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Bringin' the Noise: From the depths

Brad Evans
Yahoo Sports

Watch the Noise, alongside fellow Yahoo! expert Brandon Funston and Rotowire's Chris Liss , answer your pressing lineup questions for a full hour every NFL Sunday on the two-time Emmy nominated webcast "Fantasy Football Live" at 9 AM PT/11 AM CT/Noon ET.

Iconic movie monsters have haunted children's nightmares and permeated erotic crytopzoologist nerd fantasies for decades. From Alien to zombie films, frightening creatures have terrified audiences with wicked violence, gore and, in the case of the "Leprechaun" series, washed-up rapper acting skills.

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Even defenders who possess flying powers have had difficulties catching up to Avery
(Getty Images)
One of Tinsel Town's most original horror creations is the "Creature from the Black Lagoon." One-third man, one-third grouper and one-third Michael Phelps, the sympathetic "Gill-man" is an amphibious predator that guards a murky swamp in an "Amazonian paradise from which no one has ever returned." Superhuman in nature, his tough, scaly skin and fast-acting healing powers are impervious to weapons that are otherwise lethal to humans. Only the acidic pesticide rotenone and pale-skinned Eisenhower era damsels are the aquatic beast's weaknesses.

Although he doesnât use gills to breathe, emit a fishy odor or is photophobic, St. Louis' Donnie Avery is similar to the Gill-man in one way: he too has emerged from opaque depths to terrorize those who've attempted to cage him.

Largely undrafted back in August, the second-round pick from Houston has spearheaded a rookie wide receiver class many pundits tabbed as one of the weakest to enter the league in recent memory. Owned in less than 10 percent of Y! Plus leagues only three weeks ago, the Rams rocket has crawled out of the shadowy recesses of the free agent pool to become a WR3 staple on most teams.

His improbable journey has been nothing short of amazing.

While DeSean Jackson and Eddie Royal captivated the hearts and minds of the fantasy masses at the beginning of the year, Avery was physically crippled. Limited by hip and knee injuries during exhibition play, he logged more time on the trainer's table than the field to start the season. But the confident youngster persevered. He slowly regained his strength and eventually seized the No. 2 job from Dane Looker in Week 3. Unbelievably, Avery, who barely played in the preseason and missed the first two weeks of the regular season, has become one of the league's most electrifying downfield weapons in just six short weeks.

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Managers who don't own Avery will be looking over their shoulder come playoff time
(AP)

Glancing at his scouting report, fantasy owners shouldn't be surprised.

In terms of stature, the 5-foot-11, 184-pound wideout is definitely more Santana than Randy Moss. Equipped with rockets for shoes, his breakneck acceleration and top-end speed (4.2-40) is impossible for defenders to cover man-on-man. Because corners typically try to play Avery's extra step, he's successfully worked back to the ball on numerous occasions using uncanny awareness to adjust to passes mid-stride. This abrupt change-of-direction is the fundamental reason why he's connected with Marc Bulger on four 40-yard pass plays over the past three weeks. And it also explains why he's dusted off the robot. Equally as important, his improved sideline routes have made him more versatile, a characteristic PPR leaguers can appreciate. According to Bulger, the two continue to forge a percolating relationship:

"I think he's starting to learn me and I'm starting to learn what he does good and the things that suit him. He could be really good."

Growing up in Houston, Avery didn't idolize Ernest Givens or Haywood Jefferies, but rather Jerry Rice, who, per the youngster, was "smooth at everything." Based on his recent standout averages (4.7 REC/G, 97 YPG, 3 TDs since Week 6) and favorable future schedule, Avery, too, will continue to be Senor Smooth. Don't believe the Noise? Take a look at the precocious receiver's remaining slate:

Ari @NYJ @SF Chi Mia @Ari Sea SF @Atl Avgs
Mean% 56.1 22.0 20.7 17.4 2.3 56.1 31.9 20.7 28.9 25.1
70yd WRs 5 7 7 9 7 5 6 7 6 0.91/g
TDs 11 5 7 5 9 11 8 7 7 1.1/g
20yd PPs 18 16 18 18 25 18 18 24 22 2.7/g
40yd PPs 5 1 7 1 6 5 7 7 2 0.63/g
Mean% = percentage of wide receiver scoring above the league average yielded by the opponent per fftoday.com
70yd WRs = number of 70-yard receivers allowed (season)
TDs = number of receiver touchdowns allowed
20yd PPs = number of 20-yard pass plays allowed
40yd PPs = number of 40-yard pass plays allowed

Dissecting the above data, it's safe to assume Avery will be to wide receivers this year what waiver wire gems Earnest Graham and Ryan Grant were to virtual backfields last season. No wideout has an easier schedule. Now that he's essentially passed Torry Holt as Bulger's primary option, top-10 numbers seems like a certainty down the stretch. Those of you who followed our Shocker Special advice two weeks ago already realize Avery's potential.

Shipped straight up for Dwayne Bowe, Isaac Bruce, Matt Ryan and Dominic Rhodes in Y! Plus league one-for-one transactions this week, the St. Louis speed demon is quite possibly the biggest bargain currently in fantasy. It's likely he'll outpace name-brand stars Braylon Edwards, Terrell Owens and Plaxico Burress the rest of the way.

This week in the Sultan of Stubble Bowl, Avery's chances of burning the Cards deep multiple times are very favorable. Over the past four weeks, Arizona has surrendered four 80-yard receivers and 10 scores to wideouts, equal to the most fantasy points allowed. They've also yielded five 40-yard pass plays on the year, the seventh-most in the NFL. If Bulger is given enough time to plant and fire, he will connect with the dynamite rookie for a handful of sizable gains.

Instead of passing out Dum-Dum Pops and staving off neighborhood sex offenders this Halloween weekend, cast a line for the Gateway City's Gill-man. Now that the he has surfaced, no one will be able to stop him.

Week 9 Fearless Forecast: 6 receptions, 109 receiving yards, 1 touchdown

Here are this week's flames, lames and stars of video games:

Each week the Noise highlights five somewhat obscure, unobvious names who he believes are destined for flame madness or lame sadness. In honor of waiver wire hero Ron Dayne's legendary three-game dominance late in '06, the "Shocker Special" segment spotlights one player owned in less than a third of Yahoo! leagues who is poised for instant greatness. The Noise, an accountability advocate, will tally his hits and misses and post the results, whether genius or moronic, each week using the scoring system listed at the end of the lames segment.

*BNRK = Big Noise weekly position ranking
*Y!% = Percentage owned, started in Yahoo! Plus leagues

Week 9 Fantasy Flames
Player Team Pos Opp BNRK Y!%
Marc Bulger
QB
10 63, 33
Lowdown: For much of the season the Bulge has done backstrokes in an overflowing pool of ice cubes. Once considered an elite fantasy quarterback, the fragile passer has endured much hardship this season. A rickety offensive line has left him routinely exposed, indicative in his 22 tallied sacks. Because Bulger is a stone statue in the pocket, he needs time to deliver passes crisply and efficiently. Although he was slammed to the turf four times last week in New England, the 31-year-old still had enough space to connect with his receivers on a number of occasions. His 301-yard effort was his first 300 game since Week 10 last year. Due to Donnie Avery and, to a lesser extent, Keenan Burton's rapid development, his YPA average has soared from 5.7 in his first four games to 9.0 in his last two. Jim Haslett noted after Sunday's defeat in Foxboro that Bulger and his young battery of receivers are still "learning each other." Matched against an Arizona defense that has surrendered 274 passing yards and three air strikes per game since Week 4, equal to the most fantasy points allowed, the much maligned QB and his targets will be on the same page. Drew Brees, Philip Rivers and Jake Delhomme owners should classify Bulger an elite bye-week stopgap.
Fearless Forecast: 20-35, 283 passing yards, 2 passing touchdowns, 1 interception
Ricky Williams
RB
17 52, 19
Lowdown: It seems for most of the season the Holistic One has paced the fantasy sidelines daydreaming about lounging around in his favorite Baja hoodie while toking emissions from a giant nuclear chimney. Averaging an unexciting 3.8 yards per carry and 50.1 total yards per game, the Ricky revival has yet to hit South Beach. Former NFL scout Ken Moll recently told the Miami Herald he believes Williams is now just a "capable backup" who has "lost a step and no longer has great burst." Absent burst or not, a handicapped walrus could rack appreciable stats against Denver. Over the past four weeks the Broncos have conceded 6.6 yards per carry, 212 total yards and 1.5 end-zone dives to RBs, equal to the second-most fantasy points yielded. Yes, Ronnie Brown is still the primary back, but Tony Sparano's desire to get Ricky more touches suggests he could total top-15 RB numbers at Invesco. Activate the 30-something rusher in the Flex in all leagues. He could do significant damage with 10-15 touches.
Fearless Forecast: 13 carries, 65 rushing yards, 2 receptions 14 receiving yards, 1 touchdown
Tim Hightower
RB
16 80, 38
Lowdown: Arizona's goal-line bloodhound doesn't posses the daunting height of a certain blue-clad Hightower made famous by Bubba Smith, but he sure packs plenty of firepower. Subtly, Ken Whisenhunt announced Monday the rookie from Richmond is slowly being transitioned into the Cards' lead role. Per the Arizona Republic, "I think we've shown we're going to play with the players that we feel give us the best chance to win. At a point we feel Tim gives us the best chance to win, then absolutely." Let's face it: At 30, Edge's tires are showing irreversible wear, which explains why he's averaged a mere 3.5 yards per clip, the second-lowest mark of his memorable career. Hightower hasn't exactly exuded Pro Bowl caliber skills, but his level of play has exceeded that of the veteran. If Whisenhunt were to experiment with his proposed plan, this would be the ideal week. St. Louis has surrendered 4.7 yards per carry, 145.5 total yards per game and four scores to plowshares since Week 5, equal to the sixth-most fantasy points allowed. Yes, 'Zona is a pass-centered offense, but because of Kurt Warner's pinpoint accuracy (70.2 comp. %) and presumed motivation to perform well in front of his former admirers, the Cards should move the ball uninhibitedly, which means Hightower could receive several touches inside the red-zone. Expect the youngster to tally his second multi-TD effort of the season.
Fearless Forecast: 10 carries, 39 rushing yards, 3 receptions, 22 receiving yards, 2 touchdowns
Kevin Curtis
WR
18 84, 43
Lowdown: Looking at Curtis' finely trimmed beard and Dirk Diggler-styled mop, you'd think he was an extra in "Boogie Nights." After getting re-acclimated to the weekly NFL grind last week versus Atlanta (3 catches, 45 yards), the pint-sized speedster is destined to rule the dance floor in Seattle. The Seahawks have been repeatedly clipped by receivers in recent weeks. In their past five contests, they've allowed the second-most fantasy points to wideouts. They've also conceded seven 40-yard pass plays this year, the most in the NFL. Andy Reid remarked to the Cherry Hill Courier Post on Tuesday that he felt Curtis "had too many snaps" against Atlanta. The portly coach emphasized he wants him to "gradually get back into the swing of things" over the next 2-3 weeks. Still, Curtis experienced only minor soreness after last week's game and is confident he will have the stamina and endurance to remain on the field for most, if not all, of Sunday's clash at Qwest Field. Based on the favorable matchup, he should be very effective even if he nets 75 percent of the team snaps. Assuming he and the Eagles escape the Phillies-created chaos unscathed, start him with confidence as a WR3 in all 12-team leagues.
Fearless Forecast: 5 receptions, 66 receiving yards, 1 touchdown
Brandon Lloyd
WR
21 33, 11
Lowdown: Sidelined since Week 4 with a sprained left knee, the acrobatic Lloyd is hopeful he will return to action Sunday against the hapless Lions. The wideout, who has averaged a commendable 62.3 yards per game in four contests, practiced on a limited basis Wednesday. On Tuesday, he noted to the Chicago Tribune that his knee has felt "dramatically different every day." Lloyd stressed he will not play unless he's 100 percent. At print time Thursday morning, it's hard to definitively say whether or not he will suit up. If he trots out of the tunnel Sunday morning consider him a strong WR3 play in 12-team and deeper leagues. The Lions have conceded three 100-yard receivers and three touchdowns to wideouts in their past four games, equal to the sixth-most fantasy points allowed. Given Kyle Orton's dramatic ascension and Week 5 success against the Kitties in Detroit (70.6 comp. %, 334 yards, 2 TDs), an active Lloyd is worth the gamble. If he's unable to go, anticipate standout numbers from Devin Hester and possibly Rashied Davis.
Fearless Forecast: 5 receptions, 82 receiving yards, 1 touchdown

Other Flame candidates: Kyle Orton (vs. Det), David Garrard (at Cin), Kevin Faulk (at Ind), Derrick Ward (vs. Dal), Justin Fargas (vs. Atl), Steve Breaston (at StL), Kevin Walter (at Min), Ted Ginn (at Den), Wes Welker (at Ind)

Shocker Special of the Week
Player Team Pos Opp BNRK Y!%
Reggie Williams
WR
37 21, 9
Lowdown: Williams' broad smile and long dreads are fitting for a Caribbean tourism commercial, but his fantasy contributions haven been far from paradisial. One of the most consistent end-zone finders in virtual pigskin a season ago, the Jags third all-time receiving leader in touchdowns found pay-dirt for the first time this season last week against Cleveland. Overshadowed by Matt Jones' dramatic emergence, Williams has practically vanished. His 3.3 fantasy points per game mark ranks 82nd among wideouts. But with Jones' looming three-game suspension possibly beginning this week, he could become relevant once again. Cincinnati's secondary has unraveled of late. Since Week 5, the Bengals have surrendered eight scores to receivers, the second-most in the NFL. Because of Williams' skyscraper 6-foot-4 frame and historical rapport with Garrard near the goal-line, he should tally several red-zone targets. Keep in mind Jones has averaged nine targets per game this season, which means R-Dubs could net double-digit looks, especially given Mike Walker's questionable label and Jerry Porter's general worthlessness. His yardage totals won't be otherworldly, but 50-plus yards and a score is attainable, assuming his minor hamstring injury isn't burdensome.
Fearless Forecast: 5 receptions, 78 receiving yards, 1 touchdown

Other potential Shockers: Ray Rice (at Cle), Rashied Davis (vs. Det), Bobby Wade (vs. Hou), Bo Scaife (vs. GB)

Week 9 Fantasy Lames
Player Team Pos Opp BNRK Y!%
Brett Favre
QB
12 99, 62
Lowdown: If Favre ever attended a McCain/Palin rally or took a time machine back to 13th century Europe, he would simply be known as Brett the Graybeard. Showing his age in recent weeks, the pepper-haired gunslinger has reverted back to his careless youth. In his past three contests, he's compiled an upchuck worthy 3:7 TD:INT split. Eric Mangini, who idiotically blamed Chansi Stuckey for Favre's late-game pick which was returned for a TD last week versus KC, contends the 38-year-old isn't at fault, "He's thrown the most touchdowns and the most picks (in history), and I'm not in any way saying we're striving to keep that trend intact. But we're going to look at it in all of the different levels, things he can do better, things the receivers could do better, the O-line, play selection. It's never one guy's fault." Note to Mangenious: sailing passes, poor coverage reads and moronic decisions fall squarely on the shoulders of your QB. This week won't get much easier for the future HOFer. The Jets face a tough intradivisional foe, Buffalo, in the Wing City. The Bills have yielded the third-fewest 20-yard pass plays (14) and a meager one touchdown per contest to signal callers, the fourth-fewest in the NFL. Sure, Favre is a living legend, but takeaway his six touchdown outburst Week 4 versus Arizona and he's been just as effective as David Garrard (17.6 FPPG, Favre: 17.3) and Gus Frerotte (16.9 FPPG).
Fearless Forecast: 22-35, 218 passing yards, 1 touchdown, 2 interceptions
Willie Parker
RB
20 99, 20
Lowdown: Peter Parker in dweeb form has a better shot to post viable fantasy totals than Fast Willie this week. The rocket-footed back, derailed by a sprained MCL since Week 3, practiced Wednesday without restriction but remains guarded about his availability for Monday's clash in Washington, saying "I'll take it day by day. Every time I think I feel good it turns out I don't really feel that good." Despite his cautious statement, the likelihood Parker will play appears strong. Even if he does strap on the pads, he's not a recommended option. The Redskins' 4-3 defense has been brilliant in the trenches over the past five weeks, surrendering 3.3 yards per carry, 92.4 total yards per game and two scores to rushers, equal to the third-fewest fantasy points allowed. Mewelde Moore's stellar efforts also suggest a loose timeshare could be initially installed. Toss in Ben Roethlisberger's continued shoulder troubles and the ground game may struggle on election eve. Earnest Graham (at KC), Edgerrin James (at StL) and Thomas Jones (at Buf) are more formidable plays this week.
Fearless Forecast: 20 carries, 72 rushing yards, 1 reception, 7 receiving yards, 0 touchdowns
Clinton Portis
RB
19 100, 98
Lowdown: Apparently, the Drag Queen of Mean's Halloween costume may consist of a tight-fitting black glove and delusional alter-ego. Portis, who jokingly professed his admiration for OJ after tying the psychotic felon for most five consecutive 120-yard rushing game stretches in a career (2), would be sick to think he could continue the streak against Steely McBeam. The Steelers have yielded a mere 3.0 yards per carry, 108.3 total yards per game and two scores to tugboats since Week 4, equal to the sixth-fewest fantasy points conceded. Nowhere close to 100 percent, Portis is dealing with hip and ankle pain, which he confessed Monday will likely be bothersome, "My ankle is going to hurt, but I'll be ready for the game Monday [against Pittsburgh]." Yes, it's impossible to bench the No. 1 back in fantasy, but a lackluster performance similar to Week 3's 87 total yards versus Arizona (sans the TD) is probable. Remember, Dick LeBeu's inflexible 3-4 hasn't allowed a 100-yard rusher in nine straight games.
Fearless Forecast: 23 carries, 82 rushing yards, 2 receptions, 9 receiving yards, 0 touchdowns
Greg Jennings
WR
22 100, 75
Lowdown: Tagging fantasy's No. 5 ranked receiver a lame might insinuate the Noise has been throwing back tall boys with John Daly at his favorite North Carolina Hooters, but the Titans are fantasy killers. Just ask Reggie Wayne owners. Jennings is a deadly lightning bolt who has forged an unbreakable bond with Aaron Rodgers. The Packers' QB defined his top target's game best two weeks ago to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, stating "He's a very smooth route runner. He's made some great run-after-the-catches, turning some 10-yard plays into 30-yard plays. That's a big dynamic of our offense. He's had the opportunity to make some big plays out of some medium plays." But outside of the hyperbole, the matchup doesn't appear favorable on paper. Unfathomably, Tennessee has not allowed a 90-yard WR performance or receiver touchdown this season. Overall, only Indianapolis has surrendered fewer fantasy points to wideouts. It's extremely difficult to deactivate one of the game's premiere talents, especially after a bye week, but in a hostile environment and facing an intimidating defense Jennings could underwhelm. Keep him active in PPR leagues, but 10-team and shallower formats may want to rely on someone with a friendlier matchup (e.g. DeSean Jackson (at Sea), Bernard Berrian (vs. Hou) or Donnie Avery (vs. Ari)).
Fearless Forecast: 5 receptions, 53 receiving yards, 0 touchdowns
Randy Moss
WR
27 100, 97
Lowdown: Out from underneath the fantasy rock, Country Dangerous has shed his hermit lifestyle in recent weeks. In his past four contests, Moss has totaled three touchdowns and averaged five receptions and 77 yards per game, good for a top-12 ranking in FPPG during that span. However, the uber-talented wideout is primed to hibernate once again this week in Indianapolis. The much-anticipated return of stalwart safety Bob Sanders should reinforce a secondary that performed admirably in his absence. Since Week 5 the Colts have yielded only two 70-yard receivers and one wideout touchdown, equal to the fourth-fewest fantasy points surrendered. With Tony Dungy's stingy pass defense operating at close to full strength, Moss will be mitigated. Remember, the fundamental principle of the Cover 2 scheme is to limit explosive pass plays. Rams corner Ron Bartell noted to the Boston Globe on Monday, "most of the balls he (Moss) caught in man-to-man coverage were slants. They did some different things to free him up." Because the Cover 2 typically leaves voids underneath, look for Bill Belichick to use Moss similarly – good news for PPR, not standard, league owners. Add in a decrepit ground game and Matt Cassel's inconsistencies, and most managers should expect a relatively fruitless day from No. 81.
Fearless Forecast: 5 receptions, 56 receiving yards, 0 touchdowns

Other Lame candidates: Aaron Rodgers (at Ten), Matt Ryan (at Oak), Steve Slaton (at Min), Jamal Lewis (vs. Bal), Santana Moss (vs. Pit), Santonio Holmes (at Was)

SCORING BENCHMARKS
QBs: 15+ fantasy points
RBs: 10+ fantasy points
WRs: 7+ fantasy points
TEs: 6+ fantasy points
D/ST: 10+ fantasy points
*Scoring system:
4 PTs/Pass TD
1 PT/20 pass yards
6 PTs/Rush-Rec TD
1 PT/10 Rush-Rec yards
-1 PT/INT or FL
WEEK 8 FLAMES RESULTS
W: Donnie Avery = 22 Points
L: Jeff Garcia = 11 Points
L: Pierre Thomas = 2 Points
L: Cedric Benson = 6 Points
L: Isaac Bruce = 4 Points
L: Marques Colston = 5 Points
L: Malcolm Floyd (SS) = 2 Points
Week 8 Flame Record: 1-6
Shocker Specials: 3-5
Season Total: 28-26 = 51.9%
WEEK 8 LAMES RESULTS
W: Michael Turner = 5 Points
W: Plaxico Burress = 1 Point
L: Peyton Manning = 23 Points
L: Marshawn Lynch = 15 Points
L: Steve Breaston = 9 Points
Week 8 Lame Record: 2-3
Season Total: 24-16 = 60.0%

SILENCE THE NOISE CHALLENGE
Each week one lucky aspiring fantasy prognosticator is chosen to go toe-to-toe against the Noise. If you want to be a guest "expert" submit your flames, lames (QB, 2 RB, 2 WR/TE) and shocker special (any position) along with a valid email address here no later than midnight central time on Tuesdays. Oh, and please, no long dissertations to justify your picks. All thatâs required are your player selections and projections. Winners earn a league spot to compete against yours truly next season. Good luck!

Week 9 contestant: JJ from Louisville, Ky.

Flames:
Derek Anderson, Cle (vs. Bal): 253 passing yards, 3 passing touchdowns, 2 interceptions
Dominic Rhodes/Joseph Addai, Ind (vs. NE): 18 carries, 76 rushing yards, 5 receptions, 38 receiving yards, 1 touchdown
Fred Taylor, Jac (vs. Cin): 14 carries, 105 rushing yards, 2 receptions, 21 receiving yards, 0 touchdowns
Eddie Royal, Den (vs. Mia): 8 receptions, 110 receiving yards, 1 touchdown
Kevin Walter, Hou (at Min): 6 receptions, 70 receiving yards, 1 touchdown

Shocker Special:
James Hardy, Buf (vs. NYJ): 4 receptions, 60 receiving yards, 1 touchdown

Lames:
Kyle Orton, Chi (vs. Det): 185 passing yards, 0 touchdowns, 2 interceptions, 1 fumble lost
Chris Johnson, Ten (vs. GB): 15 carries, 43 rushing yards, 2 receptions, 17 receiving yards, 0 touchdowns
Steven Jackson, StL (vs. Ari): 18 carries, 54 rushing yards, 4 receptions, 43 receiving yards, 0 touchdowns
Calvin Johnson, Det (at Chi): 3 receptions, 44 receiving yards, 8 rushing yards, 0 touchdowns
Santana Moss, Was (vs. Pit): 3 receptions, 45 receiving yards, 0 touchdowns

Week 8 Results: Elliot from Fremont, Calif.
Flames: 2-4, 33.3% (W - Thomas Jones, Lance Moore; L - JT O'Sullivan, Earnest Graham, Mike Furrey, Josh Morgan (SS))
Lames: 2-3, 40% (W - Brandon Jacobs, Marvin Harrison; L - Kurt Warner, Marshawn Lynch, Roddy White)

Noisers YTD - Flames: 27-21, 56.3%; Lames: 21-18, 53.8%; Shocker Special: 6-2, 75.0%

Challenge Winners: (Brian from Dallas, Noah from Kansas City, Bill from Indonesia, Zhen from Shanghai, Elliot from Fremont, Calif.)

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