Week 12 Revelations
Brett Favre: Elsa/Getty Images
Now comes the blunt part: Do we even need to reinforce the notion that all of the above names, save Taylor, are automatic starts against Arizona in Week 13? And do we even need to repeat the following mea culpa: We're sorry for denigrating Favre's fantasy worth back in April ... and May ... and early August. He's redoubtably a top-7 QB in fantasyland (if not higher) and the salient choice for NFL MVP (unless Peyton Manning and/or Drew Brees go 16-0 in the regular season).
As for the Bears, we'd love to spend a lot of time wading through the Sea of Mediocrity from Sunday -- involving Matt Forte (61 total yards), Greg Olsen (7 catches, 45 yards), Earl Bennett (3 catches, 14 yards), Devin Hester (1 catch, 20 yards) and QB Jay Cutler (163 total yards, 1 TD) -- but we have a feeling all will be forgiven this time next week. The reason: The sad-sack Rams visit Chicago ... setting up presumed greatness for Forte, Hester, Olsen, Cutler and maybe even Johnny Knox.
Buffalo 31, Miami 14
On the flip side ... we have the painfully predictable Fins and their equal-opportunity approach to the passing game (although we could not have foreseen that ill-advised pass-turned-INT from Ricky Williams). Right here, right now, there is no discernible reason for starting any Miami wideout -- Ted Ginn Jr., Brian Hartline, Greg Camarillo, Davone Bess -- during the stretch run in fantasyland, and there's no tangible reason for adding TE Anthony Fasano to the mix either, despite his five catches for 74 yards in Week 12. As a general rule, we usually stay away from blocking tight ends who've had 20 or fewer receiving yards in seven games this year. Ouch!
Philadelphia 27, Washington 24
As for Washington, we'd love to conceive a comical anecdote here, in the name of masking the Redskins' fantasy foibles ... but we're just not feeling it. Oh sure, you could start QB Jason Campbell (233 total yards, 3 TDs) during the fantasy playoffs and hope/pray for good fortune during this crucial period; but do you really want to (indirectly) place your collective fate in the oft-incapable hands of Devin Thomas, Malcolm Kelly or Santana Moss (4 catches, 28 yards, 1 TD vs. Philly)? Heck, even the Raiders are licking their chops at playing the Redskins in Week 14.
Baltimore 20, Pittsburgh 17 (OT)
The Steelers' fantasy prospects, on the other hand, aren't so concrete. Obviously, Hines Ward (3 catches, 47 yards), Santonio Holmes (6 catches, 74 yards, 1 TD) and RB Rashard Mendenhall (117 total yards) merit consideration in all leagues during the fantasy playoffs. But let's be honest: They're iffy starters, as long as Dennis Dixon is helming the Pittsburgh offense -- not Ben Roethlisberger (out with concussion-like symptoms). But we will credit Dixon (172 total yards, 2 TDs) for one thing: At this point, he's a better emergency start than Matt Leinart.
Revelations, Book II
Vince Young: Streeter Lecka/Getty Images
One last note about the Titans: Britt pulled down seven catches for 128 yards and one touchdown. But fantasy owners should wait until Week 14 (St. Louis) before expecting similar greatness from Britt. Of course, Justin Gage may be back by then ... adding to the consternation of Britt owners who didn't start him in Week 12 and are hoping to catch lightning in a bottle one more time.
As for the Cardinals, we're going on the assumption that Kurt Warner (DNP -- neck) will suit up against Favre and the Vikings in Week 13 ... so there's no use in breaking down Matt Leinart's so-so effort (220 passing yards, zero TDs). Along those lines, let's assume that Anquan Boldin (5 catches, 53 yards), Larry Fitzgerald (4 catches, 34 yards) and Steve Breaston will exceed 13 combined catches and 113 yards in subsequent contests -- like Week 13 (Minnesota), 14 (San Francisco), 15 (Detroit) and 16 (St. Louis). (Does Arizona have a great playoff-sked or not?) But we likely have enough data to make informed judgments on Tim Hightower (78 total yards, 1 TD) and Beanie Wells: Start 'em both!
Indianapolis 35, Houston 27
In the short term, Manning (244 passing yards, 3 TDs), Addai, Garcon and Wayne are all superb plays in Week 13 against Tennessee. Heck, even Chad Simpson (2 carries, 20 yards, 1 TD) has a chance at finding the end zone again. As for the Texans, we're hoping they're not headed toward a week-to-week meltdown of epic proportions, after blowing two huge leads against Indy. But then again, it's rather easy to spot a club on the brink of implosion.
Seattle 27, St. Louis 17
The story hasn't changed much for Rams playmakers in recent weeks. Yes, Donnie Avery (4 catches, 48 yards, 1 TD) has looked solid of late. Yes, WR Brandon Gibson (3 catches, 18 yards) is the subject of much fantasy intrigue with deeper PPR leagues. And yes, QB Kyle Boller (308 total yards, 1 TD) actually looks somewhat competent in fantasyland when playing from behind. But when discussing this team, it begins and ends with RB Steven Jackson (116 total yards, 1 TD) ... and there's not a league on earth where he couldn't crack the starting lineup as a flex option. And with games against Chicago, Tennessee, Houston and Arizona on the immediate horizon, he's a shoo-in for 115 total yards and .5 TDs every week.
Atlanta 20, Tampa Bay 17
Looking for a great fantasy pickup off the waiver wire, one who has a better-than-even shot at your starting lineup in the next three weeks? Look no further than Tampa Bay's Antonio Bryant (3 catches, 91 yards, 1 TD), who finally showed tangible signs of recapturing his fantasy greatness from '08. Granted, he's been battling injuries all season, and he's a real-world free agent this winter (playing through pain), but Bryant seems to have regained the patented burst that made him a solid Round 4 pick back in August -- while stuck on injured reserve. Of course, any Bryant goodness directly affects QB Josh Freeman (264 total yards, 2 TDs), which is fine with us. From our view in the nose-bleed seats, Freeman has legitimately passed Mark Sanchez as the second-best rookie QB in fantasyland (behind Matthew Stafford). And with a little help from his friends -- Bryant, Kellen Winslow, Derrick Ward, Cadillac Williams -- there's still time to catch him in the race.
Revelations, Book III
Antonio Gates (85) and Philip Rivers: Harry How/Getty Images
Regarding the Chiefs, yes, they only scored two touchdowns against a defense that's notorious for surrendering yards and points in alarming chunks; and yes, Dwayne Bowe won't be back until Week 15 (drug supension). But we've finally reached the point in the season when patient fantasy owners shall be rewarded, as Kansas City salivates over a three-game homestand against Denver, Buffalo and Cleveland. QB Matt Cassel (200 total yards, 1 TD, 1 INT vs. San Diego) is a rock-solid starting consideration in all formats from Weeks 13-15; RB Jamaal Charles (147 total yards, 1 TD) is an absolute must-start in 12- or 14-team leagues; and WR Chris Chambers (7 catches, 70 yards, 1 TD) represents the perfect flex option for PPR and standard-scoring leagues. It goes without saying: Cassel, Chambers and Charles should not be affected by the Chiefs' choice of retro uniform over the next three weeks.
Cincinnati 16, Cleveland 7
Regarding the Browns, there's not really much to discuss for Week 12 -- unless you're a sadist. So, let's focus on Cleveland's home date with San Diego in Week 13: We're predicting -- with 95 percent confidence -- that WR Mohamed Massaquoi will catch five balls for 93 yards and one touchdown. What's the cause of such hubris, especially with a rookie from arguably the NFL's most inept offense? Throwing out Week 2's goose egg against the Broncos, Massaquoi averaged 93.5 receiving yards in games 4, 6, 8 and 10. And as luck would have it, Game No. 12 is on deck.
N.Y. Jets 17, Carolina 6
Staying with the 'disappointment' theme, DeAngelo Williams (50 total yards) and Jonathan Stewart (35 yards) brought nothing but heartache to Week 12, but it's not like they were destined to succeed, with eight or nine Jets defenders roaming the proverbial 'box' on nearly every snap (let's just call it The Delhomme Principle). But on the positive side, at least Williams escaped significant injury and should be a top-5 RB consideration next week against the Bucs at home. Thomas Jones (86 total yards, 1 TD) also has a tasty Week 13 matchup against the Bills ... and as a bonus, he won't have to worry about Buffalo's wintry weather -- unless the good people at Toronto's Rogers Centre keep the roof open. ("Look kids, CN Tower/SkyDome!")
San Francisco 20, Jacksonville 3
As for the 49ers, we like Frank Gore's 23 touches (for 47 yards and one TD), Vernon Davis' 6-catch, 69-yard, 1-TD outing and QB Alex Smith's coolly efficient 232 yards and two TDs. However, does this constitute as sufficient fantasy momentum for Week 13 at Seattle, with the Seahawks facing an absolute must-win scenario for playoff survival? We say 'no' ... unless the Seahawks defenders would sign an agreement not to harm Gore during running plays or well-timed screen passes -- just like they did back in Week 2.
Jay Clemons can be found on Twitter, day and night (@SI_JayClemons), accessing your fantasy questions and comments. You can also read his award-winning Revelations every Sunday and Monday during the NFL season.
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