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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.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Fantasy football: Week 12 waiver-wire picks

Adrian Peterson is banged up, Chris Johnson is back to not being Chris Johnson, Kevin Smith is a star two weeks after getting picked up as a street free agent ... Just another week in fantasy football.

As always, the waiver-wire picks include players who are available in more than half of the leagues on This week's batch can be had in more than 61 percent of the ESPN formats.

1. Kevin Smith, RB, Lions (owned in 0.8 percent of the ESPN leagues): In his second game since the Lions signed him out of desperation, Smith had 16 carries for 140 yards and two touchdowns, and he caught four passes for 61 yards and another score. Backfield mate Maurice Morris had only eight touches against Carolina, so there is a pretty clear chain of command with Jahvid Best out because of a concussion.

Thursday will be the fifth consecutive game Best has missed, and at this point we shouldn't be surprised if he doesn't play again this season. That makes Smith much more valuable than, say, Toby Gerhart, since there is an opportunity to acquire a player who will start the rest of the season.

Thursday's opponent, the Packers, rank 12th against the run and have allowed only six TDs on the ground -- mostly because they struggle to stop the pass, and many teams have to throw against them after they get down 14 points. That makes Smith a somewhat risky play this week, but he is a decent flex option.

In Weeks 13 and 14, Detroit will face the league's Nos. 19 and 9 run defenses in the Saints and Vikings, followed by favorable matchups in Week 15 (at the Raiders, No. 25 vs. the run) and 16 (vs. the Chargers, No. 23).

2. Toby Gerhart, RB, Vikings (owned in 1.7 percent of the ESPN leagues): Gerhart rushed for 18 yards on seven carries and caught one pass for 7 yards last week, when Peterson was sidelined for the majority of a loss to the Raiders because of an ankle injury. The latter hasn't been ruled out this week, but considering it's the dreaded high ankle sprain, we doubt the 2-8 Vikings will risk having their best player on the field with a bum wheel.

Sunday, Minnesota will play at Atlanta, which owns the league's No. 2 run defense and has given up only six TDs on the ground. All of which makes Gerhart much more ideally suited to be a flex play at best. If you own Peterson, though, you might not have that luxury and will be forced to play Gerhart as one of your two running backs.

3. Matt Moore, QB, Dolphins (owned in 2.8 percent of the ESPN leagues): He has had three touchdown passes in two of Miami's last three games. In that span, Moore has thrown for 613 yards with six TDs and one interception. More importantly, the Dolphins are 3-0 -- thus eliminating themselves from the Andrew Luck sweepstakes.

In the next six weeks, Moore has three very favorable matchups: Week 13 vs. the Raiders (No. 20 vs. the pass), Week 15 at the Bills (No. 24) and Week 16 at the Patriots(No. 32). Thursday's foe, Dallas, is No. 13 against the pass.

If you lost Jay Cutler for the season or you just need a QB, Moore can be an immediate starter.

4. Joe McKnight, RB, Jets (owned in 1.0 percent of the ESPN leagues): With Shonn Greene missing most of last Thursday's loss to the Tim Tebow-powered Broncos because of an injury to his ribs, McKnight was a dual threat. He had 59 yards on 16 carries and caught six passes for 62 yards. His 22 touches were 41 fewer than his total from his first 18 NFL games.

Greene is expected to play this week, but LaDainian Tomlinson could be out a second consecutive game because of a knee ailment. If both are out, McKnight is a must-start against the Bills, who rank 20th against the run and have yielded 12 rushing TDs. If Greene plays, McKnight's value is obviously limited, but he could still receive flex-play consideration in point-per-reception leagues.

5. Earl Bennett, WR, Bears (owned in 38.4 percent of the ESPN leagues): The good news is he has 14 receptions for 251 yards and a TD in his last three games. The bad news is he had become Cutler's favorite target, and now he will be catching passes from Caleb Hanie.

It's too bad, too, because the Bears will play Sunday at Oakland (No. 20 vs. the pass) and have games remaining against the Chiefs (Week 13, No. 14 vs. the pass), Broncos (Week 14, No. 21), Seahawks (Week 15, No. 15) and Packers (Week 16, No. 31).

Cutler's absence means Bennett should be viewed as a No. 4 fantasy receiver, not a No. 3. But you could start him and hope Hanie plays much better than his reputation against a suspect schedule.

Past waiver-wire picks who remain undervalued: Chris Ogbonnaya, RB, Browns (owned in 15.9 percent of the ESPN leagues); Donald Brown, RB, Colts (6.7 percent); Torrey Smith, WR, Ravens (43.8); Jabar Gaffney, WR, Redskins (25.5); Nate Burleson, WR, Lions (15.7); Greg Little, WR, Browns (10.3); Jerome Simpson, WR, Bengals (32.8); Early Doucet, WR, Cardinals (21.2); Brent Celek, TE, Eagles (18.2); Heath Miller, TE, Steelers (34.1).

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