by Jeff West
December 23, 2004
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    This weekly article will discuss those players “Heading North” (fantasy value is rising), “Going South” (fantasy value is falling), or “East-West” (fantasy value is still undetermined, but worth watching).

    Billy Volek was the player I tabbed as "Heading North" last week and he did everything he possibly could to try to knock my fantasy team out of the playoffs.  He threw for 492 yards and four TDs.  As if that was not enough, he ran for a TD as well.  Volek has shown that he can throw a nice ball and makes good decisions.  He has had only one bad game so far this season and appears to be ready to take over for Steve McNair should he decide to hang it up in the off-season.

    I accurately predicted that William Green's stats would take a nosedive against a solid Charger defense.  He finished with 17 yards on five carries.  Making matters even worse was that Lee Suggs returned and busted out for a hundred yards on only 21 carries.  William Green's playing days in Cleveland could be nearing an end as his only supporter, Butch Davis, is now gone.

   Finally, the player I said to keep an eye on disappointed his owners once again.  Alge Crumpler faced the Panthers and came away with only three catches for 38 yards and a lost fumble.  Not only was his performance abysmal, he got hurt in the game and could be held out of this weekend's game against the Saints.

Heading North

    Things are lining up nicely for rookie WR Lee Evans.  His Bills have made a nice push for a playoff berth.  His QB has regained some confidence throwing the ball and the offensive line is playing fairly well.  The Bills offense has been scoring at an impressive clip during their five-game winning streak, averaging more than 37 points a game.  Eric Moulds is on pace to break 1000 receiving yards once again.  Evans has emerged as a nice complement to Moulds and has scored at least once in each of his last four games and eclipsed 100 yards twice during that same stretch.  Now he faces a weak San Francisco secondary and will be counted on even more as Buffalo will likely be without the services of RB Willis McGahee.  He could be set to have 100 yards and a score again this weekend.

Going South

    It's really time for Marshall Faulk to start thinking about retirement.  He can't stay healthy for very long, and when he is able to play, he doesn't produce the way he used to.  Of course some of this is directly attributable to the playcalling of head coach Mike Martz, but over the past three games that Faulk has played in, he is averaging just over one yard a carry and does not have a rushing TD.  This week he faces an Eagles defense that will be blitzing heavily and his knowledge of the blocking schemes will ensure him playing time (which is why Steven Jackson did not get a carry against the blitzing Cardinal defense).  However, the Eagles have been keeping RBs in check and keeping them out of the endzone with regularity.  Keep Faulk on your bench this week.

East-West

    Jake Plummer has become an enigma.  He has a solid offensive line to work behind, a productive rushing game (no matter who is doing the running), and quality wideouts.  Yet over the past three games, Plummer has thrown only one TD pass and eight INTs.  He is largely responsible for the meltdown in Denver, where he has taken a 7-3 team and turned them into an 8-6 team struggling to stay in the playoff hunt.  In week sixteen he faces a Tennessee defense which is as injured as any I can remember in recent history.  The Titan defense has allowed 1040 passing yards and 11 passing TDs in the past three games.  This is a week where it may be prudent to give Jake a shot.  His team desperately needs a win and Tennessee could be just the defense to oblige.

Misdirection

    The Miami Dolphins have already begun interviewing possible head coaching candidates.  At the top of their list is perennially coveted LSU head coach, Nick Saban.  For the first time in years, it actually appears that Saban may make the jump to the NFL.  This is where we need to discuss the Rooney Rule.  Each team is mandated to interview at least one minority candidate or face a hefty fine.  The Dolphins invited U of Miami defensive coordinator, Randy Shannon, in for an interview, but Shannon declined the interview, saying it would be a waste of time.  Shannon realizes that he was only a token invitee.  When is Art Shell going to catch on?  Art Shell offered himself up as the token minority, allowing the Dolphins to proceed with the process and hire Saban even more quickly.  Shell is a smart man, but he needs to realize that he is not serving himself, or other minority candidates well by taking part in the Dolphins interview.

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