Flames: White-hot Cassel to guide owners to imaginary playoffs

Brad Evans


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Each week the Noise highlights seven 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 scoring system listed here. Cyber-bullies, tweet the Noise your violent rants here.

Matt Cassel(notes), KC, QB (Noise Week 13 QB Rank: 6, 24-percent started)
Matchup: vs. Den

Storm the White Cassel and you're sure to get burned, or feel repulsed. Speaking from experience, air-quality post-slider consumption can often reach nose-tucking levels. But there's been nothing repugnant about Cassel's recent string of performances. He’s absorbed the nuances of Charlie Weis’ system beautifully, sharpening his technique and timing. With one of the league’s best rushing attacks, an immovable offensive line and TD-machine Dwayne Bowe(notes) to throw to, the surging passer has developed into an elite fantasy quarterback. Blasphemy you say? Just look at his recent production. Over his past seven starts, the red-hot QB has compiled an obscene 18:1 td:int split. He’s also averaged a respectable 236.7 yards per game. His subsequent 24.5 points per game ranks only behind Michael Vick(notes) during that stretch. As Todd Haley said earlier this week, he’s “set the bar higher and higher” as the season has progressed. Despite his remarkable success, the ignorant refuse to trust him, evident in his low weekly start percentage. Naysayers take notice. If you own Cassel, you're playing him this week. In a game which has “shootout” written all over it, he should turn a top-10 profit. Over the past five weeks, the Broncos have allowed nearly 29 points per week to signal callers (301.5 ypg, 12:1 td:int), the most in the league. Yes, Cassel, who benefited from a 35-point first-half deficit Week 10 in Denver, likely won’t come close to 400 yards, but another TD hat-trick is certainly possible. Hail to the Chief!

Fearless Forecast: 24-36, 277 passing yards, 3 touchdowns, 0 interceptions, 25 fantasy points

Fred Jackson(notes), Buf, RB (Noise Week 13 RB Rank: 13, 37-percent started)
Matchup: at Min

Jackson's impact on fantasy is similar to Leslie Neilsen's on the comedy arts – grossly underapprecaiated. He would never be included in a discussion about the game’s best multi-purpose backs. Most agree he’s not the same caliber as an Arian Foster(notes), Chris Johnson, Adrian Peterson or Peyton Hillis(notes). But he’s closer than you may think. Since C.J. Spiller(notes) pulled up lame in Week 10, the overlooked rusher has gone bananas. Over the three-game stretch, he's averaged 154 total yards per game and accumulated five touchdowns, good for an RB-best 25.4 points per contest. Based on his 163-yard thrashing of the league's stingiest defense, Pittsburgh, last week he's become matchup proof. Minnesota is another tall task, but Jackson is prepared to grab Ragnar by the locks. The Vikings have surrendered just 3.5 yards per carry this season, but have struggled to contain rushers outside the tackle box. RBs have caught 5.6 receptions per game against them, the eighth-most in tackle football. Similar to last week, Jackson may do most of his damage as a dump-off receiver. Respect the man. Appreciate the results. But don't blame the man upstairs if the numbers don't work out.

Fearless Forecast: 18 carries, 76 rushing yards, 5 receptions, 31 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 16 fantasy points

Jonathan Stewart(notes), Car, RB (Noise Week 13 RB Rank: 17, 11-percent started)
Matchup: at Sea

Stewie Beef hasn't packed the protein or the points for fantasy owners this season. Physical setbacks and Carolina's humiliating offense has stymied the rusher's statistical output. However, last week, after returning from a two-game hiatus, Stewart showcased the power and burst that had owners salivating preseason, finishing with a season-best 98 yards on 12 carries. His follow-up effort will likely be even better. The absence of defensive end Red Bryant(notes) has turned Seattle into a feeble defense. Since Week 8, only NFC West counterpart Arizona has been steamrolled more. Over that span, the 'Hawks have surrendered an absurd 5.0 yards per carry, 219 total yards per game and seven touchdowns. The Panthers' resurgent offensive line should have little difficulty creating lanes for Stewie to plow through. Yes, Mike Goodson(notes) will still be heavily involved, but because DeAngelo Williams'(notes) future is cloudy in Carolina, the front office wants to see what the current tandem is made of. In-game circumstances will determine his workload, but given Seattle's defensive inadequacies, the Panthers, similar last week against a more competitive Cleveland team, should keep the outcome close enough to net Stewart at least 15 touches. Believe.

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Fearless Forecast: 15 carries, 88 rushing yards, 1 reception, 3 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 15 fantasy points

Christopher Ivory(notes), NO, RB (Noise Week 13 RB Rank: 21, eight-percent started)
Matchup: at Cin

News the PT Cruiser could finally pull out of the garage complicates matters for the Saints. But because the incumbent has missed eight weeks with an unsubstantiated torn ankle tendon, he will likely be eased back into action. Even with PT potentially on the field, Ivory should maintain a substantial role. His tough interior running – he's averaged a stout 4.8 yards per carry – is best-suited for short-yardage work, especially at the goal-line. In other words, he could become the new Mike Bell(notes). Cincinnati's defensive line, one of the most unyielding units in the league a year ago, has greatly underachieved. This season, rushers have tallied 4.5 yards per carry, 134.6 total yards per game and 10 touchdowns against it. Due to the crowded backfield, touches will be a premium for Ivory. However, because the Saints, as Drew Brees(notes) remarked earlier this week, are "back to their brand of football," the rookie could receive numerous goal-line touches. He's risky even as a flex option in 12-team leagues, but the profit potential is hard to ignore. Based on the matchup, someone in the Saints backfield is bound to reward the dice-rollers.

Fearless Forecast: 12 carries, 57 rushing yards, 1 touchdown, 11 fantasy points

Johnny Knox(notes), Chi, WR (Noise Week 13 WR Rank: 18, 35-percent started)
Matchup: at Det

Due to the spread-the-wealth nature of Mike Martz' offense and the constant heat on Jay Cutler(notes), Fort Knox hasn't exactly been the golden commodity many forecasted preseason. However, with at least five receptions in four of his past six contests, he's developed into a reliable PPR producer. Another appreciable line should be expected in Week 13. Lately, the Bears have emphasized the run early in games with considerable success. Given the vulnerability of the Lions on the ground, Knox should attract several one-on-one opportunities. Detroit, shredded via land and air by the Patriots on Turkey Day, will again be picked apart. Corners Chris Houston(notes) and Alphonso Smith(notes) have performed marginally. On the year, the pair has yielded 14 70-yard efforts and 14 touchdowns to wide receivers equal to the 11th-most fantasy points allowed. Touchdowns have been elusive for Knox, but based on the favorable matchup, he's must start material even in shallow formats.

Fearless Forecast: 5 receptions, 81 receiving yards, 1 touchdowns, 14 fantasy points

Danario Alexander(notes), StL, WR (Noise Week 13 WR Rank: 22, one-percent started)
Matchup: vs. Ari

Seeing his first action since undergoing minor knee surgery on October 26, Alexander picked up where he left off. Playing just 20 snaps against the Broncos, he hauled in four catches for 95 yards. The undrafted product from Mizzou is a Vincent Jackson(notes)-type talent. Though he's Greg Oden-durable, the rookie has terrific size (6-foot-5), explosiveness and athleticism. For the ghastly Cardinals, he's a major headache. Wideouts have performed 19.8-percent above the league average against the Desert Birds. Top targets especially have thrived, averaging 90.9 yards per game. With smallish corner Michael Adams(notes) (5-foot-8) likely to draw the start over injured Greg Toler(notes), the Rams coaching staff will draw up isolation packages featuring Alexander to take advantage of the size disparity. Sam Bradford(notes), whose been on a monster tear over the past four weeks (245.8 ypg, 8:1 td:int), should have no problem delivering crisp passes downfield. Assuming he can make it through the game in one piece, the unheralded target could be this week's Ben Obomanu(notes). Take a chance deep leaguers.

Fearless Forecast: 4 receptions, 75 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 13 fantasy points

SHOCKER SPECIAL

Tashard Choice(notes), Dal, RB (Noise Week 13 RB Rank: 24, two-percent started)
Matchup: at Ind

It's been an exasperating year for the buried rusher. "The odd man out" in Dallas' backfield rotation, he's unfairly been relegated to spot duty and special teams work. However, with Marion Barber(notes) on the shelf nursing a calf injury, the shackled back is finally free. Expect Choice to take out his frustration on the competition. Discussed in this space endlessly, the undersized Colts are a giving defense. Opposing runners have averaged 4.9 yards per carry, 156.2 total yards per game and scored 12 touchdowns against them equal to the eighth-most fantasy points allowed. Based on this weakness, Jason Garrett will surely draw up a ground-heavy game-plan. Undoubtedly, Felix Jones(notes) will be the primary carrier, but Choice will be deployed in most, if not all, short-yardage and goal-line situations. On 10-15 touches, he could be quite flex useful in deeper leagues. A playoff hero in 2008, the underused backup will again produce in the clutch.

Fearless Forecast: 11 carries, 46 rushing yards, 2 receptions, 11 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 11 fantasy points

Other potential Week 13 Flames: Mark Sanchez(notes) (vs. NE), Sam Bradford (at Ari), Josh Freeman(notes) (vs. Atl), Kerry Collins(notes) (vs. Jac), Mike Tolbert(notes) (vs. Oak), Felix Jones (at Ind), Mike Goodson (at Sea), Justin Forsett(notes) (vs. Car), Jason Avant(notes) (vs. Hou), James Jones(notes) (vs. SF), Seyi Ajirotutu(notes) (vs. Oak), Visanthe Shiancoe(notes) (vs. Buf), Todd Heap(notes) (vs. Pit), Miami D/ST

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