A recipe for success: Working the wire

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Every year, he shows up on draft day with a thick stack of rankings, notes and $8 preseason preview magazines.

He drafts at least one player you've never heard of, just to show how much he knows.

Best of all, he makes transactions at a dizzying rate, dropping players on a bye-week whim, picking up every long-shot sleeper of the week he can get his hands on.

Maybe there's someone like this in your league. Maybe it's you.

My league has one. His name is Kurt, and he manages a formidable first-place fantasy squad called 'No Spin Zone.'

Now, No Spin has had its ups and downs over the years. Kurt once famously selected three tight ends in the first six rounds of a draft. They were the best players available, he reasoned.

But this year, No Spin can do no wrong. First, Kurt drafted Daunte Culpepper, Terrell Owens and Tony Gonzalez. (Darius Watts and Ron Dayne, too, but I'll let those slide.)

Then, he did what he does best – he worked the waiver wire like it's his second job. Or his first.

The results speak for themselves. Last week, No Spin buried my sinking squad with a lineup that included running backs Michael Pittman, Reuben Droughns and Derrick Blaylock. All three were plucked off waivers earlier in the season while I, apparently, was stubbornly sticking with Travis Henry.

Other shrewd selections (all of whom were later dropped) include Drew Brees, Ben Roethlisberger, Willis McGahee, Nate Burleson, Michael Clayton and Dallas Clark.

Point is, a good draft is only the start. Of the top 50 players in this year's fantasy rankings, roughly a quarter of them went undrafted in most leagues. And Week 12 features a rare three-pack of RBs that would fit nicely into just about any starting lineup – Chester Taylor, Julius Jones and Nick Goings.

This is probably your last chance to add a useful player this season, so get to it. Then get yourself some turkey and settle in for a long, lazy afternoon of family and football.

Quick hitters

  • Call it the year of the … tight end? With his three TD catches against St. Louis, Buffalo's Mark Campbell became the first tight end to make the weekly top five. He was one of 13 TEs to catch at least one TD pass last week – and Kansas City's Gonzalez wasn't one of them.

    The depth of talent at the TE position has been one of the surprises of this season. Used to be that if you didn't get Gonzalez or Todd Heap, you could write the position off. No more. Campbell is one of nine tight ends with at least five touchdowns this season. There were two all of last year.

    Joining Marky Mark in last week's top-five Funky Bunch were mainstays Peyton Manning and Donovan McNabb, newcomer Goings and Campbell's partner in passing, QB Drew Bledsoe.

  • The NFL serves up a Turkey Day fantasy feast with the Colts-Lions early in the day, giving a national audience a chance to watch Manning continue his pursuit of Dan Marino's TD record. Manning has thrown 18 touchdowns in his last four games, and there's no reason to think he'll slow down this week against Detroit's 24th-ranked defense. The Colts offense features six must-start fantasy performers, so plenty of fans will watch this one with interest.

    For Detroit, rookie Roy Williams has slipped to 26th in the fantasy WR rankings following a fast start, but another rookie, RB Kevin Jones, is on the rise. Jones piled up 100 yards on 19 carries in Week 11, becoming the first Lion to crack the 100-yard mark this season and the second in two years (Shawn Bryson ran for 105 in Week 15 last year). He could make it two straight against the Colts.

    Later in the day, check out Dallas rookies Julius Jones and Drew Henson and … ah, forget it. It's Cowboys-Bears. Just sit back and let the tryptophan do its thing.

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