Line of scrimmage: Fantasy playoff weeks reveal valuable targets

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Halloween marked some scary moments, and no, Dave, I'm not referring to you trick-or-treating with a fake ID saying you're 12. I am referring to the NFL, where Cowboys coach Wade Phillips admitted out loud that he no longer knew what to do, Lions rookie Matthew Stafford tossed four TDs while his team sealed a victory on a defensive play, and most shockingly, Minnesota waived Randy Moss just weeks after acquiring him for a third round pick. Things have turned upside down. I've called an exorcism hotline to make sure I'm not possessed, Dave, all the while humming the tune of ... The Exorcist! I'm petrified some black cat will cross my path. I'm frantic!

What? Oh sorry, was going through my Halloween bag. Some Kit Kats, a Laffy Taffy and the Jets' missing offense. Wait, the Vikes were handing out mouthy receivers?

Not really handed out as much kicked out. This is our chance, Dave. I can see it -- Hines Ward, Mike Wallace, Randy Moss -- he's just that one piece we're missing, that one good omen.

Remember how everyone but the evil child dies at the end of The Omen? By the way, Moss is owed $3.4 million by the team that picks him up.

A little curveball, if you'll permit me using mixed terminology. But we can work that out over a beer.

That would never work. Ooooh, I see Malt Balls!


Remember, "A Rolling Rock gathers no Moss."

I think that's "Rolling Stone."

Asahi might clear waivers and return to the Vikings.

Oh, that's funny, Dave.

Amstel not a Vikings fan, Moss or no Moss.

Someone take that bag away from him.

Topic No. 1: We're approaching the halfway mark for the season, and the playoffs are on the horizon in a month. Name three guys you should target for the second half.

Block: Randy Moss. Ha, ha, ha .... Ahem. I'm half kidding. Depends who gets him, but that's going to be one bitter, inspired, wide receiver coming to play. Imagine the dream team of chaos in Cincinnati if he became a Bengal. In terms of receivers

Roddy White is the man to land this year. He's a 10-plus target guy per week, and is on pace for over almost 1,500 yards. Consistency equals White this year, so pray for a bad Week 9 and pounce using old cherished clichés like "first-half anomaly."

LeGarrette Blount is going to be a huge second half factor. Why? He runs with aggression and power. He has good vision. He punches people who get in the way. Assuming no one's trading any top RBs, you're looking for opportunity. Blount doubled his carries last week from 11 to 22 leading to his best day as a pro. I don't expect any threat from Cadillac Williams after last week's display, and although he's not a great PPR guy, he's still attainable for cheap.

My last choice is a replacement player, someone at a spot you wouldn't normally consider. Some experts think TEs hardly count. Well, tell that to the owner of Owen Daniels last year, or Jermichael Finley or Dallas Clark this year. Monday evening, Jacob Tamme announced his arrival with six receptions, 64 yards and score. He's not as good a blocker as Clark, so he may sit on certain downs. But in deep leagues, he's likely available, on a powerful offense, and has the best hands to fill in for Clark.

Counter-block: Let's assume no one is going to hand over the top 10 guys at any position and that you'll have to out-think your opponents (or get them drunk). Look ahead to the playoff weeks (assume Weeks 15 and 16) and exploit the matchups as early as your roster will allow.

For a receiver, think Dallas, where Jon points out above that the Cowboys have favorable matchups against Arizona and Washington (the best path is actually Tennessee, but an injury to Kenny Britt has clouded the picture). Assuming the Cowboys have someone behind center, I'm targeting rookie Dez Bryant, who can also pick up scores on special teams.

For rushing, Oakland will have an easy time of it with games against Denver and Indianapolis (especially if the Colts are coasting by then), and while Darren McFadden is the Raiders' featured back, I'd go after Michael Bush, who has scored a TD in each game since McFadden's return. Just keep in mind we're talking flex position for Bush. If you want to go more upscale, make a move for the Patriots' BenJarvus Green-Ellis, who has limited yardage as a member of an offense that spreads the wealth, but always finds the end zone.

Piling on: Exploit the matchups in the playoff weeks to fortify your teams now. Any players mentioned above will help you during those weeks.

Topic No. 2: While the San Francisco 49ers aren't tearing it up on offense, Michael Crabtree has three TDs in the last four games. Is he going to have more upside down the stretch?

Block: Public humiliation works wonders in San Francisco. Last year, it was Mike Singletary sending Vernon Davis to the locker room mid-game, and then berating selfish players in his post-game press conference. This year, the now elite TE Davis gave it to Crabtree prior to opening weekend for not being prepared. Since then, Crabtree has improved his game, culminating in a Week 5 14-target game for 105 receiving yards and a TD. For the year, he's averaging three catches per game and 48 yards, though in his last five contests, he's augmented that to five catches and 61 yards per tilt. His three TDs have come against Oakland, Philadelphia and Denver, passing defenses ranked fourth, 10th and seventh, respectively.

The schedule for San Francisco down the stretch includes two contests each against St. Louis and Arizona, as well as Seattle and the middling pass defenses of Green Bay and Tampa Bay. With Davis' injury becoming more problematic, expect more opportunities to flow his direction. He should garner you at least three more receiving scores and about 420 more yards. He's a good get as a WR2 the rest of the way.

Counter-block: For those of you who missed our show this week, Jon stumped me during our "Mystery Haiku" segment about Mr. Crabtree (shame on you). And yes, we really do have a Mystery Haiku segment. So let me see if I can reciprocate:

Singletary letsSmith throw ball just nineteen timesNo offense, Niners.

Look, Crabtree has put on his man pants and is playing hard, but in the NFL, the ceiling to WR talent is created by the team around him. QB Troy Smith had a nice game, but he was also on a short leash when it came to putting the ball in the air. Consider this Singletary's blueprint for the rest of the season (if he makes it that long). Crabtree is a decent bye week pickup or when the matchup is good, but I wouldn't drop a contributing player for him, and wouldn't expect week-to-week consistently positive results.

Piling on: Crabtree is getting plenty of opportunties in the red zone and warrants a lot more consideration, but he's still risky. WR2 consistency might be threatened by the unpredictable QB situation.

Topic No. 3: Tony Romo is out until somewhere around Week 16 with a broken collar bone. In a non-keeper league, should you hold onto him or drop him?

Block: By sitting on the sideline with his arm in a sling, Romo arguably had the best game of any Dallas player last weekend. However, he didn't give you any points, and, well, you need points. In addition, Romo's break is near the shoulder, so doctors cannot facilitate the bone's healing with a plate.

Jerry Jones has backed off on his, "Of course he'll play" comments to "Well, we'll see." With the Cowboys' season swirling down the drain, there is no reason for the team to rush back their $67 million investment. And even if he does play the last two weeks of the season, he won't be in mid-season form. Like Jessica Simpson, feel free to part ways with Romo, unless, of course, you're in a keeper league.

Counter-block: There are as many "depends" here as in your granddaddy's closet. First and foremost, who is your other QB and who is available? How valuable is the QB position to own, and is there someone more beneficial to you on the waiver wire?

Romo's consistency has been unmatched in fantasy except by a scant few: Peyton Manning, Brett Favre, Drew Brees, and recently, Philip Rivers. When it comes to the fantasy playoffs in Week 15-17, he's facing some sorry pass defenses: Washington, Arizona and Philadelphia, currently ranked "terrible," "disastrous," and "decent" (21, 28, 10). Presently, Romo is ranked seventh among QBs in both ESPN and standard Yahoo! fantasy leagues. The Dallas offense, inept as it is now, might be better come December. Dallas has more weapons than a local reserves armory, and since the team has already thrown in the towel on this season's playoff chances, it's unlikely they'd rest starters during those weeks. Consistency is king in fantasy football -- well, that and the ability to keep your opponent away from a computer until lineups lock. So if you're relying on someone like David Garrard or Donovan McNabb, keep him.

Piling on: If you're in a deep league, hold onto Romo. However, if there's a warmer body on the waiver wire to replace him, or if you have QB covered and can upgrade seriously at another position, punt him.

Jon Phillips is the 2008 Champion of the Columbus Dispatch National Fantasy Football Contest "Rate the Experts" and has written for Talented Mr. Roto, and He also hosted Rotoexperts flagship radio show "Xperts Edge" as well as "The Think Tank" with Scott Engel. Dave Young has written weekly fantasy sports columns for Sports Illustrated, ESPN, Talented Mr. Roto, and other sites he can't remember. Called the "Laverne and Shirley of Fantasy Football," catch them both on "Just A Bit Outside" on, Sundays, noon Eastern (9 am Pacific), and read their column, "Line of Scrimmage" weekly on E-mail Jon at or Dave at for subjects you'd like to see debated on "Line of Scrimmage."