This week in Higher/Lower/Over/Under we'll tackle running backs and wide receivers - and of course, the 2012 Tim Tebow in Colin Kapernick. This is the biggest week of the season to date: likely your final matchup before the playoffs begin and there's so much on the line every roster decision takes on an even bigger magnitude. In my two leagues here at nfl.com I can either win my division or miss the playoffs entirely. So there's a lot at stake. I can't sleep. I'm nervous and excited. I want Sunday to be here now. So let's examine some of the pressing numbers and situations while taking time for a Fireman Ed interlude. Sort of like that great rock song that starts out huge, then dials it back just a bit and builds to a crescendo. (Think 'Kickstart My Heart' for fantasy.)
1: Number of weeks Jonathan Dwyer will stay the Steelers number one running back. Over. After Four-Fumble Sunday, the little white ball has stopped on Dwyer's name, and this was inevitable. If I could take out my Spaceballs When-Will-Then-Be-Now device ("Prepare to fast-forward!"), I would say by the end of the season it will still be Jonathan Dwyer's job because he's the most explosive downhill runner out of the group, and Rashard Mendenhall just isn't ready to be the top guy right now. Maybe he gets in and vultures some goal-line carries, but I'm going all in on Dwyer. Hopefully you held onto him, because now you will be rewarded.
Rank's 11 Sleepers for Week 13
1: Touchdowns for Ryan Mathews the rest of the season. Push. Maybe he gets in the end zone once. Once. Wow, has he been tremendously disappointing this season. First of all, he's not playing nearly as many snaps as he should because the team wants to keep him healthy, so he only carries the ball 15 times a game. Secondly, he can't average more than four yards-per-carry. And thirdly, he'll never, ever, ever get the ball inside the five yard line. If he's going to score, he has to do it from like 20 yards out (see previously my four yards-per-carry quote). I can't even recommend playing him anymore - even as a flex. If he gives you eight points in a week, that's a great game for him, but it's bad for you. I actually have leagues where I'm ready to play Vick Ballard, Knowshon Moreno and Bilal Powell over him. Seriously.
3: Poetic-waxing tweets I'll have about Fireman Ed retiring. Under. He'll be back. He, just like every Jets fan like myself, are both upset and embarrassed with the team. So, just like fans do, he's going to unplug for awhile and take a step back, maybe spend some extra time holiday shopping and watching Love, Actually the thousand times it's on between now and Christmas. But he'll return. I call this next few weeks "The Fireman Ed Memorial Run To the Playoffs." Do it for Fireman Ed! Maybe this is what the Jets need to spark their season. Maybe that's exactly why Fireman Ed is doing it! Ah! I've found his plan! And if he doesn't come back, well, J-E-T-S is pretty easy to spell, so I think someone else can lead that cheer.
4: Number of Packers wide receivers you can start this week in fantasy. Under. With Greg Jennings return imminent, what does this mean for the pecking order in Green Bay? I'll go this way, ranking the wideouts from one to four. Jordy Nelson is the true number one, as he's come on the last few weeks and only been slowed by injury however he's just fine now. Randall Cobb has been a revelation, and Aaron Rodgers looks for him in the red zone consistently, so he's still in your starting lineup. James Jones to me is the interesting one. Outside of a 12 point week against Arizona, he hasn't been good since Week 6. Jones is a sit for me this week, as is Jennings - I simply can't trust a guy in the final week of my regular season - with the playoffs on the line - that he'll return from injury and be a difference-maker.
5: Number of fantasy teams I have in which I own either Cecil Shorts or Justin Blackmon. Push. Five out of my seven leagues I have one of them. The only reason I don't in the other three is I didn't have a high enough waiver priority. This is no joke - thanks to Chad Henne, the Jaguars passing game is prolific and you must own one of these wideouts. I guarantee you that if you do, you'll have them in your flex spot the rest of the season. Most importantly, there's enough passes to go around for both of them. Who knew it took a quarterback change to get Blackmon going? But some things are better of left unexplained. Just enjoy the fantasy points.
12: Fantasy points for Beanie Wells against the Jets. Over. Wells has a terrific matchup and have a two touchdown day. I don't think he runs for 150 yards, but he'll do well enough and get the goal-line carries which he excels at. I can't believe I'm recommending this, but if you can, bench Larry Fitzgerald and start Wells against the Jets. Fitzgerald will be on Cromartie Island, and as we've seen this season Cromartie rises to the occasion when challenged. How many weeks do you have to play him and get seven fantasy points or less before you make a change? Yes, I fully realize the first time I say this he's going to go off in a game but at this point, I'd rather play Cecil Shorts, Justin Blackmon or even T.Y. Hilton because they've done it consistently over the last few weeks.
15: Fantasy points-per-week for Colin Kaepernick the rest of the season. Over. Michael Fabiano hit it on the head. He's this year's Tim Tebow. He's good for at least ten fantasy points before you even count his passing yardage because of the plays he makes with his legs. He could be the big quarterback free agent pickup who carries you to a fantasy title. And more importantly, guys like Kaepernick (and Cam Newton, RG III and even Andrew Luck) are going to be the future of the quarterback position in fantasy and in the NFL. Colleges are developing dual-threat quarterbacks regularly now, so they'll be highly rated coming out of school. And EVERY NFL team is going to want one of them. So you'll still see quarterbacks trending at the top of fantasy drafts, while at the same time decreasing the values of running backs because they'll take away goal-line touches from them. Just ask Alfred Morris, Frank Gore and every running back on the Panthers roster.
75: How many "Can I play Mike Wallace?" tweets I'll get between now and Sunday. Over. This is really tough - he could be benched after a three-week stretch of low output and a vocal frustration with the offense in general. On one hand, he's Mike Wallace. On the other? Let's tick off the marks against for Week 13. Mike Tomlin said Wallace will be listed as the "co-starter" with Emmanuel Sanders and could lose playing time depending on the situation. While this could be a motivational ploy, for me it's pretty simple. If Ben Roethlisberger plays, I'm playing Wallace. If he isn't, Wallace is on my bench. He's got seven catches total in the last three games from the Steelers backups. The Ravens have allowed just nine touchdown passes all season long and now Wallace may lose playing time, too. It doesn't add up for me.