It’s never fun when you lose your stud quarterback — or any stud for that matter — this close to the playoffs. It hurts.
But those unfortunate enough to lose Aaron Rodgers to injury can take solace in the wealth of quarterback options that have emerged to take his place. If you aren’t in one of those horrible deep bench leagues, you probably have a shot at making a run without your main mustachioed man.
I normally try to add notes about FAAB, or free agent acquisition budget, spending limits for each player, but this week, it’s really up to you.
There aren’t too many more weeks for you to play it conservative. It’s time to go big…or stay home while someone else goes to the fantasy football playoffs. I’ll suggest the minimum amount you probably need to acquire a player, but you can spend your whole bank if you have the conviction. Don’t let your favorite players end up on another roster. It’ll be doubly bad to see them started against you in these final, critical weeks.
Forgive me for the punny title. I didn’t get a lot of sleep this weekend, and I think I’m still operating on Oakland time.
But that said…don’t you want four time slots of NFL football EVERY Sunday? Personally, I loved being able to go straight into another one after Sunday Night Football wrapped up, even if I did lose a little sleep. Honestly, I’d probably enjoy it if Roger Goodell taped my eyelids open and sat me in front of the TV for 48 full hours of NFL action.
For the receiver needy, your prayers may have been answered this week as a few young options emerged and could be ascending to the top of the ranks. Continue reading →
This is why we can’t have nice things. Ruxin stroked out. Kevin got everyone busted for redrawing the draft order, and Andre still doesn’t have an ICE. How can we save this season?
We all got a bit of a scare in the last episode. Could Ruxin be dead? Will his face really stick like that? And who takes over his team?
You’ll be delighted to know that he lived — at least long enough for Rafi to rack up several attempted murder charges.
In my view, killing Ruxin would be a step in the wrong direction, so I’m glad Rafi’s thinly veiled attempts to smother his brother-in-law were a complete failure. He probably made more progress in spitting game at the gruff nurse.
Of course, Rafi first ensured Ruxin’s legacy by procuring his sperm in the most humane way possible. That’s all a decent guy could ask, right?
While Rafi may have a special way of coping with his brother-in-law’s close encounter with death, the rest of the league is a little more level-headed. Only Taco, sensitive soul that he is, feels changed in ways he nor we fully understand by the “near-death” experience of being near Ruxin’s near-death experience.
But the rest of the league just needs to know who’s going to take over Ruxin’s team for his showdown with Pete in the Sacko Bowl. For that answer, they turn to Ruxin’s video will, carefully crafted by his own law firm. And it’s a piece fit for the message boards itself.
After dictating that his golf clubs should be sold on Craigslist or thrown away rather than given to any of his very disappointed friends, Ruxin goes on to torture them even further by confessing that he was the one to trash Pete’s favorite vinyl and that he never really understood what Kevin saw in Jenny.
One might have expected that to be the other way around. But then again, evil Ruxin has always been full of surprises.
Eventually (and maybe the stalling was all part of the game for him), Ruxin finally gets to the issue at hand. He leaves his team to Andre — a surprise option D for most odd makers — before finishing with a final, sounding “Suck It!”
So we can gather that, in the event of his death, Ruxin wanted to leave us all with a joke.
The anxiety of managing Ruxin’s team in the Sacko Bowl immediately starts to show on Andre, who tries to channel his own inner Ruxin around the gang by swilling vodka and offering to buy hotel rooms as if it will somehow empower him to run Ruxin’s team more effectively.
Couldn’t he just laugh maniacally and second-guess all his lineup decisions? Seems to work for Ruxin-everyone-calls-me-Ruxin himself.
But Andre’s job gets a little more difficult when Rafi discovers he’s been left out of the family fortune and demands they run the team together, as Rafi is the rightful next of kin. And Rafi’s knifey conversation style can be pretty convincing.
A visit to Ruxin provides them with only positive reinforcement…
But Jenny has better luck.
Knowing her husband, Kevin, is hopelessly dependent on this season counting to validate his abilities as a fantasy football addict and as a man (because of the bet Jenny and Kevin made), Jenny pays Ruxin a visit to beg him to allow this season to count.
Dressing as Sofia to bypass the nurses station (“That Puerto Rican slut is my husband’s mistress!”), Whore-Jenny meets with Ruxin and gets him to agree to allow the season to count as long as he doesn’t win the Sacko.
But the charity is not strong with the Pete one. He’s done his St. Pete duties. Now he’s just the old, mean Pete, unwilling to take a dive in the Sacko Bowl to save the season for Kevin’s championship because it would be too dangerous for him as the ruthless Sacko del Toro commissioner.
One ray of hope does emerge from this intervention with Pete in the form of Taco — who else? Finally making sense of the life-altering moment that was peeing on a post-stroke Ruxin, Taco donates his money to Matt Forte’s charity, Mercy Home for Boys and Girls. The donation warrants a visit from Forte to Ruxin’s bedside, which could motivate the fallen villain just enough to get him back on his game.
But Matt Forte’s official visit is hijacked by Andre, who’s sizing up Forte’s knee in order to properly set Ruxin’s lineup. Forte’s only real encouragement for a very excited Ruxin is a jersey and a slap of the football into Ruxin’s nuts. But I have to say Ruxin seemed to enjoy it, even through the post-stroke duckface.
As the Sacko Bowl showdown draws near, Ruxin learns how to use a mouth device to type and click the trackpad on his laptop, which allows him to make add/drops that confuse and upset both Andre and Rafi. Rafi just wants Bruce Banner on the team so The Incredible Hulk can win it all for his brother-in-law. Is that so much to ask?
It’s Shiva that finally comes to Ruxin’s rescue. While being wheeled out to see his own wife, eager to see him start walking so they can get him out of the hospital, Ruxin spots Dr. Shiva — the person, not the trophy — in the hallway.
The sight of her and the accompanying vision sends Ruxin stumbling down the hallway to exchange a sloppy, duckfaced kiss with the embodiment of the trophy he still owns, at least for now.
Much like kissing a frog, kissing Shiva cures Ruxin of all the effects of his stroke, and, instantly, he speaks clearly and walks without a limp.
Back at Kevin’s house, the Shiva Bowl is wholly uneventful. Taco blows off even watching the games because he wants Kevin to win anyway and has more important things to do, and the lackluster experience just takes the fun out of bringing home the trophy, at last, for Kevin.
What good is a trophy without a face to rub it in?
The Sacko Bowl ends up the same way. Against the combined powers of stroked Ruxin, Andre, and knifey-Rafi, Pete wins easily to doom Ruxin to a term as the Sacko and put the very legitimacy in the league in danger.
But the gig is up! It’s then that the invites to the funeral arrive.
It seems Taco, disgusted by his fantasy football league this season, has been plotting all along to put it down. So he’s prepared a viking funeral for all the league’s memorabilia, including the Sacko, the Shiva, Kegel the Elf, and Andre’s laptop (“This is where the evil all began”).
Rafi arrives in the Bobbum van just in time to deliver the dead — err, not so dead — body of Ruxin to the festivities.
But only the crazies (Do I have to say? Okay, Rafi and Taco) and Ruxin really want to see this season burn.
Kevin desperately wants the season to count so that he can finally put his name on the Shiva, but Ruxin is determined not to let that happen.
It’s at that touching moment, standing by a boat full of fantasy football memories and a torch-wielding Taco, that Jenny reveals the news: she’s pregnant. So whether or not Kevin wins the Shiva, at least he won the bet.
That seems to calm him down, but they have to fight over something, right?
Ready to do this thing, Taco and Kevin become locked in a struggle for who gets to light the funeral pyre. When Pete tries to intervene, he gets knocked to the ground right on top of the hot SACKO brand from Andre’s weekly forced steak ceremony, searing “SACKO” into Pete’s own flesh.
Appropriate for the Sacko del Toro commissioner, you might say.
While Pete’s tending to his damaged skin and pride, he distracts everyone just enough for Ruxin to light the boat on fire and Taco to kick it out into the water.
For a moment, it’s actually quite peaceful as they all watch the memories of three seasons of bickering, trash-talking and tomfoolery float away.
It was good times, wasn’t it? You were there…and you were there…
However, touching moments are for losers, not champions. Kevin can’t settle for that. So Kevin, not content to be just a father, dives in the water after his Shiva — Shiva blasting all the way.
Will he drown? Is his life in danger? And more importantly, will they recover the Shiva?!?
In any event, the credits roll, and once again, we’re without The League for a few months. I don’t always comment on the overall quality of the show as we go through it episode by episode. I prefer to keep these as recaps rather than reviews — I’m no TV critic — but I enjoyed Season 3 a bit more than I did Season 2 of The League. I think it found a bit of that spark that gave Season 1 so much hype without losing the depth and character they developed in Season 2.
“We are thrilled to do more shows with a cast that makes us laugh hard everyday, on a network that actually lets us put those jokes on air,” the Schaffers, executive producers of ‘The League,’ said. “In the words of Taco: ‘The League’ on FX on Thursday nights is a law, like water or dinosaurs.”
Water or dinosaurs indeed.
What do you want to see out of The League in Season 4? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.
Memorable quotes from Episode 13:
RAFI: “You had a stroke, okay? So it’s time to die…Great news! Your dick still works. I harvested a bunch of your sperm, so you’re going to live forever.”
RAFI: “It was a murder boner. What do you think it is?”
TACO: “You know what? He’s been through a lot. We should just give him the Shiva.” KEVIN: “You shut your goddamn mouth!”
It’s getting to be that time when you just have to roll with what you’ve got, and there’s not much talent left on the waiver wire. So I took a few extra hours this week to peruse all the latest and greatest analysis to recommend just a few guys who I think should be owned in every league as we head down the stretch.
Some of these guys might help you in the playoffs. Some might help you right away. But the important this is that they are far more valuable than a backup kicker, second tight end or platoon of defenses at this point in the season.
If you have concerns about whom you should drop to claim these guys, leave your questions in the comments.
And don’t miss my roundup of waiver wire links at the bottom of this post. There were some great contributions this week from around the Web that offer up even more players than the ones I have listed here.
High Priority Adds
I bet these guys are on your radar, and in all likelihood, they’re on someone’s roster already. But if not, you need to make sure you get your hands on them because they should make an impact in the next few weeks.
Vincent Jackson, WR, Chargers
I’ve mentioned Jackson the last several weeks as a player to add if someone dropped him while he was sitting out the season. By all accounts, he’ll be ready to go and in Pro Bowl form in Week 12 when he finally takes the field, and he’ll have Philip Rivers throwing to him plenty during those juicy fantasy playoff matchups. Get him while you can.
Mario Manningham, WR, Giants
As long as Steve Smith’s injury keeps him off the field, Manningham will be a true stud at wide receiver. His stat line in Week 10 with Smith out was no fluke. Make sure he’s on a roster.
Louis Murphy and/or Jacoby Ford, WR, Raiders
Murphy should return from his injuries this week to play the Steelers, but Ford was the wide receiver Campbell made into a superstar in Week 9, just before the Raiders’ bye. With Campbell remaining the starter, he could look to Ford again since he showed such trust for the speedster when the game was on the line. Ford could cut into Murphy’s snaps, but if the Raiders know what they’re doing, they’ll start Murphy and Ford at receiver, and push Darrius Heyward-Bey into the third receiver spot.
The Raiders have some great, GREAT matchups in the fantasy playoffs in which their explosive rushing attack with Darren McFadden will open up opportunities for these receivers. I’d stash one on your roster and see what develops. They should start quietly this week against the Steelers. I’d assume Ford is no longer on waivers after his big week last week, but if so, I’d choose him first and Murphy second.
Fred Jackson, RB, Bills
C.J. Spiller went down with a thigh injury in Week 10 and gave Fred Jackson the stage to show off his skills against the Lions. He didn’t disappoint. It wasn’t too long ago that Fred Jackson was making a name as one of the top backs in fantasy. Remember that? His schedule isn’t fantastic, but if Ryan Fitzpatrick uses him in the passing game like he’s used Steve Johnson, Jackson will produce enough to remind us of his 2009 production. He’s a startable option this week against the Bengals.
The Ones I Have to Mention
I don’t love them, but these players made a splash in Week 10, and I have to mention them. Otherwise, I have to give up my fantasy football blogging license, and that cost me a whole $5.
Keiland Williams, RB, Redskins
Shanahan has never played fantasy football…or does he? Did his team need some points from Rex Grossman when he decided it was time to bench McNabb for the two-minute drill?
Was his opponent starting Ryan Torain going into Monday night when he decided Torain couldn’t see the field if his hammy wouldn’t loosen up? Sure, this decision might have been out of his hands, but maybe Shanahan kept the team’s locker room a few degrees colder to make loosening that hamstring that much more difficult on his prized runner.
It sounds like something a guy in my league might do.
In reality, I think it’s safe to assume he just doesn’t care about how his coaching decisions affect fantasy teams, and so we saw a huge helping of Keiland Williams on Monday night. His final numbers were impressive, but he was about the only thing working in the Redskins offense after a miserable defensive showing allowed the Eagles offensive to have a record-setting first quarter.
He could start in Week 11 against the Titans, but by Week 12, I would suspect that Ryan Torain and/or Clinton Portis would be back in the mix and taking away from Williams’ value. There’s always the chance that Shanahan takes a liking to Williams and makes him his new favorite, but Torain has always had Shanahan’s eye. When he’s healthy, I think he’s the best back to own in this offense.
Rob Gronkowski, TE, Patriots
Don’t go nuts about his three-touchdown performance in Week 10. The Steelers weren’t stopping him, so the Patriots kept going there. Aaron Hernandez is still there and will get catches too as long as the Patriots don’t shift their offense in Gronkowski’s direction.
Gronk got so many passing plays (with a nod to Sigmund Bloom for pointing this out) because it was a package designed for Gronkowski, not Hernandez that kept beating the Steelers. I trust that the Patriots will continue to adapt and move away from that package as the season continues.
But if you’re in a touchdown-only league or a deep league with so little on the waiver wire that you’re taking chances at tight end, Gronkowski is not a terrible play. I just don’t like the idea of betting on Patriots to win me a championship.
Mike Goodson, RB, Panthers
I don’t love any Panthers as long as Jimmy Clausen remains their starter. The offense just won’t move well enough until he’s matured as an NFL quarterback. But Good son remains the starter this week against the Ravens.
The Panthers placed DeAngelo Williams on IR today, which means Goodson’s probably the guy until Sutton or Jonathan Stewart returns from their injuries. So he’s a starting running back, but there isn’t much to go with here. His schedule is brutal down the stretch. Other than two soft ones against Seattle and Arizona, the Panthers face the Ravens, Browns, Falcons (twice) and Steelers the rest of the season.
Overlooked Playoff Quarterbacks
So you’re still holding onto Brett Favre? These quarterbacks could produce top 10 numbers between now and your fantasy championship. Don’t let them waste away on the waiver wire.
Shaun Hill, QB, Lions
The Lions throw the ball plenty, and Hill is the likely start the rest of the way. The schedule isn’t so nice once the fantasy playoffs start, but it isn’t too shabby right now. If you’re outside the playoff bubble, Hill might be able to get you in there.
Jon Kitna, QB, Cowboys
Don’t love the idea of betting on any Dallas player in these critical weeks, but we have at least one week of evidence to support a Jason Garrett revival in Big D. You can’t go wrong stashing Kitna on the bench and seeing what he’s worth. Plus, this week’s matchup with the Lions could be a great time to use him.
Troy Smith, QB, 49ers
You may not be convinced of his talent, but his schedule is something to believe in: Bucs, Cards in next two weeks; Seattle, Chargers, Rams during the fantasy playoffs (Weeks 14-16). He’s one sleeper quarterback I’d try to put on my bench if there wasn’t much out there.
Jason Campbell, QB, Raiders
I’m digging a little deep with this one, but he does have a fantastic playoffs schedule. With Louis Murphy and Zach Miller returning to the field, he could be that extra push you need to make it to a championship. In Weeks 14-16, the Raiders face the Jaguars, Broncos, and Colts — the last two of those at home in Oakland.
Lottery Pick Wide Receivers
These are the high-risk receivers who make me wish I had enough bench spots to hold onto them all…
Danario Alexander, WR, Rams
Alexander was a favorite of mine when he finally got his chance to start for the Rams. I loved the guy. Not only because of the opportunity in that offense but also because of his work ethic.
He went down with injury, and that may have forced some owners to let him go during the byes. But now that he’s back on the practice field, I don’t think it’s a bad idea to grab him. He could shine again if he gets back on the field against the Broncos, Cardinals, Chiefs, or 49ers in the coming weeks.
Seyi Ajirotutu, WR, Chargers
Vincent Jackson’s the sure thing in the Chargers passing game, and Malcom Floyd is your second best bet. But if you can’t land either one of those receivers, I don’t think taking a chance on Ajirotutu is such a bad idea.
What if he stays on the field as the third receiver? We all know Naanee could stand to have someone push him for playing time. And the Chargers passing game is far too valuable to overlook with the Chiefs, 49ers, and Bengals on their playoff schedule Weeks 14-16.
Arrelious Benn, WR, Bucs
Benn was drafted higher than Mike Williams this year, even though it’s taken him longer to get on the field. He’s got plenty of talent, and he’s shown it through his efficiency.
I don’t believe he’s dropped a pass yet, and he’s gotten a touchdown for two weeks straight. If you take a chance on him, you could cash in when he faces the Redskins, Lions, and Seahawks in Weeks 14-16. He just needs to get more passes his way from Josh Freeman.
Sidney Rice, WR, Vikings
Sure, he’s talented, but Brett Favre is falling apart on the field. So Rice may just go onto IR rather than risk further injury in a lost season for the Vikings. Besides, that playoffs schedule is not kind.
Tight Ends to Tie Up Loose Ends
I fell victim to the double tight end curse this season by drafting both Dallas Clark and Jermichael Finley. I’ve managed to make it as far as I have with the likes of Marcedes Lewis, Tony Moeaki, and Brandon Pettigrew. If you’re hurting even worse and need some help at that position, here’s a list of names I like. I don’t necessarily have any favorites, but I’ll list them in order of my trust of them and their potential.
Benjamin Watson, TE, Browns, looks like Colt McCoy’s favorite target the rest of the way.
Anthony Fasano, TE, Dolphins, could be emerging and was once an understudy to Jason Witten when he was a Cowboy. Thigpen could show him some love throughout the fantasy playoffs.
Jermaine Gresham, TE, Bengals, one good week does not a stud make, but he’s got plenty of wide receiver talent around him that should prevent him from getting any defensive attention.
Delanie Walker, TE, 49ers, not quite the talent level of Vernon Davis, but Troy Smith has given him plenty of love lately. He’s got a chance to steal some of that production. (H/T to The Audible for bringing Walker to my attention)
The Scores Report: Goes deep at every position, including a few tight ends that could save you at that position for the playoffs and a great list of wide receivers ranked in the order you should pick them up.
If you played against Arian Foster this week, you lost. This rule applies to Peyton Manning. But what should we expect in Week 2?
Arian Foster: 231 yards, 3 TDs, 1 pass for 7 yards
Believe It – Foster came up big in Week 1 for the owners who jumped on his sleeper bandwagon. This week’s performance even makes drafting him as a No. 2 running back, and not the sleeper he was this offseason, reasonable. Will he repeat a performance like this? Maybe when he faces the Colts’ miserable run defense again in Week 8. But until then, expect him to hold down the RB2 spot on your team just fine.
If you want a Foster on your roster (yeah, I just said that), wait a few weeks. He faces the Redskins and the Cowboys in Week 2 and 3, which should chip away at his epic Week 1 performance and make his owner’s asking price a big more reasonable. The price won’t go down after Foster blows up the Raiders in Week 4, and there are a few more nice matchups for Foster in the chewy center of the Texans schedule.
Matt Forte: 50 yards, 7 passes for 151 yards and 2 TDs
Believe It – Another popular sleeper candidate makes the list this week. We spent all offseason trying to figure out which Bears’ receiver would benefit the most from the new offensive system by Mike Martz. Turns out, it was Forte in Week 1. It was worrisome that he had trouble punching one in on Sunday, but we’ll have to hope that improves. For now, just be glad he’s a big part of the passing game in this mad scientist system. Expect a few more weeks in which he looks like the Forte of old (2008) and makes for a very nice RB2.
David Garrard: 16-of-21 for 170 yards and 3 TDs
Not Buying It – It’s hard to believe that the Jags won through the air with Maurice Jones-Drew in the backfield and when facing Champ Bailey and the Broncos…but they did. Garrard did throw primarily to his tight end Marcedes Lewis, who scored on both his touches.
Needless to say, when the Jaguars defense doesn’t get them the prime field position they benefited from against the Broncos, Garrard will have a more difficult time putting up these kinds of numbers, and Garrard doesn’t have many pushover secondaries on his schedule. Fool me twice before I believe in you, Garrard.
Marcedes Lewis: 2 passes for 31 yards and 2 TDs
Not Buying It – It certainly is efficient to score on both your touches in one game, but it doesn’t lead me to believe you’ll do it again. Lewis may have improved this offseason and may now be the red zone target in the Jaguars offense, but that still doesn’t mean his next 31 yards will get him into the end zone. Don’t jump on this bandwagon just yet. Plenty of talent at tight end this year anyway.
Hakeem Nicks: 4 passes for 75 yards and 3 TDs
Believe It – Nicks was supposed to be the guy that replaced Plaxico Burress in the Giants offense. In Week 1, he did. He wasn’t the most targeted receiver on the field (Steve Smith), and he didn’t get the most yardage (Mario Manningham). But he did get all the scores against a passing defense that kept a tight lid on wide receivers last season. Without Kevin Boss (injured Sunday) in the lineup, Nicks is the lone big man in the passing game.
I was a big fan of the Giants’ Steve Smith last season, but this season, all bets are off in the passing game as long as Nicks stays healthy. Eli Manning now has three excellent receivers to target, and Nicks could end up with the most points at the end of the day because he’s the easiest to hit in the end zone. Get him on your roster if you want to play the receiver lottery with the Giants this season. Eli Manning might just show us that last year wasn’t just a fluke.
Austin Collie: 10 passes for 131 yards and a TD
Not Buying It – Collie got most of his yardage on just one play for a touchdown, and even though I expect him to be a regular weapon in the Colts’ offense all season, I can’t fully buy his big Week 1 performance because it won’t be a lock to happen again. He’s a great weekly sub if you have an opening for an occasional WR3, but don’t rush out to grab him. You’ll be taking a chance every time you start him.
Darren McFadden: 95 yards, 6 passes for 55 yards and a TD
Not Buying It (Long-term) – Even a blind squirrel finds the end zone every now and then. McFadden had free reign in the running game this week against the Titans with Michael Bush still recovering from surgery on his hand, but I don’t expect him to get the majority of carries once Bush is back to full healthy. He does have a promising matchup against the Rams in Week 2, but as Bush works his way back on the field, McFadden is likely to work his way out of your heart. If his current owner is willing to sell him cheap, take that price and see what you can get out of him. But I think the better gamble is to “buy low” on Michael Bush while McFadden is getting all the attention.
Michael Vick: 16-for-24 for 175 yards and a TD, 103 rushing yards
Not Buying It (Long-term) – Whaaaa? Now that’s not a name you expected to see on the top of the pile Sunday, but when Kevin Kolb got concussed, Vick showed us why the Eagles coveted him the most this offseason of all the Eagles quarterbacks. He’s a nice security blanket for Kolb until the young guy finds his football legs, and Vick could start in Week 2 if Kolb is not cleared from his concussion.
Watch the latest updates (or follow me on Twitter) to see whether Vick gets his second chance to shine, but as long as Andy Reid insists there is no quarterback controversy, Vick is nothing more than a long-term gamble who might pay off if Kolb suffers another injury or struggles to get back on the field after this concussion. Still, you might entertain the idea of grabbing him if you have some room on your roster and no affiliation with PETA.
Notice a name I didn’t cover among the top scorers this Sunday? Feel free to spark up a conversation in the comments, but note that I assume you’ve heard of Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Chris Johnson, Miles Austin, and Chad Ochocinco, which is why they weren’t listed here.
Patrick Crayton just straight up offended me by complaining that he wasn’t told that he was being replaced in the starting lineup. Seriously? But seriously? But seriously? I guess he was the last to know. I knew two weeks ago.
Let’s just drop the act, Crayton. You saw Miles Austin have the best day of any Cowboys’ receiver two weeks ago. You saw it first hand unless — and I’m not ruling this out — you couldn’t see around the one corner that had you blanketed the whole game.
If you watch any game film of the rest of your career, I’m sure you’ll also see the key drop you had in the playoffs against the Giants. Yes, that was you. Would the coaches have had to explain to you why you were being replaced in the starting lineup that week?
And you’ll also notice plenty of other drops falling from your hands whenever you were open beside Terrell Owens, which made it impossible for Owens to duck any coverage in the passing game. Hey, we could practically blame the need to trade for Roy Williams midseason on you. You were not enough of a threat.
You’re upset that you lost your starting job so quickly, so unsuspectingly, but no one is really surprised here. You’re a better slot man than a second receiving option. Miles Austin has far more potential and the trust of Tony Romo. Just stop trying to be the T.O. that T.O. left behind.
Speaking of getting left behind, LenDale White had to be carted off the field this week. Luckily, they had a heavy-duty model to do the job.
I didn’t get to see the exact play where he injured himself, but I’m told it’s because he didn’t stick the landing on this one. Poor guy.
Contrary to what you may start to think when looking at Hakeem Nicks’ or Mario Manningham’s touchdowns the last few weeks, Steve Smith is the No. 1 target in the Giants’ offense.
The Cardinals are almost dead last in the league against the pass, and that’s in a league that still includes the Tennessee Titans. The Giants, much like the Steelers, have become more comfortable passing the ball than running it lately.
Even if the weather is a little rough, I expect Eli Manning to hit Steve Smith with the critical passes and maybe even a score. Forget about that one in Carolina. This guy is the Steve Smith.
Other mighty men of bravery and startability this week…
Thomas Jones, RB, Jets vs. Raiders
This destruction shall be mighty. This man ran for 210 yards against the Bills last week, and unless they have two pigeons on their side this week, I see Jones turning the Raiders back to their poor-run-defense selves.
The Jets will want to go easy on Mark Sanchez after he was de-poised over the past two weeks. It may not be a career performance, but Jones is a strong choice at running back this week. He’ll do some damage. Leon Washington is a good play as well.
Laurence Maroney, RB, Patriots vs. Bucs
Sammy Morris didn’t travel to London, and since I know he has a passport, that means he couldn’t play this week. So I guess Maroney is the man.
Tampa Bay has a terrible run defense, but they also have a terrible pass defense. It’s hard to say what to trust here, especially because Belichick is such a cranky mad scientist most of the time. Will he run or pass? He’ll probably just have Tom Brady QB sneak the whole game to screw us all.
Still, Maroney gets love for at least this week. He ran well against the Titans, but they looked like a fifth grade team that got lost on the way to the field. If Maroney doesn’t show up, at least we can all move on to liking BenJarvus Green-Ellis for his awesome nickname and starting role with the Patriots. “Law Firm,” simply awesome.
Matt Cassel, QB, Chiefs vs. Chargers
Oh, he’s a sleeper! I actually like Cassel a little more this week. Not only does he have Sean Ryan — and you ALWAYS start your tight ends against the Chargers — but he also might have Antonio Cromartie out with a knee injury.
The Chargers secondary is a pretty big mess right now, and their pass rush is absentee in this ballot. Let’s go with Cassel this week. Maybe he’ll look more like that Patriot version of himself this week, but we’re not talking 59-0 here.
Tim Hightower, RB, Cardinals vs. Giants
Here’s my theory: Hightower will be Kurt Warner’s outlet pass whenever the Giants bring the pain, and when they get near the goal line, Hightower’s bound to be asked to at least attempt a few goal line runs to keep this thing honest.
He’s not the best play of the week, but if you need a solid RB2 or a flex, I like his chances for a score and some yardage in this one. Definitely a safe play in PPR leagues due to the passes he’ll get.
Justin Fargas, RB, Raiders vs. Jets
I hate myself. I just puked. I feel sick again. I want to sit down. (I know it’s weird that I’m typing this while standing up, but I feel like it improves the circulation.)
That’s better… Oh, man, Fargas is still listed here as a start. Well, there are six teams on bye. The Raiders ran the ball well last week. And, well, Fargas might just be able to slip down the middle of the Jets’ defense now that Kris Jenkins, the big man in the middle, is out.
So you’re saying there is a chance? Sadly, yes. Even if the man talks to pigeons, there’s a chance Fargas succeeds for you this week. There’s also a chance that I won’t acknowledge I ever said this…
Cold Shoulders Sit of the Week
Chad Henne, QB, Dolphins vs. Saints
Don’t get cute. You picked him up after the announcers went all “laser, rocket arm” on him against the Jets.
Tell you what, give him a week to do it again against a defense that has been truly legit against the run. Barring a new wrinkle in the Wildcat offense, which sure seems pretty wrinkly these days, I don’t see Henne succeeding in this game.
Brees and the Saints just put Eli Manning in his place, and he’s just slightly ahead of Henne’s learning curve.
Other worthless souls this week…
Braylon Edwards, WR, Jets vs. Raiders
Just say “no” to Nnamdi Asomugha. And Mark Sanchez is positively poiseless right now. And Edwards is just a little injured. Give him a week off if you can afford it. Otherwise, lower your expectations. You’re used to that with Braylon Edwards anyway.
Steve Smith, WR, Panthers vs. Bills
This guy has disappeared from his own offense. Let him disappear from your lineup this week. The Bills may be sad and pathetic right now, but their pass defense is strong as a buffalo. Did you see what I did there? Did you?
Brett Favre, QB, Vikings vs. Steelers
The ol’ “Silver Fox” is no match for a Steelers defense with Troy Polamalu back in the mix. Besides, other injuries on the Pittsburgh defense make running against them the most prudent strategy, and that is something else the Vikings are good at doing. It’s true. They don’t just allow announcers to gush over aging stars playing roles.
I relish any opportunity to use a word like prudent, but it just doesn’t sound right when we’re talking about Brett Favre.
Miami Dolphins D/ST vs. Saints
You’ve met Drew Brees, haven’t you? Okay, good. I thought you were seriously going to start them. Funny guy.
Brandon Jacobs, RB, Giants vs. Cardinals
I don’t see him catching a touchdown pass (that will, of course, be called back for a penalty), and this game is shaping up to be pass-happy as long as the weather allows.
It’s not because I think Ahmad Bradshaw is stealing his job. That’s not happening. I just don’t like Jacobs this week. This fat man won’t fit through the square hole that is this matchup against the Cardinals.
It’d be nice if he broke out with a big game, but it’s not coming anytime soon. I finally feel safe recommending benching him if you have a better option.
Sleeper of the Week
Miles Austin, WR, Cowboys vs. Falcons
That’s right. Screw you, Patrick Crayton. I’m all in.
I’m giving Miles Austin every chance to prove himself here. Maybe that’s silly of me to bet on another nice performance right after his record-breaking day, but hey, I live on the edge — the edge of reality.
There is some upside behind this sleeper pick though. Atlanta just lost one of their starting cornerbacks, and assuming that they pay the most attention to the big guy, Roy Williams, the Falcons will have a not-so-good corner trying to contain Miles Austin. He already gets a lot of looks from Tony Romo. I say he gives him a few more after Austin saved all the Cowboys two weeks ago.
And if Miles Austin impresses, I’ll be the first one to tell Patrick Crayton. Pinky swear.
Song to Ease Your Pain While Setting Your Lineups
Flight of the Conchords – I’m Not Crying
Flight of the Conchords is a great show. Maybe they can ease your pain during this six-team bye week sadness. I’m not crying… I just looked at my lineup while cutting an onion and thinking of my friend, who you don’t know, who is dying… of bye weeks.
I wanted to make a switch this past weekend at defense to sub in the New Orleans Saints D/ST for the Green Bay Packers D/ST.
Considering they had the same bye week and with some doubt in the Saints’ newly discovered fantasy worthiness, I was slow to make that change. I thought the Packers D/ST might somehow know how to beat Brett Favre.
On Sunday, ESPN’s server login problems kept me from reconsidering. Today, looking at a 10-point loss and a big three points from Green Bay’s defense, I very much regret that decision.
But it’s a lesson. Just goes to show you that you should always be aggressive. This week, with bye weeks hitting your team now or in the near future, it’s important to clear that dead weight from your roster.
That loss is going to sting for a good while. But now, let’s get to making things better for all involved. This week’s waiver wire pickups are in priority order, but your preference may vary depending on your own team needs. If you have any trouble choosing between these pickups or debating whom to drop from your current roster, leave a question in the comments to open it up to discussion.
Rashard Mendenhall, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers
As long as Willie Parker stays down and out and as long as the Steelers face defensive lines like the Chargers’ weak one, Mendenhall is showing a lot of promise. Maybe the Steelers have a running game after all? In Sunday night’s game, Mendenhall rushed at will for 165 yards with 26 receiving yards and two touchdowns against San Diego. His next two games are against Detroit and Cleveland. Go get him while you can.
Jerome Harrison, RB, Cleveland Browns
Now that the Browns have some kind of offense, it’s worth keeping tabs on their primary running back. James Davis is now on IR, which leaves Harrison as the best warm body behind the injured Jamal Lewis. Harrison rushed for 121 yards and caught 31 yards in the Browns loss to the Bengals. In PPR leagues, that makes for some decent bench depth. In non-PPR leagues, there’s a chance the Browns could show signs of life enough to make Harrison worthy of a play during bye weeks.
New Orleans Saints D/ST
I’ve now learned from my mistake and fully endorse this defense. At last check, they were second in the NFL in blitzing behind only the New York Jets. Add that to the play of Darren Sharper and the potential of Reggie Bush on special teams, and this unit looks to be reliable throughout 2009. If someone in your league drops them while they are on bye, make sure you are the one who picks them up by Week 6. Besides the Giants (Week 6) and Patriots (Week 12), the Saints have a schedule full of very winnable games the rest of this season.
San Francisco 49ers D/ST The 49ers D/ST is also very legit this season and not on bye this week. Bonus!
David Garrard, QB, Jacksonville Jaguars
More than likely, he’s owned in your league, but in case you haven’t noticed, he’s looking like more than just a reliable bye week fill. The Jaguars can throw the ball–one year after I had to draft Garrard as part of a quarterback by committee in 2008.
Sidney Rice, WR, Minnesota Vikings
Five catches for 70 yards and as touchdown. Sounds like he’s ready for that breakout year we’ve been expecting just as long as Brett Favre will accommodate. That late throw by Favre down the sidelines seems to suggest he won’t remain a game manager much longer.
Mohamed Massaquoi, WR, Cleveland Browns
Just like his running back counterpart, Massaquoi had a pulse in the Browns game this week. His eight catches for 148 yards to Braylon Edwards zero catches may suggest that Edwards has fallen out of favor. Add to that accusations that Edwards punched a friend of LeBron James, an offense punishable by death in Cleveland, and I’m seeing stars align for Massaquoi to be the big-play threat of the Browns’ passing game. Sure, that’s not a big threat, but it’s something.
Nate Washington, WR, Tennessee Titans
If the Titans keep digging a hole early in games, Washington should see even more targets. He’s a more elusive wide receiver than Justin Gage with the ball in his hands, and he could be a decent bye week fill against the Colts and Patriots these next two weeks.
Josh Morgan, WR, San Francisco 49ers
He came out against the Rams and should have had two scores. He’s the best receiver the 49ers have on their current roster, and the 49ers may look to throw more regularly as long as Gore remains out. All good reasons to have Morgan on your team if someone else gave up on him.
Jermichael Finley, TE, Green Bay Packers
Finley’s 128 yards and one touchdown performance was the breakout game we were all waiting for this season, and Donald Lee’s critical drop may have the Packers turning to Finley for an even larger role after their bye week. He’s certainly one of, if not the most promising tight end to own as a TE2 at this point in the season. Pick him up if you have the roster space or have a need at tight end. Otherwise, wait to see how he does after the bye.
Josh Johnson, QB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers I told you that I liked this kid. Coach Raheem Morris does, too. But don’t throw him in there against the Philadelphia Eagles, coming off of a bye, this week. Let him incubate.
Derek Anderson, QB, Cleveland Browns
The Browns are alive in the hands of Anderson. As long as you can live with his mistakes, he has a nice matchup against the Bills this week.
Seneca Wallace, QB, Seattle Seahawks
Wallace could make for reliable bye-week filler against the Jaguars this week, but he’s a dangerous choice since Hasselbeck could return this week. Watch the practice reports before you go get him.
And now the ones you should just keep an eye on…
Marcedes Lewis, TE, Jacksonville Jaguars
As the passing game comes alive, so does Lewis, but don’t jump on him unless you are desperate for him after his 76-yard, one touchdown performance this week.
Shonn Greene, RB, New York Jets
He didn’t get a significant number of carries on Sunday, but he saw the field. This showing wasn’t enough to say he’s taking a role in the offense, but we could see him takeover if Thomas Jones continues to decline in comparison to Leon Washington. By season’s end, it could be Greene and Washington splitting time, and that would certainly make him worth owning. He’s a stash in deeper leagues.
Peyton Hillis, RB, Denver Broncos
Hillis could be in line for more carries if Correll Buckhalter misses this week’s game with a sprained ankle. Against the Patriots, Hillis might be productive, but he’d likely split time with Knowshon Moreno and LaMont Jordan. If you’re looking to long shot, he’s not a terrible one this week.
Chad Henne, QB, Miami Dolphins
The Dolphins didn’t put the game in his hands on Sunday, but he looked promising against the Bills. His schedule gets brutal for the next three to four weeks, but look for him to show what he can offer starting in Week 9. His playoff schedule could make him a sneaky play.
Hakeem Nicks, WR, New York Giants
He’s not a must-have just yet, but Nicks showed why he was drafted this week with that quick stop-and-go at the goal line for his first NFL touchdown. Mario Manningham took a back seat in this one, and that might be the trend going forward. But don’t get any ideas. Steve Smith is still the No. 1 receiver in New York, and he’s a solid fantasy option for the rest of the season.
Kenny Britt, WR, Tennessee Titans
He isn’t getting enough playing time early in games to justify owning him in most leagues, but Britt could be in line for more catches as the third receiver in the Titans offense when they face the Colts this week. Britt had 105 receiving yards this week against the Jaguars.
Guys you should already own by now: Vernon Davis, 49ers; Mike Sims-Walker, Jaguars; Tashard Choice, Cowboys; Antonio Bryant, Buccaneers.
Guys you can drop if you so choose: Chris Henry, Bengals; Darren McFadden, Raiders; Michael Bush, Raiders; Zach Miller, Raiders (especially now that he’s concussed); anyone else, Raiders; James Davis, Browns (He’s on IR, silly, and should only be kept in dynasty leagues at this point.); Earnest Graham, Buccaneers; Mike Bell, Saints, Jason Campbell, Redskins.
You don’t want to be Mr. Worry. For one, that wrinkled forehead will be stuck that way forever. And two, he carries a purse.
So back down from that ledge there. Pause a second before you put on that lipstick and trace over the names of your fantasy studs turned duds. They turned on you, yes, but there’s still Week 3 when maybe (but probably not) things will settle back to the way we said they would go — you know, like Thanksgiving after all the yelling.
If you’re 0-2, stop worrying. Don’t get so desperate for a win that you find yourself dropping Anquan Boldin for Mario Manningham or Clinton Portis for Justin Forsett. It’s only Week 3. Things can get far worse than they are right now.
I had to do some traveling this week, and, boarding my return flight, I found myself staring at a guy in first class while I shuffled back to the rows where the “sorry people” were permitted to sit. Who was it you ask? Herschel Walker. Unfortunately, my survival instincts and prodding from other passengers prevented me from asking him about his new sport, but he looked like he could take a hit and give one or two in exchange. Hot hands? I think so.
Hot Hands Start of the Week
Tim Hightower, RB, Arizona Cardinals vs. Indianapolis Colts
I know I’m daring, but I wanted to go with a less obvious start this week. I really like Trent Edwards and Matt Forte as well, but I’ll give Hightower the nod because of what the Dolphins did against the Colts last week. If the Cardinals are going to beat Peyton Manning, they are going to have to take some time off the clock. With Beanie Wells fumbling every chance he gets, Hightower is the Cards’ most reliable runner.
Whether he gets his yardage and a score early or in garbage time, I think that Hightower could have a big day. Give him a second look unless you have some proven studs ready to go this week.
Others receiving votes:
Trent Edwards, QB, Buffalo Bills vs. New Orleans Saints
Don’t expect it to be a beautiful game for him, but Trent Edwards should be throwing all day against Drew Brees and the Saints if the Bills are going to stay in this one. Look for him to get a few touchdowns and a few interceptions, but I think it’ll balance out in his favor.
Matt Forte, RB, Chicago Bears vs. Seattle Seahawks
This week isn’t the most encouraging matchup for Forte since the Seahawks do have some heavy linebackers, but he deserves a chance this week. With all the injuries to Seattle’s defense, I project this could be the beginning of his return to fantasy relevance. He’s faced the Packers and the Steelers so far this season, and I won’t fault him for that. Don’t give up on him just yet.
Reggie Bush, RB, New Orleans Saints vs. Buffalo Bills
Mike Bell is hurt. Pierre Thomas isn’t quite 100 percent. A perfect storm for Reggie Bush? Probably not. But I do expect to see Bush involved in this game, and against the Bills I wouldn’t be surprised if he scored at least once. He’s a good flex option, and I like him even better in PPR leagues. I’m not too worried about Lynell Hamilton.
Clinton Portis, RB, Washington Redskins vs. Detroit Lions
The bone spurs in his ankles aren’t good news, but this oh-too-sweet matchup against the Lions should have been a slaughter for Portis. I put him here only because I feel I have to plug every running back facing the Lions, but it’s acceptable for you to doubt him this week. If you have a better option, I wouldn’t blame you for taking it, but give Portis one more chance this week.
Ray Rice, RB, Baltimore Ravens vs. Cleveland Browns
Hard to say why I hate myself so much, but this week (again) might be one of Rice’s best chances to score from 20 yards out before that jackass Willis McGahee comes in to vulture the touchdown.
Brent Celek, TE, Philadelphia Eagles vs. Kansas City Chiefs
Kevin Kolb finds him hard to miss. No clue why. Great PPR play as long as Kolb starts.
Steve Smith, WR, New York Giants vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Bucs don’t even know that opposing teams start wide receivers yet this season. Truth.
Cold Shoulders Sit of the Week
Brandon Marshall, WR, Denver Broncos vs. Oakland Raiders
You might remember that Oakland has that corner named Not-gonna-catch-anything Nnamdi Asomugha. This week, he will be shadowing the once-great Brandon Marshall. Add to that Marshall’s lackluster start to the season, Kyle Orton’s short range and Josh McDaniels’ statements that Marshall is just part of the rotation since he hasn’t grasped the offense and what you have is a bad matchup.
Until further notice or proof that he’s still breathing, I don’t think you can trust Brandon Marshall this season. Start him only if you must, and make him prove his worth before returning him to your starting lineup.
Others receiving votes:
Carson Palmer, QB, Cincinnati Bengals vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
A tough game against a bitter rival isn’t the best place to put your fantasy hopes. Plus, you could die. For serious.
Larry Johnson, RB, Kansas City Chiefs vs. Philadelphia Eagles
Angry Eagles do not give up a lot of running yards, especially to a guy that only has 98 of them this year. Abort.
Percy Harvin, WR, Minnesota Vikings vs. San Francisco 49ers The swine flu and the 49ers defense have me doubting Harvin continues his touchdown streak into Week 3. He’s a decent flex if you gotta.
Sleeper of the Week
Tashard Choice, RB, Dallas Cowboys vs. Carolina Panthers
Supposedly, Marion Barber is going to come to play this weekend, but even if he does, Choice could steal more touches than usual. The Cowboys currently lead the league in rushing yards, and the Panthers haven’t been able to stop any running backs this season. There should be plenty to go around for both Felix Jones and Tashard Choice.
Barber’s quad is still going to be bothering him, and the Cowboys trust Choice to carry the rock even in critical situations. I love Choice if Barber sits, but he’s a desperation play even if Barber takes the field. If the game gets away from the Panthers, Choice should have an even better day than expected.
If your team is 0-2, you could use the help, but don’t do anything crazy. I know of a league where a man dropped Matt Schaub after his pitiful Week 1 performance. I will name no names, but I’m pretty sure he regrets that now. He should.
Your top picks deserve some time to find their footing, but dead weight like that second tight end, second defense or sleeper that is still napping are all good to drop this week. If you’re not sure who you should drop, leave your questions in the comments.
Things are looking down for Brandon Marshall, but Pierre Thomas owners have some hope that they could see Thomas back on the field in a big way soon with Mike Bell expected to miss some time.
Maybe Jason Campbell’s sprained foot explains his unimpressive play lately? Well, nope, that’s probably just him.
Here are a few guys that could help you shape up for Week 3:
Willis McGahee, RB, Baltimore Ravens: As much as it pains me to say it, it looks like McGahee could outperform Ray Rice this year. He’s getting plenty of touches near the goal line while Rice sits on the sidelines. Get him while he’s hot. I’ll hold out for a Ray Rice resurgence.
Brent Celek, TE, Philadelphia Eagles: Kevin Kolb likes to check it down to his tight end, but Celek was getting targets in Week 1 with McNabb as well. Look for him to have a solid season, and in PPR, he could get you some great numbers even when he doesn’t find the end zone.
Mike Sims-Walker, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars: From the looks of it, Jacksonville will be throwing the ball quite a bit to get back in games this year. The name change doesn’t disguise that Walker was one of David Garrard’s favorite targets last season — when healthy, that is. I like Sims-Walker even more now that Troy Williamson is out, and he got the touchdown in Week 2.
Mario Manningham, WR, New York Giants: From bust to must-have? Until Hakeem Nicks and Domenik Hixon return, Manningham should start alongside Steve Smith. I’d rather have Smith, but Manningham looks like the big-play threat right now. He had 134 yards and a touchdown this week against my Cowboys.
Steve Smith, WR, New York Giants: When the Giants are forced to throw, Smith is the guy you want to own.
Johnny Knox, WR, Chicago Bears: Cutler looked to the speedy receiver in some key situations against the Steelers, and he got the touchdown grab. Cutler even chose to go to Knox when both Hester and Knox were open. With so many targets his way, Knox could be a factor moving forward. Consider him bench depth for now if you want to go out and get him.
Mark Sanchez, QB, New York Jets: This kid may make a solid backup fantasy quarterback after all.
Laurent Robinson, WR, St. Louis Rams: As I mentioned last week, Robinson is getting plenty of looks in St. Louis, even outperforming Donnie Avery. Don’t overlook him just because the Rams are so terrible. Okay, okay, you can overlook him.
Bobby Wade, WR, Kansas City Chiefs: Wade stepped in to his new team in Week 2 and tied for most touches. Much like Robinson, the Chiefs struggles could see him catching a lot of passes, but he’s not much of a touchdown threat.
Correll Buckhalter, RB, Denver Broncos: My pick to be the most productive running back in Denver this year, and he got a touchdown this week. But considering how many backs there are in that pack for the Broncos, you might just want to stay away from this one.
Glen Coffee, RB, San Francisco 49ers: Owners who stashed him in your league may have given up after he seemed to be just a backup to Gore, but now that Gore has tweaked an ankle, he could some more work moving forward. Any back with Gore’s injury history and as many carries as he’ll get this year should miss at least one game, and I like coffee — the running back and the delicious caffeinated beverage.
LeSean McCoy, RB, Philadelphia Eagles: Westbrook sprained his ankle in Week 2, and McCoy is a copycat replacement if Westbrook misses time. Savvy Westbrook owners already own him, but if not, grab him now and see what happens. Week 3 against the Chiefs looks promising.
Kevin Kolb, QB, Philadelphia Eagles: He’s got a sweet matchup against the Chiefs this week if McNabb sits again.
Byron Leftwich, QB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Not to be relied on all season, Leftwich has started hot this year in games where he is forced to overcome the failings of the Tampa Bay defense. He won’t be starting all year with Josh Freeman waiting in the wings, but he’s worth a look if you’re starter is out or your backup is le suck.
Julian Edelman, WR, New England Patriots: When Wes Welker is out, his stats will go to Edelman. It’s a perfect system in New England. With Welker expected to return, I wouldn’t recommend picking him up, but keep Edelman in mind next time Welker is inactive.
Justin Forsett, RB, Seattle Seahawks: We know that Julius Jones fades down the stretch, and Forsett contributed on Sunday against the 49ers surprising defense. Could he be the one to take over when Jones fails? Forsett’s got some long-term value if you can hold onto him for a bit.
New York Jets D/ST: They arrived this week in keeping the Patriots out of the end zone. No offensive touchdowns allowed in two games? I’ll take that.
San Francisco 49ers D/ST: One to watch. I’m not convinced they’re completely legit, but we’ll see how they do this week against Adrian Peterson.