A popular proverb in fantasy football is to “dance with the girl that brought you.” In real life of course, the implication is that it would behoove you to stick with the woman who has been by your side through thick and thin, or more literally to avoid boogieing the night away with a new hottie when your steady is still present.
Applied to fantasy football, the advice is to keep your current starters in your lineup, and not to deviate from the group of players who carried you into the playoffs just because there is a nice matchup for one of your benchwarmers. That counsel is fine as far as it goes. It works if your “woman” dances all night like LaDainian Tomlinson totes the ball – at a bang-up clip of consistent production. But what happens if one or more of your studs has suddenly cooled off, as the season grows colder?
It’s time for you to get bolder.
In these most crucial contests you cannot afford to become complacent, or worse yet cowardly. Now is not the time to morph into a meek caretaker. Leave Marty ball to a pro like Schottenheimer. You must continue to make the difficult and daring lineup decisions that got you to the big game in the first place.
In your one-and-done contest, an aspect perhaps more important than talent is the heat index. Below are some NFL backups who have recently been burning defenses. You won’t find guys like Marion Barber or Maurice Jones-Drew here because I am not counting players who have been performing from a backup role most of the season. Consider making a lineup switch to one of these smoking numbers before your loyalty becomes your undoing.
Jeff Garcia, Eagles – Philadelphia’s own Ponce de Leon has completed passes for 713 yards and six touchdowns against only one interception during the Eagles’ resurgence. He has helped them win three games in a row, against the Panthers and at the Redskins and Giants. He has an obviously difficult division game against the Cowboys in Dallas this week, but he is undoubtedly on a hot streak.
Tim Rattay, Buccaneers – I know he doesn’t have the big name, or any serious past success to lean on, but he did just pass for three touchdowns at Soldier Field. Anyone who can complete a 44-yard score to Ike Hilliard at this point is someone worth keeping tabs on. Tampa Bay has another road game this week, this time in Cleveland.
Ladell Betts, Redskins – Who needs Clinton Portis. Except for touchdowns, Betts has been a proficient machine. He has topped 100 yards rushing in each of the last four weeks, and had a minimum of 5.2 yards per carry in the last three contests. Get ready to feast in the championship game this week. Betts gets to grind it out against one of the worst defenses versus the run this year – the St. Louis Rams.
Ron Dayne, Texans – In his last three games for Houston, Dayne has met or surpassed 87 yards rushing. He has also scored thrice during that time. David Carr seems to get worse with each passing week (remember when he was actually getting the ball to Andre Johnson?) and the team is relying on Dayne’s drive-sustaining style of rushing. The Colts come to visit off their big win against the Bengals. They should torch the Texans, but their run defense is still abysmal. Dayne could easily top 100 yards and score this week.
Mike Bell, Broncos – Is Bell back in the mix? It is always difficult to predict who will run the ball for this team, but Bell scored twice and registered a respectable 61 yards rushing last week against the Cardinals on the road. Denver hosts Cincinnati this time around, in what sets up to be a desperate game for each team. I like Mike to take his toll in this contest too, and ring up a score or two on Cincy.
Ronald Curry, Raiders – With Moss out, Ronald has been able to curry favor in the passing game. He logged 99 yards and one touchdown two weeks ago, and gained 87 yards last week, not totals to take lightly. Kansas City will look to shut him down, but Curry is the lone bright spot on offense for this team, and Aaron Brooks will find a way to hang at least one long pass on the Chiefs this week.
D.J. Hackett, Seahawks – Hackett has quietly had a productive few weeks in the NFL. Three out of the last four contests he has put up 67 or more yards receiving, with a high of 104 yards. He did score in there once too. If you have a lame duck in your third WR slot, put in a player who can hack it in your biggest game of the year.
Good luck to everyone this week, and may the best owners win.
Joe Levit provides fantasy football presentations for corporate outings or client appreciation events. Go to www.FantasyFootballSpeaker.com and find out what this service is all about. Joe can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.