The emergence of seventh-round pick Peyton Hillis once again proves Denver coach Mike Shanahan can squeeze production out of just about any running back.
It also proves the importance of free agency in fantasy football, even this late in the season.
As an example, consider one of my fantasy teams. (I know, nobody wants to hear about some guy's random fantasy outfit, but just hear me out because there's a bigger point here.)
After limping to an 0-4 start thanks to some bum luck and various draft-day miscues, I began slowly assembling a waiver-wire all-star team: Eddie Royal, Dominic Rhodes, Correll Buckhalter, Mewelde Moore, Deuce McAllister, Michael Pittman and yes, the great Peyton Hillis. Thanks to those swell moves, my team's gone 5-2 since - with two flukish losses - and is on the cusp of sneaking into the playoffs.
re aggressiveness, especially because free agents are easier to get now that most losing fantasy owners have gone back to paying attention to their jobs and loved ones.
As you hope Hillis doesn't give into peer pressure and join all the other Denver backs on the injured reserve list, here's a look at some players to start and some to avoid in Week 12:
-The Giants' Eli Manning may actually be forced to throw for once in order to keep up with Kurt Warner's standard 350 yards passing. Manning has six touchdowns while throwing sparingly in his past three games, and the Cardinals have allowed an NFL-high 19 TD passes.
-The Colts have allowed an NFL-low two touchdown passes, but San Diego's Philip Rivers should have at least that many. The Colts haven't been as inept as usual against the run the past few weeks, so throwing is now required against them. And this should be a shootout.
-Start Tennessee's Kerry Collins, not the Jets' Brett Favre, in the battle of graybeard feel-good stories. Defenses have pretty much no choice but to stack the line against the Titans' run game, resulting in five Collins TD passes the past two games.
g day for Gus Frerotte in the battle of preseason Super Bowl aspirants who now dream of going over .500.
Please, in the name of Patrick Ramsey, don't start these guys:
-It may be fantasy football blasphemy, but it's still a good idea to sit Dallas' Tony Romo if - and only if - you've got a solid backup. The 49ers' terrible run defense offers the perfect chance for him to keep slowly working his way back.
-Chicago's Kyle Orton has a wonderful matchup against the loose confederation of humans known as the Rams, but the Bears' offense is really struggling and the Rams are even worse at stopping the run than all the other things they're bad at.
-Don't be tempted to start Buffalo's Trent Edwards against the Chiefs' No. 27 pass defense. The Bills have played crummy teams already, and Edwards still hasn't had more than one TD in a game.
-Miami's Ronnie Brown was good for five touchdowns back when the Patriots had no idea the football could be snapped to somebody other than the QB. Now that the Dolphins are better and the Patriots worse, it's safe to pencil him in for six scores.
and a score. And now he gets the No. 31 run defense of the Chiefs (165 yards a game).
-With Earnest Graham out for the year, the Bucs are suddenly looking pretty clever for signing 57-year-old Warrick Dunn. He should look like a young Buc again against winless Detroit's NFL-worst run defense.
-There's no way Denver coach Mike Shanahan can resist the temptation to simultaneously prove his genius by feeding Hillis and to kick the Raiders while they're even more down than usual.
-Usually Philadelphia's Brian Westbrook is a guy you never bench, but he only has one 100-yard game, hasn't scored in three weeks and plays for a team that actually TIED the Bengals. Plus, the proud Ravens D that gave up more than 200 yards rushing last week won't get trampled twice in a row.
-Arizona's Tim Hightower seemed to be a major fantasy steal once he officially displaced the worn-out Edgerrin James. But the Giants can be hard to run on, and the Cardinals aren't all that interested in running the ball anyhow.
-Antonio Pittman may be starting, but he's also a Ram.
and only six have yielded more passing yards.
-Cleveland's Braylon Edwards - on pace to become the first offensive player to lead the NFL in pass deflections - suddenly found some hands last week. He should have a second straight 100-yard game against the Texans, who offer the ideal fantasy combination of a defense that's easy to score on and an offense that keeps things close.
-Anybody seen Washington's Santana Moss lately? He's amassed 43 yards the past two weeks and has gone scoreless in five of his last seven games. That should change as the deep threat faces Seattle's 31st-ranked pass defense that's allowed a league-high 10 passes of 40 or more yards.
-In other news regarding big-play threats who've gone missing, Minnesota's Bernard Berrian should bounce back against the Jags. He had scored in four straight before declining to do anything the past two weeks.
-Anybody really expect the Titans' Justin Gage to put up another game of 100 yards and two scores? It just doesn't seem possible for a Tennessee receiver to score three weeks in a row.
-It's pretty safe to say Jabar Gaffney's first big game (86 yards, TD) for the Patriots this year was a fluke.
Pick up these guys if they're available in your league: Rams RB Antonio Pittman (starter), Giants RB Ahmad Bradshaw (more playing time down the stretch?), Titans QB Kerry Collins (3 TDs), Broncos RB Tatum Bell (an injury or two away from starting), Titans WR Justin Gage (147 yards, 2 TDs), Packers RB Brandon Jackson (looked sharp, in case Ryan Grant goes down).
Here's the best and worst of last week's projections:
Big Hits: I thought Brandon Jacobs (2 TDs) would be tougher than the Ravens. I expected good things for Tyler Thigpen (2 TDs), Shaun Hill (2 TDs), Aaron Rodgers (2 TDs), Braylon Edwards (104 yards) and Marvin Harrison (77 yards, TD). I foresaw bad things for Lee Evans (goose egg), Kyle Orton (133 yards, 0 TDs) and Cedric Benson (42 yards rushing).
Big Misses: I didn't expect much from Maurice Jones-Drew (2 TDs), Willie Parker (115 yards) or Calvin Johnson (TD). I did expect much from Brady Quinn (0 TDs), Ricky Williams (49 yards), Bernard Berrian (46 yards), Jerious Norwood (43 total yards) and Muhsin Muhammad (16 yards).

Top NFL Public Bets

NFL Top Stories

Thumbnail Eagles vs. Cowboys Total Prediction Will Sunday night's NFC East matchup between the Philadelphia Eagles and Dallas Cowboys fall under the betting total when the two teams...
Thumbnail Patriots vs. Raiders Total Prediction Will the New England Patriots and Oakland Raiders light up the scoreboard on Sunday afternoon when the two teams meet at 4:25 p.m. ET in Mexico...
Thumbnail Bills vs. Chargers Total Prediction Will the Buffalo Bills and Los Angeles Chargers struggle to score on Sunday when the two teams meet at 4:05 p.m. ET? Let's dive into this...
Thumbnail Chiefs vs. Giants Total Prediction Is the under a good bet on Sunday afternoon when the New York Giants host the Kansas City Chiefs at 1:00 p.m. ET?
Thumbnail Bengals vs. Broncos Total Pick Can the Denver Broncos and Cincinnati Bengals get out of their offensive...

NFL Team Pages