Brad Morgan

Red Zone Report

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The Hail Mary

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Doug Flutie taught us the value of the Hail Mary pass: When your back's against the wall, throw up your best shot and hope it sticks. (He also taught us why mullets should stay in the 80s.) And while Flutie's last-second heave may have been the luckiest moment in sports history, he won all the same. Sometimes it's better to be lucky than good. I say, why not be both? In fantasy football we all find ourselves in situations where we make decisions based upon desperation and intuition. There's such a high attrition rate (losing jobs due to bad performance/injuries) that many of us end up franticly searching the waiver wire for that Hail Mary pass.

Unlike Flutie's majestic throw, there are many quality, under the radar, options that could make the difference for you in this final stretch of the season.

This week's Red Zone Report is going to focus on players who are imminently available, and could make or break your season if you're struggling at RB, TE or WR. You'll find the updated RZ stats at the end. You'll want to check the tables to make sure the RBs you rely on are still getting their scoring chances. Let's get it!

Sammy Morris, Pats RB

Laurence Maroney was likely not too pleased with getting embarrassed by the Saints last week, but his fantasy owners were pretty happy. Not only did he have a monster game (87 yards and 2 TDs), but Maroney remained the clear cut No. 1 RB for Bill Belicheat (I'm a Jets fan, sorry). This was significant because Sammy Morris (injured incumbent RB) finally returned, and -- as usual -- nobody knew how the aforementioned Belichick would spread the ball around. Not only did Maroney have 18 touches to Morris' 5, but he continued to receive the lion's share of opportunities in scoring situations. This latest disappointing Patriots game, however, was definitely a negative development for Maroney and his owners.

While Maroney still got 14 touches (totaling 49 yards), Morris began to reclaim some of what was his, getting 11 touches. In addition to increased opportunity, Morris was the far more effective runner of the two and stole some Red Zone work from Maroney. New England rushed the ball 10 times in the red zone. Maroney got 5 carries, and Morris got 4. From inside the 5 yard line, Morris had 2 carries to Maroney's 1. Belichick also noted in practice this week that Morris was looking much improved: "You can see a real jump in his quickness and his explosiveness and making sharp cuts."

Owned in just 12% of Yahoo leagues, I would definitely grab Morris. He's a decent flex play this week against a 23rd ranked Panthers run defense. For those living on long shots at the RB spot, Morris could be a huge boost next week when he faces 30th ranked run defense Buffalo. In addition to getting 15 touches a game against bad defenses, Morris will get some valuable carries in the red zone and on the goal line, making him a good candidate for a TD. Maroney, unfortunately, must be downgraded with Morris' return. He still makes a great flex play this week, but is only a RB2 for the truly desperate.

Fred Davis, Redskins TE

Davis has put together his second solid game in a row, and unlike many TEs that come and go, his value wasn't entirely tied toe scoring a TD. The USC alum (better gig right now USC TE playing in the vaunted Emerald Bowl or Redskins TE playing for nothing more than the pride of the Hogettes?) has gotten 18 targets in the past 2 games, and is beginning to solidify himself as Jason Campbell's safety blanket in the passing game. In addition to his impressive target total, Davis has been thrown to 6 times in RZ, resulting in a touchdown each week.

Campbell's preference for Davis hasn't just begun. Over the past 6 games, Davis has averaged 6.5 targets. To give you some perspective on that number, 5th ranked fantasy TE Brett Celek has averaged 7 targets for the '09 season. Still owned in just 19% of Yahoo leagues, Davis is the most valuable TE you're going to find on the waiver wire. He faces Oakland this week, and since Davis is a TE, he'll avoid stud corner Nnamdi Asomugha. Even with their shutdown corner, the Raiders have a 23rd ranked pass defense, meaning Davis should be in for a very nice day. If you don't have a Top 5 TE (Davis, Gates, Clark, Gonzalez, Celek) Davis is a viable TE1 option. Say it with me: Hail to the Redskins…

Jerome Harrison, Browns RB

Chris Wesseling covered Harrison in yesterday's waiver wired column, but if you didn't listen: go pick him up now! Harrison has seen his share of ups and downs this season, but it looks like now -- with Jamal Lewis done -- the job is finally all to Jerome. Although he only had 35 yards on the ground, like Ray Rice, a large part of Harrison's value lies in the passing game, resulting in 7 catches for 72 yards and 2 scores. Not only was he given the chance to be a dynamic player in space, but Eric Mangini gave him all of the RB work in scoring situations. Harrison got the call for all 3 RZ carries, the sole GL carry, and was targeted with 2 RZ passes.

Although the Browns have a tough matchup this week against the Steelers, Harrison's pass catching ability should make him a viable flex play, and a RB2 if you're desperate (much like Ray Rice did a few weeks ago). Even if you have a better RB to go with this week, Harrison faces the Chiefs and the Raiders over the last 2 weeks of the fantasy season, two of the easiest teams to run on, making him a definite RB2 option in the 2 most important games of your season.
Harrison is still owned in just 22% of Yahoo leagues, which is far too low a number for a guy who could make such a huge impact in the fantasy playoffs.

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