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Flames: ‘Tis the season for another DeAngelo playoff run

Brad Evans
Roto Arcade

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DeAngelo Williams, fantasy's perpetual playoff hero. (USAT)

Each week the Noise highlights 12-13 somewhat obscure, unobvious names who he believes are destined to torch the competition. To qualify, each player must be started in fewer than 60 percent of Yahoo! leagues. Speaking as an accountability advocate, I will post the results, whether genius or moronic, the following week using the scoring system shown here. If you're a member of TEAM HUEVOS, post your Week 16 Flames in the comments section below.

Sam Bradford, StL, QB (6-percent started)
Matchup: at TB
Owning Bradford is akin to attending a dry holiday party where Debbie Downers dominate the conversation — woefully dull. Over his uneventful three-year career, the former No. 1 pick has delivered only lukewarm results, making him a waiver wire staple even in highly competitive leagues. Only twice this season he's finished inside the position's top-10. However, to be fair, Bradford has shown break out potential at times under Jeff Fisher. He feels very comfortable in the spread and admits the team-wide attitude change has been refreshing. The 'stache possesses magical powers. Coming off his finest performance of the year, a 377-yard, 3-TD bombardment of Minnesota, the former Oklahoma Sooner is in position to carry over his 'boomer' ways. A headless Ryan Leaf could throw for 300 yards and a couple scores against the league's worst secondary, Tampa. Through 15 weeks, the ragtag Bucs have surrendered an almost inconceivable 322.5 passing yards and 1.9 vertical strikes per game, equal to 25.9 fantasy points per contest in standard leagues. Unheralded QBs Christian Ponder, Nick Foles and even the once revered but now ridiculed Philip Rivers, all posted banner numbers against them. With usher enemy Danny Amendola healthy and Chris Givens routinely burning DBs, odds are strong Bradford logs his second straight QB1-level line. If you're a concerned RGIII owner, live by one simple phrase in your title game, "Ram it!"

Fearless Forecast: 26-41, 296 passing yards, 2 passing touchdowns, 1 interception, 6 rushing yards, 22.4 fantasy points


DeAngelo Williams, Car, RB (28-percent started)
Matchup: vs. Oak
Tinsel. Eggnog. Christmas songs about roasting nuts. DeAngelo domination. Yep, it definitely is December. Williams, who was an unstoppable force in the fantasy playoffs just four short years ago, is up to his old his butt-kicking devices. With Jonathan Stewart ailed by a bum ankle and Cam Newton flourishing, the overlooked veteran has posted RB2-worthy numbers in 12-team leagues, displaying vintage versatility and open-field explosiveness. Over the past two weeks, he's accounted for 5.9 yards per touch, 128 total yards per game and a pair of receiving touchdowns. And don't be overly alarmed by Mike Tolbert's cameo in Week 15. The rolling beer keg's 11 touches and two scores against ex-employer San Diego were season highs. Unquestionably, Williams will tote the heavy end of the load against Oakland. Inexplicably, Jamaal Charles touched the rock just 13 times last week against the Raiders. Unlike Romeo Crennel, who was obviously hindered by a case of excessive brain flatulence, Ron Rivera won't make the same mistake.  Against Oakland's horrific run defense, the Panthers' boss hogs should feed from the trough. Including last week's clamp down on KC, O-Town has yielded 4.5 yards per carry this season and the fifth-most fantasy points to RBs. Ten rushers have scored at least 12 fantasy points against it. Yes, Williams will surrender work inside the 10, but his home run hitting ability combined with Oakland's general unwillingness to tackle spell sizable totals for the veteran in Week 16.

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Fearless Forecast:18 carries, 81 rushing yards, 2 receptions, 24 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 18.0 fantasy points


Vick Ballard, Ind, RB (25-percent started)
Matchup: at KC
If you would've predicted back in August Ballard was to lead all Vicks in fantasy scoring, I would've recommended you to seek medical attention.  Remarkably, that has been the case. Down Donald Brown, the rookie from Mississippi State has excelled in recent weeks, showered with compliments by Bruce Arians and the coaching staff. Two weeks ago after he clobbered the Titans for 94 yards on 19 carries, the interim head coach described the rookie as a 'poor man's Edgerrin James,' a 'bowlegged back' who is 'tough to bring down.' Rolling up an impressive 105 yards against Houston in Week 15, the young rusher has also earned admiration in the fantasy community. Over the past three weeks, he's routinely plowed over tacklers, netting a robust 5.2 yards per carry. Because of Andrew Luck's recent inconsistencies and Ballard's still fresh legs, he could be leaned on more over the final two weeks, particularly in KC. The Chiefs franchise, touched by tragedy and general ineptitude, is on the verge of being completely dismantled. From Scott Pioli down to Dwayne Bowe, it's highly unlikely many current members of the organization will wear red next year. Abysmal execution across the board is to blame. Though they've only allowed seven rushing touchdowns this season, KC has yielded nearly 4.6 yards per carry to RBs. Since Week 8 four running backs, including Darren McFadden in Week 15, have crossed the 100 total-yard mark against the Chiefs. Bank on Ballard adding to that total.

Fearless Forecast: 18 carries, 89 rushing yards, 2 receptions, 13 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 17.7 fantasy points


Riley Cooper, Phi, WR (3-percent started)
Matchup: vs. Wash
With his long-flowing hair, chiseled physique and handsome looks, a casual observer would probably guess Cooper worked as a 'Thunder from Down Under' dancer or Bod spokes-model. He, like Clay Mathews, is a football Fabio. The former Gator is also a solid red-zone weapon who's performed well filling the void for injured starer DeSean Jackson. His yardage totals haven't moved the meter over the past three weeks (29.3 yards per game), but he's splashed pay-dirt twice, attracting a healthy 7.0 targets per game. Nick Foles has shown flashes of future brilliance since overtaking the starter's role, but Philly's incompetent offensive line has done him few favors. If he receives adequate protection, he and Riley could become quite the combo this week against Washington. A disaster in pass defense, the 'Skins have been overly accommodating to opponents for much of the season. They've conceded the third-most fantasy points to WRs and rank fifth in the NFL in most pass plays of 20-plus yards allowed. Cooper's blend of size and speed should prove problematic for DeAngelo Hall and friends. Recall five weeks ago in Washington, he hauled in a season-best five catches for 61 yards. If you're in dire straits for a WR3, hang with Mr. Cooper.

Fearless Forecast: 4 receptions, 68 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 15.8 fantasy points


Danario Alexander, SD, WR (53-percent started)
Matchup: at NYJ
Words cannot express the torment Alexander zealots suffered through against Carolina. Inexplicably, DX, who entered Week 15 as the third-best fantasy wideout since Week 10 ranking behind Calvin Johnson and Dez Bryant, churned out more round pastries than a Dunkin' Donuts at a police function. Targeted just three times, he was the unfortunate byproduct of an inept Chargers offensive line which placed Philip Rivers into several high-duress situations. Of the QB's 31 dropbacks, 13 (41.9-percent) were deemed 'under pressure' according to Pro Football Focus. That combined with the stellar play of the Carolina secondary explains why Alexander completely disappeared. Though an intimidating matchup is on the docket, don't expect another Houdini act. No doubt, Antonio Cromartie is an exceptional cover corner, but with Malcom Floyd working the opposite side of the field (UPDATE: Floyd has landed on I.R., a move that definitely clouds Alexander's worth in Week 16. In this day and age, it's rare CBs stick to one WR exclusively, but because Rivers has limited options, Cromartie is sure line up on DX's side several times. Take the news into consideration.), it's unlikely he'll shadow Alexander exclusively. In instances where undersized Kyle Wilson lines up against the 6-foot-5 skyscraper, Rivers will take advantage, especially inside the red-zone. Keep in mind Wilson has allowed a modest 56.0 catch percentage to his assignments this year, the 36th-best mark among eligible CBs. After last week's debacle, owners understandably have trust issues, but speaking as a fellow DX enthusiast, he will remain firmly planted in my starting lineup in Week 16.

Fearless Forecast: 5 receptions, 70 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 16.7 fantasy points

SHOCKER SPECIAL (Under 10-percent started)


Russell Wilson, Sea, QB (10-percent started)
Matchup: vs. SF
Russell's rise is nothing short of extraordinary. RGIII and Andrew Luck may have written many headlines, but, in reality, Wilson might be the league's best rookie passer. At the very least, he deserves to be in the Offensive ROY conversation. What he's accomplished since Week 9 is unique for a first-year QB. Poised, polished and decisive, he's made one brainy decision after another, executing in high-leverage situations with the stoicism of a multi-time Pro Bowler. Over that six-game stretch, he's totaled 205.2 passing yards and 45.7 rushing yards per game while tallying a nearly flawless 14:1 td:int split (3 rush TDs). He, like Griffin, is one of the virtual game's premier dual scorers, an asset that can completely deconstruct opponents via ground and air. I've become rather smitten by him. In his first meeting against the Niners, Wilson logged undeniably the worst game of his young career, netting an embarrassing 133 combined yards and a pick. His 38.7 QB rating resembled a certain fantasy writer's I.Q. But that was nearly two months ago. Since then, he's matured into one of the league's most judicious passers. San Fran has surrendered just four multi-TD passers on the year and a mere 5.9 yards per attempt in its past five, but with division title hopes on the line, a captive national TV audience watching and the 12th-man rocking, Wilson will make his case for the hardware. Keep in mind, he's registered a 118.4 QB rating in six home starts this year.

Fearless Forecast: 19-27, 217 passing yards, 2 passing touchdowns, 0 interceptions, 28 rushing yards, 21.6 fantasy points


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