Folks, you've got three or four weeks left until your fantasy playoffs. Unless your team is the fantasy equivalent of the Detroit Lions, you need to be at the top of your game right now if you expect a playoff berth. Or, you can just slack off until Thursdays, read this column and hope things work out.
Seriously, our commitment to your fantasy success is boundless. Half of this column was typed on a Blackberry in order to meet our deadline, and our thumbs feel like they've been tap-danced on by Warren Sapp. But that's how much we care, and we expect nothing less from you. Now get your game faces on!
Trent Edwards, Bills – A few weeks ago, the Bills were 5-2, and during our trip to Las Veags we confidently bet $20 on them at 20-1 odds to win the Super Bowl. We’d like to think we aren’t responsible for the tailspin they’ve been in since, as they’ve lost consecutive divisional games to the Dolphins, Jets and Patriots. We still think the Bills are a pretty good team, and if they can’t snap out of it in front of a fired-up Monday night crowd against the struggling Browns, we can probably forget about cashing our ticket in February.
Edwards has been awful during the Bills’ losing streak, throwing just two touchdowns against five interceptions, and losing two fumbles as well. He’s much better than he’s played lately, and we think he’ll get the Bills back on the horse, er, buffalo this week.
Matt Hasselbeck, Seahawks – Hasselbeck was among the top 10 quarterbacks taken off the board during most fantasy drafts, but he suffered a knee injury against the Giants in Week 5, and he’s had a bad back as well. He returns this week, and it’s not a moment too soon, with the 2-7 Seahawks making Mike Holmgren’s final year a miserable one. We’re going to cross our fingers that a healthy Hasselbeck looks like his old self with a solid performance against the visiting Cardinals.
Tyler Thigpen, Chiefs – A few weeks ago, Thigpen was the last healthy signal caller in Kansas City, and our fantasy strategy was to start every fantasy defense that played against the Chiefs. Since then, the Coastal Carolina grad has completed 65 percent of his passes in three starts, with six touchdowns and zero interceptions. We’re not sure if Thigpen’s for real, but with a matchup against the awful Saints’ defense this week, we think you should be willing to find out. The return of RB Larry Johnson might cut into Thigpen’s passing attempts a bit, but he’s been playing too well for the Chiefs to change things up too much.
BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Patriots – Green-Ellis finished second in the recent 2008 “Clumsiest Name to Say Out Loud” awards, losing a close vote to Raiders CB Nnamdi Asomugha. He’s not second in the Patriots’ backfield anymore after carrying 26 times for 105 yards and a score against the Bills last week. Even though Sammy Morris is trying to come back from his knee injury, and even though the Jets’ run-stopping ability is strong, we think BenJarvus Green-Ellis is a good play in Week 11. We also think we’re always going to type his full name in this column from now on, instead of using the boring “Green-Ellis.” BenJarvus Green-Ellis, BenJarvus Green-Ellis, BenJarvus Green-Ellis …
Jerious Norwood, Falcons – The Falcons have said they’re determined to get the ball in the speedy Norwood’s hands as often as possible, and while he had only six carries and two receptions in Week 10, one of those receptions turned into a 67-yard touchdown. This week, the surprising Falcons have a great matchup, pitting their second-ranked rushing offense (158 yards per game) against the Broncos’ 27th-ranked run defense (146 yards per game). Michael Turner will carry much of the load, but we think Norwood will get plenty of chances to rack up some fantasy points for you.
Derrick Ward, Giants – Gigantic Brandon Jacobs gets all the accolades, but Ward is the unsung hero of the Giants’ backfield. He averages a shade under 10 carries per game, and he’s still 20th in the NFL with 490 yards due to a stellar 5.5 yards-per-carry average. If you need a third running back or a flex starter, you could do worse than the steady Ward. Plus, he went to Ottawa University, and we all love our Canadian friends, right?
(What’s that? Ottawa University is in Kansas? Oh. Start Ward anyway.)
Dwayne Bowe and Mark Bradley, Chiefs – These picks work in conjunction with the Tyler Thigpen recommendation. You know Bowe’s good, but you’ve been hesitant to start him sometimes due to the Chiefs’ QB issues. Bradley’s become a favorite target of Thigpen’s, catching 18 passes for 188 yards and two touchdowns in his last three games. Have we mentioned that the Chiefs are playing the Saints?
Antwaan Randle-El – Midseason fantasy MVP Clinton Portis might not play against the Cowboys due to a knee injury. Are we supposed to believe that the ‘Skins will rely on old and creaky Shaun Alexander to run 25 times in his place? Forget that – we say Jason Campbell takes to the air against the Adam 'Pacman' Jones-less, Roy Williams-less Dallas secondary. WR Santana Moss and TE Chris Cooley will catch their share of passes, and we think there will be enough to go around for Randle-El to get in on the action.
Nate Washington, Steelers – Washington is pretty much an all-or-nothing proposition. He has 21 receptions for 379 yards, and 213 of those yards have come on four huge plays (48, 50, 65, 50). We normally prefer wideouts who catch the ball more often, but with the Steelers hosting the Chargers and their league-worst pass defense this week, we think this opportunity is too good to pass up. Ben Roethlisberger’s status is up in the air, but we’ll stick with Washington whether Pittsburgh's QB is Big Ben, Byron Leftwich, Charlie Batch, Kordell Stewart, Terry Bradshaw or Cliff Stoudt.
Reminder: There’s a Thursday night game (Jets-Patriots), so make sure to set your lineups on time. Also, the scourge on humanity known as NFL bye weeks is gone until 2009. Rejoice!
John Halpin covers fantasy sports for FOXSports.com, writing a morning fantasy blog Sundays through Fridays and baseball columns once or twice each week, depending on the season. His "Wide Write" appears every Thursday 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.