• Fog Bowl This Week: December 11
If you typically play any sort of drinking game associated with things Bryant Gumbel gets wrong – player names, penalties, field goal attempts, down and distance, common football terms – then you're in for a very sober Thursday night. According to the Houston Chronicle, Gumbel will not handle play-by-play duties for the Broncos-Texans game. His throat is sore.
So instead, maybe you can just drink every time a Denver running back other than the one you've started gets to carry the football.
Let's get right to bullets. It's a hectic week.…
• According to the Miami Herald, Cleo Lemon is expected to start for the Dolphins against Baltimore. This matters in two-quarterback leagues, but probably not anywhere else. Lemon has four rushing touchdowns in his six appearances this season. He's also fumbled six times (losing three) and thrown six interceptions, so, as Brad Evans mentioned on Tuesday, the 69.3 percent-owned Baltimore defense – battered and humiliated as it may be – is a great Week 15 play.
• The Miami running game has been extremely useful this season fantasy-wise, in spite of all the losses. Still, Samkon Gado faces a Ravens defense that's allowed only 2.8 yards per carry. Gado is a popular waiver add, though not an obvious start.
• Colts rookie Anthony Gonzalez, however, is both a popular add and likely a top 30 wide receiver in Week 15. He's caught six passes for over 100 yards in two of his last three games, and he hauled in two long touchdowns (57 and 40 yards) during Sunday night's mauling of Baltimore. Marvin Harrison, who's apparently suffering from the deepest and most painful bruise in the history of human bruising, can't be relied on right now.
• During a sports radio segment last Friday, I recommended both Michael Jenkins over Harrison, which was an obvious call, and Chris Redman over Donovan McNabb, which was less obvious. Both start/sit calls worked out. Lots of you would have made the same game-day decisions; I'm not bringing this up to claim any special wisdom. It's only worth mentioning because, this time of year, you'll see lots of fantasy articles that recommend the same thing: play your stars. Don't bench elite players, ever.
I'm certainly in that camp. But the more difficult decisions involve players who used to be top-tier stars and now aren't – guys like McNabb, Frank Gore, Shaun Alexander, Rudi Johnson, Clinton Portis and Carson Palmer (He's still a top 10 quarterback in total fantasy points, but Palmer has gone two weeks without a touchdown pass. And perhaps you've noticed that the Bengals are a wreck). Those are the players that cause the greatest consternation when we rank. Before you default to "play your stars" logic, sort the stars from the former stars.
• Hey, remember Week 2, when experts everywhere insisted that the Bengals defense was a great start against the woeful Browns? And then Cleveland, a team that wasn't actually so woeful, scored 51 points?
Yeah, that was bad. This week we're faced with a similar predicament. The Bengals play at San Francisco on Saturday night, and the 49ers – their offense is last in the NFL in yardage and points – will start Shaun Hill at quarterback.
So what do you do when an easily-resisted force meets an easily-moved object? I've added the Bengals in two leagues for the playoff semis, and I'm strongly considering using them. They've created 30 turnovers, and they've actually outscored Chicago, Washington, Carolina, Denver, Baltimore and a few other more heavily drafted defenses this season.
• The DEF to add if you can is Tampa Bay's. They're only 50-percent owned in Yahoo! leagues, and they'll get Atlanta this week. It's a short week for the Falcons, who lost on Monday night. It's also a completely hopeless week for the Falcons, for obvious reasons.
• It could very well be the most significant snow and/or ice event in fantasy sports history: Periods of rain, snow or sleet expected in Boston on Sunday, according to the National Weather Service. Still, it would take one of those Day After Tomorrow hurricanes – the kind that destroy continents, but that Jake Gyllenhaal can outrun – for me to sit a Patriot.
• More must-read fantasy-related stuff from Rivals.com right here.