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Flames: ‘Jingle Bell Rock,’ Bears RB could put trophy under tree

Brad Evans
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Each week the Noise highlights 12 somewhat obscure, unobvious names who he believes are destined to torch the competition. For those playing the Flames home edition, each player must be started in fewer than 60 percent of Yahoo! leagues to qualify. As an accountability advocate, results, whether genius or moronic, will post the following week using the revamped scoring system shown here . If you're a member of TEAM HUEVOS, post your Week 16 Flames in the comments.

Jake Locker, Ten, QB, (Week 16 QB Rank: 10, 1-percent started)
Matchup: vs. Jax
Someone, anyone please slip a packet of laxatives into Mike Munchak's Christmas cookies. That way, the coach can expel every last bit of Matt Hasselbeck crap holed up in his body. The head coach's unwavering devotion to the veteran is dumbfounding. Hassy, ineffective last week against woeful Indianapolis, was, again, completely outclassed by the younger, more exuberant Locker. The rookie isn't the most accurate passer, but his energy, vocal leadership, cannon arm and mobility are infectious. When he's entered games, the Titans' offense has come to life, evident in his fourth quarter showing last week in Indy (11-16, 108-1-9). Stubbornly, Munchak still refuses to fully embrace the rookie telling the Tennessean Monday Hasselbeck, despite throwing two interceptions, didn't deserve any blame for Sunday's embarrassing loss. At this point, he's still backing Hassy, but it could be early-week gamesmanship. With support for the coach shrinking faster than Tennessee's playoff hopes, Munchak needs to take a page out of John Fox's playbook and succumb to fan demands. If he does have a change of heart, Locker is a sensational play against a Jags defense decimated by injuries. Corners Drew Coleman and Ashton Youboty, burned often by Roddy White and Julio Jones last week, are a very exploitable pair. Once an unyielding bunch against the pass, Jacksonville has given up 7.5 yards per attempt and 19.3 fantasy points per game (standard formats) to QBs since Week 12. Because of the youngster's running abilities and rocket arm, he's a poor man's version of Cam Newton or Michael Vick. Give him an opportunity, and he very well could lead you to the Promised Land. That is, if Santa Claus gifts Munchak a clue.
Fearless Forecast (as starter): 19-31, 238 passing yards, 1 passing touchdown, 1 interception, 38 rushing yards, 1 rushing touchdown, 25.7 fantasy points

Kahlil Bell, Chi, RB (Week 16 RB Rank: 13, 3-percent started)
Matchup: at GB
On Christmas night, look for Bell to mix-n-mingle in his jingling feet. Last week against Seattle, the undrafted UCLA product showed the world he was good at catching the football, a skill, he noted post-game, only his mom believed he possessed. Bell completely outplayed Marion Barber who was still reeling from his disastrous finish in Denver two weeks ago. The backup flashed not only sticky fingers, but excellent burst in the ground game. A true downhill runner, he picked up tough yards between the tackles, tallying 4.3 yards per carry against the 'Hawks' generally inflexible D. Overall, he totaled 108 yards with a receiving touchdown, playing 45 of 63 snaps. That performance, according to the Chicago Tribune, could net him the start against Green Bay. Versatile rusher's have paid their owners considerable cheddar when matched against the Packers. Clay Mathews and company have allowed 6.5 receptions and 54.5 receiving yards per game to RBs this year, the most in Fantasyland. Matt Forte snagged seven passes for 80 yards in the rivals' first meeting. Because of Bell's chemistry with fellow second-teamer Caleb Hanie, Green Bay's unwillingness to defend the flat and the likely play-from-behind element, the Week 15 wonder could wow again, especially in PPR leagues. Jingle around the clock. (UPDATE: Josh McCown is expected to start over Hanie according to ESPN Chicago. McCown stinks, but Bell should remain the centerpiece of Mike Martz's offensive game-plan.)

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Fearless Forecast: 14 carries, 57 rushing yards, 6 receptions, 54 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 21.6 fantasy points

Jonathan Stewart, Car, RB (Week 16 RB Rank: 16, 33-percent started)
Matchup: vs. TB
Quietly, Stew Beef has matured into a quality all-around back. Rarely deployed as a receiver during his days at Oregon and first three seasons with the Panthers, the rusher has, as Cam Newton revealed last week, "negotiated his way" into a larger role in the pass game. With 395 receiving yards on the season, he's now the franchise's all-time leader in the category, breaking Nick Going's team-record from 2004 last week in Houston. Also making strides as a pass blocker, he's truly developed into a well-rounded force. This week against the sword-less Bucs, he should maximize he newfound skills. In the clubs' first clash back in Week 13, Stewart powered his way to 99 total yards and a touchdown, averaging 5.7 yards per carry. Though he'll continue to split snaps with DeAngelo Williams, the fourth-year back is a solid bet for at least 15 touches. Tampa is the league's most generous run defense giving up 4.8 yards per carry, 173 total yards and 1.4 touchdowns per game to RBs. Since Week 7, a span of eight games, nine backs have eclipsed the 12-point mark against it. Count on him as a RB2.
Fearless Forecast: 13 carries, 66 rushing yards, 3 receptions 18 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 16.7 fantasy points

Demaryius Thomas, Den, WR (Week 16 WR Rank: 18, 19-percent started)
Matchup: at Buf
Thomas, a disciple of the Mile High Messiah, has become an integral part of Denver's vertical game. Just a few short weeks ago that certainly wasn't the case. Plagued by a crippling bout of banana hands, the wideout struggled with poor body-positioning, which led to a number of botched opportunities. However, he and Tim Tebow, have shown more consistency of late, indicative in their bubbling chemistry. Over the past three weeks, Thomas has averaged 11 targets per game. In total, he's contributed 17.3 points per week during that stretch (112.7 yards per game), placing him on top of the WR throne in that category. At 6-foot-3, 229-pounds, Thomas is quite the physical specimen. His blend of size, strength and speed are reminiscent of his predecessor, Brandon Marshall. Facing a Buffalo defense fresh off giving up 84 yards and a TD to B-Marsh, the carbon-copy could inflict similar damage. According to Pro Football Focus, Drayton Florence and Aaron Williams rank 67th and 84th, respectively, in coverage. Each has given up a catch rate well above 60-percent. Tebow is always a bit of an adventure throwing the ball, but expect the QB and Thomas to connect early and often. Slide him into the WR2 spot in all leagues.
Fearless Forecast: 6 receptions, 74 receiving yard, 1 touchdown, 17.9 fantasy points

Jeremy Maclin, Phi, WR (Week 16 WR Rank: 16, 29-percent started)
Matchup: at Dal
Philly's Mack Daddy, wiggity-wiggity-wiggity-wiggity wack since Week 10, will finally make his owners "Jump, Jump." Maclin, hampered by hamstring and shoulder setbacks, emerged from Week 15's smashing of the Jets unscathed. He played 49 of 62 snaps, his most action since Week 9. Though his final fantasy line was far from earth-shattering (3-57-0), he definitely took a step in the right direction. This week, in a must-win matchup against Dallas, the wideout has strong odds of logging his finest fantasy performance since he totaled 11.4 fantasy points against the 'Boys eight weeks ago. Dallas could be without top corner Mike Jenkins who is dealing with a separated shoulder. If the starter sits, Maclin could give sketchy backup Orlando Scandrick fits. Receivers have caught 67.9-percent of their targets against the lowly DB. Because the Eagles' playoff hopes are very much alive and with Michael Vick looking healthy, Maclin is a strong bounce back candidate. Throw in Philly's shortcomings on defense and Tony Romo's scorching hand, and a shootout is very likely to break out in Big D, enhancing the receiver's scoring potential. Wiggle and shake your rump.
Fearless Forecast: 5 receptions, 86 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 18.4 fantasy points

SHOCKER SPECIAL

Kyle Orton, KC, QB (Week 16 QB Rank: 13, 3-percent started)
Matchup: vs. Oak
Unwanted in Denver, Orton looks to have planted firm roots with the Chiefs, just weeks after his release. In last week's jaw-dropper at Arrowhead, he showed great command of the offense, made crisp, accurate throws and played mistake-free football toppling the defending World Champs from the ranks of the unbeaten, an impressive performance. Doing his best Aaron Rodgers impersonation, he also spread the wealth, connecting on pass plays of 10-plus yards with eight different receivers. After his standout effort, interim head coach, and full-time Weeble Wobble, Romeo Crennel, said Orton needs to be the starter entering 2012, if he leads the Chiefs to victory over the final two weeks. That challenge combined with KC's still flickering playoff hopes should motivate the passer to perform. Don't expect him to crack under the pressure. Outside Stanford Routt, Oakland is extremely vulnerable in downfield coverage. Tyvon Branch, Michael Huff and, especially, Lito Sheppard, have struggled matching strides with their assignments. Though they've surrendered just 6.8 yards per attempt, 12 quarterbacks have eclipsed the 20-point mark against them this season, including Orton, then a Bronco, in Week 1 (304-1-1-13). There's serious potential here. If Munchak is indeed not playing with a full deck, the veteran is a useful consolation prize off waivers if Locker sits.
Fearless Forecast: 24-34, 267 passing yards, 2 passing touchdowns, 0 interceptions, 8 rushing yards, 22.1 fantasy points

BONUS WEEK 16 FLAMES

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Follow Brad on Twitter @YahooNoise. Also, be sure to tune into The Fantasy Freak Show this Friday starting at 8 PM ET/5 PM PT LIVE on Yahoo! Sports Radio.

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