- Eric Karabell, ESPN.com Senior Writer
Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Anquan Boldin will not be available for the final two regular-season games because he's having surgery to replace torn cartilage in his knee. Fantasy owners everywhere cry to the wind, "Oh, woe is me! Who can I count on now in the championship round?" Well, I know it's the holiday season and all, and we want to be positive leading up to Christmas, but anyone thinking of using Boldin this weekend should have been looking elsewhere in the first place.
In other words, although not to be harsh, the Ravens did fantasy owners a favor. I don't know how many Boldin owners were going to use him Saturday against the Cleveland Browns, but it was a bad idea. Now you know you shouldn't use him. He's out. Done. Finished. Of course, in looking at Boldin's past month (or two) of statistics, it was a bit tough to tell when he was done and finished. Boldin last produced double-digit fantasy points in Week 8, and this week's opponent, the Browns, rank as the second-toughest for fantasy wide receivers to accrue points against.
Boldin, who is owned in 100 percent of ESPN standard leagues and generally is in the 20-30 range for wide receivers in terms of the staff rankings and in activation percentage, was living off name value. And he's not alone. Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco is no prize, either, and shouldn't be near fantasy lineups this week. Same with wide receiver Torrey Smith, who has stepped up the past fortnight, and Boldin fill-in Lee Evans, once upon a time fantasy-relevant from his Buffalo Bills days. You can't even count on the Ravens' kicker this week! Billy Cundiff, fifth in ownership among the kickers in ESPN leagues, is out with a calf injury and will be replaced by Shayne Graham! Hey, if you've got Cundiff active, and I'm guessing many of you do, now you know. Change him out.
So I got to thinking, knowing that Boldin has generally underachieved -- yes, he was on his way to 1,000 receiving yards, but had only three touchdowns -- and had a tough matchup up next, and now is out until the playoffs, about some other players whom fantasy owners might be counting on but haven't exactly lit up the fantasy scoreboards the past month or so. You might be surprised.
Michael Turner, RB, Atlanta Falcons: I ranked him well for this week because the New Orleans Saints tend to give up plenty of yards to running backs and wide receivers alike, and Turner gets touchdowns, but it's worth noting he hasn't topped 14 fantasy points since Week 6. He accrued just 17 fantasy points total in Weeks 12-14 before bouncing back to some degree against the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 15 with a touchdown, but it's possible a groin injury is holding him back. I expect around 14 fantasy points from him this week, but risk exists.
Jordy Nelson, WR, Green Bay Packers: The loss of teammate Greg Jennings (knee) really hasn't helped Nelson or any of Aaron Rodgers' top options. In fact, in Nelson's past four games, he has scored just one touchdown and been held to two fantasy points in two of those games. I don't really like the matchup against the Chicago Bears, either. Last time he faced the Bears, Nelson caught only three passes for 40 yards. Be careful here. The Packers aren't likely to put up 35 points.
Mike Wallace, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers: After reaching double digits in fantasy points in six of the first seven weeks, Wallace has managed the feat only twice since. Plus, his teammate Antonio Brown is getting more targets, and this week the team's quarterback could be Charlie Batch. That doesn't scare me off Wallace/Brown to the degree it might others, because Batch can actually throw a decent deep pass -- the interceptions don't go on Wallace's ledger -- but the truth is Wallace hasn't played like a top fantasy wide receiver for more than a month.
BenJarvus Green-Ellis, RB, New England Patriots: He's still scoring touchdowns, but he's not doing a whole lot else. Green-Ellis tallied 10 fantasy points against the Denver Broncos in Week 15, rushing 10 times for 17 yards but scoring a touchdown. He has accrued a mere 21 rushing attempts the past three weeks, and not because Bill Belichick wants him rested for mid-January. I ranked the Law Firm better than my colleagues, but it's basically dependent on his reaching the end zone.
Eric Decker, WR, Broncos: Not long ago, this guy was among the top 10 wide receivers in season scoring, and this didn't merely stop when Tim Tebow took over as quarterback. Decker scored touchdowns in four of five weeks concluding with Thanksgiving weekend. And then Demaryius Thomas became more loved by Tebow, and Decker has been held to six receptions and seven fantasy points in the past three weeks. He's certainly not a top-10, and perhaps not even a top-40, wide receiver anymore.