January 05, 2010

To win in fantasy playoff competition, where the talent pool is much smaller and the room for error much less, fantasy owners must locate a gem or two -- a backup running back or a No. 3 or 4 wide receiver able to elevate his game in the limelight.

Heading into this postseason, one "fringe" player who demands attention is New England wide receiver Julian Edelman, who caught 10 passes for 103 yards in last week's loss to Houston. In that contest he was targeted an impressive 15 times -- second only to Denver's Jabar Gaffney among all NFL wide receivers in Week 17. With Wes Welker out, Edelman is one player quarterback Tom Brady will rely on to help pick up the slack in the team's game against Baltimore this Sunday.

Here are a few more fringe players that could come up big for their respective teams this weekend ...

RB Ahman Green, Green Bay

In little more than a half-season with the Packers the 32-year-old Green has averaged 3.9 yards per carry and scored just one touchdown -- nothing to get excited about. The good news is that Green has offered the team a reliable No. 2 running back and has shown some toughness in short-yardage situations. In last Sunday's win over Arizona, Green carried the ball 12 times -- his highest total this season -- and he's had a carry of 10 or more yards in each of his last two outings. The Packers will turn to Ryan Grant for most of their ground needs this week, but the coaching staff won't hesitate to call on Green for a change of pace or if Grant fails.

WR Andre Caldwell, Cincinnati

In a pathetic showing last Sunday evening, the Bengals completed just four of 19 passing attempts in a blowout loss to the Jets. Caldwell tied with Chad Ochocinco for the most targets (four) in the game, although neither player had a catch. However, fantasy owners should know that in the three games prior to the season finale Caldwell caught a total of 12 passes, helping him to eclipse the 50-catch mark. Most fantasy owners will shy away from the Bengals receivers after Ochocinco and Laveranues Coles, but Caldwell is worth consideration. If the Bengals are able to do a better job in the passing game than they did in the first go-around with New York, Caldwell could come up big for fantasy owners this Saturday.

WR Kevin Ogletree, Dallas

Roy Williams' inability to get the job done has opened up opportunities for every pass catcher on the Cowboys depth chart. That includes Ogletree, who appears to be following in the footsteps of fellow Dallas undrafted free agent stars Tony Romo and Miles Austin. Ogletree has caught only seven balls this season (one for 15 yards in last week's win over Philadelphia) but he is primed to have a breakout performance. Whether that happens next season or in these playoffs is yet to be known. What fantasy owners do know is that Miles Austin and Jason Witten cannot handle the passing game's needs all by themselves, leaving opportunities for others in Big D.

WR Sam Aiken, New England

If Edelman isn't the answer for the Patriots, Aiken could be. Fantasy owners may be familiar with Aiken from his big performances in Weeks 12 and 13 (90 and 81 yards, respectively). Against Houston last week, he caught just two balls but was targeted five times. Aiken is not a possession-type, like Welker or Edelman, but he can be an effective weapon near the goal line or on third down.

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