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Fire sale: Rodgers' injury may signal end to many a playoff run


Well, sadly this is the final Fire Sale of the 2010 season.

I just want to take a minute to thank all of you that have followed the Fire Sale. I was able to reach a broader audience this year and I truly am grateful for all of the new followers. I may not always be right but I devote a lot of time to helping people win fantasy titles.

The thing I think I'm most proud of this year is once I learned how to use Twitter I responded to every e-mail, Tweet and Facebook post just like I promised. I averaged it out since the summer and it has to be close to 8,000 inquiries I've responded to since July. Every single person that asked a question got a response. I don't mind saying that's pretty impressive. I bet not too many fantasy writers that can make that claim.

You know what my problem is? I take this column too seriously. I live and die by my predictions because I know others depend on them. When I'm wrong about something it eats away at me all week. It's one thing if I make a stupid move with my own fantasy team. When you make over 100 moves a year like I do, the bottom line is they all aren't going to work out. That's a given.

I know sometimes I can be an opinionated blowhard but I really do appreciate all the support and feedback. The Fire Sale was created for the everyday passionate football fan because that's what I am at heart. Thanks again for all the support this season and maybe I'll see you again down the road. If not, I'll see you in the funny papers.

Now, for the final time in 2010, on with the Fire Sale ...

Ryan Torain, RB Redskins -- Well, I finally found a use for Twitter. As I stated last week I have very little regard for the Washington Redskins. Even with Torain coming back, I wasn't that high on him. Then "AThomp87" on Twitter said he thought Torain was the best of the garbage the Redskins have at running back and he thought Mike Shanahan would ride Torain the rest of the year as long as he's healthy.

AThomp87's comments got me thinking. I checked in my league and saw Torain was available on the waiver wire. I figured what the heck? A starting running back in the NFL at this time of year is certainly worth a roster spot, so I picked him up.

So, we finally found a reason for Twitter. It's not so I know what people I could care less about are doing every minute of the day. It's so I could pick up Torain for my playoff run. Thanks a lot to AThomp87 for convincing me that Torain was worth a shot.

Torain got 24 carries in his first game back. He faces a tougher defense in the Cowboys this week but you can't argue with a back that's going to get most of his team's carries. Let's put it this way: I'm considering starting Torain over Brandon Lloyd this week in the semi-finals of the fantasy playoffs. That probably says more about Lloyd (read below) but it is what it is at this point.

Ryan Mathews, RB Chargers -- I'm going out swinging with Mathews, right down to the final Fire Sale of the year. I loved Mathews in college. I then drafted him with the ninth overall pick. Next, I said he would rebound from injuries and have a big second half of the season. To end things, I'll say Mathews is going to be a solid contributor during fantasy playoffs.

Mathews had a decent game on Sunday, rushing for 65 yards and a score. I thought he looked really fresh. Mike Tolbert has done a terrific job and will no doubt still get his touches, as will Darren Sproles. Still, I think Mathews could be an interesting flex play during fantasy playoffs.

I still think Mathews is going to be a stud but isn't it interesting how things work out? Mathews, C.J. Spiller and Jahvid Best were all selected in the first round of the draft. Meanwhile, undrafted free agents Chris Ivory and LeGarrette Blount are currently the top two rookie rushers. So much for scouting.

Josh Freeman, QB Buccaneers -- I traded for Freeman a while ago just so I could have him during the fantasy playoffs.

Freeman had a solid day in a driving rain storm last week, throwing for 266 yards and a score. Now he gets home games against the Lions and Seahawks, two of the most generous fantasy pass defenses on the planet. The Seahawks, in particular, have the single worst secondary I've seen all year.

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Now there is another reason to be high on Freeman. A quarter of the Bucs' starting defense is on IR. I love finding a team late in the year that didn't have a great defense to begin with and now is dealing with injuries to key players. To me, that means Freeman and the Bucs offense will have to carry the load for Tampa Bay to be successful. I see some shootouts in the Bucs' future.

Freeman has been a strong fantasy quarterback all season but I have a hunch he could really explode over the next two weeks. If you have Freeman, don't be afraid to play him right now.

Devin McCourty, CB Patriots -- I know McCourty is battling a rib injury but if there is anyone in the NFL playing the corner position better than McCourty right now, I haven't seen him. McCourty was a versatile playmaker at Rutgers and he's bringing that same skill set to the NFL as a rookie. Ndamukong Suh is already the best interior lineman in the NFL and a mortal lock for Defensive Rookie of the Year, but I think McCourty should finish second in the voting. In two years people will be talking about McCourty as one of the best corners in the NFL. I'm telling you he's one of the best right now.

Aaron Rodgers, QB Packers -- What a disaster for fantasy owners, huh?

For those of you that have Rodgers or Greg Jennings and somehow made it past last week, things aren't looking much better for next Sunday. In today's NFL, a second concussion is the worst injury a player can get. If someone rips up their knee, they usually miss about a week. That's like a scratch nowadays. But with all the focus on head injuries, once you get that second concussion, it's easier to get into Fort Knox than it is to get back on the field.

I have no idea if Rodgers is going to play on Sunday or not at this point but with all the rules associated with concussions, I wouldn't count on him being under center if I were a betting man. If you have Rodgers, hopefully you have a backup like Freeman you can throw in there instead. I can tell you right now, Matt Flynn against the Patriots isn't the answer, so don't even think about it.

Jennings owners have to be kicking themselves right now. He's been on fire ever since I had him Coming Down in the Fire Sale earlier this year. Now Jennings is part of that Brandon Lloyd/Steve Smith/Larry Fitzgerald group. In other words, Jennings goes from fantasy stud to borderline flex player if Rodgers can't play.

Again, maybe Rodgers plays and all will be well. If not, this is easily the biggest fantasy injury of the season. A lot of people's fantasy seasons will end because Rodgers got hit in the head. That's the most important thing the Detroit Lions have done since drafting Barry Sanders.

Mark Sanchez, QB Jets -- Anyone else starting to think that Sanchez just stinks? Apparently Joe Namath is one of those people. Broadway Joe Tweeted on Sunday: "Mark is starting to scare me." Starting to? Namath apparently doesn't scare very easily.

You know who I'm starting to think Sanchez is? He's the guy that strings together one good 3-4 game stretch every year that gets people excited. However, if you look at his play over a 16-game season, Sanchez ends up being an average quarterback. I simply don't see the guy getting any better. Anyone can throw for a lot of yards against the Texans. Big deal.

I think I first noticed this about Sanchez before the big game against the Patriots. That game was supposed to be a battle of heavyweights and one team had Tom Brady, while the other had Sanchez. I understand not every quarterback is Brady but when a team like the Patriots or Colts is very good, the Jets aren't going to beat them with Sanchez under center. That's the bottom line.

Look at three of the Jets' four losses. They gave up 10 points to Baltimore, nine points to Green Bay and 10 points to Miami. They lost each of those games because Sanchez had horrific performances. I know Santonio Holmes and Jerricho Cotchery each dropped big passes but Sanchez played like garbage regardless. I'm sorry but that just isn't good enough. The Jets need much better quarterback play out of Sanchez if they ever want to win anything.

The scary thing about last Sunday's game is Sanchez wasn't even close to being the worst quarterback on the field. I'm looking right at you, Chad Henne. Talk about pathetic.

Brandon Lloyd, WR Broncos -- Last week I had Kyle Orton going down, saying he looked like a beaten quarterback to me. Well, the result was Orton almost benched for Tim Tebow. Needless to say, this isn't good news for Lloyd owners like me.

Listen, the Broncos are the worst team in football. They got blasted by the Cardinals of all teams. I don't have any players left on my team that I drafted. Since I trade 10 times a week, my roster is in constant turnover as I attempt to build the best team I possibly can for a playoff run.

Lloyd has been on my squad longer than any other player this year. As a matter of fact, he's the only player with real fantasy value that I haven't traded at some point. However, I think I've seen the best Lloyd has to offer this season. The Broncos are so bad right now Lloyd has fallen into the same Smith/Larry Fitzgerald category of basically falling off the fantasy map that I mentioned above with Jennings.

Lloyd has caught just five balls for 63 yards in the last two games. If you have a better option at this point in the year when it's win or go home, I say it may be time to bench Lloyd. A five- or six-point week is an absolute killer right now, so try and avoid that disaster at all costs, and that includes benching one of the best receivers in fantasy football.

Devin Aromashodu, WR Bears -- Hey, remember this guy? I thought it would be funny to bring up his name as the Fire Sale's final entry for 2010.

Think back to the summer, when people were drooling over Aromashodu for reasons I didn't understand. Luckily, for those of you who followed the Fire Sale, you targeted the Bears receiver that was going third in most drafts behind Aromashodu and Devin Hester. His name is Johnny Knox.

If you were in love with Aromashodu, let this be a lesson to you: Beware of Fool's Gold. What's Fool's Gold? It's when a guy comes out of nowhere to have a couple of big games late in the year and then is vastly overrated heading into the following season's fantasy draft.

Just for the record, Aromashodu has nine catches for 136 yards and zero touchdowns through 13 games this season. I think we now have a new poster boy for Fool's Gold.

As the late, great "Dandy" Don Meredith would say, "Turn out the lights, the party's over. They say that all good things must end ..."