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News-Herald Assistant Sports Editor Kevin Kleps doesn’t just write headlines and stories. He also checks on his fantasy sports teams. A lot. See if the moves and news from the world of sports affect your fantasy teams.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Fantasy football: More dos and don'ts, injury updates, start-and-sit advice and expanded playlist for Week 12

In this week’s column, I break down the must-starts and dos and don’ts for the remainder of the season.

Let’s get to a few leftovers, which only seems fitting on this day, before the usual injury updates:

DO ...

-- Consider starting both Cardinals running backs — Beanie Wells and Tim Hightower — when the matchup is right (i.e., Weeks 15 and 16, when Arizona plays at Detroit and hosts St. Louis).

In the last two games, Wells has rushed 30 times for 159 yards (5.3-yard average) and three touchdowns, and caught four passes for 43 yards. In that span, Hightower has 24 carries for 147 yards (6.1 average) and seven catches for 36 yards. For the season, the latter has 47 receptions and five rushing TDs.

Of the two, Wells is the better play, but Hightower is still an effective flex start or lower-echelon No. 2 running back in point-per-reception leagues.

-- Consider Davone Bess as a No. 3 receiver in PPR leagues. The Dolphins’ top receiver has 20 catches in his last four games and 16 in his last three. I would only play him when the matchup is favorable, which is especially true in Weeks 14 at Jacksonville (No. 25 vs. the pass) and 15 at Tennessee (No. 31).

DON’T ...

-- Trust the Saints’ running backs unless the matchup is favorable. Pierre Thomas is the best in terms of yardage, Mike Bell has a tendency to steal the goal-line carries and Reggie Bush had five TDs in his last five games prior to sitting out last week and, when healthy, is the best receiver of the three.

Thomas is still the best fantasy option, but if you have two productive running backs, consider both Thomas and Bell flex plays on a week-to-week basis.

-- Get too excited over Terrell Owens’ huge Week 11, when the Bills receiver had nine catches for 197 yards, including a 98-yard TD, against the Jaguars. Prior to last week, Owens hadn’t scored since Week 2 and he had only 26 catches for 366 yards in nine games. He’s still a No. 3 receiver with whom you should play the matchup game. Owens is a decent play this week against the Dolphins, who rank 22nd against the pass.

Injury updates

-- Kurt Warner and Ben Roethlisbeger — who suffered head injuries last week — are both expected to start. The Cardinals’ Warner has the much more favorable matchup of the two — a game at Tennessee, which ranks 31st against the pass and has given up 25 touchdown tosses. Roethlisberger and the Steelers play at the Ravens, who rank 17th vs. the pass but have as many interceptions (11) as touchdown passes allowed. Play both if they’re active, although Roethlsiberger isn’t a top-10 start this week.

-- Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo will play today after being bothered by a back injury. The Raiders have been stingy against the pass — No. 12 in yardage and only eight TD passes allowed — but I would still start Romo.

-- Bengals running back Cedric Benson (hip injury) practiced Wednesday and is expected to play. He is listed as questionable, but if he practices again Friday (the critical day from an injury standpoint for most players), you should feel safe in keeping him in your lineup. If he’s a late scratch, backup Bernard Scott is a very good start against the Browns and their 28th-ranked run defense.

-- Falcons running back Michael Turner, who missed last week’s game because of a high ankle sprain, also practiced Wednesday and hopes to play, but he sounds more iffy than Benson. If Turner plays, start him against the Bucs, the league’s worst run defense. If he doesn’t, backup Jason Snelling is worth a spot in your lineup.

-- Seahawks running back Julius Jones has missed practice with a bruised lung, but is expected to start Sunday. If he’s active, he’s a quality option as a flex play against the Rams (No. 28 vs. the run). The same goes for backup Justin Forsett should Jones sit for a second consecutive game.

-- Lions receiver Calvin Johnson, who is nursing hand and knee injuries, will be a game-time decision for today’s Thanksgiving tilt against the Packers. His value is also hurt by Daunte Culpepper’s presence at quarterback in place of the injured Matthew Stafford. If Johnson is active, play him. If he isn’t, don’t look at teammates Bryant Johnson and Dennis Northcutt for help.

-- Running backs Clinton Portis and Brian Westbrook are still out because of concussions, leaving the starting jobs for the Redskins and Eagles to Rock Cartwright and LeSean McCoy, respectively. McCoy is a top-10 start at his position this week, and Cartwright should be considered no better than a flex play at the Eagles (No. 10 vs. the run).

Five to start

This week’s look at part-time starters and fantasy backups who should benefit from a favorable matchup:

-- Carson Palmer, QB, Bengals, vs. Browns:
He has only 385 yards passing and zero touchdowns in his last two games, but he threw for 230 yards and two scores in the Bengals’ Week 4 win at Cleveland. I would expect similar numbers Sunday against the Browns’ No. 26 pass defense.

-- LaDainian Tomlinson, RB, Chargers, vs. Chiefs: He’s been disappointing, but there are signs of life — five TDs in his last four games and 169 rushing yards in his last two. The Chiefs rank 27th vs. the run.

-- Marion Barber, RB, Cowboys, vs. Raiders:
The former fantasy stud ran for 99 yards last week, his second-highest total of the season and the most he’s had since Week 2. Barber should reach the century mark vs. the Raiders, who rank 30th vs. the run and have given up 11 rushing TDs.

-- Jamaal Charles, RB, Chiefs, at Chargers: He has scored in each of his last two games, a span in which Larry Johnson’s replacement has 183 total yards and six catches. The Chargers have struggled against the run (No. 21).

-- Michael Crabtree, WR, 49ers, vs. Jaguars: The rookie had his best fantasy game as a pro last week, catching four passes for 77 yards and a TD. Make it two straight games with a score, as the Jags rank 25th against the pass and have allowed 17 touchdowns through the air.

More matchups I like:

Tony Romo, QB, Cowboys, vs. Raiders; Matt Ryan, QB, Falcons, vs. Buccaneers; Matt Hasselbeck, QB, Seahawks, at Rams; David Garrard, QB, Jaguars, at 49ers; Laurence Maroney, RB, Patriots, at Saints; Nate Burleson and T.J. Houshmandzadeh, WRs, Seahawks, at Rams; Terrell Owens, WR, Bills, vs. Dolphins; Pierre Garcon, WR, Colts, at Texans; Michael Jenkins, WR, Falcons, at Buccaneers

Three to sit

If you have a decent backup, these starters should take a seat for a week:

-- Brandon Jacobs, RB, Giants, at Broncos:
He has yet to rush for 100 yards this season and has only three touchdowns, which should give him a seat on your bench unless you’re hurting for a second running back.

-- Knowshon Moreno, RB, Broncos, vs. Giants: He’s rushed for 177 yards on only 28 carries the last two weeks (6.3-yard average), but he hasn’t scored in his last three contests and the Giants rank 11th vs. the run (one caveat: The G-Men have allowed 14 rushing TDs).

-- Steve Slaton, RB, Texans, vs. Colts: Chris Brown is the latest back to share carries with Slaton (it was fun while it lasted, Ryan Moats), but even with the demotion in playing time, Slaton still has four TDs in his last five games and 24 catches in his last six. Regardless, you should have better options than playing the second-year back against the Colts’ No. 13 run defense.

More matchups I don’t like:

Joe Flacco, QB, Ravens, vs. Steelers; Kyle Orton, QB, Broncos, vs. Giants; Rock Cartwright, RB, Redskins, at Eagles; Santana Moss, WR, Redskins, at Eagles

Last week

The start list, for the first time all season, was 5-for-5. Eli Manning (384 yards passing, three touchdowns, one interception), Kevin Smith (45 yards rushing, four receptions for 104 yards and a TD), Bernard Scott (119 yards rushing, three catches for 32 yards), LeSean McCoy (99 yards rushing, one TD) and Beanie Wells (74 yards rushing, one TD, two receptions for 11 yards) all have productive games.

The all-QB sit list was 2-for-3, as Jay Cutler (171 yards passing, one TD, one interception, 11 yards rushing) and Joe Flacco (256 yards passing, zero TDs and one pick) struggled. Benching Matt Ryan (268 yards passing, two touchdowns, 14 yards rushing) was not a good idea.


1. Aaron Rodgers, Packers, at Lions (No. 32 vs. the pass)
2. Peyton Manning, Colts, at Texans (No. 15)
3. Philip Rivers, Chargers, vs. Chiefs (No. 28)
4. Drew Brees, Saints, vs. Patriots (No. 6)
5. Tom Brady, Patriots, at Saints (No. 16)
6. x-Kurt Warner, Cardinals, at Titans (No. 31)
7. Carson Palmer, Bengals, vs. Browns (No. 26)
8. Matt Schaub, Texans, vs. Colts (No. 18)
9. Brett Favre, Vikings, vs. Bears (No. 8)
10. Matt Ryan, Falcons, vs. Buccaneers (No. 14)
11. x-Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers, at Ravens (No. 17)
12. Tony Romo, Cowboys, vs. Raiders (No. 12)
13. Donovan McNabb, Eagles, vs. Redskins (No. 1)
14. Matt Hasselbeck, Seahawks, at Rams (No. 24)
15. Eli Manning, Giants, at Broncos (No. 3)
16. Jay Cutler, Bears, vs. Vikings (No. 21)
17. David Garrard, Jaguars, at 49ers (No. 30)
18. Matt Cassel, Chiefs, at Chargers (No. 11)
19. Joe Flacco, Ravens, vs. Steelers (No. 13)
20. x-Kyle Orton, Broncos, vs. Giants (No. 2)
x-Make sure Warner, Roethlisberger and Orton (who has a sprained ankle) are active. All are expected to play.


1. Adrian Peterson, Vikings, vs. Bears (No. 23 vs. the run)
2. Ricky Williams, Dolphins, at Bills (No. 31)
3. Joseph Addai, Colts, at Texans (No. 22)
4. Maurice Jones-Drew, Jaguars, at 49ers (No. 6)
5. Chris Johnson, Titans, vs. Cardinals (No. 8)
6. Steven Jackson, Rams, vs. Seahawks (No. 15)
7. Frank Gore, 49ers, vs. Jaguars (No. 17)
8. DeAngelo Williams, Panthers, at Jets (No. 16)
9. LeSean McCoy, Eagles, vs. Redskins (No. 25)
10. Ryan Grant, Packers, at Lions (No. 20)
11. x-Michael Turner, Falcons, vs. Buccaneers (No. 32)
12. x-Cedric Benson, Bengals, vs. Browns (No. 29)
13. Ray Rice, Ravens, vs. Steelers (No. 1)
14. LaDainian Tomlinson, Chargers, vs. Chiefs (No. 27)
15. Matt Forte, Bears, at Vikings (No. 3)
16. Marion Barber, Cowboys, vs. Raiders (No. 30)
17. x-Julius Jones, Seahawks, at Rams (No. 24)
18. Rashard Mendenhall, Steelers, at Ravens (No. 5)
19. Kevin Smith, Lions, vs. Packers (No. 4)
20. Laurence Maroney, Patriots, at Saints (No. 19)
21. Beanie Wells, Cardinals, at Titans (No. 9)
22. Jamaal Charles, Chiefs, at Chargers (No. 21)
23. Pierre Thomas, Saints, vs. Patriots (No. 14)
24. Tim Hightower, Cardinals, at Titans (No. 9)
x-Make sure Turner, Benson and Jones are active.

1. Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals, at Titans (No. 31 vs. the pass)
2. Randy Moss, Patriots, at Saints (No. 16)
3. Reggie Wayne, Colts, at Texans (No. 15)
4. Roddy White, Falcons, vs. Buccaneers (No. 14)
5. Vincent Jackson, Chargers, vs. Chiefs (No. 28)
6. Wes Welker, Patriots, at Saints (No. 16)
7. Anquan Boldin, Cardinals, at Titans (No. 31)
8. Andre Johnson, Texans, vs. Colts (No. 18)
9. Chad Ochocinco, Bengals, vs. Browns (No. 26)
10. Donald Driver, Packers, at Lions (No. 32)
11. Mike Sims-Walker, Jaguars, at 49ers (No. 30)
12. x-Calvin Johnson, Lions, vs. Packers (No. 7)
13. DeSean Jackson, Eagles, vs. Redskins (No. 1)
14. Greg Jennings, Packers, at Lions (No. 32)
15. Steve Smith, Giants, at Broncos (No. 3)
16. Nate Burleson, Seahawks, at Rams (No. 24)
17. Marques Colston, Saints, vs. Patriots (No. 6)
18. Brandon Marshall, Broncos, vs. Giants (No. 2)
19. Steve Smith, Panthers, at Jets (No. 4)
20. Hines Ward, Steelers, at Ravens (No. 17)
21. Miles Austin, Cowboys, vs. Raiders (No. 12)
22. T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Seahawks, at Rams (No. 24)
23. Michael Crabtree, 49ers, vs. Jaguars (No. 25)
24. Sidney Rice, Vikings, vs. Bears (No. 8)
25. Terrell Owens, Bills, vs. Dolphins (No. 22)
26. Santonio Holmes, Steelers, at Ravens (No. 17)
27. Derrick Mason, Ravens, vs. Steelers (No. 13)
28. Mario Manningham, Giants, at Broncos (No. 3)
29. Chris Chambers, Chiefs, at Chargers (No. 11)
30. Devin Hester, Bears, at Vikings (No. 21)
31. Percy Harvin, Vikings, vs. Bears (No. 8)
32. Jerricho Cotchery, Jets, vs. Panthers (No. 5)
33. Pierre Garcon, Colts, at Texans (No. 15)
34. Jeremy Maclin, Eagles, vs. Redskins (No. 1)
35. Kevin Walter, Texans, vs. Colts (No. 18)
36. Lee Evans, Bills, vs. Dolphins (No. 22)
x-Make sure Johnson (knee and hand injuries) is active Thursday.

MORE FANTASY FOOTBALL: Who are the must-starts at each position (even kicker)? Kevin Kleps has the answers here. The link also includes this week’s audiocast by Kleps and Sports Editor Mark Podolski.

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