Fantasy Clicks
By Jay Clemons
Must-See TV?
Willie Parker: Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

If you're keeping score at home, The NFL Network is 2-for-2 in broadcasting thrilling, down-to-the-wire games in its Thursday TV package. From Broncos-Browns (where Jay Cutler threw for 447 yards) to Jets-Patriots (Matt Cassel -- 400 yards), it has been my distinct pleasure to DVR The Office and 30 Rock in favor of great matchups with huge fantasy implications. But what to expect of Bengals-Steelers this week? says it'll be about 32 degrees (wind chill -- 24) with snow flurries at Heinz Field around gametime. And, one of my favorite fantasy sites, lays down the following player projections:

QB Ryan Fitzpatrick -- 130 yards passing, 0 TDs
RB Cedric Benson-- 40 yards rushing
WR Chad Ocho Cinco/Johnson -- 40 receiving yards
WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh -- 70 receiving yards
K Shayne Graham -- 2 field goals

QB Ben Roethlisberger -- 240 yards passing, 1 TD
RB Willie Parker -- 140 total yards, 2 TDs
RB Mewelde Moore -- 40 total yards, 0 TDs
WR Hines Ward -- 110 yards, 1 TD
WR Santonio Holmes -- 50 yards
TE Heath Miller -- 30 yards
K Jeff Reed -- 3 field goals
Final Score: Steelers 27, Bengals 6

A Word About The Steelers

Yes, the Steelers should put a good thrashing on the Bengals Thursday night, while providing a ton of fantasy points for Big Ben, Ward (25 targets, 20 catches and 240 yards in his last two games), Jeff Reed and especially Fast Willie. But after that, I'm a little concerned about Pittsburgh's sked for Weeks 13-16 (@ New England, Dallas, @ Baltimore, @ Tenneessee), the oh-so-crucial time when your team is fighting tooth and nail for a fantasy championship. Here's my thinking: If you need the Steelers' expected bounty against the Bengals to guarantee a once-tenuous playoff berth ... by all means, ride 'em to short-term fantasy glory. However, if you still have time before the trade deadline, this is your last chance to replace Steelers with stars from the Colts, Saints, Broncos, Chargers or Vikings.


By the time you read today's Clicks, I'll likely be chained to my couch, staring blankly at the TV, as part of a self-imposed, post-trade-deadline fantasy blackout. But before I go hiding out from the sporting world, I must reinforce last week's Four Commandments of Trading before the deadlines come and go. I hold these truths to be self-evident ... and the keys to maximizing your fantasy-playoff potential:

1. Perform an honest assessment of your own roster. Do not get fooled into believing bad players will magically turn on the jets -- if you have had a hole at QB, RB, WR, TE or the RB/WR flex the first 10 weeks ... you'll be exposed in Weeks 14, 15 and 16, as well
2. Be the aggressor in offering trades. There's nothing worse than NOT having control of an intense negotiation. Don't let the other owner gain the upper hand by throwing out names, in hopes that you'll bite out of desperation.
3. Always get the best player in the deal. I don't care if you're embroiled in a 1-for-1 swap, 2-for-2 switcheroo, 3-for-2 blockbuster or 4-1 tsunami ... make sure you walk away with the primary stud in the trade.
4. Don't be afraid to sacrifice your bench. I learned this lesson a long time ago from one of the fantasy world's true shamans, Detroit radio host Sean Baligian: Great bench depth will serve you no purpose during the playoff weeks. So, if you have four great running backs -- Frank Gore, Chris Johnson, Reggie Bush and Ronnie Brown, for example -- and need to get stronger at wide receiver, have no fear in dangling Reggie to land a big fish at WR. Oh sure, you'll be sweating bullets if a stud runner goes down to injury ... but hey, there's a risk-reward aspect to every challenge in fantasyland -- just don't look back!

The Dream Team

Need a list of the ultimate performers for Weeks 14, 15 and 16 -- the traditional playoff weeks in fantasy football? Well, here are the QBs/RBs/WRs (in no particular order) that you'll want to move heaven and earth to acquire before your trade deadline (if it hasn't passed already):

Week 14
QBs: Kurt Warner, Tony Romo, Trent Edwards, Jay Cutler, Tyler Thigpen, Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers
RBs: LaDainian Tomlinson, Frank Gore, Willis McGahee, Reggie Bush, Brandon Jacobs, Brian Westbrook, Adrian Peterson, Ryan Grant, Chris Johnson, Joseph Addai, Marshawn Lynch, Steven Jackson, Willie Parker, Tim Hightower
WRs: Larry Fitzgerald, Anquan Boldin, Lee Evans, Greg Jennings, Antonio Bryant, Hines Ward, Terrell Owens, Dwayne Bowe, Brandon Marshall, Eddie Royal, Reggie Wayne, T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Marques Colston

Week 15
QBs: Jake Delhomme, Matt Ryan, Chad Pennington, Marc Bulger, Gus Frerotte, Eli Manning, Kurt Warner, Jay Cutler, Tony Romo, Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers
RBs: Matt Forte, Clinton Portis, LenDale White, Larry Johnson, Maurice Jones-Drew, DeAngelo Williams, Thomas Jones, Ronnie Brown, Marion Barber, Brandon Jacobs, Brian Westbrook, Adrian Peterson, Ryan Grant, Joseph Addai, Steven Jackson
WRs: Roddy White, Andre Johnson, Anthony Gonzalez, Vincent Jackson, Derrick Mason, Jason Hill, Bobby Engram, Bernard Berrian, Randy Moss, Plaxico Burress, Braylon Edwards, Greg Jennings, Larry Fitzgerald, Anquan Boldin, Antonio Bryant, Brandon Marshall, Reggie Wayne

Week 16
QBs: Donovan McNabb, Brett Favre, Shaun Hill, Matt Hasselbeck, Philip Rivers, Marc BUlger, Kurt Warner, Tony Romo, Jay Cutler, Peyton Manning
RBs: Jamal Lewis, Steve Slaton, Willis McGahee, Reggie Bush, Brian Westbrook, Adrian Peterson, Chris Johnson, Joseph Addai, Marshawn Lynch, Steven Jackson, Maurice Jones-Drew, Ronnie Brown, Julius Jones
WRs: Marvin Harrison, Matt Jones, Kevin Walter, Chris Chambers, Marques Colston, Braylon Edwards, Larry Fitzgerald, Anquan Boldin, Terrell Owens, Brandon Marshall, Reggie Wayne, T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Randy Moss

QB Locks -- 275 Yards and/or 3 TDs, Week 12

1. Jay Cutler vs. Oakland
2. Marc Bulger vs. Chicago
3. Tony Romo vs. San Francisco
4. Peyton Manning vs. San Diego
5. Eli Manning vs. Arizona
6. Kurt Warner vs. N.Y. Giants
7. Drew Brees vs. Green Bay

Another Private-Sector Bailout

If you're a virtual lock to make the playoffs and have plenty of high-quality depth to spare, it's time to exert your authority (but in a classy manner) over a fellow owner to land a top-5 running back or receiver. Here's the plan: Find a desperate owner who needs a mini-miracle to make the playoffs, identify his runaway best player (like Larry Fitzgerald or Adrian Peterson) ... and then offer him 4-6 high-quality reserves (like Ben Roethlisberger, Steve Slaton, Kevin Smith, Santonio Holmes, Tim Hightower and Dwayne Bowe) for that one premium stud and a random combination of second-string kickers and defenses to balance out the deal, numbers-wise. And inside the formal trade offer, attach a sincere note, but one that preys on the other guy's desperation, saying:

"OK, the way I see it, your team needs to win its final three games and then hope for outside help to make the playoffs. In essence, you're going to need a miracle. But I'm here to provide across-the-board help, giving you 4-5 starters to make one last playoff charge -- but at the expense of giving me Adrian Peterson. It's a win-win for both sides; and unfortunately for you, it's probably a move that you have no choice but to accept. Time's running out ... what are you going to do? Thanks!"

Verdict: For the most part, the other owner will not only accept your terms (don't think of it as charity ... but more of a governmental bailout package), he'll also appreciate the fact that you didn't lowball him in the original offer, which can often be viewed as a major snub or sign of disrespect.

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

1. Willie Parker vs. Cincinnati
2. Darren McFadden vs. Denver (a giant leap of faith for the oft-injured rookie star)
3. Frank Gore vs. Dallas
4. Willis McGahee vs. Philadelphia
5. Michael Turner vs. Carolina
6. Adrian Peterson vs. Jacksonville
7. Marion Barber vs. San Francisco
8. Maurice Jones-Drew vs. Minnesota
9. Marshawn Lynch vs. Kansas City
10. Matt Forte vs. St. Louis
11. LaDainian Tomlinson vs. Indianapolis

Mail Call

Ivan from Puerto Rico says: Greetings from the Island Star of the Caribbean. I'm fighting for my playoff life this week. Whom should I start at QB between Big Ben and Philip Rivers? Rivers has been my ace all year, but Big Ben seems to have the better matchup.

Answer: Ivan, in my opinion, you cannot lose with either Big Ben (vs. Cincy) or Rivers (vs. Indy) this week at home. But when in doubt, I always go with the hotter QB and/or the one playing in better weather -- meaning I'd bet the farm on Rivers. Regarding the future ... I'd also go with Rivers over Ben in Weeks 13 (vs. Atlanta), 14 (vs. Oakland), 15 (@ Kansas City) and 16 (vs. Tampa Bay).

Jack in Atlanta says: I'm in a MUST-WIN situation from here on out. My roster is set at every position -- but QB. I play my division leader this week, and I have to decide between Tyler Thigpen, Jake Delhomme, or grabbing Matt Cassel off waivers. What do I do? The rest of my team is Marion Barber/Brandon Jacobs, Larry Fitzgerald/Steve Smith/Lance Moore and Dallas Clark at tight end.

Answer: Jack, for starters, I'd grab Cassel for Delhomme (something I would have never advised four weeks ago). And then I'd sit Cassel this week in favor of Thigpen, who figures to be a central player in one of Week 12's highest-scoring games (Buffalo @ Kansas City).

D.J. in Canonsburg, PA proclaims: I felt inspired after your Morrissey reference. Who will be running around like a "Hairdresser on Fire" in week 12 (PPR league -- pick 2) -- Frank Gore, DeAngelo Williams, Chris Johnson, Ryan Grant? Which WR will go "Hand in Glove" with Steve Smith -- Donnie Avery, Donald Driver, Bernard Berrian, Santonio Holmes? THE QUEEN IS DEAD

Answer: DJ, what, no tie-in for "Girfriend In A Coma" or "Oscillate Wildly"? Regarding your query, let's go with Gore (vs. Dallas) and Chris Johnson (vs. N.Y. Jets) as the PPR running backs. And ... let's go with Driver (@ New Orleans) and Holmes (vs. Cincy) as your secondary WRs to the Steve Smith.

Andrew in Parma, Ohio says: I am in a PPR league for receivers only. I need to start four out of these five: Braylon Edwards, Reggie Wayne, Steve Smith, Donald Driver or Lance Moore. Whom should I start?

Answer: Andrew, I don't care if Reggie Wayne has two broken legs and one broken arm ... I'm still starting him in a must-win week leading up to the playoffs!!! (deep sigh) But to answer your question, without hyperventilating again ... I love Wayne, Smith and Braylon for sure; and I'd lean on Lance Moore over Driver by a reception or two -- based solely on the Saints' Superdome edge.

Target Practice
Dwayne Bowe: Kenny Felt/Icon SMI

A receiver is only as good as his quarterback ... and the number of opportunities he gets to make a catch (known as Targets). So, while the fantasy world applauds Cincinnati wideout T.J. Houshmandzadeh for his 12-catch, 149-yard, 1-TD effort against Phiadelphia last week, I'm busy marveling at the stunning 16 passes that came Houshmazilla's way. Not to belabor the point, but Targets are a must-know for fantasy owners -- especially in PPR leagues. This underrated stat is the best way to safeguard against one-hit wonders during a long, long, long fantasy season. To wit, presents a list of the 30 pass-catchers (including two tight ends) who are averaging at least 7.8 Targets per game:

1. WR Brandon Marshall, Broncos (12.7 Targets)
2. WR Andre Johnson, Texans (11.5 Targets)
3. WR Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals (11.0 Targets)
4. WR Dwayne Bowe, Chiefs (11.0 Targets)
5. WR Anquan Boldin, Cardinals (10.9 Targets)
6. WR Roddy White, Falcons (10.7 Targets)
7. WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Bengals (10.5 Targets)
8. WR Steve Smith, Panthers (10.3 Targets)
9. TE Kellen Winslow, Browns (9.8 Targets)
10. WR Reggie Wayne, Colts (9.7 Targets)
11. TE Tony Gonzalez, Chiefs (9.6 Targets)
12. WR Calvin Johnson, Lions (9.5 Targets)
13. WR Wes Welker, Patriots (9.5 Targets)
14. WR Braylon Edwards, Browns (9.4 Targets)
15. WR Kevin Curtis, Eagles (9.3Targets)
16. WR Eddie Royal, Broncos (9.1 Targets)
17. WR Matt Jones, Jaguars (9.1 Targets)
18. WR Terrell Owens, Cowboys (8.8 Targets)
19. WR Santana Moss, Redskins (8.7 Targets)
20. WR Derrick Mason, Ravens (8.6 Targets)
21. WR Plaxico Burress, Giants (8.6 Targets)
22. WR Hines Ward, Steelers (8.5 Targets)
23. WR Antonio Bryant, Buccaneers (8.5 Targets)
24. WR DeSean Jackson, Eagles (8.3 Targets)
25. WR Marvin Harrison, Colts (8.1 Targets)
26. WR Santonio Holmes, Steelers (8.1 Targets)
27. WR Lance Moore, Saints (7.9 Targets)
28. WR Randy Moss, Patriots (7.9 Targets)
29. WR Greg Jennings, Packers (7.8 Targets)
30. WR Greg Camarillo, Dolphins (7.8 Targets)

How To Get B-Marsh Without Really Trying

Looking for a creative way to land Broncos WR Brandon Marshall in a pre-deadline blockbuster? Try offering a RB-needy owner DeAngelo Williams, Jamal Lewis and Jets WR Jerricho Cotchery for Marshall and Vikings backup RB Chester Taylor (the perfect insurance), as part of an all-too-tempting 3-for-2 trade. And if you're worried about Marshall's miniscule 23 Targets (at least for him) in the last two games, well, so am I! But hey, this is crunch time ... take a leap of faith on perhaps the NFL's best pound-for-pound pass-catching talent and don't look back!

Kicker Locks For 3 Field Goals

1. Jeff Reed vs. Cincinnati
2. Stephen Gostkowski vs. Miami
3. Matt Bryant vs. Detroit
4. Mason Crosby vs. New Orleans
5. Nate Kaeding vs. Indianapolis
6. Shaun Suisham vs. Seattle
7. Rob Bironas vs. N.Y. Jets

America's Top 10

Let's be honest here: Aside from a few isolated periods of brilliance, the tight end slot -- on the whole -- has been a real dog this year. But with colder weather and stifling winds (not to mention sloppy, muddy fields) serving as main factors in outdoor games from here on out, most (but not all) tight ends should see a sizable bump in targets, catches and red-zone opportunities. Here are the Top 10 tight ends for Weeks 12-17:

1. Antonio Gates, Chargers (he's finally healthy and has a very-friendly sked)
2. Tony Gonzalez, Chiefs (simply the best, year in and year out)
3. Chris Cooley, Redskins (he plays fantasy, too -- so he knows how BIG the next few weeks are)
4. Dallas Clark, Colts (easy outside games + really easy indoor games = fantasy goodness)
5. Marcedes Lewis, Jaguars (he is becoming THE go-to option in the red zone)
6. Jason Witten/Martellus Bennett, Cowboys (obviously, a healthy Witten would be No. 1 here)
7. Bo Scaife, Titans
8. Kellen Winslow, Browns (he's been oh-so-ordinary this year ... and now he may be hurt)
9. Dustin Keller, Jets
10. Tony Scheffler, Broncos (I'm starting to view Broncos RBs and TEs with the same skeptical eye)

If I Were A Bidding Man ...

Here are 10 free agents I'd spend at least $18 on this week in blind-bidding leagues when handling waiver-wire pickups ($100 salary cap):

1. QB Tyler Thigpen, Chiefs (786 passing yards, 7 total TDs in last 4 weeks)
2. WR Justin Gage, Titans (what's not to love about 16 targets, 194 yards, 3 TDs in his last two games?)
3. RB Ahman Green, Texans (vulturing all of Steve Slaton's red-zone carries, now that he's healthy)
4. TE Dustin Keller, Jets (27 targets in his last four games -- he's Brett Favre's go-to guy now)
5. RB Pierre Thomas, Saints (just in case you're skeptical of Reggie Bush's "healthy" knee -- like me)
6. QB Chad Pennington, Dolphins (has four solid matchups in the next five weeks)
7. WR Ted Ginn, Jr., Dolphins (success for Pennington ... means success for Ginn, as well)

How'd We Do

Last week, I offered specific predictions for Week 11 -- some pure gold and others that flopped worse than For Keeps, the oh-so-boring tale of two high school kids (or newly graduated) dealing with the travails of unplanned parenthood. (Molly Ringwald, one of my boyhood crushes from way back when, played "Darcy," the lead character.) So, why am I bringing up this largely ignored flick from the late 80s? Well, the experience still stands as the only time I?ve ever left a movie theater before the picture ended -- a distinction that was severely tested upon viewing Dracula, Dead and Loving It! starring Leslie Nielsen and Steven Weber.

WR Locks for 110 Yards and/or 1 TD
1. Larry Fitzgerald (10 catches, 151 yards, 0 TDs -- correct!)
2. Roddy White (5 catches, 102 yards, 1 TD -- correct!)
3. Steve Smith (6 catches, 59 yards, 0 TDs -- wrong)
4. Brandon Marshall (6 catches, 89 yards, 0 TDs -- wrong)
5. Reggie Wayne (7 catches, 90 yards, 0 TDs -- wrong)
6. Greg Jennings (5 catches, 64 yards, 1 TD -- correct!)
7. Dwayne Bowe (7 catches, 53 yards, 2 TDs)
8. Kevin Curtis (7 catches, 64 yards, 0 TDs -- wrong)
9. Andre Johnson (4 catches, 55 yards, 0 TDs -- wrong)
10. T.J. Houshmandzadeh (12 catches, 149 yards, 1 TD -- correct!)
11. Lee Evans (0 yards -- and yes, he played the entire game!)

Five Players Who'll Disappoint
1. Calvin Johnson (65 yards, 1 TD -- wrong)
2. Anquan Boldin (13 catches, 186 yards, 0 TDs -- the worst call in the history of fantasy predictions)
3. LenDale White (52 yards, 0 TDs -- wrong)
4. Brady Quinn (185 passing yards, 0 TDs -- correct!)
5. Reggie Bush (DNP)

Five Unsung RB/WR/TEs Who'll Score 1 TD
1. WR Muhsin Muhammad (1 catch, 16 yards, 0 TDs)
2. WR Anthony Gonzalez (2 catches, 35 yards, 0 TDs -- wrong)
3. TE Robert Royal (1 catch, 22 yards, 0 TDs -- wrong)
4. RB Maurice Morris (29 total yards, 1 TD -- correct ... but I don't feel good about myself)
5. RB Chester Taylor (26 total yards, 0 TDs -- wrong)

Five Highest-Scoring Games
1. Houston @ Indianapolis (60 total points -- correct!)
2. Denver @ Atlanta (44 points -- wrong)
3. St. Louis @ San Francisco (51 points -- correct!)
4. Philadelphia @ Cincinnati (26 points -- wayyyyy off, although I did predict a tie ... ha!)
5. Dallas @ Washington (14 points -- wrong)

Permission To Talk Fantasy Hoops ...

We're slowly but surely getting close to that point where Fantasy Clicks becomes the sole haven for fantasy hoops. But in the meantime ... here are some unique lists for fantasy fans of cross-pollination:

1.8 3-Pointers Per Game/3.5 Assists
Jamal Crawford, Knicks
Joe Johnson, Hawks
Mike Bibby, Hawks
Paul Pierce, Celtics
Ben Gordon, Bulls
Nate Robinson, Knicks
Chauncey Billups, Nuggets
Stephen Jackson, Warriors

5.2 Assists/6.9 Rebounds
Jason Kidd, Mavericks
LeBron James, Cavaliers
Brad Miller, Kings

1.6 Blocks/65% Free Throws
Andrew Bynum, Lakers
Marcus Camby, Clippers
Greg Oden, Blazers
Spencer Hawes, Kings
Tyrus Thomas, Bulls
Chris Kaman, Clippers
Ronny Turiaf, Warriors
Danny Granger, Pacers
Chris Andersen, Nuggets
Elton Brand, 76ers
Al Jefferson, Timberwolves
Al Horford, Hawks
Tim Duncan, Spurs
Dwyane Wade, Heat
Nene Hilario, Nuggets
Kosta Koufos, Jazz
Jermaine O'Neal, Raptors

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