Matt Pitzer

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Stick with your Stars

Wednesday, December 12, 2007


Play fantasy football long enough and it will happen to you.

You'll have this red-hot, smoking team that is absolutely hammering everybody in your path every week. You're winning by 40 points and thinking there is no way do not take the trophy home.

Then, Adrian Peterson rushes for 3 yards, Terrell Owens has his worst game of the season and you're panicking. You don't know what will happen next, whether you will score 4 points or 400 in the next game and you're worried that crown will slip right away.

Unfortunately, there's not a lot you can do. The good news it that studs became studs by not having very many of those dud games. They simply turn it around; they do not stay down long.

Last week, LaDainian Tomlinson, Peyton Manning and Randy Moss were all just doing what they do. Each of them has had bad games this season, some even recently. You might have thought for a second about sitting them but never in a week of this magnitude, with the playoffs on the line. The problem with picking and choosing when stars will do well is that you're bound to miss out on the huge games.

By all accounts, if you have Tomlinson, Moss and Tony Romo, you really should win your title. It seems improbable that anybody could have a better team.

And if you have Peterson (the real one), you're going to be OK. Yes, the idea of sitting him after last week's debacle has been raised. But, come on. It's his first game on national TV, in prime time. He was embarrassed last week. This week's opponent, the Bears, is reeling and doesn't have a great run defense. Peterson already ran for 224 yards on them. You're talking about a big-time game for the rolling Vikings, who are fighting for the playoffs.

So in the end, just remember to keep doing what you're doing. You have made smart enough decisions to get this far. Those decisions likely did not include sitting your best players. It's time to let the studs be studs and do their jobs. If you lose a playoff game without your best players in the lineup, you have only yourself to blame.

Here are a few other players I'm thinking about this week.

On the rise

Plaxico Burress. If you benched Burress last week, you deserved to miss out on his big week against the Eagles. Don't make the same mistake again because the Giants are out to lock down their playoff position this week against the Redskins, whose thin secondary has had some inconsistent moments. Burress has No. 1-type receiver potential, and he might need to play on his bad ankle one more week. If the Giants clinch the NFC's fifth seed, they finally will be able to rest Burress in Weeks 16 and 17. Few players need the time off more so make sure you have somebody else who can fill in following this game.

Trent Edwards. I'm hesitant to call Edwards too much of an upgrade after his only good fantasy game, which happened to come against a certain semi-pro team from Miami. The dink-and-dunk Edwards did hit a few big plays and will try to continue his momentum this week against the Browns. Fortunately, the Browns have allowed a league-high 27 TD passes so Edwards gets off the bottom of the QB list for a week.

Jabar Gaffney. You probably have seen a few highlights of that double-lateral, reverse, whatever-you-call-it TD pass last week involving Randy Moss. At the other end of Tom Brady's scoring toss was Jabar Gaffney -- not Donte Stallworth as it would have been earlier this year. Gaffney has scored in three consecutive games and has surpassed Stallworth as the team's No. 3 receiver. Stop thinking about playing Stallworth each week and put Gaffney in your mind.

Anthony Gonzalez. Between injuries and bad play, Gonzalez probably bounced between your bench and the waiver wire for the first 10 weeks. But he now has two 100-yard games in three weeks, is coming off a two-TD game and looks like a great play while Marvin Harrison sits out. The Colts' offense is humming again so mark Gonzalez as a solid start the next two weeks against Oakland and Houston. Of course, when Peyton Manning sits out in Week 17, Gonzalez's value will plummet.

Jamal Lewis. Plenty of you can jump on me for being wrong about Lewis. All of the stuff about him being a cold-weather, late-season runner is coming true while I thought the guy was simply done earlier in the season. He is averaging 101.5 yards in the past four games with three TDs and 4.6 yards a carry vs. a shade under 4.0 yards an attempt before that. He ought to finish big against Buffalo and Cincinnati the next two weeks.

LenDale White. He was one of the great first-half successes who had tripped up a bit for a few games. But White got going with 113 yards and a TD last week against the Chargers and should be positioned for a couple of big games to close the season. There had been all kinds of talk about White being injured or worn out during a four-game slide. Whatever it was, he seems fine now. And with games coming up against a struggling Chiefs team and a bad Jets run defense, he will be just fine in your playoffs.


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Matt Pitzer writes about fantasy football for USAToday.com.
Email :Matt Pitzer



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