The Jets' Thomas Jones had the look of a disaster entering the season, drafted by many fantasy football players for the simple reason that most other starters were gone.
There just wasn't much to get excited about in a 30-year-old journeyman coming off a two-score season for a bad team. There also was the major risk that 39-year-old Brett Favre wouldn't have anything left in his aged arm, inviting all sorts of run-stopping defensive fronts.
Well, so much for all that.
Now the 69-year-old backfield is leading an unstoppable team. And Jones - who like most backs at 30 was expected to be terrible this year - has a career-high 11 touchdowns. He's the AFC's leading rusher, on pace for a career-high 1,380 yards. And he's gaining 4.4 yards a carry, the second-best in his career.
e tougher with Miami in Week 17, but most fantasy leagues will be done by then.
As you wonder how Jones' massive biceps don't force the ball to squirt out on every carry, here's a look at some players to start and some to avoid in Week 13:
QUARTERBACKS:
TAKE A SHOT
-Who needs Tom Brady? The Patriots' Matt Cassel has 815 yards passing, 76 rushing and seven scores the past two games, and has become somebody you don't even bench against Pittsburgh's dreaded NFL-best defense.
-Start Sage Rosenfels and any other Texan you can scrape up as the nation gathers 'round the TV on Monday night to see if it'll be Houston or Jacksonville winning for the fifth time. The Texans are used to trying hard while being bad, but the Jags seem to have surrendered.
-Don't worry about Miami's Chad Pennington against the Rams' defense that's allowed an NFL-high 20 TD runs. He'll do plenty more than hand off, and may even catch a pass or two from Ronnie Brown.
-Atlanta's Matt Ryan should have few problems exploiting San Diego's NFL-worst pass defense while the Chargers focus on spoiling the homecoming of former backup RB Michael Turner (while also wondering why they didn't hang on to him).
BACK AWAY SLOWLY AND NOBODY GETS HURT
Please, in the name of Kevin Kolb, don't start these guys:
yeah, never. He's only thrown one or none in eight career games against Washington.
-At least the Browns won't bench Derek Anderson this week, with Brady Quinn out for the season. But you should always strive to be smarter than the Browns, so leave Anderson on your bench as he alternately throws behind Braylon Edwards and watches passes bounce off Edwards' fingertips.
-Likewise, the Eagles' Donovan McNabb seems benchworthy for the foreseeable future. Great name recognition, and facing an Arizona pass defense that's allowed an NFL-high 22 TD passes, but he's a turnover/benching/rulebook joke waiting to happen.
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RUNNING BACKS:
ALL DAY LONG
-Overthinker Alert: Don't consider benching Matt Forte when the Bears and Vikings play for the NFC North lead. The Vikings' No. 2 run defense gives up just 3.1 yards a carry, but Forte's reached never-bench status.
-Speaking of NFC North workhorses, Green Bay's Ryan Grant should get another major helping of carries against Carolina. The Panthers are slipping against the run, and the Packers want to make sure their secondary stays off the field.
-In other news about guys who scored all the time last year and have been running strong despite not scoring this year, Joseph Addai (38 carries the last two weeks) should get back to the end zone as the Colts find a way to win and the Browns find a way to lose.
te had only one carry last week, but even if his coaches are ticked at him they'll need somebody to run over the winless Lions once Chris Johnson's exhausted. (The Lions may stack the line, but a line stacked with just Lions is like a regular team's normal defense.)
RED FLAGS
-Pittsburgh's Willie Parker has regressed into a guy you should only start after he has a good game under his belt. The once sturdy back has missed time in six of his last eight games. But certainly start Mewelde Moore if he starts instead.
-Forget your newfound excitement about the Saints' Pierre Thomas, this week, anyway. New Orleans can't play on the road, and the Bucs have allowed only one rushing touchdown all year.
-If you blew a high draft pick on the Rams' Steven Jackson, surely you're out of the fantasy playoff running and no longer caring. But if you're somehow still alive, don't bother starting him if he's healthy, or his replacement if he's not.
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WIDE RECEIVERS:
THROW HIM THE DARN BALL!
-The Cowboys are busy trying to book national airtime for Terrell Owens to complain about his workplace in hopes they've finally unlocked the secret to getting him open. Even barring that, Seattle's defense could be good for another 200-yard game.
ull the Lions to within about 20 points of victory.
-Now that Randy Moss is back in the picture for New England, so is Wes Welker (3 straight 100-yard games). He should again be wide open as the banged-up Steelers throw their few remaining defensive backs at Moss.
-Start feast-or-famine WR Lee Evans of Buffalo against the 49ers. He should be much closer to his fifth 100-yard day than the 0-yard day he had two weeks ago.
SHOW HIM THE DARN BENCH
-Don't ever start Cleveland's Braylon Edwards again because it just hurts too much to watch all those sure touchdown passes bouncing around near his feet. (He has an NFL-high 18 drops, at least 2 of them sure TDs.)
-The Raiders can't do much, but they are OK against the pass. That, plus the big holes in Oakland's run defense and Tyler Thigpen's interception festival last week, should compel the Chiefs to steer clear of Dwayne Bowe.
-Here's proof you can't always trust the stats: Green Bay ranks sixth against the pass after allowing a billion yards to the Saints. Though the Pack was exposed last week, continue benching any Carolina receiver but Steve Smith.
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FREE AGENT SHOPPING LIST:
Pick up these guys if they're available in your league: Browns QB Derek Anderson (starting again), Seahawks RB Maurice Morris (113 yards, TD), Eagles QB Kevin Kolb (eventual starter?), Falcons WR Harry Douglas (92 yards).
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T DO I KNOW?
Here's the best and worst of last week's projections:
Big Hits: I expected good things from Eli Manning (3 TDs), Warrick Dunn (127 total yards, TD) and Peyton Hillis (96 total yards, TD). I expected bad things from Brian Westbrook (34 yards) and Justin Gage (37 yards).
Big Misses: I blew it big time predicting subpar days for Trent Edwards (4 TDs) and Tony Romo (341 yards, 3 TDs). I expected success from Ronnie Brown (37 yards), Bernard Berrian (28 yards) and Gus Frerotte (120 yards, INT). I was kind of right expecting woes for Maurice Jones-Drew (4 yards rushing), but also kind of wrong (113 receiving). Likewise, I was right on that Tim Hightower (21 yards) would struggle on the ground, but then he scored twice.
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