December 10, 2009
Brad and Andy return live this week to answer your questions and discuss their flames, lames and deep names for Week 14. Submit your questions for Friday night's "Fantasy Freak Show" via email (Please include name/city) at firstname.lastname@example.org.You can also dial the studio line starting at 8 PM PT/10 PM CT/11 PM ET at 312-644-6767 or text us at 67011. You can also follow the show, and the Noise, via Twitter.posted here.
More Noise: Meachem, the Saintly hero
FLAMES (Started in 60 percent or under of Y! Plus leagues)
Matchup: vs. Mia
Garrard, along with Jurassic-aged Torry Holt(notes), are patriarchs overseeing a group of prepubescent tweens - the NFL's version of "Two and a Half Men." This week, the veteran and his compatriot should bear many fruits in the Sunshine State showdown. For most of the season, the Fins have struggled to ground aerial attacks. Due to their strong interior play, offensive coordinators have focused more on moving the chains vertically. Though Miami played fairly well down the stretch against Tom Brady(notes) a week ago, it has still surrendered generous points to quarterbacks over the past several weeks. Since Week 9, the Fins have allowed 270.6 passing yards per game and six scores, equal to the eighth-most fantasy points yielded. Based on his lopsided splits, the Beer Truck is unquestionably a homebody. In six home games he's averaged 276.2 yards per game and tossed nine touchdowns. He's also chipped in 25.7 rushing yards per contest. Miami's youthful secondary is showing signs of maturation, particularly Vontae Davis(notes), but this is still a vulnerable unit. Garrard is sharpening his canines...
Matchup: vs. Car
Brady may think he's playing alongside a tranquil band of pacifists, but Maroney is one Patriot with musket always loaded. The pugnacious attitude he's recently exhibited is clear proof. Although he's losing touches to Sammy Morris(notes) and has averaged just 62.7 total yards per game since Week 9, Maroney has routinely exercised his bloodhound nose. Over his past seven contests he's sniffed the chalk six times. Bill Belichick is a skyward thinker, but this week the Pats ground game will likely be leaned on heavily. Carolina has played exceptional pass defense for much of the season. The Panthers rank sixth in the league in that category. Conversely, they've been blasted in the trenches. Over the past five weeks, Jon Fox's club has surrendered 4.8 yards per carry, 163.4 total yards per game and six touchdowns to rushers, equal to the sixth-most fantasy points allowed. With New England's division lead on the ropes, Maroney tosses a few haymakers.
Fearless Forecast: 16 carries, 74 rushing yards, 2 receptions, 12 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 14 fantasy points
Matchup: at Oak
With Clinton Portis(notes) on injured reserve, everyone's favorite sideline Einstein, Jim Zorn, has installed the ever popular three-headed rodent backfield. This week, Ganther assumes the role of Master Splinter. In limited doses, the fourth-year rusher has shown the explosiveness Washington has lacked at running back for much of the season. Over the past two weeks, the former Tennessee bench warmer has averaged an impressive 6.0 yards per carry. This week against the suddenly not-so-rancid Raiders, he should be considered a strong deep-league flex play. Over the past five weeks Oakland has ceded 5.3 yards per carry, 172.3 total yards per game and three scores to rushers, equal to the ninth-most fantasy points allowed. Sherm Lewis appears committed to a balanced approach, but this week, the ground game could be the headline act. Rock Cartwrigtht and to a lesser extent Marcus Mason(notes) will wrest away touches, but the 42 percent-owned back should be snatched up if your alternatives are sketcky.
Fearless Forecast: 15 carries, 68 rushing yards, 3 receptions, 36 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 16 fantasy points
Matchup: at SF
Hightower's fourth-quarter 32-yard scamper last week against the Vikings embodies who he is: a hardnosed, versatile threat who Beanie Wells(notes) owners can't stand. Several weeks ago, many in Fantasyland disagreed with the Noise's perspective the former fifth-round pick would withstand Wells' charge. Lately both backs have produced mediocre returns, but the incumbent is still the more complete back. This week, the well-rounded rusher could generate surprising numbers. The Niners have proven to be inflexible between the tackles at times, allowing just 3.8 yards per carry to rushers. But opponents have had substantial success attacking them in the flat. No defense has surrendered more receptions to runners than San Francisco. On the year, Mike Singletary's crew has yielded 7.2 catches and 54.1 yards per game to backs. Hightower torched them for a fluky 12 receptions and 121 yards Week 1, a total he'll surely fall well short of in the rematch. But in what will surely be a hotly contested game, the Cards' all-around threat should again be highly useful in PPR formats.
Fearless Forecast): 11 carries, 43 rushing yards, 5 receptions, 32 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 11 fantasy points
Matchup: vs. Den
Garcon's barometric reading is low. Defenses have aggressively attacked Reggie Wayne(notes), rotating coverage to his side, which has lowered pressure on Pierre. The result: he's snagged 17 passes for 307 yards over the past three weeks, the fourth-best yardage total in the league. The trend likely won't be bucked this week against the Broncos. Champ Bailey(notes) and Brian Dawkins(notes) have played spectacularly this season. The duo has yet to concede a 100-yard receiver and have allowed the fourth-fewest fantasy points to wideouts on the year. However, if safety help continues to shift over to Wayne's side, forcing Garcon into man coverage, Peyton Manning(notes) will surely take advantage. The former Mount Union standout, similar to Robert Meachem(notes), is a generic name that deserves strong start consideration over underperforming stars.
Fearless Forecast: 5 receptions, 88 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 14 fantasy points
Matchup: at Cle
The likely absence of Hines Ward(notes), who Mike Tomlin described as having "not favorable" odds of playing, propels the rookie into the starting lineup. Wallace was a midseason wire gem totaling three scores while averaging 65.3 yards per game from Weeks 3-9. But since then, he's essentially disappeared, netting just five catches for 82 yards. However, due to his presumed increased role and the attention Santonio Holmes(notes) will attract, the youngster should reemerge from obscurity. The Browns have surrendered the fourth-most 20-yard pass plays this season. Wallace's blazing speed will have Cleveland defenders screaming for Excedrin. Look for him to connect with Ben Roethlisberger(notes) on a couple explosive pass plays.
(Update: For those Al Rokers in attendance who are fearful of the forecasted snow and winds tonight in Cleveland, relax. Per NOAA, winds are expected to range between 23-29 mph with scattered snow showers. That's hardly a blizzard. It's important not to overrate meteorological effects this time every year. Remember what Matt Cassel(notes) accomplished versus Arizona in a driving snowstorm a year ago? Roethlisberger, Mendenhall and Holmes are still safe plays.)
Fearless Forecast: 5 receptions, 76 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 13 fantasy points
Matchup: at Jac
For much of the season, the Miami offense has been a one-trick fish. Ronnie Brown(notes) and Ricky Williams(notes) have spearheaded a largely conservative offense. But with Brown down and out, the Fins have caged the Wildcat, turning to the air more often. As a positive consequence, Bess has blossomed. Fantasy's Tenderoni, who's caught 70.2 percent of passes thrown his direction, has become Chad Henne's(notes) weapon of choice. Over the past five weeks, he's enticed 9.2 targets per game, averaging 5.8 receptions and 68.4 yards. Touchdowns have been and will continue to be a luxury item - he has just two scores in 28 career games - but the smooth wideout is an unsung PPR hero with significant Week 14 upside. Minus Rashean Mathis(notes), the Jags have been skinned vertically. Since Week 9, they've allowed the eighth-most fantasy points to receivers. Over that same stretch, No. 1 targets have averaged 97.6 yards per game and totaled five touchdowns. Because Jacksonville doesn't possess a viable pass rush, Henne should be able to deliver crisp slants and outs to Bess early and often, especially when the receiver garners man coverage. Given his excellent YAC abilities, he should again net terrific WR3 totals in deeper formats.
Fearless Forecast: 7 receptions, 74 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 13 fantasy points
Matchup: vs. Phi
Owners unsatisfied with their current tight end situation should ride The Boss all the way to "Lucky Town." Charitable is the best way to describe the Eagles' tight end defense. No unit has allowed more receptions, yards and fantasy points to oversized targets than Philly. Boss rocked his NFC East rival for three catches, 70 yards and a score back in Week 8. This week, one of Eli Manning's(notes) favorite red zone weapons, should again strum on the six-string. Consider him a top 10 play.
Fearless Forecast: 4 receptions, 58 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 11 fantasy points
LAMES (Started in over 60 percent of Y! Plus leagues)
Matchup: at Dal
Rivers is a master of efficiency. He hasn't eclipsed 30 attempts in a game since Week 9, but has averaged a ridiculous 266.5 yards per contest and posted a 7:0 TD:INT split. In his past two games he's netted a stupid 13.1 yards per attempt. Focused and grounded, he's hopeful his raging play will flood Cowboys Stadium. But the ‘Boys, including their cheerleaders, have plenty of floaties on hand. Terence Newman(notes) and Mike Jenkins(notes) have played brilliantly in coverage over the past several weeks. In their past five games, including clashes with pass-heavy Philly and Green Bay, the tandem has allowed just 222.6 passing yards per game and five touchdowns to passers, equal to the ninth-fewest fantasy points yielded. Rivers isn't a benchable commodity in 12-team leagues, but in extreme cases where owners have Brett Favre(notes) or Matt Schaub(notes) to lean on, he's pine worthy.
Fearless Forecast: 18-27, 236 passing yards, 1 touchdown, 1 interception, 14 fantasy points
Matchup: vs. Ari
San Francisco's transition from a conservative, pound-you-into-submission offense to a shotgun spread system has marginalized Gore's value. Essentially, the versatile back has taken on a Hightower-esque role over the past three weeks, netting just 16 touches per game, many of which have come via the air (five rec/g). Gore has been unsurprisingly apathetic about the philosophical tide shift. With Alex Smith flourishing, don't expect Jimmy Raye to suddenly reverse field, especially this week. The Cardinals typically employ several dime and nickel packages on defense, which makes it difficult to apply pressure on the pocket. When Smith has had time, he's thrown several strikes to playmakers Vernon Davis(notes) and Michael Crabtree(notes). If Arizona plays tight defense between the tackles, the Niners will likely abandon the run to take advantage of what the defense provides. Ultimately, Gore should produce favorably in PPR-heavy formats, but for standard leaguers, another damning effort is likely on tap.
Fearless Forecast: 13 carries, 43 rushing yards, 5 receptions, 29 receiving yards, 0 touchdowns, 7 fantasy points
Matchup: at NYG
Marty Morninweg is a deceptive code that simply can't be cracked. After featuring McCoy prominently in Weeks 11 and 12, last week the Eagles left the rookie with Mike Vick protesters outside the Georgia Dome. Despite building an insurmountable lead early, the misused back totaled just nine touches for 26 yards. Baffling. This week, his workload should increase, but the quality of opponent is slightly tougher. After a string of disastrous defensive performances, the Giants have rediscovered their mojo, particularly up front. Over the past five weeks, the G-Men have held backs to a mere 2.8 yards per carry and 90.8 total yards per game, equal to the sixth-fewest fantasy points allowed. Due to Morninweg's often schizophrenic gameplans and the difficult matchup, McCoy should be labeled untrustworthy in Round 1.
Fearless Forecast: 12 carries, 37 rushing yards, 4 receptions, 28 receiving yards, 0 touchdowns, 6 fantasy points
Matchup: vs. GB
Every Sunday is Groundhog Day in Chicago. Bill Murray, one of the Windy City's greatest sports enthusiasts, would agree. The Bears are a sordid mess offensively. Jay Cutler(notes) has suddenly morphed into Rex Grossman(notes) and Forte has become a Salaam-Enis-Benson conglomerate. Lovie Smith's desire to evaluate Kahlil Bell combined with an unsavory matchup labels the first-round bust a must bench player in non-PPR leagues. As Ray Rice(notes) would attest, the Packers' 3-4 has played brilliantly against the run surrendering just 3.5 yards per carry and the third-fewest fantasy points to rushers on the season. The Bears' rickety offensive line doesn't stand a chance. Insert Forte into your lineup only in the flex in 12-team and deeper PPR formats.
Fearless Forecast: 19 carries, 61 rushing yards, 3 reception, 16 receiving yards, 0 touchdowns, 7 fantasy points
Matchup: vs. Den
Wayne, hounded relentlessly by defensive backs, has vanished over the past couple weeks. As Manning noted after last week's extinguishing of red-hot Tennessee, the multi-time All-Pro has suffered from numerous "coverages, double teams to his side." No. 18 will continue to feed him the ball, but he won't force the issue if his top target is blanketed. This week, Wayne could again be wrapped in a Snuggie. As discussed previously, no wideout has reached triple digits against Bailey and Dawkins this season. They've also surrendered just seven scores to receivers this year, the fourth-lowest total in the league. Because of Wayne's scoring potential, he cannot be demoted, but another vanilla performance is certainly possible. Over the past two weeks, he's racked only seven catches for 67 yards.
Fearless Forecast: 6 receptions, 68 receiving yards, 0 touchdown, 6 fantasy points
Steve Smith, NYG, WR (Noise WR Rank: 34, Bench: NO BENCH, 71% started)
Matchup: vs. Phi
Tight coverage is Asante Samuel's(notes) claim to fame. Though he was manhandled by Roddy White(notes) in last week's blowout win in Atlanta, the All-Pro corner should get back on track against Smith. The tacky-handed wideout is undergoing a breakthrough season. His 10.7 points per game average is the 12th-best mark at his position. He has also become a staple in PPR lineups totaling 78 receptions, the fourth-most in the league. But Samuel, who limited Smith to just 68 receiving yards Week 8, is one of the NFL's few shutdown corners. Double-S shouldn't wear street clothes in PPR formats, but in TD-heavy standard leagues, he's an undependable option.
Fearless Forecast: 4 receptions, 62 receiving yards, 0 touchdown, 6 fantasy points
Matchup: at Hou
On-the-field Houshmandzadeh has had more transgressions than Tiger Woods off. But despite his uncountable number of head-slamming performances, the majority of owners are still idiotically standing by his side. The crown on top of the former consistency king's head is significantly tarnished. He's surpassed the seven-point mark in a game just three times. Matt Hasselbeck(notes) still possesses the talents needed to dissect a defense. However, with little time to plant and fire, he's struggled mightily. Houston's pass rush has been inconsistent, but even if the D-line has difficulty penetrating the pocket, the secondary should have much success running press coverage. Even in the deepest of leagues, Housh could tally a big squadoosh.
Fearless Forecast: 5 receptions, 47 receiving yards, 0 touchdown, 4 fantasy points
Matchup: vs. NYJ
Since Josh Freeman(notes) has seized the reigns, Winslow has totaled quality numbers operating as a safety valve/hot receiver. Since Week 9, he's averaged 5.4 receptions and 67.6 yards per game equal to the seventh-best output at his position. With Darrelle Revis(notes) tied up with Antonio Bryant(notes), most would surmise Winslow should accumulate appreciable totals. If the Jets' blitz is unsuccessful, that very easily could happen. But the season trend doesn't lend much support for a banner day. Overall, the Jets have surrendered the fourth-fewest fantasy points to tight ends. Only one monolithic target, Dante Rosario(notes) Week 12, has reached the 60-yard mark against them. The aforementioned Boss, Dustin Keller(notes) (at TB) and Jermichael Finley(notes) (at Chi) are more reliable options.
Fearless Forecast: 4 receptions, 48 receiving yards, 0 touchdown, 5 fantasy points
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