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Flames/Lames: Tampa potatoes meet Snelling, masher, Turner?

Brad Evans
Roto Arcade

Brad and Andy return live this week to answer your questions and discuss their flames, lames and deep names for Week 11. Submit your questions for a very special Wednesday night edition of the "Fantasy Freak Show" via email (Please include name/city) at can also dial the studio line starting at 8:30 PM PT/10:30 PM CT/11:30 PM ET at 312-644-6767 or text us at 67011. You can also follow the show, and the Noise, via Twitter.

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Each week the Noise highlights eight somewhat obscure, unobvious names who he believes are destined for flame madness or lame sadness. Being an accountability advocate, he will tally his hits and misses and post the results, whether genius or moronic, each week using the scoring system posted here.

More Noise: Turkey T.O. Not Cooked Yet

FLAMES (Started in 60 percent or fewer of Y! Plus leagues)

Jay Cutler(notes), Chi, QB (Noise QB Rank: 9, Start: All Leagues, 45% started)

Matchup: at Min

Barrages of poison-tipped darts have been blown at Cutler by the local and national media over the past few days. In their eyes, the Chicago fire of 1871 was less of a disaster. Everyone has donned their Freudian hats in an attempt to explain the quarterback's ungraceful, Grossmanesque downfall. Some have idiotically gone as far as calling him an "average player." The overthrows and misreads are entirely on No. 6 – mechanically he is certainly flawed – but without a suitable stable of receivers and even average offensive line, failure is hard to dodge. Many would say his matchup with Minnesota is less than desirable. Jared Allen(notes) and his QB harassing cohorts should have a field day. But the Vikings are susceptible to the pass. On the season they've allowed 258.3 passing yards and 1.4 touchdowns per contest to signal callers. More importantly, the Norsemen have picked off just one pass since Week 5. Cutler will be pestered. The running game will undoubtedly struggle. The Bears, who defensively are a mess, will likely be playing from behind. If the admonished passer can establish an early cadence and find Matt Forte(notes) in the flat, the cooker will depressurize, at least temporarily.

Fearless Forecast: 28-48, 304 passing yards, 2 touchdowns, 1 interception, 13 rushing yards, 23 fantasy points

Jason Snelling(notes), Atl, RB (Noise RB Rank: 7, Start: All Leagues, 60% started)

Matchup: vs. TB

Two weeks ago RB-hungry owners combed their league's waiver wire in a frantic attempt to acquire the converted fullback. Only a select few emerged from the fray with back on roster. The winners should consider themselves lucky. Snelling, fantasy's equivalent of the Zhu Zhu hamster, is a rusher in demand. With Michael Turner(notes) likely out again this week and possibly beyond and Jerious Norwood(notes) also a gigantic question mark, the between-the-tackles grinder is destined to mash Tampa's group of defensive Mr. Potatoheads. Since Week 7, the Bucs have surrendered 5.1 yards per carry, 166 total yards per game and five scores to rushers, equal to the ninth-most fantasy points allowed. With the Falcons likely to establish scoreboard supremacy early, Snelling could gain appreciable points salting away the clock in the second half. His second straight multi-TD seems like a certainty.

(UPDATE: Michael Turner practiced again on Thursday, though on a "limited" basis. He is slated to be a full-blown game-time decision Sunday. If The Burner is active, Snelling obviously is not a flame recommendation.)

Fearless Forecast: 23 carries, 90 rushing yards, 3 receptions, 21 receiving yards, 2 touchdowns, 23 fantasy points

Justin Forsett(notes), Sea, RB (Noise RB Rank: 16, Start: All Leagues, 51% started)

Matchup: at StL

Regardless of Julius Jones'(notes) situation, Forsett is USDA certified Grade-A flame. Collectively, Hawks rushers have averaged 3.7 yards per carry and the fewest total yards in the league. Prior to Forsett's rise to prominence, Jim Mora sporadically tried to feed the rushing attack. Only success against flaccid opponents was achieved. But the former Cal standout has jumpstarted the ground game. Though he rushed for only nine yards on an equal number of carries last week in Minnesota, the undersized runner – the latest height-challenged back to reap success – has averaged 119 total yards per game and totaled two scores in his past two games. Decisive, quick and powerful according to Mora, he is a terrific multidimensional weapon. Those skills should cause chaos in St. Louis. The Rams have performed poorly against the run for much of the season, especially of late. Since Week 7, they've yielded 5.5 yards per carry, 191.8 total yards per game and five scores to backs, equal to the third-most fantasy points allowed. Jones will start if healthy, but even if he suits up, Forsett should net at least 12-15 touches.

Fearless Forecast (minus Jones): 16 carries, 84 rushing yards, 5 receptions, 28 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 17 fantasy points

LeSean McCoy(notes), Phi, RB (Noise RB Rank: 19, Start: All Leagues, 58% started)

Matchup: vs. Wash

With Brian Westbrook(notes) in a daze, the Noise has danced romantically with the rookie's Fathead likeness over the past couple weeks. Our song: Spandu Ballet's "True." The Eagles staff finally pulled its heads-from-posterior last week against the Bears, running McCoy 20 times. Despite what could've been a costly late-game fumble, he totaled 99 yards and a touchdown. In three starts this season, the multi-tooled back has averaged 82.3 total yards per game and splashed pay-dirt twice. Similar numbers lie ahead against division rival Washington, which could again be without premier run stopper Albert Haynesworth(notes). Even with the hole-plunger active, the 'Skins have struggled containing the run. Since Week 7, they've conceded 5.4 yards per carry to RBs. Assuming Marty Mornhinweg continues to strive for balance and the Eagles' front can sustain its blocks, McCoy should again be a very useful RB2 in 12-team formats.

Fearless Forecast: 17 carries, 75 rushing yards, 4 receptions, 22 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 15 fantasy points

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Chris Chambers(notes), KC, WR (Noise WR Rank: 21, Start: All Leagues, 24% started)

Matchup: at SD

Revenge could taste very sweet for the former Charger. Kicked to the curb by San Diego earlier this season, the veteran has regained his long-distance form in KC. Since joining the Chiefs he's scored twice and averaged 83 yards per game. Over the past five weeks, only three receivers have surpassed the 70-yard mark against the Bolts. But Chambers' familiarity with the secondary and motivation to prove his previous employer wrong are factors which can't be ignored. After last week's stunning upset of Pittsburgh, the wideout sincerely believes Todd Haley's offensive is finally "progressing." No longer burdened by Larry Johnson's(notes) black cloud and with Matt Cassel's(notes) time in the pocket increasing, Chambers' observations aren't farfetched. Another competitive performance is in order.

Fearless Forecast: 4 receptions, 76 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 13 fantasy points

Pierre Garcon(notes), Ind, WR (Noise WR Rank: 22, Start: All Leagues, 23% started)

Matchup: at Hou

Inconsistency has occasionally plagued the former Mount Union star, but over the past few weeks he has really discovered a groove. As Stampede Blue noted earlier this week, Garcon is growing up right before people's eyes. His first career 100-yard effort last week in Baltimore is proof. With Austin Collie(notes) taking a backseat and more defenses forced to rotate help to Reggie Wayne's(notes) side, the second-year wideout has drawn increased looks from Peyton Manning(notes). Since Week 7 he's averaged 8.6 targets and 59 yards per game. Houston has yielded the fewest fantasy points to receivers during that same span, but with matchups against vertically challenged Buffalo and Tennessee that ranking is deceiving. Garcon snapped five catches for 60 yards in their first meeting. Expect him to pay a higher dividend against a Houston secondary minus starting safety Eugene Wilson(notes).

Fearless Forecast: 5 receptions, 66 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 12 fantasy points

Michael Crabtree(notes), SF, WR (Noise WR Rank: 25, Start: All Leagues, 34% started)

Matchup: vs. Jac

The third time will be the charm for Crabtree. Failing to march into flame territory in his previous two appearances on this list, the sticky-fingered rookie should easily surpass the seven-point threshold this time around. Corner Tyron Brackenridge(notes), filling in for injured former All-Pro Rashean Mathis(notes), was humilated last week by Terrell Owens(notes). Though Crabtree doesn't possess the experience of T.O., his slick route-running and size will wreak havoc. The Jags have allowed the fifth-most fantasy points to receivers since Week 7, surrendering a pair of fives in touchdowns and 70-yard performances. San Francisco has produced unsteady yields in the passing game for much of the season. But Alex Smith's comfort level and success operating out of the spread has forced Mike Singletary and Jimmy Raye to reinvent the wheel. The former Red Raider, a huge proponent of the system, is certainly pushing the staff to stretch personnel packages horizontally. Assuming the handcuffs are again taken off Smith, Crabtree should be an elite No. 3 in Week 12.

Fearless Forecast: 5 receptions, 62 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 12 fantasy points

Jermichael Finley(notes), GB, TE (Noise TE Rank: 9, Start: All Leagues, 18% started)

Matchup: at Det

Forget turkey. Finley instead plans to feast on a holiday delicacy - Lion. After missing several games with a sprained knee, the talented tight end is finally 100 percen and producing. Last week against San Fran, he attracted 10 targets catching seven passes for 54 yards. Interestingly, he operated almost exclusively out of the slot in an attempt to draw one-on-one coverage. If Mike McCarthy follows a similar blueprint, Finley will carve up the Hello Kitties. His size and athleticism is a matchup nightmare. On the year, the Lions have allowed nine touchdowns to oversized targets, the most in the league. Look for that number to increase in Week 12. For frustrated Jason Witten(notes) owners fed up with his underperformance or worried about his availability on Thanksgiving, Finley could be just what the doctor ordered.

Fearless Forecast: 5 receptions, 68 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 12 fantasy points

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LAMES (Started in over 60 percent of Y! Plus leagues)

Donovan McNabb(notes), Phi, QB (Noise QB Rank: 14, Bench: 8-12 team leagues, 87% started)

Matchup: vs. Wash

Viewers could've consumed the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy during the time it took McNabb to exchange pumpkin pie recipes with Cutler after last Sunday night's game. After this week, he may need to seek the advice Ron Jaworski. Many pundits have mistakenly categorized the Redskins' No. 1 pass defense ranking as misleading. With St. Louis, Detroit, Tampa, Carolina and KC on its resume, Washington has indeed faced its fair share of cupcakes. But even against respectable passing offenses (i.e. last week at Dallas) the 'Skins secondary has performed admirably. On the year, only two passers, Matthew Stafford(notes) and Eli Manning(notes), have eclipsed the 200-yard mark against them and only one, Kyle Orton(notes) in Week 10, has thrown for multiple scores. McNabb was limited to just 156 yards and a score in their first meeting, largely due to an early Philly lead. But this is a defense playing with marked confidence. Consider safer alternatives (i.e. Brett Favre(notes) vs. Chi, Carson Palmer(notes) vs. Cle or Matt Ryan(notes) vs. TB).

Fearless Forecast: 18-31, 218 passing yards, 1 touchdown, 1 interception, 13 fantasy points

Rashard Mendenhall(notes), Pit, RB (Noise RB Rank: 21, Bench: 8-10 team leagues, 77% started)

Matchup: at Bal

For one week only, the Noise's love affair with Mendenhall hits the skids. Despite averaging a ridiculous 5.2 yards per carry since Week 7, Bruce Arians' insistence on passing inside the 10 has made the former Illinois standout wildly inconsistent in recent weeks. Case in point, after running effectively for much of the game in last week's slip up at KC, he touched the rock just one time over the final 4:54. Maddening. Another unbalanced pass-to-run ratio should be expected this week in Baltimore. The Ravens have regained their defensive mojo over the past several weeks, especially up front. Over their past five games they've held rushers to just 3.4 yards per carry and 99 total yards per game. Ben Roethlisberger(notes) is expected to take snaps after passing post-concussion tests with flying colors, but in a critical contest for both teams, Ray Lewis(notes) earns the check. Remember the last time Mendenhall ventured into Ravens territory he left with his arm in a sling.

Fearless Forecast: 18 carries, 65 rushing yards, 3 receptions, 14 receiving yards, 0 touchdowns, 7 fantasy points

Laurence Maroney(notes), NE, RB (Noise RB Rank: 25, Bench: 8-12 team leagues, 60% started)

Matchup: at NO

The No. 1 item on Maroney's wish list this holiday shopping season: anything Voltron. Last week, the goofy rusher told the Boston Globe the Patriots backfield was coming together like the motorized elements that comprised the 80s cartoon icon. Unfortunately, that negatively affects the back's fantasy value. With Sammy Morris(notes) slated to return Monday and Kevin Faulk's(notes) 7-10 touch role solidified, Maroney's per carries average is sure to diminish. Even if he were to net 15-20 totes in Monday's mammoth bayou battle, he isn't a recommended start. Sedrick Ellis'(notes) return to the lineup greatly enhances a Saints defense which has been pounded by the run. When healthy during the first seven weeks of the season, Ellis helped limit rushers to just 3.9 yards per carry and 80.5 rushing yards per game. Simply put: the D-lineman is a man-eating game changer. In what we'll surely be a fireworks show, Maroney will fade into the background.

Fearless Forecast: 15 carries, 54 rushing yards, 1 reception, 8 receiving yards, 0 touchdowns, 6 fantasy points

Kevin Smith(notes), Det, RB (Noise RB Rank: 30, Bench: 8-14 team leagues, 76% started)

Matchup: vs. GB

Likely minus Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson(notes), Smith will be the focus of the Packers' defensive gameplan. The flexible rusher was an absolute beast last week totaling 149 yards (104 receiving) and a score on just 16 touches. But compared to Green Bay, Cleveland is a group of yappy pink poodles. Dom Capers' 3-4 defense has typically applied little pressure on the pocket, instead dropping defenders back in coverage or attacking gaps on running plays. The results against the run have been spectacular. RBs have averaged just 3.6 yards per carry against the Pack. Green Bay has also surrendered the third-fewest fantasy points to rushers this season. Smith totaled just 61 yards on 15 carries against his NFC North nemesis Week 6. A similar letdown is in order.

Fearless Forecast: 13 carries, 48 rushing yards, 4 receptions, 19 receiving yards, 0 touchdowns, 6 fantasy points

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Steve Smith, Car, WR (Noise WR Rank: 28, NO BENCH, 87% started)

Matchup: at NYJ

Receivers matched against Jets have routinely been featured in this space. No player is immune to catching the Darelle Disease. Just ask Andre Johnson(notes), Randy Moss(notes) and Marques Colston(notes). Smith will be the latest victim. Unlike the aforementioned Pro Bowlers, the slippery wideout doesn't have a complementary option to keep defenses honest. Mushin Muhammad has actually turned into Bullwinkle. Clearly the focus of Carolina's offense is to wear down opponents between-the-hashmarks with DeAngelo Williams(notes) and Jonathan Stewart(notes). New York has improved against the run in recent weeks surrendering just 4.0 yards per carry to rushers since Week 7, but stopping rushers is still the Jets' primary weakness. With Revis draped all over him, Smith will be nothing more than a decoy.

Fearless Forecast: 3 receptions, 24 receiving yards, 0 touchdown, 2 fantasy points

Miles Austin(notes), Dal, WR (Noise WR Rank: 26, Bench: NO BENCH, 82% started)

Matchup: vs. Oak

Fame and fortune has come at a heavy cost for Austin. After accumulating galactic numbers from Weeks 5-8, the downward-trending wideout has totaled just nine catches for 116 yards and a score in his past three contests. Defenses have rotated coverage over to his side, which explains why his banner production has quickly ceased. Great receivers early in their careers have garnered similar attention. Once Austin makes the necessary adjustments, he'll recapture the magic. But don't expect it to happen this week. Though the Raiders have allowed the 11th-most 20-yard pass plays this season, Nnamdi Asomugha(notes) will likely blanket the young wideout, stymieing his scoring potential. In an attempt to gain breathing room, Jason Garrett will creatively shift Austin around, which could free him downfield. Still, only six receivers have reached the 70-yard mark against Oakland this year. Don't let Austin ruin your turkey.

Fearless Forecast: 4 receptions, 38 receiving yards, 0 touchdown, 3 fantasy points

Santonio Holmes(notes), Pit, WR (Noise WR Rank: 29, Bench: NO BENCH, 71% started)

Matchup: at Bal

After last year's scintillating Super Bowl performance, the bar was set extremely high for Holmes this year. Unfortunately, he's exhibited the hops of an obese penguin. Despite being outshined consistently by ageless teammate Hines Ward(notes) and occasionally Mike Wallace(notes), owners still confidently insert Holmes into their lineups every week. Stunning. Though he's averaged a robust 81.5 yards per game over his past five games, he hasn't crossed the chalk since Week 1. Against the reinvigorated Ravens, that streak will continue. They've allowed the third-fewest fantasy points to receivers since Week 7. Baltimore is a team which relishes eliminating the strengths of the opposition. Look at what it accomplished last week against the Colts (91 total yards for Wayne and Dallas Clark(notes)). This week, they ground Pittsburgh's aerial show.

Fearless Forecast: 5 receptions, 57 receiving yards, 0 touchdown, 5 fantasy points

Jeremy Shockey(notes), NO, TE (Noise TE Rank: 10, Bench: NO BENCH, 83% started)

Matchup: vs. NE

In Monday's Bourbon Street brawl with the Patriots, Shockey will again be handcuffed. Over the past three weeks, the opinionated tight end – he laughable said Lebron James couldn't even make an NFL practice squad because of his 4.9 40-yard time – has fallen on hard times. During that stretch he's caught just eight passes for 85 yards. He's also only scored one touchdown since Week 1. The Patriots have done a masterful job muffling tight ends this season, surrendering the eighth-fewest fantasy points. And it's not like they've faced suspect competition. Position cornerstones Tony Gonzalez(notes), Kellen Winslow(notes) and Dallas Clark totaled just 90 yards against them. Shockey gets stuffed.

Fearless Forecast: 4 receptions, 36 receiving yards, 0 touchdown, 3 fantasy points

Who are your flames, lames and stars of video games for Week 12? What unheralded players will step forward on Turkey Day? What marquee names will slip? Discuss below.


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