Wide Write: Let's Go, T.O.!

Happy Thanksgiving, folks! Remember that there are three games on Turkey Day, so you’ll need to set your lineups early. The schedule includes:

First Game: Packers-Lions at 12:30 p.m. ET. Your Dinner Status: Not yet started

Second Game: Raiders-Cowboys at 4:15 p.m. Your Dinner Status: Second helping, dessert imminent

Third Game: Giants-Broncos at 8:20 p.m. Your Dinner Status: Pants unbuttoned, half asleep on couch, drooling

Read on for your Week 12 fantasy football recommendations. If you have any questions, comments or insults, send them to

As always, not all of this week’s recommendations aren’t included below. There will always be a few more players you need to know about, and to find out who they are, you’ll need to watch the weekly Wide Writevideo blog.


Start him: Carson Palmer, Bengals

I’d like to start by thanking Palmer for his Week 11 performance. I was pretty much on target with my recommendation to bench him, since he threw for just 207 yards and no touchdowns. If it wasn’t for those two one-yard touchdown sneaks he had – just the fourth and fifth TD runs of his six-year career, by the way – the advice would have been perfect. %$#@!

This week Palmer and his Bengals host the hapless Browns, who just let shaky rookie Matthew Stafford torch them for 422 yards and five touchdowns. Wide Write’s sophisticated computer simulations project Palmer to throw for 1,956 yards and 13 touchdowns on Sunday.

Sit him: Matt Hasselbeck, Seahawks

As we’ve mentioned previously, Hasselbeck has been inconsistent this season. In his last three games he’s averaged 291 yards passing, but also has four interceptions against just two touchdowns. The Rams have been scrappy lately, keeping games close after getting blown out a lot early in the season. Call it a hunch, but I think the Rams are going to give Hasselbeck and the Seahawks some trouble in a low-scoring game.

Pick him up: Kyle Orton, Broncos

The Giants’ pass defense is statistically kind of weird. The unit is ranked second in the league with just 177 yards allowed per game, but it has also given up a subpar 17 touchdowns, with 13 of those aerial scores coming in the last five games. Orton and the Broncos’ offense have been really been struggling lately, but if there’s a tonic for their woes, it’s the Giants. As my dad said when I called him after Sunday’s game, “They can’t stop ANYBODY!” After this week, however, Orton has a string of tough matchups, so don’t fall in love with him if he has a good game.

One more thing: At this time of year, decent free-agent quarterbacks are hard to come by, since most are taken already. Orton is one of those guys who might be both available and worth a look on your league’s free-agent wire. After him, the pickings will be slim – like Mark Sanchez and Brady Quinn slim.

Note: Chicago’s Jay Cutler is serving the remainder of his two-week Wide Write suspension after throwing five interceptions against the 49ers in Week 10. There was some thought about including him as a bench candidate this week, but rules are rules.

Running backs

Start him: Jason Snelling, Falcons

Michael Turner appears ready to miss a second straight game with a sprained ankle, and Snelling has stepped up in Turner’s absence, with 182 yards from scrimmage and three touchdowns in his last two games. The Buccaneers and their league-worst run defense visit the Georgia Dome this week, and it’s hard to believe that they won’t give Snelling plenty of room to run.

Mainly because of their awful run defense, the Bucs reassigned defensive coordinator Jim Bates on Monday. If you remember, they also did the same thing to offensive coordinator Jeff Jagodzinski during the preseason (he decided to quit). Neither coordinator was allowed to make it through one full season, huh? Remind me to ignore any “Buccaneers assistant coach” job postings in February and March.

Sit him: Cadillac Williams, Buccaneers

Speaking of the Bucs, Caddy is realllly slllllllllooowwwwwwwwwwiinnnngggg dowwwwwwwwnnnn, with just 174 yards rushing and one TD in his last four games. In Week 11, he had 11 carries, while Derrick Ward had seven and Earnest Graham three. In Week 10, Williams carried 14 times to Ward’s 10. Williams looked like a Pro Bowl contender a few times early in the season, but right now he’s too inconsistent and in too crowded of a backfield to trust.

Pick him up: Felix Jones, Cowboys

Finally! I don’t know if it was due to Jerry Jones’ urging, and I don’t care, but Jones finally got his hands on the ball a bit against the Redskins, with 10 carries for 49 yards, and a reception for seven yards. Jones isn’t anything more than a flex play, but if he touches the ball 10-12 times per game from here on out, he’ll put up some decent yardage, and break loose for two or three electrifying touchdowns along the way. He’s definitely worth a free-agent claim if you have a roster spot clogged by someone that’s not helping you.

Receivers (WR/TE)

Start him: Terrell Owens, Bills

This is a tough one, because Ryan Fitzpatrick isn’t a good quarterback. Still, he targeted Owens an eye-catching 14 times last week, and Owens finally had a stat monster of a game, with nine catches for 197 yards and a score against the Jaguars. It’s about time.

I like to think that new Bills head coach Perry Fewell pulled Fitzpatrick aside during his first practice last week and said, “Get T.O. the frickin' ball!!!” Whatever works, right? Owens and the Bills host the Dolphins and their 22nd-ranked pass defense on Sunday. After all those targets against the Jags, he’s worth a start.

Sit him: Braylon Edwards, Jets

Edwards is one of those borderline guys about whom I often get lineup questions, and I’m done with him until he actually does something. He’s caught 17 passes for 281 yards and two touchdowns in six games as a Jet. I think Wayne Chrebet used to do that in a game and a half.

(Is Edwards too easy of a bench call to include here? Now that I asked, will he score two touchdowns against the Panthers? Let me know what you think.)

Pick him up: Jermichael Finley, Packers (TE)

Finley came back from a three-week injury hiatus, and – presto! – caught seven passes for 54 yards. In his last three full games, he has 18 receptions for 236 yards and a touchdown, and last week he was targeted twice in the end zone. Pick Finley up now, and watch him become a solid fantasy tight end down the stretch. I wonder if I can place a prop bet on “Finley gets a touchdown this week” with a Vegas sportsbook.

Also: RB Julius Jones is expected to return this week for the Seahawks, but I wouldn’t lose faith in Justin Forsett’s chances to take Jones’ job just yet … Brian Westbrook might return to the Eagles in a couple more weeks, but he’ll probably need lots of medical clearance to do so after suffering a couple of concussions. Don’t count on him … Rams QB Marc Bulger could be done for the season with a fractured shin. Kyle Boller takes over, and while you shouldn’t start him, you should always consider whichever defense plays against the Rams, starting with the Seahawks this week.

Thanks for reading, and once again, make sure to watch this week’s edition of the Wide Write video blog by clicking here. Share it with your friends, post it on your Facebook page – really, I’d like to be just about everywhere if it’s OK with you.

John Halpin writes Wide Write and hosts an accompanying video blog every week throughout the NFL season. He also writes fantasy columns and early-morning blogs four days a week at You can receive more fantasy news and contact John by following him on Twitter (@jhalpin37).