• Keenan McCardell, WR, Redskins: This is not a new name to fantasy football veterans. McCardell's name seems to pop up every year around this time and always seems to be just good enough to warrant consideration by owners who are desperate to pick up a few points for their flex spot. McCardell is in just his second month with Washington (he signed in early October) and is coming off games of 33 and 76 yards, with a combined nine catches in those two games. In other words, he's learning. And evolving. Every day he spends in the offense at practice is just serving as another day to familiarize him with the plays. With relatively little practice time, he has proven to be at least serviceable. Although he most likely will hit a speed bump along the way, there's no reason to think he won't be able to keep up or increase his production as the season wears on.
• Reuben Droughns, RB, Giants: We've been fooled by Droughns before, most recently earlier this season, when Derrick Ward, not Droughns, emerged as the starting tailback when Brandon Jacobs was out. But we're taking him back with open arms for Week 12, as both Ward and Brandon Jacobs have pulled up lame, and the only other real options on the Giants' roster are fullback Madison Hedgecock and the newly signed Patrick Pass. Droughns has seen successful before, and the Giants have a very run-friendly system (read: Eli Manning hasn't been that great). There are very few situations in the NFL anymore that feature a single back. Droughns could fill that role this week.
• Matt Jones, WR, Jacksonville: The disappearing wide receiver! Last year's novelty darling (former college quarterback! Fastest man in the universe!) has totally fallen off the face of the Earth in 2007, establishing zero rapport with both David Garrard and Quinn Gray. But there's something magical in the post-Thanksgiving air, and the holidays just love to create redemption stories for us all to weep salty tears over. Also, we've been blindsided all season long with big fantasy days from people we'd least expect them from.
Yes, Jones has been fantasy garbage all year. Yes, he has disappointed his owners in 30-plus percent of leagues that have held on to him like a jilted boyfriend who cries himself to sleep while clinging to a shirt left over/stolen from his ex. Yes, he has as many weeks this season with zeroes and dashes across his stat line than weeks in which he has had positive integers. And yes, Virginia, there is a Sant— sorry, got on a roll there.
Look, Jones has done nothing all season, and if he's going to have any chance at redemption, it's going to have to happen soon. This weekend would be as good as any to go out, get open and start catching passes. For a desperate owner, this could be a gamble worth taking.
LaMont Jordan, RB, Raiders: Speaking of how the mighty have fallen. Jordan was absolutely on fire to start the season, with games of 70, 159 and 121 yards right out of the gate. Eventually, a combination of injury and Justin Fargas struck, and Jordan found himself on the outside looking in, while scores of Dominic Rhodes owners prematurely rejoiced. This week, Jordan reportedly demanded his release from Oakland, and there was speculation that Michael Bush would be activated and Jordan promptly dismissed. The latter scenario, of course, didn't happen -– or hasn't yet anyway. One of the sticking points here is that Jordan played under Kansas City coach Herm Edwards while with the Jets. The Chiefs happen to have a ridiculously large hole at running back right now following the retirement of Priest Holmes, the injury to Larry Johnson and the ill-timed trade of Michael Bennett. Rather than release Jordan and let their rivals scoop him up, the Raiders likely will hold on to him, and they might just try to placate him by giving him some carries. Look at it like this: Either Oakland cuts him and the Chiefs scoop him up, or Oakland keeps him and lets him play because he is good.
Of course, the third scenario -- Oakland keeps him and benches him for being a petulant running back –- is just as likely to happen, but this is certainly worth watching. He can still be a good fantasy back if given regular work.
Sidney Rice, WR, Vikings: Rice is a personal favorite here at Hail Mary. He is in an offense that has featured no clear-cut No. 1 receiver, has had constantly rotating quarterbacks and is immensely talented. He is currently fighting through hamstring problems but nobly has decided to play through the pain. Last week, he threw not one but two passes on trick plays for a total of 94 yards. Just for comparison's sake, starting quarterback Tarvaris Jackson had 171.
Rice blew up two weeks ago for 16 points, and he had 19 points back in Week 4 against the Packers. In between, he hasn't been "ridiculously erratic," but he has tended toward "spottiness." Still, our good friends Hec and Vic have him projected for 45 yards this week, and we'll even throw in a touchdown as a Hail Mary Thanksgiving bonus.
Chris Brown, RB, Titans: This is a pretty cut and dried Hail Mary pick. Chris Henry dropped the appeal of his suspension this week, making Brown the primary backup to LenDale White. So for those keeping score at home, it's two Chrises, a Brown and a White. Merry Christmas!
Regardless of the confusing nomenclature, this Tennessee backfield has tended to be more of a time-share whenever possible, so the "starter" and "backup" titles are looser than in, say, Baltimore. Keep in mind that Brown was injured and came back last week with an 11-point performance. And that 175-yard rushing day, although it came waaaaaay back in Week 1, is still somewhat fresh in the memories of fantasy players and hopeful Brown hangers-on.
Fun Kicker Fact of the Week
Seattle kicker Josh Brown, who had four game-winning kicks (in the final minute) in 2006, can probably jump higher in celebration than any other kicker in the league. In high school, Brown won Oklahoma's state high jump title twice (1997 and 1998).
Ashley Lelie Corner of Fantasy Incompetence
Week 11: Ashley, sporting all of 90 receiving yards on the season, hurt his quad in practice and sat out the game against the Rams.
Five Other People Named "Ashley" Who Also Sat Out Football Games Last Week
Ashley Tisdale, singer/actress, Disney's "High School Musical"
Ashley Olsen, girlfriend of Lance Armstrong
Ashley Wass, young British pianist
Ashley Force, NHRA stock-car driver
Ashley Scott, some hot girl from the TV show "Jericho" found by googling "Ashley actress"
Nando Di Fino is a fantasy baseball and football analyst for ESPN.com.