Articles By Corby Yarbrough

All taxonomy terms: Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings, News
Path: /news/can-you-trust-adrian-peterson-play-60-minutes-against-saints

Here we go again with Adrian Peterson, Week 15 and an injury in the fantasy football playoffs.

The Minnesota Vikings’ running back has missed the last three games with a high ankle sprain, and is expected to return today against the visiting New Orleans Saints.

Let’s not forget when we all thought Peterson would start in the fantasy playoffs in Week 15 of last season on a 5-9 Vikings team. He didn’t. We were left scrambling. And many a fantasy players’ season was abruptly ended as the Peterson-less Vikings fell 40-14 to the Chicago Bears.

That was a Monday night game against and we found out 45 minutes before kickoff that Peterson was a no-go. He practiced on the Saturday before the Monday night game but was a late scratch, and too late for many owners to try and slide Toby Gerhart into their starting lineups.

At least this week it is an early game and we will have enough time to make the adjustments if any news comes down.

Peterson was a full participant at practice but when you hear coach Leslie Frazier say “we’ll have to kind of work him in there,” and “we’ll have to monitor how he’s doing,” that doesn’t necessarily exude confidence in starting perhaps the best back in the NFL.

Frazier has said he is certain Peterson will start and his No. 1 back came out of a week of practices without soreness. But that is practice.

This is going up against a Saints defense that, is ranked 15th against the run and coming off a game in which they held Chris Johnson to 23 yards on 11 carries — and that’s a game the Titans were in until the last seconds. The Saints defense is also giving up the 30th most passing yards per game (268.0) on the fourth most attempts per game (39.1). So it could be the Vikings trying to go to the air to either stay in the game or try to get back into the game, because on the defensive side, Minnesota is 18th in yards per game allowed (350.2) and 30th in points allowed per game (28).

Peterson himself estimated on Friday that he was at 85 percent and everything looks like it’s a go for Sunday’s game against New Orleans. But this is Week 15. This is the semifinals for most. This is the time when we scrutinize every little thing in order to get your lineup just right in order to advance. And when you have a stud back returning from injury to play for a 2-11 team as big underdogs against a 10-3 New Orleans team it makes you wonder: Will he stay in the whole time? Will the Vikings be in the game long enough to keep the run game relevant?

My dilemma, in a non-PPR league with no flex, is Shonn Greene and Roy Helu on hot streaks, having already decided to start Felix Jones on Saturday night because the matchup was too enticing and now what to do with Adrian Peterson returning from injury.

I’ve never been a fan of “if you drafted them high then you start them,” but if Peterson says he is good to go then he’s good to go. And I will start him along side Felix Jones and hope to see them both in Week 16.

By Corby A. Yarbrough @Corby_Yarbrough on Twitter

<p> The Vikings running back has a lot of fantasy owners worried in week 15</p>
Post date: Sunday, December 18, 2011 - 07:19
All taxonomy terms: Frank Gore, San Francisco 49ers, News
Path: /news/frank-gore-only-flex-play-49ers

It’s hard to think Frank Gore is anything more than a flex running back this week against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

You would have to hope for the 49ers defense to force some turnovers deep on Pittsburgh’s side of the field — which is possible with the battered offensive line the Steelers must send out there Monday night, or Charlie Batch possibly starting at QB for Ben Roethlisberger — for Gore to have much chance at success.

San Francisco brings the seventh-ranked rushing offense (126.9 YPG) into the game to try and get past the Steelers’ sixth-ranked rushing defense (97.0 YPG) that has allowed just six TDs this season and only two to running backs since Week 5.

And you’d be hard pressed to think the 49ers’ 29th-ranked passing offense (182.1 YPG) will open up much for Gore as the Steelers are No. 1 in the league against the pass at 179.1 yards per game.

So you can thank Gore for staying relatively healthy as a second-round pick and producing four straight games of 19.4 points or more right before the midway point of the schedule and seven double-digit games altogether through 14 weeks this season. He is now battling knee and ankle injuries and has Pittsburgh to contend with in the semifinals of most fantasy football leagues.

When others tell you in the preseason, “in prepping for your draft, that you can’t look to the fantasy playoffs as part of your draft,” I’m here to tell you that’s wrong. Look who are still the top run defenses against fantasy running backs as we enter the semifinals: Baltimore’s No. 2, Pittsburgh’s No. 6 and the New York Jets are No. 7.

If you have a back facing one of these three defenses over the next two to three weeks, good luck.

Like Gore, hope that your guys did a good enough job to keep you afloat through the regular season and you drafted depth or built it on the waiver wire to be able to push names like Gore, Ryan Mathews and now Rashard Mendenahll having to face the No. 1 49ers rush and fantasy RB defense aside this week in order to slide in that depth this week as a starting RB1 or RB2.

By Corby A. Yarbrough @Corby_Yarbrough on Twitter

<p> San Francisco's running back has a tough go against the Steelers</p>
Post date: Sunday, December 18, 2011 - 07:14
All taxonomy terms: Chris Johnson, Tennessee Titans, News
Path: /news/chris-johnson-will-put-big-numbers-against-colts

It doesn’t get any better than this at the running back position does it? Chris Johsnon, the former 2,000-yard back, who can take it to the house on any play, going against the Indianapolis Colts and their 30th-ranked rush defense. And it’s in your semifinal week.

But let’s pump the brakes a bit.

Chris Johnson has almost been a rich man’s LeGarrette Blount this season. A few flashes here and there, but overall a disappointing fantasy season. He has just four games over 64 yards this season and three of those came in the last five weeks. He has four touchdowns this season and three of those came in the last five weeks.

So is he peaking or his he teasing? It’s hard to say. One thing that is for certain is he faced these same terrible Colts in Week 8, a 27-10 win by the Titans, and mustered up 34 yards on 14 carries and 17 yards on three catches. Unless you were in a full-PPR league, Johnson had barely been a flex play before his three explosions in Weeks 10, 12 and 13.

In those three weeks he rushed for 130 yards and a score against a pitiful Carolina defense, 190 yards against an even worse Tampa Bay defense and his high-water mark of the season — a 153-yard, two-TD game against a reeling Buffalo defense. CJ2K was back.

But in between those three explosions resurfaced the early 2011 CJ. He had 12 carries for 13 yards against Atlanta and last week he had 11 carries for 23 yards against a suspect New Orleans defense in a game the Titans were in until the final play.

So it leaves me wondering: Which CJ will we see today? Is it the one we loved two years ago, the one we liked last year or the one we are tolerating this season?

Coming off a dud against New Orleans and having only produced 51 total yards in a Week 8 matchup against Indy in Week 8 does not give me great confidence heading into the Week 15 matchup.

But the Colts have allowed the fifth-most fantasy points to RBs in PPR leagues over the last five weeks and that’s with New England’s 21st-ranked rush offense in there. Since CJ’s bust against them in Week 8, the Colts allowed Michael Turner to gain 71 yards and a TD, Maurice Jones-Drew 114 yards and a TD, Carolina’s duo of DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart 139 yards and two Williams scores and Ray Rice 103 yards and a score and six catches for 46 yards.

Javon Ringer was put on IR this week, leaving Jamie Harper as the backup. QB Matt Hasselbeck is ailing with a calf injury. All signs, and stats are pointing toward the Titans leaning on CJ a lot in this game, and he should be able to come through for you and them.

By Corby A. Yarbrough @Corby_Yarbrough on Twitter

<p> The TItans running back will shake off inconsistencies against lowly Indianapolis</p>
Post date: Sunday, December 18, 2011 - 06:59
All taxonomy terms: Ryan Mathews, San Diego Chargers, News
Path: /news/ryan-mathews-has-tough-match-hes-still-rb2

San Diego Chargers running back Ryan Mathews is coming off three straight games of at least 112 yards rushing after four straight games under 112 total yards.

So which Mathews are we going to get Sunday night against the Baltimore Ravens in Week 15?

Well, the Ravens are ranked second in the league in rushing yards allowed per game (85.8). They have allowed just six rushing touchdowns all season and are No. 3 in scoring defense at 15.5 points allowed per game.

Hope for Mathews to get something done in the receiving game since it is unlikely he will have much success getting in the end zone — carries Mike Tolbert will likely steal anyway. Mathews has 45 catches on 53 targets for 420 yards and no scores this season. He racked up nearly half of those catches and a majority of those yards — 19 for 254 — in the first four weeks. And in those four games, he had rushing totals of 45, 64, 98 and 81.

Mathews finally broke threw with a 100-yard game in Week 5 against Denver, racking up 125 yards on 24 carries, but he managed just one catch for seven yards.

So the trend with Mathews is: if he’s rushing well he’s not catching much. If he’s not rushing well — say under the 85.8 the Ravens are allowing — then his catches are at least helping offset the lack of production as a runner. Mathews has been under 85.8 yards rushing in seven games this season and in those seven he’s averaged 4.3 receptions for 45.9 yards and 51 rushing yards for 12.7 fantasy points in Athlon’s half-PPR scoring format.

Look for Sunday night to certainly be a low-rushing day. The Ravens have only allowed two backs to get above the 85.8 rushing yards a game they allow — Maurice Jones-Drew had 105 yards in Week 7 and Marshawn Lynch had 109 yards and a score in Week 10. Four backs have at least 50 receiving yards against the Ravens since Week 6 — three of them coming since Week 10.

So there is hope for Mathews if he’s used as a runner and receiver, and the numbers on his poor rushing days suggest he can still get you to double digits.

It depends on what you want Mathews for this week. He is probably a mid-level RB2 who you start ahead of Marion Barber, Ryan Grant, Ahmad Bradshaw, Brandon Jacobs, Rashard Mendenhall, C.J. Spiller, any Cleveland RB, any Kansas City RB.

By Corby A. Yarbrough @Corby_Yarbrough on Twitter

<p> The Chargers will lean heavily on Ryan Mathews Against the Ravens</p>
Post date: Sunday, December 18, 2011 - 01:52
Path: /news/dez-bryant-will-be-odd-man-out-against-bucs-laurent-robinson-strong-play

Who is the fantasy odd man out for the Dallas Cowboys when they take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in a Week 15 game Saturday night?

Odds are it is receiver Dez Bryant.

In the year of “Gotta Eat,” not everyone can be fed on this Cowboys team despite the deliciously appetizing meal the Bucs statistically seem ready to serve up.

Laurent Robinson is not going away despite the return of a Miles Austin, who is still not 100 percent with his hamstring injury. Bryant will likely draw Tampa Bay’s top cornerback, Aqib Talib, who is expected to return from a hamstring strain that sidelined him last week. Jason Witten is still a premiere tight end and now the Cowboys run with all-purpose back Felix Jones.

So many players. So many matchups to exploit. Only one football. Only 60 minutes.

With the loss of power back DeMarco Murray, will Jones slide into that role with the same amount of carries? Will he get the same amount of touches, just more in the passing game? Will Dallas go to more three-receiver sets, making Robinson, Austin and Bryant all appealing plays the next few weeks of fantasy? Unfortunately it’s going to take semifinal week of the fantasy playoffs for the Cowboys to figure out what they want to do offensively. Or they could just exploit a bad Bucs defense however they want and it will change entirely in Week 16.

Jones is a great play as basically the only Dallas RB left. Tampa Bay has lost seven in a row, is ranked 28th in rushing yards allowed (139.7) on a sixth-most 30.2 attempts per game and are ranked last in touchdowns allowed (19).

As for Witten, he is averaging 10.79 fantasy points per game this season — ranked sixth at his position — and the Bucs have not really had to deal with too many top tight ends. The faced New Orleans’ Jimmy Graham in Week 6 and gave up seven catches for 124 yards on 11 targets and faced him again in Week 9 when he had six catches for 78 yards on eight targets. Atlanta’s Tony Gonzalez is the only other TE to see at least eight targets, and he had two catches for 18 yards and a TD in Week 3’s 16-13 Falcons win. Witten has seen under eight targets just once in the last five weeks, and he caught five balls for 87 yards and a TD on six targets in that game vs. Baltimore.

So Jones and Witten should be safe to get theirs. That leaves Robinson, Austin and Bryant.

In fantasy you can’t sit the hot hand and Robinson has been that. His targets have dropped each of the last two weeks, but he continues to produce. Since Week 8, he has 50 targets, 32 catches, 530 yards and eight scores. Only in Week 13 did he not score, but still had 4-for-72.

Austin came back from his hamstring injury, and is still reportedly not 100 percent, but turned seven targets into four catches for 63 yards and a score. He had two catches for 53 yards in the Week 9 game against Seattle before re-injuring his hamstring early in the game. Clearly, he is still a favorite target of QB Tony Romo.

And that brings us to Bryant. He was targeted just two times last week, one week after being targeted a season-high 14 times with no Miles Austin in the lineup. He is always a threat to catch the deep ball — see his one catch for a 50-yard touchdown last week — but going against Talib and with so many mouths to feed in the Dallas offense, Bryant will have to be the one to lower your expectations for this week.

Talib has not necessarily lit the world on fire this season. He’s coming off a hamstring injury that’s sidelined him the last two games and Bryant could blow right past him in his return. But Talib has only allowed over 54 yards once since Week 4 and only two TDs in that same time.

Someone has to be the odd man out and stats point to Bryant.

The Cowboys have three receivers that can be the one-long TD type of players and even Jones can take one to the house from anywhere on the field. So it’s almost hope and pray for Bryant with all three receivers active.

I hope I’m wrong, because I have Bryant in two leagues, but unless the Cowboys and Romo put up Case Keenum-Houston Cougars numbers, someone is going to get a little less to eat Saturday night.

By Corby A. Yarbrough @Corby_Yarbrough on Twitter

<p> Bryant will likely be the odd man out against Tampa Bay</p>
Post date: Saturday, December 17, 2011 - 13:35
Path: /news/legarrette-blount-not-trustworthy-start-against-cowboys

The running back situation in the NFL in Week 15 is pretty dire. Two of them have already played in Maurice Jones-Drew and Michael Turner, and they were certainly started in most leagues. And here we are for a Saturday night game, nationally televised by the NFL Network, with a decision to make about Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back LeGarrette Blount.

Starting Blount means there are two questions you have to ask yourself: Do you trust Blount? Do you trust that Bucs coach Raheem Morris will stick with him even in the likelihood that the Bucs will be down?

Tampa Bay has lost seven in a row and in those seven games Blount has cracked double digits in fantasy three times. In the four wins in six games before this losing streak, he cracked double digits twice, including his only 20-point game of the season against the last-place Colts. So five out of 11 games played he has double digits, six he doesn’t.

Plus, there is little margin for error when using Blount as there is a fumble issue that makes it an even smaller margin if your league takes away points for lost fumbles. Blount has fumbled nine times since entering the league last season and has lost six of them. Four of those fumbles, and three lost ones, have come in the last three games.

And now for the big HOWEVER.

The Cowboys are ranked 24th against fantasy running backs this season, and in seven games against sub-.500 teams Dallas has allowed an average of 74.7 yards rushing per game, 13.6 yards receiving per game on an average of 2.9 catches and four total TDs for an average of 13.7 fantasy points per game. Dallas is 6-1 in those games, winning by an average of 10.6 points.

So even in games the Cowboys are beating bad teams by 10.6 points, the high producers at RB of those teams are still collectively averaging 13.7 fantasy points.

I have Blount in a dynasty league and the only thing that gives me hope is he and the Bucs will be better in the near future; but as a week-to-week play he scares the daylights out of me. It’s said to forgive and forget in fantasy, but I cannot forgive the 1.9-point egg he laid against a terrible Carolina defense in Week 13 when the Bucs got down early and he had 11 carries for 19 yards. It came on the heels of back-to-back 100-yard games against the Packers and Titans when we had all but given up on Blount after three games of 34, 72 and 34 yards with no touchdowns. He bounced back with the 74-yard, goal line TD game last week for 12.5 fantasy points.

Again, it comes down to whether or not you trust Raheem Morris to continue to use Blount no matter what the score. If the numbers play out and you plan on using Blount as an RB3 or flex2, I would be happy with 13.7 points from that position in a playoff week. I’m just not sure I can go on that limb with a back that has burned me more than helped me,

By Corby A. Yarbrough @Corby_Yarbrough on Twitter

<p> Tampa Bay's running back could pay off big, but it's not likely</p>
Post date: Saturday, December 17, 2011 - 13:32
Path: /news/felix-jones-should-put-big-numbers-saturday

Felix Jones is back. And we are all clamoring to use the Dallas Cowboys’ running back in Saturday night’s Week 15 game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

And why wouldn’t we? Tampa Bay has lost seven in a row, is ranked 28th in rushing yards allowed (139.7) on a sixth-most 30.2 attempts per game and are ranked last in touchdowns allowed (19).

But in the second NFL Network game of the week, are we going to see a matchup where a team clearly has the ability to run on the other but decides to do a lot of damage through the air? Along with Felix Jones at running back, Miles Austin, Laurent Robinson, Dez Bryant and Jason Witten are no slouches offensively for the Cowboys.

Seems eerily familiar to the Atlanta-Jacksonville game on Thursday night where Michael Turner had a clear advantage, but had 19 carries for 61 yards and a short TD thanks to field position off a fumbled punt return by the Jaguars. Roddy White wound up with a 30.5-point day, Julio Jones had 17.6 fantasy points and Harry Douglas and Tony Gonzalez were relatively non-existent with 1.7 and 1.9 points.

The one difference for the Cowboys if they get up big, as opposed to the Falcons, could be that they have no other backs to really turn to. Jones is in there because DeMarco Murray and Phillip Tanner are on IR, Tashard Choice is long since gone and Sammy Morris was just signed off the street. So Jones, who recently returned from a high ankle sprain of his own, might have to be the opener, the set-up man and the closer for the Cowboys.

The Bucs have allowed the last four true feature backs they have faced to gash them.

Frank Gore went off for 125 yards and a score in Week 5; Matt Forte for 145 yards and a score in Week 7; Arian Foster 845 yards rushing and a score and 102 yards receiving and a score in Week 10 and Chris Johnson 190 yards in Week 12. In between, Carolina’s duo of DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart had 138 total yards and a score in Week 13; New Orleans’ trio of Darren Sproles, Pierre Thomas and Chris Ivory had 257 total yards and two scores in Week 9 and the Saints needed four players to combine for 109 yards and a score in Week 6.

Point being, they are easy to run on and have also given up 65 catches for 617 yards and four scores this season.

All signs point to Felix Jones being a great start. The question is: How great?

Do you start him in his first game back as the true feature back? He can’t be a power back but he can be the all-purpose back that the Bucs have certainly had trouble with this season?

So where does he rank this week? Does he go ahead of players like Shonn Greene and Roy Helu who have been hot as of late? Does he go ahead of an Adrian Peterson returning from an ankle injury against a Saints team likely to have their way with the Vikings?

I start Peterson ahead of him because he’s Peterson, but after that, Jones is a great play. He did average 99 total yards with two touchdowns over the final eight games of last season and saw those numbers dip this season before the injury to 63.6 total yards with just one TD. The lack of TDs is the only concern with Jones as the Cowboys certainly have plenty of other targets, but he should rack up plenty of yards against the Bucs.

By Corby A. Yarbrough @Corby_Yarbrough on Twitter

<p> The Cowboys running back should be in all starting lineups against the Bucs</p>
Post date: Saturday, December 17, 2011 - 11:25
Path: /fantasy/dont-expect-much-maurice-jones-drew-against-falcons

Jacksonville Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew has been the best fantasy RB over the last four weeks by 16.5-points (106.8), and is coming off a four-TD, 40.6-fantasy point day against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last week.

His matchup is much tougher in Week 15 against the Atlanta Falcons. However he is the only viable fantasy option Jaguars have — the Jags know it, the Falcons know it and you know it — but it should go without saying that he cannot be pulled from your lineup.

The Falcons are the fifth-ranked rush defense in the league, allowing 95.2 yards per game and nine touchdowns, but that is also against the seventh fewest rushing attempts per game (24.3). Backs have had success as of late, including Arian Foster’s 22.7-point fantasy day in Week 13 and DeAngelo Williams’s 15.6-point day last week

Jacksonville knows it has to lean on MJD and is certainly doing so as of late. The Jaguars are third in the league this season in rushing attempts per game (31.3), which has helped produce the 10th-best rushing attack at 119.3 yards per game. Unfortunately for fantasy owners, it all the attempts and yards has still only produced the 23rd most rushing TDs of the season (7).

But MJD has seen a resurgence as of late, scoring five of those seven TDs in the last six weeks and he still has only gone below 85 yards rushing once this season (Week 8 and he made up for it with a TD).

And he is finally becoming a more consistent threat in the passing game. After seeing only 17 targets for 11 catches, 75 yards and no scores through the first seven weeks, MJD has seen 33 targets for 30 catches, 274 yards and three scores. More specifically, the last three weeks, MJD has seen targets of 6, 8 and 6 for games of 4-for-67, 6-for-91 and a score and last week’s 6-for-51 and two scores.

The Falcons are giving up the fifth-most catches (27) but just the 17th-most yards (167) to RBs over the last five weeks. The Jaguars, despite having a rookie QB, no receivers and a massive amount of injuries on the defensive side still are second-best when it comes to production from their fantasy RBs over the last five weeks.

So all the worry about Maurice Jones-Drew staying healthy enough to be relevant come postseason was worth nothing in the preseason. He was a steal for you in most drafts, and continues to get it done on a bad team with no help around him.

Start him vs. Atlanta, take what you can get and be happy that one of the best values in this year’s draft has paid off in bunches.

By Corby A. Yarbrough @Corby_Yarbrough on Twitter

<p> MJD will be the focus of Atlanta's defense. And that's not good for fantasy owners</p>
Post date: Thursday, December 15, 2011 - 16:57
Path: /fantasy/roddy-white-and-julio-jones-will-let-you-down-against-jags

It’s semifinals weeks for most of us in the fantasy football world, and you start clinching up a little more when it comes to setting your lineups. Such is the case with the opening game of Week 15 as the Jacksonville Jaguars travel to play the Atlanta Falcons on Thursday night.

Falcons receivers Roddy White and Julio Jones are certainly two players many of us are counting on to get our semifinals started off the right way, but the numbers say they might not come through.

The 4-9 Jaguars, and their decimated secondary, are still the No. 4 ranked pass defense in the league at 190.8 yards per game thanks to being thrown on just 30.8 times per game (ranked 28th in the league). And unlike other teams ranked high against the pass because they are terrible against the run — Cleveland (2nd against the pass 31st against the run) and St. Louis (8th against the pass and 32nd against the run) — Jacksonville is 16th against the run at 111.5 yards per game.

However, the Jaguars have allowed six of the last eight feature backs they have faced to gain at least 80 all-purpose yards and an average of 16.1 fantasy points per game.

Week 6 — Rashard Mendenhall, 20.6
Week 7 — Ray Rice, 8.8
Week 8 — Arian Foster, 18.9
Week 10 — Donald Brown, 8.5
Week 11 — Chris Ogbonnaya, 20.4
Week 12 — Arian Foster, 18.4
Week 13 — Ryan Mathews, 18.9
Week 14 — LeGarrette Blount, 14.5

Conversely, No. 1 WRs have averaged 9.3 fantasy points since Week 6 against the Jaguars. They are tied for seventh in the league with just 16 passing touchdowns allowed.
Jacksonville has allowed six TDs to receivers in the first seven weeks and four in the last four weeks — three of them coming from three different San Diego receivers in Week 13.

Week 6 — Mike Wallace, 14.6
Week 7 — Anquan Boldin, 12
Week 8 — Kevin Walter, 9.5
Week 10 — Reggie Wayne, 2.8
Week 11 — Greg Litle, 8.4
Week 12 — Andre Johnson, 3.2
Week 13 — Vincent Jackson, 18.8
Week 14 — Mike Williams, 5

The only No. 2 receiver to have a valuable fantasy day since Week 6 would be San Diego’s Malcom Floyd in Week 13 with four catches for 108 yards and a score.

Granted, the Jaguars have faced decent running teams like the Ravens and Texans since Week 6 and have not faced potent passing attacks in that time (i.e. Colts, Browns, Buccaneers and the Texans), but what do you consider the Falcons is the question going into Week 15, and what do you think their defense will give to the Jaguars?

The Falcons are 16th in the league in rushing. Michael Turner is averaging 12.5 points per game since Week 6. He has had three single-digit fantasy days in a row with no TDs in that time and 76 yards rushing as the best day. Atlanta is 10th in passing with White averaging 13.5 points since Week 6 and the rookie Jones in and out of the lineup. When he’s in and active he’s great (12.45 PPG this season). He has battled hamstring issues this season and is now probable with a back injury for Thursday’s game.

The Falcons rank top 10 in both rushing attempts per game (28.2) and passing attempts per game (36.9).

So you really have to flip a coin and try to figure out which Atlanta offense is out there Thursday night? Is it the one that wants to showcase two talented receivers in a nationally televised game or one that wants to pound Turner against a team that has been much more friendly to RBs in six of the last eight weeks than it has receivers? Turner averages 22.3 yards per game rushing more at home this season (94.2) than away, whereas Ryan is pretty even at home and away this season.

Also keep in mind, the Jaguars only have RB Maurice Jones-Drew as a viable fantasy option and he faces the No. 5 rush defense in the league. So this one could be over in a hurry.

By Corby A. Yarbrough @Corby_Yarbrough on Twitter

<p> The Falcons receivers won't put up many fantasy points against Jacksonville</p>
Post date: Thursday, December 15, 2011 - 15:31
All taxonomy terms: NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /columns/waiver-wire/sit-jets-receivers-santonio-holmes-and-plaxico-burress-vs-chiefs

It might be a tough play to make with the depth you have on your roster and injuries to the position, but if you are looking for New York Jets receivers Santonio Holmes or Plaxico Burress to be productive for your fantasy rosters in Week 14 against the Kansas City Chiefs, you might want to look the other way.

Kansas City is the eighth-best team against fantasy receivers this season, the second-best the last five weeks and the best the last three weeks. And it is thanks to the play of cornerbacks Brandon Flowers and Brandon Carr.

Meanwhile, the Jets are the seventh-worst in the league the last three weeks with their fantasy receivers, are 16th the last five weeks and 12th worst all season. Over the last five games, Holmes has 241 and three scores and Burress has 269 yards and two scores.

After getting burned for seven touchdowns on 19 catches in the first five games of the season, Flowers has allowed just 17 catches and one touchdown in the last six games. A receiver has not caught more than three balls or gone over 56 yards against the second-round pick from Virginia Tech since Week 9.

Carr has given up just three scores this season, but none since a Week 9 game against Miami and the other two came in a Week 4 game against Minnesota.  After allowing 54 or more yards in three of the first six games, Carr’s had that happen just once the rest of the season (Week 11 vs. New England).

Neither Holmes nor Burress are averaging over the 56 yards that has been the best Kansas City’s Flowers and Carr have allowed over the last five weeks. Jets QB Mark Sanchez hasn’t thrown for over 180 yards the last two weeks, and the TDs are going to be hard to come against Carr and Flowers.

Again, you might have no other option, and at least Burress gives you size in the red zone — to which Kansas City is third-best against in the last three weeks allowing opponents to score on just 30 percent of their trips to the red zone ­— but I would seek help at receiver elsewhere than the Jets.

By Corby A. Yarbrough @Corby_Yarbrough on Twitter

<br />
Post date: Sunday, December 11, 2011 - 11:13
All taxonomy terms: NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /columns/waiver-wire/it%E2%80%99s-reach-dolphins-receiver-davone-bess-decent-flex-vs-eagles

OK, this is a MASSIVE reach, but Miami Dolphins receiver Davone Bess, in PPR leagues, could come through big for you today against the visiting Philadelphia Eagles.

The Eagles have allowed at least one passing touchdown to a receiver in every game since Week 8 and have allowed at least one receiver to get 95 or more yards in all but last week’s game against Seattle in that same time frame.

One place in particular Philadelphia is getting eaten up is against opposing teams’ slot receivers — Bess’s position. Since Week 9, the Eagles have allowed Earl Bennett (5-95-1 on five targets), Victor Cruz (6-128-1 on 10 targets) and Wes Welker (8-115-2 on 12 targets) to go off from the slot.

Assuming Nnamdi Asomugha is on Miami’s No. 1 WR Brandon Marshall, and Brian Hartline’s outside on the other side, Bess should have room to roam. Asomugha has been is usual stingy self, allowing just 18 catches for 266 yards and to scores this season. And outside of New England’s Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez (10-for-121 and a score combined), the Eagles have allowed just 10 catches for 104 and a score over the last five weeks. So Dolphins TE Anthony Fasano’s chances for success may be limited, too.

According to Pro Football Focus, Bess has caught 30 of his 53 targets while in the slot this season. His 30 catches tie him for 10th most out of the slot, while his 331 yards are also 10th best.

Bess’s two touchdowns have both come inside the red zone — a 12-yarder last week vs. the Raiders and a 4-yarder against the Bills in Week 11. The Eagles are the worst in the league in red-zone defense, allowing teams to score 70.59 percent of the time they are inside the 20. Miami is 10th in red-zone scoring the last three weeks, crossing the goal line 58.33 percent of the time its inside the 20.

In a game that could actually see a decent amount of points scored, and despite a resurgence at QB with Matt Moore, Miami may see it’s No. 1 receiver shut down, Bess is a viable flex play, particularly in PPR leagues.

By Corby A. Yarbrough @Corby_Yarbrough on Twitter

<br />
Post date: Sunday, December 11, 2011 - 11:02
All taxonomy terms: David Nelson, NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /columns/waiver-wire/start-buffalo-bills-receiver-david-nelson-vs-chargers

All signs are pointing to Buffalo Bills receiver David Nelson being a quality start against the host San Diego Chargers in Week 14.

Buffalo RB Fred Jackson’s gone. Receiver Donald Jones is gone. Tight end Scott Chandler is out this week. Even kicker Rian Lindell was placed on IR. And the Bills’ defense is bad.

Now Nelson gets the Chargers in a game that expects to see plenty of points and Nelson is almost last-man standing opposite No. 1 WR Steve Johnson.

The Chargers should have their way offensively with a Bills team that’s lost five straight and defensively, San Diego is ranked 10th worst the last five weeks against fantasy receivers — and it hasn’t seen a solid passing game since Week 11.

Nelson has had eight targets each of the last two weeks, second to Johnson’s 23. Where Nelson can pay off is in the red zone. He was already a red zone target, as was Chandler, but only Nelson is playing in this one.

Buffalo is the seventh-best touchdown-scoring team in the red zone (57.89 percent), while San Diego is 26th in the percentage of red-zone TDs allowed (60.53). And as an aside, Buffalo’s defense is ranked 30th in red-zone TDs allowed (65.91 percent).

Nelson, when the team was at full capacity early on, had fair to moderate success. He opened the season with games of 8.6, 19.3 and 11.4 fantasy points before falling off with a 2.8. He started his rise again in Week 5 with 7.1 followed by 8.2, 6.7 12.6 and 11.1. But the up and down has been too much to deal with — 1.5 in Week 11, 13.2 in Week 12 and 5.9 last week.

The Chargers had Jacksonville rookie Blaine Gabbert and Denver’s running QB Tim Tebow to deal with the last two weeks. Obviously, the passing numbers were low. Prior to that, the Chargers allowed three Chicago receivers to gain at least 62 yards; allowed Oakland’s Denarius Moore to go 5-123-2 in Week 10; allowed three passing TDs to three Green Bay receivers and 105 yards to Jordy Nelson and allowed Kansas City to have two receivers gain at least 62 yards.

Nelson has been inconsistent, but the Bills passing game is still ranked ninth this season in points scored from fantasy receivers and are 13th the last five weeks, which included games against the pass defenses of the Titans, Jets, Dolphins and Cowboys — all but the Cowboys (22nd) are ranked in the top half of the league against fantasy receivers the last five weeks. Remember San Diego is 23rd in that time with Jacksonville and Denver in there.

It might be a reach, but the numbers say Nelson should come through in Week 14.

By Corby A. Yarbrough @Corby_Yarbrough on Twitter

<br />
Post date: Sunday, December 11, 2011 - 10:57
All taxonomy terms: NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /columns/waiver-wire/start-santana-moss-confidence-against-patriots-0

Washington Redskins receiver Santana Moss has been back from his hand injury for two weeks now and been relatively quiet. That should change against the New England Patriots in Week 14.

Moss has games of 5.9 and 7.7 against the Seahawks and Jets in his first two games back — both top-11 defenses against fantasy receivers. Now the Redskins play host to the worst team against fantasy receivers in the league when the Patriots come to town.

Moss has been targeted 19 times in his two games back — six more than Jabar Gaffney. He started off the season strong against bad pass defenses like the Giants, Cardinals and Rams in the first four weeks of the season with three double-digit games. He has not had a game above last week’s 7.7 since Week 4’s 12.4 against the Rams.

The Patriots have been terrible all season against receivers, and particularly bad six of the last seven games. At least two receivers in the last four games have collected a minimum of 67 yards.

Week 13 — Colts: Pierre Garcon (9-150-2), Austin Collie (7-70) and Reggie Wayne (5-55)
Week 12 — Eagles: Jason Avant (8-110-1), DeSean Jackson (4-73) and Riley Cooper (3-71)
Week 11 — Chiefs: Dwayne Bowe (7-87) and Steve Breaston (6-73)
Week 10 — Jets: Santonio Holmes (6-93) and Jeremy Kerley (4-79)
Week 8 — Steelers: Antonio Brown (9-67-1), Mike Wallace (7-70) and Emmanuel Sanders (5-70)
Week 6 — Cowboys: Dez Bryant (4-78) and Miles Austin (7-74)

Only the Giants in Week 9 have not had two receivers gain at least 67 yards receiving since Week 5 (Victor Cruz, 6-91).

The 4-8 Redskins will be trailing just like the Colts, Eagles, Chiefs and Jets have the last four weeks, giving Moss and Grossman plenty of time to toss the ball around for garbage-time production. Plus, no Fred Davis at TE due to his four-game suspension and the threat of Roy Helu out of the backfield should mean for more opportunities for the Moss.

By Corby A. Yarbrough @Corby_Yarbrough on Twitter

<br />
Post date: Sunday, December 11, 2011 - 04:23
All taxonomy terms: NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /columns/waiver-wire/green-bay%E2%80%99s-ryan-grant-sits-vs-raiders

It’s Week 14, we’re into the fantasy playoff season and you have an opportunity to sneak in a starting running back on the highest scoring team in the NFL. What a gift. Problem is: It’s Green Bay’s Ryan Grant and he will continue to be a non-factor against the Oakland Raiders in Week 14.

James Starks is out with an ankle injury and it how often could you slide an experienced starting running back that is owned in just 40 percent of Yahoo leagues into his place? Not very often, and it’s still not worth it with Grant.

The Packers have the fourth-ranked total offense (405.2 YPG) in the league and the top-ranked scoring offense (35.0 PPG), but their running game is non-existent.

Green Bay ranks 22nd in rushing attempts per game at 25.7, 29th in rushing yards per game at 96.5 and 16th in rushing touchdowns with 9 — eight of which have come from either goal line vulture John Kuhn (4), QB Aaron Rodgers (2), WR Randall Cobb (1) or defensive tackle B.J. Raji (1). James Starks is the only “feature” back to have scored this season and that came in Week 1.

Grant has 92 carries for 316 yards (3.4 YPC) and just 12 catches for 106 yards. He has no TDs either as a rusher or receiver. He got the chance to carry the load last week against a Giants team ranked 23rd against the run (127.0 YPG) but still could only manage 29 yards on 13 carries and one catch for 17 yards against the team that once traded him to Green Bay in 2007 for a future sixth-round pick.

Now the Packers get another shot at a team that’s bad against the run and below average against the pass.

Oakland is ranked 28th against the run this season, giving up 141.1 yards per game at 5.2 yards per carry and 12 touchdowns. The Raiders have the 17th-best pass defense at 231.9 yards per game with 21 TDs allowed to 14 interceptions.

So you would have to bank on a passing team to get up on Oakland and then drain the clock with the run game. But the Packers are outscoring opponents by 13.2 points per game already this season and not running the ball to grind out the game. Why start now?

Add in that rookie RB Brandon Saine is getting touches on top of Grant playing terrible this season and this is nothing more than a wasted opportunity to get a starting fantasy RB this late in the season who just won’t perform up to the standards to get you into the next round of the playoffs.

By Corby A. Yarbrough @Corby_Yarbrough on Twitter

<br />
Post date: Sunday, December 11, 2011 - 04:08
All taxonomy terms: NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /columns/waiver-wire/run-ricky-williams-run-against-indianapolis-colts

I am not usually the fantasy player that looks to the vulture, the goal line-back, but injuries and matchups have left me no choice as the fantasy playoffs start. And that combination might just have produced us a great play in Week 14 in the form of Baltimore Ravens running back Ricky Williams against the visiting Indianapolis Colts.

The Ravens are coming off a game in which their running backs torched the Browns to the tune of 292 rushing yards — Ray Rice had 204 of them on 29 carries and one score; Ricky Williams had 76 yards and a score on 16 more carries.

There’s a great chance that it will be déjà vu all over again for Baltimore against a Colts team that is ranked 30th in the league in rushing yards allowed per game (144.2), last in total yards (387.1 YPG), last in points allowed (29.8 PPG) last in rushing touchdowns allowed (17) and is giving up a touchdown 69.77 percent of the time teams get in the red zone — good for a 31st in the league.

And on the offensive side of the ball, don’t expect much of a fight from the Colts. They possess the 26th ranked rushing offense, 26th ranked passing offense, 29th ranked total offense (293.1 YPG) and 28th ranked scoring offense (14.5 PPG) to go up against Baltimore’s second-ranked rush defense, fifth-ranked pass defense, third-ranked total defense and fourth-ranked scoring defense (16 PPG).

That’s a lot of numbers, but the one I keep thinking of is under three this week for the Ravens — as in they will run the ball as much as they can and see how many minutes under three hours they can get this week’s game done in.

Of course Rice will see the majority of the carries and will probably have great success, but Williams will be there to spell him and probably get another good amount of work himself.

In games the Ravens have won by 14 or more —  five of them — Williams has had carries of 12, 5, 12, 2 and 16. With four weeks to go, think the Ravens might want to begin preserving their starting back for the playoffs?

I will lean toward the three double-digit carry days that Williams had in previous two-touchdown wins by Baltimore, producing 40 rushes for 188 yards at 4.7 yards per carry and hope that he gets a touchdown against the easiest team to do so against. With the injuries to all the other running backs across the NFL and the playoffs here, there are not too many chances you get to plug in an above-average vulture that is still available in 89 percent of Yahoo leagues.

By Corby A. Yarbrough @Corby_Yarbrough on Twitter

<br />
Post date: Sunday, December 11, 2011 - 04:05
All taxonomy terms: NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /columns/waiver-wire/texans-receiver-jacoby-jones-viable-reach-play-against-bengals

It pains me to write that Houston Texans receiver Jacoby Jones is a viable reach play in Week 14 against the host Cincinnati Bengals with Andre Johnson (hamstring) already ruled out and Kevin Walter (illness) a game-time decision.

Every time we think Jones has a good matchup or opportunity to be a sneaky play, he lets us down. And when we are least expecting it, he comes through.

If you are absolutely dying at receiver or a flex spot, Jones could be good for a long ball or a red-zone TD with his 6-2 frame. He has just 22 catches for 387 yards and two receiving TDs this season, but his 17.6 yards per catch is ninth in the league for those receivers with at least 20 catches. Jones also adds the potential for a special teams TD in leagues that allow return yardage and scores.

Yes, Jones has rookie QB T.J. Yates under center, but Yates is currently a 50-percent passer (20-of-40) and he averaged 7.5 yards per attempt against Atlanta last week with 15 of his 25 attempts going to receivers.

The Bengals have allowed at least one touchdown to a receiver in every game since Week 9 and nine total over the five-game span. Also during that time, they have allowed 55 catches on 95 targets for 785 yards and are fifth-worst against fantasy receivers since Week 9.

Cincinnati is the fourth-worst red-zone team, giving up touchdowns 65.91 percent of the time this season — which actually jumps to 66.67 at home.

A stat we never thought we would see this season is Houston being the second-worst team in regards to points from its fantasy receivers this season. But no Andre Johnson, the inconsistencies of the other receivers, Jones included, and the success RB Arian Foster has had on the ground and through the air has the Texans as a ground-attack team.

And don’t count on the tight ends for Houston. While the Texans have been the third-best team this season in production from fantasy tight ends, the Bengals are fourth-best against tight ends this season and that jumps to third-best over the last three weeks and five weeks of the season.

Outside of Jones’s lack of production this season despite Johnson being out for the majority of it, the running game could also scare you away from using him in Week 14.

The Bengals are 15th-best against fantasy backs overall this season, but that drops to 20th over he last five weeks and 21st over the last three weeks.

But at 17.6 per catch, going against a receiver-friendly defense, if you are in dire straits regarding a flex play, you could do a lot worse than Jones.

By Corby A. Yarbrough @Corby_Yarbrough on Twitter

<br />
Post date: Sunday, December 11, 2011 - 03:56
All taxonomy terms: NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /columns/waiver-wire/start-jets-tight-end-dustin-keller-against-chiefs

You can’t count on Santonio Holmes. You never know what you’re going to get out of Plaxico Burress. The same can be said for tight end Dustin Keller, but he’s the one with the likelihood of success for the New York Jets in Week 14 against the Kansas City Chiefs.

It’s a process of elimination play, but the chances of New York QB Mark Sanchez’s arm beating Kansas City corners Brandon Flowers and Brandon Carr to get the ball to Holmes and Burress is not as likely as it is to take advantage of a Chiefs team that’s been the second-worst team against fantasy tight ends the last five weeks.

Kansas City is the eighth-best team against fantasy receivers this season, the second-best the last five weeks and the best the last three weeks.

Against tight ends the last five weeks the Chiefs have allowed just 17 catches but have also allowed five touchdowns. This comes on the heels of three TDs allowed the first two weeks and none between Weeks 3 and 8.

Miami’s Anthony Fasano scored in Week 9 to go with two catches for 38 yards. Rookie Charles Clary also had three grabs for 50 yards. John Fox already rarely used a TE and with Tim Tebow at QB, it’s virtually non-existent. Needless to say, Denver was not a TE threat in Week 10. Stud TE Rob Gronkowski caught four balls for 96 yards and two scores in Week 11; Aaron Hernandez added four catches for 44 yards. Pittsburgh only targeted its tight ends three times in a 13-9 win against the Chiefs in Week 12. Chicago’s Kellen Davis had two catches for 40 yards last week in another low-scoring affair — a 10-3 win for Kansas City.

Now that your brain is flooded with what TEs have done against the Chiefs this season, particularly the last five weeks, here’s a look at what Keller’s done. He has been targeted at least six times in four of the five games and caught 19 of the 35 targets for 219 yards and two scores.

Meanwhile, the Jets are the seventh-worst in the league the last three weeks with their fantasy receivers, are 16th the last five weeks and 12th worst all season. In the same five games Keller has 219 yards and two scores, Holmes has 241 and three scores and Burress has 269 yards and two scores.

So none of the three are great starts — ever — but if the Chiefs continue to play as they have against receivers and as they have against tight ends and try to focus on stopping the running game of Shonn Greene, then Keller looks to be the one to have the bigger day of the three and is a decent reach play. If you are a victim of Fred Davis’ suspension, then Keller could be a good matchup play this week.

By Corby A. Yarbrough @Corby_Yarbrough on Twitter

<br />
Post date: Sunday, December 11, 2011 - 03:53
Path: /news/sit-colt-mccoy-greg-little-peyton-hillis-montario-hardesty-and-any-other-browns-week-14

The fantasy football playoffs begin Thursday night, and if you expect to advance don’t start any Cleveland Browns players against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

On top of this being a matchup of the 30th ranked offense (290.7 YPG) going against the No. 1 ranked defense (273.8 YPG), there is no Brown that will give you starting-caliber numbers in a 12-team league — that means no top-12 QB, no top-24 RB, no top 24 WR and no top-12 TE. This goes for QB Colt McCoy, WR Greg Little, tight ends Evan Moore or Benjamin Watson and the running back mess that is Peyton Hillis, Montario Hardesty and Chris Ogbonnaya. If you want to use one as a flex, good luck with that.

McCoy, who’s dealing with a sprained knee, threw for 281, a TD and two interceptions in Pittsburgh last season — his starting debut — in a 28-10 loss. He also fell 41-9 to the Steelers in last season’s finale. McCoy is 0-7 against AFC North opponents and there is nothing pointing to that improving to either statistical improvement or a 1-7 record. Pittsburgh has surrendered four 220-plus yard games four times this season and held the other eight under 200 yards. The one caveat is that seven of the 14 TDs surrendered by the Steelers have come from the under-200 passers. McCoy has gone over 16 points once in the last seven games after registering four such games in the first five weeks of the season.

Little is 17th in targets amongst receivers but is ranked 44th as a fantasy receiver in PPR leagues with three double-digit games all season. The Steelers have allowed three TDs to receivers in the last five weeks and eight all season. Little has just one touchdown this season. Pittsburgh has allowed just three receivers to gain 80-plus yards and only five to catch six-plus balls.

Where do you begin with the Browns running back situation? Hillis and Hardesty are always hurt and Ogboyanna is not dependable or useful if one of the other two are active. Add on top of that the Steelers having not allowed an opposing RB to gain over 60 yards since Week 6 and only two TDs in that time, and it doesn’t matter who’s healthy or active for Cleveland.

And as for the tight end productivity against Pittsburgh, Rob Gronkowski is the only one to have a double-digit day against them since Week 5 and only Gronkowski, Owen Daniels (Week 4) and Ed Dickson (Week 1) have produced double-digit days this season. Moore scored 9.8 points with a late TD last week, but that came after three straight weeks under 1 point and no weeks above 9.8 since Week 1; Watson has scored above 7 points just once since Week 4.

It is unlikely any Browns got you to the playoffs, so there’s no reason now to plug them in if you’ve made it to the postseason.

By Corby A. Yarbrough @Corby_Yarbrough on Twitter

<p> No Browns are worth starting against the Steelers. Sit all of them.</p>
Post date: Thursday, December 8, 2011 - 16:13
All taxonomy terms: Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh Steelers, News
Path: /news/let-steelers-receiver-antonio-brown-get-your-playoffs-good-start

I told you Pittsburgh Steelers receiver Antonio Brown would be a top-12 receiver in Week 13 against the Cincinnati Bengals. I was wrong. He was a top-14 receiver, missing top-12 status by 1.17 points. So thanks, Pierre Garcon, Demaryius Thomas, Robert Meachem and Malcom Floyd — the models of consistency in 2011 — for getting in the way and making me wrong.

So I will give it another shot with Brown in Week 14, against a top-ranked pass defense like the Cleveland Browns. But how tough is it really — better yet, how tough will it be against a team’s No. 2 playing opposite Mike Wallace?

The Browns have seen just 28 pass attempts per game, giving up a league-best 173.3 yards per game with 11 TDs and six interceptions. But have they faced a passing offense like the Steelers yet? No.

Here are the quarterbacks the Browns have faced and the fantasy points allowed. SPOILER ALERT: None of these QBs are near the level of Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger, who had fantasy games of 26.78 and 25.6 against Cleveland last season and is 11th best in the NFL this season, averaging 19.3 per game this season.

Week 1: Cincinnati (Bruce Gradkowski & Andy Dalton) — 9.68 & 9.24
Week 2: Indianapolis (Kerry Collins) — 10.54
Week 3: Miami (Chad Henne) — 16.8
Week 4: Tennessee (Matt Hasselbeck) — 25.3
Week 5: Oakland (Jason Campbell & Kyle Boller) — 2.68 & 4.9
Week 7: Seattle (Charlie Whitehurst) — 1.48
Week 8: San Francisco (Alex Smith) —15.28
Week 9: Houston (Matt Schaub) — 8.76
Week 10: St. Louis (Sam Bradford) — 10.5
Week 11: Jacksonville (Blaine Gabbert) — 9.4
Week 12: Cincinnati (Andy Dalton) — 18.1
Week 13: Baltimore (Joe Flacco) — 5.22

Think Big Ben can do a little better than Andy Dalton’s 18.1 from two weeks ago or Chad Henne’s 16.8 or Alex Smith’s 15.28? So do I.

Let’s assume Joe Haden keeps Wallace in check and Roethlisberger doesn’t go to TE Heath Miller enough to make him a significant threat to steal touches — he averages 4.6 targets per game. Then in steps Brown.

Brown, as a No. 2 receiver who has seen targets shared with Emmanuel Sanders, Hines Ward and even Jerricho Cotchery, is the 27th-best receiver in PPR formats and is ranked 18th in targets with 90 through 13 weeks. He has caught 50 of the 90 for 774 yards and one TD. Brown has been Roethlisberger’s top target in five of 12 games this season — Weeks 3, 4, 7, 8 and 9.

Brown continues to be a solid PPR play and is ranked 22nd in the NFL in yards per catch (15.5) of those with at least 20 catches, and if he could just get in the end zone he would be one of the steals of the season in fantasy.

One thing to be scared of is the Browns’ 31st-ranked rush defense that allows 151.2 yards per game and the second-most attempts per game (34.1).

This is the reason the Browns pass defense has looked so good; teams can just run up and down on them and have the game done in three hours flat. If this was the Steelers ground and pound of old then I would be scared off away from their No. 2 receiver, but this is balanced team. The Steelers are 18th in the league in rushing at 111.8 yards per game and 14th in attempts per game (26.9). They are 18th in pass attempts per game (34.2) and ninth in yards per game (256.1).

If Haden keeps Wallace locked down and the Steelers keep up their passing ways, Brown could be in for a big night and a good start to your 2011 fantasy playoffs.

By Corby A. Yarbrough @Corby_Yarbrough on Twitter

<p> Be sure to have Pittsburgh receiver Antonio Brown in your lineup on Thursday night.</p>
Post date: Thursday, December 8, 2011 - 16:08
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-waiver-wire-playoffs

It’s playoff time — for most of you at least. Now is the time of year where every move has to be the right one or your fantasy football season is over. Of course this late in the 2011 season, pickings are slim on the waiver wire. But there are a few names out there that could be beneficial as you make your way through the playoffs.

The top waiver wire of the week, as it was last week, is another running back. Washington RB Roy Helu was the top free agent pickup last week and came through with 21.2 fantasy points against the Jets. This week, it will be Chicago RB Marion Barber, who will replace the injured Matt Forte (knee) perhaps for the entire fantasy playoffs.

Matt Moore, Miami
This is all you need to know about fringe QBs and what they can do for you in a 12-team league. Moore was a top-10 producer despite throwing for just 162 yards. He also tossed a touchdown and ran for another for 20.68 fantasy points against the Raiders. It was his third 18-plus point day in the last five weeks. Now the Dolphins play host to an Eagles team that has allowed at least one touchdown pass in every game (11 total) and an average of 256.8 yards per game since Week 8.

Christian Ponder, Minnesota
Thanks to Denver, Ponder was a top-four fantasy QB in Week 13. The rookie threw for 381 yards, three scores and two picks and wound up with a 29.44-point fantasy day. It was Ponder’s third straight week over 14 fantasy points and second in three weeks over 22.5 points. Now he travels to play a Detroit defense coming off back-to-back 300-yard thrashings from Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees. Since we can’t compare Ponder to the two aforementioned studs, we can take their games out and the Lions are averaging 191.5 yards per game and .9 TDs per game allowed with 15 total interceptions. The Lions offense should have success against the Vikings defense, giving Ponder more chances to play catch up with Percy Harvin and Co.

Dan Orlovsky, Indianapolis
You’re reaching here, but he does have Reggie Wayne, Pierre Garcon, Austin Collie and Jacob Tamme to get the ball to. Orlovsky is coming off a 353-yard game against the Patriots — New England’s ninth game of 300-plus yards allowed — so don’t base a lot of your hopes on last week.

Caleb Hanie, Chicago
A week after limiting Philip Rivers to 188 yards and a score, the Broncos allowed rookie Christian Ponder on an Adrian Peterson-less team to throw for 381 yards, three scores and two INTs. Hanie will be without his stud RB Matt Forte (knee) this week and still has a capable stable of receivers. You’d have to be beyond desperate here to start Hanie, but the Broncos have surrendered five 250-yard plus passers in the last nine games with 13 TDs and seven picks in that time.

Alex Smith, San Francisco
Sure the 49ers have clinched the NFC West title and they could just send Frank Gore and Kendall Hunter out there to try and get this game done in record time. But the matchup is decent for Smith if you needed him. He threw for 267 yards, two scores and one INT in Week 11 and the Cardinals have held just two passers under 200 yards this season (Tarvaris Jackson and Michael Vick).

Kyle Orton, Kansas City
He was looked to early against Chicago in favor of Tyler Palko, but Orton injured his finger and did not return after just one play. So he still has not seen significant game time with his new team and now he travels to play the Jets. It’d be a pretty risky pickup and start.

Rex Grossman, Washington
He threw for 221 yards and one pick in a terrible 5.84-point fantasy effort against the Jets in Week 13. Now he looks to be losing TE Fred Davis and LT Trent Williams to suspension. But Grossman has shown flashes this season — three 20-plus point days — and now he gets a Patriots pass defense that has been friendly to nearly every team they have played.

Josh Johnson, Tampa Bay
If Josh Freeman is out, then Johnson gets the start against cross-state rival Jacksonville. Johnson threw for 229 yards, one score, one pick and 45 yards rushing against a weak Carolina defense. We certainly found out we can’t rely on LeGarrette Blount (11-for-19) last week, and the Jaguars have a solid run defense. Philip Rivers, whose had his struggles, just carved up the beat up Jacksonville pass defense to the tune of 294 yards and three scores.

Marion Barber, Chicago
Boy this is one that hurts to put on the waiver wire list. The No. 1 reason this stings is I have Matt Forte in two leagues that I was the No. 1 seed in heading into Week 13. Now I’m the No. 1 seed in just one of the leagues and not nearly as confident going into the postseason. But back to what Barber can do for us.

Maurice Morris, Detroit
Kevin Smith injured his ankle again and it opened the door for Morris against the Saints. Now the Lions play host to a Vikings team that allows 4.2 yards per carry and 126.6 rushing yards per game over the last three weeks to running backs. If Smith is back, then the backfield is too diluted to depend on Morris. However, if the ankle continues to be a bother, then Morris is an OK flex.

Ricky Williams, Baltimore
Joe Flacco is struggling and the Ravens are going to run the ball. The Colts come to town with the third-worst defense against fantasy running backs. If you’re looking for the TD vulture that has a chance to be more than just that — like he was for 76 yards and a score against Cleveland — then a start against the Colts might not be a bad play.

Donald Brown, Indianapolis
The 12.8 fantasy points he got against the Patriots was more than I would have expected. Those are 12.8 points I would certainly be happy with from a flex position in this crazy NFL season. But now the Colts travel to play a Baltimore team that is a much, much stiffer defense. This could be a future pickup for Week 15. The Titans looked terrible against the quickness of C.J. Spiller in Week 13 and will now face the multiple backs that the Saints send out in Week 14. If Brown comes out of Baltimore healthy, he MIGHT be a decent flex play against the Titans in two weeks.

C.J. Spiller, Buffalo
He looked good against a Titans defense that allowed gaping holes and were poor tacklers at the second level. Now he gets a Chargers defense that allowed 188 total yards to Maurice Jones-Drew in Week 13, 117 rushing yards to Willis McGahee in Week 12, 85 total yards to Matt Forte in Week 11 and 242 total yards to Michael Bush in Week 10. Spiller had 17 touches in Week 13 against Tennessee (102 total yards) and 22 (70 yards) in Week 12 against the Jets. He’s a decent enough flex in a game that could see a moderate amount of points.

Dexter McCluster, Kansas City
This offense is not consistent enough to make any of their players worthy fantasy plays, save for WR Dwayne Bowe. Maybe. And that is a big maybe. McCluster had 13 total offensive touches in Week 13 against Chicago and got a bulk of his 19.28 fantasy points on a 38-yard Hail Mary at halftime. But if he’s getting the 12 touches per game like he has averaged the last four weeks, he could be a deep flex against a Jets defense that allowed Roy Helu 142 total yards on 27 touches last week and 70 total yards to C.J. Spiller on 22 touches in Week 12.

Toby Gerhart, Minnesota
If Adrian Peterson (ankle) is back from his injury then Gerhart is useless in Week 14 at Detroit. If not, then Gerhart gets a run defense that hasn’t really seen a true run-based offense in quite a while. And if Gerhart is going to catch eight balls for 42 yards like he did against Denver in Week 13, then he would be an OK flex play in PPR leagues. The Lions have allowed 66 catches for 455 yards this season, including 20 for 220 and a score the last three weeks. Gerhart also had his best rushing performance of his career, carrying 21 times for 91 yards against Denver.

Ryan Grant, Green Bay
If James Starks (ankle) continues to be sidelined then Grant is the lead back. But he has rookie Brandon Saine to deal with and the Packers just do not run enough to make one of their backs a safe fantasy start. The one reason he could be safe this week is because the Raiders are very friendly against the pass and the Packers could get up very, very quickly. Your question would then be: is Grant going to help close it out or will Saine get the looks?

Johnny Knox, Chicago
The Bears head to Denver to play a Broncos team that has given up some big days in the back half of the 2011 season. Calvin Johnson went for 125 yards and a score, Jacoby Ford had 105 and a score and Percy Harvin had 156 yards had two scores and the Vikings’ duo of Devin Aromashodu had 90 yards just last week. Knox has been Caleb Hanie’s favorite target in their two weeks together — seeing 18 looks for nine catches, 198 yards and a score.

Nate Burleson, Detroit
He continues to get at least seven targets over the last five weeks; it’s just a matter of what he does with them. He tied his best game of the season with 93 yards in Week 13 after games of 39, 63, 83 and 23 over the previous four weeks. Minnesota’s defensive backfield is beat up, and Burleson is at least targeted. If you are struggling at WR and need a guy you know will be on a team that scores points, will score points this week and has issues at running back, then Burleson is worth a look.

Damian Williams, Tennessee
He was the top target for QB Matt Hasselbeck for the fourth time in five weeks when he had seven targets for four catches and 62 yards against the Bills. Now the Titans and their average defense play host to the high-powered offense of the Saints. Think Williams will have plenty of opportunities this week? I do too.

Brad Smith, Buffalo
He saw a team-high 10 targets against Tennessee in Week 13 and now has 17 in the last two weeks for 11 catches, 149 yards and a score. David Nelson and Scott Chandler are the red zone targets, while Smith and Steve Johnson (21 targets the last two weeks for 13 catches, 127 yards and two scores) are the ones to move the chains. The Bills play the Chargers and their bad run defense this week, but with C.J. Spiller as the lead back the passing options will still be there.

Demaryius Thomas, Denver
Seven targets turned into four catches for 144 yards and two scores. But if you couldn’t start Eric Decker with confidence, how do you start Thomas with any? He is a big target, but as far as his targets they are too inconsistent. His seven is a season high after games of 1, 6, 0, 2 and 3 since his return from a preseason injury.

Golden Tate & Doug Baldwin, Seattle
Both are talented young players for an inconsistent QB. With Sidney Rice on IR, the Seahawks will look to Tate, Baldwin and Ben Obomanu to move the ball through the air. Problem is: You never know which one it is going to be. Second problem, for this week at least: They get a juicy matchup against the Rams at home on Monday night.

Devin Aromashodu, Minnesota
It took 15 targets and just six catches for 90 yards for Aromashodu to get 12 fantasy points against the Broncos. Take what you would like from that. It’s just the second time this season, and the first for QB Christian Ponder, that a receiver has seen double digits in targets. Now the Vikings travel to play the Lions, who have faced the Saints and Packers the last two weeks. Against less powerful teams, the Lions have surrendered 122.5 yards per game to receivers and just six TDs.

Jermaine Gresham, Cincinnati
Houston is a top three defense against fantasy tight ends and running backs. Cincinnati needs to move the ball somehow, and a TE that has been targeted 22 times over the last three weeks could be that somehow — along with A.J. Green of course. Grehsam has turned those 22 targets into 11 catches for 153 yards and one score.

Ed Dickson, Baltimore
It’s a reach, but if the Ravens want to get Joe Flacco back on track why not give him an easy target to aim for? Dickson had four targets in Week 13, catching three for 47 yards. That comes on the heels of 1-for-15 and 2-for-21 days that followed his 10-for-79 and two-TD game. The Colts have been the sixth-worst team against fantasy TEs over the last five weeks.

Heath Miller, Pittsburgh
Cleveland has Joe Haden on the corner to help shutdown the deep and outside passing game, so Miller could slide in and pickup a few catches to move the chains and a TD for a team that loves throwing in the red zone.

By Corby A. Yarbrough @Corby_Yarbrough on Twitter

<p> Christian Ponder, Marion Barber and Ricky Williams lead the way this week</p>
Post date: Tuesday, December 6, 2011 - 06:51
All taxonomy terms: Damian Williams, Tennessee Titans, News
Path: /news/should-you-start-titans-damian-williams-today

Which Damian Williams are we going to see in Week 13 at Buffalo? Will he be the one that catches the random TD or the one that produces as a high-target receiver?

I will take the gamble on either and insert the Tennessee receiver as a flex option against a Bills team that has been friendly to opposing teams’ No. 2 receivers over the last few weeks.

The Bills have allowed 11.1 fantasy points per game over the last three weeks, and are coming off a game where they allowed New York Jets QB Mark Sanchez to throw four touchdowns. It’s worth repeating: Mark Sanchez with the “run-oriented” Jets just threw for four scores a week ago against Buffalo.

Williams is coming off a three-catch, 33-yard performance that was saved, in fantasy circles, by his game-winning touchdown against Tampa Bay.

It was Williams’ third double-digit fantasy effort in the last four games and his fourth of the 2011 season. Picking up the slack when stud receiver Kenny Britt went down for the season in a Week 3 game against Denver has relatively been split between Nate Washington and Williams.

Williams can be a favorite of Titans quarterback Matt Hasselbeck one week and then disappear the next. Williams had just four targets last week, but the TD made it look like a productive day. A week earlier, Williams tied his season high in targets with 11 against Atlanta. Prior to last week’s four-target game, Williams had led or tied for the team lead in targets for three straight weeks.

Williams has 58 targets on the season, which he has turned into 27 catches for 349 yards and five scores. Washington has 73 targets for 49 catches, 628 yards and four scores. However, Washington has not been above nine targets since Week 2 and caught 21 of his 49 passes in the first three weeks with Britt.

If you want to take anything away from it, Williams has led the team in targets (4, 11, 7 and 11) in the road games since Britt’s injury. So that’s a trend he can take with him to Buffalo in Week 13.

It’s always a crapshoot with the Titans receivers, but Williams has been a decent target and can score and the Bills are willing to give up the points. So give Williams a shot at your flex spot in Week 13.

By Corby A. Yarbrough @Corby_Yarbrough on Twitter

<p> Tennessee's receiver has played well the last few weeks. Can he keep it up?</p>
Post date: Sunday, December 4, 2011 - 10:22
All taxonomy terms: Matt Moore, Miami Dolphins, News
Path: /news/matt-moore-will-continue-his-improbable-fantasy-run-dolphins-today

Quarterbacks are falling left and right, some are struggling and some have tough matchups in Week 13. This is not what you want to see when your fantasy football playoffs are right around the corner.

If you find yourself in a QB quandary this week, maybe Miami Dolphins signal caller Matt Moore could help you out.

Moore and the Dolphins welcome the Oakland Raiders in Week 13 after about as long a road trip you can make in the NFL. And Miami will get a Raiders team that is 29th best against fantasy quarterbacks this season, 31st the last five weeks and 27th the last three weeks.

Caleb Hanie made his 2011 starting debut for the Bears in Oakland last week and threw for 254 yards, two scores and three picks. A week earlier, Minnesota rookie QB threw for 211 yards, two scores and three picks. The Raiders have picked off seven passes in the last four games but have also given up two TDs a game in the same time. All told, the four QBs have all scored above 20 fantasy points.

The Dolphins defense has certainly improved and present a tough matchup for Raiders QB Carson Palmer and his injured receiving corps and RB Michael Bush as the lead back.

Moore is coming off his fourth double-digit fantasy day in the last five games after scoring 13.82 points against Dallas on Thanksgiving. Prior to the Dallas game, he scored 18.6 against Buffalo, 6.8 against Washington, 22.1 against Kansas City and 13.6 against the Giants. His No. 1 receiver, Brandon Marshall, has been up and down, but in three of the last four games he has at least 98 yards receiving and two touchdowns after going above 98 yards and scoring two touchdowns in the first eight games.

The consistency is not there for Moore but given the current QB situation around the NFL, I will take my chance with Moore against a team that has been ridiculously friendly to opposing quarterbacks over the last month both at home and on the road.

Ten days rest and the Oakland Raiders makes for a good recipe today.

By Corby A. Yarbrough @Corby_Yarbrough on Twitter

<p> The Dolphins quarterback will keep putting up nice stats again</p>
Post date: Sunday, December 4, 2011 - 10:20
Path: /news/matt-ryan-should-be-your-starting-lineup-today-against-houston

I’m going with Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan as a confident start in Week 13 at Houston.

It’s a tough matchup. Ryan’s got injuries on his side of the ball; the Texans are tough on the defensive side of the ball. But Ryan will come through for you this week as a starting fantasy QB in 12-team leagues.

Here’s what we’re looking at with the matchup.

Atlanta sees running back Michael Turner questionable as he battles a groin injury. Pass-catching backs Jason Snelling and Jacquizz Rodgers could step in and be a help to Ryan’s fantasy numbers. If Turner tries to play through the injury, that takes away more opportunities for passes out of the backfield, though. Julio Jones (hamstring) could also miss basically his third straight game (came back last week with no targets). So Ryan would be left to get it done with a platoon backfield, Roddy White, Harry Douglas and Tony Gonzalez.

Ryan has been a solid fantasy QB the last four games, only one of which Julio ones was a factor. Ryan has thrown for 262-plus yards in each game, nine total TDs and two interceptions. Ryan’s average line over those last four games is 301 yards on 23 completions, 2.3 TDs and .5 interceptions for three 22-point fantasy days.

The Texans are the No. 2 pass defense (175.8 YPG), have not given up more than 14 points in the last five games but have also not faced a stiff challenge in quite a while. The Falcons have not been held below 23 points since Week 6. Also, Houston rolls out rookie QB T.J. Yates for his first start and should give Atlanta’s ninth-ranked defense plenty of chances to get the ball back to Ryan and Co.

The Texans have not faced an every week fantasy QB starter this season since Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger in Week 3. On that day, Big Ben completed 16-of-30 passes for 206 yards, no scores and an interception.

Since then, the Texans have seen Jason Campbell, Joe Flacco, Matt Hasselbeck, Blaine Gabbert twice, Colt McCoy and Josh Freeman. None are the who’s who of fantasy QBs, and collectively they were held to an average of 164 yards on 14 completions per game with five touchdowns and 11 interceptions.

Since Week 6, Ryan has not dipped below 16 fantasy points — which is quite a feat considering some of the fringe QBs out there this season — and that is about what you could expect from him on Sunday. The Falcons have played five road games thus far and Ryan averages 16.04 points away from the Georgia Dome.

Yes, it’s a bad matchup for Ryan, and injuries to his weapons will hurt, but what are your other options?

Ryan is currently the seventh-best QB in fantasy points per game (17.3), ahead of Philip Rivers, Tim Tebow, Roethlisberger, Mark Sanchez, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Andy Dalton, Josh Freeman, Matt Hasselbeck, Joe Flacco, Colt McCoy, Carson Palmer, Alex Smith and Matt Moore.

Off that list, there’s only one I am thinking of starting ahead of Ryan. Roethlisberger played the Bengals in Week 10 and produced 12.6 points, but the Cincy defense is a lot more banged up just three weeks later. And you never know what you’re going to get from the others. Give me the guaranteed 16 with a good chance at more and I’m starting Ryan.

By Corby A. Yarbrough @Corby_Yarbrough on Twitter

<p> The Falcons quarterback should put up big numbers against the Texans</p>
Post date: Sunday, December 4, 2011 - 10:13
Path: /news/heres-why-steven-jackson-must-sit-against-49ers

Sit St. Louis Rams running back Steven Jackson this week at San Francisco. There’s nothing that leans in Jackson’s favor in Week 13 — he’s going up against the NFL’s best rush defense and is doing so having not rushed for over 64 yards the last two weeks or having scored in the last month.

The 49ers are the best team against fantasy running backs this season — by almost a full three points per game average ahead of Atlanta. San Francisco has allowed just one touchdown to a running back this season and that came out of the passing game. The 49ers have given up just 674 rushing yards on 198 carries (3.4 YPC).

And in more recent weeks, the 49ers are a top-six team against fantasy running backs the last five weeks, and only two more teams ahead of them have seen more rushing attempts in that time. San Francisco has been run against 91 times for 337 yards (3.7 YPC) and of course no TDs.

The one saving grace for Jackson would be what San Francisco allows in the passing game. The 49ers have allowed 34 catches to running backs — the most of any team — over the last five weeks for 244 yards. Overall this season, San Francisco entered Week 13 allowing the fourth-most receptions to backs (62) for the 10th most yards (474).

The problem is: Us PPR folks still waiting for the 90-catch Steven Jackson of 2006 to return, it is just not happening. He has caught just 26 balls this season for 151 yards and one score. Since the 90-catch season, Jackson has not caught above 50 balls for more than 379 yards and has just three receiving scores since 2006.

And that’s just what we would like to see as a pass catcher out of Jackson. He has problems just as a running back right now. After a three-week run of 25-plus carries and 128-plus yard games — 25-159-2, 29-130-0, 27-128-0 —he has dropped off with 15-42-0 and 17-64-0 the last two weeks. San Francisco has seen a 20-plus carry back just once this season — last week when Ray Rice carried 21 times for 59 yards and added three catches for 24 yards and a 9.8-point fantasy day. The 59 yards is the second-most San Francisco has allowed this season.

Add in that his starting QB, Sam Bradford, is not likely to play (ankle) and this is a no-brainer sit for Jackson.

By Corby A. Yarbrough @Corby_Yarbrough on Twitter

<p> The Rams running back will be shut down today against San Francisco</p>
Post date: Sunday, December 4, 2011 - 10:08
Path: /news/roy-helu-must-start-against-giants

Washington Redskins running back Roy Helu was the No. 1 waiver pick up of the week in most fantasy leagues. So go play him in Week 13 vs. the New York Jets.

Redskins coach Mike Shanhan said the rookie back from Nebraska was ready to be a full-time back after last week’s strong outing, his second strong of the season. He carried 23 times for 108 yards and a score and added seven catches for 54 yards for a 25.7-point day.

It’s the kind of performance we wanted to see from Helu the previous two weeks after he basically had the same kind of fantasy day in Week 9. However, Shanahan duped fantasy owners after waiver claims for Helu flooded the Week 10 wire. He went from 19.6 points to 6.9 points in a week as Ryan Torain got the start the week after Helu blew up. And there Helu went back into the pool in a lot of leagues.

But now we are expected to believe Shanahan when he says Helu has the starting job and it’s his to lose. Call me a sucker, but for the 4-7 Redskins hopefully trying to evaluate what they have for next year, that’s good enough for me. Helu is young, quick has power and is a killer in PPR leagues.

The Redskins get a Jets team that is 13th against fantasy running backs this season and No. 1 the last five weeks. But Helu did his two weeks of damage against San Francisco and Seattle, the No. 1 and 12-ranked rush defenses.

Many of us have been killed at the running back position this season.

From Jamaal Charles going on IR early followed by Jahvid Best and Fred Jackson to players like Adrian Peterson and Darren McFadden out this week to players like Ahmad Bradshaw and, Michael Turner hobbled to Steven Jackson and Cedric Benson having terrible matchups this week, Helu is a perfect start, particularly in PPR leagues.

The Redskins are going with the hot hand, so should you.

By Corby A. Yarbrough @Corby_Yarbrough on Twitter

<p> The Redskins running back should put up big numbers today</p>
Post date: Sunday, December 4, 2011 - 10:06