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Spiller's wheels find traction at last

If anything supports the theory that fantasy football can be wildly volatile, it's this: C.J. Spiller led all running backs in points last week.

Yes, the same C.J. Spiller who couldn't get on the field in front of Fred Jackson early in the year and was shaping up as another first-round bust for the Buffalo Bills could be the player who swings the championship in your league.

Those who failed to have the second-year running back in the lineup for last week's 167-yard (rushing and receiving), two-touchdown performance are not alone. Spiller was started in just 30 percent of Yahoo! leagues.

He did enough to earn your trust this weekend. His 24-yard touchdown against the Dolphins was actually the longest run of the season given up by Miami, which entered the game ranked third in the NFL against the run (allowing just 3.5 yards per rush).

Spiller's assignment against the Denver Broncos in Week 16 is more favorable. Denver gives up 125 yards per game on the ground, and doesn't race out to many big leads. That means (hopefully) Bills coach Chan Gailey won't be so quick to give up on the run. Last week against Miami, for example, the Bills run-pass balance was 19 to 47.

Gailey might be Spiller's biggest enemy when it comes to fantasy production. The coach has made it clear he doesn't want to burden Spiller with much more than 20 touches per game, but I suspect if Spiller gets into a groove this week, Gailey will roll with it.

Before we get to some other player options for championship week, a reminder: The bulk of the games this week are Saturday. If the 49ers somehow lose to the Seahawks on Saturday, that wraps up a No. 1 seed for the Green Bay Packers, who host Chicago on Christmas night.

Aaron Rodgers probably still start for the Packers in that scenario, but there would be no reason for him to play the entire game. It's at least something to think about as you set your lineup, even if Rodgers for a half is still one of the best fantasy options out there.

Some other players to consider:

*Jonathan Stewart, RB, Carolina: With 395 receiving yards on the season, he's now the franchise's all-time leader among running backs in the category. That gives Stewart added appeal, since he'll still split carries with DeAngelo Williams. Both running backs should be in for a big day against a Tampa Bay defense that is giving up 4.8 yards per carry, 173 total yards and 1.4 touchdowns per game to RBs.

*Kyle Orton, QB, Kansas City: It hasn't taken Orton long to get comfortable in the Chiefs' offense. He didn't make any mistakes in last week's shocking upset of the Packers and also spread the ball around nicely, completing passes of 10-plus yards to eight different receivers. Orton faces the Raiders, who are shaky at cornerback. Oakland has allowed 12 quarterbacks to eclipse the 20-point mark against them this season.

*Jared Cook, TE, Tennessee: After being held without a catch in two games, Cook caught nine passes for 103 yards last week. He's got a good matchup against Jacksonville and the possibility of a new quarterback in rookie Jake Locker.

*Kahlil Bell, RB, Chicago: He got the majority of the work on Sunday, as Marion Barber was apparently not over his killer fumble against the Broncos two weeks ago (just 11 carries for 33 yards). Bell rushed 15 times for 65 yards, and also caught five passes for 43 yards and a touchdown. Green Bay's defense is just average and Bell could see a lot of action early as Chicago tries to keep the ball out of Rodgers' hands.

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Analyzing the Bills

Outside of Spiller, not many Bills should factor into your fantasy lineup.

Stevie Johnson is an option at receiver, but keep in mind he's got a tough matchup against Champ Bailey. Given Ryan Fitzpatrick's prolonged struggles and tight end Scott Chandler's gimpy ankle, no other Bills should be active.

On the Denver side, quarterback Tim Tebow has a great matchup against a Buffalo run defense that's mediocre at best and a pass defense that has been burned by several big plays.

Tebow's running ability always gives him fantasy appeal. He can start, as can running back Willis McGahee, the former Bill.

Demaryius Thomas is a sleeper play at wide receiver. He's averaged 11 targets a game over the past three weeks. At 6-foot-3 and 229 pounds, Thomas will have a size advantage on Bills cornerbacks Drayton Florence and Aaron Williams, who according to Pro Football Focus, rank 67th and 84th, respectively, in coverage.

email: jskurski@buffnews.com

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