Wide Write usually covers fantasy quarterbacks, running backs and wide receivers, because they're the steadiest contributors and the ones you take in the early part of your annual drafts. But this week, we're going to make an exception.
Chicago's Devin Hester is one of the NFL's most electrifying players, and if you own the Bears' defense/special teams (DST in fantasy parlance), he's probably one of your favorites. Hester had a pair of third-quarter touchdowns on Sunday against the Broncos - a 75-yard punt return and an 88-yard kickoff return.
While the penalty for kicking the ball off out of bounds is relatively severe - the opponent gets possession at the 40-yard-line - we honestly have no idea why any sane NFL head coach would allow a ball to be punted to Hester. If your average Madden player knows to punt the ball out of bounds with Hester standing at the other end of a video game field, you'd think a two-time Super Bowl winner like Mike Shanahan might be able to figure it out.
Anyway, return TDs are the most fun plays in football, and we thought Wide Write needed to honor Hester in some way. So…
GOOD: Devin Hester, Chicago
Now, for our regularly scheduled programming:
Quarterbacks (non-Brady division)
GOOD: Kurt Warner, Arizona
The 36-year-old Warner has been banged up a lot this season. He's got sore ribs, and for much of the year he's been handing off exclusively with his right hand because the brace on his left elbow is too cumbersome. While sitting on fantasy benches and waiver wires everywhere, Warner threw for 484 yards and a pair of TDs in the Cardinals' 37-31 overtime loss to the 49ers. His fumble in the end zone was recovered by the Niners for the winning TD, but that probably didn't affect your fantasy team too much.
Warner certainly won't keep this up, but his next four games are as follows: Cleveland, at Seattle, at New Orleans, Atlanta. That's not exactly a terrifying schedule, and Warner could be a decent play this week against the Browns.
Honorable mention: Brett Favre, Green Bay (31-41, 381 yards, 3 TD); A.J. Feeley, Philadelphia (27-42, 345 yards, 3 TD)
BAD: David Carr, Carolina
You're not playing Carr on your fantasy team. (Really, you're not - are you?) Even so, we felt like we had to give him some recognition this week. The Panthers signed Carr in the offseason, and many NFL pundits thought he'd give starter Jake Delhomme some competition. Well, Delhomme got hurt in Week 3 against the Falcons, and since then Carr has been…atrocious? Horrific? Colossally, horrendously awful? We're not sure what the best word is, but if you happen to watch Carr play, you'll know why he leaves us speechless.
In Sunday's 31-6 loss to the Saints, Carr completed 10 of 22 passes for 95 yards and two interceptions before getting yanked in the fourth quarter. At this point, Panthers' head coach John Fox would rather wheel Vinny Testaverde onto the field in a wheelchair than see Carr take another snap.
THIS WEEK'S PLAY: Jason Campbell, Washington
The Redskins' coaching staff promised to open up the offense a few weeks ago, and Campbell has responded, averaging 288 yards and two touchdown passes in his last three games. All three have been losses, but from a fantasy standpoint, what do you care?
This week, Campbell and the 'Skins host the Bills and their 29th-ranked pass defense. Jackpot.
GOOD: Kolby Smith, Kansas City
Larry Johnson? Out indefinitely. Priest Holmes? Retired last week, again. Enter Smith, who started 2006 as a backup running back at the University of Louisville, and hasn't gained more than 1,000 yards since high school. This is the guy the Chiefs are going to hand the ball to 20 times a game?
So far, so good. Smith carried 31 times for 150 yards and a pair of scores against the Raiders in Week 12. As long as Johnson's return is still up in the air, Smith should continue to carry the load for the Chiefs. While you shouldn't expect a string of 150-yard outings for Smith, if he's going to get the ball, he'll be worth a start for many fantasy teams.
Honorable mention: Frank Gore, San Francisco (21 carries, 116 yards, 2 TD; 11 receptions, 98 yards)
BAD: LenDale White, Tennessee
White carried the ball eight times for 27 yards in a 35-6 loss to the Bengals. After gaining more than 100 yards in three straight games, he has carried 29 times for 81 yards in his last three. We're starting to lose faith here, LenDale.
THIS WEEK'S PLAY: Earnest Graham, Tampa Bay
If you're not playing Graham regularly yet, you're not alone, as he was active in only 40.9 FOXSports.com leagues during Week 12. Graham wasn't on the fantasy radar early in the season, but he became the Bucs' feature back when Cadillac Williams got hurt, and has been pretty steady. In his last five games, Graham has 455 yards and three touchdowns while averaging a solid 4.3 yards per carry.
Graham will face the Saints this week, and while their run defense is solid (tied for ninth in the league), he's still a No. 2 running back for most fantasy teams. Get him in there already.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends (non-Moss division)
GOOD: Chad Johnson, Cincinnati
In our morning blog over at FOXSports.com, a few people asked last week if they should bench Johnson, mainly because he hadn't scored since Week 2. He rebounded in a big way against the Titans in Week 12, hauling in 12 passes for 103 yards and three touchdowns.
Johnson also commandeered a CBS camera as part of a post-TD celebration. That rated a 6 out of 10 on our Ocho Cinco scoring scale, behind the Riverdance and slightly ahead of the marriage proposal. We're still disappointed that he reneged on his promise to bring a deer into the end zone before Christmas a couple of years ago.
Anyway, Johnson averaged 92 receptions and 1,357 yards per season from 2003-06, and he's on pace for career bests in both categories this season. He's a must-start in all fantasy leagues.
Honorable mention: Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona (9 receptions, 156 yards, 2 TD)
BAD: Lee Evans, Buffalo
Evans started the season very slowly, catching just five passes for 29 yards in his first three games. Then he had a midseason resurgence, catching TD passes from his buddy J.P. Losman during consecutive 100-yard games against the Jets and Bengals.
Three weeks ago, Evans' numbers started to slide again, and they bottomed out Sunday with a two-catch, 19-yard performance versus Jacksonville. On Monday, things got worse for Evans when the Bills announced that Trent Edwards would be the team's starting quarterback for the rest of the season. See, Evans has had most of his success under Losman, who throws a better deep ball than Edwards. Don't expect a ton from Evans over the final five games.
THIS WEEK'S PLAY: Deion Branch, Seattle
After a five-week injury hiatus, Branch returned with four receptions for 31 yards in Week 11, and followed that up with a five catches, 92 yards and a TD against the Rams in Week 12. In the third quarter of that same game, WR D.J. Hackett re-injured an ankle that will keep him out for at least a couple of weeks, and after the injury QB Matt Hasselbeck targeted Branch six times in a quarter and a half.
This week, the pass-happy Seahawks visit the Eagles' 22nd-ranked pass defense, and Branch seems to be their No. 1 receiver. Get him in your lineup, and expect a solid outing.
John Halpin covers fantasy sports for FOXSports.com, writing a morning football blog Sundays through Thursdays and baseball columns once or twice each week, depending on the season. His "Wide Write" will appear every Tuesday during the NFL season on FOXNews.com. Send him an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more fantasy sports coverage, visit FOXSports.com/fantasy