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OUT OF THE LIONS' DEN After four dreadful seasons in Detroit, Dolphins quarterback Joey Harrington has quietly turned into a worthwhile fantasy option. Harrington, who replaced Daunte Culpepper as the starter in Week 5, has thrown seven TD passes during Miami's four-game winning streak--including three against his old team on Thanksgiving Day. His decision-making has improved each week, and he's averaging a respectable 222.7 passing yards over his last three games. Considering how hard it is to find productive QBs at this point of the season, Harrington is worth considering. "What makes me happiest is knowing that I'm part of a team that appreciates what I bring to the table," he says.
A VOTE FOR GORE Provided left guard Larry Allen stays healthy, 49ers running back Frank Gore (1,177 yards, five TDs) will continue to be one of this season's biggest surprises. A team source says that since Allen returned to the lineup in Week 8, San Francisco has steered more than half of its running plays behind him and left tackle Jonas Jennings. Gore, in his second year, has averaged 131.4 yards a game during that stretch. There's no reason to think he can't maintain that pace.
SILVER LINING IN OAKLAND If you're disappointed with the defense you drafted, the Raiders' unit is worth considering. As bad as this season has been in Oakland, the defense has developed into a stout bunch with the ability to make big plays: Through Sunday the Raiders ranked seventh in total D--first against the pass--and were fifth in interceptions with 14. Pro Bowl end Derrick Burgess (8 1/2 sacks) is one of the game's toughest edge rushers, and tackle Warren Sapp (six sacks) is having his best year since he arrived in Oakland in 2004. There are also some young playmakers at linebacker and defensive back who are gaining confidence each week. "We've got more chemistry now because this is the second or third year that we've all been together," Sapp says.
A GODSEND Saints third-year receiver Devery Henderson has delivered eye-popping production over the last few weeks. With 6'4" rookie Marques Colston fighting a high ankle sprain--the type of injury that could linger for weeks--the 5'11" Henderson erupted for 154 yards and a touchdown against the Falcons on Sunday, his third 100-yard game in four weeks. "I like Henderson because he can flat-out fly," says one NFC personnel director.
...as you gear up for the playoffs, you should look to the teams in flux for help
No NFL lineup�is the same in late November as it was in early September. Starters get injured, backups get promoted, other players gain (or fall out of) favor with their coaches. As lineups change, so should your fantasy roster. My gut feeling is that these players are smart pickups heading into the playoffs.
1) Patrick Crayton, �WR, Cowboys Tony Romo is spreading the ball around, Terrell Owens is dropping almost as many passes as he's grabbing, and you can see Bill Parcells's faith in Crayton growing. In the last four games the third-year man from Northwestern Oklahoma State has 15 catches and a 17.5-yard average.
3) A.J. Feeley, QB, Eagles It's only a hunch, but I think that Andy Reid trusts him more than he does Jeff Garcia. Expect Feeley to get a start or two in December, when Philadelphia meets the lowly Redskins and the suddenly generous Giants (who have given up 88 points in the last three weeks).