- Eric Karabell, ESPN.com Senior Writer
The last time Sammy Morris delivered a performance worthy of fantasy owners paying attention was roughly two years ago, when he ran for 95 yards and a touchdown in Week 16 as a member of the New England Patriots. Perhaps you lost track of what happened to Morris; he was also a Patriot for the 2010 season but was buried on the depth chart and barely played, and he was released this preseason. Until about 12 days ago, he wasn't on a team at all.
Now Morris might start on Christmas Eve in a game in which the Dallas Cowboys can clinch the NFC East.
Here's the deal: DeMarco Murray is done for the season. Felix Jones has his starting job back but hasn't been available for practice this week as he deals with a sore hamstring. Who else is left? Tashard Choice is a Buffalo Bill. Phillip Tanner is on injured reserve. Tony Dorsett is really old, at least in football years. And Morris, who thought his NFL career was over a few weeks ago and has been a Cowboy for about 12 days, is sitting pretty. Makes you feel bad for someone like Toby Gerhart, eh?
Hey, stranger things have happened to decide fantasy football championships. Four days after signing with the Cowboys, Morris ran 12 times for 53 yards, albeit against the really bad Tampa Bay Buccaneers. I thought he was a sneaky pickup last week, but now, he might even be past that point. It's more smart than sneaky. This week's foe, the Philadelphia Eagles, isn't exactly the '85 Chicago Bears defensively. I ranked Morris among my top 40 running backs this week, and he made my top 100 flex rankings as well. Yes, it seems unlikely that someone 34 years of age could jump from his couch to fantasy relevance that quickly, but even if Jones does suit up, Morris should matter. He should be, um, fresh.
OK, seriously, Jones has never been the most durable player in the first place, but there's an added twist here: If the New York Giants beat the New York Jets on Saturday, and the Cowboys should know the result before their game starts, then the Dallas-Philly game becomes a lot less important. For one, it officially expires the Eagles season. Hopefully, the Dream Team doesn't decide to sit LeSean McCoy. (I really doubt it would happen.) The Cowboys can win the NFC East on Saturday if the Giants lose; if Big Blue wins, the Cowboys have to beat the Giants in Week 17, in New York's stadium, to win the division. I'm guessing the Cowboys will want Jones as healthy as possible for that game, not the meaningless Eagles tilt. Plus, what if Jones doesn't get better? Morris could start in Week 17! Strange, indeed.
Here are some other sneaky additions for now and later by position.
Quarterback: It's tough to get too sneaky at this position. I still think Aaron Rodgers is the most likely relevant fantasy quarterback to sit in Week 17. Perhaps he plays a quarter or two. The Green Bay Packers should have the top seed sewn up, but I don't think backup Matt Flynn will be a great Week 17 play. ... Charlie Batch in Pittsburgh? I didn't rank him among my top 25 quarterbacks, but he wouldn't be last, either. ... Add Kyle Orton first, though. I ranked him 17th for this week.
Running back: If the Eagles decided to anger a world of fantasy owners and sit McCoy, I think Dion Lewis would be next in line, not Ronnie Brown. But let's not go there. ... Jacquizz Rodgers has a better shot in Atlanta, since Michael Turner is hurting and the Falcons are all but playoff bound. ... I'd keep the Minnesota Vikings' Gerhart owned for Week 17, just in case. ... I don't trust Chris Johnson a bit. Jamie Harper is next in line, not Javon Ringer and his broken hand. ... I have to point out that Roy Helu is dealing with toe/knee issues, which might be all coach Mike Shanahan needs to hear to let rookie Evan Royster loose.
Wide receiver: I like Dwayne Bowe a lot this week, mainly because he has a legit quarterback and an awful pass defense to face, so why not take a gander at Steve Breaston in a deep league? I'd like to watch Jon Baldwin, but there's little indication I need to. ... I think Jabar Gaffney is a worthy standard-league add, and even Donte Stallworth could break out against the Vikings. ... For the Ravens, Lee Evans is not worth it against the Cleveland Browns. ... A.J. Green should play for the Bengals, but Jerome Simpson would look better if he didn't. ... Yes on Andre Roberts, no on Chad Ochocinco.
Whatever you decide to do with your starting lineups in this, for many the final fantasy football weekend of the season, go with your gut, hope for some timely luck -- not Andrew Luck -- and try to enjoy it. In two weeks, we'll miss fantasy football terribly! Merry Christmas and have a great weekend!
Eric Karabell's sneaky pickups include a veteran running back who suddenly may be starting after spending most of the season out of football.