The Free Press, Mankato, MN

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November 12, 2012

Fantasy Football Notebook: Time to bolster your bench before the playoffs

— It’s getting to be that point in the season where owners need to start thinking about setting their playoff roster (assuming, of course, you’re still in the hunt).

That means you need to start cutting loose those longshots you’ve been stashing away and replace them with viable backups who might actually help if your starter goes down.

On the quarterback front, two players to consider picking up are Seattle’s Russell Wilson and Philadelphia’s Nick Foles.

Wilson has probably been picked up and dropped a number of times in your league and it’s time he stuck on a roster. He’s not going to be much help in terms of yardage but he’s thrown for multiple touchdowns in four of his last five games. Considering what else might be available, that isn’t bad.

Foles was inserted into the Eagles’ lineup after Michael Vick left the game with a concussion. He finished 22 of 32 for 219 yards and a touchdown but also had two turnovers returned for touchdowns. If head coach Andy Reid decides to name him the starter the rest of the way, he has plenty of upside.

There really isn’t much available in terms of running back. Detroit’s Joique Bell, Green Bay’s James Starks and New Orleans’ two-headed conglomerate of Mark Ingram-Chris Ivory are all too inconsistent to be relied upon.

Bell is probably the safest acquisition of the four simply because quarterback Matt Stafford likes to throw to him and because the starter in front of him, Mikel Leshoure, hasn’t being doing much except for his three-touchdown performance in Week 9.

If you need help at wideout, Jacksonville’s Cecil Shorts may have the most value left on the wire. Rookie Justin Blackmon simply isn’t getting it done and Laurent Robinson hasn’t been a factor either. Shorts gets targeted a lot and has had two 100-yards games in the last four weeks.

Oakland’s Darrius Heyward-Bey also seems to be coming on. With the Raiders’ running game struggling, DHB has been able to grab 15 passes for 273 yards and two touchdowns over the last four weeks.

San Diego’s Danario Alexander flashed big time on Sunday, catching five balls for 134 yards and a score. It’s likely a fluke but quarterback Phillip Rivers doesn’t have many other options so he’s worth a gamble if you need help.

A quick word on kickers. If you haven’t checked on them lately, both Tennessee’s Rob Birnonas and Miami’s Dan Carpenter, have been scoring a decent amount of points last the few weeks.

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