This preseason, in one of my keeper leagues, I traded away Chris Johnson for Kevin Smith and Lee Evans. I felt Evans would benefit from the arrival of Terrell Owens in Buffalo, and Chris Johnson would continue to split time with Lendale White. So far, it’s proving to be the worst fantasy trade I’ve made over the last decade.
Over the last five weeks, Chris Johnson has been far-and-away the league’s best fantasy running back, and has moved into first overall on the season.
I’ve given serious consideration to having one of my legs reversed so I can kick myself in the ass every time I see Johnson’s numbers.This week he managed to come in second among RBs with 186 total yards and a touchdown.
Johnson’s quickly making a case to be next year’s number one overall pick. Yes, even over Adrian Peterson. Blasphemy, I know. For my ignorantly shortsighted trade, I give myself the 2009 Gobbler Award for being the biggest fantasy turkey in my league.
Week 12 saw Michael Turner return for the Falcons, but he managed only 33 yards. Jason Snelling, who played in his absence, managed only eight yards. Jerious Norwood didn’t fare much better, managing only 22 rushing yards. He did however, add 28 receiving yards and had a touchdown reception, making him the Falcons best threat Sunday, which ain’t saying much.
The Cincinnati Bengals were without Cedric Benson again, but still fared OK in the running game with recently-signed social reject Larry Johnson, as well as Bernard Scott. The two combined for 194 rushing yards, though neither found the end zone.
As for my Week 12 calls, my pick for Start of the Week was Ricky Williams, who I had thought might get two scores, but he settled for sixth place with 115 yards and only one TD. Justin Forsett had a monster day, as predicted, while Adrian Peterson, Thomas Jones and LaDainian Tomlinson all scored—L.T. twice, despite only 39 rushing yards.
As mentioned above, I got burned by Benson and Turner. I was surprised by Ryan Grant, DeAngelo Williams and Maurice Jones-Drew all missing the end zone.
Ray Rice once again defied the odds against the league’s toughest rush defense. The rest of my calls ran pretty much as expected. There is some good news for Steve Slaton owners. While he didn’t score, he managed over 100 total yards against a solid rush defense.
Last week, one of our readers called me out for calling Joseph Addai an up and down fantasy producer, and for making my Sit of the Week Kevin Smith (and, also, for comparing him to Frank Gore ).
So let’s see how I did there: Smith ended as the 26th ranked fantasy RB with 43 rushing yards on 18 carries for just under 2.4 YPC. On the plus side he did add 46 receiving yards, like the Gore-esque type pass-catching back he is. Not the worst on the day, but close enough that I can feel good about the call. As for Addai, he ranked 29th on the day with 8.2 fantasy points; nothing close to the 20 point average declared by my detractor. Here’s last week’s column .
Week 12 – RB Start of the Week – Rashard Mendenhal
Rocket Rashard gets to take on one of the league’s premier defensive failures against the rush in the Oakland Raiders. As an added bonus, he gets to do it at home.
Could it get any better? Perhaps. If QB Ben Roethlisberger sits again and rookie Dennis Dixon gets a second start, look for Mendenhall to be the center of the offense all day long. In the Raiders defense, their rush defense has improved over the last five games.
A Few More Fantasy Studs Who Should Rumble to the End Zone in Week 13
|Thomas Jones , NYJ vs. BUF||The numbers don’t lie. Every week opposing running backs are scoring on the Bills. I see no reason this week won’t be the same.|
|Cedric Benson , CIN vs. DET||Coach Marvin Lewis believes Benson will return this week against the Lions, and that he will start. Benson has a great matchup vs. Detroit this week, and should find the end zone at least once.|
|Knowshon Moreno , DEN vs. KC||Moreno has seemingly wrestled the starting gig from Correll Buckhalter, and should get the majority of carries going forward. The Broncos passing game has been struggling, as has the Chief’s rush defense, so Moreno should run often.|
|DeAngelo Williams , CAR vs. TB||Williams has been hit-or-miss lately, but it would be very surprising if he didn’t rack up 100 yards and a score against the Bucs.|
|Ricky Williams , MIA vs. NEP||Ricky is the primary focal point of the Dolphins offense with Ronnie Brown out. He is likely to find the end zone almost every week moving forward, but this week he should have decent yardage either way.|
|LeSean McCoy , PHI vs. ATL||Atlanta’s rush defense continues to show holes, and while McCoy has not overwhelmed anyone yet, he is a threat to have a big day against the Falcons.|
|Matt Forte , CHI vs. STL||This one is a tough call. Forte has simply been dreadful this season, too much so to simply blame his failures on the Bears offensive line. That said, the Rams are equally bad at stopping the rush.|
|LaDainian Tomlinson , SD vs. CLE||I have a hard time recommending L.T. anymore. Whether he scores or not he barely puts up worthwhile yardage, so if he doesn’t find the endzone, he’s a bust. However, the Browns are too bad at stopping the rush not to play him.|
|Chris Johnson , TEN vs. IND||Not an optimal matchup, but he could score on any defense in the league every week. He’s simply too good. I feel safe that he’ll score this week.|
|Maurice Jones-Drew , JAX vs. HOU||Pencil in 100+ yards and a score for MJD this week. He’s good for it.|
|Ray Rice , BAL vs. GB||Last week I said to bench Kevin Smith vs. the Pack, but Rice puts up fantasy worthy yardage whether he scores or not, regardless of who he faces.|
|Adrian Peterson, MIN vs. ARI||A.P. got back in the scoring column Sunday and I expect him to do it again at least once versus the Cardinals.|
A Few Guys You Have to Play Regardless of Matchups
|Michael Turner , ATL vs. PHI||After looking like he was back on track, an injury sidelined last year’s beast. In Week 12, he went back to looking like a lame duck. Still, you can’t bench him…|
|Frank Gore , SF vs. SEA||This is actually a decent match-up for Gore who should have a good day. He could easily be in the above list.|
|Ryan Grant , GB vs. BAL||Tough matchup, but unless you have solid RB depth, he’s gotta play.|
|Steven Jackson , STL vs. CHI||If not for his lack of TDs he’d be a monster. Only Chris Johnson has more yardage on the season. He should eclipse 100 yards again this week, assuming he plays, and I expect he will. Whether he scores or not…|
|Pierre Thomas , NOS vs. WAS||Thomas has a rough match-up this week against a surprisingly stout Redskins rush defense. I’d consider benching him if you have someone else with a better matchup|
|Justin Forsett , SEA vs. SF||I’d actually have Forsett on the list above except Jim Mora, the Seahawks coach is squawking that when Julius Jones returns, he, not Forsett will still be the number-one back. Will Jones play this week? Maybe. Will Mora stick to his plan? Not for long.|
|Marion Barber , DAL vs. NYG||The Giants are middle of the pack in terms of stopping the run, and Barber is too much of a threat not to play him.|
|Marshawn Lynch , BUF vs. NYJ||If Lynch isn’t healthy, swap Fred Jackson here. It’s a tough matchup but the Bills will need a successful ground game to beat the Jets.|
Week 13 – RB Sit of the Week – Chris Wells, ARI
|Beanie Wells has been showing off his talent lately, but this week he faces the daunting task of besting the Minnesota Vikings top-rated rush defense. His battery mate, Tim Hightower, is likely to have a better fantasy day than Wells, given his impact in the passing game.|
Runner-up Sit of the Week
|All Oakland Raiders running backs; Fargas, McFadden and Bush. All look to have dreadful days against the Steelers defense.|
–This Week’s Coin Flip Kids–
Steve Slaton, HOU vs. JAX – Slaton had a nice week vs. a stout Tennessee defense, but Chris Brown is still muddying the waters. Still, this week is a nice matchup. Heads
Jamal Lewis, CLE vs. SD – Do I even need to put him on this list anymore? Tails
Laurence Maroney, NEP vs. MIA – If only Maroney would stop fumbling the damn ball. Still, he has shown fantasy owners quite a bit lately. Heads
Brandon Jacobs, NYG vs. DAL – I simply don’t like Jacobs in this game, which means he’ll probably explode. Tails
Cadillac Williams, TB vs. CAR - On paper this is a great matchup for Caddy, but he’s running like he has a flat lately. Heads
Kevin Smith, DET vs. CIN – A very rough match-up but I don’t think he’ll be kept out of the end zone this week. Heads
Jamaal Charles, KC vs. DEN – The broncos showed signs of life again last week, but their run defense is still suspect until they can string a few together. Heads
Joseph Addai, IND vs. TEN – While the Titans have been better overall lately, their rush defense has slipped a bit. Still, Addai faces a rough day. Tails
Rock Cartwright, WAS vs. NOS – I don’t like the matchup for Rock, Portis or anyone else against the Saints this week. Tails
Check out all our Rankings, in our usual start sit fashion.