Moore to live for in Week 11 Pickups

It’s getting to be that time. The fantasy playoffs are near. Records are shaking out. If you’re set to make a deep playoff run, you should be reshaping your team to play it’s best fantasy football in Weeks 14-16.

Of course, that’s assuming you’re all playing championship games in Week 16, which is the only week you should be, but if that’s not the way your league commish scheduled playoffs, it’s too late to change that until next season.

If you’re using a FAAB (Free Agent Acquisition Budget) system for the waiver wire (bidding on players every week to see who gets to acquire them), now’s the time to bid the most money for the players who could really help you down the stretch. Trim the fat and drop any players who haven’t earned their spot on your roster. Go big or go home with the players who should help you the most if they pan out.

As we continue with a little late season advice, make sure you don’t make any of the common mistakes. Scott Pianowski wrote up a great piece earlier this week that touches on most of them, but it boils down to this: Play smart and loose. You’ll make a bad trade or two before you’re done playing fantasy football. But no one remembers the bad trade when you hold up the trophy.

Also consider these matchup notes for Weeks 15 and 16 highlighted by Adam Levitan as you go about your roster moves this week.

MARSHAWN LYNCH (Seahawks)

It’s highly unlikely that Lynch is sitting out on a waiver wire somewhere at this point in the season. But then again, there’s always a chance. We haven’t seen a lot of BEAST MODE this season, but Lynch’s usage makes him a valuable RB2 prospect to end the season. In the next four weeks, he gets to face the Rams twice and the Redskins, which should provide some nice fantasy points before he finishes the fantasy playoffs by getting stonewalled by the Bears and 49ers.

BEN TATE (Texans)

Another just in case, Tate has been as productive as most of the starting backs in the league while serving as Arian Foster’s No. 2. Now that Matt Leinart is taking the reigns in Houston, the Texans might rely on the run even more, which would provide Tate with more opportunities to shine. If someone threw Tate back after Foster got healthy, it’s time someone snatched him back up.

DENARIUS MOORE (Raiders)

The Raiders passing game is flourishing once again under Carson Palmer, and their remaining games gives them one of the best schedules to throw on. Jacoby Ford left the Week 10 contest against the Chargers with an injury, and Moore reaped the benefits. He should continue to see a healthy dose of targets from Palmer, and I consider him the No. 1 priority on the waiver wire for anyone in need of help at wide receiver. He could be a solid WR2, the type of find that could carry you through to a fantasy championship with several big weeks.

KENDALL HUNTER (49ers)

Frank Gore sat out in Week 10 with multiple injuries while Hunter carried the load and sealed the game for the 49ers. Gore and his coaches are saying that he should be fine to play in Week 11, but they’re also saying they intend to lighten his load moving forward to keep him fresh for the playoffs. And once the playoffs are a lock, the 49ers may even rest their workhorse back. The end result of all this: Hunter has value the rest of the way.

ED DICKSON (Ravens)

While he’s been getting plenty of targets all year, Dickson finally did something significant with them in Week 10, scoring twice. That was probably Dickson’s best game of the season, but if you’re still searching for a tight end with a pulse, Dickson could be your guy.

VINCE YOUNG (Eagles)

Michael Vick has two broken ribs. If he can’t go, Vince Young would get the start against the G-men this week. It’s not an ideal matchup, but Young’s had fantasy value in the past since he can score fantasy points with both his arm and his leg. Plus, he’s never benefited from the type of quarterback-friendly offense Andy Reid has constructed in Philly. Whether you own Vick or not, Young’s a worthy gamble going into Week 11 until we know whether Vick will play or not.

LANCE BALL (Broncos)

Willis McGahee is banged up, and Knowshon Moreno is on IR. Ball could get the start if McGahee can’t go on Thursday, and McGahee hasn’t yet gotten on the practice field. Ball should have value either way since the Broncos rely so heavily on the running game, but don’t expect the yards to come easy against the Jets.

CHRIS OGBONNAYA (Browns)

Peyton Hillis has already been ruled out for Week 11, which leaves Ogbonnaya in position to start again for the Browns. Ogbonnaya gets very little love from fantasy circles because he lacks talent, even though he was productive as a running back for the Texas Longhorns in college. He racked up the yards in Week 10 against the Rams, but the Jags present more of a challenge. Still, he’s worth adding since he might be the running back to own in Cleveland for the rest of the year.

DAMIAN WILLIAMS (Titans)

Since Damian Williams entered the starting lineup, Matt Hasselbeck has looked his way. While Williams is no Kenny Britt, he’s scored in his last two games and might be emerging for the stretch run. He’s definitely worth a stash if you’re hunting for a late season gem to help you in the playoffs.

HARRY DOUGLAS (Falcons)

Julio Jones left with an injury in Week 10 and seemed ready to return if the trainers had let him. In his place, Douglas received a showering of targets from Matt Ryan. Don’t expect the targets to continue unless Jones is sidelined again in Week 11. But if he is, Douglas is your guy.

VINCENT BROWN (Chargers)

Much like Torrey Smith of the Ravens, it’s hard to rely on these young wide receivers that splash onto the scene with big plays. Brown could just as easily disappear in Week 11, especially with the season Philip Rivers has had. But until Malcom Floyd is healthy, Brown should continue to fill in opposite Vincent Jackson (should we call him “The Other Vincent” yet?). The Chargers usually right the ship for a playoff run every year. Assuming that happens, Brown has the potential to produce just like Jackson and the rest of this Charger offense.

JACOB TAMME (Colts)

You should know what you’re getting with the Colts this season — yards but no scoring. Tamme will take Dallas Clark’s place in this offense until he’s well enough to return, but the tight end pool is deep enough that you shouldn’t have to reach for him at this point in the season. Besides, many of his targets came when Dan Orlovsky entered the game when it was already out of hand for Curtis Painter.

TASHARD CHOICE (Redskins)

I don’t like recommending any Redskins player with Shanahan in full tinker mode, but the former Cowboys running back claims to be healthy and able to contribute in Week 11. That means he has the potential to start and ruin your fantasy week if you were counting on Roy Helu or, even worse, Ryan Torain. Consider this more of a warning that Choice could be in play than a recommendation to go add him to your roster.

Fill in D/STs: I like both the Jaguars (vs. Browns) and Patriots (vs. Cassel-less Chiefs) this week to have a solid outing as D/STs.

Pondering Christian Ponder: NFL Draft 2011 First Round Fantasy Football Gut Reactions

I don’t get excited about who “won” the draft. I get excited about who I’ll draft for  my fantasy football team.

When it comes to fantasy relevance, the first round didn’t overwhelm us. The 2011 draft set a record for defensive linemen taken in the first round with 12, but it’s hard to say that one defensive end or nose tackle will change the whole dynamic of a team defense. If you play IDP (Independent Defensive Players), those guys will matter to you, but the majority of fantasy players haven’t embraced IDP yet.

In the full list of draftees below, I’ve highlighted a few names in bold that I believe WILL have fantasy value sooner rather than later. Values may change as we (hopefully) enter into a free agency period and as teams decide how soon some of these “quarterbacks of the future” will start. Until then, I only have my gut reactions to the first round.

CAM NEWTON to CAROLINA

The Panthers desperately needed a quarterback that the team could get behind. Sorry, Jimmy Clausen. Cam Newton should get a chance to start soon, but he will have a hard time moving the ball through the air if Steve Smith forces a trade out of Carolina. Newton could start the year in a more limited role, perhaps even as a package quarterback running options and more Wildcat-style plays.

When he does get the chance to start, I could see Cam Newton having some fantasy relevance in 2011 alongside running back Jonathan Stewart, but I’d bank on Stewart carrying the load for this team with some help from Mike Goodson until Newton 1) masters the offense and 2) has some weapons around him in the passing game.

A.J. GREEN to CINCINNATI

Green was a huge get for the Bengals, who may or may not lose Chad Ochocinco this offseason in a trade. As the most talented receiver in his draft class, he’s destined to become an impact player for the Bengals, whether Carson Palmer sticks around or not. If Ochocinco  gets  traded, Green’s fantasy stock will obviously rise, but with the Bengals current roster, he’s worth drafting as a WR3 with WR2 upside.

That said, don’t forget about Jerome Simpson in Cincinnati.

JULIO JONES to ATLANTA

At first glance, you might say that Atlanta overpaid for this pick, and I don’t think anyone would disagree with you. But when you consider what Atlanta needed in this draft and their current roster, it makes sense. In an interview with ESPN Radio’s Mike & Mike in the Morning, Falcons GM Thomas Dimitrioff pointed out how young the Falcons are as a team. They don’t need a bunch of new blood and roster turnover. They just need to fill some holes on defense and to get another playmaker alongside Roddy White on offense.

Obviously, if it works out, no one will complain, and I could see Jones having significant value in the Atlanta offense if they really give Matt Ryan the reigns. I’m a little concerned that Jones’ presence might prevent Roddy White from being the lock for 100 yards and a touchdown he was last season, but if White balances out any Reggie Wayne-like disappearing acts with multiple-touchdown games thanks to Jones, his fantasy owners won’t  complain.

JAKE LOCKER to TENNESSEE

While the Titans drafting Locker is surprising, we don’t yet know if Locker will start right away. Much like Newton, Locker might work behind a veteran quarterback this season while he learns the playbook and the masters the speed of the game at the NFL level. And if he does get a chance to start with a limited playbook, Chris Johnson won’t mind carrying the load for the Titans like he has the past two seasons.

So Locker’s fantasy value is largely dependent on whether he starts this year or not. I don’t see him as a must-draft this season unless you’re looking for a QB2 in a two-quarterback league, but he should be on your radar for 2012.

BLAINE GABBERT to JACKSONVILLE

Some experts say Gabbert will be the best quarterback in this class, but I don’t think we’ll see him on the field for a year, or maybe two, while he learns the Jacksonville offense. I believe it was on ESPN’s draft coverage that they said Jacksonville intended to take the Aaron Rodgers approach with him. I assume that doesn’t mean they’ll keep David Garrard around for a several more years and then trade him to the first team that promises Garrard ample opportunity to text genitalia to female reporters. What do you think?

Dynasty leaguers and keeper leagues might keep an eye on Gabbert, but I doubt he’ll have any fantasy value in 2011.

CHRISTIAN PONDER to MINNESOTA

A bit of a head scratcher, but Ponder will have to be the quarterback of the future now that he’s in Minnesota. They don’t have much else. There’s still some question about whether Sidney Rice will return to the Vikings, and that could greatly affect Ponder’s value.

Of all the rookie quarterbacks with the potential to start right away, Ponder would be last in my rankings. He’s also got Adrian Peterson in the backfield, so there’s no rush as long as he’s got a good hand off. Much like Locker, you might look at Ponder if you’re in a two-quarterback league, but he’d be very, very low on my list.

NICK FAIRLEY to DETROIT

In general, I try to stay away from saying one player will change the value of a team defense, but Detroit’s building on an area of strength by taking Fairley, who some considered to be the best player in this draft up until a few weeks ago. Next to Suh on the Detroit Lions defensive line, Fairley will put up some numbers. If the Lions offense holds up their end, and the defense gets to the quarterback with Suh and Fairley, they’ll be worth consideration as a team defense in 2011.

JONATHAN BALDWIN to KANSAS CITY

I don’t know a whole lot about Jonathan Baldwin, but I’ve seen mixed reactions to him being taken in the first round. According to some analysts, he’s not necessarily a perfect fit for what Kansas City does on offense. Bowe had a huge last half in the 2010 fantasy season, but Baldwin may not immediately share in the fantasy points there.

If you read any of my posts last season, you know I’m not a huge fan of Cassel. I’m probably selling Baldwin a little short just because I see Cassel regressing from his 2010 season. But if you’re looking to draft Baldwin, I’d take him as nothing more than a late-round stash with the potential to be a WR3.

MARK INGRAM to NEW ORLEANS

Depending on who you ask, Ingram will either be a fantasy stud or be just another fantasy dud. Pierre Thomas and Chris Ivory are both still in New Orleans. Reggie Bush may or may not get a deal done to return to the Saints. That’s a lot of mouths to feed in an offense that ALSO likes to score points through the air from time to time.

Regardless, I think this eats into Pierre Thomas and Chris Ivory’s value significantly. Only time will tell how the Saints adjust around Ingram, but he’s worth RB2 consideration and definitely worth drafting this season. I tend to believe the folks who say he might have RB1 upside. If you can get him for the right price in your fantasy draft, why not take the chance?

FIRST ROUND OF THE 2011 NFL DRAFT

  1. Carolina Panthers >> Cam Newton, QB, Auburn
  2. Denver Broncos >> Von Miller, OLB, Texas A&M
  3. Buffalo Bills >> Marcell Dareus, DT, Alabama
  4. Cincinnati Bengals >> A.J. Green, WR, Georgia
  5. Arizona Cardinals >> Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU
  6. Atlanta Falcons (from Cleveland) >> Julio Jones, WR, Alabama
  7. San Francisco 49ers >> Aldon Smith, DE, Missouri
  8. Tennessee Titans >> Jake Locker, QB, Washington
  9. Dallas Cowboys >> Tyron Smith, OT, USC
  10. Jacksonville Jaguars (from Washington) >> Blaine Gabbert, QB, Missouri
  11. Houston Texans >> J.J. Watt, DE, Wisconsin
  12. Minnesota Vikings >> Christian Ponder, QB, Florida State
  13. Detroit Lions >> Nick Fairley, DT, Auburn
  14. St. Louis Rams >> Robert Quinn, DE, North Carolina
  15. Miami Dolphins >> Mike Pouncey, C/OG, Florida
  16. Washington Redskins (from Jacksonville) >> Ryan Kerrigan, DE, Purdue
  17. New England Patriots >> Nate Solder, OT, Colorado
  18. San Diego Chargers >> Corey Liuget, DE, Illinois
  19. New York Giants >> Prince Amukamara, CB, Nebraska
  20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers >> Adrian Clayborn, DE, Iowa
  21. Cleveland Browns (from Kansas City) >> Phil Taylor, DT, Baylor
  22. Indianapolis Colts >> Anthony Castonzo, OT, Boston College
  23. Philadelphia Eagles >> Danny Watkins, OG, Baylor
  24. New Orleans Saints >> Cameron Jordan, DC, California
  25. Seattle Seahawks>> James Carpenter, OT, Alabama
  26. Baltimore Ravens >> Jimmy Smith, CB, Colorado
  27. Kansas City Chiefs (from Cleveland, previously Atlanta’s pick) >> Jonathan Baldwin, WR, Pittsburgh
  28. New Orlean Saints (from New England) >> Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama
  29. Chicago Bears >> Gabe Carimi, OT, Wisconsin
  30. New York Jets >> Muhammad Wilkerson, Temple
  31. Pittsburgh Steelers >> Cameron Heyward, DE, Ohio State
  32. Green Bay Packers >> Derek Sherrod, OT, Mississippi State

I’ll have another wrap after the entire draft. Consider this the tease. What do you think of the draft so far? What teams have changed their fantasy value the most in the first three rounds? Let me hear it in the comment below.

Foolish Thoughts: Wherefore art thou Patriots?

These Patriots are clearly not the same team that we expected to see back on the field with Brady’s return.

When New England traded Richard Seymour to the Oakland Raiders, it proved one thing: Bill Belichick will do anything for a first round draft pick. Draft picks are like crack to him. Belichick cannot refuse. If you gave him enough first round picks, he’d probably give away Tom Brady and his own kidney. Maybe two kidneys.

While that 2011 pick looks delicious right now, the Patriots defense does not. Belichick couldn’t have planned on losing Jerod Mayo in the first game of the season, but he certainly knew that the defense would suffer without Mike Vrabel, traded to Kansas City, and Richard Seymour. The new blood on defense hasn’t found their rhythm yet this season, and rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez capitalized on their failings in Week 2.

Belichick seems to have an uncanny ability to find spare parts and plug them in as exact clones of the starters he has in place — *cough* Julian Edelman *cough* — but the team as a whole can’t get back to 2007 form.

Tom Brady hasn’t been getting the same zip on his passes, and the Jets’ Darrelle Revis was an absolute stud against Randy Moss, much like he was against Andre Johnson in Week 1. It might be time to sit your stud wide receiver when he faces the Jets.

Should you abandon your Patriots? No, of course not. As long as they aren’t playing the Jets defense, the Patriots offense should still create fantasy stars.

But if you drafted the New England defense with the expectation that they would enjoy a healthy dose of turnovers once Brady forced opponents into a throwing match, you might need to look for a second option.

Speaking of teams playing out of character
In the midst of the Titans-Texans score-a-thon, it was obvious to everyone watching that Chris Johnson is the Titan’s offense. The Titans rode the wave of that undefeated streak last year off the play of their excellent defense, which has lost the ability to generate a pass rush without Albert Haynesworth and exposed some holes in the secondary.

Maybe Kerry Collins is the problem. Maybe his time has come, or maybe I just give Vince Young too much credit. Without a doubt, the Titans are going to need some creativity on offense.

Maybe they can just direct snap to Chris Johnson and call it a day. My fantasy team would be completely cool with that. Completely.

One rib shy of the rack
Matt Hasselbeck took a big hit that knocked him out of his game this week, but it looks like he’ll be okay. It was just a broken rib, and it’s not like he has a history of injury or anything… Oh, wait, this could be a problem.

Discharged
The Chargers defense lost Shawne Merriman again at the end of yesterday’s game against the Ravens to a groin strain, but the bigger blow was the loss of Jamal Williams this week. Without him in the middle of the defense, the Chargers might run into some trouble.

Are things coming together in a perfect storm for Philip Rivers owners? He just might have to carry the Chargers for a few weeks.

The Wildcat comes to special teams
Maybe that’s why they list Sage Rosenfels as the third quarterback, eh? Sneaky Brad Childress…

Have you seen the Green Bay bomber?
Greg Jennings, where did you go? He checked out of the Bengals game Casper-style, but I don’t think Aaron Rodgers will let that happen again if the Packers want to keep that offense on the right track.

Breaking ankles
With this week’s sprained ankle for Brian Westbrook and last week’s sprained ankle for L.T., we could be looking at a season of Darren Sproles and LeSean McCoy pretty soon. Waiver wire accordingly.

At the closing Bell
Mike Bell may have lost his hold on the running back job in New Orleans by spraining his own MCL Sunday. It was too good to be true, but we’ll have to wait until the final diagnosis to see if Bell was just a two-week waiver wire savior.

Pierre Thomas owners certainly wouldn’t mind Bell being removed from the competition.

Even after two weeks of play, we’re still not quite sure who some of these teams are. Are the Jags the worst team in football? Are the 49ers really going to smashmouth their way to an NFC West title? Is Cadillac Williams a member of the undead, come back to own the running game in Tampa Bay? I guess we’ll see.

As always, the comments are yours.