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Fantasy Football Week 12: Wandering the Waiver Wire

By Alexander Hough in News on Nov 22, 2011 8:00PM

Late in the evening during last Thursday’s Chicagoist Reader Meet-Up, former site editor Marcus Gilmer showed me his phone. “I think Tebow just did something,” he deadpanned. As I scrolled down his Twitter feed and read the endless exclamation mark-adorned tweets about Tim Tebow — reactions to his game-winning TD run — I felt the same stomach drop that Shelley Duvall experiences in The Shining when she happens upon Jack Nicholson’s one-sentence manuscript: All Tebow and no alternate NFL coverage makes Alex a dull boy.

In the Great Tebow War of 2011, we side with the nonbelievers. We don’t like Tebow. We don’t share his fundamental beliefs, but that’s only an issue because of how public he makes his religious and social views: The Bible verses in his eye black; the Super Bowl commercial; the conspicuous praying. If Tebow knows one thing, it’s that no one loves shooter fingers more than God and TV cameras. And if all that weren’t frustrating enough, the media have enthusiastically stuffed the plucky, wholesome, white Tebow into the (mostly meaningless) intangible-laden “he’s a winner” narrative at a level that only be described as Favrean.

So when it came time last week to pick a bye week fill-in at QB, we left Tebow on the waiver wire. Instead, we chose to start Buffalo QB Ryan Fitzpatrick. From our polarized vantage point, we saw the over-hyped Tebow as a technically unsound QB that would be shut down by a strong Jets defense. Our man Fitzpatrick — maybe not coincidentally a graduate of Harvard, that godless bastion of East Coast elitism — had been struggling, but certainly he and coach Chan Gailey could engineer some magic against a crummy Dolphins defense. In the end, though, Tebow’s TD and 68 yards on the ground outpaced Fitzpatrick’s bumbling 209 passing yards and two interceptions, and our anti-Tebow bias cost us a fantasy win.

Here are the facts that we ignored: in a remarkable show of talent management, the Denver coaching staff has brought spread option football, a style common at amateur levels and which Tebow played in at Florida, into the notoriously experiment-averse NFL. Also, the resurgent Broncos defense (particularly 2011 second overall pick Von Miller, an under-the-radar Rookie of the Year candidate) might limit the Jets offense and keep Tebow from having to take to the air with his terrible passes to play catch-up. On the other hand, the Bills are done. Injuries are mounting, particularly on the offensive line, and their turnover luck on defense has run out, decreasing the time the offense is on the field.

Here are our points:

First, Tebow is going to be a consistently decent fantasy option at QB - several dozen yards on the ground and a score, probably. Nothing sexy, but no Fitzpatrick-esque stinkers. And the Week 16 match-up against the Bills could be a huge game for him.

Second, drop Ryan Fitzpatrick.

Third, and most important, while religious views are a matter of opinion, in fantasy football, it pays to remain agnostic.

Kevin Smith (RB, DET)
Let’s start with some good news this week, and by good news we mean good news for us, because we took our own advice over the past two weeks and snatched Smith off the waiver wire for nothing. Hopefully you did the same. If you didn’t, do what you have to do to get him; barring a catastrophic injury to a current starting RB, Smith is the last fantasy gold strike of the season. Jahvid Best may return soon, but he’ll be a complementary back. That was always the Lions’ intent; people seem to forget they invested a second round pick in big RB Mikel Leshoure (who tore his Achilles in the preseason).

Adrian Peterson (RB, MIN)
And now for the bad news. Peterson sustained a high ankle sprain in the first quarter of last Sunday’s Raiders game. The Vikings are talking optimistically, but high ankle sprains are usually multi-week injuries. We’d bet against Peterson playing this weekend. Who will benefit? Toby Gerhart will start, but, oy, that’s not appealing. Percy Harvin may see more touches, but he’s likely already owned in your league. There’s probably nothing to do here but stay away. Poor, sad Vikings. We blame Brett Favre.

Jay Cutler (QB, CHI)
That howling you hear from the Windy City isn’t gusts off of Lake Michigan. It’s the collective nasally wail from thousands of Chicagoans reacting to Cutler’s attempted tackle after an interception (which wasn't his fault, by the way) in which he broke his thumb. Cutler has been playing quite well and has exhibited admirable toughness, behind an offensive line that’s only now coming together. I’ve never liked Cutler, but I’ve come around on him; now my hatred of him is limited to the fact that he has a stupid, goddamn face you just want to punch.

Anyhow, this bummer isn’t that much of a bummer. According to the latest news, he may return for Week 16 so hold onto him if you have the roster space. Back-up Caleb Hanie might lower the value of Bears WRs, but we don’t expect anything drastic, especially with the cakewalk they have to finish the season (seriously, did Jerry Angelo make their schedule?). In fact, if you’re desperate at QB, you could do worse than Hanie. From Cutler’s numbers, scale back his yardage and TDs, and add a few interceptions. Voila - better than Ryan friggin’ Fitzpatrick.

Michael Vick (QB, PHI)
Ladies and gentlemen, Vince Young! All he does is win. But seriously, that Eagles-Giants game sucked until the end of the first half. We’re not sure what to make of it. There’s not much new information on Vick’s rib injury, but if he sits another week, Young could put up decent numbers against a Patriots defense that regularly features WR/alleged sexual assaulter Julian Edelman.

Matt Hasselbeck (QB, TEN)
Hasselbeck is questionable for this Sunday’s game with a sprained elbow and a strained flexor muscle, both in his throwing arm. First round pick Jake Locker filled in respectably, but even at 5-5 the Titans are still in the AFC playoff hunt and so may be reluctant to turn over the reins to their future QB. Whoever gets the start gets a nice match-up against a poor Tampa Bay defense.

Matt Moore (QB, MIA)
No injury here, but we want to draw your attention to Moore, who has put together a nice string of games recently. Again, this is mostly for the QB desperate, particularly since his yardage totals are low (he’s only broken 200 yards three times this season, and two of those barely), but he’s been throwing TDs against bad pass defenses, and he has Buffalo and New England in Weeks 15 and 16.

Jeremy Maclin (WR, PHI)
No updates on Maclin's hamstring and shoulder injuries, but if he sits it’s worth considering Riley Cooper. Jason Avant and Steve Smith are both slot receivers (which makes us wonder why they signed Smith, but that’s another story), and Cooper plays on the outside. On top of that, he’s the only Eagles WR with any size (6’3”). If Maclin sits again, he’s worth a play.

A.J. Green (WR, CIN)
Green’s status for this Sunday is yet to be determined, but take note of Jerome Simpson’s big day (eight catches on 13 targets for 152 yards and a TD). He’s randomly put up good numbers at other points this year, even with a healthy Green. He’s the quintessential roll-of-the-dice guy.

Santana Moss (WR, WAS)
Another reminder that Moss will return soon, possibly this weekend. LT Trent Williams’s knee sprain isn’t that bad, so the only thing Moss will have to contend with is having the inconsistent Rex Grossman as his QB.

Tony Scheffler (TE, DET)
When and where do players make up their touchdown celebrations? Do they do it alone? How many times do they rehearse? The more we think about this, the more questions we have.

Carolina Panthers Defense
Check out Yahoo's Andy Behrens's post on the Panthers' awful defense, and then see about trading for Tampa RB LeGarrette Blount.

Arizona Cardinals Defense
2010 first round pick NT Dan Williams is done for the year with a broken arm. Upgrade opposing RBs for the rest of the season, starting this week with the Rams’ Steven Jackson.