Monday, December 13, 2010

Slogging through a winter wonderland

I don’t know which would be worse: Losing your first-round playoff matchup thanks to Aaron Rodgers’ ill-timed concussion; or because your opponent’s kicker tallied four field goals, four extra points and a rushing touchdown.

Thankfully, neither happened to me; but Rodgers’ early exit led to a disappointing performance by Greg Jennings, which could prove costly. And yes, Jay Feely’s bizarre scoring run should count. If your league’s rules don’t allow it, change them.

Like many, my fate hangs in the balance of tonight’s games. (Go Anquan!) But while the weather has already had an indirect – and difficult-to-predict – effect on the postponed Giants-Vikings tilt, none of the four teams will be able to blame the elements should they fail to deliver when you and I need them most.

I presume you don’t need any more convincing that snow, freezing rain and gusting winds can wreak havoc on your fantasy heroes, unless they happen to play quarterback near Boston and live with supermodel wives. But just to be sure…

“Bad Jay” Cutler added another classic stinker to his Windy City resume. The rest of his team, including his vaunted defense, followed suit.

Carson Palmer and Terrell Owens had arguably their worst outings of the year courtesy of the smothering Steelers defense, with a big assist from the freezing rain at Heinz Field. Ben Roethlisberger and his broken nose weren’t much better than Palmer, for that matter.

The Bills and Browns combined for a single touchdown in the bone-chilling rain of Buffalo, as did the Dolphins and Jets in the soggy New Meadowlands. Santonio Holmes even let a perfectly thrown ball slip uncharacteristically through his hands in the end zone.

Graham Gano botched field goals of 24 and 34 yards and was spared the ignominy of whiffing the game-tying extra point when the snap sailed through the soaked gloves of his holder on Washington’s final play.

Meanwhile, aside from the unflappable Tom Brady, most of the weekend’s top performers – including Michael Vick, Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, Darren McFadden, Michael Turner, Tim Hightower, DeSean Jackson, Malcom Floyd and Marques Colston – played indoors, or at least in much more hospitable surroundings.

Call it an aberration if you like. But I’ve already started worrying about my Packers, Steelers, Jets and Bengals next weekend. El Nino, where are you?

At this stage of the season, your starting roster should be fairly settled. But a little tweaking here or there, if only to keep your competition from improving, might still be in order. Here’s a look at a few players that could help in the final weeks, and a few that won’t.

Catch ‘em while you can

Ryan Torain, RB, Redskins. When a hamstring injury knocked him out of action in Week 8, Torain was dropped in many leagues. But after his career-best 172-yard romp on Sunday, he’ll be the hottest commodity on this week’s waiver wire. He’s available in more than half of all leagues.

Rashad Jennings, RB, Jaguars. The second-year back showed his game-breaking ability on a 74-yard TD run, and finished with five carries for 109 yards. Jennings has now scored in three consecutive weeks. Owners of Maurice Jones-Drew would be well-advised to hedge their bets with his emerging backup.

Kenny Britt, WR, Titans. He returned from a hamstring injury last Thursday and promptly re-claimed his starting job over Randy Moss. With the Texans’ woeful secondary on tap, Britt will be worth starting consideration on many title-seeking fantasy squads.

Don’t be fooled

Alex Smith, QB, 49ers. Aaron Rodgers’ owners who survived their Week 14 matchup will be scrambling for help this week. Don’t be tempted by Smith’s 255-yard, three-touchdown shellacking of the Seahawks. Among other well-documented reasons, he’ll be facing the Chargers’ stifling pass defense on the road next week.

Randy Moss, WR, Titans. Remember his “lost years” in Oakland? Those may seem like the good ole days by the time this season concludes. Moss won’t even be a starter for the rest of the year as long as Britt remains healthy. Feel free to send him packing.

Lee Evans, WR, Bills. He incurred a dreaded high ankle sprain on Sunday and may be lost for the season. Time to move on.

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