Thomas Casale
The Fire Sale - Week 12

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I was getting ready to write my column this week and I told my 2-year old son that we had to get ready to put him to bed because I had to begin writing The Fire Sale. He replied, “The Fire Sale? No! Don’t write The Fire Sale. The Fire Sale stinks.”

After 14 years it took a 2-year old to sum it up perfectly.

Now, on with The Fire Sale…

Going Up


E.J. Manuel, QB Buffalo – I was critical of the Bills drafting Manuel in Round 1 because I thought he had a long ways to go based on what I saw from him in college but I couldn’t be more impressed by what he and Doug Marrone have done in Buffalo this year.

Last week, Manuel was without starting receivers
Stevie Johnson and Robert Woods . Playing with Marquise Goodwin and T.J. Graham , Manuel still threw for 245 yards and two touchdowns against a tough Jets defense. Since the preseason, Manuel has displayed a calm demeanor in the pocket and control of the offense.
 
Manuel has been a solid QB2 for most of the year but I really like him in Buffalo’s emerging offense for next season. The Bills have a couple of young, promising receivers in Woods and Goodwin. They should also add a couple of more pieces this offseason to help Manuel.

I’m also a big fan of Marrone. After reviving a morbid Syracuse program, Marrone deserves a ton of credit for the job he’s done in his first season with the Bills. Despite starting 10 different quarterbacks, losing both starting receivers, having his top two running backs hurt, the Bills have been in virtually every game this year.

Whenever a team is poorly coached you always hear the injury excuse, but Marrone and Buffalo are a great example of how a good coach can overcome injuries and still field a competitive team every week. I like both Manuel and this Bills’ offense a lot for 2014.
 
Donald Brown , RB Indianapolis – It turns out the Colts’ coaching staff has something Trent Richardson doesn’t: vision.

While Chuck Pagano and Pep Hamilton continue to publicly make excuses for Richardson constantly running up the backs of his offensive linemen, Brown finally got more touches last week and responded with 94 total yards and two touchdowns. Brown averaged 5.7 yards per carry, while Richardson averaged 2.8 yards per carry. Although to be fair, that’s actually a good game for Richardson.
 
People think Richardson is having a bad season. I disagree. I just think he stinks. Richardson has now played in 25 NFL games. He’s gone over 60 yards rushing seven times. He’s averaged less than 3.0 yards per carry in a game 12 times, or if you’re bad at math, half of his NFL starts. He’s played on two different teams. Now if you’re blaming all that on his offensive line, you’re either related to
Trent Richardson or you have some kind of weird crush on him.
 
The Colts can defend their awful trade all they want, but they got themselves a lemon. Richardson is living off a few good games in his rookie season, but since last Thanksgiving he’s been one of the worst running backs in the NFL. If the Colts are serious about winning, Brown will be the guy going forward. If they want someone to do an impression of Curtis Enis, they’ll give the ball to Richardson.
 
Miles Austin , WR Dallas – Austin has been a non-factor since Week 1. Rookie Terrance Williams has stepped up while Austin has been out with a hamstring injury but things could turn around over the next month.

I have no long-term use for Austin. I have my own personal theory as to why his body is breaking down. However, in this case fantasy owners are only looking for Austin to contribute for a couple of games and you can get him at a good price. Austin is on the waiver wire in 70 percent of leagues right now. He was cut in most leagues and a lot of people think when Austin comes back he’ll be behind Williams for targets. I’m not one of those people.
 
I own Williams, and while he’s played well overall, he’s starting to hit a rookie wall. He’s been plagued by drops and mental lapses over the last couple of games. Plus,
Tony Romo loves Austin. There’s no substituting chemistry and Romo and Austin have it. If Austin can stay healthy, he’s going to have a pretty big role in Dallas’ offense over the final month of the season.

Now, there’s always the chance Austin plays one game and goes on injured reserve but I’m not suggesting you sell your soul to get him. I actually got Austin in two of my leagues for basically nothing, so there was no risk involved for me. If you can get Austin on the cheap and a couple of things break right, you might have a WR3 come playoff time. If he gets hurt again, cut him and move on.

Jerricho Cotchery , WR Pittsburgh – I wasn’t huge on chasing Cotchery’s touchdown streak but now with Emmanuel Sanders hurt, his fantasy value could go up.
 
Cotchery has scored five touchdowns in the last three games, but if Sanders’ foot injury is serious, Cotchery would move into a starting role. The Steelers have to throw it a ton because they simply can’t run the football consistently and their defense is vastly overrated.

Antonio Brown is a target and reception monster but Cotchery would be a nice flex play option if Sanders is out. Cotchery is still available in 50 percent of leagues and he’s a top waiver wire recommendation of Advanced Sports Logic’s The Machine software. This is a good week to add him if you need help at receiver.



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