November 24, 2008
Fantasy Clicks
By Jay Clemons
Week 12 Revelations
Matt Cassel: Doug Benc/Getty Images
New England 48, Miami 28
  • Come on ... are you really that surprised with the Patriots serving a cold dish of revenge to the Dolphins in warm Miami? Tom Brady or no Tom Brady, no one holds a grudge like coach Bill Belichick, and he must've been counting down the days, seconds and minutes until his team's rematch off a Week 3 loss (where Ronnie Brown accounted for five TDs). I'm not shocked the Patriots won, of course ... but I am floored by the 76 total points and that Matt Cassel and Chad Pennington combined for 756 passing yards and seven TDs (one rushing) in one of the most exciting games we may see all year. With back-to-back 400-yard games, Cassel (a free agent at season's end, by the way) must seem like the perfect QB for the fantasy playoffs. However, I cannot recommend him as a starter in Weeks 13 (vs. Pittsburgh) or 14 (at Seattle) in inclement weather -- which is always a dicey proposition in late November.

    Regarding Sunday's four conventional stars, did you happen to notice that Brown finished with only 47 yards and zero TDs? Or that Wes Welker pulled in eight catches for 120 yards? Or that Dolphins WR Greg Camarillo (a Welker clone) caught six balls for 75 yards and 1 TD? Hmmmm ... maybe that's due to Randy Moss's 8-catch, 125-yard, 3-TD day -- his second-best single-game performance with New England. This just in: Moss is good (don't you love sarcasm?) ... and I sincerely hope you didn't sit him on Sunday or plan to bench him come the fantasy playoffs. That'd be plain wrong.

  • Buffalo 54, Kansas City 31
  • I've figured out the ONLY two essentials to victory in fantasyland this season: Kurt Warner (more on him in a bit) and playing against the Chiefs. In Kansas City's last nine games, the opposing team has scored 38, 33, 34, 34, 28, 30, 20, 34 and 54 points -- or 34 per game! The coup de grace came on Sunday, as the previously struggling Bills marched into Arrowhead and put on a fantasy-friendly clinic, led by QB Trent Edwards (311 total yards, 4 TDs), RB Marshawn Lynch (104 total yards, 1 TD), WR Lee Evans (5 catches, 110 yards) and kicker Rian Lindell (4 field goals, 6 PATs). Now, I would love nothing more than to project Buffalo's viability over the next four weeks; but with Kansas City now off the schedule, what's the point? I can say this: Oakland (Week 13), Denver (Week 14), San Diego (Week 15) and Miami (Week 16) all have a legit shot at hanging 35 on the Chiefs. Cha-ching!

    In terms of the K.C. offense ... Tony Gonzalez (10 catches, 113 yards, 1 TD), Larry Johnson (105 total yards) and Dwayne Bowe (58 receiving yards, 1 TD) should be must-starts from this point on; and Tyler Thigpen (269 total yards, 3 TDs) continues to be lights-out for a franchise that, up until four weeks ago, was probably a lock to draft Georgia QB Matt Stafford at No. 1 or 2 overall in next April's draft (assuming Stafford left school early). But now, how can anyone deny that Thigpen doesn't deserve every chance to be the QB of the present and future ... unless people view him as the "Derek Anderson of 2008."

  • Houston 16, Cleveland 6
  • Speaking of the Browns ... there is no way that Brady Quinn (94 yards passing, 2 INTs vs. Houston) is a better long-term QB option than Anderson (DA's only one year older, by the way). Brady's stiff in the pocket, has less arm strength and fixates too much on his primary receiver. That's not to say Anderson is an all-world talent, either. But in fantasyland or real life, all things being equal, I'd rather have the guy who's not afraid to attack downfield. On the flip side, it doesn't matter who's throwing the ball if Braylon Edwards keeps dropping it; so while his 5-catch, 85-yard day looks great from afar, I can think of two potential touchdowns that fell through the cracks. Yikes!

    Regarding the Texans ... let's start with a question: Outside of Anquan Boldin-Larry Fitzgerald and Randy Moss-Wes Welker, is there a more fantasy-friendly WR tandem than Andre Johnson (10 catches, 116 yards vs. Cleveland) and Kevin Walter (7 catches, 93 yards, 1 TD)? They've combined for 1,732 receiving yards and 10 TDs this year, and their play hasn't suffered at all with backup QB Sage Rosenfels calling the shots. But ay, here's the rub: As someone who owns AJ and Walter in two leagues, I've only started them together twice all year ... operating under the (wrong) assumption there simply aren't enough touches for Johnson (11.5 targets per game), Walter, tight end Owen Daniels and running backs Steve Slaton and Ahman Green. But Houston continues to bring fantasy goodness to everyone ... even on 16-point days.

  • Oakland 31, Denver 10
  • I started Darren McFadden in three of my eight fantasy leagues this week, giving him the nod over Steve Slaton, Roddy White and Ted Ginn/Justin Gage/Dwayne Bowe, respectively; and I never really thought twice about the moves, even though D-Mac had racked up only 144 rushing yards in his last five games. The bottom line: The high-profile, big-money rookie simply cannot be stopped when totally healthy -- especially against a putrid defense like the one Denver trudges out there. But Sunday's performance (52 total yards, 2 TDs) was just another baby-step to greatness: In fact, I'm willing to bet D-Mac tallies at least 100 yards and/or 1 TD in each of Oakland's next four games (Kansas City, @ San Diego, New England, Houston). In other words, he makes the perfect RB2 during the fantasy playoffs ... ride him to glory!

    Regarding the Broncos, I am officially done with Jay Cutler (204 yards, 0 TDs vs. Oakland) and Brandon Marshall (4 catches, 84 yards) as "must-have double-dippers" in fantasyland. Yes, Marshall should rank top-5 in Targets throughout his career, with Cutler as his partner. And yes, Mike Shanahan will always favor the pass to the running game (insert Tatum Bell joke here) -- all things being equal. But I have had enough with Cutler's disturbing inconsistency in home games ... and have grown weary of Marshall's prima donna ways when it comes to competing for catches in heavy traffic. Note to Petyon Hillis (96 total yards, 1 TD on Sunday): I must apologize for the one-hit-wonder crack in last week's Fantasy Clicks -- even though I'd still prefer having Detroit's Kevin Smith, Kansas City's Jamaal Charles or Steve Slation for the stretch run.

  • N.Y. Jets 34, Tennessee 13
  • Heading into the season, I had major reservations about Thomas Jones' ability to consistently find the end zone (insert lame Doubting Thomas joke here). But how can anyone begrudge the man of his fantasy due, especially after racking up his 10th TD in seven games on Sunday? He's running on all cylinders now ... so much that backup RB Leon Washington (84 total yards, 2 TDs) and Laveranues Coles (7 catches, 88 yards, 1 TD) are easily benefitting from the extra-special attention TJ commands. To be fair, Jones' success is also a byproduct of Brett Favre playing behind center ... which brings me to this: If you're expecting Favre (224 yards passing, 2 TDs) to implode at any point in November or December, may I remind you of the team's easy-cheesy slate coming up -- Denver, @ San Francisco, Buffalo, @ Seattle.

  • Now for a quick word on the suddenly imperfect Titans: If your trade deadline still hasn't passed, and you own rookie RB Chris Johnson, you should sell, sell, sell him for a WR2 and a bag of Titelists -- ASAP! Yes, I love Johnson's blazing speed and power-running style; and yes, I still believe he'll be a top-7 pick in next year's fantasy drafts. But right here, right now, he has sprinted full-bore into the proverbial Rookie Wall and may be too sapped to finish the season strong (a common occurrence with rookies). That said, I have to think he can roll up 120 total yards and/or 1 TD against the CFL-like Lions on Turkey Day, right?
    Revelations, Book II
    Terrell Owens: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
    Dallas 35, San Francisco 22
  • As stated in last week's Clicks, I figured Terrell Owens would have a solid day against the 49ers, the team that drafted him out of tiny UT-Chattanooga wayyyyyy back in 1997. But I'd be lying if I knew T.O. would have one of the best receiving days in his storied career, let alone NFL history. On the day, Owens pulled down seven balls for -- get this -- 213 yards and one TD. Even if you take away his first catch, a 75-yard score, T.O. still caught six Tony Romo passes for 138 yards (or 3-4 games work for Chad Ocho Cinco/Johnson). Un-real! But with great performances, come great expectations. In other words, does Owens have the stuff to be dominant during the fantasy playoffs? I'd like to be like Kool-Aid Man and authoritatively say, "Oh, yeah!" ... but the scheduling realities are harsh: Seattle, at Pittsburgh, New York Giants, Baltimore. Regarding the 49ers ... if you feel like grabbing Isaac Bruce (8 catches, 125 yards, 1 TD vs. Dallas) off waivers this week, I won't stop you. But I'm also willing to predict that four different players will lead San Francisco in receiving over the next four weeks -- making Bruce's fantasy presence as a WR3 in Week 13 truly laughable. But please, for the love of pete, do not jump ship on Frank Gore (32 total yards) ... I promise he's going to explode three times in the next month (@ Buffalo, @ Miami, @ St. Louis).

  • N.Y. Giants 37, Arizona 29
  • How good has Kurt Warner been this season? If I had to redraft all over again, knowing what I know now, I would have taken the 37-year-old wunderkind late in Round 1 -- eschewing the notion (often perpetuated by me in previous Clicks) that QBs are a dime-a-dozen in fantasyland. How good are the Cardinals pass-catchers? Each guy from Sunday's top-4 -- Boldin, Fitzgerald, Steve Breaston, Jerheme Urban -- had better numbers than the Giants' leading receiver (Domenick Hixon). On the flip side: How did the Giants win a tough road game without Brandon Jacobs ... and convincingly too? (don't let the score fool ya) The short answer is Eli Manning (240 yards passing, 3 TDs). The long answer is Derrick Ward (99 total yards, 1 TD), who could be the "Michael Turner of 2008," as in the next big franchise back for another team in 2009.

  • Washington 20, Seattle 17
  • Don't get me wrong ... I was happy to see Matt Hasselbeck toss two touchdowns on Sunday. But I've got a real hangup about starting QBs who cannot beat their leading rusher in yards (he threw for 103, the same amount Maurice Morris rushed for). So, take my cue and just ignore all the Seahawks as fantasy starters from this point on -- except maybe TE John Carlson (14 yards, 1 TD vs. Washington) in emergency situations. Here's another thing you can dismiss -- any report suggesting Clinton Portis is "too hurt" or "too sore" to play on Sundays. For a second straight week, there was a shroud of mystery as to whether the ailing Portis would be activated, let alone play or start; and for a second straight week, the MVP candidate mowed through a defense (157 total yards), fully intent on carrying the 'Skins to the playoffs. He's an absolute freak, an undeniable force and should remain a "must-start" in Weeks 13-16 -- no matter what you read in the paper.

  • Chicago 27, St. Louis 3
  • Without a doubt, Matt Forte (146 total yards, 2 TDs vs. St. Louis) is the runaway choice for fantasy Rookie of the Year; but I'm still amazed by how he manages to post monster numbers on a team completely devoid of playmakers. Kyle Orton ... 139 yards passing and one TD? Devin Hester ... 57 pedestrian receiving yards? Desmond Clark and Greg Olsen, Chicago's supposedly vaunted duo at tight end ... 40 receiving yards? Dear lord, how are opposing defenses not putting nine or 10 men in the box every down -- as a less-than-covert attempt at stopping the Bears' only real weapon? It's baffling ... but not as hard to figure as the Rams' current situation. Marc Bulger can never stay healthy, Trent Green (219 yards passing, 4 INTs) and Torry Holt (4 catches, 84 yards -- a decent day, for once) are well past their primes; and Donnie Avery (1 catch, 14 yards) and Antonio Pittman (19 yards) represent the best of a sad, sad lot of young turks. Hmmm ... if I were St. Louis in the offseason, I would seriously consider trading Steven Jackson -- even though he just signed a new megadeal last August. After all, what's the point of having a great running back on a club full of useless parts?
  • Quick-Hitting Revelations
    Adrian Peterson: Sam Greenwood/Getty Images
  • Minnesota 30, Jacksonville 12: In one three-hour period Sunday, Adrian Peterson demonstrated why he's so loved in fantasyland ... and why some owners would never, ever draft him high in Round 1. Midway through the fourth quarter, Peterson had 60 rushing yards and no touchdowns -- the kind of numbers that scream "overrated" or "bust" during the crucial month of November. But then, in a flash, AP ran to the light and produced the game-clinching score, capping his 80-yard, 1-TD day. But a closer look reveals zero catches, meaning no Yards After Catch (or YAC) and no extra opportunities to enhance his already-static PPR value. And yet, I tend to give him a free pass on everything.

  • Atlanta 45, Carolina 28: What is with the 4-TD Club in Week 12? First, there's Matt Cassel (three passing, one rushing), Trent Edwards (two rushing, two passing) and Michael Turner (117 yards), who scored his touchdowns the old-fashioned way ... by cramming the ball down the throats of the supposedly stout Carolina D. Turner may have his share of detractors in fantasyland, for whatever reason, but there's no denying he's the best player in home games only in 2008 (12 TDs). As for the Panthers ... the Big 3 of QB Jake Delhomme (313 total yards, 2 TDs), RB DeAngelo Williams (120 total yards, 1 TD) and WR Steve Smith (8 catches, 168 yards) came strong. But I bet Smith wishes he had that gimme-TD-drop back, eh?

  • Indianapolis 23, San Diego 20: Before you get all bent out of shape about the pedestrian nights of Reggie Wayne (2 catches, 34 yards), Marvin Harrison (6 catches, 44 yards) and, to a lesser extent, Joseph Addai (101 total yards, 0 TDs) and LaDainian Tomlinson (114 total yards, 0 TDs) ... may I remind you the Colts and Chargers are dead-lock cinches to score at least 27 points per game in Weeks 13-16. So, unless your team missed out on the fantasy playoffs, directly because of this game ... I say take a deep breath, pop in a chill pill and smile over what the future holds (especially for Addai and LT).

  • Baltimore 36, Philadelphia 7: Don't hit "Eject" on the Donovan McNabb rocket ship just yet, and here's why: Yes, the 5-5-1 Eagles are dangerously close to being eliminated from NFC Wild Card contention, and yes, heir-apparent QB Kevin Kolb would presumably take over once the Eagles' season goes kaput. But ... (long pause) ... you know what? I've got nothing here. Given McNabb's horrid performance on Sunday (59 yards, 2 INTs), the ongoing malaise/fallout of Tie-gate and Brian Westbrook's limited health (34 total yards vs. Baltimore) ... I'd rather have 49ers QB Shaun Hill (303 passing yards, 2 TDs vs. Dallas) over a guy, like McNabb, who seemingly cannot wait to get out of Dodge, er, Philly.

  • Tampa Bay 38, Detroit 20: Last, and probably least, we have the 0-11 Lions. But instead of bashing them for carving out another infamous loss and/or season, I will assign praise for two significant fantasy occurrences:

  • 1. With the Lions sprinting out to a 17-0 lead after one quarter, the Bucs were forced to open up the passing game. As a result, Jeff Garcia registered two touchdowns for the first time all season.
    2. Detroit may have set the single-player mark for worst receptions-to-targets ratio, courtesy of Calvin Johnson's 20-plus targets (or so it seemed) with just three catches (sadly, that fact can be confirmed). But at least CJ had a touchdown ... and, thankfully, the Lions' long, national nightmare is almost over.
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