- Eric Karabell, ESPN.com Senior Writer
Since our pal Tristan Cockcroft will not be writing up the weekly "Called Out!" column this week -- is there some holiday on Thursday or something? -- I figured I would take this opportunity to basically call myself out when it came to the Week 12 rankings. What are you thinking, Eric?! Well, I often ask myself that very question. So let's do it again with this week's rankings in hand:
How could you not rank Calvin Johnson? You think Dennis Northcutt is better? Of course not. But at least Northcutt is going to be on the field, and playing against a Green Bay Packers defense that should keep Kevin Smith in check, but not the passing game. You know Daunte Culpepper, filling in for Matthew Stafford, isn't going to be shy, by the way. Johnson would be in my No. 10 spot if I thought he was playing. I just don't think he will, and unless you're going to be sitting by a computer or willing to make the last-minute change on your phone with family members watching -- "Sorry, something important happened at work. I'll just be a second." -- then just leave Johnson out.
Your Jason Snelling rank of No. 13 seems a bit low if you think he'll start, doesn't it? Yes, I did think about that. We project Snelling for monster numbers -- a pair of touchdowns and 123 rushing yards -- against the awful Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and I could see him hitting those marks. I don't think Michael Turner will be able to suit up. Snelling made two rankers' top-10 among running backs, but at the expense of safer, more proven veterans such as Frank Gore and Ryan Grant, as well as stud Ray Rice. I can't go that far, not with someone who, while very productive against the New York Giants, still averaged a mere three yards per rush. Snelling is a No. 2 fantasy back this week, while Turner would be in the top 10, for sure.
You were the only one to rank Matt Hasselbeck in the top-10. Coming off his terrible game against the Minnesota Vikings, how can you justify trusting him? Well, it's more that I trust how bad the St. Louis Rams are defensively. The first time Hasselbeck played the Rams this season, he threw for 279 yards and three touchdowns. Fantasy football owners need to have a short memory. What Hasselbeck didn't do in Week 11 has little bearing on our expectations for him this week.
Laurence Maroney at No. 16? Have you lost your mind, Eric? Why, thanks for noticing, Eric! I know Maroney has enemies in the fantasy football world, and among us rankers, but what's not to like about touchdowns in five consecutive games, six in total? And it's not like he's a near-the-end Jerome Bettis out there accruing only 14 rushing yards in the process. Maroney is thriving in part due to getting the opportunity to score, but why do we think that will simply go away? Bill Belichick could go to Sammy Morris at any point, but I don't see him pulling a very productive running back without notice.
Michael Crabtree scored his first NFL touchdown, and now it seems you've really consumed the kool-aid on him, ranking him 20th at wide receiver, while two others left him out of their top 30. How can you explain this? Crabtree is going to be a star, and awful defenses like the Jacksonville Jaguars will make him look that way even before he's ready to. Last week the Jaguars let Ryan Fitzpatrick throw for 252 yards, and made Terrell Owens look like, well, Terrell Owens circa 2002. Three weeks ago, Matt Cassel had a big game against them. Overall, the Jaguars have allowed 15 touchdowns to wide receivers this season, making them the second-easiest team, fantasy-wise, for wide receivers to abuse, and I'd argue the easiest now that the Tennessee Titans have clearly fixed things. In fact, I'm wondering why I didn't rank a second San Francisco 49ers wide receiver like Josh Morgan or Isaac Bruce, to be honest.
OK, that's about enough of me bashing myself, I think. "Called Out!" is an insightful feature, and it will return for Week 13.