TOYOTA TUNDRA – PICKUPS OF THE WEEK
This week, Yahoo! Sports fantasy expert Brad Evans looks at eight intriguing fantasy football players, and a defense, likely to be available on the waiver wire in fantasy leagues.
Strong Buy (10-teams plus) Minnesota's 'Spiderman' the perfect superhero for frantic Aaron Rodgers owners
Joe Webb (QB) Minnesota Vikings
Webb is without a doubt one of the virtual game's most intriguing plug 'n play options this week. Rookie Christian Ponder, concussed in last week's win at Washington, could be sidelined in Week 17. The backup has excelled in spurts this season. His late-game contributions against Detroit (12-23, 84-1, 109-1) and Washington (4-5, 84-2, 34-1) were nothing short of spectacular. In a way, he's the NFC's version of Jake Locker, an incredibly versatile asset just waiting for his opportunity to shine. The Bears, excluding A-Rod's 5-TD lashing on Christmas night, have held passers in check in recent weeks. Outside Rodgers, Philip Rivers is the only other passer to tally multiple touchdowns against Charles Tillman and friends since Week 9. Still, Webb's dual-threat skills and expected full workload places him firmly in the Noise's QB top 10 this week. Want to win a championship? Sound the horn.
Solid Buy (12-teams plus) With Pack's playoff fate determined, backup likely to get chance
Matt Flynn (QB) Green Bay Packers
Now that the Packers have clinched home-field advantage, it's likely Mike McCarthy will give his starters much needed rest. Undoubtedly, Rodgers will lobby for playing time, but he may only log a preseason-like workload, if any reps at all. Flynn has rarely been called upon in his four-year career. In his lone start, two years ago against New England, he racked 251 yards with three touchdowns and two turnovers. Still, this is an opportunity for the impending free agent to showcase his wares. Many scouts believe the backup could thrive if given the keys to another franchise. Detroit, Green Bay's Week 17 opponent, is not locked into the five-seed. It's likely Jim Schwartz will play his starters in an attempt to avoid a trip to the Bayou. A matchup against the Giants/Cowboys would be far less intimidating, especially after the 31-17 mauling the Lions received in 'Nawlins earlier this month. Regardless, it's an attractive matchup for Flynn. Detroit has given up the second-most fantasy points to passers since Week 12. Cut off a slice.
Strong Buy (12-teams plus) From outhouse to penthouse, journeyman could deliver in your championship
Josh McCown (QB) Chicago Bears
"Respectable" best summarizes the vagabond's first start as a Bear. Given the situation – Green Bay, Christmas night, no Matt Forte, home-field on the line for the Packers – McCown played about as well as one could have expected. Outside two interceptions and a couple of out passes only a groundhog could catch, he threaded a number of needles, made crisp throws and sound decisions. His final 242-1-2-38-2pt line and subsequent 17.48 fantasy points was the 12th-best output among Week 16 passers – not bad for a semi-retired quarterback who was coaching high school football just a month ago. Gifted a wrecked Minnesota secondary this week, he could firt with the position's top 10 yet again. Since Week 12, the Vikes have surrendered 8.7 yards per attempt, 277.4 passing yards and 2.8 touchdowns per game to signal callers, equal to the fifth-most fantasy points allowed. Jay Cutler went for 21.4 fantasy points in the Bears' first clash with the division rival. In the encore, McCown may best that production.
Strong Buy (12-teams plus) Backup could be goldmine against St. Louis
Kendall Hunter (RB) San Francisco 49ers
For weeks Jim Harbaugh has described Frank Gore as not being 100 percent. Bothered by a myriad of injuries, the rusher isn't the picture of perfect health. Only two times over the past five weeks has the incumbent eclipsed the 20-carry mark. Though the Niners are still trying to fend off New Orleans for the two-seed, Harbaugh may continue to limit Gore's workload. If that happens, Hunter, coming off an 84-total yard effort in Seattle, should rack upwards of 14-17 touches against the woeful Rams. As usual, St. Louis ranks near the top of the league in most points allowed to rushers. On the season, it's yielded 4.9 yards per carry, 132.1 rushing yards and 1.0 rushing TDs per game to RBs. A dinged Gore went for just 73 yards on 21 carries against the Rams in Week 13. However, in the rematch, Hunter, who's grabbed owners' attention a couple times this season, should finish in the 80-100 total yard range. Think of him as a high-end flex or back-half RB2 in 12-team formats.
Solid Buy (12-teams plus) Ancient veteran worth dusting off in deep leagues
Sammy Morris (RB) Dallas Cowboys
The former Bill-Dolphin-Patriot has seemingly been around forever. He's so old he twice voted for Grover Cleveland. But despite his advanced age, the relic is still fantasy-useful, particularly this week in a win-and-your-in battle against the Giants. It's highly unlikely Felix Jones, limited by a tender hammy, will exceed anythimg more than 15-20 touches, paving the way for Morris to record at least 12 carries for the third consecutive week. New York's run defense, hindered by ongoing injuries, continues to express its generosity. Over the past five weeks, the unit has conceded 4.4 yards per carry, 167.4 total yards per game and four touchdowns to RBs, equal to the eighth-most fantasy points allowed. Morris isn't exactly fleet-of-foot, but he's still powerful enough to do damage on interior runs. Because the Giants have struggled in all facets defensively, Morris is in good position to sneak 50-70 total yards and a touchdown. If you're desperate for a flex play, wish upon a star.
Strong Buy (12-team PPR) Spectacular showing at Green Bay makes elevated third-stringer a must add in shallow leagues
Khalil Bell (RB) Chicago Bears
Bell, arguably the hottest rusher in virtual pigskin still owned in under 35-percent of Yahoo! leagues, is an underrated difference-maker. Over the past two weeks, he's compiled 267 total yards with a touchdown. Against Green Bay, the undrafted UCLA product exhibited his usual versatily and, most impressively, ran assertively between the tackles. Unfortunatley, though, he botched two scoring attempts. Still, in an offense that features RBs prominently in the pass game, his plus route-running skills and tender hands were indispensible. Vice-back Armando Allen will wrest away roughly 10-12 touches, but bank on Bell gripping the pigskin roughly 20-25 times in Week 17. Minnesota, once one of the league's most feared run defenses, is a shell of its former self. Since Week 11, five rushers have scored at least 14 fantasy points against it, including Evan Royster last week. Hell's Bell, he'll get you ringing.
Solid Buy (12-teams plus) Emperor could deliver kingly riches in possible expanded role
Titus Young (WR) Detroit Lions
As discussed earlier, it's unknown what Jim Schwartz plans to do with his starters, but one thing is certain: Green Bay will pack it in. Regardless if Young's role expands, he could be deep-league useful. The Packers, even when functioning at full-strength, have given up the fifth-most fantasy points to wide receivers this season, including 13 double-digit performances. It's safe to assume the second team could be even more giving. Young managed just one reception for 13 yards in the division foes' first tango back in Week 12. But with Schwartz likely to pull out all the stops in an attempt to avoid another showdown in the Superdome, the wideout has favorable odds of finishing inside the WR top-35 in the rematch. Investigate his availability.
Solid Buy (10-teams plus) Cardinal has opponents seeing red during quiet breakout
Andre Roberts (WR) Arizona Cardinals
Discreetly, Roberts has experienced an awakening in the desert. Remove his 2-8-1 clunker against the Niners three weeks ago and the second-year wideout has performed at a WR2 level. Against Dallas, Cleveland and, last week, Cincinnati, he totaled 18 receptions, 246 yards and a touchdown, good for a rock solid 10.2 points per game in standard formats. John Skelton's confidence in him combined with the defensive attention Larry Fitzgerald typically draws has created many one-on-one situations for Roberts, which the receiver has taken advantage of. At 5-foot-11 and a svelte 195 pounds, the wideout isn't the most physical target. But quick off the line and much improved in the route-running department, he's gained separation with relative ease. Seattle, 'Zona's Week 17 opponent, isn't the greatest of matchups. On the year, the 'Hawks have given up the fourth-fewest fantasy points to WRs. However, with his confidence soaring and role expanding, Roberts is worth the dice roll in resource-strapped leagues.
Solid Buy (all leagues) Week 17 DEF Plug n' Play
Atlanta Falcons Defense/Special Teams
Most fanalysts would never recommend a defense coming off a 38-point throttling at the hands of Drew Brees, but in a matchup-dependent game, a unit can look like garbage one week, gold the next. The Falcons will definitely be the latter in Week 17. Still vying for playoff positioning, Atlanta needs to sink the Buccaneers, and Detroit to lose, to avoid yet another showdown with the Saints. Josh Freeman, one of the league's most efficient passers last year, has stumbled in his third season. Last year he accounted for just 10 total turnovers. This year, that number has swelled to 23. Relatively cool in its first meeting against Tampa, Hotlanta notched a mere six fantasy points in standard formats when the clubs squared off in Week 3. But in the second go round, expect Sean Weatherspoon and friends to fly high. Keep in mind that since Week 12, the Falcons have totaled 15 sacks and forced nine turnovers.