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Fantasy playoff Grinches

Some making it a not-so-wonderful time of the year

FANTA CLAUS doesn't enjoy doing this, but there are a lot of little boys who are getting coal in their stockings.

Obviously, there is plenty of blame to be spread around when players face-plant on the field and ruin the visions of fantasy championships that have been dancing in our eyes like sugarplums.

It could be the offensive coordinator, the head coach, the other team's defense, or - in the case of Demaryius Thomas - the unidentified teammate who stepped on his ankle in a practice leading up to a Week 14 game against the Bills. Thomas had two catches for 11 yards. Fantasy players had termites in their smiles.

Peyton Manning has landed on the naughty list, too. After being so nice all year, Manning has stumbled during the fantasy playoffs with just three passing touchdowns total in the last three games and an average of 195 yards. He had at least three TDs in eight of his first 11 games.

Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers sure picked a bad time to put up just 185 yards and no TDs in a Week 15 upset to Buffalo.

LeSean McCoy can share his toadstool sandwich with his head coach after watching Chris Polk vulture two of his touchdowns last Sunday night and Darren Sproles get another. When McCoy scored those 20 TDs in 2011, Chip Kelly was not his coach.

Saints tight end Jimmy Graham has made many of us feel like seasick crocodiles lately. He saw no targets in Week 13 and had three catches for a measly 25 yards in Week 14. He was a little more productive last week with 5-87, but we watched in horror as backup Josh Hill caught two red-zone touchdowns. Who the heck is Josh Hill? Stink. Stank. Stunk.

Thought you had something when New England's Jonas Gray ran for 201 yards and four TDs in Week 11, didn't you? He's had 75 yards and zero scores since, and didn't get off the bench in Week 12 after he missed a practice.

Usually at this time of year, a dominant team has wrapped up home-field advantage and is easing up on the gas pedal. That sort of calamity isn't infecting the fantasy world. But good, old-fashioned poor play is, and it's making for a blue Christmas.


San Diego's Antonio Gates needs 15 yards to become the fourth tight end to reach 10,000. Name the other three.

Murray's stakes

DeMarco Murray's broken left hand couldn't have come at a worse time, but Fanta Claus does not hand out coal when injuries are involved.

Murray was limited in practiced again yesterday and it sure looks like he's going to play despite having surgery on Monday.

"I'm a very competitive person and I want to help this team out as much I can, so whatever that [means for] me doing Sunday, then we'll see," Murray told ESPN Dallas. "But I've had 2 good days and we'll see how it goes."

Joseph Randle and Lance Dunbar, in that order, are warming up in the bullpen.

The most extensive play Randle has gotten in his two seasons was a 19-65-0 last year in a win over the Eagles. Dunbar projects as merely a third-down back.

This Sunday, the Cowboys are playing the Colts, who have allowed just one rushing TD to opposing running backs in the last 4 weeks.


The three tight ends with 10,000 career receiving yards are Tony Gonzalez (15,127), Jason Witten (10,363) and Shannon Sharpe (10,060). Antonio Gates (9,985) is poised to join them.

Ed Barkowitz, whose Christmas wish list includes peace on earth and four touchdown passes from Peyton Manning, has been writing about fantasy football in the Daily News since 2001.