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Fantasy Fix

By Dan O'Shea

The fantasy football season is down, with Week 13 of the NFL season the final week before playoffs begin in most fantasy leagues. If you're on the bubble, is there anyone you can pick up at this late stage to help you make that last-minute push?

You might be tempted to go for whoever is still available from the NFL's two unbeaten teams, New Orleans and Indianapolis. The problem there, however, is that those teams do such a good job of spreading the ball around that any wide receivers, running backs and tight ends still available on the waiver wire are not likely to get more than a few touches to do something worthwhile.

A better play is to follow the injuries to key players throughout the league - of which there have been many in the last couple of weeks - and figure out who's in line to benefit. Bewared, though, that this can also be risky if a team changes its game plan after an injury to a starter at a key position. Here are a few players in our Fantasy Fix Action Ratings system that are likely to be hot Week 13 pick-ups.

Player: Jerious Norwood, RB
FFAR: PICK UP
Comment: He was actually drafted in most leagues as a backup to Michael Turner, but was out for weeks with injuries. Now, he's back and Turner will either miss Week 13 or be slowed by his own injury. Norwood has great potential both rushing and catching short passes, which makes him a safe bet.

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Player: Chris Redman, QB
FFAR: PICK UP
Comment: Poor Atlanta may miss Turner and will definitely miss starting QB Matt Ryan. Redman did a great job last week with 243 yards passing and two touchdowns, though it came against Tampa, which has one of the worst defenses in the league. This week will be tougher against Philadelphia, but Redman has Tony Gonzalez, Norwood, Roddy White and more targets to help him look good.

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Player: Matt Leinart, QB
FFAR: SKIP
Comment: Kurt Warner likely will be out again with lingering concussion problems. Leinart actually looked pretty good - for once - in a losing cause last week, and he definitely has wonderful WRs to aim for in Larry Fitzgerald, Anquan Boldin and Steve Breaston, but he'll be facing the positively beastly defense of Minnesota. I think Jared Allen and company will pressure Leinart into mistakes.

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Player: Matt Moore, QB
FFAR: SKIP
Comment: Jake Delhomme likely will be out for at least one week with a hand injury, and Carolina turns to Matt Moore. Who? Exactly. Carolina has veteran receivers, but will probably hand the ball to its impressive RBs rather than let Moore fling it into traffic.

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Player: Will Heller, TE
FFAR: PICK UP
Comment: There are slim pickings at TE these days, and Heller, who should see more action with Detroit starter Brandon Pettigrew now on injured reserve, may be a stretch. However, he's up against Cincinnati this week, which has a great run defense, but on average pass defense, and Detroit QB Matthew Stafford has been pass-happy all year.

Expert Wire
* Yahoo! PickUps of the Week suggests Vince Young and Larry Johnson. The secret has been out about Young for awhile, but LJ made a surprisingly strong appearance last week in relief of Cedric Benson.

* Yahoo! RotoArcade sizes up candidates to be this year's Pierre Thomas - the RB who will take the league by storm in the final weeks and probably propel some unlikely candidate to your fantasy league championship. Ricky Williams and Jamaal Charles certainly have been coming on strong, though I also like Justin Forsett if Seattle continues to feed him short passes.

* KFFL.com mentions Fred Jackson of Buffalo and Chris Brown of Houston as hot pick-ups for Week 13. Brown was a back-up to Steve Slaton until Slaton's fumble troubles, and though Slaton is still getting more of the short pass action, Brown has been getting scores.

Fantasy Basketball
Quick question: Who's scored the most points in the NBA this season? Not LeBron, or Kobe, or D-Wade. Try Carmelo Anthony. He's averaging 31 points per game, and had 527 total through Tuesday. Maybe it's not too surprising to see 'Melo taking charge. He has always been a pretty strong scorer, with his other stats decent enough to make him a third-round pick for the last couple years, but he is taking and making even more shots this year, with a .493 shooting percentage.

Can 'Melo keep it up? He's been fairly streaky his whole career, so I think he'll calm down at some point, though it's worth noting that his current shooting percentage harkens back to his career-best mark of 2007-2008, which was probably his best overall season.

High scorers are obvious waiver wire attractions, but they can often be risky pick-ups if they have a lower shooting percentage or drag on other stat categories. A good example is current super-rookie Brandon Jennings, who is averaging 21.8 points per game. He only has one game so far in single digits, but his .428 shooting percentage is barely adequate, and with as many shots as he takes (almost 19 per game), you may need an extra high-percentage inside player to make up for him.

As we move though Week 6 of the NBA season, we're still busy trying to separate waiver wire gems from fool's gold. Here's this week's take in our Fantasy Fix Action Ratings:
Player

Player: Allen Iverson, PG
FFAR: PICK UP
Comment: The Answer (I prefer this nickname to A.I. , which only makes me of that dead-people-seeing kid playing an android) has made himself newly relevant by retiring. It appears he will sign with his long-ago club, Philadelphia, which actually might give him a little bit of a performance boost - anyway, more of a boost than being a Memphis Grizzly provided. The Sixers' young starting PG, Louis Williams, broke his jaw, which is bad for him, but very good for the aged scoring machine.

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Player: Ronnie Brewer, SG/SF
FFAR: PICK UP
Comment: He's probably a short-term option, but has been seeing about 37 minutes per game this year as Utah has struggled through injuries to numerous players. He shoots .512, and is good for just over 12 points a game if you need a body with a double-digit average.

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Player: Danilo Gallinari, SF
FFAR: PICK UP
Comment: I have been on the fence about him all season. He leads the league in three-pointers, though he has been a specialist comparable to Kyle Korver. That's not a bad thing, but he has rarely taken more than 10 shots per game, and that has kept him off a few rosters.

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Player: Taj Gibson, SF/PF
FFAR: SKIP
Comment: He showed promise early on as a replacement for the injured Tyrus Thomas, but really faded along with the rest of the Bulls in his last 10 games or so. Oddly, his best stat contribution right now may be blocks - 17 in 15 games, though it's not enough.

Expert Wire
* Matt Buser at Yahoo! has the skinny on the controversial decision by Cleveland Coach Eric Brown not to play Zydrunas Ilgauskas in a game in which he would have set the franchise record for games played. It was definitely a bad decision by a coach who somehow hasn't been able to steer the team with the league's best player, LeBron, to a championship, and the game Ilgauskas was left out of was not close. Still, the decision only highlights how poor of a season the big man is having - 7.1 points per game since Shaq came to town.

* CBS Sports.com's Fantasy News notes the return of Mike Dunleavy, SG, who is back from injury earlier than expected. Indiana could probably use his shot, and he could be a hot waiver wire pick this week, as his return was a bit under the radar. You've been warned.

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Dan O'Shea's Fantasy Fix appears in this space every Wednesday. Comments welcome. You can also read his about his split sports fan personality at SwingsBothWays, which isn't about what it sounds like It's about.

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