Each week the Noise highlights 12-13 somewhat obscure, un-obvious 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 results, whether genius or moronic, the following week using the scoring system shown here. If you're a member of TEAM HUEVOS, reveal your Week 14 Flames in the comments section below.
Jay Cutler, Chi, QB (5-percent started)
Matchup: vs. Dal
The Bears are suffering from a severe case of bipolarity. On defense, they are a sieve, particularly against the run. Holes the width of Lake Superior have become a regularity, allowing even the most marginal RBs to chew up large chunks of real estate. When Benny Cunningham tramples you for 100-plus yards, that says it all. On offense, Chicago is as spectacular as its defense is atrocious. With Matt Forte, Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery and Martellus Bennett on roster, it’s nearly impossible not to put up monster numbers in Marc Trestman’s high-flying scheme. Just look at journeyman Josh McCown, a passer entering the year who hadn't eclipsed the 300-yard mark in a game since 2006, or when people actually gave two craps about 'American Idol.' Over the past two weeks, he’s averaged 353.5 passing yards per game and totaled four passing touchdowns. Cutler told the Trib Monday he would be “pretty disappointed” if he wasn't active this week. Assuming he practices in-full Thursday, His Smugness should meet his goal. Against a decrepit Dallas secondary, which has yielded the most fantasy points to QBs this year, Cutler is in line to register his sixth 20-plus fantasy point performance in nine tries. If unavailable, McCown would be a clear-cut top-five option.
Fearless Forecast (Cutler or McCown): 321 passing yards, 3 passing touchdowns, 0 interceptions, 7 rushing yards, 28.8 fantasy points
Rashard Mendenhall, Ari, RB (23-percent)
Matchup: vs. StL
Raked over the coals by local media and fantasy owners alike weeks ago, the wily veteran has staved off more explosive rookie Andre Ellington, posted suitable numbers and cemented his place as Bruce Arians' most trusted early-down/goal-line rusher (17 GL attempts this year). His totals haven't shaken Fantasyland, but with three touchdowns in his past five and 77.0 total yards per game in his past two, he's contributed FLEX-worthy production of late. Ellington (knee), who according to reports was nowhere close to suiting up last week, remains highly questionable for Sunday. Whether the youngster is available or not, Mendy should get his customary 14-16 touches against visiting St. Louis, an accommodating team against the run. On the year the Rams have surrendered 4.1 yards per carry, 99.3 rushing yards per game and 14 total touchdowns to RBs, equal to the fourth-most fantasy points allowed. With Carson Palmer excelling and the Arizona offensive line improving, he's a better option than you might think, especially if Ellington sits. Deck the Mendenhall in deeper leagues.
Fearless Forecast: 15 carries, 62 rushing yards, 1 reception, 11 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 14.1 fantasy points
Lamar Miller, Mia, RB (38-percent)
Matchup: at Pit
Most fantasy owners would rather re-experience fending off enraged soccer moms hell-bent on scoring a $4.50 waffle iron on Black Friday than put their championship hopes in the hands of an underachieving running back on the road in Pittsburgh. That's understandable. But Miller has a legitimate case. Sans Daniel Thomas last week against an unforgiving Jets defense, the popular sleeper RB in August drafts was finally given a hefty workload. He didn't post extraordinary numbers (85 total yards on 23 touches), but Joe Philbin's commitment in him as the bellcow foreshadowed the rusher's rest-of-season role. As discussed repeatedly in this space this season, the Steelers D has shown its age. Troy Polamalu and friends have allowed a laudable 3.97 yards per carry to RBs this year, but seven rushers have reached double-digits in weekly scoring against them, a very uncharacteristic outcome for an organization that historically hangs its hat on defense and ball control. Unless Mike Tomlin sweeps the leg on Miller runs near the sideline, count on the 'Fin to exceed expectations. Follow the volume.
Fearless Forecast: 21 carries, 84 rushing yards, 2 receptions, 13 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 17.2 fantasy points
Julian Edelman, NE, WR (27-percent)
Matchup: vs. Cle
If Edelman was a Dr. Seuss product he would definitely be a Thneed. He's a Fine-Something-That-All-Teams-Need. Ultra-versatile and highly useful, the underrated target has delivered sound production whether lined up in the slot (55.2-percent of the time) or out wide. Over the past two weeks, he's been targeted 23 times, catching 18 passes for 211 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Because of Joe Haden, many owners automatically shiver in their boots when they see 'Cleveland' on the docket. Yes, Haden has been solid, but as Antonio Brown and Cecil Shorts most recently proved, he's far from lock-down. So are the Browns' complementary DBs. Buster Skrine has yielded an 82.8 QB rating to his assignments. Meanwhile, Chris Owens was placed on injured reserve Tuesday, forcing the Browns to promote Julian Posey from the practice squad, a corner with two games of NFL experience. Hello, exploitable matchup. It's likely Haden will be shifted around, focusing a great deal of his attention on containing Rob Gronkowski. If that's the case, Edelman stands to benefit greatly. With the resurrection of Tom Brady in full-swing and given New England's rather unsubstantial ground game, the plucky weapon should generate high-end WR2 numbers in 12-teamers at home.
Fearless Forecast: 6 receptions, 78 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 18.3 fantasy points
Jacoby Jones, Bal, WR (7-percent)
Matchup: vs. Min
Barely surviving Tomlin's Cobra Kai move Thanksgiving night, Jones again proved valuable, particularly for those in leagues that score handsomely for return yardage. In standard formats, he's also turned a decent profit in consecutive games, totaling eight receptions (on 13 targets) for 156 yards and a touchdown. Because of his limitations as a short-to-intermediate weapon, Jones is wildly inconsistent. In eight games this season, he's surpassed the 10 fantasy point threshold twice. Normally, he isn't a recommended play, but Minnesota presents a unique situation. Torpedoed by injuries, the Vikings secondary has been picked apart in recent weeks. Since Week 8, it's surrendered the ninth-most fantasy points to wide receivers, including an historic 12-249-2 line to Alshon Jeffery last week. DBs Xavier Rhodes, Chris Cook and Robert Blanton have struggled, to say the least. Jones is very hit or miss, but if there was ever a week for him to nail the bull's eye, this is it.
Fearless Forecast: 4 receptions, 67 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 15.7 fantasy points
SHOCKER SPECIAL (Under 10-percent started)
Ladarius Green, SD, TE (3-percent)
Matchup: vs. NYG
Freak. Superhuman. Otherworldly. These are descriptions many close the Chargers organization have attached to Green during his first couple years in the league. Hanging in the shadows behind future HOFer Antonio Gates, the ex-Rajun Cajun has only flashed glimpses of his upside. Until now. Over the past three weeks, only Rob Gronkowski, Vernon Davis and Zach Ertz (thanks to Arizona's TE allergy) have outperformed the diamond in the rough. During that stretch, he’s enticed 16 targets, caught nine passes for 206 yards and splashed the invisible pool twice. Most importantly, last week he played on 91-percent of the Chargers' snaps. Considering Antonio Gates is nowhere close to 100-percent and the fact San Diego features many two-TE sets, Green should continue to sit at the TE1 table for the foreseeable future. His Week 14 opponent, the New York Giants, have conceded the eighth-most fantasy points to tight ends on the year. If you’re tired of inconsistent production at TE, Green is your guy.
Fearless Forecast: 3 receptions, 56 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 13.8 fantasy points
BONUS WEEK 14 FLAMES
TEAM HUEVOS PICKS OF THE WEEK
Each week one fortunate guest prognosticator will have a chance to silence the Noise. Following the rules stated above, participants are asked to submit their "Flames" (1 QB, 2 RBs, 2 WRs, 1 TE, 1 D/ST) by midnight PT Tuesdays via Twitter @YahooNoise. How large are your stones?
— bryce ernsberger (@bernsberger38) December 3, 2013
Week 13 Reader Record: 0-7; Year to date: 34-55
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