|FANTASY FOOTBALL: Left out of the playoffs? Start thinking about 2008|
|Written by Admin|
|Wednesday, 12 December 2007 12:05|
By JOHN McFARLAND
Associated Press Writer
OK, fantasy football losers, enough with the whining about the season-destroying flops of Larry Johnson, Shaun Alexander and Marvin Harrison.
It's time to let go of the bitterness over Ronnie Brown's injury, Frank Gore's lack of carries and every other injustice that conspired to cost you a fantasy playoff spot.
Buck up, already, and get to work scheming for next season. Now is the perfect time to jettison the roster deadweight and do a little shopping for next year's long-shot keepers. So as a service to you, the fantasy failure, here's a look at some 2008 prospects worth snagging.
Quarterbacks worth an early shot include Minnesota's Tarvaris Jackson, Buffalo's Trent Edwards, Oakland's JaMarcus Russell, Philadelphia's Kevin Kolb and Houston's Sage Rosenfels.
As usual, DeAngelo Williams tops the running back prospects, but he might really be worthwhile this time as the whole Carolina offense could get blown up. Other backs worth tucking away include Cincinnati's Kenny Watson, Denver's Andre Hall, the Giants' Ahmad Bradshaw and Chicago's Garrett Wolfe. Receiver possibilities include Minnesota's Sidney Rice, Tennessee's Justin Gage, and Baltimore's Devard Darling.
As for you fortunate souls who made the playoff cut, here's a look at some players to start in Week 15, some to avoid and a few long shots who just may pan out:
A SAFE BET
-The good thing about the Cowboys-Packers race for home-field advantage is that neither division champ can let up just yet. Brett Favre and Tony Romo should nonchalantly go for 300 or so yards and two or three scores, but now is a good time to think about backups since both could be resting soon.
-Starting Arizona's Kurt Warner in the fantasy playoffs is so 2001. But it's an idea if you're a heavy underdog and need to gamble. Warner faces the Saints' ridiculous pass defense that has allowed big games to the likes of Chris Redman, Luke McCown and Quinn Gray.
-Ben Roethlisberger is ready for some redemption after getting thumped by the Patriots. Throw out the quagmire game against Miami and he's averaging three TD passes at home since November. He also faces the Jaguars' 27th-ranked pass defense.
-Maybe Jon Kitna was misquoted and actually expected 10 losses this season. No matter for fantasy geeks. Kitna should put up respectable stats while his Lions drop their sixth straight against the Chargers.
-Speaking of maligned QBs playing in San Diego on Sunday, Philip Rivers should enjoy the change from the brutal Titans last week to the Lions' 31st-ranked pass defense.
TAKE A SHOT
-You're in rough shape if Tampa Bay's Jeff Garcia is even an option, but he could pan out. He's old and returning from injury but faces Falcons defenders who were demoralized even before their coach suddenly decided he was just kidding about that five-year contract.
BACK AWAY SLOWLY AND NOBODY GETS HURT
Please, in the name of Rex Grossman, don't start these guys:
-Philadelphia's Donovan McNabb is so maddeningly unpredictable that it's hard to count on him in the playoffs. He may put up a 400-yard game, or he may have a 100-yarder. He had a TD and two interceptions in his last game against Dallas.
-Buffalo's Trent Edwards did throw four touchdowns last week and does face a Cleveland defense that has allowed an NFL-high 27 TD passes, but the Browns' defense has tightened up, and it's really hard to catch a frozen football.
-If you're desperate for a playoff starter, Baltimore's Kyle Boller is always lurking around the waiver wire. But there's typically no reason to throw against Miami.
ALL DAY LONG
-Don't the Patriots have to at least practice running a little bit before the playoffs? Maybe Laurence Maroney will get some carries when they're up by 50 on the tattletale Jets in the So What if We Cheated Bowl.
-Might the slumping Ravens fall victim to the winless Dolphins? Not with Willis McGahee running on Miami's NFL-worst run defense (155.4 yards a game). In the Dolphins' latest bid for that elusive victory, they allowed not just one but two 100-yard rushers.
-Buffalo and Cleveland are somehow playing for more than the title of snowiest place. Marshawn Lynch looked good in his return from injury and should be the Bills' main weapon in this unlikely battle of playoff contenders.
-It doesn't matter if you have Adrian Peterson or Chester Taylor in the Vikings' time share. Both are good to go against a sliding Chicago defense, especially with the possibility of new Bears starter Kyle Orton handing the ball over for some short TD runs.
-Tampa Bay's Earnest Graham should have little trouble against the Falcons, who are busy counting the days until the season finally ends. Graham has scored six times in his past five games.
HE COULD FIND A SEAM
-The Colts' Kenton Keith could get in for a score or two after Joseph Addai is too tired to pile up any more yards on a pathetic Raiders' defense that has allowed a league-worst 21 TD runs.
-How have the Steelers allowed just three touchdowns rushing all year? Starting either Jacksonville's Fred Taylor or Maurice Jones-Drew seems a quick way to end your fantasy season.
-What's gone wrong with Washington's Clinton Portis? He's averaging just 2 yards a carry the past two weeks, and facing a stacked line against a fill-in QB won't help.
-You'd have to be absurdly desperate to start Miami's Samkon Gado, even after his two-TD game last week. And it doesn't help that he'll be going up against the Ravens' still mildly tough run defense.
THROW HIM THE DARN BALL!
-Dallas' Terrell Owens always likes to show up the Eagles, his former team, and Tony Romo surely is tired of hearing about how Owens needs to get more than the three catches he had last week.
-Apparently the Giants' Eli Manning has been given permission to throw again, but only to Plaxico Burress. So try to forget that Burress basically has one leg and remember he's facing Washington's slumping pass defense.
-New Orleans' Marques Colston and David Patten both could put up some big numbers against Arizona in what should be a meaningless game between 6-7 teams but somehow has playoff implications.
-The Buccaneers' Joey Galloway should be happy to see fellow geezer Jeff Garcia return. Galloway hasn't scored in three weeks but should fix that against the Falcons' collapsing defense.
-Green Bay's Greg Jennings has 11 touchdowns in 11 games, so I'll go way out on a limb and suggest he'll score one or two against St. Louis. (Here's a lesson in patience: I was so angry with his early season injury woes that I cut him before his first touchdown.)
MAYBE THROW HIM THE DARN BALL?
-The Jaguars usually don't like to throw unless they have to, and when that event occurs Reggie Williams is the guy. He scores about every fourth time he catches a pass, with three TDs in his last four games.
SHOW HIM THE DARN BENCH
-Sad that Kyle Orton, of all people, can skew fantasy playoffs so dramatically. The new Bears starter could win it all for whoever has the Vikings defense, or lose it all for the poor sap who's counting on balls falling somewhere near Bernard Berrian.
-The Colts' Anthony Gonzalez is hitting his stride filling in for Marvin Harrison, but Indy should mostly be executing handoffs against the Raiders.
-There's not much reason to start Redskins receivers with new starter Todd Collins lofting 4-yarders all day.
FREE AGENT SHOPPING LIST
Pick up these guys if they're available in your league: RB Aaron Stecker (100 yards), WR Jabar Gaffney (122 yards, TD), RB Samkon Gado (2 TDs), QB Trent Edwards (4 TDs) and WR Jerheme Urban (123 yards, TD).
WHAT DO I KNOW?
Here's the best and worst of last week's projections:
Big Hits: I expected success for Matt Hasselbeck (4 TDs), Drew Brees (328 yards, 3 TDs), Ryan Grant (156 yards, TD), Marshawn Lynch (107 yards), Willie Parker against the Patriots (124 yards), Bryant Johnson (TD) and Braylon Edwards (TD). I expected failure for Frank Gore (0 TDs, 2 fumbles) and Donald Driver (38 yards).
Big Misses: I was right that the Ravens would limit Joseph Addai (32 yards rushing), but didn't expect him to score three times. I expected big things for Carson Palmer (2 INTS), Vince Young (121 yards, 2 INTs) and Patrick Crayton (46 yards). I projected a flop for Thomas Jones (106 yards) and didn't realize at the time that Sage Rosenfels (3 TDs) is the only Texan QB who can remain upright.