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Bills' Jackson makes list of underrateds

Author Derek Lofland of fantasyfootballmaniaxs.com doesn't waste any time in taking a shot at the Bills, but he does show some love for running back Fred Jackson.

Lofland recently listed his 10 most underrated fantasy football players, with Jackson coming in seventh.

"Jackson is one of those guys that plays on a bad team in a small market, but quietly tallies solid fantasy numbers," he writes. "In 2009, he ranked 15th and many people thought that a crowded backfield would make him irrelevant in 2010. He still finished with 222 carries for 927 yards and five rushing touchdowns. He also added 31 receptions for 215 yards and two touchdowns."

Lofland continues: "One thing that hurt Jackson last year was the Bills giving carries to Marshawn Lynchwhile they were trying to boost his trade value. Jackson had only 20 carries for 87 yards and one rushing touchdown in the first four games. Once Lynch was sent to the Seattle Seahawks, Jackson averaged 70 yards rushing per game and had five games with more than 20 carries."

Lofland continues by pointing out the role of C.J. Spiller is the big unknown in the backfield for the Bills.

My take: Jackson owners shouldn't be worried about Spiller. The former is going to be the workhorse in the backfield, and barring injury, will get plenty of touches. He's a safe No. 2 running back in fantasy.

To see all of Lofland's list, click here.

---Jay Skurski

http://twitter.com/jayskurski

Crawford showing signs of coming around

April was a month to forget for Red Sox outfielder Carl Crawford. A first- or second-round pick in most fantasy baseball drafts, the high-priced free agent was hitting .181 through the first 26 games of the season.

The first threegames of May, however, have shown a glimpse of what the Red Sox expect from Crawford. He's gone 6 for 11 in the season's second month, with two runs, a steal and an RBI. One advanced statistic in fantasy baseball also shows Crawford has been a bit unlucky in the early going.

His batting average on balls in play (BABIP) was just .209 through those first 26 games. His career low in that stat is .297 in 2008 with the Rays. The past two years, he's had an identical .342 average, a high number that's helped by his ability to leg out infield hits. For his career, he's got a .327 BABIP, so it should be expected his number will increase in that category as the season goes on.

That's good news for the Sox, as well as fantasy players. If a nervous owner has made Crawford available in your league, make an offer. You could end up with a bargain.

---Jay Skurski

http://twitter.com/jayskurski

Sizemore providing outfield boost

There was a time not too long ago when Indians outfielder Grady Sizemore was a top 25-pick in most fantasy baseball drafts. Injuries ruined all that, including last season when microfracture surgery on his left knee in May limited him to just 33 games.

Sizemore returned Sunday to the Indians' lineup when he was activated from the disabled list. He's made a big contribution in the first three games, going 5 for 10 with a home run, two doubles and two RBIs. Sizemore started Sunday and Monday for the Tribe before serving as a pinch hitter Tuesday.

If you had Rangers slugger Josh Hamilton, who's out up to two months with a broken arm, check the waiver wire to see if Sizemore is available. He could provide a boost in Hamilton's absence.

---Jay Skurski

http://twitter.com/jayskurski

What to do without Longoria

Tampa Bay third baseman Evan Longoria, a likely first- or second-round pick in most fantasy drafts, is expected to miss at least three weeks (and possibly as many as six) after going on the 15-day disabled list Sunday.

Obviously, this is really tough news for Longoria owners. He'll be replaced at third base by Sean Rodriguez, the Rays' utility infielder. Rodriguez hit .251 in 118 games with the Rays this season. He had nine home runs and 40 RBIs in 343 at-bats. He offers decent speed, with 13 stolen bases last season.

Rodriguez, though, is probably just an AL-only option. Those looking for a replacement at third cancheck to see if Jack Hannahan of the Indians is available on waivers. Hannahan, starting for the Tribe in place of the injured Jason Donald, has four hits in his first nine at-bats this season, including a homer. He's strictly a short-term solution.

Owners of Tampa Bay's Ben Zobrist should also take note of Longoria's injury. With Rodriguez moving to third, that means Ben Zobrist comes in from the outfield to play second base. That might help his eligibility down the road. It will also open up at-bats for Matt Joyce in the outfield, but not enough that he needs to be considered at this time.

---Jay Skurski

http://twitter.com/jayskurski

Winter hibernation over: Vote in our poll

Welcome back from our extended layoff. We'll be updating the blog with fantasy baseball information from time to time this spring and summer, so be sure to check back often.

To get us started this season, let's run a poll to see who everyone thinks will be the fantasy MVP.

 

 

Don't agree with the choices on the list? Feel free to add a vote in the comments section above. Or hit me up on Twitter at the link below. Enjoy the season.

---Jay Skurski

http://twitter.com/jayskurski

Gut feelings on Week 16

Good morning from Ralph Wilson Stadium, hope everyone got just what they wanted for Christmas. I'd like for nothing more than a fantasy championship today, and I'm sure some of you agree.

With that, let's take a quick spin around the league, starting here in Buffalo.

I knew Patriots RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis was having a good season, but I didn't realize how good until this week. He's got 12 TDs. I like him as a No. 2 RB today, but he could put up No. 1 RB stats. Also, start Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski, as there's a chance fellow TE Aaron Hernandez won't play.

In Chicago, I wouldn't start any Bear, or Jet for that matter. Expected awful weather and two good defenses make that a tough game to put up any fantasy numbers.

I love what Ravens QB Joe Flacco has done for my fantasy team this season. As such, I'm starting him in today's championship game, even though the Ravens don't have a ton to play for against the Bears. I'm hoping for 200+ yards and two or three TDs. Ravens RB Ray Rice has been awesome lately, while Browns RB Peyton Hillis has slowed down. I think both of those trends continue today.

Titans WR Kenny Britt showed he's healthy last week and is a solid play today against Tennessee.

The San Francisco-St. Louis game amazingly has playoff implications, which means I'd gamble on 49ers WR Michael Crabtree having a decent day.

I like the Dolphins' Davone Bess as a sleeper at WR. In the same game, I wouldn't start Lions RB Maurice Morris. I've seen enough out of the Dolphins' defense last week against the Bills to believe in them.

The biggest concern in the Philly-Minnesota game is the weather. Since I'm playing a team that has Michael Vick at QB, let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.

Seahawks RB Marshawn Lynch has been decent lately, and he's a good start again today against Tampa Bay.

Best of luck in today's championship games!

---Jay Skurski

http://twitter.com/jayskurski

Gut feelings on Week 15

It's Week 15, and in terms of the playoff picture, very little has been decided so far in the NFL. That's good news for fantasy owners, since no stars will see any changes in their normal playing time.

With that in mind, let's take a spin around the league.

If you're looking for a sleeper option at WR, consider the Browns' Mohamed Massaquoi. He's facing a Bengals' secondary that has allowed the second-most fantasy points to WRs over the past 10 weeks.

The switch from Donovan McNabb to Rex Grossman at QB for the Redskins makes me bail on Washington WR Santana Moss. I've got no faith in Grossman. At all.

I've talked often this season about Titans QB Kerry Collins, and this is the matchup he's waited for all season. He's coming off a great game against the Colts and gets fantasy greenlight known as the Texans' pass defense. Houston has allowed at least two passing touchdowns in all but two games. I also think Collins will throw to WR Kenny Britt, so I'd consider starting him.

Colts QB Peyton Manning has thrown for 300+ yards in his last four games against the Jaguars, which makes any of his receiving options viable plays today. That includes Austin Collie, should he be active. Keep an eye on whether he's playing and make a decision shortly before your lineup locks.

Kansas City faces a must-win game against St. Louis and I'm betting Matt Cassel plays. If he does, safely use WR Dwayne Bowe of the Chiefs. Again, watch the inactives list on Cassel. If he's out, Bowe becomes a very risky play.

The Bills have scored 20 points in six of their last seven games, are without Lee Evans and face a tough Miami defense. What does all that mean? For starters, I'd bench QB Ryan Fitzpatrick. I'd also consider benching WR Stevie Johnson, who has been pretty quiet since his three-TD game against the Bengals. The only sure-fire starters in this one are RBs Fred Jackson of the Bills and Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams of the Dolphins.

Tampa Bay favors the run over the pass, but I like Bucs QB Josh Freeman a lot today against the Lions.

I had a person on Twitter this morning ask me if they were crazy for benching Vikings RB Adrian Peterson for Raiders RB Darren McFadden and Panthers RB Jonathan Stewart. I said no, which goes to show just how much I like Stewart today.

The Eagles-Giants matchup is full of question marks in fantasy. To save time, here's who I'd start: Eagles -- QB Michael Vick, RB LeSean McCoy, WR Brandon Jacobs. Giants -- WR Hakeem Nicks, RB Brandon Jacobs.

Shut down former Bills RB Marshawn Lynch for the Seahawks today. Atlanta has allowed the third-fewest fantasy points to RBs in the past 10 weeks.

It's easy in the Broncos-Raiders game. Start the RBs (Oakland's Darren McFadden and Michael Bush, Denver's Knowshon Moreno) and sit the rest. Oakland QB Jason Campbell is a sleeper candidate only, and with Broncos QB Tim Tebow making his first career start, the Denver receivers aren't worth risking, save only Brandon Lloyd.

Two good run defenses meet in Pittsburgh, where the Steelers host the Jets. I'd stay away from the New York runners (LaDainian Tomlinson, Shonn Greene) and start Pittsburgh's Rashard Mendenhall with lowered expectations. My favorite play in this whole game is the Pittsburgh defense, even without Troy Polamalu.

Finally, Green Bay QB Aaron Rodgers is out. Yuck. Sit Pack WR Donald Driver as a result.

---Jay Skurski

http://twitter.com/jayskurski

Big night for VJax

Allow me to feel smart for just a second. On my Twitter page Thursday night (cheap plug: follow me at http://twitter.com/jayskurski), I said Vincent Jackson would be a good play at WR for the San Diego Chargers with Malcom Floyd and Antonio Gates unable to play.

Jackson backed me up, catching a career-high three touchdowns to go along with 112 receiving yards as the Chargers rolled the 49ers.

Jackson looked like the No. 1 receiver he was last year and had the type of week that can win playoff matchups. If you haven't already, he's worth adding for the rest of this season. His value won't be as high if Floyd plays in Week 16, but grab Jackson just in case. Chargers QB Philip Rivers has shown he'll throw to just about anybody.

---Jay Skurski

http://twitter.com/jayskurski

Gut feelings on Week 14

Undoubtedly, the story of this week is the weather. With that in mind, let's start here in Orchard Park. It's a steady rain right now, but if it gets a few degrees colder, it could easily be a winter wonderland.

I'd bench Bills QB Ryan Fitzpatrick if you had him starting, and I feel better about starting Fred Jackson. Remember, he showed last year against Indianapolis he can run in the wet stuff.

The situation is similar in Pittsburgh, where the Steelers face the Bengals. I'd rank the fantasy usefulness of that game as 1. Rashard Mendenhall, 2. Cedric Benson, 3. Terrell Owens, 4. Mike Wallace, 5. Ben Roethlisberger. Anyone else is a gamble.

In Carolina, forecasters are calling for winds between 30 and 40 mph. That makes Falcons QB Matt Ryan a less-than-ideal play. My favorite plays in that game are Falcons RB Michael Turner (obviously) and the Atlanta defense.

Tampa Bay visits Washington in a game that's forecast to be rainy. I'd stay away from Bucs QB Josh Freeman, but would start RB LeGarrette Blount without hesitation. I'm also picking Redskins QB Donovan McNabb and WR Santana Moss as sleeper plays this week. McNabb has experience playing in this stuff, and the Bucs traditionally lose their heads in the cold.

Perhaps the worst weather of the day will come in Chicago, where temperatures are expected to be below zero with the wind chill. Can you really bench Pats QB Tom Brady though? I wouldn't. Same goes for Bears QB Jay Cutler. These conditions aren't new to him, so he's worth starting.

In Detroit, it will be very interesting to see how much work Niagara Falls' James Starks gets at running back for the Green Bay Packers. Starks has been a popular pickup this week, but I'm not sure he's going to run away with the feature role just yet. I'd start Starks as a flex option, but not No. 1 or 2 RB.

With the Minnesota-New York Giants being delayed, fantasy owners, especially those of Adrian Peterson, have a lot of questions. It should be noted, however, that no NFL game has ever been canceled. The game will be played, so you can start whomever you normally would.

Attention all Matt Cassel owners: He's out this week. Finding a suitable replacement won't be easy.

Best of luck in the fantasy playoffs!

---Jay Skurski

http://twitter.com/jayskurski

Gut feelings on Week 13

Let's start in Minnesota, where I'll consider joining Sully in his run down Hertel Avenue if RB Adrian Peterson doesn't play. He's not going to pass up a chance to face the worst run defense in the league.

My sleeper pick for the Bills is RB C.J. Spiller finds the end zone.

The Redskins are a mess, which makes any of the Giants good starts. That especially goes for TE Kevin Boss. If there was one Giant I'd be hesitant, it would be WR Mario Manningham, who has to face Redskins CB DeAngelo Hall.

If you have no chance for the playoffs and just want to have some fun, start Broncos TE Dan Gronkowski. The local guy got some playing time last week and could very well have a decent day against the Chiefs in a game that's got shootout written all over it. That means Chiefs RBs Jamaal Charles and Thomas Jones can both be used.

I've doubted the Bears all seasn long, but at 8-3, it's time to believe. That includes today against the Lions, who will start Drew Stanton at QB. I've got the Bears' defense as one of the five best to start today.

With Ronnie Brown coming off season highs in carries and yards, I'd ride that momentum and start the Dolphins RB against the Browns.

I expect the Bengals to fall behind big to the Saints, which might give Cincinnati receivers Terrell Owens, Chad Ochocinco and Jordan Shipley a chance to put up garbage-time yards.

It's tough to gamble on WR Malcom Floyd for the Chargers since they don't kick off until 4 p.m., but it might be worth it. Philip Rivers will find anyone, so with Vincent Jackson out, Floyd should have a chance to put up No. 1 receiver targets.

It seems crazy to suggest starting a rookie QB in fantasy, but the Rams' Sam Bradford has an attractive matchup with the Cardinals, who are coming off a short week and looked terrible Monday night against the 49ers.

My second sleeper option at RB this week is Dallas' Tashard Choice. Colts-Cowboys also has shootout written all over it, and Dallas starter Felix Jones has been pretty disappointing this season.

Seahawks-Panthers won't draw in the viewers, but Carolina RBs Jonathan Stewart and Mike Goodson are both good starts. I like Goodson more, but Stewart will steal some carries.

Good luck in Week 13!

---Jay Skurski

http://twitter.com/jayskurski

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