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Fantasy Basement: Week 15
The Fantasy Basement is a weekly piece that provides fantasy advice on lineup calls, sleepers, waiver-wire moves and rookie spotlights, along with the occasional ramble or four. Why “Fantasy Basement” you ask? There is a common misconception that sports writers dwell in their childhood cellars, that the institution promotes an arrested development. However, instead of railing against this claim, I am embracing this subterranean bourgeoisie. After all, who wouldn’t enjoy coming home to fresh-baked cookies and having their laundry done? But I digress…Enjoy.
QB: Russell Wilson, Seahawks
Received flak from a contingent of readers for the sit suggestion of the Seattle signal caller last Wednesday, bizarre since Wilson’s abbreviated appearance, thanks to the awesomely inept Arizona offense, correlated to a no-show in the box score on Sunday. Presuming most caught “Seahawks 58, Cardinals 0” on the bottom ticker and proceeded to blast a snarky email without, you know, double-checking to make sure Wilson actually had a hand in the shellacking. This fallacy also explains why Carson Palmer is available in so many leagues despite his standing as a top-10 fantasy arm: instead of inspecting the stats, fans are merely looking at the scores. (Although if this was the case, Matt Schaub would be one of the higher-owned players, so perhaps this theory has a few holes.)
The Wisconsin product gets our nod this week, however, as Buffalo’s defense, while improved, remains ranked in the bottom third in pass resistance. Additionally, any apprehension of brutal Buffalo weather should be alleviated, as the game is being held in Toronto. With a rendezvous versus San Francisco on the horizon, as well as a St. Louis squad that has been quietly effective, this might be Wilson’s last chance at rotisserie relevance in 2012. His duo dexterity on the soil and in the sky will pay off for his proprietors this weekend .
Other starts: Josh Freeman, Andy Dalton
RB: Shonn Greene, Jets
Lost in the ruckus of the rest of New York’s offensive shortcomings has been the play of Greene, who has averaged over 83 rushing yards in his last eight outings. More importantly, after fears that backup Bilal Powell would snatch the starting reins, Greene continues to see an amplified workload, evidenced by 44 carries the last two weeks. Though Powell is receiving his fair share of touches as well (31 attempts in this same span), this is more of an upshot of the lack of faith in the passing game rather than indictment on Greene. Facing a Titans team surrendering the third-most fantasy points to running backs, envision Greene to run wild.
Other starts: Knowshon Moreno, Montell Owens
If Alexander could shred the top-rated Steelers secondary, the mind salivates at the possible carnage against the Panthers. To their credit, the Carolina defense has made strides in the second half of the season, yet their aptitude is not to the degree that warrants worrying over Alexander’s output. Racking up 494 yards and five scores in the last five games makes it hard to justify sitting the San Diego wideout.
Other starts: Lance Moore, T.Y. Hilton
TE: Owen Daniels, Texans
Concededly, Daniels’ struggles with a back problem have paralleled to a pedestrian harvest the past month, hauling in just 144 yards in four games. Luckily for Daniels and his owners, looks in his vicinity have not vanished, with the Houston tight end receiving 30 targets in this four-week interval. From a fantasy standpoint, as fickle as the production from this position can be (case in point: Kyle Rudolph’s game log), a steady stream of throws is all we can request. Though Houston will try to keep it on the ground versus the Colts, better believe Daniels will be involved in the proceedings early and often.
Other starts: Heath Miller, Dallas Clark
DEF: Detroit Lions
Can someone in the Cardinals PR department forward the addresses of Ryan Lindley and John Skelton, please? Need to send them a Christmas basket. Least I could do for continuing to facilitate fantasy bonanzas for opposing defenses.
Other starts: Miami Dolphins, New York Jets
QB: Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers
He was rusty and showed signs of hesitancy in his return against San Diego, but Big Ben was able to reward those who implemented him in the starting lineup with 285 yards through the air, 31 more on the ground and three touchdowns, albeit with two turnovers. Unfortunately, I don’t expect Roethlisberger to replicate those feats against a Cowboys defense that is a top-10 group against the pass. Other Steeler entities like Mike Wallace and Heath Miller get a boost in their respective position rankings, yet with a plethora of adequate arms available this week, Roethlisberger is an unnecessary risk.
Other sits: Joe Flacco, Tony Romo
RB: Falcons Running Backs
Michael Turner’s elbow issues led to just 20 snaps and seven rush attempts against the Panthers last week (though I’m sure Atlanta’s deficit did not help matters for Turner, either). Alas, the notion that this condensed action bequeaths the spotlight to Jacquizz Rodgers is erroneous, as the second-year back saw just 10 touches (four carries, six catches) in the Falcons’ loss. Still, while evidence to Turner being eradicated from the offense is building, Rodgers is simply not seeing enough love to justify starting status in standard leagues. Oh, and the Giants are ranked seventh against the run, so there’s that to factor into this equation. You’re cruisin’ for a bruisin’ with either of these two backs in Week 15.
Other sits: Beanie Wells, DeMarco Murray
The winter wonderland scene at Lambeau Field last Sunday precluded the Packers’ passing attack from departure, meaning one can’t derive too much judgment from Jennings’ lone catch for 27 yards. However, similar conditions may materialize in Solider Field this weekend against a Bears defense that, while battered, endures as a formidable foe. Sorry, Jennings owners, but look for this forgettable foray of a season to continue.
Other sits: Larry Fitzgerald, Anquan Boldin
TE: Vernon Davis, 49ers
This isn’t Davis’ first rodeo in the Sit ‘Em section, though the word doesn’t seem to be trickling down to the fantasy community, as the San Fran tight end was still started in over 53 percent of FOXSports.com leagues last week. This rate is especially astonishing since Davis has brought in three balls or less in six of his last eight games, scoring just once in that span. Look for the drought to linger, despite the Niners taking on a Patriots squad that is surrendering the fourth-most points to the position in 2012. While we usually advocate advantageous matchups, Davis’ woes supersede such schools of thought. Speaking of San Francisco…
Other sits: Martellus Bennett, Scott Chandler
DEF: San Francisco 49ers
Yes, they’re the best defense in football, but I wouldn’t trust the ’85 Bears or Tecmo Super Bowl New York Giants against Tom Brady in the fantasy playoffs.
Other sits: Chicago Bears, Baltimore Ravens
The Sports Movie Head Scratcher of the Week
There’s an inherent petition from most sports films that the patrons must suspend belief regarding some of the picture’s narrative. However, while a grain of salt is usually acquiesced from the audience, there remain storylines from these athletic classics that defy logic and reason that need to be examined with greater scrutiny. These preposterous plot points will be analyzed along with a questionable call from the previous week of football.
When basing a film on a true story, artistic license will undoubtedly be utilized. Unfortunately, the producers of Invincible outstretched this authority at the end of the movie when Mark Wahlberg’s character houses a blocked punt for six, giving the Eagles the victory. While the inspiration for the story, Vince Papale, really did recover a fumble and run into the end zone, NFL’s rules at the time stated the ball could not be advanced in such fashion, meaning the movie gives credit to something that, technically, never happened. Kind of a letdown, right?
Speaking of letdowns, hate to pile on this subject since it’s already been beaten to death, but who else was bummed out that Tim Tebow didn’t make an appearance against Jacksonville last week? No way the Jets actually think Mark Sanchez is their franchise guy anymore, right? And this entire year has already been a toxic disaster considering the Fireman Ed guy, one of the most deplorable symbols of fandom, quit his post. Why wouldn’t you try to save some face by putting in Tebow in his hometown? Best case scenario, the Chosen One leads a late-season revival and gives your supporters hope for 2013; worst case, Tebow falters, finally putting the kibosh on the quarterback controversy. That said, we are talking about the Jets here, so of course they screwed up this golden opportunity.
Waiver Wire Watch: Jon Baldwin, Chiefs
Granted, Baldwin tilts more to the “flyer” flank rather than the designation of a “must-have” pickup. Nevertheless, with Dwayne Bowe out for the season and the Chiefs confronting the porous Raiders secondary this weekend, someone on Kansas City has to post receiving numbers, and Baldwin is the best candidate for that role. A first-round pick in 2011, Baldwin has submitted two subpar seasons in Arrowhead Stadium, though some of that corresponds with the putrid play under center for Kansas City. Yet, with Oakland on Sunday and the Colts next week, the 23-year-old wideout, owned in only 1.6 percent of FOXSports.com leagues, has a platform to showcase the skillset that made him such a highly-touted prospect.
Email of the Week
I received nine different versions of this question via email, chat or Twitter. Matt V. wins this week’s contest for the following:
Two weeks in a row Drew Brees has (rhymes with “hit”) the bed. Still alive in playoffs but do I start Brees or pick Fitzgerald/Wilson/Foles?
Never thought I’d see the day where owners were contemplating benching Brees, but seven interceptions in two weeks will bring drastic certitudes to light. Moreover, I don’t think it’s that big of an overreaction, as Brees is forcing balls into ridiculously-tight windows and the lack of Saints running game, even more so than the past, is letting adversaries solely focus on stopping the pass. Conversely, let’s pump the breaks. Even with his miscues, Brees has produced the fourth-most points at his position in standard formats, and second-most in leagues that reward scoring for completions. Better yet, this week’s opponent, Tampa Bay, is giving up the most points to fantasy quarterbacks this year. Keep the faith with Brees, as you’d hate to see him on your bench when he blows up the box score against the Bucs.
Fantasy Flyer: Clay Harbor, Eagles
His impressive performance last week (six receptions, 52 yards, touchdown) made a strong case for a waiver-wire watch, but Harbor ultimately gets our call with Philadelphia starter Brent Celek sidelined with a concussion. As LeSean McCoy and DeSean Jackson are also out in a pass-happy attack, Harbor will be the desired complement to Jeremy Maclin over the middle, and should see a solid dosage of looks in the red zone. Available in nearly every FOXSports.com fantasy football league, Harbor has a chance to shine versus a Bengals team that has labored against tight ends this fall.
The Real Debate
The attention-deficit drug Adderall, which is classified as a “performance enhancer” by the NFL, has become a hot topic in the league, with multiple players suspended for its use in the past month. However, the discussion should not center on the merits of the medication as a steroid; rather, the Real Debate should be this: why has every possible benefit from vitamins and supplements not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration? Isn’t that the whole point of existence for the organization? If they aren’t assessing the effects of these mineral and drug enhancements, what are they doing? And if such appraisals haven’t been ordered, why are the drugs available for consumption? I need answers!
Rookie Review: Marvin Jones, Bengals
Jones made the most of his first career start, catching three passes for 45 yards and taking an end-around carry for 37 yards against the Cowboys. Jones also had a touchdown catch that was nullified by the ridiculous rule of illegal touching after he was pushed out of the back of the end zone by a Dallas defender. Cincinnati desperately needs a serviceable complement to A.J. Green in the receiving game, a role that tight end Jermaine Gresham is unable to fill thanks to his blocking duties. Jones, a fifth-round selection out of California, has the chance to be that playmaker for the Who-Deys in the final three weeks.
This Week in Kevin Walter
K-Walt finished with his first goose egg of 2012 in New England on Monday, which was more of a consequence of Schaub’s detestable display rather than shortcomings on the part of the Pride of Ypsilanti. Walter remains just 56 yards short of that ever-elusive 500-yard club, where upon reaching said goal, will join the likes of…well, nearly every starting receiver in the NFL. Still, rather have him on my fantasy team this week than Larry Fitzgerald. Who would have ever thought that would be a veritable statement?
Walter’s 2012 Stats: 35 receptions, 444 yards, two touchdowns
Walter’s Cornerback Body Count: 12
Personal Foul on: Bryce Brown, Eagles
I’m sure Brown’s Gilbert Arenas in the box score ended many a fantasy season last weekend. True, the Buccaneers are a stout rush resistance, but six yards on 12 carries? Even September Chris Johnson shakes his head in shame at that performance.
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