There are simply too many things I love about football, and in the spirit of the holiday season, I'm going to generally be thankful for all the great things the game has given me. It's given me week after week of thrilling finishes, the wonderful "Friday Night Lights", and so many backyard games of Hail Mary and backyard tackle football when we were too young to understand how dangerous it was to play tackle football without pads.
What I'm not thankful for, however, are the black holes on your roster and mine, the abject failures who threaten to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory like the fantasy equivalent of Dave Wannstedt. You may not know which ones they are, but we do -- here's who to watch out for.
Maclin started off hot this year, but his hamstring has caused huge troubles for the once and perhaps future fantasy stud. Maclin had just one catch last week, getting his lone contribution early in the first half before sitting out the second half. Due to the injury and perhaps too many visits to Paddy's Pub, he has scored less than two points in total since Week 9. Sure, Maclin ranks third on the Eagles in targets at 72, but is only adding 0.6 points to the Eagles offense per reception -- down from 0.9 last year. Heading into the playoffs, you can't trust a guy playing on a bad wheel, even if he is marginally better than the
While he is one of the most efficient running backs in the league over the last two years (he boasts a 48 percent success rate, a figure that calculates the effectiveness of the run), Green-Ellis is just not a great fantasy option moving forward. The Law Firm has back-to-back games against strong Denver and Miami run defenses, and you have to figure that Tom Brady's arm will be leading the way in the potent Patriots attack. To make matters worse, the Patriots have a time-share in the backfield, and Danny Woodhead has been creeping up in touches; that means it might be best to relegate Green-Ellis to the bench for the playoffs.
Keeping it in Boston, if there is one person who has suffered from Rob Gronkowski's explosion this year, it's Hernandez. While the Patriots spread the ball around, Hernandez has not scored more than 11 points in a week since he scored a combined 28 fantasy points in the first two weeks of the season. Hernandez ranks third on the Patriots in targets -- just ahead of Deion Branch -- but only adds 0.6 points to the Patriots offense per reception, worst among all Patriots receivers. He has consistently put up 4-10 points over the last nine weeks and is a better option than most of the waiver-wire tight ends; but, if you need a big week, you may want to look elsewhere. What else can you really expect from a No. 2 tight end?
With DeMarco Murray lost for the season, Jones is in the spotlight once again. Don't sleep on him: most fantasy owners forget just how effective of a back Jones was. The other King Felix went for more than 10 points in more than half of his featured games so far this year, and is particularly a gem in PPR leagues, where his pass catching ability will roll up the scoreboard for you. Jones was the 25th best running back last year -- good enough to start in almost every fantasy league -- and with the absolute total lack of competition in Dallas, he's a winner as long as Jason Garrett doesn't try and ice him.
Washington has been up and down all year, scoring more than 15 three times while scoring less than five in another five games. The fact that he is only owned in 72 percent of leagues shows that most owners are fed up with him and likely indicates that he is not getting started. Do not fret, grasshopper! Washington has 88 targets, 14 more than the next best receiver on the Titans, and is catching over 67 percent of the balls thrown his way. Nate Wash is the 19th-best scoring WR -- above the value of a replacement level player -- but due to his inconsistency, he is best played by owners who are underdogs moving forward. If you're going up against the monster in your league, look to see if Nate Dogg is available.
Most fantasy playoff teams have a solid starting option at QB, but you have to worry about players like Aaron Rodgers getting benched late in the season to give him extra rest. For those of you looking for a plug-in guy, look no further than Grossman (assuming the likes of Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow aren't available -- see previous columns for people's tendency to underrate these two). If you throw out Rex's game against the formidable Jets defense, in which he morphed back into Gross Rexman, he is averaging over 18 points per week since Week 11. We won't get carried away: Grossman is a below average quarterback, performing similarly to the likes of the aforementioned Tebow and Sanchez through the air. But given that he has solid matchups against the Giants, Vikings and Eagles moving forward, he's worth a shot if you're desperate or otherwise worried about your QB going Tyler Palko on you.