Week 10 Starts and Sits: Chris Johnson lives! Maybe. Sort of.

Even if Chris Johnson will only have one more good game this season, this is the game to start him. The Jaguars owe us that.

And Matt Forte could be in for a big game of his own if Matchups is correct that Trestman will lean on the run to protect a possibly not 100 percent Jay Cutler.

Is DeMarco Murray a safe bet the rest of the way? Keepers will take that chance. Continue reading

Ronnie Hillman and the Broncos Backfield: Own the Whole Herd

According to Ian Rapoport on Twitter, Ronnie Hillman, Montee Ball, and Knowshon Moreno will rotate drive-by-drive as a running back by committee, or RBBC, in Denver.

The goal of the drive-by-drive rotation will be to keep the offense moving fast with few substitutions while allowing each running back their fair chance to get in a groove. But it leaves little certainty for fantasy football drafters. Continue reading

Week 13 Pickups: We should have Knowshon Better

It’s getting too late in the season to be reading this unless you’ve already got a playoff spot. I hope you do. But if you’re reading this with no hope of making it to the big dance, I commend you.

So what if your team imploded early in the season? You made a commitment to play 13 weeks, and I respect that. The best thing you can do when your team disappoints you early in the year is to keep making moves and improving your roster. Maybe those wins don’t matter down the stretch, but there’s nothing like knocking someone out of the playoffs when you have no shot of getting there yourself.

The best leagues have teams that remain competitive every year.

Not to mention, you’re only going to get better if you practice, practice, practice at making moves and building a team that can compete. By playing out your full string of games, you’ll figure out what you did wrong.

So what did we do wrong last week?

Week 13 Pickups

Knowshon Moreno was the surprise starter and workhorse back for the Broncos Sunday. While Ronnie Hillman is the explosive rookie, we all must have forgotten John Fox loves his vets.

Moreno does a better job of protecting the Broncos’ biggest asset on offense, Peyton Manning, so he’ll be getting most of the work in Willis McGahee‘s stead. Readjust your waiver claims and go all-in for Moreno. He’s no RB1, but decent yardage and the occasional score is totally on the radar. He’s a RB2 in the right matchups (and assuming Hillman doesn’t get anything more than a few touches per game moving forward).

Bryce Brown hit the fantasy football world in the mouth Monday night with a two-touchdown performance against the Panthers.

While he’s only the Eagles’ starter until LeSean McCoy returns, it sounds like McCoy could be out for an extended period of time. He still hasn’t passed Phase 1 of the concussion tests, which places him behind Michael Vick in terms of who’ll return to the field first.

In his place, Brown showed us he’s got RB1 ability, and he might even keep some of that workload if/when McCoy comes back. Go all in with any leftover FAAB you got stashed if you need a temporary RB2 with RB1 upside.

Since Andre Brown is out of the year, David Wilson should be back on your radar. He’ll be Ahmad Bradshaw‘s reliever for the next few weeks with a chance to start when Bradshaw eventually injures himself enough to miss time. But knowing how the Giants’ coaches feel about Wilson, they may bring in veteran depth if that happened.

And Jalen Parmele‘s time in the sun has passed. His groin injury sent him to IR this week and left us with the utterly disappointing Rashad Jennings. Claim ‘em if you gotta.

Outside of these shifts in the running back pecking order, there’s a whole collection of young wide receivers to stash if you need some receiver depth for the playoffs. Tops among them are Ryan Broyles and Chris Givens. I tend to like Broyles more because he’s shown playmaking ability all over the field and should remain a starter next to Megatron for the rest of the year. But Givens has a beauty of a schedule. Both could be WR3s or decent WR2s the rest of the way.

After Broyles and Givens, there’s  Mohamed Sanu, the slow but sure-handed compliment to A.J. Green these past few weeks. He’s quietly making his living in the end zone and doing it well. Standard-scoring leagues take note, and PPR leagues should stash him for depth as he could continue his hot streak in the playoffs. He has WR2 upside when he’s scoring every week.

The options are a little more risky after that. T.Y. Hilton was explosive on Sunday, but he’s hard to trust while still splitting time with Donnie Avery.

Jarius Wright will fill in while Percy Harvin remains sidelined, but Kyle Rudolph seems to benefit more than Wright from Harvin’s absence.

If you can’t get your hands on any of these players, dig back in our waiver wire archives. Good luck making it into your fantasy football playoffs.

Week 2 Starts to Sit Well With Me: Milk Was a Bad Choice

Is your fantasy team starting to make you feel like this?

It’s getting a little rough out of there after only one week of play. So how about we get to a better place in Week 2?

For the most part, you should stick to your guns this week and see if your team rises into the fantasy juggernaut you thought you drafted in Week 2, but there are a few situations worth worrying about.

Matchups That Scare Me This Week:

Michael Vick vs. Ravens. As bad as Vick looked against the Browns, this game could be even worse. He’s probably better than he showed in Week 1, but when is he going to be that guy again? I think you’re stuck starting him if you drafted him as an elite option, but brace yourself.

Chris Johnson vs. Chargers.  I’m not sure if it’s his instincts or his offensive line, but it’s looking like another looooong year for Chris Johnson owners. The Chargers slowed down Darren McFadden in Week 1 and could easily keep Johnson at bay. Chances are he’s another player you just have to start because of where you had to draft him, and we’ll just have to hope he finds his rhythm in Week 2.

Trent Richardson vs. Bengals. It’s tough to be a Brown right now. That’s about all you can say.

Michael Turner vs.  Broncos. I’m not alone in doubting Turner, and a Denver no huddle attack led by Peyton Manning should force the Falcons into a hurried no huddle of their own. Turner won’t do much for you this week unless he finds the  end zone. Jacquizz Rodgers is the Atlanta running back to own this season, but he probably needs another week or two to ripen.

For a more upbeat look at starts and sits for Week 2, I’m throwing it to Footballguys TV.

Good luck…and avoid the milk this Sunday.

Jamaal Charles owners: How to replace your stud running back

If you lost Jamaal Charles on Sunday, you don’t have a lot of options. He was your first round pick, and unless you play in a very small league, it’s unlikely you have someone else of Charles’ caliber on your roster to pick up the slack.

You also aren’t going to find many first-round quality players on the waiver wire. So at this point, you are left with the desperation options.

It’s time to beg, borrow, cheat, or steal.

One note before we start — you don’t have to do these in this order. Begging is for the worst off of the Charles’ owners, but all of us could benefit from “stealing,” even if we didn’t lose Charles. In fact, “stealing” is probably a good place to start for the majority of you. That’s why I put it at the end…

BEG

A trade is the fastest way to fix your roster when you face a catastrophic injury like losing Charles. You won’t ever have as strong a team as you had before, but just like getting burned on a bad investment, you have to take stock of what you have, package your assets, and sell off what you can to improve your net worth (in this case, your team).

Now I’m assuming you’re in dire straits without Charles. You might not have another running back capable of even RB2-quality production. Maybe you were rotating a stream of flex-level running backs in alongside Charles. Maybe the only other stud on your roster was your top-5 quarterback.

If you can field a respectable roster in Week 3 without Charles, hold off and move on to the less drastic strategies below. But if you’re rocking back and forth in the fetal position while screaming “Jamaaaaaal. WHY?!?,” stay with me here…

Hopefully, you drafted some good depth at at least one position. It’s probably safe to assume it’s not running back, so let’s pretend you have a little extra talent at quarterback or wide receiver.

It’s time to start talking to every owner in your league who has a hole at wide receiver or quarterback and a running back worth starting every week. Package what you have and shop it.

Start your negotiations by making a reasonable offer, but if that goes south, beg. Beg like you’re life depended on it. Play the pity card, and maybe someone will grant you a chance at their prize running back.

Target the owners of Chris Johnson, Steven Jackson, Arian Foster, and Shonn Greene, who may be disappointed in what they’ve brought to the box score so far. You don’t have the luxury of being disappointed in them. You just need high-ceiling starters.

Chris Johnson would be the first player I’d target. Foster or Jackson might come at a discount since they are currently injured, and Greene owners might be convinced that he won’t rise to the occasion this season either.

For the right price, I’d take a chance at Greene.

Float your starting-quality backup quarterback out there packaged alongside one of your WR2 or WR1-level wide receivers. If you feel good enough about your QB2, try offering your stud-level starter to the guy that drafted Peyton Manning.

It’s a great time to trade Matthew Stafford to the highest bidder if you smartly drafted a quality alternative in case Stafford didn’t make it a full 16 games. Maybe you’ll miss out on his breakout season, but you could end up with a fantasy stud to replace what you lost in Charles.

BORROW

If trading for a stud or potential stud doesn’t work, it’s time to look at the lesser options and “borrow.”

You’re not actually borrowing in this situation. You’re still trading, but you’re looking at the potential to upgrade this player down the road.

If left with no other options, go ahead and look at trading depth for depth. Maybe you could deal a backup tight end, WR3, or your backup quarterback to give yourself some more depth at running back.

Nabbing someone like Joseph Addai, Marshawn Lynch, C.J. Spiller, or Ryan Grant could still prove valuable. Don’t write anyone off. But don’t take any terrible deals either just to add a running back to your squad. You have to get a decent value for the package you put together. A bad trade would pretty much sink your season.

You might try to sneak a deal for a promising up-and-comer.

Make a play for Ben Tate whose owner may not need his opportunistic play for the next several weeks while Foster heals up as much as you could. Look for James Starks, who is rising in Green Bay. Maybe the rest of your league hasn’t noticed yet. Finally, it pays off to have a guy in your league who lives under a rock!

While getting a running back out of the deal would be preferred, it’s okay to consider a trade that upgrades your other positions. Anything that improves your team will help, and maybe that additional strength at quarterback or wide receiver could be turned into running back depth at a later date.

While you might not start these running backs right away or have no need for the additional depth at another position, these players are good to have. You can hold onto them for now, start them when they have decent matchups, and maybe somewhere down the road, they’ll have a big enough game for you to deal them again.

On that next trade, that’s when you might land a stud to replace Charles.

CHEAT

Okay, I realize most people don’t want to cheat. But some do. And I feel it’s my duty to cover this even if I don’t wholeheartedly endorse it. In fact, I’ll despise you if you pull it off. But hey, we’re in it to win it. So here goes…

This one’s the hard one. You might not have a chance at swindling an owner in your league, and even if you do, you might not get this trade past the rest of the owners in your league. But…rumors and misinformation might be a decent way to get a fantasy starter off another owner.

All it takes is a text, presumed to be a forward from Twitter, with “RT @AdamSchefter” in front, and you could have another owner thinking they need to sell high. (Kidding, of course. Who would do that?)

Haven’t you always wanted to be “that guy?”

You could make a play for Matt Forte by talking up Marion Barber’s upcoming return and his ability to vulture every touchdown from Forte the rest of the way. It is possible, even if it’s not probable. So it’s not a lie, MOM!

Sure, you still have to worry that it comes true, in some part, but Forte’s a decent recovery from losing Charles.

Steven Jackson owners might be willing to believe he’ll never be healthy again this season. He looked slow in the first game of the season, didn’t he? Might as well get a decent value for him rather than deal with his questionable status all season long.

Ryan Mathews certainly isn’t going to get enough touches to be worth anything in San Diego. So what if every analyst out there seems to believe he’s the better back. Tolbert is clearly the guy that’s going to get all the fantasy points, right?

Use rumors and speculation to your advantage, and you just might “negotiate” your way into a nice consolation prize.

But yes, if you pull this off, several people in your league will call you out for it. You’ll be cursed for the rest of the season, and you probably won’t even make it to the championship game due to karma. All wins have their price.

STEAL

There’s not going to be a lot on the waiver wire, but there’s enough. Now that you’ve lost Charles, it’s time to take everything you can and “steal” value for free off the wire.

First, your Kansas City replacements. Unfortunately, they’ll cost the most and probably produce the least.

Thomas Jones + Dexter McCluster + Le’Ron McClain

I covered this in this week’s waiver wire post, but Jones probably assumes the lead back duties here. He’s not exciting; in fact, he’s looked totally finished so far this season. But he’s the guy listed second on the depth chart, and he’s likely to get the goal line looks, at least initially.

Jones is the running back I’d try to pickup first, but don’t break the bank to get him. He’s not worth it, especially with how lackluster the Chiefs offense has been thus far. Thomas Jones is not going to spark anything for them.

Dexter McCluster’s been used as a gadget guy by the Chiefs and has gotten more touches than Jones so far this year up until Charles was injured. With his ability to act as a receiver or running back (not to mention his eligibility as both a WR and RB on some fantasy sites), McCluster may actually see the most productive touches in Charles’ absence. He’ll also come at a lower cost than Jones if you’re having to bid on McCluster in a FAAB.

The dark horse in this is Le’Ron McClain. We’ve seen him take more than his fair share of the work during his time in Baltimore, and now he’s in the mix in Kansas City.

Jones is old, and McCluster is undersized. So the bulk of the workload could easily land in McClain’s lap. Again, he’s not going to blow the doors off anyone, but he could be productive if the Chiefs pick themselves up off the floor.

Assuming you miss out on Jones and McCluster, stash McClain. You never know.

And here’s where the real stealing comes in. If you have the roster space, I’d claim every single decent handcuff back still on waivers that you can. That list includes Deji Karim in Jacksonville, Kendall Hunter in San Francisco, Delone Carter in Indy, and Michael Bush in Oakland.

Bush and Carter have carved a role of sorts on their offenses for now with the potential to do more, especially if there’s an injury. Hunter’s not getting a lot of touches, but he certainly looks like he could do plenty with them after leading the league in rushing during the preseason. And Karim will continue to protect Maurice Jones-Drew’s long-term health by taking a few touches each week until MJD suffers a setback or another injury.

If they’re out there, I’d go get Willis McGahee, who could end up winning John Fox’s favor if Moreno can’t stay healthy, and LaDainian Tomlinson, who still might be the most productive back on the Jets, first.

You’re goal with these backups is to be first in line to benefit when the next devastating injury hits fantasy owners. And in the meantime, you can tell your tale of woe over a campfire to the rest of your league to scare them into trading you for their own handcuff.

It’s not going to make you any friends, but this strategy is an act of desperation.

And if you can’t “steal” your way back into fantasy relevance, well…you better start trolling the waiver wire and maximizing every spot on your roster. You’re going to need every point you can get the rest of the way.

RIP Jamaal’s ACL. Pour some out for your homies’ knees. And fingers crossed this doesn’t happen to any other first-round picks this season.

http://youtu.be/dqHKf5NuVtg

And seriously, what’s going on in KC? Charles is their third ACL tear this season.

Overreaction Monday: Why Did I Draft Chris Johnson?

http://youtu.be/fjL-4nwnkkk

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.)

And Ryan Fitzpatrick is not in consideration because he went to Harvard.

Adrian Peterson … NO touchdowns? Donovan McNabb has ruined Peterson. Season over. Maybe I can deal him for C.J. Spiller.

The 49ers defense cannot be stopped! Yes, Ted Ginn, you will return every ball you touch.

Jamaal Charles and Matt Cassel are nothing without the greatness of Charlie Weis.

PLAXICO BURRESS IS BACK, BABY!

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.