Hail Mary: Morris, Arrington worth a look
I will eat crow. Ashley Lelie was horrible for a second week in a row, and I will admit that I was wrong and misguided in my attempts to think that he could actually break out. In his honor, though, every week from this point on, right under the "Fun Kicker Fact of the Week," we're going to feature a new section where we detail players who had as many or more receiving yards than Lelie the week before, just to remind us how horribly bad of a fantasy option he is. I hope everyone enjoys this new feature.
On to this week's players. Rear back, eye the guys waving their arms 80 yards downfield, and chuck the ball to these Hail Mary candidates for Week 10:
Chris Henry, WR, Bengals: Regardless of Chad Johnson's health, Henry makes an interesting play this week for a Bengals team badly in need of some offensive fireworks. Look at things this way: If T.J. Houshmandzadeh and Johnson play, Henry will see at least a few balls thrown his way as the third receiver. If Johnson is out, Henry and Houshmandzadeh will team with unlikely yardage recipient Kenny Watson for the bulk of the receptions against the Ravens' defense. Granted, these are the Ravens of old, with the third-stingiest yards per game allowed in the league, but if you're the No. 2 receiver on the fifth-best passing offense in the NFL -- in a system you're already familiar with (it isn't as if Henry was just signed to the team, remember) -- you're due to shake off some rust and put up numbers that would make Ashley Lelie scream like a girl and run for cover.
Maurice Morris, RB, Seahawks: Take a look at Shaun Alexander's name on any injury update. It's pretty bad news when you get the occasional "knee" next to your name. Or "concussion." You know what Alexander's looks like?
"(wrist, ankle, knee)"
Morris is owned in 8.3 percent of ESPN leagues. How about instead of wildly posting in the little "Conversation" areas, the 91.7 percent of you who are in a league where he's available go out and pick him up as Alexander insurance, then watch the injury reports very closely Sunday morning. Morris has rushed for almost 100 yards combined during the past two games with Alexander in the mix, and those of us with any semblance of short-term memory will remember his games of 74, 124 and 138 yards last season in Alexander's absence.
Tim Dwight, WR, Raiders: Buried beneath Ronald Curry, Joey Porter, and -- as far as we can tell -- Johnnie Lee Higgins on the Oakland depth chart is Dwight, quite possibly the quietest in-season pickup so far this season in the NFL. Last week, after practicing with the team for the first time just four days earlier, he stepped on the field and hauled in a reception for a TD. I'm not saying Dwight is a better play than Curry or Porter, but Curry and Porter are most likely already on teams in your league. Dwight, meanwhile, is a novelty item; he's fast, he's well-known and he can run a kickoff back for a touchdown. He also seems to have picked up the offense pretty quickly, which is never a bad thing.
Don't have Dwight leapfrog someone like Chris Henry, but don't automatically scroll past him if he's on your first page of options. He's on a team, he seems to understand the offense, and he is, for all intents and purposes, the third receiver.
Steve McNair, QB, Ravens: After a week in which he threw for 63 yards and an interception in a humiliation by the Steelers, there is no better team for McNair to face than the Bengals. They have allowed the fifth-most passing yards per game in the NFL so far this season. J.P. Losman threw for 295 yards against them last week. Chad Pennington threw for 272. Even Damon Huard went for 264, and his No. 2 receiver is Jeff Webb ("Hail Mary" alum). I will save everyone any more explanation, and, instead, move on to
Kolby Smith, RB, Chiefs: I'm not trying to be a contrarian here. In fact, I believe that Priest Holmes will get the lion's share of carries and most likely justify teams scrambling to get him. The Chiefs, though, are playing the Broncos, a team that has given up 161.5 rushing yards per game this season. And that's a large enough sample size to figure that even if Priest Holmes gets 100 yards on the ground, Smith can still run for 61.5. If the Chiefs were playing the Seahawks, or the Cardinals, I'd say leave Smith on the wire, but because they're up against the worst rushing defense in the league, even 10-15 carries could prove to be a banner day for Smith.
J.J. Arrington, RB, Cardinals: Now this is a deep Hail Mary pick this week, for those of you in leagues where pretty much everyone has been taken, and the waiver wire is pretty thin (or for those of you reading this two weeks late, in a future where Edgerrin James is on the sideline in crutches).
In his past four games, Arrington has 92 yards receiving. The Cardinals go up against the Lions this week, who have the third-worst pass defense in the NFL, giving up 258 yards per game. Arrington's value will be in this area. He won't rush many times, but his value as a member of the receiving corps is greatly underrated.
Two weeks ago, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell fined 49ers kicker Joe Nedney $7,500 for giving a fan the middle finger. A few days later, Panthers defensive tackle Kris Jenkins was fined the same amount for a hit that could have potentially ended Peyton Manning's career.
Week 9: Ashley Lelie had 0 catches for 0 yards
Nando Di Fino is a fantasy baseball and football analyst for ESPN.com.
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