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FANTASY FOOTBALL WEEKLY FEATURES

Waiver Wire Warriors - Week 13
Dennis Leonard
November 30, 2005

Hello again and welcome back to Waiver Wire Warriors. Two more wins last weekend. Extended my points lead by a hair in my Huddle league; dropped to a tie for most points in my local. Interesting, I’ve also become the team with the most points scored against it in my Huddle league. That’s a fantasy stat we usually suffer through in silence. Sometimes the team with the best record got there because of a lucky schedule that included very few points against. Sometimes you don’t make the playoffs because of bad luck; everyone seems to tee off on you when you play them. That phenomenon prompted me and the commish in my local to look into the possibility of having playoff seeding depend partly on “quality of wins.” Because when you think about it, who is really more deserving of the number one seed: the 11-2 team whose scored only average points, but had the fewest points scored against it? Or the 8-4 team who has scored the most points, but had to slog through countless high scoring affairs to get there? Run you leagues the way you want to, but I thought it was an interesting idea and thought I’d share it with you.

You know, around this time it gets harder to find waiver wire candidates that aren’t more than simply injury replacements who are assuming a starting roll. I’m still going to try to do that when possible, but at this point in the season you are (hopefully) planning for the post-season and identifying good match ups for your borderline starters. That means your waiver wire moves should start to plan more around match ups well beyond just this week. So we’ll be doing more of that in subsequent columns, FYI.

For example, it has come to my attention that there are fantasy teams who do not own LaDanian Tomlinson, Shaun Alexander, and/or Edgerrin James. I know, I know; I was shocked, too. But in all seriousness, a Huddler shot me a message last week asking if I’d take a look at which lesser running backs, or those in a running back by committee (“RBBC”), who might show promise due to ease of schedule during the playoff stretch for those teams lacking star power. Not a bad idea, said I.

Obviously weakness of the opposing rushing defense is the biggest factor in potential productivity. It’s no guarantee, mind you. But good match ups usually contribute to better than average production, so it’s a common angle we to try and weasel. In addition to bottom-line fantasy points allowed, I measured the twelve worst run defenses in the following categories: (1) most rushing attempts allowed per game; (2) highest yards per carry (“YPC”) allowed; (3) highest average yards per game (“YPG”); and (4) most rushing TDs allowed. The following seven teams were ranked in at least three of these categories, as well as being in the top 12 for allowing production to opposing RBs (taking into account RB receiving production), and should provide the most favorable match ups to exploit for the remainder of the season:

  • Saints (4th most rushing attempts allowed per game – 31.6 per game; tied for 8th highest YPC – 4.3; 4th highest average YPG – 136.7; and tied for 10th most rushing TDs allowed – 10)
  • Bills (9th most rushing attempts allowed per game – 30.8; 2nd highest YPC – 4.7; 2nd most YPG – 146.4; and tied for 2nd most rushing TDs allowed – 15)
  • Texans (2nd most rushing attempts allowed per game – 32.7; 1st highest YPC – 4.8; 1st most YPG – 158.5; and 1st most rushing TDs allowed – 16)
  • Jets (1st most rushing attempts allowed per game – 35.5; 3rd most YPG – 136.9; and tied for 2nd most rushing TDs allowed – 15)
  • Lions (11th most rushing attempts allowed per game – 29.1; 10th highest YPC – 4.2; and 7th most YPG – 123.2)
  • Rams (6th highest YPC – 4.5; 6th most YPG – 128.1; and 7th most rushing TDs allowed – 13)
  • 49ers (5th most rushing attempts allowed per game – 31.1; 11th most YPG – 119.6; and tied for 2nd most rushing TDs allowed – 15)

The following five teams were ranked in at least two of our four categories, as well as being a top 12 defense for allowing fantasy points to opposing RBs (including receiving production), and round out the remaining top 12 favorable match ups we’ll target:

  • Falcons (2nd highest YPC – 4.6; 9th most rushing TDs allowed – 15; and 6th most fantasy points allowed to opposing rushers)
  • Browns (3rd most rushing attempts allowed per game – 32.5 per game; 5th highest average YPG – 128.5; and 11h most fantasy points allowed to opposing RBs)
  • Patriots (7th most rushing attempts allowed per game – 31.0 per game; 12th highest average YPG – 118.8; and 10th most fantasy points allowed to opposing RBs)
  • Raiders (10th most rushing attempts allowed per game – 29.7 per game; tied for 8th highest most rushing TDs allowed – 12; and 5th most fantasy points allowed to opposing RBs)
  • Vikings (Tied for 11th highest YPC – 4.1; tied for 10th most rushing TDs allowed – 11; and 12th most fantasy points allowed to opposing RBs).

Okay, that’s one piece of the puzzle. Now we have to figure out which teams have third string-type fantasy RBs that might be more useful than expected in light of their match ups. I think those teams include:

  • Arizona: they’ve got Marcel Shipp and J.J. Arrington. Personally, of the two, I like Arrington better.
  • Atlanta: Duckett and Dunn. A classic RBBC, though Dunn is probably a fixture in someone’s line up already so only Duckett is realistically worth considering.
  • Baltimore: Depending on who is starting, both Jamal Lewis and Chester Taylor are legit candidates.
  • Carolina: DeShaun Foster looks to be taking over as the featured Panther tailback, but I’d be surprised if Stephen Davis didn’t retain his role at the stripe.
  • Cincinnati: Chris Perry gets enough touches to be useful.
  • Dallas: Marion Barber III and Julius Jones are splitting time pretty evenly. Barber is getting more TDs, Jones is getting more yards.
  • Denver: Mike Anderson’s fumble last week opened the door for Ron Dayne to get a shot, and the extent of Tatum Bell’s chest injury may prop that door open another week or so. However, Bell clearly wants to play in Week 13. Good luck picking the right guy, but the Broncos still fit what were looking for here.
  • Detroit: Yuck. Not my cup of grog, not matter who is getting the carries. However, Kevin Jones, Shawn Bryson, and Artose Pinner are splitting the load and Bryson and Pinner are largely available, so I guess we’ll include them.
  • Miami: Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams are getting it done in one of the better RBBCs out there.
  • New England: Another massive headache. Dillon? Pass? Evans? Guess right and you get what’s behind Door #3!
  • New Orleans: Aaron Stecker and Antowain Smith continue to divide the workload pretty evenly.
  • San Francisco: Another ugly RBBC that now calls Frank Gore’s health into question, which of course ropes Maurice Hicks into this mutant goat rodeo.
  • Jacksonville: Will Greg Jones continue to start? Maybe, and if he does he might be worth riding for as long as possible. If not Fred Taylor would work.
  • Tampa Bay: Hmm. Mike Alstott has been getting some play as a receiver and at the goal line over the last four or five games, so we’ll include him because he’s largely available.

Okay, the following chart lays out our RBBC team schedules with our 12 targeted running back-friendly defenses (discussed above) in bold.

RBBC Week 13 Week 14 Week 15 Week 16
ARI @ SF WAS @ HOU PHI
ATL @ CAR NO @ CHI @ TB
BAL HOU @ DEN GB MIN
CAR ATL TB @ NO DAL
CIN @ PIT CLE @ DET BUF
DAL @ NYG KC @ WAS @ CAR
DEN @ KC BAL @ BUF OAK
DET MIN @ GB CIN @ NO
MIA BUF @ SD NYJ TEN
NE NYJ @ BUF TB @ NYJ
NO TB @ ATL CAR DET
SF ARZ @ SEA @ JAX @ STL
JAX @ CLE IND SF @ HOU
TB @ NO @ CAR @ NE ATL

If you have any these running backs this grid should help you plot out their potential upside due to weakness of opponent in the coming weeks. Alternatively, if you’re picking through the rubble left on waivers, perhaps this tool will help you evaluate the remaining talent. For example, it looks like Buccaneer RB Mike Alstott’s remaining schedule is very favorable. While he can’t be counted on as an every week producer, he looks to have good value as a “break glass in case of emergency” RB in TD-heavy leagues. Same with Bengal’s RB Chris Perry, except in point per reception leagues. However, I was asked to look for some B-grade RB combos and so let’s do some of that:

Miami and New Orleans: Notice how Miami goes against the Bills in Week 13 and the Jets in Week 15, then how New Orleans faces the Falcons in Week 14 and the Lions in Week 16? That means Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams’ owners might want to look into adding Saints’ RB Antowain Smith or Aaron Stecker. However, this week I’m recommending the Miami’s running backs because the Buffalo run defense has been taken advantage of plenty this season. But here’s some info that might help you compare Aaron Stecker to Antowain Smith:

  • Aaron Stecker has been moderately productive in the last two weeks racking up a total of 79 rushing yards on 18 carries and adding another 78 yards on 7 receptions. No TDs, but he did see three looks in the red zone during that time, and did not turnover the ball over. While his season to date 3.8 YPC is pretty blah, over the last two weeks he’s been running for a nicer 4.4 YPC. His 62.96% reception ratio is pretty good and he also returns kick offs, if you get points for that. Thus, Stecker looks decent in leagues that award points for receptions and/or individual points in the return game. In fact, in leagues that award both, he’s actually been about the 15th most productive RB on a points-per-game basis over the last two weeks.
  • Antowain Smith is the better option in leagues that award neither points for receptions nor individual points in the return game. He’s a pretty straight forward veteran who has some under appreciated stats. Namely, he has a team-high 98 rushing attempts and is averaging 4.5 YPC, which is the team’s best outside of Saints’ QB Aaron Brooks (6.5 YPC). Plus, Smith has been the only Saints’ RB (not counting Brooks) to score a rushing TD since Deuce McAllister went down – a whopping 2. However, Smith has gotten the bulk of the looks in the red zone this year (14) so he is probably the greater threat to score a rushing TD going forward. Since Week 6 Smith has received double digit carries in all but one game and in leagues that do not award points for receptions or return yards he’s been a top 30 RB over those last 8 Weeks; about on par with T.J. Duckett and Chris Perry.

Arizona and New Orleans: J.J. Arrington has had two decent games out of his last three and he has already been covered here leading up to both games. Rehash not required. However, Arizona’s passing game is coming on like gangbusters, which can only open the running game up as defenses will not surely key in on defending the pass after Warner’s impressive Week 12 performance versus the Jagas. Easy match ups in Week 13 versus San Francisco and Week 15 versus Houston mean that Arrington (or Shipp, if you prefer) could be rotated with which ever of the Saints’ RBs that you can get your hands on. This week I’d go with Arrington, however, both he and Shipps’ top-end value depend on whether the Cards – who have called the fewest running plays per game this year – choose to run more if/when they built a lead.

Carolina and New Orleans: DeShaun Foster and/or Stephen Davis owners might consider avoiding Tampa Bay’s run defense in Week 14 and the Cowboys’ in Week 16. You don’t have to; the match ups aren’t crushingly bad. But both teams are good against the run and splitting time against them may not be a post-season recipe for success. But, as has been pointed out already, the Saints’ RBBC has some nice match ups during those weeks. I think Foster is the better play this week, but Davis should still have value in TD-heavy leagues.

Greg Jones – JAX RB and T.J. Duckett – ATL RB: Both Jones are Duckett are likely on someone’s roster already, but if I had one and could still make a move to get the other on the cheap I probably would. Jones continues to play well and has a fabulous schedule over the next four weeks. The only real hiccup is the Colts in Week 14… but that’s when Duckett and the Falcons’ face the Saints, who give up a lot of production to opposing ground games. Greg Jones is the better play this week, though.

Okay, you get the idea. Unfortunately there are too many permutations for me to analyze them all, but hopefully the raw data I’ve processed for you will help you in finding those lesser RBs who compliment the ones you’ve already got on your roster, or have access to on waivers.

Other Recommendations

Kurt Warner – ARI QB: Warner probably isn’t on waivers anymore after his last four games. However, this week provides what in all likelihood is his most favorable match up of the season, so you’ve simply got to have killer QB alternatives to bench him. As I recently pointed out to a fellow Huddler in the Fantasy Advice Forum, I think Week 13’s opponent – the Niners – have a very vulnerable secondary (has given up the most fantasy points to QBs this year in most scoring formats). However, NFL opponents may not be tilting this pinball machine for all its worth, as most teams have elected to run on the Niners a lot - 5th most rushing attempts against a team this year - an average of 31.1 rushing attempts per game. Toss in the 11th most yards per game (119.6), and a tie for 3rd most rushing TDs allowed (15) and you can see opponents are opting to just run on them instead of continuing to gut them with the passing game.

Except the Cardinals don't run the ball. Arizona has the fewest average rushing attempts per game and the most passing attempts per game. So it wouldn’t surprise me at all if Warner tossed up more than 350 passing yards and a couple scores when these two freak forces collide in Week 13. Sure, I'm starting Warner this week, so I have a lot of bias in hoping that he does well. But part of the reason I’ve been I’ve been recommending Warner for the last month or so is precisely because of these kinds of match ups. However, after this week he should be considered plug and play and I’ll lay off him for the rest of the season. Because if I hyped Warner anymore than I already have you’d have to put me in a skirt, give me a bad hair cut, and start calling me Brenda.

David Garrard – JAX QB: There isn’t too much to say about Garrard except that he is the latest in this seasons parade of injury replacement. He is a fourth year player, all of them with the Jags, so I’d hope he’s got the playbook down by now. He is under contract with the Jaguars through the 2008 season and stands to make a decent base salary as a back up but apparently there are also incentives and escalators in his deal in case Byron Leftwich gets injured and Garrard becomes the starter. Hmmm, I wonder if Garrard will be motivated to perform well for his 8-3 Jaguars with the NFL playoffs nearing?

As far as the stats go, he’s not a prototypical passer:

  • He’s completed 82 of his 156 passes for very low 52.6% career completion percentage;
  • 67.9 lifetime QB rating, which isn’t anything to brag about;
  • He has scored 8 TDs to 4 turnovers, though;
  • Instead, Garrard does a lot of damage with his feet and his 6-1, 244 pound frame, as evidence by his lifetime 6.5 yards per carry.

Garrard’s value is bolstered by his rushing production, so he’s slightly more valuable in leagues where passing TDs don’t count as much as other TDs. However, last week he was about the 15th or 16th most productive fantasy QB (better than Collins, Delhomme, Plummer, Brady, or Brees, anyways), so he’s got some value. Garrard and the Jaguars’ have about the 7th best passing schedule going forward due to a Week 15 date with the 49ers (most points give up to opposing QBs this season) and Texans in Week 16 (4th most fantasy points given up to QBs). However, he could also produce decent numbers against a Cleveland defense this week that is only slightly better than average against the pass, and a little worse than average against the run. Only Week 14 versus the Colts is a major concern.

All in all Garrard may not offer of a ton of upside. However, unlike many of the other replacement QB options still floating around he does offer security. Because there’s no way Leftwich makes in back during the remainder of our fantasy season, which means Garrard’s job should be safe from here on out.

Chris Perry – CIN RB: We pegged Perry here going into Week 3 and he’s done pretty well for himself since then. I wouldn’t bench a proven starter for him this week, or any other. But if push came to shove I wouldn’t shy away from his Week 13 game with the Steelers just because of the match up. In fact, I’d look forward to it, especially in leagues that award points for reception. Madness, you say? Perhaps. But pass-catching running backs have done a lot of damage to Pittsburg this year. For example, opposing running backs are seeing an average of about 5.8 receptions per game against the Steelers – only the New York Giants have seen more (6.1 receptions per game). Moreover, running backs are averaging about 51.9 receiving yards per game against the Steelers, which is the highest in the NFL.

In his own right Perry has performed well considering he’s playing second fiddle in the Bengals’ RBBC; in point per reception leagues he almost a top 24 RB. So he’s usually good for some points and should make for a better than usual contribution this week, assuming he continues to be active out of the backfield.

Jamal Lewis – BAL RB: Lewis has been a lodestone around his owners’ necks all season. Except last week when he unexpectedly put 149 combined yards, rushed for 4.91 YPC, and tacked a rushing TD on the Bengals. *Assuming*Chester Taylor sits again in Week 13, Lewis presents those who have not yet cut him with a starting line up dilemma.

Because this week the Ravens face Houston.

You’ve simply gotta believe that after Week 12’s heart-wrenching overtime defeat to the Rams, whatever spirit may have been left in that Texans’ team was entirely sucked dry. And, as pointed out above, the Texans’ run defense is about as imposing as a petting zoo:

  • Allowing the 2nd most rushing calls per game – 32.7;
  • Allowing the highest YPC – 4.8;
  • Allowing the most YPG – 158.5;
  • Allowed the most rushing TDs thus far – 16; and
  • Allowing the 2nd most fantasy points to opposing tailbacks.

Lewis has complained that (at least part of) the reason for his failures this season is that he hasn’t been given enough carries as the featured RB to develop his normal game-time rhythm. And maybe he has a point, because Lewis best performances this year (Weeks 4, 5, and 12) all came when he received 19 or more carries (other than in Week 6 versus the Browns). So if your regular #2 RB is splitting carries or has a bad match up, Lewis might put up better numbers this week. And if you’re in a league where his owner recently dumped him, he could be a legit waiver wire RB solution going into the playoffs. However – and I repeat – Lewis probably shouldn’t be started unless Chester Taylor sits again. Lewis has proven time and again this year that he isn’t productive unless he’s getting about 20+ carries.

Jimmy Smith – JAX WR: Is it me or did David Garrard only have eyes for Smith last week? 13 passes went Smith’s way; only four receivers saw more than that in Week 12. While Smith falls just outside the top 24 receivers, most of his success this season was attributable to games early in the season. He has been fairly absent from involvement in the Jaguars’ passing game – which doesn’t pass much to begin with – for weeks. However, considering the other three Jaguars’ wide receivers (Jones, Wilford, and Williams) received a combined total of only 8 passes thrown to them in Week 12, perhaps its time to dust Jimmy Smith off the bench as see if he continues to click with Garrard.

I’m playing Smith as my #3 WR in my Huddle league this week and giving Wilford the bench until further notice. Despite Smith’s recent hiatus:

  • He is still the most targeted Jaguar in the passing game – 83 times – which is also the 23rd most in the NFL;
  • Pulled in 44 receptions, which is the most for any Jaguar and ties for 29th most in the NFL;
  • Collected 685 receiving yards, which is the most for any Jaguar and the 21st most in the NFL.

Team Defense Review

Last time we reviewed team defenses and potential combos we were going into Week 11. Going into Week 13 feels different. End of the regular season looms; post-season match ups become do or die. And team defenses haven’t been particularly stable this year. But the vulnerable offenses are well known to readers of this column and, therefore, you playoff contenders out there may want to begin stockpiling the good ones in advance. Think positive and assuming you’re going all the way and you might. Fail to plan for the best and you’re taking an unneeded risk.

As you may recall, I rank opposing offenses based on six criteria: (1) fewest points scored on regular offense; (2) fewest yards on offense; (3) fewest first downs; (4) most turnovers; (5) most sacks allowed; and (6) most offensive penalties. I assign the worst in each category 7 “points,” the second worst 6 points, and so on. Then we look for the teams with the most total points and the teams who appear on the most lists (usually at least 3 or more). Here is how the grading going into Week 11 stacks up against the grading going into Week 13:

Week 11 Week 13 Movement
San Francisco New York Jets +2
Houston San Francisco -1
New York Jets Houston -1
New Orleans Baltimore +1
Baltimore Chicago +1
Chicago New Orleans -2
Minnesota Buffalo new
St. Louis St. Louis same
Arizona (honorary member) Detroit (honorary member) new

Okay, not a ton of movement. The Niners, Texans, Ravens, and now Jets should be considered our staple targets. Chicago is probably okay to target if the defense you’re using has some spunk. Same with the Saints, who’ve dropped a few notches (Aaron Brooks and their passing game has come on strong in the last two weeks). Note that Buffalo is a new addition (gaining the 3rd fewest yards per game – 244.3, 7th fewest first downs per game – 21.0; and tied for allowing the 5th most sacks per game – 32). The Vikings have dropped off our list, which is no surprise given their last four games. I’ve also removed Arizona as an “honorary member” of our club. (Have I mentioned Warners’ stats over the last four weeks yet?) However, I’ve added Detroit as our new honorary member, as they’re simply a mess in every possible way imaginable right now.

So let’s see where that leaves us:

The Prey Week 13 Week 14 Week 15 Week 16
NYJ @ NE OAK @MIA NE
SF ARZ @ SEA @ JAX @ STL
HOU @ BAL @ TEN ARZ JAX
BAL HOU @ DEN GB MIN
CHI GB @ PIT ATL @ GB
NO TB @ ATL CAR DET
BUF @ MIA NE DEN @ CIN
STL WAS @ MIN PHI SF
DET MIN @ GB CIN @ NO

The guys in bold are not top 12 fantasy defenses in most leagues, though that’s not to say they are on waivers. If you got ‘em, or can get ‘em, at least know when to use ‘em. The underlined guys represent top 12 team DEFs that are highly unlikely to be on waivers. But if you’ve got them then you should savor – and plan around – these favorable match ups. Those teams that are neither in bold or underlined have good match ups, but the team defense in question has glaring downside. That’s not to say you can’t pick up New England (who faces our top-flogged New York Jets twice in the next four weeks); go for it if that’s better than what you’ve got available. But my primary goal is to maximize upside by (preferably) using team defenses that lack massive downside.

What you should be doing now is looking at your regular starting team DEF and determining if there are any remaining match ups that scare you. If so, come back to this tool and figure out – well in advance – who you can add in the meantime to sub into your line up when needed. In addition, I also see four teams that offer extra potential uses.

Denver’s DEF: Denver’s appeal is that it has two favorable match ups in the first two weeks of most fantasy playoffs (Ravens in Week 14 and Bills in Week 15) *and* they have been playing well in their own right:

  • Over the last five weeks the Broncos’ DEF has scored about the 4th highest average fantasy points per game for that position by accruing 9 INTs (2nd most during that span and 2 of which were returned for TDs), 3 fumble recoveries, and 11 sacks);
  • On the season as a whole they have allowed the fewest rushing yards per game;
  • Only 6 rushing TDs (only five defenses have allowed fewer);
  • Allowed only 3.8 YPC to opposing rushers (only 7 teams have allowed less);
  • Have collected 25 take-aways (4th most in the NFL); and
  • Allowed only 17.3 points per game (7th lowest average).

The Broncos are certainly better at stopping the run than they are the pass, but both the Ravens and Bills strike me as teams that would prefer to lean on their run game more than their wobbly QBs, so that plays to Denver’s strength. For a DEF that’s still available in 46% of Fanball leagues, that ain’t half bad. This week’s tilt versus the Chiefs might not be advisable, however.

Miami’s DEF: Miami is also largely more available than it should be: still on waivers in 61% of Fanball leagues. However, the Dolphins’ DEF looks good at home in Week 13 versus Buffalo and at home again in Week 15 versus the Jets. That means the Dolphins are useful this week but you may want to think twice about discarding them immediately afterwards. Simply put, Miami has been about the 7th most productive fantasy DEF over the last five weeks, registering good games against the Saints, Falcons, and Raiders. During those last five weeks they have racked up 6 INTs (tied for 7th most), 4 fumbles (tied for 8th most), 2 safeties (the most), and 18 sacks (tied for the most). So against struggling teams like the Bills and Jets, and at home, Miami looks real useful twice in the next three weeks.

Moreover, the owners of the following regular DEFs might pay special attention to Miami’s availability, as their Week 13 and Week 15 opponents (listed below) might not be supremely favorable, but that’s your call:

  • Bears’ DEF: v. Green Bay in Week 13 and Atlanta in Week 15;
  • Colts’ DEF: v. Tennessee in Week 13 and San Diego in Week 15;
  • Giants’ DEF: v. Dallas in Week 13 and Kansas City in Week 15; and
  • Steelers’ DEF: v. Cincinnati in Week 13 and Minnesota in Week 15.

Vikings’ DEF: Just when everyone wrote the Vikings off they go and win some games. And there is no mistaking the fact that their defense and special teams have played a huge role in each victory, and for fantasy purposes, too. Over the last five weeks they’ve:

  • Been about the 5th most productive fantasy DEF – about the same as the Jaguars;
  • Bagged 11 INTs – tops over the last five games;
  • Recovered 4 fumbles – only 7 teams got more;
  • 13 sacks – only 7 team got more;
  • Returned 3 turnovers for defensive TDs – most during that span; and
  • Even returned a kick off to the house for good measure.

Add to that the fact that the Vikings face three of our targeted weak offenses over the next four weeks – including Week 13 against what’s left of the Lions – and you’ve got a poor man’s single-team solution for those searching for answers at the team defense position, as the Vikings’ DEF is still available in 53% of Fanball leagues. You’ll probably want to go in another direction in Week 15 versus the Steelers, though.

Packers’ DEF: Same deal. The Packers have only been about the 18th most productive fantasy defense over the last five weeks – about the same as the Chiefs, Seahawks, and Bengals. That’s not too bad. However, considering the Pack faces Chicago, Detroit, Baltimore, then Chicago again you could basically use Green Bay’s defense from here on out if you were in a bind, assuming you couldn’t scrape up a better option on a week to week basis. I think they’ll perform serviceably enough against the Bears in Week 13, who don’t score a lot of points. Besides, the Bears like to run the ball and Green Bay is actually allowing a fairly low 3.9 YPC to opposing rushers (tied for 11th lowest) and has only allowed 6 rushing TDs on the season (only five teams have allowed fewer).

Bottom line: if I were a little freaked out by my team defense situation at this point in the season, and the Packers’ DEF was available, I’d add them as my official ‘Plan B’ for the rest of the year but still do my best to hunt for more upside on a week to week basis.

Guys I Thought About Recommending In More Detail But Opted Not To

Brad Johnson – MIN QB: Just thought I’d mention I never thought Johnson would do anything. He’s no super star, but over the last five weeks he’s stayed just inside top 20 QB territories. He’s winning. And should provide a stable QB option for those who’ve already picked him up from here on out. He should have been detailed here two or three weeks ago and I simply missed the boat.

Ryan Fitzpatrick – STL QB: If you didn’t see the game, by now you’ve seen the stats. I’m not knocking Fitzpatrick’s underdog comeback victory. But even if I wanted to pick him up (and I might) he’d ride pine until I saw at least one more good game. Because one way to look at this guy is that he *almost* got beaten by the Texans last week, which is like *almost* making out with your own sister. Even if it didn’t quite happen just at the last second, it’s still pretty unnerving. Though, I Fitzpatrick gets the starting nod (which, as of yet, has not be confirmed for Week 13), his schedule looks hot.

Scotty Vines – DET WR: Oh, I see how it is, Scotty. I recommend you and you disappear. I forget about you and then you chips in 6 receptions for 70 yards to provide one of the only respectable aspects of the Lions’ Thanksgiving bloodletting. I noticed, Scotty. Thanks, but no thanks.

Eric Parker – SD WR: Don’t think for a second that Parker’s season-high yardage last week didn’t correlate to Gates’ reduced role. Gates will heal. However, even with Gates healthy – and Parker getting blanked in Week 7 – Parker has still been like fantasys’ top 15 or so WR over the last 5 weeks. He’s been targeted 1, 2, 7, 4, then 10 times over those last five games and wields an impressive 71.42% reception ratio on the season. If he’s still available, Parker is good bench depth going into the playoffs and could contribute something useful this weekend against an improved but hardly dominant Raiders’ DEF. He contributes a little in the return game from time to time, too.

Tim Dwight – NE WR: I was riding David Givens early in the season, but he’s dropped of the face of the earth. I realize the Patriots always try to do what you least expect them to, but at this point in the season I just don’t think they can afford to get cute. Dwight is not a dependable WR, but in Week 12 had racked up 5 receptions for 76 yards, another 17 on the ground, and some kick return yardage to boot. If he sees that kind of involvement again in Week 13 he’ll be worth a more serious look.

The Waiver Wire Report Card

Kurt Warner – ARI QB: I spent a great deal of time last week articulating why I thought Warner could be a good replacement starter for those in quarterback trouble. Admittedly, I had trepidations about using him last week in my local against an imposing Jaguars’ DEF. I rolled the dice anyways. I think we’ve put this issue to bed by now: Warner is legit starting fantasy QB (hopefully) for the rest of the year. Hit.

J.P. Losman – BUF QB: “I don’t think you can realistically expect him to crack top 15 fantasy QB territory most weeks; be happy if he sniffs top 20.” That’s what I said last week. 197 passing yards, 0 TDs, and 1 INT got him top 30 status in Week 12. In other words, only McMahon, Brees, and Harrington did worse. I did NOT recommend starting Losman at last week, but this recommendation was still a failure on my part. Miss.

Trent Green – KC QB: We were looking for a good game from Green in Week 12 and that’s what we got. He went 19 of 26 for 323 yards, 1 TD, and no turnovers, which was good enough to make him about a top 12 fantasy QB last week. Green has now strung together two good games in a row. Hit.

Mike McMahon – PHI QB: I picked up McMahon in my local to back Warner up, but opted to sit McMahon. After all, we’d only seen one good game. I was expecting him to sniff top 15 QB land, but it didn’t happen. No even close. 130 combined yards, no scores, and no turnovers may have been good enough to beat the Packers, but he turned out to be a liability to fantasy teams in Week 12. Miss.

Ken Dorsey – SF QB: For a reach pick, Dorsey did okay. I was looking for a top 20 performance last week and Dorsey delivered 192 passing yards, 1 TD, and 3 turnovers. That was pretty close, as he came in around top 22 or so. About the same as Brady, but better than Brees, Favre, and Roethlisberger. Can’t really call this one a hit because I missed my goal. But then again, if you were desperate enough to play Dorsey you had to have been happy to see him contribute anything at all. Push.

Jaime Martin – STL QB: I wasn’t real high on Martin when Bulger went down earlier this year. But it was hard to argue with his surrounding offense or remaining schedule. However, that does us little good when he gets taken out of the game after just three passes. Miss due to injury.

Steve McNair – TEN QB: He. Went. Off! 343 passing yards, 3 TDs, only 1 turnover made McNair one of the top fantasy QBs last week. Wicked Hit.

Mark Brunell – WAS QB: 194 yards, 1 TD, no turnovers. That’s serviceable and certainly better than what Brunell has been serving up lately. Modest hit.

Maurice Hicks – SF RB: It was known after last week’s column came out, and well in advance of the game, that Barlow would start and Gore was “out.” I’d love to have seen what Hicks could have done with the starting gig, but he only chipped in 30 yards on 6 carries (5.0 YPC) and another 17 yards on 3 receptions splitting time. His total stats were less than Barlow’s, but Hicks was more productive with each carry, for what its worth. And because he’s playing special teams, Hicks also recorded a few tackles, if you are in an individual defensive player league that awards points for that sort of thing. He showed me enough to make me believe he’d be worth a start if he got the chance to be featured, so he wasn’t a bad short-term speculative pick up. But he failed to contribute last week beyond his shared role, so he wasn’t a useful pick up, either. Push.

Chester Taylor – BAL RB: A late scratch, Taylor didn’t play and Jamal Lewis had his best game of the year. I’m sure that will help to clear the Ravens’ backfield right up. Miss due to mystery injury.

Ernest Wilford – JAX WR: Wilford’s productivity was apparently due to Byron Leftwich being under center. Wilford’s two catches did not make me happy (I started him in both leagues), but I’m more concerned with his value going forward now that Leftwich is sidelined for at least a month. Miss.

Amani Toomer – NYG WR: Just another day at the office for Amani Toomer: 6 receptions, 62 yards, and 1 TD. Solid hit.

Jermaine Wiggins – MIN TE: Vikings win. Again. Marcus Robinson’s 3 TD game will get all the headlines, but Wiggins contributed 67 receiving yards (2nd most for all Vikings’ pass targets last week) on five receptions (no Viking had more last week). Nothing flashy, but a solid play in TE-mandatory leagues (top 9 TE in PPR leagues last week; tied for top 11 in non-PPR leagues), or as a TE/WR flex in leagues that award points for receptions (equivalent to about a top 36 WR last week, same as Hines Ward or Reggie Wayne). Modest hit.

That’s all I’ve got for this week’s, folks. Time to wrap things up, sign off, and put in those waiver wire requests. Good luck in Week 13 and game on!