Dissenting Opinions, Week 15: Arian, Ahmad and a T.O. catfight

Andy Behrens
December 18, 2009
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By now, you know the basics. Every Friday during the NFL season we review the Yahoo! weekly position ranks. If an expert breaks from the herd, they'll be asked to show their work. We focus on names near the start/sit line in public leagues, or on complete acts of lunacy. Let's play the feud…

Terrell Owens(notes) – Evans rank 9, Yahoo! composite rank 28

To ensure full disclosure, the Noise's bullish ranking was influenced by Owens' divinely inspired Tweets and, to a slightly lesser extent, the putridity of the Patriots secondary.

New England is incredibly vulnerable to explosive pass plays. Even marginal passing offenses (i.e. Miami) have reached a high level of achievement. Over the past five weeks, the musket-less Pats have surrendered 10 touchdowns and six 80-yard performances to wideouts, equal to the second-most fantasy points allowed. T.O., whose skill set has eroded only slightly, has resurrected his season under Perry Fewell's watch. He ranks No. 8 among receivers in points per game since Week 9. Though they've struggled over the past two weeks, the Bills are taking aggressive shots downfield with regularity. Owens managed just two catches in their first meeting, but a marquee effort should be anticipated in the rematch. Alex Van Pelt will surely call his number early and often. Expect the five-time All-Pro to flirt with the century mark en route to a top-10 performance. -Noise

More T.O. – Pianowski rank 42, Y! composite 28

This looks like one of the easiest calls of the week – you steer clear of the Buffalo passing game. Bill Belichick's Patriots have owned Lee Evans(notes) for years (Evans averages 36 yards per game against New England and has never scored against them) and Owens was held to two piddly catches for 46 yards when the Bills and Pats met opening night. (Look at the picture above, that's Belichick telling Owens "We're doubling you every snap. Good luck.")

Do you really want your fantasy life twisting in the wintry Buffalo wind, resting on the arc of a Ryan Fitzpatrick(notes) pass? You have better options available. Look harder. They're out there. While this version of the New England defense isn't up to earlier standards, Belichick is still a master at scheming against an opponent's most dangerous weapon, and he'll find a way to limit the TO damage. -Pianow

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Ahmad Bradshaw(notes) – Behrens rank 20, Y! composite 35

Yes, Bradshaw is playing on two peg legs. And yes, he's involved in a job-share with Brandon Jacobs(notes). But we've seen the old explosiveness from Bradshaw in recent weeks, as he's gained 148 total yards on 25 touches in New York's previous two games (including 18 for 101 and a touchdown against the Eagles in Week 14). He's back to being the player you routinely started ahead of Jacobs earlier in the year. In fact, Bradshaw received two more touches than Jacobs last Sunday. Washington's middle-of-the-pack run defense shouldn't scare you off, especially when Albert Haynesworth(notes) (ankle) is not fully ambulatory. -AB

Arian Foster(notes) – Evans rank 12, Y! composite 24

Many believe ranking an unproven back as a starter, let alone inside the top 15, is Andy Dick-crazy. Though ambiguity routinely creeps into my work, I'm not loony.

The St. Louis Rams are the NFL's version of the Salvation Army. They're unbelievably generous. Since Week 9, the perennial NFC doormat has yielded 5.0 yards per carry, 174.6 total yards per game and nine scores to rushers, equal to the most fantasy points allowed. The swine flu infestation only enhances their hideousness.

Yes, Gary Kubiak graduated with honors from the Mike Shanahan School of Sinister, but we believe the coach was honest when he said Foster will be featured prominently moving forward. It's not an outlandish assumption. Ball security issues have plagued Ryan Moats(notes) and Chris Brown is, well, too Lurchy. Foster, who isn't immune to ball security issues of his own, possesses enough versatility, power and athleticism to accumulate sensational numbers. Then again, a corpulent three-toed sloth could also rack appreciable stats versus the Rams. Someone in that backfield will splash the invisible pool. I have faith in Foster’s cannonball abilities. -Noise

More Foster – Funston rank 34, Y! composite 24

Apparently Big Noise hasn't owned a Houston running back this year. If he did, he'd know that trying to mine fantasy gold from this convoluted excuse for an NFL backfield is an exercise in futility. I've rode the Steve Slaton(notes) rollercoaster. I've been stood up by Ryan Moats on a few occasions. I do have my limits, though, and can proudly say I haven't yet been duped into believing that Chris Brown was an answer to any of my running back issues.

There's just not a lot to love about the league's 2nd-worst rushing attack getting sliced into thirds. So what if head coach Gary Kubiak had some nice things to say about Foster earlier in the week. He also expressed some concerns about his inexperience after a less than glowing Thursday practice. Said Kubiak: "He's got a long way to go. He's a young player. A little inconsistent, but he's got a lot of talent … He's getting an opportunity here and he needs to understand how important this opportunity is."

Doesn't sound to me like a player I'm willing to hang top 12 expectations on in Week 15. In fact, I'd call a ranking like that irresponsible in a week so crucial to the fantasy football community. To be honest, I'd call the act a cry for attention. If the Noisey one hits the lottery, it will resonate for much longer than if he's wrong. I'll stick with boring, old common sense, which means I might plug in Foster as a flex play, but starting him over, say, DeAngelo Williams(notes), Frank Gore(notes) or Cedric Benson(notes)? C'mon … - BeFun

Tim Hightower(notes) – Pianowski rank 34, Y! composite 28

The Hightower vs. Wells battle is over, peeps. Beanie Wells(notes) won. You should have received a memo via text message. Hightower has just eight carries the last two weeks and he fumbled away two of those; that's the sort of thing that gets you parked on the bench. Meanwhile, Wells has 28 carries the last two games and he's coming off a nifty 103 total yards at San Francisco (though to be fair, he lost a fumble, too). Look for Wells to go off in Detroit, while Hightower will be lucky to get anything past a few endgame carries. -Pianow

Deion Branch(notes) – Behrens rank 39, Y! composite 54

This one is less about the player and more about the opportunity and matchup. Nate Burleson(notes) will be sidelined due to a high ankle sprain – presumably for multiple weeks – and Branch will replace him in the starting lineup for the Seahawks. Seattle is at home in Week 15 facing Tampa Bay, one of the NFL's more generous defenses. The Bucs are currently tied for the third-most TD passes allowed (24). Don't talk to me about their statistical improvement against the pass over the past three weeks, either. Tampa faced Chris Redman(notes), Matt Moore(notes) and Kellen Clemens(notes) in Weeks 12-14, and lost to all of them.

Branch has been a steady if unspectacular performer in a supporting role (TD in Week 13, five receptions in Week 14), and he's setup for a much greater workload. Seattle rookie Deon Butler(notes) is a receiver of interest, too, in the deepest leagues.


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