Rams RB Zac Stacy was on his way to a monster game with 87 yards rushing and a touchdown in the first half, but he did not play in the second half after suffering a concussion.
James Morris hails from Rio Rancho, NM and has been playing fantasy sports for just over 15 years. Not only does he write the Bengals fantasy section, but he also does the Miami Dolphins fantasy section. Crossing over, Morris writes the fantasy sections for the Minnesota Timberwolves in the NBA. Just send him an email and he will reply back the same day with your answer. Or, find him on Twitter (Fantasyguy23) and get all your NFL news before it hits the national media.
Week 12 brought us some highs and some lows, showed us some winners and some losers, and even separated the contenders from the pretenders in the NFL. I think just about everyone in and around the NFL looked at the schedule this week and marked Ben Tate down as a must-start player because of the Jaguars and their defense. But, do you all remember when Arian Foster went down and I told you to grab and hold an unknown running back by the name of Dennis Johnson? Well, Tate finished with one rushing yard and 26 receiving yards while Johnson finished with 74 rushing yards and 13 receiving yards after Tate was benched at halftime.
Remember, sometimes the smartest moves are the ones that aren’t right in front of you. Fantasy “experts” can tell you to start Adrian Peterson or Drew Brees and be right more than they are wrong. And, even those talking heads on the big-box Web sites and podcast shows aren’t 100 percent accurate because nobody is. But, what separates the good from the bad is the ability to put you in a position to have the best possible chance to win. One big run or a one-yard TD can change a RB from a worthless dud to an average fantasy play that weekend. Michael Bush from the Bears had minus-5 yards rushing and 10 yards receiving, but finished in the top 25 for RBs this weekend because he scored on a one-yard TD run.
The moral of the story is that nobody is 100 percent because we cannot predict the future. ESPN, NFL.com, Yahoo.com, CBSSportsline.com and bengals.com, we are all right and wrong sometimes.
Josh McCown – QB, Bears: The Bears may have lost, but fantasy owners who played McCown won as the backup threw for 352 passing yards and 2 TDs on Sunday. Yes, he threw an INT and lost a fumble, but that didn’t matter as he finished in the top 5 on NFL.com in their standard scoring format. The Bears have one of the better offenses in the NFL both in production and talent, but it is their defense that is struggling to keep up for a change. It isn’t clear when Jay Cutler will return to the field, so keep running McCown out there until he is no longer the starter.
Ryan Tannehill – QB, Dolphins: Tannehill once again showed why he deserves more respect than he is given as he touched up the highly-ranked Panthers defense for 310 passing yards, 36 rushing yards and a touchdown. The yards and touchdown ranked him No. 7 in NFL.com’s standard scoring format, and further showed why he is a solid hold for those in 2-QB leagues as he faces the Jets (twice), Patriots and Bills all coming up to finish out the season.
Maurice Jones-Drew – RB Jaguars: It only took 12 weeks, but MJD finally dusted off that mantel and made room for his winners list trophy this week thanks to his 144 total yards (84 rushing, 60 receiving) and a touchdown. The Jaguars are now 2-3 over their last five games, and are helping fantasy owners when they need it most. MJD is a low-end RB2 play most weeks with upside in the right matchup.
Danny Woodhead – RB, Chargers: Woodhead is one of those guys that is owned in virtually all fantasy leagues, yet he is always on the list of players I get when asking about who to sit and who to start. This weekend he managed to scamper for 70 total yards (25 rushing, 45 receiving), but scored two touchdowns, which vaulted him into NFL.com’s top 5 RB rankings. Overall this season he is ranked in the top 20 for RBs, meaning you should go ahead and plug him into the lineup each week because he is putting up solid low-end RB2 numbers for 2013.
Mike Wallace – WR, Dolphins: Wallace’s season has been a rollercoaster with highs and lows, but this week he turned the corner and came through for fantasy owners when they needed it most. Wallace hauled in five passes for 127 yards and a touchdown against the Panthers, and finished as NFL.com’s No. 3-ranked WR in standard scoring formats. As I said with Tannehill earlier, Miami's final five games are favorable, and Wallace should be able to wrap the season up on a positive note for his owners.
Josh Gordon – WR, Browns: Gordon is a big name when it comes to fantasy football, but he is more owned than played. What I mean by that is that while he is owned in 97.8 percent of NFL.com leagues, he is started in just 45.8 percent (less than half) of them. Despite the problem the team has at QB, Gordon put on his superhero cape on Sunday and finished with 14 catches for 237 yards and a touchdown. Gordon is NFL.com’s No. 1 overall player for Week 12 in all formats. Take a bow Mr. Gordon, you are a stud!
Tiquan Underwood – WR, Buccaneers: And in this week’s edition of do not chase these points, we bring you Tiquan Underwood. Underwood managed three receptions for 108 yards and two touchdowns against the Lions, of which one TD came on a late fourth-quarter pass that went for 85 yards. Too many people will pick up Underwood in the hopes of getting a late-season waiver wire gem, when in reality they will get nothing more than fool’s gold.
Ladarius Green – TE, Chargers: Green is another Underwood in that too many owners are going to chase points with him after his 3/80/1 line in Week 12. Yes, Green is a freakishly good athlete, running a 4.4 40-yard dash while measuring up at 6-6, 238. The problem is, he is behind a future Hall of Fame player in Antonio Gates. Because Green has 7 catches for 161 yards and a touchdown over the last two games, the Chargers are sure to give him a few extra looks going forward. But, he will be a boom-or-bust player that isn’t worth owning until Gates is officially out of the picture. Those in dynasty leagues will want to make sure he is owned, because when/if Gates is gone, Green is going to be the next Jimmy Graham!
Pittsburgh Steelers Defense: I remember when the Steelers were one of the most owned defenses in all of fantasy football. But that was then and this is now, and the Steelers are owned in just 11.2 percent of NFL.com leagues this season. Despite that, this week they held the Browns in check as they allowed just 11 points while piling up five sacks, three recovered fumbles, an INT and a defensive touchdown. All totaled, they finished with 23.00 fantasy points on NFL.com and the No. 1 ranking for defenses. They are a situational defense that can only be trusted in the right matchup, so look at their schedule before picking them up to finish out the season.
Case Keenum – QB, Texans: And the biggest QB bust of the week award goes to, Case Keenum! The Jaguars game was his chance to truly set himself apart from the competition in Houston and make a statement by racking up stats. Instead, Keenum managed just 169 yards passing, no touchdowns and an INT on the day. The only bright side for Keenum owners can be that with the Texans playing for 2014, there is virtually no chance they will turn back to Matt Schaub at this point.
Matt Ryan – QB, Falcons: Ryan was once a top 5-7 fantasy QB most weeks, but with Julio Jones done for the season and Roddy White no longer the WR he once was, Matty Ice is finding it hard to put up enough stats to be worth playing in fantasy leagues. The Falcons played on a short week and Ryan finished with just 292 empty yards (no TDs and no INTs) on Thursday. With his remaining games against the Bills, Packers, Redskins, 49ers and Panthers, his road to the finish is going to be a rollercoaster ride for owners.
Frank Gore – RB, 49ers: As good as Colin Kaepernick was on Monday night (235 passing yards and 3 TDs), Gore was as bad. Gore managed just 31 yards on 13 carries and failed to reach the end zone. You would have almost thought that with the team up 24-6 in the fourth quarter, Gore would score a TD and salvage his night. But, alas, he did not and for that he made the losers list.
Donald Brown – RB, Colts: Just a week after torching the Titans for 94 total yards and 2 TDs I warned people not to put too much faith in Brown as there is a reason why the Colts traded for Trent Richardson earlier in the season. With the Cardinals up 27-3 at halftime, the Colts abandoned the run thus causing both Brown and Richardson to be little more than afterthoughts. Brown finished with just two carries for one yard, and one reception for minus-2 yards, giving him a grand total of minus-1 total yards and -0.10 fantasy points on the day. This is exactly why I told each and every person who asked about him to NOT play him and to consider not even owning him. The Colts have a hard time making RBs relevant in fantasy football.
Bobby Rainey – RB, Buccaneers: I warned people not to put too much faith in Rainey after his 167 yards and 3-TD effort last weekend against the Falcons. Remember, even a blind squirrel finds an acorn every once in a while. This week the stats were extremely different as Rainey managed just 35 yards rushing and no TDs against the Lions. There is a reason why Rainey was so low on the depth chart, and cut by two NFL teams this season alone. Sure, he is bound to break off a good run here and there, and might even get close to the 100-yard mark again this year, but I wouldn’t be shocked if 35 yards rushing is about his average to finish out of the rest of the season.
Victor Cruz – WR, Giants: The hardest thing in the world to do is rely on Eli Manning for fantasy football production. Cruz’s owners found out that universal truth on Sunday as they watched him finish with just two catches for 27 yards and a lost fumble. Because of the fumble, Cruz finished with the lowest point total (0.70) for a fantasy WR (worth mentioning) in Week 12. This Manning brother is a true example of NFL value not equaling fantasy value, as he has won more Super Bowl titles than Peyton (Manning), but is owned in roughly 25 percent fewer fantasy leagues.
Terrence Williams & Miles Austin – WRs, Cowboys: Just as I suspected, Williams and Austin canceled each other out in fantasy terms. Both players finished with just a single catch, with Austin gaining 17 yards and Williams gaining 10 yards. I think Austin holds more value than Williams going forward, but with Dez Bryant, Jason Witten and DeMarco Murray on offense, both WRs are going to be risky flex plays until one pulls away from the other.
Antonio Gates – TE, Chargers: The Chiefs put the lock on this Gate(s) in Week 12 as he finished with just three catches for 21 yards and no end zone visits. The Chargers TE situation was truly the Yin and Yang for fantasy purposes. Green was a winner, while Gates was a loser this week.
Chicago Bears Defense: As I said earlier, the Bears defense is what is hurting them at this point, and this week they gave up 36 points to the Rams while managing just two sacks for fantasy stats. The Bears defense struggles against the run and allowed 258 yards rushing to a Rams team that averages 113.8 YPG this season as a team, 14th in the NFL. Truthfully, the Bears defense can’t be trusted with the multitude of injuries that they are dealing with, and I would consider cutting them loose with them facing Peterson, Murray, LeSean McCoy and Eddie Lacy in four of their final five games.
For those wondering, I was wrong on Keenum, Carson Palmer and Martellus Bennett, but right on the other 12 picks I made. To go 13-3 for a week is a total that any handicapper in the world will take, and shows you that while I may be wrong from time-to-time, I am still right far more times than I am wrong!
“Follow me and I will take their reality and merge it with our fantasy, thus leading you to the promised land!” – James Morris