Braylon Edwards: Rick Stewart/Getty Images
1. Bad night all around for fantasy pass-catchers: After 60 minutes of sleep-inducing play, the Bills and Jets receivers combined for 17 catches and 216 yards on the night. To put this in better context, Broncos receiver Brandon Marshall singlehandedly pulled down 18 catches for 166 yards in the 2008 season opener; and in 2000, Terrell Owens -- who actually had three catches for 31 yards on Thursday night -- once had an NFL-record 20 catches for 283 yards against the Bears (while playing for the 49ers). Fast forward to the present, where the stats read similar a Colts-Patriots tilt ... midway through the first quarter.
Jerricho Cotchery (4 catches, 68 yards). Braylon Edwards (3 catches, 45 yards, 1 TD). TE Dustin Keller (1 catch, 5 yards). Fred Jackson (3 catches, 24 yards). Marshawn Lynch (1 catch, 4 yards) ... and Lee Evans (1 catch, 38 yards). Yawn!
2. Mark Sanchez and Ryan Fitzpatrick are really, really bad fantasy options: This isn't a statement based on Thursday's pitiful play, per se. Rather, it's a referendum on their fantasy prospects for Weeks 14-16. Here's the deal: If either Sanchez or Fitzpatrick are sitting on your bench -- remove 'em as soon as humanly possible. And if any of the aforementioned receivers (minus T.O. and Cotchery) are even considerations for your starting WR slots ... we're assuming you'll have plenty of newfound free time before Christmastime.
3. Thomas Jones can carry teams to a fantasy title in Weeks 14-16: Oh sure, Jones may be hamstrung by the forgettable passing duo of Sanchez/Kellen Clemens, but he's good enough to overcome QB shenanigans and be a dominant fantasy force down the stretch. Against Buffalo, Jones ran for 109 tough yards ... a number that's easily approachable (and beatable) for New York's next three games (Tampa Bay, Atlanta, Indianapolis -- especially if the home-field advantage-bound Colts are in Operation: Shutdown mode by Week 16).
4. Fred Jackson is still a stronger play than Marshawn Lynch: Yes, Lynch won the intrasquad battle on two fronts -- total yards (61-55) and touchdowns (1-0). But let's not kid ourselves: If ANY Bills playmaker is worthy of an automatic-starting consideration at the flex spot from Weeks 14-16 ... it's Jackson. In fact, with 19-plus touches against Kansas City, he's a guaranteed lock for 130 yards and/or one touchdown. That's not to say Lynch, Owens or Evans won't have success against the Chiefs in Week 14, just bank on Jackson winning that competition -- by a comfortable margin.
5. You could do worse than Shonn Greene as an emergency starter in 14-team leagues: Against Buffalo, Greene (59 rushing yards) bore the look of a back who was on the brink of a major breakout ... but it never materialized. Perhaps his day will come next week against Tampa Bay. Personally, we'd be shocked if it didn't.
1. Donovan McNabb @ Atlanta
2. Philip Rivers @ Cleveland
3. Matt Cassel vs. Denver
4. Matt Schaub @ Jacksonville
5. Carson Palmer vs. Detroit
6. Jay Cutler vs. St. Louis
7. Peyton Manning vs. Tennessee
8. Brett Favre @ Arizona
9. Tom Brady @ Miami
1. Minnesota @ Arizona
2. Philadelphia @ Atlanta
3. New England @ Miami
4. San Francisco @ Seattle
5. Baltimore @ Green Bay
We channeled the lovable eggheads at AccuScore to solve a mini-crisis around the SI.com office: Who are the best five fantasy TEs down the stretch? ... prompting these computer findings (as simulated one billion times -- or something like that) from this point forward:
1. Dallas Clark (31.35)
2. Jason Witten (31.24)
3. Vernon Davis (26.84)
4. Antonio Gates (25.34)
5. Tony Gonzalez (24.36)
1. Vernon Davis (350)
2. Dallas Clark (324)
3. Jason Witten (319)
4. Antonio Gates (318)
5. Tony Gonzalez (284)
1. Vernon Davis (3.69)
2. Visanthe Shiancoe (2.73)
3. Greg Olsen (2.32)
4. Dallas Clark (2.25)
5. Heath Miller (2.08)
For more amazing NFL-related information from Accuscore, simply click here or access the home page @ AccuScore for every other sport that doesn't involve zebras as officials, pigskin for balls or proverbial blind squirrels, like the Washington Redskins, who'll find one phantabulous nut from this wretched season on Sunday afternoon -- in the form of knocking off the 11-0 Saints. Boom!
1. Frank Gore @ Seattle
2. Adrian Peterson @ Arizona
3. DeAngelo Williams vs. Tampa Bay
4. Justin Forsett vs. San Francisco
5. Cedric Benson vs. Detroit
6. Matt Forte vs. St. Louis
7. Rashard Mendenhall vs. Oakland
8. Chris Johnson @ Indianapolis
9. Maurice Jones-Drew vs. Houston
10. Ray Rice @ Green Bay
11. Jamaal Charles vs. Denver
1. Randy Moss @ Miami
2. Vincent Jackson @ Cleveland
3. Anquan Boldin vs. Minnesota
4. Sidney Rice @ Arizona
5. Chad Ochocinco vs. Detroit
6. Larry Fitzgerald vs. Minnesota
7. Andre Johnson @ Jacksonville
8. Mike Sims-Walker vs. Houston
9. Chris Chambers vs. Denver
10. Mario Manningham vs. Dallas
11. Jeremy Maclin @ Atlanta
12. Reggie Wayne vs. Tennessee
Brett Favre: Scott Boehm/Getty Images
Twelve-plus weeks seems like enough time to separate the smart fantasy draft picks ... from the dumbest of the season. So, without further ado, here are the 10 best and worst draft coups of 2009, using Sports Illustrated's best-selling preseason fantasy publication:
1. QB Brett Favre, Vikings (15th round, 179th overall)
2. WR Sidney Rice, Vikings (13th round, 148th overall)
3. RB Chris Johnson, Titans (2nd round, 20th overall)
4. TE Visanthe Shiancoe, Vikings (13th round, 147th overall)
5. RB Ricky Williams, Dolphins (12th round, 143rd overall)
6. WR Miles Austin, Cowboys (11th round, 130th overall)
7. RB Ray Rice, Ravens (10th round, 120th overall)
8. RB Cedric Benson, Bengals (9th round, 106th overall)
9. WR Vincent Jackson, Chargers (7th round, 79th overall)
10. TE Brent Celek, Eagles (12th round, 137th overall)
Here are some of the luminaries at quarterback who went ahead of Brett Favre in the SI magazine draft: Matt Cassel, Jake Delhomme, Jason Campbell, Pat White, Kyle Orton, Trent Edwards and Matt Leinart.
1. RB Brian Westbrook, Eagles (1st round, 6th overall)
2. RB Darren McFadden, Raiders (3rd round, 28th overall)
3. RB Derrick Ward, Buccaneers (4th round, 48th overall)
4. WR Anthony Gonzalez, Colts (5th round, 55th overall)
5. WR Bernard Berrian, Vikings (5th round, 49th overall)
6. RB Brandon Jacobs, Giants (2nd round, 16th overall)
7. RB Steve Slaton, Texans (1st round, 7th overall)
8. RB Clinton Portis, Redskins (2nd round, 15th overall)
9. WR Braylon Edwards, Browns/Jets (4th round, 47th overall)
10. RB Felix Jones, Cowboys (3rd round, 33rd overall)
A receiver is only as good as his quarterback ... and the number of opportunities he gets to make a catch (known as Targets -- an absolutely critical stat for PPR leagues). This underrated category is the best way to safeguard against one-hit wonders during a looooong fantasy season. To wit, SI.com presents a list of the 26 wideouts with at least 36 Targets since Week 8:
1. Reggie Wayne, Colts -- 57 Targets
2. Roddy White, Falcons -- 54 Targets
3. Brandon Marshall, Broncos -- 51 Targets
4. Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals -- 50 Targets
5. Derrick Mason, Ravens -- 50
6. Wes Welker, Patriots -- 47
7. Devin Hester, Bears -- 45
8. Calvin Johnson, Lions -- 45
9. T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Seahawks -- 44
10. Randy Moss, Patriots -- 44
11. Andre Johnson, Texans -- 43
12. Donald Driver, Packers -- 42
13. Pierre Garcon, Colts -- 42
14. Steve Smith, Giants -- 42
15. Greg Jennings, Packers -- 41
16. Steve Smith, Panthers -- 41
17. Santonio Holmes, Steelers -- 40
18. Nate Burleson, Seahawks -- 39
19. Hines Ward, Steelers -- 39
20. Miles Austin, Cowboys -- 38
21. Michael Crabtree, 49ers -- 38
22. Davone Bess, Dolphins -- 37
23. DeSean Jackson, Eagles -- 37
24. Jeremy Maclin, Eagles -- 37
25. Michael Jenkins, Falcons -- 36
26. Mike Sims-Walker, Jaguars -- 36
@RSCDoug wonders: Thanks for the Philip Rivers tip from last week. Another win! This week, do I go with Sidney Rice, Greg Jennings, Percy Harvin? I'm already starting Vincent Jackson.
Answer: If I'm picking only one receiver, I'm going with Sidney against Arizona -- despite the awesome WR-CB matchup with Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. And if I get to have two wideouts, I'm going with Jennings over Harvin -- for no other reason than diversifying my investment. Of course, if this were a Vikings home game, I might opt differently, since Brett Favre always seems like a lock for 350 yards/3 TDs at the hefty-bag Metrodome.
@johnchoiniere poses this question: I wouldn't think so, but I'll ask anyway: Is Robert Meachem worth starting over Calvin Johnson, Matt Forte, Percy Harvin? (1/2-point PPR)
Answer: Of course, Meachem could have a great game at any time. But I wouldn't bet on it away from the Superdome ... especially since Washington will ... (warning: upset alert) ... actually knock off 11-0 New Orleans! The Redskins have won the last two head-to-head encounters ... and I just have a hunch it'll be three straight upsets come Sunday. That aside, I would confidently ride Calvin, Forte and Harvin into the playoffs (assuming you're bound for 'em).
@hollaatmejoe asks: Whom do I start here: QB Aaron Rodgers/Carson Palmer? RB DeAngelo Williams, Chris Johnson, Justin Forsett, Ray Rice? WR Donald Driver, Greg Jennings, Andre Johnson, Chad Ochocinco?
Answer: In terms of full disclosure, I have Carson (vs. DET) having slightly better numbers than Rodgers (vs. BAL), but I would certainly understand ANYONE who opted to stick with the No. 1-ranked player in all of fantasyland (most leagues, anyway). In fact, I wouldn't even recommend benching Rodgers in anything short of a wind storm at Lambeau Field. I am merely saying that Palmer will have more fantasy points come Sunday night. At running back, you really can't lose with any of the Big Four ... but let's go with Williams, Johnson ... and Forsett over Ray Rice in the slimmest of humanly perceptible margins. And for the wide receivers, let's ride A-Johnson and Ocho IF you choose Carson at quarterback. If you pick Rodgers ... sub-out Ocho for Driver or Jennings (your preference). Thanks!
@mountainrugby asks: Whom to start for Week 13: QBs Palmer, Donovan McNabb, Brett Favre? RBs Maurice Jones-Drew, Cedric Benson, LeSean McCoy, Kevin Smith? WRs Randy Moss, Mike Sims-Walker, Steve Smith (NYG) or Donald Driver?
Answer: I have McNabb as my No. 1 quarterback for Week 13, and I'm confident he'll carve up the Falcons' beleaguered secondary -- even if DeSean Jackson and Brent Celek aren't playing. (If that's the case, look out for Jeremy Maclin/Jason Avant!) At running back, I'd rank 'em: 1)MJD 2)Benson 3)McCoy 4)Smith ... and 1)Moss 2)MSW 3)Smith 4)Driver at the WR slots.
@stan_mims wonders: Who would u start this week? Fred Jackson, Brandon Jacobs, Laurence Maroney? Thanks!
Answer: Here's my official stance on Mr. Jacobs: If he should rise up from the fantasy dead this weekend or from Weeks 14-16 -- while he's sitting on my bench -- then so be it. I am done wasting my time on a guy who's only a lock for 12-14 touches from week to week, regardless of game situation or score. With that said, I would ride Jackson (he had 55 total yards against the Jets before I answered this question on Twitter) and Maroney. Obviously, I hope I'm right about F-Jax!
@mschauf63 sarcastically states: Real congrats go Sparty (aka Michigan State University) for moving beyond the North Carolina portion of their schedule and at least making it competitive. (For the hoops challenged, Mr. Schauf is subtly referring to UNC's victory over MSU in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge from Tuesday).
Answer: It goes without saying: U R dead to me!
Last but not least ... here are the 17 tight ends with at least 22 targets since Week 8. If your preferred guy isn't on the list, perhaps it's time to choose someone who actually sees 4-5 balls per game:
1. Tony Gonzalez, Falcons -- 52 Targets
2. Dallas Clark, Colts -- 44
3. Vernon Davis, 49ers -- 42
4. Greg Olsen, Bears -- 41
5. Jason Witten, Cowboys -- 39
6. Kellen Winslow, Buccaneers -- 37
7. Brent Celek, Eagles -- 36
8. Antonio Gates, Chargers -- 33
9. Dustin Keller, Jets -- 30 (excluding Week 13 stats)
10. Bo Scaife, Titans -- 30
11. Visanthe Shiancoe, Vikings -- 26
12. John Carlson, Seahawks -- 25
13. Kevin Boss, Giants -- 22
14. Fred Davis, Redskins -- 22
15. Heath Miller, Steelers -- 22
16. Zach Miller, Raiders -- 22
For owners in 16-team leagues who absolutely, positively need a backup running back this week, one with a serious chance of scoring double-digits through the magic of garbage time ... look no further than Carolina RB Mike Goodson, who has the good fortune of facing Tampa Bay in Charlotte. Now, we must reiterate this pick is strictly an educated hunch, but one that looks more appealing by the minute if Jonathan Stewart cannot get past his various maladies AND the Panthers steamroll the Bucs by 20!