Divorces are messy, Dave, and I'm not talking about the marriage kind. Just ask Wade Davis or Josh McDaniels -- there's almost no way to plan for that event. It would be like planning for an early demise. With separation comes adjustment, with adjustment comes hiccups, and with hiccups come stupid pieces of advice like "hold your breath for 10 seconds," or "you need someone to scare you."
Well, since this is the last installment of Line of Scrimmage for the year, we need to make some "adjustments," as you say. Certainly adjustments were made after McDaniels' firing. Unfortunately, they resulted in Knowshon Moreno becoming more viable as a fantasy RB1 while decimating any semblance of the Kyle Orton passing attack that had become the norm. I don't think losing to Jay Feely, ahem, the Cardinals, is a way into the driver's seat, Eric Studesville.
Honestly, how many people thought with John Skelton starting at QB, Arizona would manage a single touchdown, more or less three? Feely accounted for 25 of Arizona's 43 points, and if you actually had him in your lineup you received more than 28 points, or the same amount the entire Green Bay rushing attack provided all season. By the way, am I the only one that saw Mike Singletary channeling Mike Tyson in Monday's press conference? Add a slightly higher pitch and just a tad more lisp and I swear we have the same guy.
I'll give him credit for fighting, although I have no idea what to make of Alex Smith's stunning return Sunday. Perhaps he's channeling Joe Montana, with San Francisco alive and well in the NFC West. What is it about West divisions this year? They're like the Delta Houses of the NFL, with Bluto-like characteristics: slow, lousy and uninventive, and that's no way to go through an NFL season, nor a fantasy season. Alas, we're here to present one last series of arguments for or against those crazy waiver-wire additions, or those oddly-chosen matchups before your playoffs end. Then, you're on your own.
So this is where Dave and I say, "Goodbye." Good thing we're not into long drawn-out speeches about the loneliness that follows any separation.
Right you are.
We're not going to sink into that initial depression that follows an ending, where our minds goes on countless tangents about what this really means about we as a writing team ...
We're not about to sit here and ramble on and on about how thankful we are to our parents, our readers, our editors, etc.
Just say, "Goodbye."
I can't. How's "so long"?
Farewell. Auf Wiedersehen ...
Topic No. 1: It's the fantasy playoffs and you want results, not pedigrees. Should you give up on Miles Austin for a hotter WR?
Block:In Week 14 Austin got 26 yards ... on the ground. He only saw 22 in the air on two passes. Last season he had 1,320 yards and 11 TDs. This year he's on pace for 1,016 yards and six TDs. Of course, the major difference is Tony Romo loved him, while Jon Kitna just kind of likes him. There was a two-game stretch in which Kitna found Austin in the end zone three times, but those 100-plus yard games you're expecting are more anomaly than norm. Austin only has one of those under the Kitna regime, against an awful Jacksonville secondary, and he still didn't get a TD. Even with Dez Bryant done for the year it's time to realize Austin is a WR2 at best the rest of the way. What's that, you say, the 'Boys next play the Redskins' and Cardinals' atrocious secondaries? And Romo's expected back for the Cards game? Yes, the cosmic tumblers may all fall into place and create a mini-renaissance for Austin's value, but after watching what Randy Moss did to me in the playoffs last year, and knowing how slowly collarbones heal, I'm not willing to bet my league championship on it. Look for a stronger alternative.
Counter-block: Et tu, Dave-ute, et tu? Unfortunately, for all fantasy patrons who are looking for useful wide receivers, opportunity is still what matters most. Austin has 18 targets in the last three games, or six per game. To put that into perspective, Calvin Johnson had 20 in the last three games. The top receivers have 26 or so. So should you give up on M.A., who else would you play in his stead? True, Kitna is less likely to see the field as well as Romo, and thus Jason Witten has enjoyed this change immensely. But the problem isn't opportunity or that he's caught the ball less (65 percent last year, 60 percent this year), it's the yards after catch. Austin had 550 yards after the catch in 2009 for his 81 receptions. He has just 340 yards after the catch this year for his 58 receptions. This looks like exactly what it is: Austin lost his starting QB, and he and Kitna are still trying to get on the same page. With Bryant gone, and more and more time spent together, I hasten to say there's no one on the waiver wire who offers you what Austin does. With defenses like Arizona, Washington and even Philadelphia ahead, you have to stick with him.
Clearing the pile: In no way would we say drop Austin, and the matchups look good for him the rest of the way. Naturally, if you can't play both and you have another stud WR1, Austin gets the pine.
Topic No. 2: Arrelious Benn has been making his presence felt more and more in the Tampa Bay offense. Should he be making his presence felt on your team?
Block: Now here's a waiver wire guy who is available that could make a difference. I'm not one for desperately grabbing guys who have had no impact all season for a high risk/high reward play in my crucial games. However, if your team has a gap in it like a Civil War battle-line, then Benn could be appealing. While word out of training camp was Benn hardly seemed worthy of the second round pick spent on him, his heir apparent, Mike Williams, has followed a long line of talented receivers who can't get out of their own way. Regardless that he wasn't suspended for his recent DUI arrest because he tested under the legal limit, since Week 10 (or the week after his arrest) Benn's targets increased. Against Detroit's pressure-based passing defense, one that is still giving up on average 12 yards per reception and has yielded 21 receiving touchdowns, Benn should factor in. He is becoming Tampa's big play threat, and Detroit provides ample opportunity for that type of play ... over, and over, and over.
Counter-block:Being our last column of the season, I've decided to look to the King of Pop for inspiration for my counter-block concerning Tampa Bay's WR3:
"Benn, last week your measly looks were four,Yes, your yards were nice but you couldn't score,With offense bad as it gets,Scoring less points than the Jets,And your owners will soon see,You're no better than WR3,(You're no better than WR3)They don't see you as I do,A lucky run gave you 122,No league victory for them,If they decide to start you, Benn.(No win) for them,(for them) no Benn."
Yes, I've brought out "Ben" by Michael Jackson to make a point: I need to update my iPod, and Benn had a lucky, not a breakout, game against the Redskins. Don't chase him.
Clearing the pile: We certainly don't advise dropping anyone but an injured or useless bench player for Benn. That being said, Tampa Bay is playing for their lives, and since Williams is drawing the coverage, Benn may have among the highest upside of any waiver wire receiver out there.
Topic No. 3: Jacksonville has scored 24 or more points in four of their last six games, and face weak Indianapolis, Washington and Houston defenses. Should you stock up on Jaguars receivers for the playoffs?
Block:The 8-5 Jaguars have been able to overcome their mediocre defense with a balanced offensive attack. While David Garrard has been outrageously efficient by averaging less than 200 yards per game, yet throwing 20 TDs against 12 INTs, make no mistake about it. This team will run when they can, with Maurice Jones-Drew on his way to equaling last year's numbers except for TDs. And when Garrard does pass, he spreads the ball around like he plays for the Patriots. Since their bye week, he has thrown seven TD passes to five different receivers -- Marcedes Lewis (2), Mike Thomas (2), Jason Hill, Zach Miller and Mike Sims-Walker. Also, those weak defenses may cause the Jaguars to keep the ball on the ground. Indy is good against the pass, but weak against the run. Washington is weak against everything, but tends to force a ball-control type of game. Houston has a decent run defense and an awful pass defense -- exactly what you'd want -- but they don't play the Texans until Week 17, when players may get rested and your fantasy playoffs may already be over. So the only player that could be worth getting is TE Lewis, but I bet he's already gone.
Counter-block: All good points, and points equal victories, and victories mean ... well, really nothing when you're writing an article. Mike Thomas had 33 targets in Weeks 10-13. Thirty-three! That's added up to 23 receptions for 262 yards and a touchdown, or 32 fantasy points. That's good enough to be a WR2 on any roster. No, this isn't a pass-first offense, but the play distribution (398 run/346 pass) hardly makes it unbalanced toward the ground. You could do a lot worse in a situation than scooping up Thomas when you're facing Indy, Washington and Houston your final three weeks, especially with a hot team who's offense is clearly in sync.
Clearing the pile: If for some strange reason Marcedes Lewis is available, get him. Thomas is also worth a pickup as a WR2 the rest of the way.
Jon Phillips and Dave Young would like to thank our editors at SI.com for having us and tolerating us. And, of course, we'd like to thank you, the readers, particularly those that took the time to write us. We'd like to thank the people that beat us up when we were younger. You've made us stronger, sis. I'd like to thank that person that shoved my head between the basement stairs slats, Dave. I learned how to patient because of you. And me, Jon, I'd like to thank the kid that used to rip the limbs off my superhero dolls. He taught me to believe in true heroes that would never let me down, like athletes. And I would like to thank the crush I had that never ever got me a Valentine. And for more people we're thankful for this holiday season, join us on "Just A Bit Outside" on Blogtalkradio.com, Wednesday nights, 10:30 p.m. ET (7:30 p.m. Pacific), and read their column, "Line of Scrimmage" weekly on SI.com. E-mail Jon at email@example.com or Dave at mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org.