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Upsets rule fantasy, reality

Chicago Bears running back Kahlil Bell reacts after catching touchdown pass second quarter give Bears 14-7 lead over Seattle Seahawks.

Chicago Bears running back Kahlil Bell reacts after catching a touchdown pass in the second quarter to give the Bears a 14-7 lead over the Seattle Seahawks. The Bears went on to lose the game 38-14 Sunday December 18, 2011 at Soldier Field. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times

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Updated: January 21, 2012 8:14AM



Upsets made headlines across the NFL this past week. So it should come as no surprise that several top-seeded fantasy teams were sent packing, as well.

Who could have imagined that the lowly Chiefs would spoil the Packers’ march to perfection? Even more inconceivable was a scoreless first half performance by Aaron Rodgers and the most prolific offense in the NFL.

Rodgers managed to finish with respectable fantasy numbers, but Drew Brees, Matthew Stafford, Tom Brady and Tony Romo put him to shame when it counted most.

Remarkably, three of the top seeds in my four leagues went down to defeat, thanks to uncharacteristically pedestrian performances from such stalwarts as Rodgers, Eli Manning, Wes Welker, Percy Harvin, Jordy Nelson, Rob Gronkowski and Antonio Gates. Greg Jennings’ absence hurt, too.

Hey, even the Colts had to win some time, right?

If your fantasy season ended sooner than expected, I feel your pain. Over the years, I’ve steamrolled into the playoffs with a seemingly indestructible team, only to watch in vain as my studs wilted.

For every Calvin Johnson owner exulting in his receiver’s overpowering performance against the Raiders, there’s another owner wondering why Megatron had to break out of his mini-slump then. We’ve all been there, buddy.

Ultimate success in Fantasyland rarely comes by accident. But just as rarely is it achieved without a dollop of luck along the way.

Losers, keep your chin up. Momma said there’d be days like this. Winners, don’t get too cocky. Things change quickly around here.

Free-agent picks and pans

Now that the fantasy postseason is upon us, your starting lineup should be fairly settled. But a little tweaking here or there, if only to keep your competition from improving, might be needed. Here’s a look at players who could help in the final weeks and players who won’t.

Catch ’em while you can

QB Matt Moore, Dolphins: I can’t imagine a scenario in which a title-contending fantasy team would need to resort to a flier at quarterback. But if you’re the rare exception, Moore is your man. Not only did he fare well in the snowy conditions of Buffalo on Sunday, he’ll face the ragtag Patriots secondary next.

TE Brent Celek, Eagles: His career-best game (156 yards, touchdown) came against a solid Jets secondary and included receptions of 13, 26, 38 and 73 yards. Now that Michael Vick is reasonably healthy, Celek is a viable receiving option, especially if DeSean Jackson’s elbow injury limits his time.

Don’t be fooled

RB Kahlil Bell, Bears: It’s little surprise that after Marion Barber’s costly mistakes in Week 14 and his modest production Sunday against the Seahawks, Bell was given a chance to shine. The second-year back took advantage, but only if you were banking on Barber should Bell even be a consideration.

RB Donald Brown, Colts: If you have to own a Colts running back, Brown is the guy you want. Fortunately, nobody’s forcing you to own one. His 80-yard touchdown run against the Titans was a thing of beauty. But the highlights for this offense, and the running game in particular, are few and far between.

WR Greg Little, Browns: The rookie flashed some promise earlier in the season, but his size and talent have been mostly squandered in the Browns’ moribund offense. He broke loose on a 76-yard touchdown catch against the Cardinals, which gave him a career-high 131-yard, one-touchdown game. Keep him on your radar for next season.

Ladd Biro was voted the 2010 Football Writer of the Year by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association. Follow all his advice at the Fantasy Fools blog (fantasy-fools.blogspot.com), on Facebook and via Twitter (@ladd_biro).



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