Matt Leinart has another chance to prove he’s not just a partying pretty boy.
Welcome to the Week 12 edition of the Wire Troll. It’s all about the injuries this week, and none was bigger than the high ankle sprain suffered by uber-back Adrian Peterson, who will miss his next game and possibly more. The Texans’ Matt Schaub is in danger of missing the remainder of the season with his foot injury, and the Bears’ Jay Cutler will miss extensive time due to a fractured thumb.
And speaking of thumbs, thumbs up to ESPN reporter Ed Werder, who managed to do his pregame standup with the NFL’s premier cheerleading squad performing its warm-up routine in the background. Bless you, Ed, bless you; you do indeed know what the Troll likes. Of course, you do realize that no one heard a single word you said — we just knew that we wanted you to talk forever…. while we were watching, well, other things.
Well, this is of course Thanksgiving Week in the States, and the Troll would like to celebrate the spirit of the season by encouraging you to indulge in, as the song goes, a few of his favourite things. These are special Thanksgiving things, true holiday classics that gladden the heart and make the spirit bright. Give ’em a try; heck, you have to have something to do with all of that extra time you’re not spending watching the NBA. To get into the true Troll spirit of Thanksgiving, first: see this movie; then, grab your favourite traditional Thanksgiving beverage, find a quiet corner of your man (or Troll) cave, put on the headphones and listen to this song. Ah, feel the love…. and please watch where you dump your garbage.
The Troll would like to wish you and yours a safe and Happy Thanksgiving.
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Bye weeks: None; let’s all say “bye” to the bye weeks for another year.
Reminder: There is an early (12:30 p.m. EST) Thanksgiving Day game: the unbeaten Green Bay Packers at the Detroit Lions. Get your lineups in on time.
Matt Leinart, Houston Texans: He’ll step into Matt Schaub’s shoes as the triggerman for the Houston offense — which should mean a bunch of handoffs to Arian Foster and Ben Tate, right? True enough, but once teams stack the box, Leinart should have plenty of opportunities to take things upstairs with relative ease. While this is Matt Leinart we’re talking about here, he will benefit from the expected return of All-Pro wideout Andre Johnson, and could thrive since he’s not being asked to carry much of the load. He’s not a Fantasy starter, but Leinart is worth adding if you’re in need of depth at the quarterback position.
Caleb Hanie, Chicago Bears: Cutler’s bum thumb will cause him to miss most, if not all, of the remainder of the season, so as RotoRob discussed earlier this week, Hanie will inherit the keys to the Bear Bus. You may remember Hanie from last year’s infamous NFC Championship game, in which he valiantly tried to rally his team while a forlorn, not-injured-looking-enough-to-hush-his-detractors Cutler watched from the sidelines. Hanie was 13-for-20 for 153 yards in that contest, but he has yet to throw a regular-season pass since then. He’s worth a look in deeper two-quarterback leagues.
Kevin Smith, Detroit Lions: Wow, remember this guy? Injuries had chased the once-promising tailback out of the league, but he returned in a big way Sunday, rushing for a career-high 140 yards, adding 61 receiving yards and scoring three times. Granted, you or the Troll’s ugly cousin Betty could probably pound out 70 and a touch against the hapless Panthers, but Smith’s breakout definitely deserves attention. While he likely won’t turn in another performance like Sunday’s anytime soon, Smith faces a favourable schedule over the next few weeks, and he should be owned in all Fantasy formats.
Toby Gerhart, Minnesota Vikings: With Peterson out for at least one game with his high ankle sprain, the Vikes (and countless Fantasy owners) will turn to Gerhart to try to overcome the loss of one of the game’s most elite talents. Sorry, it won’t happen — but Gerhart should at least be in line for goal-line work, as his 230-plus pound frame makes him a load in the trenches. Gerhart logged a couple serviceable outings in AP’s stead last season, but he will probably cede some work to wideout Percy Harvin, who lined up in the backfield on a regular basis Sunday. Add Gerhart in leagues of 12 or more teams, but don’t set the bar too high.
Jerome Simpson, Cincinnati Bengals: While top wideout A.J. Green watched from the sideline, Simpson exploded for 152 yards on eight catches against the Raven Sunday. Simpson has had three 100-yard games this year, but he’s also had a pair of one-catch outings and a goose egg — making him about as consistent as Lady Gaga’s hairstyle. Simpson is worth adding in deeper leagues if he’s available, and could be worth adding in all formats if Green is not able to go in Week 12. Green was a game-time decision Sunday, so he should be fine next game; if so, bump Simpson down your Week 12 rankings.
Nate Burleson, Detroit Lions: Burleson is one of those guys that teases Fantasy owners with flashes of brilliance, then goes Humpty Dumpty on us. Well, right now, he’s on a roll, having snagged 15 receptions for 146 yards and a touch over his last two games. Teammate Calvin Johnson is a bona fide stud, but his presence in the defensive secondary draws plenty of attention — leaving Burleson to run his routes with a minimum of interference. Add Burleson for depth in deeper leagues.
Marcedes Lewis, Jacksonville Jaguars: Lewis has been one of Fantasy’s biggest dud this season, and it’s telling that his seven-catch, 64-yard outing Sunday was by far his best effort of the year. It’s encouraging that he received 11 targets from quarterback Blaine Gabbert, so perhaps Lewis is ready to show some of the form he displayed during his 58-700-10 breakout last season. Add Lewis if you need depth, but don’t count on him to start for you until he shows that his Week 11 performance was not simply a fluke.
INDIVIDUAL DEFENSIVE PLAYERS
Chad Greenway, LB, Minnesota Vikings: After a modest start to his season, Greenway has really picked things up lately, amassing 47 total tackles and a sack over his past four games. He’s not a big-play guy, but Greenway is one of the game’s most consistent tacklers when he’s going well — like now, for instance.
Jerod Mayo, LB, New England Patriots: Mayo led the league in tackles last season, but injuries have limited his effectiveness in 2011. He looks to be getting back close to full speed, though, as he racked up 11 total tackles Monday night. Mayo’s upside is huge, and he’s owned in only about 15 per cent of Yahoo! leagues. Grab him if he’s out there; Mayo is an elite IDP option when healthy.