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Fantasy Fix: Turkey Bowl

It's Turkey Week, and what's Turkey Week without a Turkey Bowl? This isn't the kind where over-aged, overweight men test their weak hearts, weak knees and tender pride on a field of supposed battle. Been there, done that. This is the 1st Annual Fantasy Fix Turkey Bowl, in which we single out biggest disappointments of the year at each position, and try to get a read on the remaining value the rest of the season.

Donovan McNabb: No one would have said it four games ago, but he has been in an epic tailspin since. Derek Anderson might be the bust of the year for some, but he was probably over-rated to begin with. McNabb, meanwhile, has passed for more than 2,700 yards this season, but has thrown 6 INTs and lost 2 fumbles in the last three games. Those of you in single QB leagues may have already gone to back-ups last week. This week, McNabb has a decent chance to right himself against Arizona, but the rest of the season is a minefield against four pretty good pass defenses: the New York Giants, Dallas, Washington and Cleveland.

Willis McGahee: True, Steven Jackson and Willie Parker have fallen from much higher rankings, though primarily due to injury. McGahee has had minor aches, but there's something more missing here. He has less than 500 rushing yards and barely a 54 yards-per-game average after rushing for more than 1,200 yards and more than 80 YPG last year. He has 5 TDs, compared to 7 all of last year, but his last two games have been brutal and Baltimore seemed to show a preference for running LeRon McClain instead. Remaining games: He's got three of the top 10 rushing defenses waiting for him in Pittsburgh, Washington and Dallas. This week against Cincinnati could be his best opportunity the rest of the way.

Braylon Edwards: Much has been made already of his prolific pass-dropping. He has had two great games out of 11 and only has 3 TDs. He seemed to come alive the last two weeks under new QB Brady Quinn, but now Quinn is out for the season. Still, looking at the remaining schedule, there is a lot to like against good pass defenses that nevertheless may not offer strong one-on-one match-ups: Indianapolis, Tennessee, Philadelphia and Cincinnati. Pittsburgh will be a tougher one, but Edwards still has a chance to turn his season around.

Alge Crumpler: Once mentioned in the same breath with Antonio Gates and Tony Gonzalez, Crumpler is a forgotten man: Just 185 receiving yards and 1 TD this season, and only 2 receptions in his last two games. Crumpler was a star when Michael Vick was his QB in Atlanta, but since Vick's ouster, the canine kingdom's gain has been Crumpler's loss. He moved to Tennessee this year and looked to be a featured receiver, but he isn't even the top TE anymore, with Bo Scaife well ahead of him. He can claim membership on a 10-1 team, but that sure doesn't help his fantasy value. Three out of his next five match-ups are against beatable defenses, but Tennessee doesn't have that much motivation to throw, let alone throw to him.

So, if these guys are the turkeys, who might still be capable of delivering the gravy? For that, we consult our field of experts:

* Yahoo! Pickups of the Week has QB Kerry Collins as a strong buy against the Detroit pass defense and QB Joe Flacco as a solid buy against Cincinnati. Detroit actually has appeared slightly less mediocre than usual in its last three games. I don't think they can upset the Titans, but I like Detroit to clamp down on Collins. Maurice Morris also gets a solid endorsement, but it sounded as of Wednesday like Julius Jones would be starting over him for Seattle.

* Looks and Touches laments the fate of Justin Fargas, who had 115 rushing yards last week, but no TDs even though Oakland had a season-high 3 TDs. L&T also notes that Week 12 was the most prolific scoring week in the history of the NFL. The big fantasy winners were Matt Cassel with 415 passing yards and 4 TDs; Michael Turner with 117 rushing yards and 4 TDs; and Terrell Owens with 213 receiving yards and 1 TD.

* CBS, however, isn't impressed enough with Cassel's Week 12 to start him; in fact, it highlights Cassel as its Sit of the Week against Pittsburgh. Pitt is the pits for passers, but . . . ouch. New England looks revived and Pittsburgh has been stumbling along of late, even though it has won two games in a row. The site's Start of the Week is Warrick Dunn, given that Ernest Graham is now out for the year and Dunn, even though he's slowed by aged, is a nice passing target.

The fantasy basketball world has a few turkeys, too, and the biggest one is Elton Brand. He's averaging a career low 16 points or so a game so far for Philadelphia, a new locale that some observers thought might be good for his offensive value. And he has indeed been offensive (I know, that was too easy). He is certainly the biggest disappointment among the top 20 fantasy hoops players.

Otherwise, most of the fantasy basketball world is settling into regularity. Deron Williams is back in action and climbing up the point guard charts. Manu Ginobili is back earlier than expected, but could find a squeeze for playing time. That's because Roger Mason, one of his early season replacements, is leading the league in three-pointers with 37 through mid-week. I don't like 3-pt specialists much, preferring to manage that stat by avoiding guys who never shoot threes, but if it's a hotly-contested category in your league, grab Mason, who is only in 65 percent of Yahoo! leagues so far.

Most of the remaining stat categories have the usual names at the top, with some guy named James leading most scoring categories, Chris Paul tops in assists and steals and Dwight Howard leading in rebounds and blocks. One surprising name in the top 5 for field goals made is Kevin Durant, with 313. Sure, we knew he would shoot a lot, but his FG% has improved at least slightly since last year (above 46% so far, compared to 43% last year). What's unclear is whether or not his FG attempts could go down. Oklahoma City fired coach P.J. Carlesimo, who had been playing Durant at SG, but now Durant may be moved to SF.

Here's our weekly survey of the experts:

* Big Picture at Yahoo! has one of my favorite meters, the Eddy Curry Line, which essentially rates fantasy value and potential production for players with a high number of turnovers. Durant is currently high on the list (which is a bad thing), so that may give you pause about picking him up. But, some real studs are on this list, too, including Yao Ming, David West and Emeka Okafor, giving you a good idea of how much value leakage they actually have.

* Fantasy Basketball Cafe features a post on maddeningly inconsistent players whose overall ranking makes them too valuable to drop, yet too crappy to start every night. No surprise to Bulls fans that Luol Deng is among them. So is Al Harrington, one of those mutants like Rasheed Wallace, who delivers treys from the power forward/center positions, but not enough rebounds to be your best choice at C. Getting in the flow of a busy offense after last week's trade to New York, however, could improve things for him.

* CBS agrees, putting Harrington at the top of its Week 5 Fantasy Stockwatch. PG Steve Blake, C Andrew Bogut and PF Andrea Bargnani are other players seeing a rise in fantasy value.


Happy Thanksgiving from Fantasy Fix and don't get up too earlier on Black Friday. Better yet, while your spouse hits the early sales, you should hit the waiver wire to hunt for bargains.


Dan O'Shea's Fantasy Fix appears every Wednesday, except for the occasional Thursday. Tips, comments, and suggestions are welcome.

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