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Sneaky fantasy pickups entering Week 12

11/23/2011

This is not a normal week for fantasy football. For one, it's Thanksgiving week! Enjoy your turkey and family -- or turkeys in your family -- while three relevant football games are being played. Second, I'm about to recommend a member of the Cleveland Browns. Yep, odd week it is.

But check out what wide receiver Josh Cribbs has been doing, and one can see how he makes sense as one of those sneaky pickups. (We've moved the Friday blog entry staple to Wednesday this week.) I know, I know, Cribbs is on the Browns. They're 29th in the league in yards, and the Week 11 14-point output was the team's most in a month. It's not the Green Bay Packers' offense, that's for sure.

However, ever so quietly, the versatile Cribbs has scored touchdowns in three of four games -- the team has scored only four touchdowns in that span -- reaching double digits in fantasy scoring in Weeks 8 and 9. The team's somewhat passive approach to moving the football has been an obstacle he has overcome, to some degree. No, he's not piling on the yards, but if you're considering Chicago Bears running back Marion Barber as someone who matters, Cribbs is the wide receiver version. Touchdowns matter, folks.

Cribbs isn't among my top 40 wide receivers for this week, but he's someone to watch and is available in 94 percent of leagues. Basically, if the Browns are scoring, Cribbs is the fellow who's scoring, and there's something to be said for that. For those who claim the pending schedule is a problem, I'm not really on board with that. The scary Baltimore Ravens have allowed 20 or more points in four consecutive games, and not to offensive juggernauts. And entering this season Cribbs had scored three of his 15 career touchdowns against the Pittsburgh Steelers. He's dangerous and could get you 10 or so fantasy points in any matchup, and sometimes that's enough. Plus, he has the ability to do more.

Yep, I recommended a Cleveland Brown. Where's the wishbone? OK, here are some other names by position I'm thinking about for this fine sneaky-adds blog entry. None of these players is owned in more than 10 percent of ESPN standard leagues.

Quarterbacks: Starters are still out there. Matt Moore has thrown three touchdown passes in two of three games. Rex Grossman comes off a 24-point effort. Jake Locker looked half-decent in relief in Week 11 and could get his official chance shortly. And Brett Favre went out today and bought a turducken. I'd seriously consider adding Houston Texans lefty Matt Leinart. Great running game, Andre Johnson lurking, and Leinart does have some experience. Quite a few quarterbacks have been hurt recently. Yours could be next. One more thing: Kyle Orton (owned in 14 percent of leagues) should find work soon after being released by the Denver Broncos. If he ends up with the Bears, I have to admit I'd rank him pretty much where I was placing Jay Cutler, around the 20-22 region. Orton has not played well this season, but if he gets an opportunity to start over, he should produce well enough to be a fantasy backup. Remember, in deep leagues, fantasy owners have to look at the likes of Tyler Palko, John Skelton and Caleb Hanie.

Running backs: In the short term, I like Donald Brown against the Carolina Panthers' woeful run defense this week. Everyone's torching the Panthers on the ground. Who knows when Joseph Addai plays again? The Colts know what Brown can do, and it's a lost season. Again, these are players available in at least 90 percent of leagues. Also keep an eye on the New York Giants and Da'Rel Scott. Ahmad Bradshaw is clearly hurting worse than originally explained, and Brandon Jacobs has done precious little with his 30 carries the past two weeks. Other home run shots include LaRod Stephens-Howling and perhaps, if Ryan Mathews continues to drop the valuable football to the ground, Jacob Hester in San Diego.

Finally, I won't begin to predict what Mike Shanahan is thinking. I don't think he knows, either. Ryan Torain keeps starting, and it's a bit embarrassing, as he averages less than 2 yards per tote over a six-week span! Tashard Choice was just released. Shanny only wants to play Roy Helu a wee little bit. Would it surprise anyone if Penn State product Evan Royster, just off the practice squad, got 20 touches this week? Plan ahead, even though the Washington Redskins aren't.

Wide receivers: If you look at red zone targets, one name that has stuck out all season among wide receivers is Legedu Naanee of the Carolina Panthers. Clearly, Cam Newton has looked his way near the goal line, but it hasn't resulted in a scoring play. Naanee hauled in eight passes for 75 yards in Week 10 and did little in Week 11, but he could join in the fun against the brutal Colts on Sunday. Vincent Brown of the Chargers also did nothing in Week 11, but he still matters. Riley Cooper in Philly matters as long as Jeremy Maclin is out, and he should be out this week. And I've seen the Packers enough this season to know Titus Young of the Lions can do damage Thursday.

That's all for now! Get your lineups in before Thursday, and have a Happy Thanksgiving!