A friend of mine in a 12-team league told me this week that making the playoffs, even as a low seed, is great fun because there are fewer nut jobs competing for players on the waiver wire. He had this question for me entering his league's semifinals this week: He needs a running back, and because the other three teams in his league aren't going to take one, he has his pick of the litter and has narrowed his choice to three:
1. Kolby Smith 2. Adrian Peterson (No, not that Adrian Peterson. The Bears' Adrian Peterson,) 3. Aaron Stecker
Which leads to my first piece of fantasy advice of week 15:
1. You're not going to make playoff money this week playing Kolby Smith against Albert Haynesworth (who rested his sore hammy Wednesday and Thursday) and the Titans. So it comes down to Peterson and Stecker. Now, Peterson's at Minnesota, the top-rated run defense that's allowing just 70 yards per game. Even though Kyle Orton's going to enter that game rusty and leaning on Peterson for help, I can't see Peterson helping much. The odds say Stecker, against Arizona (rush yards allowed per game: 125) and its beat-up D, is the best pickup this week.
2. Obviously you Ben Roethlisberger people are worried because he sat Wednesday and Thursday with a sore throwing shoulder. Not good. I wouldn't be thinking of sitting him just yet, because Mike Tomlin believes he'll play, and the Jags have been a secondary sieve for much of the season. I'd take this one up to the end Sunday, if you have that long, and check Roethlisberger's status then. But I'm thinking he'll play.
3. Got Jesse Chatman? He says he's playing Sunday against the Ravens. I'd take this one to the limit, too, and consider Samkon Gado ONLY if you think Chatman will be severely limited and Gado is going to get 20 carries -- because the Ravens still have an excellent front against the run.
4. I'd actually think of picking up Cleo Lemon this week, due to the weakness of Baltimore's secondary, if you're absolutely stuck at quarterback and the choice is Lemon, Chris Redman or, say, Jeff Garcia.
5. I like Daniel Wilcox this week. Todd Heap has missed both full practices and Kyle Boller has shown a preference for his tight end.
6. Bad news for you Matt Schaub people who are thinking he'll return to help you in your playoff run. It's looking more and more like he'll need post-season shoulder surgery, and that Sage Rosenfels will play the last two games.
7. Peyton Manning goes to the Black Hole for the first time in his career Sunday. Marvin Harrison won't. This is a double-100 day for Anthony Gonzalez and Reggie Wayne.
8. Kickers. They could decide your playoffs, the same way they can in the real world. My three choices for guys who surely are available: Nate Kaeding (who has attempted only 18 field goals this season) against Detroit as he should have some chances; Matt Stover (22 of 25) in potentially nice weather at Miami; or Shayne Graham -- though he might be on the street in your league -- who is 26 of 28 inside the 50.
9. Marc Bulger looks solid for Sunday. I'd think hard about him, with the Rams looking to throw the ball downfield against Green Bay. Trap game for the Pack.
10. Joe Gibbs is going to come out throwing against the Giants. He's not afraid of letting Todd Collins put it up 30 times. I don't love the matchup in a wintry Meadowlands, but I also know that Collins is playing with house money in a game the Redskins think they can win through the air.