Junk time counts
By Jesse Pantuosco, Fantasy Sports Writer
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - If A&E needs any help coming up with an idea for a new reality show, let me know, because I'm ready to lend a helping hand.
Here's my idea. It's called "Junk Time Heroes." It sounds like a ripoff of "Storage Wars," but, trust me, it's not.
Let me explain.
First, let's rewind to Week 1's game between the Washington Redskins and the New Orleans Saints. With a little under 11 minutes to play, Billy Cundiff booted a 45-yarder through the up-rights to put the 'Skins ahead, 33-17.
Game over, right?
Not even close. Drew Brees' afternoon was just getting started. Down by two scores and with the clock ticking away, I knew the Saints would be forced to throw the ball deep in order to preserve time.
New Orleans still lost the game, 40-32, but Brees salvaged an ordinary fantasy day by producing 147 yards and two touchdowns over the final 10 minutes of play.
This flood of fourth-quarter fantasy eventfulness happens every week. Sometimes it's better to own a quarterback on a losing team for this very reason.
ESPN's Matthew Berry commented last week that "Junk time counts in fantasy." I'm not sure truer words have ever been spoken.
Who do you want on your team, a guy who just kneels it down in the fourth quarter because his team is always ahead or somebody who has to throw the ball in the second half to keep his team above water? The choice is yours.
There's always a little risk involved with these champions of garbage time because, well, if they had played better in the first three quarters, they might not be in this position. But if you're feeling bold, here are a few players you might consider acquiring:
Matt Cassel, QB, Kansas City Chiefs: Here is a rare case when quantity really can outweigh quality. Cassel has been chucking it up like a mad man in the fourth quarter lately, completing just 53.8 percent of his passes for a 76.3 quarterback rating. But because the Chiefs are almost always behind at that point in the game, that's also when Cassel has been most productive. Three of Cassel's five touchdowns have come in the fourth, with all three of them going to All-Pro wideout Dwayne Bowe. Overall, Cassel has thrown for 326 fourth- quarter yards, the most he's thrown for in any quarter this season.
Brian Hartline, WR, Miami Dolphins: Hartline caught 12 balls for 253 yards Sunday in a loss to Arizona with 143 of those yards coming after halftime. The Dolphins haven't finished above .500 in their last three seasons and I don't think a winning season is on the horizon anytime soon. But that doesn't mean they won't try to make it a close game in the fourth quarter. Look for Hartline to continue to see a ton of garbage time targets in the coming weeks.
Vincent Jackson, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Though Jackson hasn't scored any touchdowns in the fourth quarter this season, more than 42 percent of his receiving yardage has come in that quarter including 76 yards last week in a loss to Washington. Considering he's the only receiver quarterback Josh Freeman really has any semblance of chemistry with, it's safe to assume this trend will continue throughout the season.
Eli Manning, QB, New York Giants: Manning's dominance in the fourth quarter has been well-documented over the past couple of seasons. In 2012, four of Manning's seven touchdowns have come in the fourth along with 410 of his league-leading 1,320 passing yards. We're not sure why Eli waits so long to get going every week but in the fourth quarter, there are few better than the two- time Super Bowl MVP.
Lance Moore, WR, New Orleans Saints: Remember that game I was talking about earlier between the Saints and the Redskins? Lance Moore had 120 receiving yards in that game, all of which came during the contest's final 15 minutes. As of now, Moore is on pace to surpass 1,000 yards receiving for the first time in his career. Another tough matchup against San Diego on Sunday could force New Orleans to look deep late in the game, so don't be surprised if Moore has a big Week 5 for the winless Saints.
Matthew Stafford, QB, Detroit Lions: Have you ever seen the "South Park" episode when the cops are waiting for Cartman at Casa Bonita and he tries to pack in as many activities as he can before they arrest him? That's kind of what the fourth quarter is like for Matthew Stafford. After snoozing through the first 45 minutes of play, each week Stafford tries to reward his fantasy owners by piling up as many stats as he can before the game's final whistle. This season, an astounding 527 of Stafford's 1,182 yards have been recorded with under 15 minutes to go. Stafford's partner in crime, Calvin Johnson, has been just as devastating during the game's final minutes. Nearly 45 percent of Johnson's total yards this season have come during the fourth quarter or overtime.
Michael Turner, RB, Atlanta Falcons: Turner is on this list for an entirely different reason than the other six players I just named. While Cassel and Stafford have been scrambling to try and get back into the game, the undefeated Falcons have been living on easy street. Instead of risking an incompletion that might stop the clock, Atlanta has opted to speed up the game by handing the ball off to their 250-pound running back. That's why more than 48 percent of the yards Turner has eaten up on the ground this season have come during the last quarter of play. As long as the Falcons keep blowing out their opponents, Turner should be able to pad his stats every week with a heavy workload in the fourth quarter.
My show would probably get canceled after the first season, but, remember, the junk-time element will always be a part of fantasy, so never discount a player simply because he plays on a bad team. Also, don't put too much stock in receivers and quarterbacks who play on excellent teams because they might not get many reps after they get out to a big lead.
10/01 17:00:49 ET