Bye Weeks: N/A
Grab a Helmet
Moreno @ OAK: I’m often amazed by who becomes relevant down
the fantasy stretch, but I guess I shouldn’t be after so many years
of watching football. It’s an exceedingly brutal game, after all.
Bodies get broken and new ones step into the breach. Moreno has
been one of the more surprising replacements since he wasn’t even
deemed relevant enough to suit up as recently as three weeks ago.
Regardless, he’s seized an opportunity and should now very much
be on your radar, having tallied 20 totes in two consecutive games.
He didn’t do much with last week’s touches (just 69 yards against
Tampa) but now draws a beleaguered Raiders group that has surrendered
more than 200 yards rushing on three different occasions this year.
That’s bad. Christmas comes early for Moreno and the Broncos offense
this Thursday night.
Relevant down the fantasy stretch.
Dwyer v. SD: All the Steelers want for Christmas, I’m guessing,
is a healthy Big Ben and yet another berth in the playoffs. They’ve
failed to reach the second season just four times since the turn
of the century and have only posted one losing record in that same
span. If they’re able to continue that run of success this year,
it will have to be, at least for the time being, on the shoulders
of Mr. Dwyer and a typically nasty Curtain D. Coach Tomlin has opted
to ride the former Yellow Jacket instead of the more talented Rashard
Mendenhall (a healthy scratch in Week 13), ostensibly because he’s
predictable and takes care of the football. Whatever the reason,
Dwyer’s worth a look this coming Sunday since the Bolts are rapidly
becoming a good play-against squad. They’ve lost four straight,
once in excruciating fashion, and are giving up almost 130 rushing
yards/game in their last three, well above their season average.
Green v. DET: The Packers are thin almost everywhere at this
point (WR, RB, DB, LB) but comically so along the offensive line.
Last week, they plugged in Don Barclay at right tackle, an undrafted
free agent rookie. Naturally, they went out and rushed for 152 yards,
their second highest output of the season. Wait, what? It stands
to reason, actually. The Pack was so worried about Barclay’s ability
to hold up in pass coverage – and worried he might get Aaron Rodgers
killed – they decided to pound the rock with Green and James Starks.
Starks tallied the sexy 22-yard TD run but Green was actually more
productive per carry (4.8 yards/carry v. 4.2). Now, Starks is likely
headed for IR. Though the Pack added Ryan Grant as insurance this
week, Green should still get the majority of touches on Sunday.
And I, for one, don’t think his opponent, the Lions, will bring
their best effort after dropping three consecutive home games they
could have won (and two they absolutely SHOULD have). Think Green
if you’re in a bind.
Grab a Gatorade
Wells @ SEA: Wells’ owners were probably seeing red last weekend
after the former Buckeye laid an egg against the Jets in Gotham.
He was coming off a two-TD performance the week prior against
St. Louis and was facing a New York defense that has been shockingly
easy to run the ball against this year (137.7 yards/game)…until
last weekend, that is. Wells tallied just a single yard on his
first seven carries and ended up managing only 22 total yards
on the afternoon. The most shocking part, in fact, is that he
actually merited eight more carries after that absurdly unproductive
start. Clearly, Arizona is hampered by a lack of experience/talent
at the quarterback position and defenses are going to continue
selling out to stop the run until there’s an actual threat under
center. Don’t start any Cardinals, especially Wells, unless you
want to bow out of the playoffs early.
McFadden v. DEN: The oft-injured McFadden is back just in
time for the start of the playoffs, a development that would normally
have elicited cheers in years past. That sound you hear this year
is the collective yawning of fantasy GMs everywhere who have grown
tired of DMC’s shtick and, this season in particular, his appalling
lack of production. It’s one thing to welcome back a verifiable
fantasy stud like Adrian Peterson and watch him elevate, Steve
Austin-style, to even loftier heights. It’s quite another to regain
the services of a guy who possesses Peterson-esque ability but
who promises only DeAngelo Williams production. Amongst 45 qualifying
running backs in 2012, McFadden owns the second worst per-carry
average (3.3 yards). Additionally, his backup, Marcel Reece, has
already accumulated more fantasy points this year despite fewer
than half as many starts. Finally, Bryce Brown, Philly’s new wunderkind,
has tallied almost as many points in his last TWO games alone.
Clearly, there are much better options than the struggling Oakland
Bush @ SF: Bush hasn’t generated much chatter in 2012
and a quick look at his stats might indicate why. Outside of a
31.7-point explosion against McFadden’s Raiders in Week
2, he’s posted mostly ho-hum totals week in and week out
(seven games with fewer than 7 points). And yet, with one more
special effort like that one he had against Oakland, he might
end up pretty close to last year’s totals (a career high
181.3 points) when the smoke has cleared after Week 17. I think
he’s capable of pulling it off, for the record, but probably
not at Candlestick this Sunday against a San Fran team hopping
mad after an unforgiveable loss to the Rams. The defense played
well enough to win, as usual (St. Louis didn’t score on
offense), so we can expect nothing less than laser-like focus
as the Niners look to strengthen their hold on the NFC West. That’s
bad news for Bush and the rest of the Miami offense this weekend.