It's hard to believe Thanksgiving is already here. As is tradition in the Fire Sale, I will use this time to give thanks for the few good things I have in my mostly miserable life. Here goes:
• I'm thankful someone in the Fire Sale Fantasy Football League dropped Brandon Lloyd because they thought his one big game was a fluke. I jumped all over him and the rest is history.
• I'm thankful Wade Phillips was finally fired. It wasn't all Wade's fault in Dallas but I just couldn't stand to look at his confused face on the sidelines one second longer.
• I'm thankful that despite drafting Ryan Mathews and Shonn Greene with my first two picks, my fantasy team is still in contention.
• I'm thankful for Steven Jackson. He may be losing a step but you will never find a tougher runner who plays with more heart. Jackson is the epitome of a great football player and I've never fully recovered from the Cowboys passing on him in the draft.
• I'm thankful that Rex Ryan is a successful coach. Bill Belichick is a legend and he has his own unique style. However, I'm getting sick of everyone trying to copy him and Bill Parcells. It's nice to see a coach act like himself and still have success on the field.
• I'm thankful for Peyton Hillis. A lot of you don't know this but the first time Hillis' name appeared in the Fire Sale was when he was a sophomore in college. One of the Fire Sale's longest followers e-mailed me years ago and said he knew Hillis and the guy was a beast. He said to keep an eye on him at Arkansas. I put that in the Fire Sale and now Hillis is one of the most valuable players in both the NFL and fantasy football. I have to admit, I didn't see that coming. Apparently, neither did Josh McDaniels.
• I'm thankful that despite getting hurt, Austin Collie has turned into a star with the Colts and made me look so smart. I predicted back in July that Collie would unseat Pierre Garcon as the Colts' No. 2 receiver. If he hadn't gotten hurt, Collie may have caught 100 balls this year.
• Finally, I'm thankful for all of you who take time out of your busy schedules to read my column every week. I try to bring a unique perspective to the table and not take myself too seriously. I appreciate all of you who have made The Fire Sale part of your weekly fantasy reading.
Just one quick update from last week. I complained that no one sent me messages on Twitter. Come to find out, people have been sending me messages for over a year and a half and I didn't realize that I needed to click on @thefiresale to read them. I wish I was kidding but I'm not. So if you ever sent me a question on Twitter, I wasn't being a jerk by not answering; I didn't answer it because I'm a moron. I'm glad we got that cleared up.
Now, on with the Fire Sale ...
Matt Ryan, QB Falcons
I was blown away by Ryan during his rookie season. I haven't seen a first-year quarterback that NFL-ready since Dan Marino. I drafted Ryan to be my quarterback in one of my big leagues last year, and while he didn't have a terrible season, Ryan suffered a bit of a sophomore slump. I actually got on Mike Smith quite a bit because it was my contention that with a guy like Ryan, you needed to let him go and throw the ball a lot. Like Marino, Ryan is better once he gets into a rhythm. Well, I really like what I'm seeing out of Ryan and the Falcons right now. They are running more no-huddle and making Ryan the focal point of the offense.
Here is one of my early predictions for next season: with Ryan entering his fourth year as a starter and Roddy White staking his claim to being one of the elite receivers in the NFL, I think Ryan will easily be a Top 10 fantasy quarterback in 2011 at the very least.
If you are one of those people who don't like to draft a quarterback early and targets a guy with upside in the middle rounds, I believe Ryan will be a steal next year. Think Matt Schaub in 2009.
Emmanuel Sanders, WR Steelers
I had Sanders as a Sneaky Start last week and he delivered with a touchdown reception. As I stated last week, I'm a big SMU fan. Break up the Mustangs. Not only are they bowl eligible for the second year in a row, but in the last two weeks former SMU standouts Sanders and Bryan McCann have scored a combined four touchdowns. Pony Up!
I really like Sanders for next year. Hines Ward is a great possession receiver, and Mike Wallace is a dangerous deep threat. I think Sanders can be that in-between guy. He runs crisp routes and Sanders has the speed to get down the field, as he's shown the last two weeks.
Sanders is worth a roster spot in deeper leagues if you want to add depth at receiver for the playoffs. However, it will be next season when Sanders really becomes a solid fantasy contributor.
Joel Dreessen, TE Texans
I had Dreessen going up over a month ago but I wanted to mention him again because this guy really chaps my backside. I started him two weeks ago and he gets me four fantasy points. Then the next week he goes for 27. Thanks a lot, Dreessen.
There is something else that Dreessen's performance brings to light, however. The Jets have a lot of trouble covering tight ends. Some of my Sneaky Starts at tight end this year have been against the Jets. The reason for this is because I remember one way to exploit Buddy Ryan's old "46" defense was to attack the middle of the field with the tight end. The same appears to be true with Rex Ryan's defense. As good as the Jets are on that side of the ball, tight ends can have big games against them.
As for Dreessen, he's still available in a lot of leagues and certainly worth a roster spot. It doesn't look like Owen Daniels is going to be much of a factor this season, so Dreessen becomes the Texans primary pass catching tight end. Now I'll leave it up to you to guess when to start him because I haven't had any luck in that department.
Danny Woodhead, RB Patriots
I think this is one of the most amazing stories of the 2011 season. Woodhead went from a likeable guy on Hard Knocks that you kind of rooted for to make the Jets roster to a legitimate fantasy contributor with the Patriots.
I laugh every time I see this kid run. I've been in NFL locker rooms, so I've seen small players. Wes Welker is small. Darren Sproles is small. But Woodhead is probably the smallest player I've ever seen. I'm a pretty big guy. I could probably pick up Woodhead and toss him 10 feet. Yet, the guy can play football.
I said a few weeks ago that I didn't want to live in a world where Danny Woodhead has fantasy value. Well, now I'm embracing that world. Go get 'em, you little Woodhead! By the way, the best part about Woodhead is that he's listed in some leagues as a RB/WR, despite the fact that he's never played receiver in his life.
Blair White, WR Colts
I think White is a great pickup this week and I'll tell you why: We may not see my boy Austin Collie much again this year with his concussion problems and my gut tells me that Peyton Manning has had just about enough of Pierre Garcon's inconsistency.
If you saw after Manning threw that deep interception, they showed him looking at the still pictures and he threw them down in disgust. That tells me Garcon ran the wrong route (again) on that play. I'm guessing Manning is losing trust in Garcon.
Right now we are looking for players that could help us during the playoffs. If Collie is out for any extended period of time, I believe White could be big down the stretch. White is still available in most leagues. I would strongly suggest grabbing him. I think right now White could be one of the most impactful pickups of the season.
Rams Tight End
Listen, I can't spell this guy's name, I'll never be able to spell his name, so he's not going to appear in the Fire Sale. However, if you can spell his name and find him on the waiver wire, he may be worth a shot this late in the year.
Derek Hagan, WR Giants (read below about Hakeem Nicks)
Hakeem Nicks, WR Giants
It's being reported that Hakeem Nicks has a condition called Compartment Syndrome and had surgery to correct the problem. If that's so then Nicks is done for the year. You know how I know that? I battled Compartment Syndrome for 15 years and had four surgeries on my two legs. It's this simple: you can't run if you have Compartment Syndrome. When you try and run, the compartments in your lower legs fill up with fluid and it's extremely painful. The condition only gets progressively worse. The only way to correct the problem is to have surgery to release the compartments. Some people decide to live with the condition and not have the surgery. They just choose not to run, like Jerry Seinfeld.
So, Nicks had the surgery and the Giants are saying he will be back in three weeks? Are you kidding me? I had the exact same surgery and I could barely walk three weeks later. Professional athlete or not, it's going to take more than three weeks to recover from that procedure. That is a devastating surgery.
Trust me: This is a very rare and painful condition. If you want to see what Compartment Syndrome looks like after it's corrected, check this out. And that was the good leg. I didn't think to take a picture of the other leg but it was much worse. That was two weeks after surgery. Still think Nicks is coming back this year?
I had my first surgery in 2004. I had both compartments released. However, the doctor was an idiot and it came right back. This past summer, I had each leg done again and I was laid up for three months. That's not all, after surgery you have to work back slowly. I had my surgeries in May and June. While I can work out and do cardio machines, I can't physically run again until next May. That's how serious this condition can be.
Jahvid Best, RB Lions
Unfortunately, I've never had Turf Toe so I'm not an expert on that injury but I hear it's also extremely painful. You can tell just by watching him that Best doesn't have the same explosion he did earlier in the year.
While Best's fantasy production continues to dwindle, there is some good news here. I'm hoping this injury helps drive Best's value down for next year's draft because I think he will be a Top 5 fantasy running back in 2011. Remember, before the injury, Best was a fantasy monster.
Can you imagine how good this Lions offense will be if they can keep everyone healthy? Hopefully you traded Best when his stock was at its highest. We have a guy in the Fire Sale Fantasy League that held onto Best like grim death and now he's paying the price. You should never fall in love with one player. There are always ways to improve your team. You don't necessarily need Adrian Peterson or Chris Johnson to win a fantasy title. I have Fred Jackson and right now he's producing more than both of those guys.
If you own Best, I think it's going to be tough to get a lot of production from him the rest of the year. He's obviously bothered by the Turf Toe, and unlike Compartment Syndrome the only thing that's going to fix the problem is rest.
Randy Moss, WR Titans
It seems like only yesterday when Randy Moss had more fantasy value than Brandon Gibson. Apparently that's no longer the case. Heck, it's news now if Moss catches one pass in a game.
If you're still starting Moss, you may as well check and see if Louis Lipps is on your waiver wire because you'll get about the same fantasy production from the two of them.
Beanie Wells, RB Cardinals
Here, let me end all the suspense: Wells is questionable for this week and will be a game-time decision.
There is good news and bad news for Brad Childress. The bad news is he was fired by the Vikings. The good news is I hear CBS is thinking about bringing back Major Dad, so Childress can resume his acting career as the father. I told you, all week.
Jon Kitna, QB Cowboys
Kitna has put up some strong fantasy numbers since filling in for Tony Romo. Another plus in Kitna's corner is the Cowboys still can't run the ball inside the 5-yard line. He should have another solid effort against the Saints, in what will most likely be a high-scoring game on Thanksgiving.
Tim Hightower, RB Cardinals
I'm going to go out on a limb here and say Beanie Wells may not play and if he does he'll be limited. Call it a hunch.
Blair White, WR Colts
I'm guessing the Colts/Chargers game is going to feature some offense. If Austin Collie is out, I expect a big performance from White. I would actually feel more comfortable starting White than Garcon at this point.
Derek Hagan, WR Giants
Hagan will be the Giants No. 2 receiver this week against the awful Jacksonville secondary. If you play in a PPR league, Hagan could put up some nice numbers for you on Sunday.
Jimmy Graham, TE Saints
Graham looks like a player. He's done well in his limited opportunities so far and the Cowboys have no clue how to cover a tight end. I think Graham has another good game on Turkey Day.
If you guessed that I'm just fading the Carolina offense at this point in the season, you guessed right.
I'm a very busy man but if you need some one-on-one fantasy help, I will try to fit you in. I have one rule: Don't make your e-mails a book. As a freelance writer, I spend a large part of my day writing and responding to e-mails. So if you have a question, ask it. If you want to tell me how much you hate me, do it and do it quickly. If possible, try and make me laugh. If you can't tell me that you hate me in a couple of sentences, may a suggest seeking some professional help?
This is a fantasy football column. If you hate me that much, I'm guessing you have some deep rooted issues that need to be addressed. Anyway, if you must get in touch with me, my e-mail address is email@example.com. You can also follow my comical musings on Twitter or Facebook if you don't have anything else better to do.