The Fire Sale: Given opportunities, McCoy and Spiller disappoint
Mike McCarthy's history suggests Packers will play starters no matter record
Antonio Brown appears to have passed Mike Wallace as Steelers top receiver
Colt McCopy has few options but also has shown little accuracy this season
I'm sure a lot of you have seen the video of a high school quarterback scoring a touchdown in a state championship game only to get it nullified because he raised his arm up in the air. This was deemed unsportsmanlike conduct, the touchdown didn't count and the team lost the state title.
I want to talk about this abomination for a second. First, let's discuss the person who's to blame here, and that's the referee. He should be ashamed of himself for throwing that flag and costing those kids a state title. I can only hope that guy's wife left him for being such a complete and utter loser.
Next, let's ask ourselves where this sport is headed? Are we so concerned about taunting penalties that we need to start deciding title games because of a stupid rule?
Listen, I'm a realist. I understand we're never going to see Butch Johnson's California Quake or the Ickey Shuffle again. I get it, those things brought too much fun to the game, and this is a BUSINESS, not a game. Yet once again people have taken a rule too far and now everything from dropping to your knees after a score is considered taunting. It's stupid.
When raising your arm in the air because you're excited is no longer allowed in football then something is wrong. It's a shame. It's a damn shame.
Now, on with the Fire Sale ...
Ben Roethlisberger, QB Steelers -- I heard Big Ben has a broken ankle, a torn ACL, a fractured throwing hand and a torn rotator cuff. He's still expected to start on Sunday.
Matt Flynn, QB Packers -- Owners of Aaron Rodgers are looking at a dicey situation over the next couple of weeks. If the Packers beat the Chiefs on Sunday, and they will beat the Chiefs, Green Bay will have everything wrapped up. Then the question is will the Packers sit their starters or go for the undefeated season?
Personally, I think they will go for 16-0. Judging by the past that's the way Mike McCarthy likes to coach. If you remember a couple of years ago the Packers and Cardinals met in the season finale with nothing at stake. The teams were set to play the following week in the playoffs, so Arizona sat its starters. The Packers didn't, and McCarthy's reasoning was that he didn't want his team to lose any momentum.
Many think this time McCarthy will sit his guys, but my gut tells me they go for the perfect season like the Patriots did in 2007. That's just the way McCarthy coaches. Still, Rodgers owners need to be prepared in case he does sit.
If Rodgers sits in Week 16 you're talking about a three-week rest before he plays again. That doesn't make a lot of sense. If Rodgers does sit out it will be in Week 17, so if your championship game is that late, you need to get Flynn for insurance. Rodgers may start but only play a half or so.
Felix Jones, RB Cowboys -- When you have a first-round bye in the fantasy playoffs the hope is you can get through the week without any of your players getting hurt. I almost made it, but then Greg Jennings injured his knee and DeMarco Murray broke his ankle. So much for the benefits of having a bye week.
Jones isn't the worst running back on the planet. I'm just one of those people who thinks he's more effective as a third-down back than as a guy who gets 30 touches a game. Well, considering the Cowboys have no other healthy running backs, he's going to get 30 touches a game.
One thing to keep in mind about Murray: once Jeff Fisher is named the head coach in Dallas, the offensive coordinator is sure to change, which means the game plan is sure to change. Be careful of getting too high on Murray heading into next season. Murray's a promising player but he had a lot of injury problems in college. He could be a Ryan Mathews-type, producing big numbers when he plays but also missing plenty of time.
As for Jones, he was dumped in some leagues after getting hurt and losing his job. I don't think you need me to tell you to go grab Jones if he's on your waiver wire, so I won't. Instead I'll go back to planning the party I'm going to throw the second Jason Garrett is fired.
Here is Garrett's legacy: In their first 50 years of existence the Dallas Cowboys lost two games when they were ahead by at least 12 points in the fourth quarter. This season they've lost three. That's probably not poor coaching, huh?
Antonio Brown, WR Steelers -- Brown is here because people have to stop falling in love with the past and embrace the present. I keep getting e-mails from some asking me if they should start Brown or another receiver. Unless the other receiver is Jerry Rice, I'm going to say Brown. The guy has been unstoppable for over a month now. I think we can buy into the fact that Brown isn't a fluke.
Brown is currently one of the 10 best receivers in the NFL, so if you're wondering if you should start him, the answer is yes. And if you overvalue Mike Wallace next year and undervalue Brown, you'll be sorry. Brown is the real deal, so get used to hearing his name.
Damian Williams, WR Titans -- Williams has been a solid fantasy receiver since injuries allowed him to see more playing time, and now he gets the Colts and Jaguars the next two weeks. Further, new Titans QB Jake Locker appears to like throwing to Williams.
Remember my theory of a quarterback and receiver practicing together. Early in the year both Locker and Williams were on the second-team offense, so they practiced together all the time and built chemistry. I have Williams, and now that Jennings is hurt he may be the guy I depend on to pick up the slack.
Some people will shy away from Williams with Locker under center but I recommend the opposite. I think he has a shot to be big over the next couple of weeks during fantasy playoffs.
Golden Tate, WR Seahawks -- Tate was one of my top-rated players coming out of the draft a couple of years ago. Until recently, though, he's done very little.
Now with injuries to the Seattle receiving corps Tate has gotten a chance to play more in the last two games and he's performed pretty well. Against the Eagles and Rams Tate caught seven passes for 86 yards and a touchdown. He looks more confident and is a prime candidate to be a third-year breakout receiver in 2012.
Going back to his days at Notre Dame, Tate has a knack for making guys miss him in the open field. It's almost like he has eyes in the back of his head. Tate doesn't have great speed but his skills in the open field allow him to take a short pass and turn it into a long gain.
Not all receivers make a big splash right away. Reggie Wayne is a prime example of a receiver who needed a couple of years to develop. Tate could be one of those guys. Remember his name next summer.
Colt McCoy, QB Browns -- The Cleveland Browns select ... Matt Barkley, QB University of Southern California. Take that one to the bank.
Listen, I said a couple of weeks ago that it was unfair to judge McCoy because Cleveland doesn't have any talent on offense. While I still believe that I've watched McCoy closely since then and he just misses way too many open receivers. You can't play quarterback in the NFL if you can't hit wide open receivers. It's just not possible.
To be fair to McCoy, though, if Greg Little is the open receiver, he would probably drop the ball anyway. You know what? This team really stinks. Nice job, Mike Holmgren.
C.J. Spiller, RB Bills -- When I see Fred Jackson run I see a superstar. When I see Spiller run I see a backup.
After two years of watching him in the NFL I just don't see the same explosiveness and vision that Spiller showed in college. Instead, I see an indecisive runner who spends a lot of time dancing in the backfield.
In three games since Jackson went down, Spiller has gained 184 yards on 46 carries. Those aren't awful numbers, but I just don't see the consistency that makes me think Spiller can be an every-down back in the NFL.
On a related note, remember when the Bills were undefeated and they gave Ryan Fitzpatrick that fat new contract? That actually wasn't Fitzpatrick you saw playing quarterback this past Sunday. It was the pumpkin he turned back into over the last month.
Good luck, Bills fans. That's another year missing the playoffs. Think about what you were doing in 1999. That's the last time Buffalo made the postseason. Talk about an awful organization. Hey, the Los Angeles Clippers called and said thanks for making them look so good.
Greg Jennings, WR Packers -- Jennings' knee injury came at the worst possible time for fantasy owners. Basically, many of us just lost our top receiver for the rest of the season.
There's no way Jennings is going to play until he's 100 percent healthy, nor should he. The Packers need one more win and they'll have home field advantage wrapped up. Plus, Green Bay is deep at receiver, so there's no need to rush Jennings back. The only thing the Packers care about is that Jennings is healthy for the playoffs, so we won't see him again until then at the earliest.
Luckily, I have Drew Brees and Rob Gronkowski, so I just need the rest of my team to total around 30 points every week in order to win. I suppose I'll replace him with Santonio Holmes and live with his two catches for 18 yards and a score stat line that he puts up every week. Oh joy.
If Donald Driver is still on your waiver wire (and he should be) you may want to grab him as a replacement for Jennings. At his age Driver is far from a sure thing but he should see more targets now with Jennings out. At the very least you can start Driver in a pinch and hope for the best. Driver does play with Aaron Rodgers, so he has that going for him, which is nice.
St. Louis Rams -- If I had to pick one team that has disappointed me the most this season it would be the Rams. Last summer it seemed Sam Bradford and the Rams offense had a chance to do good things this year, but they've been a disaster from Day 1.
Other than Steven Jackson no one on the Rams has done anything this season. Bradford was one of those later-round quarterbacks people drafted in hopes he would take the next step, but instead he's gone backward. Bradford has gotten killed behind a terrible line, none of his receivers have stepped up and now he looks gun-shy in the pocket.
Bradford is a concern going forward. People forget that David Carr showed promise as a rookie but after taking a pounding behind what statistically was the worst offensive line in NFL history over a two-year period, Carr was never the same. Next year will be a big one for Bradford. He'll either rebound or continue a decline that will likely end with him being a backup someday.
The Rams have done Bradford no favors. Their line is one of the NFL's worst and maybe only Cleveland has a worse group of receivers now that Brandon Lloyd is a Ram. Lance Kendricks has been a miserable failure at tight end, and the arrival of offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels did nothing for the offense. Now his reward is he may be the next head coach in Kansas City. That makes sense. Looking at what McDaniels has done over the last three years, he certainly deserves another head coaching job.
I won't close the book on Bradford yet but my gut tells me he'll never again show the promise he did during his rookie season. Time will tell.
Fired coaches -- Dec. 12, 2011 will live in infamy for the Fire Sale. That's the day both Todd Haley and Tony Sparano were fired. Those guys gave me so much material it will be hard to write the Fire Sale without them. Thank God Leslie Frazier still has a job for another year. I just want to say both Haley and Sparano deserved to get fired. The NFL is now a better league because those two don't have head coaching jobs. I guess Dec. 12 was a day to take out the trash. Just for the record, there's still a big pile of trash in Dallas waiting to be taken out if anyone is interested.