Week 15 Flames: Crabtree about to light up the playoff season

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 15 Flames in the comments section below.

Alex Smith, KC, QB (25-percent started)

Matchup: at Oak
Distancing himself from the game-manager stereotype, Smith has achieved relatively solid numbers in recent weeks without much fanfare. Since Week 7, he's averaged 220.4 passing yards and 25.4 rushing yards per game with five multi-score performances. His final tally suffered a bit last week in Washington largely due to an enormous early lead. As a result, he bled the clock, attempting only 20 passes. However, against an exploitable Oakland that impossibly made Geno Smith appear competent, he should deliver QB1 production when needed most. Over the past five weeks, only New England, Minnesota and Indy have been more generous to opposing signal callers than the Silver and Yack. Including Geno's four-TD improbable 23-point fantasy effort in standard Yahoo leagues, six passers have finished inside the QB top-12 against the Raiders this season. Oakland's highest-rated corner, Tracy Porter (63.0 catch-percentage allowed), ranks No. 91 in pass coverage per Pro Football Focus. And, again, he's their best. Owners who've survived with sketchy options at quarterback should strongly consider banging the tribal drum.

Fearless Forecast: 244 passing yards, 2 passing touchdowns, 0 interceptions, 29 rushing yards, 23.1 fantasy points

Pierre Thomas, NO, RB (43-percent)

Matchup: at StL
After a stirring midseason run that helped propel this writer into his fantasy playoffs in a PPR league and stave off public humiliation (Placed a side bet involving a Brazilian wax. Thankfully, my undercarriage will remain undisturbed.), the PT Bruiser has slowed to a stop. From Weeks 8-12, the underrated Saint tallied 17.9 fantasy points in a PPR setting, firmly ranking him inside the top-15 among rushers during that stretch. However, recording just 18 total touches over the past couple weeks, he was a victim of in-game circumstances and a pair of tough matchups (at Sea and vs. Car). That won't be the case this week in The Lou. The Rams, though intimidating on the edge thanks to Robert Quinn and Chris Long, are highly exploitable on inside runs. Routinely gashed between-the-tackles, they've allowed 99.1 rushing yards per game and 14 touchdowns to RBs. Equally encouraging for Thomas, St. Louis 5.2 receptions per game to rushers, the 10th-most in the league. A critical part of the Saints' screen game, he could inflict heavy damage via the air. He'll, as usual, work in tandem with Darren Sproles and Mark Ingram, but underutilized the past couple weeks, PT gasses up and rolls over Rams.

Fearless Forecast: 13 carries, 54 rushing yards, 5 receptions, 27 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 17.8 fantasy points

Ryan Mathews, SD, RB (38-percent)

Matchup: at Den
It's time to give credit where credit is due, gamer. Mathews, tossed under a bus and driven over repeatedly by scorned owners, is undergoing a career revival. Healthy, finally getting fed and again becoming an integral part of the pass game, he has quietly delivered RB2-level production over the past several games. Since Week 6, he's averaged 4.7 yards per carry, 92.8 total yards per game and splashed six four times. His subsequent 12.3 points per game output during that stretch ranks No. 18 among RBs, besting Frank Gore, Alfred Morris and Le'Veon Bell. With faint playoff hopes alive, the Chargers travel to Denver in a classic David vs. Goliath matchup in prime time. In an attempt to chill Peyton Manning on the sidelines, expect Mathews and tag-team partner Danny Woodhead to be the focus of Mike McCoy's game-plan. In the first matchup, the resurrected rusher gained just 61 yards on 15 touches, but did find the end-zone. Despite the tough road environment, he should be even better the second time around. Over the past three weeks, the Broncos have yielded 4.58 yards per carry and four 11-plus point RBs. Plug him in.

Fearless Forecast: 19 carries, 81 rushing yards, 3 receptions, 17 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 18.0 fantasy points

Michael Crabtree, SF, WR (11-percent)

Matchup: at TB
Typically, catching crabs is a rather unpleasant experience, but for owners itching for a title, it will be quite pleasurable. Shaking off the rust in his first two games since rupturing his Achilles in June, the tacky-handed receiver has barely made a peep. Against St. Louis and a very stingy Seattle secondary, he attracted 12 targets, catching six passes for 108 yards and zero touchdowns. However, this is the week forward-thinkers' patience is finally rewarded. Because Crabtree is still rounding into form, it's likely Darrelle Revis will shadow Anquan Boldin almost exclusively Sunday. That happens, and the former Red Raider should become the apple of Colin Kaepernick's eye. Ancillary corners Jonathan Banks and Leonard Johnson have surrendered a combined 64.2 catch percentage, 13.0 yards per catch and an 87.4 QB rating to their assignments. Several secondary receivers, including Nate Burleson, Brandon LaFell, Riley Cooper and Jermaine Kearse, totaled appreciable numbers against them. Due to the duo's giving ways, it's highly conceivable Crabtree entices double-digit targets and lands inside the WR top-20 for the first time this season.

Fearless Forecast: 6 receptions, 84 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 18.9 fantasy points

Brian Hartline, Mia, WR (33-percent)

Matchup: vs. NE
Of late, Ryan Tannehill has drawn more attention for his DICK's trick-shots, but his on-field production also deserves plenty of accolades. The sophomore passer has willed his team into the wildcard conversation, chewing up chunks of real estate with his arm and legs. As a result of the QB's torrid play, Hartline has caught fire. Targeted 28 times over the past three weeks, he's hauled in 19 receptions for 256 yards and two touchdowns. He did very little in New England Week 8, totaling a lowly four receptions for 37 yards. However, with Aqib Talib likely to drape Mike Wallace, Hartline should take advantage of his one-on-one opportunities against Kyle Arrington. On the year, the Pats corner has conceded a 58.6 catch rate and 100.7 QB rating to his assignments. Have a Hart, especially in PPR leagues.

Fearless Forecast: 6 receptions, 78 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 18.3 fantasy points

SHOCKER SPECIAL (Under 10-percent started)

Chris Ogbonnaya, Cle, RB (5-percent)

Matchup: vs. Chi
With a name that makes announcers and spelling bee contestants sweat, Ogbonnaya, no matter if you pronounce it correctly (The ‘g’ is silent, by the way) is a name trophy-seeking owners should get to know. Over the past four weeks, he’s made little fantasy noise despite seeing 44-plus snaps three times. During that stretch, he didn’t break the plane once and averaged a pedestrian 53.3 total yards per game on roughly 8-10 touches per contest. The former Longhorn isn’t particularly special, but he’s fabulous in the pass game and generates appreciable yards on downhill runs (4.67 yards per carry). Most importantly for playoff purposes, he could be a difference maker. Willis McGahee, concussed last week against New England, is in a race to pass league protocol. If the RB relic is unavailable, which is a strong possibility, Ogbonnaya would be in line to rack 15-18 touches against a Chicago defense that’s resembled the Bernstein Bears. Since Week 9, rushers have trounced the Mice of the Midway, netting an unreal 6.11 yards per carry. When future HOFer Benny Cunningham rolls up 109 yards (on just 13 carries) and a TD against you, that sums it up. Monitor practice reports closely this week, but if OGBYN is thrust into a lead role, he’s a Brown bound to pack a vicious bite.

Fearless Forecast (as starter): 15 carries, 78 rushing yards, 3 receptions, 21 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, 18.1 fantasy points



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?

Week 13 Reader Record: 2-5; Year to date: 36-60

Want to bull rush Brad? Find him on Twitter. Also, check out the Yahoo! Fantasy and Rotoworld crew every Thursday on 'Fantasy Football Live' starting at 6:30 PM ET on NBC Sports Network (Find channel here) and online at Yahoo! Sports (Watch here)