December 07, 2009
Fantasy Clicks
By Jay Clemons
Week 13 Revelations
Drew Brees: Chris McGrath/Getty Images
New Orleans 33, Washington 30 (OT)
  • It's not easy to pinpoint which of Robert Meachem's Week 13 touchdowns were more improbable -- the 'Skins interception-turned Meachem tackle-turned Meachem 44-yard fumble-return TD ... or the 53-yard scoring strike from Drew Brees late in the fourth quarter, at a time when defenses should never, ever let a receiver get deeper than the safety. Either way, Meachem's instantaneous transition from forgotten first-rounder (2007) to protector of the undefeated season deserves plenty of Revelations praise, perhaps more than Brees and his 419 yards passing and two touchdowns. Pierre Thomas (82 total yards), Devery Henderson (64 total yards) and Marques Colston (2 catches, 46 yards, 1 TD) deserve some props, as well, but not for Sunday's middling production. Rather, they're superb plays for fantasy Week 14 ... when the Saints hang 50 (or half-hundred in Barry Switzer lingo) on the imploding Falcons.

    As for the Redskins, they likely earned more fantasy respect from Sunday's loss than any of their three wins this season -- which may be enough to motivate the masses to make genuine pitches for QB Jason Campbell (367 passing yards, 3 TDs), WR Devin Thomas (7 catches, 100 yards, 2 TDs) and TE Fred Davis (5 catches, 53 yards, 1 TD) on this week's waiver wire. At the very least, the trio has done enough to make us realize that Santana Moss (5 catches, 68 yards), Rock Cartwright (70 total yards) and Antwaan Randle-El (4 catches, 73 yards) aren't the most intelligent plays for Washington in Week 14. And that, in a nutshell, represents tangible progress for this underachieving squad.

  • San Diego 30, Cleveland 23
  • Be honest, Cleveland fans. You were privately hoping, waiting for that moment in the offseason when the Browns unceremoniously dumped QB Brady Quinn in favor of a seemingly better prospect in next April's NFL draft (Jake Locker, Sam Bradford, Case Keenum, Tim Tebow, Colt McCoy, etc.) -- prompting Quinn to do his best Richard M. Nixon impression when saying, You won't have Brady Quinn to kick around anymore. Well, given the state of the Cleveland franchise, that could still happen; but at least now, Quinn (279 total yards, 3 TDs) has given everyone in northeast Ohio reason to pause ... and wonder if he could someday be the real deal. Only time will tell with Quinn, but RB Jerome Harrison (97 total yards, 2 TDs) has the look of the Browns' 2010 franchise back ... and Mohamed Massaquoi (2 catches, 24 yards, 1 TD) could be a rock-solid No. 1 receiver in the very-near future. Of course, all this fantasy goodness came against the Chargers, who aren't exactly known for keeping teams in check. For the sake of conservatism, let's give the Quinn-Harrison-Massaquoi triumivrate another week of observation (against Pittsburgh) before deciding their starting fates against the sad-sack Chiefs in Week 15.

    With San Diego, we'd love nothing more than to trumpet the stellar play of QB Philip Rivers (373 passing yards, 2 TDs), RB LaDainian Tomlinson (85 total yards, 1 TD), RB Darren Sproles (93 total yards, 1 TD) and TE Antonio Gates (8 catches, 167 yards) ... but we're just too crestfallen over Vincent Jackson's fifth straight fantasy lemon (58, 10, 56, 27, 54 yards since Week 9). Seriously, what can be explained for V-Jax's sudden fall from grace? Five weeks ago, he was the No. 1 receiver in fantasyland; and now ... we'd rather have Chris Chambers, Robert Meachem or even Miami's latest flash in the pan.

  • Miami 22, New England 21
  • Prior to Sunday, Davone Bess had ranked 22nd overall in receiving targets since Week 8; so it's not like anyone should be shocked over his 10-catch, 117-yard, 1-TD outing against the Patriots. But fantasygoers should be blown away by Bess's overwhelming production, compared to the other playmakers: Ricky Williams (81 total yards), Anthony Fasano (5 catches, 67 yards), Greg Camarillo (4 catches, 61 yards) and Ted Ginn Jr. (2 catches, 34 yards). Simply put, Bess is a strong starting candidate for Points Per Reception leagues in Weeks 14-16 (Jacksonville, Tennessee, Houston) -- but standard-scoring owners should fear that he's yet to catch a touchdown or crack 70 receiving yards in successive weeks. As for QB Chad Henne, his 335-yard, 2-TD day seems like a case of Too little, Too late in fantasyland -- given the expiration of league trading deadlines and that so many owners are reluctant to trust him during the playoffs. Perhaps that's why we're not going ga-ga over Henne's future prospects against average competition.

    Regarding the Pats, nevermind the three Super Bowl rings from earlier in the decade or the 18-0 start to the '07 season. The team's aura of invincibility has been noticeably diluted by a bend-and-sometimes-break defense and the galling lack of offensive playmakers after Tom Brady (352 passing yards, 2 TDs), Wes Welker (10 catches, 167 yards) and Randy Moss (2 catches, 66 yards, 1 TD). Oh sure, the Holy Trinity of Brady-Moss-Welker is fun to discuss in fantasy circles ... but there's just no buzz accompanying Laurence Maroney (49 total yards), Sammy Morris (65 total yards) and Kevin Faulk (14 total yards); and it's hard to put any stock in Sam Aiken's 81-yard TD catch -- his only reception from a day in which Brady attempted 52 passes.

  • Cincinnati 23, Detroit 13
  • We go from Brady ... to the anti-Brady, aka Matthew Stafford of the Lions. Yes, we are 100 percent confident he'll be a top-5 stud QB in fantasyland by 2011; and yes, we're similarly certain that he'll be the first Detroit quarterback in 50-plus years to win two playoff games (sometime in the next decade). But right here, right now, The Kid has been so erratic of late that we honestly cannot remember any chest-high/head-low passes to a receiver in the last two weeks. And spare us the excuses about Stafford's bum left shoulder: If you can take an NFL snap, you should be able to accurately hit a receiver less than 20 yards away. It's as simple as that. As for Calvin Johnson (6 catches, 123 yards, 1 TD) and Kevin Smith (104 total yards), their fantasy values for Week 14 (@ Baltimore) will be severely diminished if Daunte Culpepper fills in for the ailing Stafford. Culpepper might have enjoyed the No. 3 fantasy season by a quarterback this decade (4,717 yards passing, 39 TDs in 2004) ... but, at the tender age of 32, he's a shell of his former fantasy self. He also has no offensive line to protect him for more than 1.3 seconds ... which obviously plays into the Ravens' hands (along with every other NFL team).

    On the flip side ... check out the two NFL records that Cincinnati set on Sunday: From a team perspective, the club boasts the greatest one-year turnaround after 12 games in league history (1-10-1 in '08; 9-3 in '09); and from an individual standpoint, the Bengals are the first team to ever have three different tailbacks (Bernard Scott, Larry Johnson, Cedric Benson) crack 100 yards rushing in three successive weeks. (Thanks to FOX TV's Thom Brennaman for both nuggets.) In fantasy terms, though, Cincy is nothing more than a three-person circus from week to week (regardless of who's toting the rock) -- Carson Palmer (227 total yards, 1 TD, 2 INTs), Benson (125 total yards) and WR Chad Ochocinco (9 catches, 137 yards, 1 TD) -- and their starts largely depend on the matchups. Luckily for fantasy owners, they're solid plays in Weeks 14-16 (Minnesota, San Diego, Kansas City).

  • Revelations, Book II
    Correll Buckhalter (28) and Knowshon Moreno: Wesley Hitt/Getty Images
    Denver 44, Kansas City 13
  • Realistically speaking, only four Broncos playmakers are regular starting considerations with post-bye-week fantasy lineups. But as luck would have it, the four studs in question -- Knowshon Moreno (86 rushing yards, 2 TDs), Correll Buckhalter (128 total yards), Kyle Orton (180 yards passing, 2 TDs), Brandon Marshall (96 total yards, 1 TD) -- all turned in solid performances against the feckless Chiefs, enabling us to believe that Denver could potentially rack up 24 points on Indy in Week 14 and 30 against Oakland for Week 15. But please be advised: The gravy train will come to an untimely end at Philadelphia for Week 16, aka Fantasy Bowl Week.

    The Chiefs may have (miserably) failed with their first of three straight home tests. But hath no fear, for the Bills and Browns are set to invade Arrowhead in the very-near future ... and stars like Jamaal Charles (59 total yards, 1 TD), Chris Chambers (2 catches, 11 yards) and Dwayne Bowe (returning in Week 15) are all threats for 100 yards/1 TD in each game (two TDs in Charles' case). As for QB Matt Cassel (101 total yards, zero TDs, 2 INTs), we're not going to walk the fantasy-playoff plank on his sorry behalf next week (despite the Bills' defensive woes) ... but we still believe he's a viable option for fantasy-championship contenders in Week 16 against Cleveland, even if that means being the subject of much Twitter ridicule over the next 13 days.

  • Arizona 30, Minnesota 17
  • With Anquan Boldin's annual pleas to have his contract restructured or be traded away from the desert, who knows how many more times we'll get to enjoy the double-PPR greatness of Larry Fitzgerald (8 catches, 143 yards, 1 TD) and Boldin (7 catches, 98 yards, 2 TDs)? And with Kurt Warner (285 passing yards, 3 TDs) sending out retirement smoke signals of late ... we're inclined to sit back and just appreciate everything the Cardinals have wrought for fantasygoers in the last five, six years. (deep sigh) OK, that's enough reflection ... because Fitzgerald, Boldin and Warner are in perfect position to carry owners to fantasy titles -- separately and together. Check out their schedule for the next three weeks: @ San Francisco, @ Detroit, vs. St. Louis. At the bare-bones minimum, Arizona is a lead-pipe cinch for 100 combined points ... which translates to at least 280 receiving yards and 1.75 TDs for both Fitz and Boldin. Cha-ching!

    On the flip side, the Vikings probably deserve a mulligan for their fantasy clunker against the Cards. From Brett Favre (275 yards, 2 TDs, 2 INTs) and Sidney Rice (7 catches, 72 yards) to Visanthe Shiancoe (2 catches, 14 yards, 1 TD) and Adrian Peterson (65 total yards) ... it's best to just skip past any short-term thoughts and focus on the bigger fantasy picture -- like Minnesota's clashes with Cincinnati and Carolina in Weeks 15 and 16, respectively: Is it possible the Vikings have encountered the NFL's toughest 1-2 scheduling punch during the fantasy playoffs? Along those lines, will fantasy owners live to regret not selling high on Favre, Rice, Shiancoe, Chester Taylor and Bernard Berrian before the trade deadlines? Hmmmm ... only time will tell.

  • N.Y. Giants 31, Dallas 24
  • The Cowboys amassed 424 yards and yielded only one turnover ... and yet, they were never a consideration to win Sunday's game, which gives the Giants the season sweep and the NFC East title -- in the event of a two-way tie amongst the teams at season's end (not to mention a Philly meltdown). But that's real-world football. In the fantasy genre, Dallas had very few peers for Week 13, as its quarterback (Tony Romo) threw for 392 yards and three touchdowns, and three pass-catchers -- Jason Witten (14 catches, 156 yards), Miles Austin (10 catches, 104 yards, 1 TD), Roy Williams (6 catches, 60 yards, 2 TD) -- dominated a top-5 pass defense on the road. Put it all together ... and there's ample reason to believe the 'Boys will be fantasy dynamos in Weeks 14 (vs. San Diego) and 15 (@ New Orleans).

    The Giants also had their share of fantasy wonders, albeit on a smaller scale: From Eli Manning (241 passing yards, 2 TDs) and Brandon Jacobs (113 total yards, 2 TDs) to Hakeem Nicks (2 catches, 37 yards, 1 TD) and Steve Smith (6 catches, 110 yards) ... it was enough to make us wonder if New York could actually emerge from its 60-day slumber and be significant contributors during the fantasy playoffs -- coinciding with their real-world efforts to capture a once-unlikely division title (Philly in Week 14; Washington in Week 15).

  • Indianapolis 27, Tennessee 17
  • Without a doubt, Peyton Manning has been a top-5 quarterback, the single greatest factor in the Colts' perfect season, to date. But given Indy's reasonably tough slate from Weeks 14-16 (Denver, Jacksonville, N.Y. Jets) and Manning's annual cruise control during the month of December, it's now fair to ask: Can Manning (270 yards passing, 1 TD vs. Tennessee) carry teams to a fantasy crown? (We haven't even addressed the notion of what the Colts will do once they've clinched homefield throughout the AFC playoffs.) This isn't a referendum on Manning's fantasy potential, per se; and we're certainly not advocating the idea of sitting him behind Bruce Gradkowski, Jason Campbell, Kyle Orton or even brother Eli. But right here, right now, fantasy owners should at least consider his weekly matchups from all angles before finalizing the lineups. Thankfully, there's no pressing need to dismiss the fantasy talents of Joseph Addai (96 total yards, 2 TDs), Reggie Wayne (4 catches, 48 yards), Dallas Clark (3 catches, 25 yards) and WR Pierre Garcon (6 catches, 136 yards) -- all of whom are automatic starts in 12- and 14-team leagues.

    The Titans' starting options, on the other hand, are limited to one, as in RB Chris Johnson (141 total yards). Yes, Bo Scaife (5 catches, 56 yards, 1 TD) is a more palatable tight end with Vince Young under center; and yes, emerging rookie Kenny Britt (3 catches, 46 yards, 1 TD) should be a lineup consideration every Sunday. But if you're playing Young (257 yards, 2 TDs), Scaife or Britt during the fantasy playoffs, your team is either racked with injuries ... or Tennessee's run of three straight home games (St. Louis, Miami, San Diego) is simply too tempting to pass up.

  • Seattle 20, San Francisco 17
  • It's not our place to tell coach Jim Mora which way is up ... but if the Seahawks are going to make a legitimate run at a wild card, Justin Forsett must touch the ball more than eight times in a virtual must-win clash -- despite Mora's claims that a healthy Julius Jones (64 total yards) is the unquestioned starter at running back. You see, this is no time for stubbornness in Seattle, especially since T.J. Houshmandzadeh (5 catches, 37 yards), Nate Burleson (5 catches, 54 yards), Deion Branch (1 catch, 7 yards, 1 TD) and John Carlson (1 catch, 9 yards) possess zero start-worthiness at this point. And it's certainly no time to punish Forsett (34 total yards, 1 TD) simply because he's the youngster on the totem pole. Bottom line: Seattle was extremely lucky to beat ... the better team on Sunday.

    Speaking of that better team ... the legend of Vernon Davis (6 catches, 111 yards, 1 TD) continues to grow by the game. We're also glad to see that Alex Smith (310 passing yards, 2 TDs) has yet to dedicate his life to medicine, mathematics, cyclotronics or whatever occupation brainiac students enter into after college; and it's only a matter of time before Michael Crabtree (6 catches, 60 yards) explodes for the first of many 100-yard games. (Perhaps that day will come in Week 14 when vs. Arizona.) In the meantime, fantasygoers can expect a monster rebound night from Frank Gore (62 total yards) next week ... and maybe another "special guest appearance" from Josh Morgan (76 total yards, 1 TD). Not unlike Heather Locklear coming back to Melrose Place.

  • Revelations, Book III
    Bruce Gradkowski: Jared Wickerham/Getty Images
    Oakland 27, Pittsburgh 24
  • Go ahead. Knock Bruce Gradkowski and his lack of measurables for being a classic franchise quarterback in the long term. In the present, though, the former Toledo Rocket pulled off perhaps the greatest upset of the season -- throwing for 308 yards and three touchdowns in the Raiders' last-second win -- while singlehandedly ruining 'survivor pools' across the country, too. He also boosted the waiver-wire demand for WR Louis Murphy (4 catches, 128 yards, 2 TDs), TE Zach Miller (4 catches, 43 yards) and WR Chaz Schilens (3 catches, 45 yards, 1 TD) -- all of whom are decent starting considerations in 14- or 16-team leagues in Weeks 14 (Washington), 15 (Denver) and especially 16 (@ Cleveland). As for Gradkowski, we wouldn't recommend starting him ... but we do suggest stashing him on the bench -- just in case your playoff opponent is dying for a solid alternative to Matt Cassel or Kyle Boller.

    On the flip side, we recommend starting every big-name Steeler down the stretch -- even if the club keeps imploding in real-world circles. From Ben Roethlisberger (285 total yards, 2 TDs) and RB Rashard Mendenhall (103 yards, 1 TD) to Santonio Holmes (8 catches, 149 yards) and Hines Ward (6 catches, 77 yards, 1 TD), this quartet is an easy lock to put up huge numbers in Weeks 14 (@ Cleveland) and 15 (vs. Green Bay). And if they're still in the playoff hunt or hungry for vengeance come Week 16, they're solid picks for fantasy goodness in the Ravens rematch. Of course, we seriously doubt the Pittsburgh sports radio stations are focusing on the positives right now -- like us. HA!

  • Jacksonville 23, Houston 18
  • Even with Andre Johnson's usual heroics (7 catches, 99 yards, 1 TD), the Jags-Texans clash easily rates as Sunday's most disappointing fantasy effort. Running backs Maurice Jones-Drew (76 total yards) and Ryan Moats (65 total yards) were marginal, at best. Wide receivers Mike Sims-Walker (1 catch, 12 yards) and Kevin Walter (4 catches, 54 yards) were tedious nonfactors; and tight ends Joel Dreessen and Marcedes Lewis combined for just two catches (for 55 yards). Walter, for what it's worth, should have had two touchdowns on the day -- the first being negated by a Houston false-start penalty near the goal line and the second being wiped out by RB Chris Brown's Pop Warner-level INT on what should have been a routine halfback-option TD to Walter ... who was wide open in the back of the end zone.

    The only positives (and that's being kind) involved the quarterbacks, David Garrard (251 total yards, 2 TDs) and Matt Schaub (214 total yards, 1 TD, 1 INT). But then again, neither QB has shown the recent consistentcy to be rubber-stamped as automatic starters during the fantasy playoffs -- even with their easy-cheesy matchups for Week 14 (Seattle @ Houston; Miami @ Jacksonville).

  • Philadelphia 34, Atlanta 7
  • It should surprise no one that Philly generated 34 points off an Atlanta defense that's limping -- no, crawling -- to the finish line. But it should surprise everyone that LeSean McCoy (26 total yards), Jason Avant (3 catches, 36 yards) and Jeremy Maclin (4 catches, 83 yards) never found the end zone on such a grand scoring day (especially with Brian Westbrook and DeSean Jackson sidelined to injury). Here's another shocker: What possible explanation could bring clarity to Donovan McNabb's pedestrian numbers (238 passing yards, 1 TD), while taking a fantasy backseat to Leonard Weaver (100 total yards, 1 TD) and backup QB Michael Vick (65 total yards, 2 TDs)? I mean, it's not like Vick had any previous ties to the city of Atlanta and was counting down the minutes -- no, seconds -- to when he'd get a chance to stick it to the Falcons franchise. No, that's ridiculous!

    Regarding the 6-6 Falcons, let's start with the good news: Whether in blowouts or close games ... or whether it's Matt Ryan or Chris Redman at quarterback, WR Roddy White (9 catches, 104 yards, 1 TD) and TE Tony Gonzalez (8 catches, 72 yards) are still pulling their respective weights in fantasyland -- which should encourage reticent fantasy owners to start either one against the 12-0 Saints in Week 14, if Redman (235 passing yards, 1 TD, 2 INTs) is calling the shots. Now for the bad news: If you're riding Redman, Jason Snelling (52 total yards) or Jerious Norwood (42 total yards) during the fantasy playoffs -- as replacements for Ryan or Michael Turner -- it might be time to seek out another team for unexpected fantasy goodness. Like Chicago.

  • Chicago 17, St. Louis 9
  • Oh sure, Matt Forte has been replaced by Chris Johnson in the Mount Rushmore of fantasyland rushers (along with Adrian Peterson, Maurice Jones-Drew, Michael Turner) ... but it's not like he's been a washout in his second pro season, either. Against the Rams, Forte totaled 96 yards and one touchdown -- solid numbers for a Chicago team that mustered only 17 points ... and better-than-expected production for a versatile stud who's been continually ignored by his quarterback (Jay Cutler -- 143 yards passing, 1 TD, 2 INTs). On the year, Forte is averaging 89 total yards and 0.33 TDs per game; but all will be forgotten once he racks up another 100 yards/1 TD in Week 14 against the Packers. The same could be said about WR Earl Bennett, who finally ended his season-long TD drought, despite catching only two balls for 74 yards. With Devin Hester's injury, Bennett might become a sneaky-good option for the first round of the fantasy playoffs -- assuming high winds at Soldier Fields don't paralyze the passers.

    As for the Rams, there's not much to report here. Steven Jackson (121 total yards) has been the ultimate RB2 all season (even though you spent a Round 1 pick on him). QB Kyle Boller (113 passing yards, zero TDs) has less fantasy cachet than his main squeeze, Carrie Prejean. Donnie Avery (45 total yards), Brandon Gibson (3 catches, 38 yards) and Danny Amendola (8 total yards) belong on the waiver wire in 10- or 12-team leagues. And Kenneth Darby (18 total yards) may be the least effective second-string tailback in the NFL (blame Jackson for that). Put it all together and St. Louis is at least 2-3 years from being respectable in real-world circles and wholly relevant in fantasyland.

  • Carolina 16, Tampa Bay 6
  • It took 13 weeks to occur, but Panthers RB Jonathan Stewart finally lobbed an obvious fantasy gift to his owners -- partly because of Carolina's feeble Sunday opponent ... and partly because of DeAngelo Williams' surprise "inactive" approximately 90 minutes before kickoff. Yes, for once, there was no doubting J-Stew's chances of posting monster numbers (he finished with 126 total yards/1 TD); however, the same could not be said for Muhsin Muhammad (4 catches, 43 yards), Steve Smith (3 catches, 78 yards) and QB Matt Moore (161 passing yards, zero TDs) -- all of which (predictably) struggled to make a major impact in a game that was uglier than the score indicated. All this begs a few questions: Can Smith and Moore quickly develop enough chemistry to fleece an eminently beatable Patriots secondary in Week 14? Will a week's rest help DeAngelo in Foxboro -- especially since many current owners likely moved heaven and earth to acquire him for the fantasy playoffs? And ... can Stewart actually string together excellent back-to-back outings, something he's failed to do all year? Now that would be the perfect early Christmas present!

    Last but not least, we have the harrowing tale of Bucs QB Josh Freeman, who somehow managed to throw for 321 yards, zero TDs and five -- count' em, FIVE! -- interceptions without beating his head up against the sideline bench or getting pulled by coach Raheem Morris. Now, there's two ways of looking at Freeman's day in Carolina: The optimist would point out that Freeman has made tangible strides after each start -- including Week 13, as he wisely focused on Antonio Bryant (5 catches, 116 yards) and Kellen Winslow (4 catches, 69 yards) during stressful snaps. The optimist would also regale everyone with a (recent) history lesson: Seven days after throwing five INTs against the Panthers in Week 8, Cardinals QB Kurt Warner rolled for 261 yards and five TDs; and two weeks after tossing five INTs against Seattle, fellow rookie Matthew Stafford amassed 422 passing yards and five TDs in Week 11.

    Of course, Freeman doesn't have the luxury of facing the Bears or Browns next week ... he gets the Herculean task of trying to solve the NFL's modern-day version of Rubik's Cube, aka Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis. Score one for the pessimists!

  • 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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