This post is sponsored by Head & Shoulders
Week 12 of the fantasy football season is upon us, and playoff contenders everywhere are making final preparations at a last-minute playoff push. The time for adding starters has mostly passed, but there's one quarterback on a hot streak that might be ready to lead your team to post-season glory.
Chiefs QB Matt Cassel. If you're in a thin league (eight or ten teams) in which Cassel has remained on the waiver wire this long, pounce - he's primed for a very strong close to the regular season. Cassel and Dwayne Bowe are clicking on all cylinders in recent weeks, with the QB throwing 14 touchdown passes (to just one interception) in the Chiefs' last six games. He has a favorable Week 12 matchup against the league's worst first-place team, Seattle, and faces St. Louis and Tennessee in the latter stages of the regular season, when the fantasy playoffs are coming to a close. If you don't own Cassel, get him; if you own Cassel, start him.
Saints RB Chris Ivory. Injuries to Pierre Thomas and Reggie Bush have left New Orleans' backfield rather muddled, with Ivory and Ladell Betts basically switching weekly which of the two will be the more productive back. Betts is now dinged up himself, however, and even though Bush is set to return to the lineup, Thomas is not - so look for Ivory to continue to see a significant amount of work for the foreseeable future. He rushed 23 times for 99 yards and a touchdown in Week 11.
Redskins RB James Davis. Davis is the third Redskins running back to appear in this column this season, which speaks to the value running backs - any (healthy) backs - have in Mike Shanahan's offensive system. Clinton Portis and Ryan Torain remain beat up, which means that Keiland Williams (who appeared in this column last week) is in line for feature-back work. Davis is now on the active roster, moving up from the practice squad, and is the type of one-cut back that excels in this system. If Williams - who is also prone to injury - goes down, Davis is next in line. Keep an eye squarely on this former Clemson star.
Giants WR Mario Manningham. The Giants' passing offense is something of a mess right now with both Hakeem Nicks and Steve Smith out of the lineup. While the Giants continue to shuffle parts looking for complementary weapons in the passing game, Manningham will be Eli Manning's go-to target for the next week or two, at minimum. Manningham has been a fairly consistent producer this season, but his production has also been low enough where he may be floating on a few waiver wires out there. Nab him if you can.
Vikings WR Sidney Rice. In making his season debut on Sunday, Rice was not eased back into the lineup as expected. Instead, he played virtually the entire game, catching three passes for 56 yards in Minnesota's blowout loss to Green Bay. Sure, the Vikings are a mess as an organization right now, with Brett Favre's status as the NFL's elite turnover machine crippling the fantasy numbers of many of his teammates. Rice, however, still has nice rapport with Favre, and could be in line for some big numbers as the Vikes milk every last ounce of Favre they can get before he calls it a career.
Colts WR Blair White. White's fantasy relevance hinges entirely on the availability of Austin Collie, one of the league's premier slot receivers. Collie left the Colts' Week 12 game in New England with an undisclosed injury, though most observers believe it's a recurrence of the concussion he suffered in Philadelphia. With Collie out of the lineup, White hauled in five catches for 42 yards, including two scores within a three-minute window. He has nice chemistry with Peyton Manning (few receivers don't), and is a viable play so long as Collie remains injured.