For starters, we want to recognize the rebound of a much-maligned fantasy running back: Ryan Grant of the Packers. Pundits and owners alike were trashing Grant earlier in the season, calling him a one-hit wonder after he averaged just 46 yards in his first four games. Grant’s been on fire lately, gaining 584 yards and scoring three times in his last half dozen games, and now the people who drafted him in the first or second round aren’t so mad anymore.
We included that note to prove that we don’t just criticize people around here. The holiday season is approaching, and we believe in good will toward men and all that stuff. Except for Larry Johnson and Terrell Owens, that is. They’re dead to us.
Joe Flacco, Ravens – Has there been a more overused, alliterative-sounding term lately than “unflappable” to describe Flacco? The former Delaware Blue Chicken has thrown five touchdowns in his last three games, and is coming home after three weeks on the road. The Eagles’ pass defense is OK, but not great. Flacco could put up 200 yards and a score this week.
Shaun Hill, 49ers – We are so totally on this guy’s bandwagon. Sure, we like the fact that he’s averaged 215 yards and two touchdowns in his last two starts, but we like his shotput delivery even more. How does he get the ball where he wants throwing it like that? Does he practice with a bowling ball or something? Could a 5-foot-6 defensive lineman knock down one of his passes? We like Hill and his funky arm action to have another solid if unspectacular outing against the Cowboys this week.
Brady Quinn, Browns – Yes, we know Quinn was 14-for-36 against the Bills on Monday night. This week’s matchup is much better – the Browns are at home against the Texans, who have given up 102 points in their last three games. Plus, we still have our longshot money riding on a Super Bowl win for the Browns. Let the Brady Quinn Era begin! Er, continue. How about reset?
Tatum Bell, Broncos – Last week, the three running backs we recommended combined for 68 rushing yards, and that’s unacceptable. Our solution this week is to suggest twice as many backs in the hope that some will actually have good games. We really think that might work.
Bell was selling cell phones in a Denver area mall less than two weeks ago, but when the Broncos lost the top 74 backs on their depth chart to injury, he told his co-workers he was going to the food court but instead headed to Invesco Field. Rookie Peyton Hillis gained 44 yards and scored twice against the Falcons, but Mike Shanahan practically invented the timeshare at this position, so look for Bell to build on his seven-carry, 34-yard performance from Week 11. Did we mention that the horrible Raiders are coming to town?
(P.S. We’re not trashing Hillis here, but we think that bandwagon may have left town already in many leagues. If it hasn’t, you can grab him.)
Ahmad Bradshaw, Giants – On Tuesday morning, lead back Brandon (Earth) Jacobs was asked about his injured knee, and said he “could line up and go play Sunday if our team was in serious need of a running back. But as everyone knows, they’re not.” Jacobs could have been blowing smoke, but if not, that leaves Derrick (Wind) Ward and Fire himself, Mr. Bradshaw, who busted a 77-yard run on his way to a season-high 96 yards against the Ravens. If Jacobs can’t go, Bradshaw should get a dozen carries behind Ward, and continue playing just like he did down the stretch last season.
Warrick Dunn, Buccaneers – This one is simple. Earnest Graham is done for the season, so that leaves Dunn, Cadillac Williams and B.J. Askew in the Bucs’ backfield. Askew isn’t that good, and Williams just returned from a yearlong injury absence, so look for Dunn to get a heavy workload against the winless Lions. He’s available in almost half of FOXSports.com leagues.
Antonio Pittman, Rams – Steven Jackson has already been declared out for Week 12, so Pittman will fill in again. Finally healthy after nursing an injured hamstring for a few weeks, Pittman ran for 95 yards on 14 carries Sunday against the 49ers. Sometimes you just have to ride the guy who’s going to get the ball.
Jonathan Stewart, Panthers – Stewart also played hurt for a few weeks, but in Week 11 he exploded against the Lions with 130 yards and a score on 15 carries. He also got one more carry than teammate DeAngelo Williams, so the early-season timeshare the Panthers were using seems to be back. Stewart is more of a short-yardage guy than Williams, too. Get him back in the lineup if he’s on your bench, and grab him from the free-agent pool if he’s not.
Pierre Thomas, Saints – Do you have any idea if Reggie Bush will make his long-awaited return Monday night against the Packers? Neither do we, and until we hear differently, you need to plan without him. Deuce McAllister seems to be getting phased out, so enter Thomas, who had 144 total yards and a touchdown against the Chiefs in Week 11. Keep an eye out for Bush news over the weekend, and if it looks like he’s going to be out again, start Thomas with confidence.
Antonio Bryant, Buccaneers – Our philosophy for fantasy wide receivers is to look at targets and catches more than yards and touchdowns, since the more a guy sees the ball the more chances he’ll have to score. We know – we can’t believe we came up with such groundbreaking logic, either. Bryant is clearly the Bucs’ top receiver, with 50 catches and 625 yards on the season. He’s picked up the pace lately, grabbing 19 passes for 219 yards and a TD in his last three outings. Jeff Garcia is going to keep throwing to Bryant – especially against the Lions – so he’ll at least get you a solid number of yards. He’s gotta score a few more times along the way as well, right?
Lance Moore, Saints – When Marques Colston and Jeremy Shockey came back from their injuries, a lot of fantasy owners thanked more and sent him to the fantasy unemployment line. Bad move, folks. Moore still leads Saints’ receivers with 52 receptions, 609 yards and five touchdowns. He’s scored in each of his last three games, racking up 20 catches and 268 yards in that span. Drew Brees might be the best quarterback in the league right now, and Moore is his favorite receiver. How is he unowned in so many leagues? Wake up!
Kevin Walter, Texans – Andre Johnson is the man in Houston, but Walter has turned himself into a pretty productive sidekick. He has 40 receptions for 574 yards and six touchdowns on the season, and he’s been pretty consistent, with at least three catches in each of his last six games. Sure, QB Sage Rosenfels turns the ball over a lot, but he moves it well enough, averaging 243 yards passing in three starts. Walter should see the ball plenty against the Browns this week, as usual.
Reminder: The Bengals and Steelers play Thursday night. Your fantasy players on those teams will love the snow.
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 email@example.com.
For more fantasy sports coverage, visit FOXSports.com/fantasy.