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Quick story before we get into this week's picks
When I was a young boy, growing up on the rough streets of Syracuse, N.Y., I was offered up as a volunteer for myriad charity events by my parents. Leukemia Society, Coaches vs. Cancer, Ernie Davis Foundation if there was a charity, I was volunteered for it. And it ended up being a lot of fun -- I went home feeling good about helping out, and I usually got to meet Qadry Ismail or Paul Pasqualoni. Because I like to keep that good feeling alive, and since ESPN legal frowns on me giving away R-rated movies as ways of paying up on open Ashley Lelie challenges, I am going to do this:
In honor of Jimmy V. Week, for every Hail Mary choice in which I am "off," I will donate $5 to the foundation. The off-ness of a call will be determined by one of my esteemed colleagues here, and I'll donate it all in the name of Ashley Lelie. If any readers want to do the same, please feel free.
So, without further ado, this week's Hail Mary:
• Peyton Manning, QB, Colts
• Anthony Gonzalez, WR, Colts
Yes, it is Week 13, and yes, the playoffs are near, but Gonzalez would be a strong addition to any team at any time in this situation, regardless of where we are in the season.
• Samkon Gado, RB, Dolphins
• Reggie Williams, WR, Jaguars
Williams has been an absolute bust in his NFL career, but he seems to have a knack for finding the end zone lately for his fantasy owners. Over the past two games, Williams had a total of three catches, but has managed a whopping 23 fantasy points. If you want to go back to that third game (which I was blatantly leaving out to make the numbers look better), he has four catches for a total of 24 points. That's still eight points per game. And four games back? Williams blew up in Week 9 to the tune of six catches for 128 yards and 18 points. Care to be awed by another point average? He has 10.5 points per game over his past four games. All he has to do is catch one long touchdown pass -- which he has done frequently these past few weeks -- and it's a fantasy diamond in the rough for owners looking to throw caution to the wind and gamble on a violently unpredictable WR.
• Cecil Sapp, RB, Broncos
Even if Sapp doesn't get the start, he stands to gain some serious yardage, whether it be through providing fresh legs, entering the game as an injury replacement, or getting the random start. And if it ends up being a bit of a blowout, Sapp could stand to gain his yards -- and remember, this is a worst-case scenario -- in garbage time.
• Mike Furrey, WR, and Sean McHugh, TE, Lions
• Tarvaris Jackson, QB, and Visanthe Shiancoe, TE, Vikings
1. Mike Furrey: He's been eerily quiet all season, and got goose-egged in Week 12 against Green Bay. With Roy Williams and Calvin Johnson probably getting the most attention from the secondary, Furrey could find himself open more often than not against the weak Minnesota pass defense.
2. Sean McHugh: McHugh is owned by 0.0 percent of owners in ESPN leagues, and for good reason: he's not very good, fantasy-wise. But he's still the No. 1 tight end in Detroit, he had 27 yards off three catches when the two teams tangled in Week 2, and, well, Minnesota gives up 283 passing yards per game. It's time for McHugh to shine.
3. Just so we're clear, I did not include Sean McHugh in order to be sure I'd be donating money to the Jimmy V Foundation.
4. Tarvaris Jackson: Not only has Detroit given up 22 passing touchdowns, they also are the second-worst pass defense in the NFL, allowing 269 passing yards per game. If Tavaris is going to forget about the four interceptions he threw the first time he faced the Lions, and build on the momentum from the Giants game (where he ably played the role of "the QB who wasn't Eli Manning"), this would be the week to do it.
5. Visanthe Shiancoe: Two weeks removed from a 94-yard performance (granted, 79 of those yards came from Sidney Rice on a trick play), Shiancoe has been dangerously close to a breakout season, but has been thrown to erratically, and isn't exactly Jackson's favorite target. Still, in those short-yardage situations, he'll have no better chance of scoring than against Detroit.
Adam Vinatieri's great-great grandfather, Felix Vinatieri, was an Italian immigrant who served under General Custer. You can find this, and other great trivia, on Adam's IMDB page.
Adam Vinatieri has more listings on his IMDB page over the past five years than Chris Tucker.
Week 12: Ashley Lelie battled through injury to catch zero passes for zero yards.
14,900: Googling "Ashely Lelie" and "Adam Vinatieri"
1: Googling "Ashley Lelie" and "George Custer"
0: Googling "Ashley Lelie" and "Jade Scipioni" (former St. John's basketball player)
277: Googling "Ashley Lelie" and "heroic"
282: Googling "Ashely Lelie" and "fart"
Nando Di Fino is a fantasy baseball and football analyst for ESPN.com.