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The end of the year, the end of the decade, and the end of another fabulous fantasy football season is upon us. There is joy. There is pain. There is triumph. There is defeat. Ok, lots of defeat. After all, there can only be one fantasy football champion crowned in your league, and if you’re not it, then the taste of defeat is all that’ll be left in your mouth all offseason long.
So you’re in a league that uses Week 17 as its championship week. My first question for you…why? As if fantasy football isn’t unpredictable enough, you’re going to have your most important fantasy game fall on the most unpredictable weekend of them all!?! That’s fine…I mean, we all can’t be the decision-making commissioners of every one of our leagues. But honestly, stay away from the Week 17 championship week leagues. They aren’t worth the pain and sorrow that you’ll inevitably suffer by season’s end.
All that being said, for the handful of you that still have something to play for in fantasy land, here now are the High Five and Low Five for the finale of the regular season. Tune in next week for some year-end fun and soon for some early 2010 fantasy predictions. If you’re not preparing for next season now, you’re already behind your competitors!
Aaron Rodgers, QB: 12 for 23 passing for 237 yds., 1 TD, 0 INTs (He didn’t vault to the top of the fantasy QB rankings with weeks like that.)
Beanie Wells, RB: 17 carries for 68 yds., 1 catch for 25 yds., 1 TD (If you’re in a keeper league, he may be worth holding onto for next season.)
Ahmad Bradshaw, RB: 11 runs for 53 yds., 2 grabs for just 3 yds., no TDs (The entire Giants roster should be embarrassed by their showing last week, Bradshaw included.)
Jerome Harrison, RB: Hefty workload, 39 carries for 148 yds., 1 TD (Harrison has come on strong in the second half of ’09, he could be a force for all of ’10.)
Santonio Holmes, WR: Targeted 12 times, but had just 5 catches for 86 yds., with 1 TD (A solid stat line from a solid fantasy receiver…can’t ask for much more.)
Matt Hasselbeck, QB: 19 for 37 through the air, 198 yds., 1 TD, 4 INTs (The Seahawks have completely thrown in the towel, dating back maybe as early as October.)
Knowshon Moreno, RB: 9 runs for just 18 yds., 3 catches for just 17 yds., but had a receiving TD (That TD saves what was otherwise a very lousy performance by the former Georgia Bulldog rookie.)
Reggie Wayne, WR: Just 3 grabs for 33 yds., no TDs (You can’t trust your Colts down the stretch, especially with Bill Polian throwing games to rest his stars.)
Santana Moss, WR: 8 catches for 92 yds., no TDs (A rare decent performance by “the other Moss,” but still no end zone trips lately.)
Dustin Keller, TE: 3 catches for 19 yds., no TDs (He’s been a non-factor in the Jets offense for weeks now…he’s better served as an extra blocker for the talented running game.)
Two weeks removed from his record-breaking 503-yard performance against the Packers, Big Ben and the Steelers go up against a young Miami Dolphins secondary, with playoff hopes still intact. The Steelers need help, but with a win over the ‘Fins, Pittsburgh could sneak their way in. He’s got TDs in all but two games this season, and look for Ben to thrive in the Miami sunshine on Sunday.
Coming off a nagging foot injury that sidelined him in Week 15, the Missouri rookie receiver racked up 10 targets and 92 yards last week, extending a streak of 60+ receiving yard games to five. Maclin struggled in his first matchup with Dallas, putting up just 44 yards, but look for a healthy Maclin to be a bigger part of the offense this week in Big D.
The entire Bengals team will be playing with a chip on their shoulder Sunday night after getting snubbed with zero Pro Bowl nominees, but Coles will have chips on both shoulders, as he also gets the pleasure of going up against his former team in New York. Coles has been quiet most weeks, not having more than 72 yards in a game all year, but he has seen the end zone in two straight games and I’m sure he’d love to make it three. With the Jets likely to lock up Chad Ochocinco with Pro Bowl corner Darrelle Revis, look for Coles to become a worthy option for Palmer and the Cincy offense.
No tight end has more touchdown grabs than the English-born Shiancoe, who hauled in his 10th TD on Monday night in the Vikes’ OT loss to the Bears. Shiancoe now has 4 TDs in his last 6 games, and while he does appear on the injury report yet again with a thigh problem, he hasn’t missed time at all this year, having been on the report several weeks prior. The Giants give up more fantasy points to opposing tight ends than any other squad, so look for Shiancoe to have some success on Sunday against the G-Men.
The Niners are out of the playoff picture in the NFC, but that doesn’t mean head coach Mike Singletary will let up on his young team. San Fran’s defense shined last week in a 20-6 win over Detroit, forcing 3 fumbles and 3 interceptions on the day. This week, it may get even easier for the Niners, as they go up against the St. Louis Rams, a team that San Francisco shut out in Week 4, scoring 3 defensive touchdowns in the process.
Sure, I could add Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Phillip Rivers, or any other star player on a team with nothing to play for this week into this week’s Low Five and call it a day. But I chose Peyton Manning for one reason, and one reason only…I despise the man. You can’t get away from the guy. You try to watch a non-Colts game, his ugly mug pops up during every commercial break. You try to watch a non-football sporting event, same thing. You try to watch a non-sporting event on a non-sports channel, ditto. You try to read a book with the TV off, don’t be surprised if Peyton’s horse face doesn’t magically appear on the page, just as the plot thickens.
Manning was pulled last week in the third quarter against the Jets, so don’t be surprised if they pull him after the third offensive series this week in Buffalo. Sit this guy on your fantasy bench. Start Alex Smith, start Matt Moore, heck, start Curtis Painter…they will all have bigger and better days than the NFL’s golden boy.
With just 3 TDs and 8 INTs in his last 4 games, Matt Cassel has simply stunk up the joint as of late, offering little to no fantasy value to anyone. This week he goes up against a still hungry Denver team, vying for a playoff spot. Cassel put up his worst game of the year the last time he faced the Broncos, throwing for just 84 yards and 2 interceptions in the Week 13 loss. Cassel isn’t even worth a second thought this week. Bench him, drop him, kick him to the curb.
This could be the end of the road for the veteran receiver, if Baltimore somehow doesn’t advance to the playoffs in the AFC. Mason, who retired briefly in the preseason before coming back for another go at it, actually had a very solid year for the Ravens. He is battling a nagging knee injury that has him listed as questionable for the regular season finale in Oakland, but you’ve got to believe he’ll do all he can to get on the field and play. He’ll likely be matched up against Pro Bowl cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha if he does play, so temper your expectations for Mason and the Baltimore passing game for Sunday.
Turning to another veteran receiver, Driver has been the best receiver on the Packers roster all season long…a roster that includes previous #1 receiver Greg Jennings. The longtime Packer is just 4 yards shy of posting his sixth straight 1000-yard receiving season, which shouldn’t be a problem against the Cardinals in the desert on Sunday. Driver’s production has tailed off though as of late, with no TDs in the last 3 games and 33 yards or less in 3 of his last 4 games. Driver will make his 1000-yard mark, but don’t look for much more from the vet this week.
The Giants got torched for 41 points in an embarrassing loss to the Panthers Sunday in their last home game at Giants Stadium. They helped make inexperienced quarterback Matt Moore and backup rusher Jonathan Stewart look like gridiron gods, leaving the G-Men on the outside of the playoffs for the first time in six seasons.
New York travels to Minnesota to face Brett Favre and a Vikings team that will look to rebound from their Monday night loss to Chicago, as they try to right the ship before hopefully an extended playoff run. You can’t trust the Giants’ defense this week, and going into next season, I can’t see how they rank any higher than the middle of the pack…a far cry from the top-5 defense they have been the past few years.