Chris Wesseling

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No Plax, No Problem

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Top 5 Kellen Winslow Replacements

1. Tony Scheffler, Broncos - Scheffler is unowned in a third of all leagues after a mid-season groin injury sapped his value. As last week's performance against the Jets proved, Scheffler still has TE1 value when healthy. He's the best talent available and enjoys the advantage of a high-flying offense. If history is any indication, Scheffler will close out the season much stronger than he started it.

2. Zach Miller, Raiders - Miller's production has been nothing short of amazing this season. JaMarcus Russell can't complete a pass to a wide receiver if his life depended on it, yet Miller ranks fifth among all tight ends in receiving yards. With 550 yards, Miller is responsible for a third of Russell's passing yardage while no other player on the roster tops 200. If you're looking for a one-week flier, Miller draws the Chargers in Week 14 -- and nobody turns borderline tight ends into studs like the San Diego Chargers.

3. John Carlson, Seahawks - Carlson is coming off a 6-catch, 105-yard performance against the Cowboys. Expect a repeat of those numbers, and you'll find only disappointment. But if you're looking for a high-end TE2 with four catches for 45 yards each playoff week, Carlson is your man.

4. Heath Miller, Steelers - Miller was on his way to tight end obscurity before suffering a Week-8 ankle injury. Since his return, though, Miller has averaged four catches for 52 yards and remains a red zone threat. He's always in danger of getting lost in the offense, but Miller can put up TE1 numbers if the coaches make him a focal point.

5. Todd Heap, Ravens - We know he has elite talent, but the 2008 season has been a disaster. Asked to concentrate on blocking, Heap has just three games with at least four catches and 35 yards. On a positive note, he's averaging four catches and 40 yards over the past month. It's not unreasonable to hope that Joe Flacco's improvement begins spilling over onto his Pro Bowl caliber tight end.

Top 5 Running Back Fliers

1. Pierre Thomas, Saints - Even with the return of Reggie Bush last week, the game plan still revolved around Thomas. According to Sean Payton, Pierre was by far the best option on first and second downs, plus he remains the goal-line back as well as a factor in the passing game.

Deuce McAllister has been sent back to the pine, and Reggie Bush is running side-to-side again. The Saints are ready to turn the bulk of the rushing duties over to Thomas, and he remains unowned in over a third of all leagues. Grab him and reap the rewards when he goes up against Detroit in Championship Week.

2. Brandon Jackson, Packers - Ryan Grant owners who stumbled upon this column last week already have Jackson on their rosters for insurance purposes. When Grant suffered a sprained thumb against the Panthers, Jackson not only took over – he also made a case for a larger role going forward.

As of press time, Grant's status for Week 14 will depend on his ability to grip the football with a splint on his thumb. The Green Bay coaches clearly have no qualms about playing Jackson over Grant if need be. For those that stalled on the decision last week, Jackson is now a must-grab.

3. Sammy Morris, Patriots - His playing time has been limited by the Patriots moving to a spread offense featuring Kevin Faulk over the past few weeks. The Pats have a much softer run defense schedule the rest of the way, so expect to see more an emphasis placed on power football in the coming weeks. The Week 15 matchup at Oakland is especially intriguing as the Raiders corners have shut down opposing passing games, but Rob Ryan's crew remains more vulnerable to a power rushing attack.

4. Tashard Choice, Cowboys - Again, Barbers owners should have already grabbed Choice last week before he pulled up lame on Thanksgiving. Choice immediately became a weekend waiver wire darling, but Barber's injury turned out to be less serious than initially believed. He plans on wearing a plate in his shoe for support and figures to play in Week 14.

If Barber suffers a setback, though, Choice would take over as the every down back in a high-scoring offense. His upside is limited by brutal playoff schedule, so keep expectations in line.

5. LeRon McClain, Ravens - I know what you're thinking: McClain should top this list after establishing himself as the bell cow in Baltimore with 43 carries over the past two weeks. Think again. All year we've seen the same pattern: just when you think you have the three-headed monster figured out, John Harbaugh throws you for a loop.

The Ravens will continue to ride whichever back has the hot hand in any given game. Throw in Harbaugh's proclamation that Willis McGahee remains a key cog in the Ravens December plans, and this backfield remains a weekly guessing game.

Top 5 Quarterback Fliers

1. Shaun Hill, 49ers - The pickings are slim here, but Hill has the benefit of a playoff schedule made to order. Over the next three weeks he gets the Jets (fourth most fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks), Dolpins (11th), and always inviting Rams (13th). He's coming off a lackluster effort at Buffalo, but Hill has averaged just over 20 fantasy points per game as a starting quarterback.

2. Matt Hasselbeck, Seahawks - Full disclosure: I no longer trust anyone on the Seahawks offense. That said, Hasselbeck did put up 287 yards on the Cowboys last week and has a dream schedule very similar to Shaun Hill's. If the offense begins to show even a flicker of hope, Hasselbeck becomes a realistic option in any of the three playoff weeks.

3. Matt Schaub, Texans - If Schaub was healthy enough to be the No. 2 quarterback on Monday night, then he's on schedule to return as the starter in Week 14. All things being equal, Schaub would top this list by a wide margin. Unfortunately, we're dealing with a rusty quarterback (a month removed from playing) going up against the Packers, Titans, and now deadly Raiders pass defenses. Schaub would have to heat up quickly to be worth consideration in the next few weeks.

4. Joe Flacco, Ravens - Flacco is on fire! The rookie is averaging close to 20 fantasy points per game over the past six weeks, and he's thrown up a 100 passer rating over that time span. That's the good news. The bad news is that he draws the Redskins, Steelers, and Cowboys the next three weeks, and weather could be a factor in two of those games.

5. Gus Frerotte, Vikings - Beautiful schedule vs. brutal quarterback. I'm counting on Frerotte's lousiness to trump the dream matchups. Could you really pull the trigger on Frerotte in your starting lineup, entrusting the turnover machine with the keys to your title run? If so, you're a braver man than I am.

Chris Wesseling is a senior football editor and Dynasty league analyst for The 2011 NFL season marks his fifth year with Rotoworld and his third year contributing to He can be found on Twitter @ChrisWesseling.
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