November 20, 2008

Over the last few weeks, we've focused on players that you either needed to get into your lineup, or guys that were possible sneaky good plays. This week let's switch it up a bit, and turn our attention to those who could be out to destroy your last gasp at a playoff chance, or could cost you important playoff seeding position. Remember, sometimes a smart benching can be just as effective as a great play.

Ready ...

Tony Romo vs. San FranciscoAaron Rodgers @ New OrleansKurt Warner vs. New York GiantsPeyton Manning @ San DiegoDrew Brees vs. Green BayJeff Garcia @ DetroitJay Cutler vs. OaklandJason Campbell @ SeattleDonovan McNabb @ BaltimorePhilip Rivers vs. IndianapolisBen Roethlisberger vs. CincinnatiBrady Quinn vs. Houston

Set ...

Kerry Collins vs. New York JetsJake Delhomme @ AtlantaTyler Thigpen vs. BuffaloDavid Garrard vs. MinnesotaEli Manning @ ArizonaMatt Cassel @ MiamiKyle Orton @ St. LouisSage Rosenfels @ ClevelandBrett Favre @ TennesseeChad Pennington vs. New EnglandGus Frerotte @ Jacksonville

No!

Matt Ryan vs. CarolinaMatt Hasselbeck vs. WashingtonTrent Edwards @ Kansas CityMarc Bulger vs. ChicagoJaMarcus Russell @ DenverRyan Fitzpatrick @ PittsburghJoe Flacco vs. PhiladelphiaShaun Hill @ DallasDaunte Culpepper vs. Tampa Bay

Cassel: I get a perverse sense of giddiness out of watching professional sports teams make obviously horrible decisions, so consider me especially enthused for the impending Cassel sweepstakes this offseason. As for the more immediate future, his 400-yard, three-touchdown performance against the Jets was pretty impressive, but he's still "Backup Matt," and I still don't trust him.

He's thrown six touchdown passes in two games, and just four in his other eight. Take away those two stellar outings -- against the Broncos and the Jets by the way, two of the worst pass defenses in the league -- and he's averaging right around 10 fantasy points a game. It's easy to be seduced by the logo on the helmet, the excellent receivers and Cassel's pedigree. But it's all just a smokescreen designed to distract us from the fact that we're dealing with a very mediocre quarterback here.

Manning: Eli Manning is doing exactly what Tom Coughlin and the Giants need him to do. He's completing a career high 60.5 percent of his passes. He's utilizing multiple receivers (eight Giants have caught touchdowns, and six have over 200 yards receiving), and not turning the ball over nearly as much as he has in the past.

And New York is 9-1 because of it.

So what has his newfound maturity and prudence brought to fantasy owners? The proverbial flaming bag of poo on the doorstep, that's what. Manning has thrown for under 200 yards in six consecutive games, and he's averaging just 12.8 fantasy points over that span. On paper, the matchup against Arizona seems to be a fruitful one for Manning as the Cardinals have given up a league leading 19 TD passes. Considering though, that the only way to stop the unfathomably brilliant Kurt Warner and his band of potent pass catchers is to keep them off the field, there's no doubt that the Giants will once again be relying on their imposing running game to gobble up the clock (yes, even without Brandon Jacobs). Trust me, there are better options for you to utilize this week.

Other notables

Since the start of the season, I've told you that Campbell would be nothing more than the occasional matchup play. Some games he airs it out with great results, and other times, he soils his drawers. If you keep an even keel when dealing with him, and use Campbell at the appropriate times, he can be a great asset to your team. This week against the Seahawks 31st-ranked pass defense would appear to be one of those appropriate times ... Remember the ground swell of support for Edwards as a blossoming fantasy stud when he went 25-of-30 for 261 yards against the Chargers in Week 7? Well, since then he's thrown only three touchdowns against eight interceptions, and is averaging less than 200 yards passing. I don't care if he is playing the Chiefs -- no way should he be your starter this week ... You think the Bears will be teeing off with Steven Jackson and Orlando Pace out this week? Twenty bucks says Bulger doesn't finish the game ...

Ready ...

Adrian Peterson @ JacksonvilleLaDainian Tomlinson vs. IndianapolisMarshawn Lynch @ Kansas CityMatt Forte @ St. LouisFrank Gore @ Dallas.Marion Barber vs. San FranciscoRyan Grant @ New OrleansJoseph Addai @ San DiegoWillie Parker vs. CincinnatiDeAngelo Williams @ AtlantaClinton Portis @ SeattleWarrick Dunn @ DetroitDerrick Ward @ ArizonaJamal Lewis vs. HoustonBrian Westbrook @ BaltimoreLarry Johnson vs. BuffaloSteve Slaton @ Cleveland|Thomas Jones @ TennesseeLenDale White vs. New York Jets

Set ...

Chris Johnson vs. New York JetsAhmad Bradshaw @ ArizonaJonathan Stewart @ AtlantaRonnie Brown vs. New EnglandMichael Turner vs. CarolinaDarren McFadden @ DenverMaurice Jones-Drew vs. MinnesotaAntonio Pittman vs. ChicagoJustin Fargas @ DenverPeyton Hillis vs. OaklandTatum Bell vs. OaklandRicky Williams vs. New EnglandJulius Jones vs. WashingtonFred Jackson @ Kansas CityAhman Green @ ClevelandPierre Thomas vs. Green Bay

No!

Cedric Benson @ PittsburghTim Hightower vs. New York GiantsJ.J. Arrington vs. New York GiantsWillis McGahee vs. PhiladelphiaRay Rice vs. PhiladelphiaLe'Ron McClain vs. PhiladelphiaCarnell Williams @ DetroitKevin Smith vs. Tampa BayFred Taylor vs. MinnesotaJerious Norwood vs. CarolinaLeon Washington @ TennesseeSammy Morris @ MiamiBenJarvus Green-Ellis @ MiamiP.J. Pope vs. OaklandKenneth Darby vs. ChicagoDeuce McAllister vs. Green BayMaurice Morris vs. WashingtonT.J. Duckett vs. WashingtonFelix Jones vs. San FranciscoMewelde Moore vs. Cincinnati

Smith: Everyone's hopping on the Kevin Smith bandwagon after he reeled off 96 and 112 yards in consecutive weeks, and I can't blame them ... I'm just not hopping on. In fact, I'm running away so quickly that I'm pretty sure I just pulled my glute.

This week he's got Tampa Bay, who's allowed just one rushing touchdown and one 100-yard rusher on the season. Look at that stat again: one rushing touchdown and one 100-yard rusher in 10 games. That's ridiculous. Ravens-esque if you will. And also a pretty good indication that a double-digit fantasy day probably isn't in the cards for Smith.

Plus, the Lions stink worse than an unwashed pirate hooker, so like I said ... run away. Quickly. Oh, and in case you were wondering, Detroit plays Tennessee and Minnesota in the next two weeks. If I had Smith, I'd be frantically harassing everyone in my league to try and pawn him off before the trade deadline. I suggest you do the same.

Turner: For starters, I'm a little worried about Turner's workload. He'd never registered more than 80 rushes in a season coming into this year, but is currently leading the league in rushing attempts, and on pace for a healthy 363 tries. Over the past month, as his rushing opportunities have increased, the amount of yardage he's picking up per carry has dipped well below four.

To make matters worse, "Mini-Fridge" has been held under 60 yards by every tough defense that he's faced (Tampa Bay, Carolina, Chicago and Philadelphia) and hasn't scored in any of those games. He once again finds himself facing the Panthers, and there's nothing in the numbers to suggest that Turner will fare any better than his 56-yard effort the first time around.

Other notables

Gore has at least 18 carries and over 90 yards in the three games since Mike Singletary exposed himself ... Dunn probably won't score, but he'll rack up both the rushing and receiving yards as the primary back against the Lions. Don't even think about starting the player formerly known as Cadillac ... If McFadden is going to have any kind of impact this season, it has to start this week against the Broncos. He's finally healthy, the Raiders have nothing to play for but the future, and Fargas has been largely ineffective all year. It's time for DMC to put the Run back in his name ... I'd like to take this time to welcome J.J. Arrington back into the fantasy community. His eight carries were the most since his rookie season, and the two touchdowns matched his career total. I'd also like to take this time to sarcastically thank him for giving us one more RBBC to deal with. Thanks a lot Johnathan Jerome ...

Ready ...

Terrell Owens vs. San FranciscoGreg Jennings @ New OrleansLarry Fitzgerald vs. New York GiantsAnquan Boldin vs. New York GiantsReggie Wayne @ San DiegoSteve Smith @ AtlantaRoddy White vs. CarolinaMarques Colston vs. Green BayHines Ward vs. CincinnatiAndre Johnson @ ClevelandSantana Moss @ SeattleBrandon Marshall vs. OaklandBraylon Edwards vs. HoustonWes Welker @ MiamiDonald Driver @ New OrleansRandy Moss @ MiamiT.J. Houshmandzadeh @ PittsburghDwayne Bowe vs. BuffaloAntonio Bryant @ DetroitEddie Royal vs. OaklandLee Evans @ Kansas City

Set ...

Bernard Berrian @ JacksonvilleRoy Williams vs. San FranciscoSantonio Holmes vs. CincinnatiLance Moore vs. Green Bay|Jerricho Cotchery @ TennesseeLaveranues Coles @ TennesseeJustin Gage vs. New York JetsDonnie Avery vs. ChicagoDeSean Jackson @ BaltimoreKevin Curtis @ BaltimoreDerrick Mason vs. PhiladelphiaChad Johnson @ PittsburghTed Ginn Jr. vs. New EnglandJoey Galloway @ DetroitDeion Branch vs. WashingtonAnthony Gonzalez @ San DiegoKevin Walter @ ClevelandMichael Jenkins vs. CarolinaVincent Jackson vs. IndianapolisSteve Breaston vs. New York GiantsMatt Jones vs. MinnesotaPlaxico Burress @ ArizonaMark Bradley vs. BuffaloMuhsin Muhammad @ AtlantaMarvin Harrison @ San DiegoTorry Holt vs. Chicago

No!

Bobby Engram vs. WashingtonChris Chambers vs. IndianapolisAmani Toomer @ ArizonaGreg Camarillo vs. New EnglandIke Hilliard @ DetroitAntwaan Randle El @ SeattleDevin Hester @ St. LouisDonte' Stallworth vs. HoustonIsaac Bruce @ DallasKoren Robinson vs. WashingtonReggie Brown @ BaltimoreJerry Porter vs. MinnesotaRonald Curry @ DenverBobby Wade @ Jacksonville

Burress: 2.8 catches and 34 yards. That's what Burress is averaging since the third week of the season. He's not dealing with injuries, there's been no quarterback switch, and he's not on a losing team. So what's the deal? If I were to throw a guess out there, I'd say that his reputation has surpassed his actual skill level.

Think about it for a minute.

After catching a career-high 12 touchdowns during the regular season, followed up by his huge 11-catch, 151-yard effort in the NFC Championship, and his game-winning scoring grab in the Super Bowl, Burress entered the season with a whole new level of respect around the league. He caught 10 balls for 133 yards in the primetime kickoff to the NFL season, and almost immediately ramped up his prima donna wide receiver act. He started behaving like he was one of the NFL's elite at the position, like he was the second coming of Randy Moss or T.O. Unfortunately for Plax, defensive coordinators started treating him like he was on par with those guys -- rolling coverage over to his side and double-teaming him all game long, and guess what?

2.8 catches and 34 yards.

You see, the truth is Burress isn't on the same level as those guys, never has been. This is his eighth year in the league, and he's yet to record an 80 catch season; only posted back-to-back 1,000-yard years once; and has reached double-digit touchdowns just twice. Don't get me wrong, he's a good receiver, but he's not great. And right now he's getting the "great" treatment, which he's simply not capable of consistently beating. I don't know about you, but as a rule, I tend to shy away from starting players that are really just glorified decoys. That's just me, though.

Harrison: Accounts of Marvin Harrison's demise have been greatly exaggerated over the past month, so have claims by the Colts that he's the same old Harrison. As is almost always the case, the truth lies somewhere in the middle. Is he finished, washed-up, as many "experts" have been saying? His nine catches this past Sunday should answer that question. Is it simply a timing issue between him and Manning that will work itself out, as the Colts would lead you to believe? Not by a long shot.

No, the fact is that Harrison has lost a step, and that's led to a slew of near misses, but he can still take advantage of defenses when the opportunity arises. The opportunity presented itself last week against Houston, and we saw the results. But that doesn't mean he's back, or that you can expect numbers like that from here on out. Actually, what's tended to happen after the occasional Harrison breakout is a renewed focus from defenses to shut him down, leading Manning to look Gonzalez's way more often. Don't be surprised if Harrison ends up as the Colts fifth-leading receiver this week behind Wayne, Gonzalez, Clark and Addai.

Other notables

Mark my words, against San Francisco -- his former team remember -- Owens will not only catch a touchdown, but he'll set a season-high in receiving yards (not that 89 will be that hard to top) ... I want to believe in Edwards, I really do. But when I look at his 13 catches for 258 yards on Monday Night Football, and his paltry 22 receptions for 318 yards in his other eight games, the doubt does start to creep in ... I don't want to hear any complaining from the Evans owners out there. You knew what you were getting into when you acquired him, or at least you should have if you did your homework. If it makes you feel any better, I think he has a couple long catches this weekend ... In seven career games with Kerry Collins as his quarterback, Gage is averaging five catches, 82 yards and has scored four touchdowns. I'm thinking last week was more than just a fluke ...

Ready ...

Antonio Gates vs. IndianapolisDallas Clark @ San DiegoJason Witten vs. San FranciscoChris Cooley @ SeattleTony Gonzalez vs. BuffaloKevin Boss @ ArizonaDustin Keller @ TennesseeOwen Daniels @ ClevelandZach Miller @ DenverJeremy Shockey vs. Green BayGreg Olsen @ St. LouisKellen Winslow Jr. vs. Houston

Set ...

Bo Scaife vs. New York JetsJohn Carlson vs. WashingtonTodd Heap vs. PhiladelphiaDonald Lee @ New OrleansBenjamin Watson @ MiamiL.J. Smith @ BaltimoreMarcedes Lewis vs. MinnesotaVisanthe Shiancoe @ JacksonvilleJerramy Stevens @ DetroitSteve Heiden vs. Houston

No!

Tony Scheffler vs. OaklandVernon Davis @ DallasAnthony Fasano vs. New EnglandDesmond Clark @ St. LouisRobert Royal @ Kansas CityDante Rosario @ AtlantaAlge Crumpler vs. New York JetsDavid Martin vs. New England

Notables:

Favre hasn't had a tight end like Keller since Mark Chmura was catching passes and seducing post-prom teenagers in the late nineties. Over the past two games, Keller has been the recipient of 35 percent of Favre's completions ... Daniels has just two catches for 27 yards since Matt Schaub went down with his injury. He's still a must-start, but the ceiling has definitely been lowered ... I have no clue where Stevens' six catches for 84 yards came from, but I don't expect to see it again anytime in the near future ... Scheffler is still having lingering effects from his groin injury, and it showed against Atlanta, as he didn't register a single catch. If he's limited in practice again this week, don't be afraid to sit him ...

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