Bad teams make good on Monday night

On Fantasy Football:

December 16, 2004|By Dave Alexander

It was closing in on 1 a.m. EST Tuesday - long after the clock had struck midnight on my season - when Tennessee's hook-and-lateral gone wrong turned into a gift-wrapped touchdown for Kansas City's Kawika Mitchell.

And somewhere, some poor guy lost a fantasy playoff game.

Just a few hours earlier, someone on the radio lamented the meaninglessness of the Monday night matchup between the Chiefs and Titans. Turned out to be the best bad football game of the season.

Meaningless? Tell that to my man Aaron in Raleigh, who writes: There's nothing quite like building a 28-point lead going into Monday night, only to watch Drew Bennett get 233 yards and three scores and hand you a loss.

Well, ain't that a kick in the pants.

But take heart, Aaron - you're not alone. There are thousands of fantasy ballers out there who had the good sense to start Bennett, Larry Johnson, Billy Volek or Eddie Kennison - and thousands more who had the misfortune of facing the aforementioned owners with good sense. I also like to think that Lawrence Tynes' garbage-time PAT brought glory to some charmed team.

What I want to know is, where's my Music City Miracle? I needed Derrick Mason to put up Bennett numbers. I needed Johnson to fumble - about six times. I needed a QB with a pulse.

Instead I got a one-way ticket to the losers' lounge and a humbling reminder that no matter how much desktop expertise you think you have when it comes to fantasy football, there's nothing like good old-fashioned luck.

For further proof, consider this: The three top-scoring quarterbacks in the NFL last week were Volek, Kyle Boller and Ken Dorsey. And so it goes.

For those who still have something to play for, good luck in Week 15 and beyond. As for me, I'm hoping to cause a racket in the consolation bracket.

Quick hitters

Looking for a playoff week pickup? Monday night's game showcased four of the best.

Volek has at least two TDs in five of his six starts and has tossed seven scores in the past two games; Bennett has been on the receiving end of six of those passes.

The Chiefs' Kennison has reached the end zone six times in the past five weeks after not scoring in his team's first eight games, and Johnson, who put up 104 yards and two TDs on seven attempts vs. the Titans, will make his first career start this week against Denver. Johnson's got fresh legs and an outstanding offensive line to run behind. He should be owned in all leagues and started in most.

In another backfield turnabout, Maurice Hicks has replaced Kevan Barlow as the starting RB in San Francisco. Hicks went for 136 yards and a touchdown last week, but it took 34 carries for him to put up those numbers, and he did it against Arizona. I'm not real high on him looking ahead at a schedule that wraps up with three top-five run defenses (Washington, Buffalo and New England).

Tough break for the Falcons' T.J. Duckett, who followed up a four-TD game by having surgery to clean up cartilage in his knee earlier this week. The bruising back should only miss one game, but he's got almost no fantasy appeal at this point. Drop him. And with lead blocker Justin Griffith done for the season as well, I'd think hard about starting Warrick Dunn. The veteran had six touchdowns in Atlanta's first five games; he has one is eight games since.

Don't overlook Cincinnati QB Jon Kitna, who looks like a good bet to start this week in place of Carson Palmer (knee). Kitna threw for 126 yards and a TD in relief of Palmer last week, and he was the eighth-rated fantasy QB last season - better than Tom Brady, Donovan McNabb, Marc Bulger and a whole bunch of others.

Starting nod

Quarterback: Donovan McNabb, Philadelphia - Terrell Owens danced on the star back in the day, but it's McNabb who really owns the Cowboys. He's thrown three TDs in each of his last three home games against Dallas and dropped four scores on the Cowboys in a Monday nighter back in Week 10. Remember that silly scramble and heave completion he made that night? Yeah. Dallas doesn't have a chance.

Running back: Kevin Jones, Detroit - Jones has more rushing yards in his last three games (451) than any other player in the league. He's reached the 100-yard mark in three of four games for a team that had three 100-yard rushing efforts in 41 games before that. Curtis Martin, New York Jets - C-Mart has showed signs of slowing down of late, but that shouldn't matter against Seattle's sorry defense. The Seahawks have given up an average of 404 yards and 34.6 points in their last three games.

Wide receiver: Torry Holt, St. Louis - He's put up better than 100 yards per game in five career meetings with the Cardinals, which makes you wonder: If San Fran's Cedrick Wilson can go for 83 yards and two TDs against Arizona, what's Holt going to do? T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Cincinnati - T.J. had 12 catches last week, two fewer than the number of letters in his last name. In a three-week span, he's got 26 grabs for 397 yards and three TDs. Ride him while he's hot.

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