback in 10- or 12-team leagues next year: We're not basing the previous statement off Thursday's stellar performance (229 total yards, 3 TDs, 1 INT), per se; rather, we've been pleased with Garrard's output for the entire year (3,210 passing yards, 13 TDs) -- so much that we're willing to forgive a pair of clunkers from Weeks 5 (188 yards passing, zero TDs), 8 (139 yards passing, zero TDs) and 12 (307 yards passing, zero TDs). But ay the caveat: Assuming Jack Del Rio stays on as head coach, Jacksonville must upgrade the receiving corps after Mike Sims-Walker (6 catches, 64 yards, 1 TD vs. Indy), Mike Thomas (2 catches, 20 yards, 1 TD) and TE Marcedes Lewis (4 catches, 53 yards). This overhaul entails waving bye-bye to Torry Holt (as a starter, at least) ... while giving future fantasy star Rashad Jennings greater responsibilities -- week in and week out. This shouldn't be too hard, considering the Jaguars already have the makings of a top-5 offensive line.

    5. We're just dying to see Wayne vs. Revis in Week 16 ... ... but don't be surprised to see Reggie hit the showers after one half. We're just not buying the Colts' sincerity with chasing after a perfect regular season -- at all costs.


  • QB Locks For 275 Yards and/or 3 TDs

    1. Drew Brees vs. Dallas
    2. Joe Flacco vs. Chicago
    3. Kurt Warner @ Detroit
    4. Matt Cassel vs. Cleveland
    5. Donovan McNabb vs. San Francisco
    6. Ben Roethlisberger vs. Green Bay
    7. Matt Schaub @ St. Louis
    8. Philip Rivers vs. Cincinnati
    9. Matt Hasselbeck vs. Tampa Bay

    Five Highest-Scoring Games -- Week 15

    1. Dallas @ New Orleans
    2. San Francisco @ Philadelphia
    3. Cincinnati @ San Diego
    4. Tampa Bay @ Seattle
    5. Cleveland @ Kansas City

    I Tweet, Therefore I Am

    @RSCDoug wonders: Playoffs week 1: Is Matt Schaub the right pick over Philip Rivers and/or Brett Favre? Most projections have all three very close.

    Answer: I can understand the logic in starting any one of the three quarterbacks. However, I would NEVER BENCH Rivers @ home ... especially against a team (Cincinnati) that'll be exhausted emotionally come Sunday (for obvious reasons).

    @antular7 asks: Championship in a money league; I really need a win! Which combination of Brett Favre/Kurt Warner and Anquan Boldin/Wes Welker would you play? Double points bonanza?

    Answer: This one's a no-brainer ... ride Warner/Boldin INDOORS against the sad-sack Lions ... boom!

    @TripleG44 wonders: I have two choices to make for the playoffs: 1) Which TE Kevin Boss/Dustin Keller/Tony Scheffler? ... 2) Which two wide receivers to start: Hakeem Nicks/Santonio Holmes/Donald Driver/Steve Smith (NYG)?

    Answer: TripleG, please tell me you have bigger fantasy studs going in the all-too-crucial Week 15 ... than Boss, "Goose Egg" Keller or Donald Driver? All kidding aside, I'd go 1)Boss 2)Scheffler 3)Keller at tight end ... and 1)Santonio 2)S. Smith 3)Driver 4)Nicks as the wideouts. Thanks!

    @empty_backfield asks: which two RBs should I start: Cedric Benson, Knowshon Moreno, Laurence Maroney? Thanks, and happy holidays!

    Answer: To be completely honest here, I'm a little nervous about any Cincy player this week (in the wake of Chris Henry's death). Just to be sure, I might side with Moreno and Maroney -- two excellent options for Week 15.

    @mikezap wonders: I need two RBs: Quinton Ganther, Beanie Wells, Brandon Jacobs; and I need three WRs: Vincent Jackson, Robert Meachem, Sidney Rice, Kenny Britt. Can you help me?

    Answer: At running back, I'd confidently ride Beanie and Jacobs, with Sidney, Meachem and V-Jax serving as my receivers. This isn't a knock on Kenny Britt; it's just a knock on Kenny Britt when Kerry Collins is the quarterback -- which may be the case on Sunday. Thanks!

    @mongoose5271 asks: Which QB for week 15: Carson Palmer, Vince Young, Matt Hasselbeck, Matt Cassel, Brady Quinn, Kyle Orton, Josh Freeman, Chad Henne. I have Palmer/Young ... the rest are free agents.

    Answer: With respect to Chris Henry's death, I'd steer clear of Carson (for one game, at least) ... then go 1)Hasselbeck 2)Cassell 3)Orton 4) Henne 5)Quinn 6)J-Free to fill out the QB shuffle list.

    @JsonH follows up from an earlier Tweet: [Demanding that I start] Reggie Wayne worked out great, thanks! Now for Hines Ward. Very leery this week -- should I replace him with Hakeem Nicks?

    Answer: To be honest, I'm not feeling either Ward or Nicks as a strong candidate for 6 catches/85 yards/1 TD this week. And like I always say ... "when in doubt, go with the veteran who's playing at home." In this case, we're talking about Ward (even though we'd like nothing more than to see Nicks drop two sure-thing TDs ... only to catch a 70-yard score approximately 45 seconds later).

    @rssp55 says: It's playoff time! Start two RB/WRs and one Flex: Julius Jones, Beanie Wells, Jonathan Stewart, Chester Taylor (RBs) ... and WRs Anquan Boldin, Vincent Jackson, Terrell Owens, Roy Williams, Steve Breaston, Steve Smith (NYG)? Thanks.

    Answer: Strange but true: I'd ride Beanie and Julius at RB ... and Anquan/V-Jax at WR ... with Breaston or good old Roy at the flex spot. As for Julius, his potential start does NOT violate The Julius Rules from previous Fantasy Clicks -- which clearly allow Jones to start in home games against mediocre (or worse) clubs. And sadly, the Yuckaneers are really, really bad ... with or without the creamsicle uniforms).

    RB Locks -- 120 Total Yards and/or 2 TDs

    1. Ray Rice vs. Chicago
    2. Matt Forte @ Baltimore (we're sensing A LOT of doubt on this call)
    3. Fred Jackson vs. New England
    4. Beanie Wells @ Detroit
    5. Jamaal Charles vs. Cleveland
    6. Thomas Jones vs. Atlanta
    7. Frank Gore @ Philadelphia
    8. Rashard Mendenhall vs. Green Bay
    9. Steven Jackson vs. Houston
    10. Chris Johnson vs. Miami
    11. Knowshon Moreno vs. Oakland
    12. Adrian Peterson @ Carolina
    13. DeAngelo Williams vs. Minnesota

    WR Locks -- 110 Total Yards and/or 1 TD

    1. Anquan Boldin @ Detroit
    2. Marques Colston vs. Dallas
    3. Miles Austin @ New Orleans
    4. Derrick Mason vs. Chicago
    5. Wes Welker @ Buffalo
    6. Mohamed Massaquoi @ Kansas City
    7. Michael Crabtree @ Philadelphia
    8. DeSean Jackson vs. San Francisco
    9. Andre Johnson @ St. Louis
    10. Brandon Marshall vs. Oakland
    11. Sidney Rice @ Carolina
    12. Nate Burleson vs. Tampa Bay

    Target Practice
    Derrick Mason: Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    A receiver is only as good as his quarterback ... and the number of opportunities he gets to make a catch (known as Targets -- an absolutely critical stat for PPR leagues). This underrated category is the best way to safeguard against one-hit wonders during a looooong fantasy season. To wit, SI.com presents a list of the 24 wideouts with at least 38 Targets since Week 10:

    1. Brandon Marshall, Broncos -- 66 Targets
    2. Wes Welker, Patriots -- 64 Targets
    3. Roddy White, Falcons -- 62 Targets
    4. Calvin Johnson, Lions -- 59 Targets
    5. Santonio Holmes, Steelers -- 54
    6. Andre Johnson, Texans -- 52
    7. Sidney Rice, Vikings -- 51
    8. Brandon Gibson, Rams -- 49
    9. Miles Austin, Cowboys -- 47
    10. Pierre Garcon, Colts -- 45 (excluding Week 15 stats)
    11. Hines Ward, Steelers -- 45
    12. Anquan Boldin, Cardinals -- 44
    13. T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Seahawks -- 44
    14. Derrick Mason, Ravens -- 44
    15. Michael Crabtree, 49ers -- 43
    16. Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals -- 43
    17. Randy Moss, Patriots -- 42
    18. Steve Smith, Giants-- 42
    19. Reggie Wayne, Colts -- 42 (excluding Week 15 stats)
    20. Terrell Owens, Bills -- 40
    21. Chad Ochocinco, Bengals -- 39
    22. Mike Sims-Walker, Jaguars-- 39 (excluding Week 15 stats)
    23. Donnie Avery, Rams -- 38
    24. Santana Moss, Redskins -- 38

    Target Practice, Part II

    One good turn deserves another. Here are the 24 RBs with 15 or more Targets since Week 10:
    1. Frank Gore, 49ers -- 31
    2. Ray Rice, Ravens -- 31
    3. Steven Jackson, Rams -- 30
    4. Justin Forsett, Seahawks -- 26
    5. Chris Johnson, Titans -- 26
    6. Pierre Thomas, Saints -- 26
    7. Jamaal Charles, Chiefs -- 24
    8. Adrian Peterson, Vikings -- 24
    9. Matt Forte, Bears -- 23
    10. Kevin Faulk, Patriots -- 21
    11. Jerome Harrison, Browns -- 21
    12. Fred Jackson, Bills -- 21
    13. Joseph Addai, Colts -- 19 (excluding Week 15 stats)
    14. LeSean McCoy, Eagles -- 19
    15. Rock Cartwright, Redskins -- 18
    16. Darren Sproles, Chargers -- 18
    17. Chester Taylor, Vikings -- 18
    18. Tim Hightower, Cardinals -- 16
    19. Brandon Jackson, Packers-- 16
    20. Maurice Jones-Drew, Jaguars -- 16 (excluding Week 15 stats)
    21. Darren McFadden, Raiders -- 16
    22. Steve Slaton, Texans -- 16
    23. Jason Snelling, Falcons -- 16
    24. Marion Barber, Cowboys -- 15

    Five Players Who'll Disappoint -- Week 15

    1. QB Brett Favre, Vikings
    2. WR Steve Smith, Giants
    3. RB Arian Foster, Texans
    4. WR Roddy White, Falcons
    5. WR Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals (ONLY in terms of falling short of 9 catches/130 yards/1 TD -- his standard output against sad-sack teams, like the Lions ... but he's still good for 6 catches/85 yards)

    Five Unsung Fantasy Heroes -- Week 15

    1. RB Ryan Moats, Texans
    2. WR Jason Hill, 49ers
    3. TE David Thomas, Saints (SOMEONE has to account for Drew Brees' 5 TDs -- HA!)
    4. WR James Jones, Packers
    2. WR Demetrius Williams, Ravens (mark him down for 60 yards/1 TD vs. Chicago)

    Welcome Back, Accuscore!

    As we've maintained all year, choosing defense/special teams in fantasyland is an absolute crapshoot -- except when dealing with the 2000 Ravens, 2007 Steelers ... or the lucky few in 2009 who play the Chiefs, Rams, Browns, Lions or Buccaneers. But to help ease the lineup/waiver anxiety, we've channeled the lovable eggheads at AccuScore to solve a mini-crisis around the SI.com office: What are the best five fantasy D/STs from this point forward? ... prompting these computer findings (as simulated one billion times -- or something like that):

    Sacks
    1. Arizona Cardinals (11.4)
    2. Pittsburgh Steelers (9.9)
    3. Denver Broncos (9.6)
    4. Cleveland Browns (9.4)
    5. Dallas Cowboys (9.0)

    Interceptions
    1. New Orleans Saints (5.41)
    2. Baltimore Ravens (4.19)
    3. Green Bay Packers (3.92)
    4. Atlanta Falcons (3.90)
    5. Arizona Cardinals (3.85)

    Fewest Points Allowed
    1. Denver Broncos (51.8)
    2. Baltimore Ravens (46.1)
    3. New Orleans Saints (58.4)
    4. San Francisco 49ers (57.0)
    5. Indianapolis Colts (56.8)

    Most Fantasy Points
    1. Baltimore Ravens (59.6)
    2. Denver Broncos (51.8)
    3. Arizona Cardinals (50.1)
    4. New Orleans Saints (50.0)
    5. Cleveland Browns (45.0)

    For more NFL-related information from Accuscore, simply click here or access the home page @ AccuScore.

    Mourning In The Morning

    As someone who works nights AND writes thrice-per-week in the wee hours of the morning ... I am quite devastated by Fox Sports Radio's unfortunate decision not to re-sign (read: fire) morning radio host Steve Czaban. Simply put, Czaban's lively, uncanny show was the driving force in getting my butt to the gym by 4:45 a.m. weekdays -- just so I could finish the workout on-time and be ready for the first hour of his program at precisely 6:06 a.m. (I always listened to hours 2/3 at work later that night, via online archives.) And now ... I am at a loss for how I'll fill the precious time in my day BEFORE I go to sleep. Oh sure, I have fantasy podcasts and 6,000 songs backlogged on my iPod; yes, I own a subscription to Sirius satellite radio; and yes, I still can access any AM radio show in the country online -- especially here in Atlanta, home to two great stations. But it's just not the same without Czabe ... who was approximately 25 days shy of completing his first tour-of-duty through the sweat-inducing, spirit-breaking P90X fitness regimen. Ka-boom!

    So long, Czabe. Perhaps our paths will cross again in the world of satellite radio ... or right after you learn to kow-tow to AM-radio management morons who believe that talking down to listeners is the wave of the future.

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