Originally posted on FOX Sports  |  Last updated 11/23/11
Fantasy Fever is a weekly piece that provides fantasy advice on lineup calls, sleepers, waiver-wire moves and rookie spotlights, along with the occasional ramble or four. Enjoy. Start 'Em QB: Eli Manning, Giants Owners may be hesitant to reinsert Eli into the lineup after a forgettable foray into Philly last week (18-for-35, 264 yards, one touchdown, two turnovers). However, though New Orleans is conceding a middling 239.9 yards per contest, the Saints have collected just five interceptions, lowest in the conference. One must factor in the added distraction of a jam-packed Superdome on Monday night; still, feel free to utilize Manning down in the Big Easy. Other starts: Matthew Stafford, Josh Freeman RB: Chris Johnson, Titans Oh, how the mighty have fallen: 12 carries for 13 yards in Week 11's battle with the Falcons. For all you math scholars out there, that computes to a whopping 1.08 yards per attempt, a figure that rivals immortals such as Ki-Jana Carter, Curtis Enis and Rashaan Salaam. "Immortals" is the word I'm looking for, right? All is not lost for the former All-Pro. Tennessee takes on a Tampa Bay squad that is relinquishing the second-most fantasy points to running backs on the season. And while Johnson proprietors may harbor aversion for last weekend's feeble exhibition, the Titans' back did submit a 130-yard achievement in Week 10 (albeit against the Panthers) and has continued to be active in the passing game (38 receptions on the season). Expect a bounce-back performance from Johnson this Sunday. Other starts: Marshawn Lynch, Rashard Mendenhall WR: Roddy White, Falcons White delivered his first 100-yard feat since September against the Titans in Week 11, hauling in seven catches for 147 yards. More noteworthy were the plethora of passes in White's direction, as Matt Ryan fed a game-high 14 targets to his primary receiver. Envision further fruition from White with the Vikings up next, as Minnesota has surrendered the sixth-most points to wide receivers this season. It's also worth mentioning that Julio Jones may be sidelined again with a hamstring issue. While Jones' presence prohibits opposing defenses from locking down on White, the rookie's absence should correlate to extended looks in the passing game. Other starts: Brandon Lloyd, Victor Cruz TE: Kellen Winslow, Buccaneers Lot to like about Winslow this week: the Titans are yielding the third-most points to tight ends; starting LB Barrett Ruud may miss the contest with a groin injury; Winslow's season-high output of nine receptions for 132 yards last week. Many of the upper echelon fantasy performers at tight end face resistant defenses in Week 12, vaulting Winslow as one of the better plays at the position. Josh Freeman had his best offensive display to date last Sunday, giving hope that the stagnant Buccaneer offense is close to awakening from its' slumber. Other starts: Dustin Keller, Jared Cook DEF: Atlanta Falcons Combating a neophyte under center would be reason enough to start the Falcons. The fact that Adrian Peterson will be in sweats on the sideline, enabling the start of Toby Gerhart? Icing on the cake. Other starts: Houston Texans, Oakland Raiders Sit 'Em QB: Joe Flacco, Ravens Granted, Flacco has averaged 290 yards per contest over his last four games. Unfortunately, that number is quickly quelled by an unimpressive touchdown-interception ratio of four-to-three in that time span. Down the fantasy homestretch, I like Flacco's forecast, with Cleveland on the slate twice, as well as Indianapolis and San Diego. Alas, this week's Turkey Day tilt with San Francisco foretells failure. San Francisco is statistically better against the run (suffocating opponents to a league-low 73.9 yards per outing), but the Niner secondary is no slouch themselves, with 15 interceptions ranking second in the NFL. Flacco seems destined for one of his epic flameouts this week, and as such, belongs on your bench. Other sits: Ryan Fitzpatrick, Tim Tebow RB: Toby Gerhart, Vikings Gerhart is getting gobbled up in almost every league this week with the Pro Bowler Peterson expected to be sidelined against the Falcons. Unfortunately for Gerhart and his newly minted holders, the Falcons are squashing adversarial ground games to 85.4 yards per game, second-best in the league. Though Christian Ponder has been adequate at quarterback, he's not taking any heat off the Falcons' focus on stopping the running attack. Only start Gerhart in dire circumstances. Other sits: Fred Jackson, Beanie Wells WR: Dwayne Bowe, Chiefs The good: despite Tyler Palko taking over at signal caller for the Chiefs, Bowe managed to produce, posting seven receptions for 87 yards off nine targets against the Patriots on Monday night. The bad: Kansas City welcomes a Pittsburgh team to Arrowhead this week that is allowing the third-lowest fantasy production to wide receivers in football. The ugly: did we mention Tyler Palko is his quarterback? Other sits: Santonio Holmes, Jabar Gaffney TE: Vernon Davis, 49ers Davis turned in his first commendable contest since Week 3 versus the Cardinals on Sunday, finishing the day with five receptions for 67 yards and a score (of course, who doesn't have a solid showing against Arizona?). This rejuvenation won't last long, as the Ravens are the second-toughest team against tight ends on the season. Davis remains a red zone threat, and a battered Ray Lewis will certainly aid his cause. However, chances are that better options exist on your league's waiver wire (Heath Miller, Ed Dickson) than Davis this week. Other sits: Jermichael Finley, Marcedes Lewis DEF: Detroit Lions If Cam Newton was able to hang 35 points on the Lions, what kind of carnage can Aaron Rodgers inflict? Other sits: Green Bay Packers, New England Patriots The Armageddon Head Scratcher of the Week Granted, a movie based on a team of rag-tag drillers saving the world by detonating a nuke on an inbound asteroid should be taken with a grain of salt. However, there remain a few storylines that defy logic and reason that need to be examined with greater scrutiny. These preposterous plot points will be analyzed along with a questionable call from the previous week of football. What's more fascinating: that Aerosmith has just one certified No. 1 Billboard single, or that said hit derived from the Armageddon soundtrack? If I was an Aerosmith fan (and really, who isn't), I feel like this truth should be extremely offensive. Not saying "I Don't Wanna Miss a Thing" is a bad song, it's just not Aerosmith , you know? It's like Vin Diesel getting credit for his work in Boiler Room rather than The Fast and Furious franchise. Just doesn't seem right. Speaking of not seeming right, how about referee Ron Winter overturning Jermaine Gresham's late nine-yard score in the Cincinnati-Baltimore slugfest last Sunday? Technically, the rule was interpreted correctly, but Gresham had possession of the ball as he crossed the goal line AND took a step into the end zone before releasing the pigskin. FOX's own Mike Pereira, former NFL Vice President of Officiating, confirmed this notion as well, stating his belief that the call should not have been overturned. Worse, it took away from the drama that was unfolding between the AFC combatants. All I know is this: Ed Hochuli definitely lets that play stand. Waiver Wire Watch: Nate Burleson, Lions Normally I avoid Burleson in this forum, as he has historically failed to facilitate fantasy fulfillment as a waiver-wire option. Nevertheless, the highly-anticipated Thursday matchup with the Packers should provide a platform for Burleson to make amends for his past transgressions. Owned in just 27.8 percent of FOXSports.com fantasy leagues, the Nevada product has been on a roll, bringing in 15 receptions the past two weeks. With the Packers forfeiting a conference-high 305.7 yards per game to receivers, as well as the second-most fantasy points to wideouts in the league, Burleson projects to be a smart start. The Real Debate You won't believe this, but Tim Tebow is in the news. The radio has not been a kind medium to Young Jedi Tebow, with two former Denver quarterbacks calling his play into question. Jake Plummer seemed to take more affront with Tebow's faith rather than his on-the-field feats, and since Plummer sounded like a jaded and jealous ex-boyfriend, let's put that on the backburner. Besides, Bronco patriarch John Elway's continued lack of commitment and criticism of Tebow has garnered the most headlines. But the discussion shouldn't center on Elway's trite and antagonistic behavior towards his quarterback; rather, the Real Debate should be this: why isn't Elway getting more flack for releasing Kyle Orton when he could have received compensation earlier in the season? True, the Broncos will save somewhere along the lines of $2.5 million if another franchise claims Orton off waivers, but clearly Elway isn't the best talent evaluator. Not only did he hinder Tebow's progress by sitting him for the first two months of the season, but lost a potential mid-round draft pick in the process by not shipping Orton in August. Just because you can get it done on the gridiron doesn't mean you have the chops to work in a front office. Maybe spend some more time appraising your team instead of ripping your player, no? Fantasy Flyer: Matt Leinart, Texans Why not? Andre Johnson is set to return, Owen Daniels is one of the premier performers at his position, Jacoby Jones is always a threat to break away in the secondary and, oh yeah, the Texans boast the services of Arian Foster and Ben Tate. Forget about managing this arsenal of weapons, as long as Leinart doesn't trip over his own feet, he should be good for 18-20 points a game. Leinart never received a fair shake in the desert, and the former Heisman winner may be on a war path to prove his merit to the pigskin community. Houston's Week 12 opponent, Jacksonville, has been one of the better defenses in the past month, but for a flyer, you can do a lot worse than Leinart. Any Given Sunday Pep Talk Sometimes NFLers need a little inspiration, or even a kick in the behind, to get properly motivated. Luckily for us, Al Pacino will be reprising his Coach Tony D'Amato character to provide players the necessary pep talk to enable fantasy success. This week's recipient: Michael Vick. "Take a seat, Michael. How you doing today, son? Can't imagine what your body must be feeling like after the poundin' you've taking this year. In fact, that's the reason I called ya in. "Michael, as fantasy owners, we love ya. No one brings more excitement and upside to our teams. You're truly one of the most fascinating and electrifying athletes of our generation, no one's denying that. And what you did as a fantasy free-agent in 2010 will never be forgotten, this I promise. "Unfortunately son, we live in a world that minimalizes that past and only cares about the present. What happened five minutes ago don't matter no more, if you get my drift. Michael, we've got the fantasy playoffs coming up, and we need to know if we should be worried. We know you'll suit up, 'cuz you're a competitor. But playing hurt ain't heroic in fantasy, especially if you get taken out by the second quarter. "We want to start ya, we truly do. Not many quarterbacks can throw up the fireworks that you can in fantasy. But not many quarterbacks are a liability every time they leave the pocket, either. You're a good player, Michael, but you're no good if you're on the sidelines. We need ya upright, son. "I bring this up because there's word in the streets that you might give it a go against the Patriots this week. Son, I hate to break it to ya, but let me tell you what everyone else already knows: the Eagles aren't making the playoffs. Whether you play this week or not, that reality ain't changing. "Be that as it may, why don't you watch this week's game from the sidelines to get yourself ready for what really matters: the fantasy playoffs. A lot of teams are depending on you to be at your best in a couple weeks. We need you to be healthy, to flash that brilliance that filled highlight shows in the first half of last season. And in the state you're in right now, that ain't going to come to fruition. "So get yourself right, sit back and enjoy the proceedings from the bench. We won't think less of you for it; if anything, you'll earn our respect. That way, when your number is called, you can go OUT and open up the biggest can of WHOOP *** the fantasy realm has ever seen!" Rookie Review: Jake Locker, Titans Matt Hasselbeck is set to start for the Titans this week, but that doesn't diminish Locker's exploits in the second half against Atlanta last Sunday. Taking over for the injured Hasselbeck and down 23-3, Locker led two touchdown drives and nearly pulled off the comeback, falling 23-17 to the Falcons. The rookie out of Washington finished 9-for-19 for 140 yards and two touchdowns and brought a breath of fresh air to a stagnant offense. If Hasselbeck falters or if the Titans fall out of the playoff picture, expect Locker to be under center come December. This Week in Kevin Walter The Texans were off last week, so we can only presume how Walter kept himself busy. And by "presume," I mean "wildly speculate." Trust me, I spent an inordinate amount of time listing the most likely scenarios how K-Walt spent his free time, and I've concluded only three possible conclusions: high-altitude training reminiscent of the montages from Rocky IV ; hunting, using his bare hands as weapons; challenging The Most Interesting Man in the World to a Most Interesting Man-off. What route he went down, we will never know; however, one thing is for certain: whatever endeavor he undertook, the Pride of Ypsilanti undoubtedly succeeded. Walter's 2011 Stats: 25 receptions, 298 yards, two touchdowns. Walter's Cornerback Body Count: Eight. Gatorade Shower Goes to: Vince Young, Eagles No one gave the former Longhorn much of a chance against the Giants in New York, but Young came through for the struggling Eagles, tossing for 258 yards and two touchdowns in Philadelphia's 17-10 upset of the G-Men. Personal Foul on: Chris Johnson, Titans Yes, he was recommended as a "start" above, but it bears repeating: 13 YARDS ON 12 CARRIES! From a man who crossed the 2,000 yard barrier two seasons ago! Can you imagine how bad Johnson would be this year if he appeared on the Madden cover? FOX Fantasy Football Homepage | Football Chat Central
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