Monday, December 12, 2016

Bell yes! Steelers RB stands tall while Big Ben gets small

Sunday was a Tale of Two Steelers.

Le’Veon Bell entered the pantheon of all-time great fantasy performers with his 236-rushing-yard, 62-receiving-yard, 3-TD pounding of the Bills on Sunday. If you had Bell in your lineup, you could have teamed him with the cast of The Golden Girls and still vaulted into the second round of your playoff bracket.

Then again, if you were relying on Ben Roethlisberger for postseason glory, the last thing you want to do today is read a fantasy column. Even this Pulitzer-worthy tome. Roethlisberger’s zero-TD, three-interception debacle resulted in shattered TV screens across Fantasyland and reminded veteran players that what Big Ben giveth, he so often taketh away.

While Bell lapped the field among the weekend’s fantasy studs, there was no shortage of laggards to keep Roethlisberger company in the back of the pack.

For the second consecutive week, Drew Brees burned the owners he had carried all season, with a stat line eerily reminiscent of Big Ben’s. Russell Wilson tossed five – yes, five! – interceptions against the Packers. Derek Carr blew a gasket on Thursday night and Marcus Mariota completed six – yes, six! – passes against the Broncos.

Both Melvin Gordon and Matt Forte succumbed to injuries before registering a fantasy point, putting many of their owners in a hole that proved far too deep to overcome. And Devonta Freeman mysteriously disappeared while his teammates were racking up 42 points against the lowly Rams.

Speaking of the Falcons, who said Matt Ryan would shoot blanks without Julio Jones? Atlanta’s gunslinger came through with flying colors for those who trusted him, with ample help from Tevin Coleman and the rapidly emerging fantasy darling, Taylor Gabriel.

Meanwhile, Allen Robinson and DeAndre Hopkins continued their season-long slides to irrelevance, Kelvin Benjamin put up another stinker, Donte Moncrief laid a goose egg before pulling a hammy and the ageless Larry Fitzgerald wilted in the South Florida rains.

Then on Sunday night, yet another story unfolded. Let’s call it a Tale of Two Divas. Odell Beckham, Jr. reminded us what elite wideouts look like. Dez Bryant? Not so much…

Here’s hoping you found yourself on the right side of the boom-or-bust ledger this weekend.


To win a fantasy championship, it helps to start with a great draft. But filling gaps in your roster with the occasional waiver-wire acquisition is also important. At this point in the season, the pickings are slim and your best bet is to stick with your regular starters. But here's a look at a couple of players worth considering anyway, and others who would look better in someone else's lineup down the stretch.

Catch ‘em while you can

Bilal Powell, RB, Jets. Powell took over the Jets backfield when Matt Forte exited early with a knee injury, racking up 179 combined yards and 2 TDs against the generous 49ers defense. If Forte’s injury keeps him sidelined, Powell’s skills as a rusher and receiver can be exploited against the Dolphins in Week 15.

Robbie Anderson, WR, Jets. Friday’s “Flier of the Week” continued to profit from the attention lavished on him by his new quarterback. Bryce Petty once again targeted Anderson 11 times on Sunday – nearly as many targets as Brandon Marshall and Quincy Enunwa combined – resulting in six receptions for 99 yards. PPR leaguers in need of a high-volume flex option could do worse than start Anderson against Miami.

Alshon Jeffery, WR, Bears. Remember him? Jeffery’s four-game suspension ended this week, meaning he is eligible to return to face the Packers. Matt Barkley has played well enough to consider Jeffery a viable option for WR-challenged contenders in Week 15 and beyond.

Don’t be fooled

Kenneth Farrow, RB, Chargers. Melvin Gordon’s hip injury will almost surely throw the Chargers backfield – and his fantasy owners – into a tizzy. Farrow carried the load nicely in Gordon’s absence – both in the rushing and passing games – but don’t expect the rookie to be handed the workhorse role. Look for Ronnie Hillman, and possibly even former Giant and current practice-squader Andre Williams, to team with Farrow in a time-share arrangement that makes them all unreliable for fantasy purposes.

Justin Forsett, RB, Broncos. Yes, the well-traveled Forsett out-ran and out-received Devontae Booker on Sunday. That’s more bad news for Booker’s owners than good news for those contemplating an investment in Forsett. Considering that Denver ran the ball a whopping nine times (for 18 yards), this is not a backfield worth banking on.

DeVante Parker, WR, Dolphins. Parker had been coming into his own as a play-making complement to Jarvis Landry. But with the season-ending injury to Ryan Tannehill, Parker is likely to revert to his boom-or-bust ways as he works on his rapport with Matt Moore. Landry should maintain his dominance of Miami’s short passing game, but the long balls to Parker will be harder to replicate.

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