Alone on an Island: Cleo time?
Wondering what these guys were thinking when they broke from the pack in the Week 17 rankings? We like to call that being "alone on an island." Here is what our castaways had to say.
Matthew Berry on Cleo Lemon
Frankly, I'm surprised he's so low on everyone else's list. Look, there are a few things I know about Cleo Lemon. First, he's playing the whole game, which is more than I can say for a lot of guys. In three games in Miami this year, he has 42 fantasy points and double digits in each of them, including one against New England. He plays the Bengals, who give up more than 20 fantasy points a game to opposing quarterbacks, third most in the NFL. The Dolphins will be playing to impress Bill Parcells, and Lemon will have Lorenzo Booker -- a very good receiver -- coming out of the backfield.
Eric Karabell on Jabar Gaffney
The Patriots want to win, of course, but other things are at stake, like Tom Brady and Randy Moss going for records and Wes Welker aiming for the receptions title. Where does this leave Gaffney? I think he gets forgotten in what now appears to be a tougher game than expected. Brady and pals want it all, so I see Moss and Welker getting most of Brady's attention.
Scott Engel on Bernard Berrian
The past two games, with Kyle Orton starting, Berrian has been useless, and he clearly works better with Chicago's veteran quarterbacks. He has caught only three passes for 37 yards in the past two games, with only one catch in last week's rout of the Packers. Yes, the Bears play the Saints this week, and New Orleans has a vulnerable secondary, but you can't recommend using a guy based on a matchup alone. If his quarterback doesn't throw the ball often or go downfield a lot, which is the case with Orton, the matchup is meaningless. Add in the fact that adverse weather conditions could play a role in Chicago again this week, and I can easily find 50 guys I would rather gamble on this week. Berrian never even entered into my thinking when doing my ranks this week, and if I were still doing yearly in-season ranks, he would still not crack my top 50. The passing game is dead in Chicago.
Christopher Harris on Arnaz Battle
Battle has been a severely underrated red zone target in the second half of 2007. He scored a touchdown in each game from Weeks 12 to 14 and came within a whisker of getting his feet down for another score this past weekend against Tampa Bay. Battle has great hands and finally has Darrell Jackson producing a bit opposite him. The rub when it comes to Battle this week is his ankle: He's questionable for the season finale in Cleveland. However, signs point to him playing, and if Shaun Hill winds up being able to go, this is a really favorable matchup for the 49ers' receivers against underperforming Leigh Bodden and hobbled rookie Eric Wright. For sure, these are a lot of "ifs," and Battle probably isn't the guy who'll get you 10 catches and 100-plus yards. But as I mentioned, he's just inches from a four-touchdowns-in-five-games streak, so if he's active for Sunday's early game against the Browns, and if Hill can go as well (I expect both Battle and Hill to play), Battle makes a nice deep-league flex play.
Nate Ravitz on Brett Favre
What possible reason would the Packers have for playing Favre more than a series or two in this game? Because they want to get back on track after last week's stinker against the Bears? I'm not buying that. The Packers didn't forget how to move the ball down the field; they just had a bad week. Because Brett Favre wants to play the whole game? Again, not buying it. Mike McCarthy isn't going to jeopardize the postseason because Favre wants to toy with the Lions. Because backup quarterback Aaron Rodgers is hurt? Nope. Third-stringer Craig Nall has been around the block a few times and can surely handle the offense without putting any key players in harm's way. I will be very, very surprised if Favre throws more than 10 passes in this game.
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