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Fantasy Fix

Last week's moral dilemma - whether to start last-minute pick-up Tarvaris Jackson over regular season starter Eli Manning - resulted in the devil on my shoulder winning and Jackson starting over Manning.

Despite Minnesota's collapse against Atlanta, Jackson outscored Manning in the fantasy realm 26-17. Unfortunately, that still wasn't enough for my guys, who lost the league title by four points. I was about to write "by a measly four points," but I know some leagues are so tightly competitive that the final score might be a difference of just one or two points.

My big mistake was starting Braylon Edwards over Jerious Norwood in a flex line-up slot. I love Norwood, but I really thought Minnesota and its Bear-stopping run defense would keep him quiet. Meanwhile, Edwards had a tough assignment in trying to snag Ken Dorsey's errant passes, but also was playing with a chip on his shoulder, which I thought would be good for a TD. No dice.

Anyway, the fantasy football year is done for some of us, so here's my list of most pleasant fantasy surprises from this season:

* Aaron Rodgers: Responsible for 29 TDs (four of them rushing).

* DeAngelo Williams: I'd love to say it Matt Forte, but 20 TDs (18 rushing) outweigh the fact that he's behind three other guys in rushing yards.

* Calvin Johnson: OK, not surprising to find him near the top, but 1,229 receiving yards and 10 TDs for an 0-15 team?

* Zach Miller: Only 1 TD, but 744 receiving yards put him among the league leaders for this position. Could mean great things for next year.

And it's way too early to talk about next year, but that won't stop me from forecasting the first round of next year's fantasy draft for a 12-team league:

1-Adrian Peterson, RB
2-Michael Turner, RB
3-DeAngelo Williams, RB
4-Maurice Jones-Drew, RB
5-Frank Gore, RB
6-Brian Westbrook, RB
7-Matt Forte, RB
8-Drew Brees, QB
9-Steve Slaton, RB
10-Marion Barber, RB
11-Chris Johnson, RB
12-Tom Brady, QB

That's right - no LT until Round 2.

One of our experts is also already taking a look at next year, too:

* Roto Arcade's early first-round list includes LaDainian Tomlinson, but where's Brady? Is he really going to fall out of the first round after his injury?

* Speaking of Senator Brady, Bleacher Report's Lee Johnson shows how it was in fact possible to survive the Week 1 loss of the demi-god QB. Matt Cassel didn't start fast, but had a handful of great weeks. Honestly, if Brady is down next year for some reason, Cassel could go pretty high (though not in the first round).

* The Las Vegas Review Journal doesn't tell you where to draft Brady next year, but it does tell a very nice story about how a $1 million fantasy football dream can come true. It's going to be the best Christmas ever . . . at least for one of us.

The same year that Jerry Sloan is celebrating two decades coaching the same team, six teams had already fired their coaches this season as of last week. The coach, of course, is the fantasy basketball league owner's worst enemy. He keeps the world in the dark about injuries to his top players, lowers a player's minutes if he looks in the wrong direction, and flattens a star scorer's tendencies when the team offensive effort appears lopsided.

He's only doing his job, of course, but that sometimes messes with your ability to execute your own grand fantasy plans. The changes this year have a lot of people speculating on the players whose fantasy years could be turned around by them. But, as far as I can tell, none of the coaching firings this season looks to have much of an effect on any individual fantasy bottom lines, with the possible exception of Maurice Cheeks being ousted in Philadelphia. Cheeks is a well-known all-around good guy, but under him, Andre Iguodala and Elton Brand have been having horrible seasons.

Iguodala had slid well off his numbers from last season, and some of that was due to Brand arriving as the new scorer in town, but Brand has been way off, too. Now injured for at least a few weeks, Iguodala has the best chance to break out of a slump that may have been due to a plodding offense that didn't give him the ball nearly as often as he used to get it. The speedy Iguodala was making up for that on defense, by bumping up his rebounds a notch, but he has much more fantasy value as a potential Top 10 scorer. He may now get his chance.

Here's what the other fantasy basketball experts are saying this week:

* Hoops Lab says another Sixer might also benefit from the coaching change there.

* Fantasy Lab has a piece on how the well-worn guidelines that carry many an owner through a fantasy football season can be applied to fantasy basketball as well. This is good timing, with more football die-hards trying the court game these days.

* Steve Schwarz of The Sports Network reports on the value of this year's rookie class, looking specifically at how the playing time of guys like Derrick Rose and O.J. Mayo, among others, has made them indispensable. So, look for a rookie whose PT is inching upward, and do what you have to do to get him on your team.

Happy Holidays from Fantasy Fix!

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