Fantasy
A Week for Wild Cards

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - While fantasy players everywhere expected Drew Brees to perform well, and he did (404 passing yards, two touchdowns), three names that came up big for fantasy players, well beyond expectations, were Matt Hasselbeck, Marshawn Lynch and James Starks.

Hasselbeck was spectacular in posting 25 fantasy points, one more than Brees. Considering how cheaply you could have obtained his services, he was the No.1 bargain of Wild Card Weekend.

The Seahawks' quarterback had already exceeded his game expectations at halftime, having thrown for 168 yards and three touchdown. That first 30 minutes was worth 17 points and those fantasy owners who started him were already satisfied. The fourth touchdown pass was just icing on the cake.

Meanwhile, Lynch was having a pedestrian day, just 30 yards on seven carries in the first half, but one play changed all that.

With Seattle holding a four-point edge and trying to run out the clock, Lynch put together a run that will define his career. On a 2nd-and-10 play at his own 33-yard line, Lynch blasted through the line and cut towards the sideline. Shaking off at least six defenders, he rumbled into the end zone to extinguish any hopes the Saints had of making a comeback.

"The line did a great job of getting me to the secondary and I think instincts just took over from there," said Lynch.

For fantasy owners, it turned an average day into a great one. At the time, Lynch had just 57 yards on 16 carries worth five points. After his amazing 67- yard run, his day was worth 26 points. He added another seven yards on two carries in the final series and finished the day with 27 points.

Finally, there was the Starks performance, coming in the last game of the weekend. Not many could see this one coming. The Green Bay Packers didn't run the ball well all season and struggled to even identify which back would give them the best opportunities. Brandon Jackson was the team's starter, John Kuhn the team's goal line runner and a decent receiver out of the backfield. And then there was Starks.

Because of injuries and lack of practice time, Starks had only appeared in three regular season games - Week 13, 14 and 17. He showed some ability in the Week 13 game against San Francisco, rushing for 73 yards on 18 carries and became a popular waiver wire pickup heading into Week 14. But a six-carry, eight-yard day, quickly sent him back to the fantasy unemployed where he stayed for the remainder of the season.

However, late Sunday afternoon Starks became an integral part of the Green Bay offense, taking the pressure off of quarterback Aaron Rodgers and making the play-action passes work.

And he would never have gotten the opportunity had he not run for 27 yards the first time he touched the ball. You have to give credit to coach Mike McCarthy, who obviously recognized his value on this day, and changed the gameplan to fit what was working.

Starks finished with a season-high 23 carries for 123 yards. He also caught two balls for nine yards and was worth 16 fantasy points. Not bad for a guy who carried the ball just 29 times all season.

Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Steve Schwarz at sschwarz@sportsnetwork.com.