The Fantasy Hit List

If you’re reading this opening sentence, chances are you’re still alive in at least one of your fantasy leagues. If not, you must really love reading fantasy football articles.

Whatever the case, the 2009 fantasy season is coming to a close. Let’s take a look at some of the key performances from Week 15, with an eye toward championship weekend.

MBP Award (Most Beastly Performance)

Jerome Harrison Running Back Cleveland Browns

With all due respect to Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who threw for more yards in a game (503) than I prefer to walk in a week (371), Jerome Harrison gets the nod for the Week 15 MBP Award.

Harrison had a performance for the ages in the Browns’ 41-34 win at Kansas City as the fourth-year running back out of Washington State carried the rock 34 times for 286 yards and three touchdowns. His 286 rushing yards were the third highest NFL single-game total ever, trailing only Adrian Peterson and Jamal Lewis. In addition, Harrison broke the Cleveland franchise record held by Hall of Famer Jim Brown, who rushed for 237 yards in 1957 and 1961.

If not an iced-out watch, Harrison will certainly be buying a night’s worth of beers for fullback Lawrence Vickers, who paved the way for Harrison’s three touchdown scampers.

On a somewhat related note, how much do you think Browns all-purpose monster Josh Cribbs is going to cash in for this offseason? Cribbs ripped off two 100-yard kickoff returns for touchdowns Sunday against the Chiefs (269 total kickoff return yards), rushed the ball three times for eight yards, caught one pass for three yards and threw one pass (incomplete).

Is there anything this guy can’t do? Imagine what we’d be saying about him if he played in Minnesota or Indianapolis.

NFP Fantasy Experts League update

Jamey Eisenberg of CBSSportsline punched his ticket to the league championship game by knocking off Brandon Funston of Yahoo! 115-111 this past weekend.

The other semifinal matchup will come down to tonight’s game. Yours truly is currently leading Matt Loede of NFLGridironGab.com 112-107. I still have Redskins tight end Fred Davis left to play, while Loede will look to Giants running back Brandon Jacobs to lead him to the promise land.

Would you rather be in my shoes or Loede’s right now?

Big time performances…but will they continue?

David Garrard QB Jacksonville Jaguars: Garrard delivered one of his best fantasy performances of the season Thursday night, completing 23 of 40 passes for 223 yards and three touchdowns with one interception against the Indianapolis Colts. However, owners shouldn’t trust the Jacksonville quarterback one bit moving forward. Garrard travels to New England next week to take on a defense that’s giving up an average of 16.7 fantasy points per week to opposing quarterbacks (11th). In addition, he’s been a nightmare on the road this season as Garrard has tossed only one touchdown pass in six games away from Jacksonville (2-4).

Beanie Wells RB Arizona Cardinals: An excellent Week 15 start, Wells took control of the Arizona backfield in Week 14 when running back Tim Hightower fumbled the job away. The rookie from Ohio State didn’t waste any time getting busy Sunday as he carried the ball 17 times for 110 yards and one touchdown in the Cardinals’ 31-24 win at Detroit. Look to ride the former Buckeye to fantasy glory this weekend as the Cardinals host a St. Louis defense that ranks 27th in average points allowed to opposing running backs (24.1).

Chad Ochocinco WR Cincinnati Bengals: Ocho made the most of his five targets at San Diego by hauling in three of them for 79 yards and one touchdown. Despite the fact he’s caught four or fewer passes in five of his last six games, Ochocinco has found the end zone in each of his last three contests. The good news is that the Bengals are still fighting for both a divisional championship and possible first-round bye, so you know they’ll come out with guns blazing. That’s a great sign since Cincinnati hosts Kansas City in Week 16. The Chiefs are giving up an average of 20.3 fantasy points per week to opposing wide receivers, which ranks them in the bottom half of the NFL.

John Carlson TE Seattle Seahawks: Well, well, well. Look who decided to show up for the fantasy playoffs. Carlson is trying to put a disappointing fantasy regular season behind him in an effort to hold a high-ranking position on draft boards next August. The Seattle tight end has caught 10 passes for 110 yards and two touchdowns in his last two games and is coming off an eight-target Week 15, the most he’s seen since in five weeks. The good news here is that his Week 16 opponent (Green Bay) is giving up an average of 7.5 fantasy points per week to opposing tight ends (20th). The bad news is that quarterback Matt Hasselbeck has only thrown four touchdown passes in six road games and has a QB rating of 76.0 away from Qwest Field.

Joe Flacco QB Baltimore Ravens: You gotta hand it to Matt Bowen’s Chicago Bears. They can’t make their own quarterback look good, but they sure as hell can make opposing QBs look like Pro Bowlers. Joe Flacco put up career numbers on Sunday, connecting on 21 of 29 passes (72.4 percent) for 234 yards and four touchdowns in the Ravens’ 31-7 win over the Bears. Unfortunately for Flacco, the buck stops here as the Ravens head to Pittsburgh in what could be the biggest AFC game of the season. The Steelers are giving up only 17.3 fantasy points per week to opposing quarterbacks, good for 12th in the NFL.

Jerome Harrison RB Cleveland Browns: He won the Week 15 MBP Award, so you’ve already read about his performance. The good news is that owners can feel confident about giving Harrison another start in Week 16 as the Browns play host to the Oakland Raiders and the NFL’s 28th-ranked fantasy run defense (24.4 fantasy points per week).

Vincent Jackson WR San Diego Chargers: Admit it, Jackson owners. You let a little bit of panic set in during that four-game stretch when V-Jax caught just nine passes for 147 yards with zero touchdowns. But the San Diego superstar was battling a rib injury and double coverage, the two main reasons for his drop in production. However, Big Vincent has been big in the clutch as the Chargers deep threat has caught 12 passes for 228 yards and two touchdowns in his last two games -- which just happen to be the fantasy playoffs. Expect Jackson to play the role of Santa Claus this Friday as he gets a crack at the NFL’s worst fantasy pass defense (27.1 pts/gm, 32nd), the Tennessee Titans. Drink some eggnog, eat some ham and sit back while V-Jax helps bring you a title.

Three Week 16 Defenses to consider

1. Arizona Cardinals (vs. St. Louis Rams)
2. San Francisco 49ers (vs. Detroit Lions)
3. Dallas Cowboys (at Washington Redskins)

Why? Because the Rams, Lions and Redskins all rank in the bottom four in average points allowed to opposing fantasy defenses this season.

Two situations to monitor

1. Will the Indianapolis Colts rest their starters?

That’s the question on every fantasy owner’s mind as we approach Week 16. At 14-0 with home field secured through the playoffs, the Colts have the option of leaving all their starters on the bench Sunday when they host the New York Jets. But will the Colts throw caution to the wind for a shot at their place in history?

Stay tuned. Nothing official has been announced, but hopefully, head coach Jim Caldwell takes into account that people like me are depending on Indy’s studs to bri ng us a fantasy title.

2. Who gets the reps in Houston?

This was supposed to be the week that former practice-squad nobody Arian Foster took control of the No. 1 job in the Houston backfield for the remainder of the season. But after carrying the ball two times for seven yards and catching one pass for 13 yards on the Texans’ opening drive, Foster fumbled the rock away to the Rams and was benched for the remainder of the game.

You have to remember that Foster was given this opportunity because everyone else who’s carried the ball in Houston this season (Steve Slaton, Ryan Moats, Chris Brown) has had issues holding on to it. Once Foster displayed the same penchant for putting the ball on the carpet, head coach Gary Kubiak sat him down in favor of Moats.

While nothing’s official, Moats saw the bulk of the workload for Houston on Sunday as he carried the ball 13 times for 46 yards. He looks to be the front-runner to see the most action in Week 16 as the Texans travel to Miami to take on the Dolphins.

Monday Night Mania

MNM is back with a showdown between divisional rivals from the NFC East as the New York Giants (7-6) travel to Washington to take on the Redskins (4-9).

An NFP T-shirt is up for grabs to the person who can pick the winning team (against the spread) and get the closest to the total number of points that will be scored in tonight’s game.

The New York Giants are currently a three-point favorite.

Just leave a comment in the comments section of this article with your picks. Then check back tomorrow morning to see if you won.

Example: Giants and 45

Best of luck and enjoy the game!

Hit me up on Twitter: @JoeFortenbaugh

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