Week 12 Fantasy Rankings | David vs. Goliath
In this column I will try to pick a few players each week who I either “love” or “hate” more than the big boys of ESPN.
So far, with two weeks under my belt, I’m batting about .500, which is great for baseball, but not acceptable in Fantasy Football.
In Week 11 I was dead on in ranking Marshawn Lynch as the #8 Running Back (PPR) versus an ESPN Rank of #15. I also correctly predicted that Victor Cruz, not Hakeem Nicks, would be the Giants leading Wide Receiver. I placed Cruz at #10 versus ESPN at #22; he finished #5.
My biggest failure was easily my Ranking of John Skelton as the #9 Quarterback versus ESPN at #23. Skelton not only didn’t finish 9th, but with only 28 NFL teams playing, somehow managed a miserable Ranking of #30. His own back-up, Richard Bartel, and the back-up to an injured Matt Hasselbeck, Jake Locker, both exceeded Mr Skelton’s pitiful stats.
One I am going to take half credit for (OK, I missed it just like everyone else) is my Ranking of Mo Mo (Maurice Morris) at #16 versus #26 for ESPN. I mentioned that it was a great match-up and that Detroit needed to get back to targeting the RB in the passing game. I simply had no idea that Kevin Smith, not Mo Mo, would be the beneficiary and dominate on Sunday (#1 RB). Who knew a player that the Lions themselves had given up on and was signed off the street just weeks earlier would have so much juice?
A few Player Rankings for Week 12 that the braintrust at ESPN and I disagree on:
Surprisingly, I don’t have any major differences with our friends at ESPN at the Quarterback position. I promise to make up the difference at other positions.
Cedric Benson, RB, Cincinnati Bengals: ESPN Rank – #14, My Rank – #25
Love the match-up (Cleveland), hate the player. Benson torched the Browns in Week 1 for 25-121 and a TD. If you want to count on a TD or two in order to justify using Benson, then go right ahead. But I just can’t get excited about a player who in his last five games has TOTALED 286 rushing yards at a plodding 3.2 Yards Per Carry. If not for the three TDs (1, 7, and 3 yards) that Benson lucked into, he would be averaging 6.4 Fantasy PPG (PPR). Meanwhile, back-up Bernard Scott has been coming on and stealing carries, averaging just over 7 totes for 4.6 Yards Per Carry over the last three games. Maybe Cedric will score and prove me wrong, but do you want to gamble on that?
Shonn Greene, RB, New York Jets: ESPN Rank – #19, My Rank – #31
Another decent match-up (Buffalo), but not feeling any love for Greene right now. Greene is slightly more dynamic than Benson, averaging 4.4 Yards Per Carry over his last five, but has still only totaled 333 rushing yards in those games. And considering that Shonn has zero TDs in the last five, and only two on the season, counting on a trip to the endzone is iffy at best. Throw in his rib injury and the fact that Joe McKnight just had his break-out game, and Greene poses definite risk.
Kevin Smith, RB, Detroit Lions: ESPN Rank – #24, My Rank – #12
What’s not to like? In 2008, the Lions traded up to the 1st pick of the third round to select Smith, who showed promise early in his career before injuries got the best of him. On November 7, 2011, Smith was re-signed by the very team which had discarded him in the first place. Less than two weeks later, on November 20, Smith explodes for 201 yards from scrimmage and three TDs! A great story that will be retold countless times before and during the Thanksgiving Day game against Green Bay. Kevin brings a needed spark to the Detroit offense and provides a reliable receiving back for Stafford. Great story + hyped-up home crowd + beatable defense = success for Smith.
Mike Tolbert, RB, San Diego Chargers: ESPN Rank – #30, My Rank – #18
Ryan Mathews is seemingly always dinged up, while Tolbert consistently performs when called upon. Week 12 brings Denver to town, a team allowing the 5th most Fantasy points (PPR) to Running Backs over the last six games. Much of that production comes in the passing game, which is Tolbert’s specialty. Worst case scenario, Tolbert is the third-down and goal-line back. Best case scenario, Mathews is limited by injury and Tolbert explodes once again.
Dez Bryant, WR, Dallas Cowboys: ESPN Rank – #9, My Rank – #20
I can’t disagree that Bryant possesses elite talent and physical abilities. BUT…he is a prime example of the primary weakness of the Dallas Cowboys…no leadership. Dez, like many of his teammates, is a me-first diva who often runs the wrong routes and continually disappears for long stretches in games. Yet he is endlessly hailed as the next great thing and ranked as a top 10 WR. How many times has he actually finished in the top 10 in 2011? Twice. There is no denying his talent, and you have to play him every week, but Week 12 will not provide a top 10 finish.
A.J. Green, WR, Cincinnati Bengals: ESPN Rank – #18, My Rank – #44
This has less to do with Green’s talents and more to do with the Brown’s stellar pass defense, particularly Joe Haden. In games Haden has played, the Browns have held the following #1 Wide Receivers in check: Jason Hill (3-49), Brandon Lloyd (4-48-1), Jacoby Jones (2-28), Michael Crabtree (5-54-1), Sidney Rice (2-38), Nate Washington (2-62), Brandon Marshall (4-43), Reggie Wayne (4-66), and A.J. Green (1-41-1). Granted, not a lot of elite talents on that list, but still impressive.
Percy Harvin, WR, Minnesota Vikings : ESPN Rank – #18, My Rank – #9
Harvin is finally healthy and has been fantastic the last three games with 16-183-1 in the passing game and 11-55-1 in the running game. Already involved running the ball, Percy is sure to get even more carries in Week 12 with the Adrian Peterson injury. Oh, and did I mention that Week 12’s opponent, Atlanta, was just torched for 9-115-2 by Nate Washington and for 8-113 by Marques Colston the week before?
Kellen Winslow, TE, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: ESPN Rank – #14, My Rank – #3
Kellen proved me right last week, so let’s try him again. The Buccaneers face the very TE-friendly Titans in Week 12. Tennessee has allowed averages of 5.2-71.7 and four TDs to Tight Ends over their last six games. Also, Winslow is fourth in the NFL for TE targets with 79, and just had his best game of the season with 9-132. I like him to keep it going.
Owen Daniels, TE, Houston Texans: ESPN Rank – #12, My Rank – #25
On the other side of the coin, Daniels faces Jacksonville in Week 12, a team only allowing averages of 5-42.7 and two TDs over their last six games. Daniels almost doubled up Winslow’s Week 11 stats with 16-207, but it took him his last five games to achieve. With Andre Johnson also finally returning, and an awesome running game, I simply don’t see Daniels being a factor.