I’ve coined a new fantasy football term this season: “getting Shonn Greened.” Sadly, it’s to describe the miserable performance of my own fantasy team.
I drafted well, according to most rankings, guides, and general opinion, but my team manages, time and time again, to play down to my opponent. They underwhelm when everyone expects them to have a huge week, and they never text me to let me know ahead of time.
This week, the failings were all on my team. I lost because Larry Fitzgerald didn’t get the ball to break the plane against the 49ers Monday night on his fourth down dive…or because Dez Bryant was a fingertip too far into the endzone against the Giants when he came down with the game-winning pass.
Fingertips…I mean, what are they good for?
So needless to say, I expect my team to continue to underachieve and/or inspire my opponent to have his best game of the year. Trust that I’ll be getting Shonn Greened all season.
Week 9 Pickups
Considering that we’re halfway through the year, I’m dropping our usual format. Instead, I’ll just be listing a few names with the most important of those coming off the top. Skim through these names and add as you see fit.
This late in the season, you may be looking for stashes rather than immediate one-week plugins, so I leave the choice to you as to which of these guys is most worth adding on your roster.
The high priority pickups are names we’ve talked about previously. Jonathan Dwyer (Steelers RB) could hold onto the early down role in Pittsburgh despite the return of Rashard Mendenhall. The Rams expect Danny Amendola (Rams WR) to try returning to active duty this week, and I expect him to immediately become Sam Bradford’s favorite person ever. Titus Young (Lions WR), in his first game filling in for the injured Nate Burleson, scored twice. So if he wasn’t good enough you to pick him up last week, maybe he’s changed your mind.
Cecil Shorts (Jaguars WR) appears to be the No. 1 guy in Jacksonville and has a schedule worth watching the rest of the season. You might not like watching the Jaguars passing game, but Shorts has WR3 potential. While many of us forgot about Dustin Keller (Jets TE) while he was hurt, Mark Sanchez did not. As long as he’s the Jets’ quarterback, Keller will remain a big part of the passing game.
Josh Gordon (Browns WR) continues to receive the most looks in Cleveland. While he didn’t get in the endzone against the Chargers, you shouldn’t hold that against him. On the other hand, Ryan Broyles (Lions WR) made it to pay dirt for the second straight week. He’s no Titus Young, but if the Lions’ offense turns around, Broyles will retain his value as an important part of the offense near the goal line.
On the quarterback front, Josh Freeman (Bucs QB) has emerged as a solid bye week option with three straight three-touchdown weeks. This week, he gets to face the Raiders, who are still without their top corners.
There’s not a lot of talent emerging at this point in the season, but you might find a few names on the waiver wire who disappointed their owners early in the year. Jacquizz Rodgers (Falcons RB) logged his best game of the season in Week 8, but he may never live up to the hype he had coming into 2012. DeAngelo Williams (Panthers RB) would have value if traded, but it seems unlikely considering his hefty contract. LeGarrette Blount (Bucs RB) might see his number called before the trade deadline, but he’d have to land in Green Bay to have starter value.
I’ve been hearing all about how much Green Bay likes Steven Jackson (Rams RB) this week, but I’ve also been hearing that the Packers won’t be willing to part with the money it would take to bring a big name in to shore up their running game.
And lastly, Peyton Hillis (Chiefs RB) returned to the field this past week. Hillis had several good runs while the Chiefs were neglecting Jamaal Charles on Sunday. The Chiefs may mix him in more often to keep Charles healthy and add some kind of variety to their offense.
Chris Johnson. Steven Jackson. Adrian Peterson. THE COLTS! Why can’t we have nice things?!?
Green Bay is an unstoppable force of fantasy football goodness. I’m picking up the Packers’ ball boy on the waiver wire this week, and I fully expect him to get at least 10 touchdowns this season.
But the Saints defense is terrible. I will never trust them again. Look at how Aaron Rodgers tore them apart!
Ben Roethlisberger has lost his command of the offense. He’s no longer a QB1. Why did I listen to those experts recommending him as a bargain? I’d rather have Cam Newton!
The Ravens will bowl over everyone with the mighty power of Ray Rice, crusher of kittens and unstoppable engine of fantasy points. I have no doubt.
There’s something in the water in St. Louis. Sam Bradford…hurt. Steven Jackson…hurt. Danny Amendola…hurt. My fantasy stars are broken. Back to the waiver wire…
What happened to Matt Ryan? I thought he was supposed to ascend to the highest realm of fantasy quarterbacks this season. Instead, he was Ben Roethlisberger-ed. (It’s a verb.) Will Julio Jones be enough save him?
Why are the Steelers wearing those blue uniform…oh, it’s the Bears. How did we not see this coming? I know what happened — Big Ben got married this offseason while Jay Cutler called off his engagement. WEDDINGS RUIN FANTASY FOOTBALL!
Cedric Benson? He’s the man. Look at all that yardage and a touchdown. Glad I drafted him while he was in prison!
The Browns tight ends are bound for fantasy greatness. Colt McCoy will hit them anytime they are in the end zone … but the Browns still won’t win. CURSED!
Chris Johnson has more millions than yardage. I’m ruined. Why, oh, WHY did I take him the first round? Please accept my trade request: Chris Johnson for Mike Tolbert, straight up.
See, I told you Cam Newton would work out. HE’S THE BEST QUARTERBACK ON THE PLANET! (Peyton Manning is currently recovering from surgery on the moon.)
Rex Grossman will lead the Redskins straight to the Super Bowl!
Philip Rivers will take the Chargers all the way to the Super Bowl!
Matthew Stafford will lead the Lions straight to the Super Bowl!
Michael Vick will lead the Eagles straight to to the Super Bowl!
Tarvaris Jackson will lead the Seahawks…to the No. 1 overall pick in the 2012 draft. (Sorry, the Seahawks are terrible.)
The Bucs will not make the leap! Josh Freeman is a fantasy failure.
The Jags don’t need Garrard. They have Luke McCown!
The Titans could use someone more like Luke McCown.
The Giants have found their David — the Redskins.
The Cardinals have finally found a quarterback again, but he’s not quite as good as the one who started his first game against them.
Mark Sanchez is a closer! Look at that poise.
Tony Romo is not a closer! He’ll never make it to the super Bowl. Fumbles are the antithesis of poise!
What’s happening here? The sky is not falling. Just having a little fun with the first weekend of NFL football and the owner overreactions we’re all guilty of after seeing our fantasy studs exceed or fail to meet expectations. It’s only one week.
Feel free to add your own overreactions in the comments.
…and can I just say again how glad I am that football is back? I missed you terribly, NFL.
Your fantasy studs only scored once? Well, that’s just child’s play. The real studs scored twice or more on Sunday, and they should easily do the same a time or two before the fantasy football playoffs are over. Start ‘em if you got ‘em.
Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Steelers: 275 passing yards and 3 TDs, 55 rushing yards and 1 TD vs. Raiders
Much like a high school girl at her prom, Big Ben hates it when other teams dress up like the Steelers. The Raiders have been wearing black and putting teams away with a running game and a defense. That just won’t fly. So I guess Big Ben was trying to make a point when he exposed them on Sunday.
The Steelers walked all over the Raiders all day long. Roethlisberger benefited from the absence of Nnamdi Asomugha. When this offense is firing on all cylinders, as it seems to be now, they’re hard to stop.
Greg Jennings, WR, Packers: 7 catches for 152 yards and 3 TDs vs. Vikings
Aaron Rodgers reminded all Jennings’ owners why they drafted him: He’s the No. 1 wide receiver on a highly explosive offense. They got rolling against the Vikings in a blowout, and Jennings was doing damage in both big and small chunks.
It was good to see him targeted in the red zone in addition to his targets from long-range. He should continue to produce down the stretch since he is Rodgers’ most reliable target for now.
Steve Johnson, WR, Bills: 8 catches for 137 yards, 3 TDs vs. Bengals
I thought this Bills passing game would have cooled off by now, but just when you think they’re done, they come roaring back. Steve Johnson absolutely destroyed the Bengals in the second half.
Johnson’s probably going to end up being the waiver wire pickup of the year. He’s scored in almost every game he’s played in with Fitzpatrick under center. Those numbers are going to be hard to beat as long as this passing game stays red-hot throughout the playoffs, even as Buffalo freezes over.
Aaron Rodgers, QB, Packers: 301 passing yards and 4 TDs, 21 rushing yards vs. Vikings
A big fantasy day for Jennings means a big fantasy day for Rodgers, but you know this. He’s one of the top quarterbacks in fantasy. This stat line is what you expected out of him in easy matchups when you drafted him. He poured it on the Vikings, led by the man he replaced, Favre.
This game was like watching a little kid jump up and down on Brett Favre’s sandcastle, all while Brett had to watch his creation go to pieces. I kind of enjoyed it.
Without a doubt, we can say that the Packers made the right call in moving on from Favre to Rodgers when they did. No team that’s tried to make it work with Favre has succeeded.
The Packers have turned into a very scary team just at the right time as fantasy playoffs (and the real NFL playoffs) approach.
Jon Kitna, QB, Cowboys: 147 passing yards and 3 TDs, 40 rushing yards and 1 TD vs. Lions
I played it safe this week by starting Shaun Hill out of fear that the Cowboys would concentrate on their running game after establishing an early lead. They didn’t, unless you count that late rushing score by Kitna as the running game. Jason Garrett’s perfectly comfortable calling passing plays the whole game, and that works for Kitna’s fantasy owners.
Kitna ended the day without much yardage, but he scored a ton, making him the better play over Shaun Hill. It seems they’ll both be great plays down the stretch, as both the Cowboys and Lions love to throw the ball.
Kitna should be owned in all leagues and has a great schedule in Weeks 15 and 16 of the fantasy playoffs as long as Romo doesn’t return.
This part is the place where I would list Drew Brees and Peyton Manning, but I’ll skip them. I assume you know the drill when it comes to those guys.
Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB, Bills: 316 passing yards and 4 TDs, 2 INTs, 11 rushing yards vs. Bengals
What looked like a quiet performance turned into a fantasy explosion late when the Bills mounted a comeback. I don’t know whether to be impressed with how overpowering the Bills were in this one or to just acknowledge how absolutely horrid the Bengals are. No one wants to win badly enough in Cincy. Too bad.
Fitzpatrick has had a few rough patches along the way, but if he keeps playing this aggressively, it’s hard to say he won’t produce another fantasy day or two like this one in the next few weeks.
Santonio Holmes, WR, Jets: 7 catches for 126 yards, 2 TDs vs. Texans
Another week, another come-from-behind victory capped off by a Holmes touchdown pass from Sanchez. The Jets’ unpredictable performance in winnable games has become predictable again. And you can count on Holmes to remain the focus in the passing game from here on out.
Fred Jackson, RB, Bills: 116 rushing yards and 2 TDs, 3 catches for 13 yards vs. Bengals
Even Jackson got in on the fantasy field day to be had against the Bengals. His schedule isn’t so easy, and he faces the Steelers this week after they just completely stuffed Darren McFadden…but if you can see a light at the end of the tunnel, Jackson has a game like this left in him.
He still has matchups against the Vikings and Patriots on the schedule, and I’m not too worried about C.J. Spiller cutting into his production when he returns later this season.
Mark Sanchez, QB, Jets: 315 passing yards and 3 TDs, 1 INT, 22 rushing yards vs. Texans
The Texans are horrible, and Sanchez took advantage. Moral of the story: Always start the quarterback playing the Texans. Enough said.
A note on D/STs that did well…
If you were looking for an impressive D/ST performance, you got it out of the Browns and Ravens. If they’re not owned, the Browns make for an intriguing play the rest of the way, and they face the Panthers this week.
Dwayne Bowe, WR, Chiefs: 6 catches for 109 yards, 2 TDs vs. Cardinals
Okay, okay. I keep saying he’s going to fade down the stretch, and yet, here we are with another huge fantasy day and multiple touchdowns for Bowe. I guess you have to start him until he cools off. That’s not such a bad problem to have, is it?
Believe It: This was not the stat line Reggie Wayne owners wanted to see, but without Pierre Garcon, Peyton Manning locked onto Collie while Dallas Clark and Reggie Wayne got most of the attention from the Denver defense. I don’t expect Collie to get this lucky every week, but with two strong games under his belt, he should be owned in all leagues.
Believe It: The 400+ passing yards countered Rivers’ two interceptions, and that’s the kind of game he’ll have to have as long as the Chargers’ special teams continues to give up two touchdowns each game.
Joe Flacco, QB, Ravens: 262 passing yards, 3 TDs
Believe It (in Matchups): Flacco finally had a good performance, thanks to Anquan Boldin and the Browns’ defense. Now that we know what he’s capable of, we will have to see if he can keep up this level of production. I don’t see him living up to the QB1-hype surrounding him this offseason, but he’ll make a decent matchup play the rest of this year.
Mark Sanchez, QB, Jets: 256 passing yards, 3 TDs
Believe It (in Matchups): Sanchez had another three touchdown performance on Sunday…so is it horrible of me to still not buy it? He’s a promising young quarterback, but he’s still a matchup play in my book. I doubt L.T. would have signed for a team that just planned to become a pass-first offense like the Chargers were without him. If you have Sanchez as a QB2, congrats. He looks good to go in that role or as part of a QB-by-committee.
Matt Cassel, QB, Chiefs: 250 passing yards, 3 TDs, 1 INT
Not Buying It: Cassel showed up big in Week 3 for the Chiefs, but I can’t take it as a sign of things to come just yet. He’s still not a very good quarterback, and his success Sunday might have been more about the complete and utter failure of the 49ers.
Believe It: I immediately regret my decision to wait on picking up Moore after Reggie Bush was injured. Moore should be on the field more often now and showed what he can do with that playing time against the Falcons Sunday. Drew Brees trusts him, and I do, too.
Believe It (At Home): “The 12th Man” lives again in Seattle. They may be garbage on the road, but in Seattle with Leon Washington returning kicks, the Seahawks D/ST appears to be unstoppable. They’ve produced double-digit fantasy points in both their home games thus far this season.
Believe It: I thought Hillis might make a decent sleeper at the beginning of the season. It looks like he’s woken up now. Keep in mind that this performance was against the Ravens. It’s not like the Browns have a lot going on in their offense to distract a defensive unit like the Ravens, so there’s a chance Hillis could do even more with what he’s given against a lesser defense.
Darren McFadden, RB, Raiders: 105 rushing yards, 1 TD, 2 catches for 17 yards
Believe It: Even with Michael Bush available, McFadden continued to get the majority of the carries. I still don’t think McFadden keeps this job all year. Injury or Bush’s improving health will force the Raiders to take some of his carries away, but if you have him, you should continue to ride the lightning while you can.
Roy E. Williams, WR, Cowboys: 5 catches for 117 yards, 2 TDs
Not Buying It (Entirely): Williams finally earned that contract he got when he first arrived in Dallas. His second touchdown was late in the game when the Texans D/ST has all but quit, but whether he earned it or not, it’s good to see him producing and to know that the Dallas offense will continue to involve him, especially in a game that mattered so much. He makes for a decent sleeper wide receiver — sad that a starter on a high-powered passing attack is a sleeper, but what are you gonna do? — moving forward since he could keep his role as a starter all year long, even with all the excitement for Dez Bryant.
Not Buying It: The Broncos have said that they will have a different top receiver every week, and it certainly seems that way. The only two I’d rely on are Demaryius Thomas and Jabar Gaffney, and I don’t even trust them a whole lot right now. Lloyd’s nice, but without a cemented role, I just don’t think you can ever start him with confidence.
Mike Wallace, WR, Steelers: 3 catches for 100 yards, 2 TDs
Believe It: Another sleeper awakened this weekend. No more “buy lows” here. Wallace should get even better once Big Ben returns.
Believe It: Sanchez won’t throw three touchdowns every week, but it’s telling that he threw the first two to Keller. Clearly, he trusts Keller at the goal line. That will go a long way in making Keller a legit fantasy tight end this season.
Not worth mentioning here, but for those of you keeping score at home, the obvious ones for this week were Michael Vick, Anquan Boldin, Peyton Manning, Adrian Peterson, Tom Brady, Drew Brees, and Chris Johnson.
This week was not a good week to bench Jay Cutler or Jahvid Best. I have Jay Cutler as my QB1 in two leagues, but I chose to bench him in one of the two to “play it safe” with Favre. I hate it when I play it safe. I hate it even more when it backfires. Uh, needless to say, I won’t do that again.
We knew Jahvid Best was going to be good, but THIS good…against the Eagles. Surprise! Hate yourself for doubting him. I loathe myself because I was already high on the kid.
Here are the rest of the unusual top scorers from Week 2, a week that will haunt me for a lifetime.
Believe It — Best was excellent, especially on the short pass from Shaun Hill that he turned into a 75-yard touchdown. Some were comparing him to Brian Westbrook and Chris Johnson going into this season, and this Week 2 performance certainly shows hints of that kind of ability. I don’t think you’re going to be able to “buy low” on him anymore this season, and I doubt you’ll really want to “sell high” on him either.
Best proved this week that he can score plenty of fantasy points against even the toughest of defenses and without his starting quarterback Matthew Stafford. That makes him a must-start in my book for the rest of the season, and we’ll see if we can confirm that next week when he faces Minnesota.
Jason Snelling: 129 yards, 2 TDs, 5 catches for 57 yards, 1 TD
Believe It (When He Plays) — We’ve never forgotten about Snelling’s abilities, and when Michael Turner went down with a groin injury in this one, Snelling jumped right into his role to reap the rewards. I don’t think the Cardinals put a defense on the field as they allowed the Falcons to run up 41 points. Ouch.
Unfortunately for Snelling, the Falcons have said that Michael Turner’s groin injury is not severe and that he could have gone back into the game if it was close. So while Snelling was awesome this week, it’ll be hard to predict when the Falcons will next have to rely on his talents. He will at least continue to spell Turner, but he really only has value when the full load is put on his back.
Still, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to add him to your bench if you own Michael Turner. You’d definitely want a piece of this action if Turner were to reaggravate his injury later in the season.
Believe It — No Leonard Weaver and a banged-up Mike Bell makes McCoy a happy boy. Of course, this stat line was against the Lions, which really makes it like saying Neil Armstrong had a great vertical when he was jumping in zero gravity on the moon.
I am not a huge fan of McCoy, but he appears to have stumbled into more of a workload that I expected him to have this season. If he makes the best of it, he should be a solid stud. We’ll get another chance to see what he can do against a slightly more difficult defense next week when he faces Jacksonville.
Jay Cutler: 277 passing yards, 3 TDs
Believe It — Look at that stat line. No interceptions? None? Cutler put his critics on notice this week. It’s physically painful to me knowing that I sat Cutler in one league, but at least I started him in another to benefit from his huge day in Dallas.
Mike Martz has made this offense into a force to be reckoned with, and Cutler made all the right throws Sunday. Looks like those who counted on Cutler to put it all together this season in Chicago have hit it big. I believe in him going forward.
Mark Sanchez: 220 passing yards, 3 TDs
Not Buying It — “Sanchize” went from one of the worst games of his career to one of the best in just one week, but it’s hard to say he’ll do this on a regular basis. Sanchez may have the tools, but he’s still very young. He outplayed Tom Brady with the help of the Jets’ non-stop attacking defense.
New York will frequently rely on their running game and defense this season and allow Sanchez to do just enough not to lose. He’ll be better when Santonio Holmes gets on the field, but he won’t be matching Brady’s and Peyton Manning’s numbers every week.
Sanchez owners should expect stats similar to what Matt Ryan has posted over the last couple of years. Just be pleasantly surprised when he puts together a game like he did Sunday.
Shaun Hill: 335 passing yards, 2 TDs, 2 INTs
Not Buying It — Clearly, Hill can run the offense in Stafford’s absence, but he’s not going to create any quarterback controversy. Take away the 75-yard score by Jahvid Best, and this stat line reads 260 passing yards, 1 TD, 2 INT, which is a little more ordinary.
Kyle Orton: 307 passing yards, 1 TD
Believe It — The Broncos are a passing team, and even though he didn’t take great advantage of that with passing touchdowns this week, Orton once again put up big yardage. Expect him to be a solid QB2 this season with QB1 upside depending on the matchup.
Mike Tolbert: 82 yards, 2 TDs, 1 catch for 13 yards
Believe It — Mike Tolbert got the rock in Ryan Mathews absence, but unlike Snelling, he could be gunning for a larger share of the carries even when Mathews is healthy. Tolbert punched in 2 touchdowns and seemed adequate enough in the running game for San Diego. Meanwhile, Mathews seems to have a fumble problem.
The Chargers appear more apt to use Tolbert over Darren Sproles if Mathews were to miss any time or shows that he is too green to start at running back for a playoff contender. So take note of this stat line and waiver wire accordingly if you want to protect your Mathews investment or if you want to snipe a LeRon McClain-type talent to keep in reserve.
Kevin Walter: 11 catches for 144 yards, 1 TD
Not Buying It — The hype train is still rolling out of Jacoby Jones’ station. Jones also had a touchdown, but he didn’t rack up more than 100 yards like Water did. Expect these two to battle it out for a good while, similar to the way Robert Meachem and Devery Henderson seem to battle it out beside Marques Colston for the Saints.
It’s hard to predict who will be the most solid No. 2 fantasy wide receiver beside Andre Johnson on the Texans this season, but keep your eye on both Walter and Jones. Walter received a good amount of targets while Johnson was being attended to in the locker room, and I don’t believe his bigger game this Sunday means he’s won the competition.
Not mentioned for the sake of obviousness, Matt Schaub, Aaron Rodgers, Adrian Peterson, Steelers D/ST, Peyton Manning, and Andre Johnson.
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.
Coming off the heels of allegations that he assaulted a friend of LeBron James and a Week 4 game in which Braylon Edwards caught absolutely nothing, it’s surprising to see him be swept away to the New York Jets in a trade this morning.
In exchange, the Jets sent the Browns young receiver Chansi Stuckey, a special teamer and two draft picks.
Edwards looked like one of the top targets in the NFL in 2007 as he and Derek Anderson, coming off the bench to replace Charlie Frye, became fantasy superstars. Edwards ended the season with 16 touchdowns, and many fantasy football pros drafted him beside names like Randy Moss the following season when both Anderson and Edwards disappointingly regressed back to the usual for the Cleveland Browns.
Drowning in mediocrity, Edwards now gets his shot at the big time. He’s always enjoyed the spotlight, and New York should provide him with plenty of that as he tries to make a name for himself as a true top-flight receiver and earn a big money contract for 2010 and beyond. His rookie deal comes to an end this season unless the Jets give him a new contract.
There’s still the pesky matter of a potential suspension for Edwards, but the punishment would likely not be enforced until 2010 once the league is done investigating the incident. The Jets weren’t concerned enough to pass on acquiring him.
Now all the eyes in New York are on Braylon Edwards to overcome his recent bouts of dropsies and prove his 2007 season was no fluke. Much will be expected of him as has been expected of Mark Sanchez, who hasn’t disappointed much in his first four games as a pro.
Fantasy Impact on Edwards/Jets
While Edwards will most likely be happier in New York and possibly more open down the field for the Jets, his fantasy value should remain about the same for several weeks. He still has to learn the offense and find his rhythm with Mark Sanchez. There’s always a danger that Edwards, like Roy Williams in 2008, disappears in this offense until he can find his stride, but the Jets will try to incorporate him as best they can.
Edwards’ owners should keep their expectations in check. Remember that Sanchez is a rookie quarterback on a defensive-minded team. Sanchez’s going to play it safe most of the time, but having the option to take shots down field should open more things up in the Jets’ offense. Edwards is likely to take the No. 1 role from Jerricho Cotchery in this offense and clear the middle of the field for Dustin Keller. As always, more danger down the sides of the field should help Thomas Jones and Leon Washington find running lanes.
Overall, it’s an upgrade for Edwards and for the entire Jets’ offense, including Mark Sanchez. Edwards should be owned in all leagues already, but pick him up if someone gave up on him too soon.
If you want to trade for Edwards, wait a week or two until the trade hype and his first two quiet games have passed, and buy him low before he really does something in the Jets’ offense. He shouldn’t become a factor right away, but he could have WR2 or WR3 value by season’s end.
Fantasy Impact on Browns
Chansi Stuckey isn’t much in the fantasy department. Brett Favre took a liking to him near the red zone last season, but this season, Stuckey has been on the decline since his 64-yard and one touchdown performance in Week 1. Only time will tell how the Browns use him once he adjusts to the Cleveland way of suffering, I mean playing.
The real gainer here is Mohamed Massaquoi. Anderson neglected Edwards in favor of Massaquoi last week in Mo’s 148-yard breakout game. Massaquoi was a hot waiver wire grab going into this week, but his prospects just got hotter. Unlike Edwards, Massaquoi moves into a starring role in an offense with which he is already familiar.
As much as the Browns should have to pass this season, Massaquoi must be owned in all leagues moving forward and is desperately in need of a good nickname so that we don’t have to type out Massaquoi 10 times a day if he becomes a real fantasy stud.
While Edwards’ departure steals some talent away from the Browns roster, the fantasy impact should be minimal since Edwards just wasn’t being used enough to be a fantasy factor. Besides Massaquoi’s big jump in value and the potential for someone else on the Browns’ roster to step up in Edwards’ absence, Cleveland remains more of less unchanged.
Darren McFadden is the biggest fantasy football tease in America. If Keith Olbermann were still doing his “Worst Person in the NFL” segment, it would be Run DMC. McFadden is the flirt that no one ever dates, and the bane of many a fantasy football team.
Draft him his rookie season? Oh, yeah, about that Justin Fargas fella, he’ll still get most of the carries while McFadden tiptoes around on his turf toe injury.
Draft him in 2009 after all the talk about the Raiders making him a multidimensional threat, receiving and running, capable of bending space and time to his will? Well, you get goose eggs every week and fumbles that cancel out any fantasy points he may happen to score.
He’s terrible, but it’s not all his fault. It’s Oakland. Right now, nothing can rise out of the fantasy pit that is the black hole of California.
JaMarcus Russell and his inability to hit a receiver is killing the fantasy value of all the Raiders. He looked impressive enough to start the season against the Chargers, but since that loss, he’s fallen off a cliff.
Russell is a murderer of dreams. Every time he throws the ball, an angel loses its wings and slaps Al Davis back to life. I’d say that a puppy dies every time Russell catches a snap, but let’s not get into the Michael Vick drama.
Instead, let’s focus on the good things. At least the Raiders have a talented backfield with McFadden and Michael Bush…if ever the defense would be threatened enough by the Oakland passing game not to stack up eight or more men in the box.
For now, Darren McFadden should be benched in all leagues until further notice. He made sure of that by getting hurt. He should miss the next two to four weeks while recovering from surgery for a torn meniscus in his right knee.
While I might hold onto him a few more weeks, it’s safe to consider dropping him in all but deep leagues. The Raiders face the Giants, Jets and Eagles over the next three weeks, which gives them plenty of time to become even more miserable or develop some sign of life in the passing game.
Wish I could find that pic of Philip Rivers with grass in his helmet
I heard several people on either side of the fence of my “pass” on Philip Rivers in my preseason “pick or pass” for quarterbacks, but I stand behind my statements that he will not live up to his draft stock this season.
Last year was an extraordinary one for him stat-wise, and you should not expect him to repeat. He didn’t look good against the Steelers until the final quarter, and he’s been alternating between decent 20+ fantasy point weeks and mediocre point totals in the teens.
Don’t expect him to be able to expose a defense with that many big plays in his games moving forward.
Mark Sanchez de-poised
It took four weeks, but the rookie who couldn’t be cracked finally lost his poise this week against the New Orleans Saints.
Now, rather than his poise that had stolen the headlines for weeks, all anyone can talk about are his turnovers.
Yes, on the season Mark Sanchez has five interceptions and five fumbles with three of those picks coming in Sunday’s game, but thus far, the Jets have been able to overcome his mistakes with solid defense.
Against the Saints, his turnovers cost them by giving away 14 points.
Despite his lack of poise (for once), Sanchez remains the rookie quarterback to own this season, especially now that Matthew Stafford is day-to-day with a knee injury.
He’s no Matt Ryan, but he’ll do if you need a backup.
Titans not so Titan-y
Four games into the season, the Titans are winless, and they’re looking worse in every contest. I can’t say that I’m not rooting for Kerry Collins to be replaced, but that said, he’s not the problem.
The Titans defense isn’t what it used to be, and the only explosive player on offense is Chris Johnson.
They’ll have to get Johnson more involved in the passing game if they’re going to be behind in games all season, but right now, he’s still a must-start fantasy stud.
In I-don’t-want-to-talk-about-it news, the Cowboys aren’t looking too promising if they keep getting the play calling they did Sunday. Tony Romo owners around the nation agree. He’ll be boom or bust all season.
Bengals (-5.5) over BROWNS
The Bengals beat the Packers and Steelers in back-to-back games. The Browns finally benched Ms. Quinn, but Derek Anderson somehow managed to play worse in his second half debut. I have to imagine it’s tough for anybody to like the Browns in this one.
Lions (+10) over BEARS
The first step is admitting you have a problem. I admit I do not like Jay Cutler and that my picks regarding Chicago this year should be taken with a grain of salt.
Raiders (+9) over TEXANS
The Texans were on a nice little win streak before they went to Oakland last year. Oakland’s strength is anything but JaMarcus Russell passing, AKA running the ball. The Texans have one of the worst run defenses in the league. That leads me to believe Schaub will be on the sidelines a lot and that this game will be closer than people think.
Seahawks (+11) over COLTS
The Colts are looking very good, but 11 points? I can’t turn that down.
Bucs (+7) over REDSKINS
The Redskins are going to be booed by their home fans for losing to Detroit last week. They barely beat the Rams the week before that. The Bucs will smell blood in the water just like the Lions last week.
Titans (-3) over JAGS
I’m having trouble letting go. The Titans are 0-3, yet I keep picking them. I view this game as a win-win situation. If they win, great. If they lose, the Vince Young grumblings will get a little louder.
Giants (-8.5) over CHIEFS
The Chiefs have the 30th ranked total offense and 22nd ranked total defense. The Giants have the second ranked total defense and sixth ranked total offense. That points to a double-digit can of whoop-ass where I come from.
Ravens (+2) over PATRIOTS
This is a tough one for me. The Patriots had a solid statement game against the Falcons last week, but the Ravens have done everything asked of them so far this season. I am going to stick with the Ravens until they do me wrong.
Bills (-2) over DOLPHINS
The Dolphins have a decent run defense, but shutting down the Marshawn Lynch-Fred Jackson combo won’t be easy. And as much as I don’t like him, my gut says T.O. will have a solid game to make up for the goose egg he put up last week.
SAINTS (-7) over Jets
I keep picking against Mark Sanchez and the Jets. Maybe this will be the week that I’m actually right. I think the Saints will put points on the board no matter who they are playing, but I’m not sure the Jets can do the same on the road.
49ERS (-10) over Rams
The 49ers are going to come out angry after letting the Vikings game slip away from them. Their defense is opportunistic at home, and I’m guessing Kyle Boller will try to do a little too much in the starting role.
Cowboys (-3) over BRONCOS
I realize the Broncos are 3-0, but I’m still going with the Cowboys. They have more talent, and their ground game is punishing teams right now.
Chargers (+6.5) over STEELERS
This is way too many points for the Steelers to be favored by. They have lost two in a row and have done nothing this season to justify that spread. This is a no-brainer pick regardless of who you think is going to win.
Packers (+3.5) over VIKINGS
Brett Favre is saying all the right things this week, but there is no way it’s just another game to him. I’m guessing he will go out and try to win this game himself instead of just handing off to Purple Jesus like he should. This is must-watch TV no matter which team you root for.