Fantasy Fool: Aerial fireworks propel stars, upstarts to rare heights

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It's one thing to run into a Calvin Johnson-Andre Johnson buzz saw, as I did in one league this weekend.

But there's something very unsettling about getting thrashed by a team featuring Andy Dalton, Marcel Reece, LaRod Stephens-Howling and Danario Alexander. How was I to know I should bench Aaron Rodgers for Matt Schaub? Or give Mike Wallace, Denarius Moore and Antonio Gates the day off? Who told Torrey Smith he could have another bye week?

I love the ups and downs of fantasy football as much as the next guy, but there clearly was a glitch in the matrix in Week 11.

Houston's Reliant Stadium was the glitch's epicenter.

Do you know how many touchdown passes Schaub amassed in his previous two games against Jacksonville?

Four fewer than he had on Sunday.

It's no great shock that Andre Johnson posted a career game against the lowly Jaguars; but where does Garrett Graham get off upstaging Owen Daniels (and Arian Foster, for that matter)? I guess it could have been worse. I could have faced an opponent starting Chad Henne and Justin Blackmon, as they took on the third-best pass defense in the league.

Oh wait a minute. Not one of the 25 million-plus starting lineups on Planet Earth included that QB-WR tandem!

Week 11 also produced a fantasy bounty for owners of Julian Edelman, T.Y. Hilton, Ben Watson and Marcedes Lewis.

Raise your hand if you're one of those owners.

Yeah, that's what I thought.

I can't remember a week, especially this deep into the season, when so many no-names stole the spotlight. Be advised: For most of them, the attention will be fleeting.

FREE AGENT PICKS AND PANS

To win a fantasy championship, it helps to start with a great draft. But filling in your roster throughout the season with the right free agents is also important. Here's a look at players worth considering, and others who would look better in someone else's lineup.

Catch 'em while you can

Bryce Brown, RB, Eagles. The rookie could get his first career start in Week 12 if LeSean McCoy's concussion proves to be serious. Brown has shown flashes in limited opportunities, but he's unlikely to match McCoy's production in the Eagles' struggling offense. Don't count on Brown for more than a one-week flex role.

James Starks, RB, Packers. Here we go again. Alex Green couldn't get the job done, and Cedric Benson isn't ready to return. Starks is healthy again and has been the Packers' primary ball carrier for two consecutive games. Hey, a starting RB is a starting RB.

Ronnie Hillman, RB, Broncos. If Willis McGahee's knee injury grounds him for a game or more, Hillman is the backup to grab. The rookie's running style has been likened to that of Darren Sproles, but he also offers every-down upside. With Peyton Manning at the controls, he could be a very busy man indeed.

Justin Blackmon, WR, Jaguars. As we head toward the postseason, our benches should be stocked with our top RBs' handcuffs and receivers with upside. Jacksonville's prized rookie fits that mold, after his stirring coming-out party. Though Blackmon will struggle to deliver consistent production in this offense, you have to be impressed with a 236-yard, one-TD outing against the mighty Texans. Next up: Tennessee.

Don't be fooled

Chad Henne, QB, Jaguars. Surely you must be joking.

Bilal Powell, RB, Jets. The second-year rusher just scored his first two career touchdowns, but he's unlikely to supplant Shonn Greene as the Jets' starter. Rather, he may have succeeded in creating a committee situation, in which case Greene's value takes yet another hit. There's not enough fantasy production in that backfield to split between two players.

Julian Edelman, WR, Patriots. Even with Rob Gronkowski out for several weeks and Aaron Hernandez still hobbling on a bum ankle, Edelman's role in the Patriots' offense is too sketchy to rely upon. Take away the punt return score, and the veteran's 58-yard, one-touchdown afternoon was still his best fantasy production since 2009.

Garrett Graham, TE, Texans. I suppose if Matt Schaub has another five-touchdown outing, we might notice Graham again. But, more likely, he'll return to the shadows until Owen Daniels suffers another injury.

fantasy

Ladd Biro has been named Football Writer of the Year by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association for two consecutive years (2010 and 2011). Follow all his advice at the Fantasy Fools blog, on Facebook and via Twitter (@ladd_biro).


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