So thishappened. In case you somehow haven’t heard already, the replacement refs blew the call at the end of Monday Night Football by awarding a touchdown to Golden Tate in place of a Green Bay interception. Even Jon Gruden’s disgusted.
The play in question (or is it still in question?), courtesy of KSK:
And the player reactions rolled in all night long.
WARNING: Some NSFW. Especially T.J. Lang. Work is NOT a place for T.J. Lang tweets.
And thanks to BeyondTheBets.com, we get to see inside the sportsbooks as the final play went down. So much celebration…so many broken dreams.
The NFL probably had no idea what to do with all the angry tweets, but they might have tried to get in on the conversation without thinking it through. Twitter followers captured this retweet from the official NFL Twitter account mocking the officiating.
Let’s not struggle with the sadness of this moment, that a season of The League is once again coming to an end.
Let’s, instead, celebrate what we have been given: a new champion, a new reason to look forward to next football season even if our fantasy football team sucks again in 2011 (there will, after all, be a Season 3), and at least a handful of new vocabulary words you can sneak into your TPS reports like “vaginal hubris,”“vinegar strokes,” and “rankings slave.”
So let’s not treat this like the end. Let’s treat this moment like a new beginning. And let’s celebrate “The Sacko Bowl” for all its glory.
We’re back in this.
Before the championship game, the league comes together to force Andre to give up The Dre, his perversion of the Shiva, and sacrifice their annual offerings. For the sake of simplicity, Kevin resorts to calling the trophy The ShiDre, and I will, too.
Jenny gives The ShiDre a hemorrhoid pillow in remembrance of the Andre incident in Vegas at the beginning of this season. Ruxin sacrifices the Kevin Federline hat that Andre gave him for Christmas. (He would be a regifter.)
And Pete offers up The Sacko since Andre will probably be stuck with it once he loses to Taco.
At the bar with Pete, Kevin’s miserable because he’s dreading Jenny winning the trophy and forcing him to stare at it for an entire season. But he only gets more miserable the more Ruxin gloats.
“Smartass Kermit” brags that he’ll be the one to bring home the trophy and then proceeds to poll the bar patrons about who to start in his flex spot, Donald Brown or Steve Breaston.
As Ruxin acts as “census taker,” Kevin’s able to listen in because he has learned to read lips by watching porn on an iPhone while in the shower. It seems Jenny hasn’t been around to heat up the bedroom lately since she’s been working so hard on her fantasy football team. He’s had to resort to his special skills.
To escape from the Ruxin reign of tyranny inside the bar, Pete takes Kevin outside for a surprise, his new Crown Vic. Kevin doesn’t understand why Pete would buy a cop car.
You see, driving a Crown Vic doesn’t make you a cop, but being a cop almost certainly means you drive a Crown Vic. It’s not really an easy stereotype to escape.
On the home front, Kevin and Jenny discuss her lineup for the week. Kevin’s concerned about her starting Steve Johnson in the week he plays the Jets and Darrelle Revis, but she won’t be swayed by his talk of matchups.
This is how secretaries who don’t watch football win every office league, by the way.
Things haven’t been easy for Andre this season. When he arrives at the bar complaining about his streak of bad luck, the guys tell him he’s being punished by Shiva for destroying the trophy and remaking it as The Dre. He’s got “DRAIDS.”
Ruxin tells Jenny that she emasculated Kevin by dominating in fantasy football, and Jenny seems to believe there’s some truth to that.
At a loss for who to start in his flex, Ruxin consults Rafi at the gym. He’s fighting chicks. “It’s erotic.” Dominating his league, Rafi tells him his method is just to “jerk it out” and stop thinking so much.
But Ruxin’s not that kind of guy.
To force Ruxin to decide, Rafi puts him into Dirty Randy’s “stuffed pepper” hold, and Ruxin coughs out Donald Browns just before he loses consciousness.
Lots of priceless quotes from Rafi here. Kind of makes you missed that guy and his “murder boner.”
With the games upon us, Pete’s embracing his new cop image by collecting free sandwiches and needlessly harassing hot chicks on the street with Taco.
Meanwhile, Jenny’s seeking out the sausage place that Kevin likes to do something wifey for him and ease the emasculation and depression he’s suffered from her dominance in her first year in the league.
But before she gets there, she can’t help but drop into a trophy store along the way. Inside, she asks about the largest trophy they sell but gets quickly buzzkilled when she sees Andre, having a replica made of The ShiDre.
The close contact with the former champion instantly curses Jenny with her own case of the DRAIDS. It’s not looking good for her season. At least that roster’s already set?
Back at the house, Kevin’s looking at just that. Kevin swaps Steve Johnson for Percy Harvin due to matchups and jumps in the shower convinced he’s helped Jenny win the Shiva Bowl.
Next thing he knows, Jenny throws open the shower curtain Psycho-style to tell Kevin she’s got the DRAIDS. Now with her roster altered, she’s doomed to fail, and Kevin’s caught jerking it to his silent picture porn in the shower by his own wife. Masculinity fail.
Time to face the music.
On Sunday, Kevin, Jenny, Taco, and Pete sit disgusted as they watch the football games roll on while Ruxin dances maniacal around the room in celebration. He’s going to take home the championship, and everybody knows it.
Taco, in losing, looks to be the winner of The Sacko, even though he can’t understand why he gets it for losing a game instead of winning.
But Andre’s in for a surprise. There was a recalculation of Joe Flacco’s touchdown pass to Anquan Boldin, and in that recalc, the pass was reclassified as a handoff. So instead of having a 4-point win, Andre gets a 2-point loss and The Sacko. “First to worst.”
At this moment, Andre’s greatest time of weakness, Ruxin marches in to collect The Shiva from him, but Andre’s not ready to give it up.
Andre races up to the roof of his condo before Ruxin can catch him. And while locked in mortal combat, Ruxin and Andre accidentally let The ShiDre drop off the building and into the windshield of a parked car. Finding the driver less than pleased, the gang starts to try to talk their way out of it, but he’s got no mercy for fantasy football.
Luckily, Pete arrives in his cop car to take everyone but Ruxin away to safety. Technically, the trophy is Ruxin’s and his problem to handle.
At least the league is nice enough to pick Ruxin up after he’s done getting booked.
Emerging from the police station, Ruxin’s insanity has reached a new level. And as he places the winner name plaque onto the trophy and announces his reign of terror, the malevolent forces welling up inside of him as he Shiva blasts seem to cause a solar eclipse.
So what does this mean for our league? For the world? Will we ever play fantasy football again?
Given the pivotal moment here, I think it’s best we end things with Pete’s words: “Ruxin has won. It is the end of days!”
See you all in Season 3.
Memorable Quotes from Episode 13:
JENNY: “ShiDre, your hemorrhoid donut that you earned in Vegas when you made that hard drive up Andre’s backfield. May you sit comfortably for all the rest of your years.”
TACO: “You’re going down, Dr. No Dick.”
TACO: “I’m gonna burn your nipples, bitch.”
KEVIN: “I hate fantasy football. And it’s the only thing I ever really loved.”
PETE: “Look, look. He’s the census taker. He’s polling around everyone on the planet asking ‘em the same question.”
KEVIN: “Well, I have this phone that I just downloaded all this filth on. And I bring it into the shower, and I turn the sound off so I don’t get caught.”
KEVIN: “I’m a very verbally-stimulated person. I need to know how good she needs it…why he’s delivering that pizza there. Plot points!”
KEVIN: “Well, did it come with a mustache and a bad attitude?” (about Pete’s car)
PETE: “Do you have any idea how infuriating it is to actually drive the speed limit?”
RUXIN: “You’ve been worshipping false idols, Andre.”
PETE: “I think you have the DRAIDS.”
JENNY: “And you are going to lose. And you’re going to go home, and you’re just going to savage your pud.”
RAFI: “Can I get the knife now? Is that cool? AHH! When are we gonna fight with the knife?”
RAFI: “Uh, the winner gets to punch the loser in the face as hard as he can…Yeah, it’s a dominance league.”
RAFI: “Thinking is pointless like motorcycle helmets.”
RAFI: “I don’t know what the technical term is, but Dirty Randy calls it the Stuffed Pepper. Do you feel it?”
RAFI: “Concept of extinguishing a human life really gets me aroused…It’s called a murder boner.”
TACO: “Okay. ‘Cause you can’t arrest me. You gave me a sandwich. This is entrapment.”
JENNY: “Are those sandwich bags?”
KEVIN: “Yeah. They work so good.”
RUXIN: “The beautiful flower that you see before you needed sunlight. It needed soil, but most of all, it needed manure. And that’s where you shit people came in, and as your leader, I love you as I will love all of my subjects. ‘Cause you’re shit people. But you’re my shit people. Beat you!”
TACO: “Six points from Flacco means you get The Sacko…from Taco.”
RUXIN: “Wow, it pierced this like it did Andre’s asshole.”
RUXIN: “Free at last. Free at last. Oh, Shiva, I am free at last.”
RUXIN: “Let the unrelenting reign of Ruxin begin.”
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?
It’s already Week 9. Week 9! That’s just four weeks away from the fantasy football playoffs for most of us. It’s time to start tightening up those rosters. As you exit your bye weeks, consider picking up extra running backs, wide receivers, and maybe a bang-or-bust fantasy playoff quarterback. These players could be the extra push you need to win in the playoffs, or they could do absolutely nothing for you. At least you’ll use your bench spots wisely.
When picking up free agents, you should also consider whether their current hype could get you a proven veteran with a great schedule for the fantasy playoffs. MJD, anyone?
Could Steve Johnson and your backup quarterback steal — if you got Big Ben at a discount, for example — land you MJD and a lesser receiver for Weeks 14-16? If it can, consider that deal.
If you’re a lock to make the playoffs, start planning your wins for Weeks 14-16. It’s that time. Now, on to the pickups.
LeGarrette Blount, RB, Bucs
Get him? Got him? Good. I hope you’ve been listening to all the Blount I’ve been talking for weeks. He’s a starting running back the rest of the way on a winning team and getting a hefty, at least in Week 8, amount of carries with more than 20 touches.
Steve Johnson, WR, Bills
He’s legit, and he seems to always find his way to the end zone. His size makes him the best Buffalo’s got when they get deep into enemy territory.
Jacob Tamme, TE, Colts
Is it fair that the Colts have a mini-Dallas Clark just waiting in the wings for a chance to play? No. But it is nice for Dallas Clark’s former fantasy owners.
Anthony Gonzalez, WR, Colts
He’s working his way back into the offense in Indianapolis, but the absence of Austin Collie leaves the door wide open for him to contribute in a big way each week.
Sidney Rice, WR, Vikings
There’s a slim chance he’s available in your league since someone probably drafted him and held onto him all season, despite my best efforts to convince them to let him go. But if Rice is out there, he might be able to make an impact during the fantasy football playoffs now that Moss is out of Minnesota.
Darrius Heyward-Bey, WR, Raiders
It’s unlikely that he’ll repeat his Week 8 performance, but in a way, he’s all the Raiders have in the passing game. McFadden’s challenging the defenses to use additional blockers to stop the run, which should free things up for DHB if he can break the big one AND catch the ball. It’s harder than it looks for DHB.
Visanthe Shiancoe, TE, Vikings
Without Randy Moss, Brett Favre could turn back to his tight end. Shiancoe started off the season with two strong performances before falling off the map and becoming completely irrelevant after Moss’ arrival. If Favre can still be effective with his injuries, both physically and to his ego, Shiancoe could become the Vikings best red zone target. But that’s could become, not will, until we see the Vikings passing game come back to life post-Moss.
Troy Smith, QB, 49ers
Maybe the 49ers just started the season with the wrong Smith under center. Smith threw for one touchdown and ran for another in his London debut. He’s on a bye this week, but as long as he keeps the starting job when he returns, he’ll face the Rams, Bucs and Cardinals before he hits a harder stretch against the Packers, Seahawks, and Chargers.
Brandon Tate, WR, Pats
It was Tate, not Deion Branch, who made the big plays on Sunday. Branch was dealing with an injury, but the spark that Tate provided won’t go unnoticed. Maybe those who wrote off Tate after the Patriots acquired Branch spoke too soon. While unreliable, Tate should be owned in deep leagues. But until he gets more attention from Tom Brady, I’d hold off on starting him.
Derek Anderson, QB, Cardinals
Arizona turned to the veteran again on Sunday after Max Hall failed to get the offense moving. With Anderson under center, the Cardinals looked a little bit like a shadow of their former selves — just a little bit. Assuming Anderson gets the start next week, he’d be a fine stash. The schedule gets much brighter for the Cardinals the rest of the way. They play the Broncos, Panthers, and Cowboys in Weeks 14-16, typically fantasy playoffs.
Razzball suggests a few team defense plays in addition to the usual waiver wire suspects in this week’s Waivering Wire
The Big Lead digs deep at every position in their Week 9 Fantasy Football Waiver Wire: Blount Trama and recommends jumping on the Tarvaris Jackson train if Brett Favre finally goes down. But that man is like a cockroach — nothing keeps him from starting.
The pain continues. We lost a lot of good men out there.
If you were already struggling to replace Jermichael Finley (like me) or fill the hole left by Dallas Clark (like me), I hope that you weren’t also relying on Tony Romo (again…like me) who is now out for the rest of the fantasy season. He may be back in time to play two games when most of us are in the fantasy playoffs, but that will only happen if — and that’s a big if — the Cowboys are in still in the running to make the playoffs. Plenty would have to break their way for that to happen.
Look at your quarterback’s schedule right now. If he fapicapces the Giants at any point this season, it’s time to strengthen your backup quarterback position. The New York Giants have already knocked five quarterbacks out of games this year after taking out Romo on Monday Night Football, and they’ll continue to attack.
Make sure you hang on to Kevin Kolb. Vick will face the Giants in Week 11.
If you a Favre owner, you might as well jump on the new quarterback bandwagon as well. Old Favre-ful hasn’t been putting up the numbers he did last season, and he looked terrible on Sunday night against his old team. His ankle can only get more fractured. Without a bye week in his future, I have to say it’s all downhill from here. Take a stab at adding one of these “Romo replacement” quarterbacks before the Romo owner does.
Matthew Stafford, QB, Detroit Lions
Detroit quarterbacks have been the unsung heroes of fantasy through the first part of the year. Until the Giants knocked Shaun Hill out, he was keeping up with the elite of the quarterback class. Stafford, in case you forgot him, is the starter in Detroit, which implies that he’s even better than Shaun Hill, the backup. This week, he gets to play the 31st ranked pass defense in Washington. This could be the beginning of a beautiful quarterback savior-ship.
Jon Kitna, QB, Dallas Cowboys
The most immediate gainer from Tony Romo’s injury, Kitna is now in control of the offensive weapons in Dallas. This group is the most talented that Kitna has ever had at his disposal, but he’s also probably past his prime as a quarterback. Time will tell what he’s able to do with Miles Austin, Roy Williams, Dez Bryant, Felix Jones…and the less than stellar offensive line that the Cowboys have struggled to work behind this season. At least this week he gets the Jaguars, which shouldn’t pose much of a challenge. If you can’t get your hands on Stafford, go get Kitna as a safe alternative.
Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB, Buffalo Bills
Fitzpatrick seems to have emerged as a consistent fantasy starter. He’s had 20 fantasy points or more (standard scoring with 6-point passing touchdowns) in his last three games, and he somehow managed to throw four touchdowns against the Ravens formidable pass defense — and two against the Jets. As long as the Bills continue to play from behind, Fitzpatrick will have value, and as I said in the Scoring Leaders post this week, he could rise to fantasy fame just like Tyler Thigpen did under Chan Gailey’s system in Kansas City not too long ago. But if you take a chance on Fitzpatrick, know that he’s a candidate to fall off a fantasy cliff at any moment, as the Bills are apt to do. He has his doubters. So while he’s doing well now (and you should ride it while you can), he’s a riskier pickup this week than someone like Kitna or Henne. I’d still take that chance. If you’re a gambler, you could even go with Fitz over Kitna.
Troy Smith, QB, San Francisco 49ers
The 49ers have passed over David Carr just like the fantasy gods did and named Troy Smith the starter for Week 8. I’m looking forward to seeing what he can do. As long as Alex Smith is held out with his separated shoulder (2-3 weeks) and maybe even after, Smith will be worth owning. And Singletary must have seen something he liked in Smith since they acquired him in order to jump him over Carr, the backup quarterback, to be the starter and to be bold enough to go into Week 8 with just two healthy quarterbacks, Carr and Smith, on the active roster. In the next four weeks, San Francisco faces Denver, a bye week, and then St. Louis and Tampa Bay. If Smith performs well in Week 8, the 49ers could adjust their offense over the bye and go into Week 10 with Troy Smith as the official starter, keeping the job even after Alex Smith is back to 100 percent. Just saying, it could happen. The 49ers have talented receiving weapons in Vernon Davis, Michael Crabtree, and Frank Gore, who catches plenty of passes out of the backfield, and Alex Smith was putting up serviceable numbers before his injury.
Chad Henne, QB, Miami Dolphins
Henne’s not going to come close to the elite most weeks, but he’s doing plenty of passing in Miami right now. He may not be on the waiver wire, but if he is available, I’d slot him behind Stafford, Fitzpatrick, and Kitna as a guy to target to replace Romo or Favre. And I think I’d rather start Henne than Matt Cassel, who just doesn’t inspire confidence in me yet.
Other Romo replacement considerations: Matt Cassel (QB-Chiefs), Josh Freeman (QB-Bucs), Sam Bradford (QB-Rams), and Matt Moore (QB-Panthers)
LeGarrette Blount, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Blount got his fair share of carries this week against the Rams with Earnest Graham injured and Kareem Huggins out for the season, and he made good use of them. Tampa Bay’s coaches now say he’ll be splitting time with Cadillac Williams in the backfield, and he’s started to pick up the blitz well enough to protect Josh Freeman. Make sure you get your hands on him now before he takes over the entire Bucs rushing attack. Cadillac isn’t going to put up much of a fight with his age and past injuries weighing him down.
Danny Woodhead, RB, New England Patriots
I’ve mentioned him before, so why haven’t you gotten him yet? He’s now an integral part of the Patriots’ offense, and he’s worth owning, especially in PPR leagues. His slow day against the Chargers may have led owners to dump him, but I think he’ll get back on track.
James Jones, WR, Green Bay Packers
Donald Driver finally seems to be slowing down, and Jones is ready to take his role and run with it. Like the Colts, if you can get a piece of the Packers’ offense, you want it.
Anthony Gonzalez, WR, Indianapolis Colts
Reports of his “tweak” this weekend seem to be false, and all signs point to Gonzalez returning to the Colts roster this weekend, just in time to replace an injured Austin Collie. He should start ahead of Blair White if things go as planned, but be sure to check his status later in the week to make sure he’s playing. Without Dallas Clark, the Colts’ wide receivers should receive some extra attention from Peyton Manning for the rest of the season.
Blair White, WR, Indianapolis Colts
If Gonzalez doesn’t go, he’s your guy. Collie’s out, and White was able to jump straight into this offense as soon as he was signed from the practice squad. He should hold value until Austin Collie returns or Anthony Gonzalez unseats him. But this kid has staying power. As a walk-on in college, he eventually rose to team captain.
Steve Johnson, WR, Buffalo Bills
If you believe in Ryan Fitzpatrick, believe in Steve Johnson. Other than Lee Evans, who had a huge week, Johnson has benefited the most from Buffalo’s rejuvenated passing attack. And he’s getting into the end zone consistently.
Mike Williams, WR, Seattle Seahawks
The big guy in Seattle has shown enough to be trusted after two games of 10+ points, and he’s got a nice schedule the rest of the way with Matt Hasselbeck.
Brandon Jackson, RB, Green Bay Packers
What? The Packers are finally letting him run with it? So they are. If you’re still holding onto Jackson from earlier in the season, keep him. If someone in your league dumped him after his weak first half of the year, go get him. As the weather turns in Green Bay, he could turn into a reliable fantasy option to end the season. Just like I said about James Jones, if you can get a piece of this Packers offense, you want it.
David Gettis, WR, Carolina Panthers
The rookie wideout landed on a lot of fantasy radars this week with his two-touchdown performance and with Matt Moore returning under center. Steve Smith will continue to receive most of the defensive attention, which could open up the other side of the field for Gettis, but I’d like to see him do it one more time before I rely on him. He’s a stash with great potential now that this offense is moving with Moore.
Dexter McCluster, WR, Kansas City Chiefs
Chris Chambers is out, and it seems McCluster is in. He’s finally being used in this offense, so it’s time to join the bandwagon. I don’t put much faith in Matt Cassel, but with the way the Chiefs are running the football and playing defense, surely he can manage a few plays in the passing game, especially with that nice schedule.
Chester Taylor, RB, Chicago Bears
I’m not too high on him, but he gets an upgrade this week with the Bears saying he’ll be handling goal-line duties moving forward. I agree with FF Toolbox that this probably doesn’t hurt Forte much. It just makes Taylor an interesting stash or wait-and-see guy when the Bears come out of their bye week.
Don’t forget about a few wait-and-see players I’ve named in past weeks: Danario Alexander (WR-Rams), James Starks (RB-Packers), and Arrelious Benn (WR-Bucs), just to name a few.
More waivering and wiring from around the fantasy football Web-u-verse…
So Deion Branch is now a Patriot? That’s exciting for Bill Belichick and all — that man knows how to swing a three-way trade while moving up in the draft. But I don’t think the trade changes Branch’s fantasy value much.
Branch wasn’t that useful as a Seahawk, and they are hurting for playmakers. Tom Brady and Bill Belichick will work their magic and integrate Branch into their system, but don’t expect Randy Moss-like numbers out of the Patriots’ new acquisition this year.
Even less exciting, the presence of Branch in New England will muddy the fantasy waters for Brandon Tate, who was Week 5’s hot waiver wire pickup. Let’s see what we can do to fix that.
First, the guys you’ll need if you just lost Jermichael Finley this week:
Marcedes Lewis, TE, Jacksonville Jaguars
You may not have noticed, but Lewis has become the only person David Garrard throws touchdowns to this year. I’ve heard a legend about a man named Mike Sims-Walker who used to be targeted more often, but that man could just be a ghost. He has been for at least two games this year. Meanwhile, Lewis has two games with two touchdowns and only one really miserable fantasy performance, 15 yards receiving and no touchdowns in Week 3 against the Eagles. He trails only Antonio Gates (so does everyone), Dustin Keller, and Zach Miller in total fantasy points this season among tight ends. Yes, I’d say it’s safe to bet on him to fill the void left by Finley if you just lost your starting tight end. It also might not be a bad play to trade him out for the guy you’re currently starting unless you have one of the elite.
Tony Moeaki, TE, Kansas City Chiefs
Lewis may already be off the board, and in that case, Moeaki is not a bad consolation prize. He’s got great hands, and he’s one of Matt Cassel’s favorite (read: only) targets. He comes it as the No. 12 tight end in total points even after sitting out for his Week 4 bye. Don’t hesitate to rely on Moeaki.
Brandon Pettigrew and/or Tony Scheffler, TE, Detroit Lions
Both Lions tight ends have had off and on weeks throughout the season while without their starting quarterback Matthew Stafford, but Shaun Hill has proven to be a strong replacement, if only we knew which tight end he liked in any given week. At this point in the season, we can’t tell, but if forced to choose, I’d take Pettigrew over Scheffler. Pettigrew currently ranks No. 10 in total tight end fantasy points while Scheffler comes in at No. 16. If Calvin Johnson’s shoulder injury keeps him out in Week 6, both of these tight ends would receive more attention than usual…as long as they’re not too busy blocking the Giants’ attack.
Wide receivers you should grab now before they go off big time:
Obvious ones to grab before these guys: Kenny Britt, WR, Titans and Danny Amendola, WR, Rams
Dexter McCluster, WR, Kansas City Chiefs
A hot sleeper this preseason, McCluster hasn’t carved out a role in the Kansas City offense just yet. But Todd Haley finally came around on Jamaal Charles in Week 5 and gave Charles the majority of the carries in the running game. Surely, Haley will soon realize what he has in McCluster and find a way to get him on the field more frequently. Thus far, McCluster has just 7 catches this season, but he’s shown hints of his big play ability. You won’t be able to get him on the cheap if you wait for him to breakout.
Anthony Armstrong, WR, Washington Redskins
I almost listed Armstrong last week when he made a big catch downfield for McNabb, but I thought I should probably wait until he had more than one big catch in a game. Last week, he went out and got three of them, including one for a touchdown. So now he’s on a lot of fantasy radars. If you’re looking for a WR3, he just might be the guy you need. He could soon be the No. 2 receiver in Washington, replacing Joey Galloway, who turned 200 this preseason for those keeping a tally at home.
Steve Johnson, WR, Buffalo Bills
I wouldn’t call the Bills’ offense “good,” but when they do score, they’ve been looking Johnson’s way ever since he moved from the No. 2 receiver role to the slot position. Lee Evans may be the big play threat, but Johnson’s just in the right place at the right time. That has value. Take a chance on Johnson if you have the space on your roster.
Those who will benefit from trades and injuries:
Mike Hart, RB, Indianapolis Colts
Addai got hurt on Sunday and left the running duties to Hart, who filled in nicely. If Donald Brown can’t get back on the field in Week 6 and if Addai misses some time, Hart is the starter in Indy. Remember: you can never have enough starting running backs. Don’t be afraid to go after Hart this week, but check Brown’s status first.
Deon Butler and/or Golden Tate, WR, Seattle Seahawks
I care more about what the Deion Branch trade does to the Seahawks than how it affects the Patriots. Without Branch, the Seahawks will have more snaps for Butler and Tate. Golden Tate would appear to be more likely to take over as a starter since he’s the guy they drafted just this year to make an impact, but I can’t get over my sleeper love for Butler. Both have the potential to excel with more playing time, but if forced to choose, pick up Tate and just keep an eye on Butler.
UPDATE: Forget what I just said. Now I’m hearing that the starting job is Butler’s. I actually like him better than Golden Tate so make sure you go out and get him. He could be the big winner of the Deion Branch trade, and he has the speed that Mike Williams (SEA) lacks to make big plays in the passing game.
Laurent Robinson and/or Mardy Gilyard, WR, St. Louis Rams
Clayton’s injury comes at a bad time for the Rams. Robinson is still trying to come back from an injury, and Gilyard has been taking his time learning his way in the Rams’ offense. Both have a shot at the starting job and a chance to fill the void in targets that Clayton leaves behind. Brandon Gibson has sniffed the fantasy value charts this season, but I don’t see him becoming a dominant force anytime soon. Danny Amendola is one helluva pass-catcher (and he stands to gain the most from Clayton’s injury), but someone has to play Robin to his Batman. That leaves these two. Choose your own adventure! I loved Robinson before the Clayton trade (and before he got injured, which he seems to do pretty frequently), but time will tell whether he can make it back on the field at 100 percent. For now, I’d say the best bet to replace Clayton in the lineup is Gilyard.
Some speculative picks if you have some room for a stash:
Keiland Williams, RB, Washington Redskins
Williams rejoined the active roster after Portis went down with injury, and even though he’s only playing passing downs and half as many snaps as Ryan Torain, he’s one Shanahan-igan away from the starting lineup. Stash him now if you want to benefit for the few weeks (or snaps) that Williams remains Shanahan’s preferred running back in Washington.
Arrelious Benn, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
I highlighted Benn in previous “On the Wire” items, but consider this your final reminder. He’s working his way into the Bucs’ offense, and they’re starting to impress in the passing game.
Defenses that might be an upgrade over your current squad:
New York Giants D/ST
At first they seemed like they’d fallen off the wagon, but the Giants D/ST has stepped up in the past two weeks. That’s enough for me to recommend you jump on them before the rest of your league. I wouldn’t say they’re an every-week start just yet, but as long as the matchup is right, the Giants will put pressure on the quarterback and fantasy points on the board. This week, they get the Lions.
Kansas City Chiefs D/ST
They somehow managed to slow down even the Colts’ offense. I believe. You should, too.
And some quarterbacks that might be available in your league for the bye week or if you are scared about starting Matt Flynn:
Alex Smith, QB, San Francisco 49ers
Trust me, he’s better than David Carr. And this week, he gets to play Oakland, fun for the whole family.
Josh Freeman, QB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Bucs are better than expected, and Freeman is a big reason why. Mike Williams (TB) is another. He’s not a bad fill for an injured quarterback or a quarterback on bye. This week, he faces the Saints, which may not seem as scary as it should after they dropped one to the Cardinals last week. Even if they do show up to play against the Bucs, we know that Freeman will have to throw it a ton to keep up with Drew Brees. Hopefully, that’ll make up for his mistakes.
We started our dynasty talk with a look at the quarterbacks on benches you may have forgotten as the NFL draft approaches, but now it’s time to refresh your memory about a few receivers that could be valuable for keeper leagues and dynasty leagues. Some even have a shot at fantasy stardom in 2009.
Demetrius Williams – Baltimore Ravens
Despite his flashes as a playmaker since joining the Ravens in 2006, Demetrius Williams hasn’t stayed healthy enough to earn his way out of the slot receiver role in Baltimore. Just as he emerged in 2009 with a 70-yard touchdown grab against the Raiders, Williams had to be shut down for surgery on a bone spur that had limited him all season. The Ravens need to get younger — and better — targets for Joe Flacco, and Williams could be the guy to stretch the field for Flacco in 2009 even if Baltimore addresses the position in the draft.
Lavelle Hawkins – Tennessee Titans
Hawkins was supposed to be the answer to Tennessee fans’ prayers when he was drafted last season even though he wasn’t a first-round receiver selection as many had hoped. Though he outshined college teammate DeSean Jackson in the stats department during his last season at California, he spent his rookie season in the shadows while Jackson played his way into a starting role with the Eagles. To his credit, Hawkins struggled to master the Titan’s playbook with all the distractions and challenges of being a rookie in the NFL. In his second season, he’d prefer that his teammates hold the mayo. With Justin McCareins now a free agent, Hawkins could bring a much-needed infusion of young talent to the passing game for Tennessee opposite newly acquired Nate Washington or Justin Gage.
Earl Bennett – Chicago Bears
Much like Hawkins, many Chicago fans jumped aboard the Bennett train expecting him to contribute early and often in a season where Chicago had no receivers to brag about on their starting roster. Bennett must have missed the memo. In 2009, he finds himself in a very intriguing situation with his former college quarterback, Jay Cutler, in town. Cutler could easily make his favorite target from Vandy into a standout in this offense, so watch for Bennett to find his way into the third receiver role or even the No. 2 spot beside Devin Hester if he can make the jump with this offense.
Mario Manningham – New York Giants
As disappointing as his entrance to the NFL was, Manningham has done a whole lot of nothing on the Giants roster so far. The release of Plaxico Burress and departure of Amani Toomer this offseason will give each of the Giants’ young receivers a chance to climb the depth chart. With Steve Smith quickly becoming Eli Manning’s most trusted target, the Giants would love to see Manningham prove his draft stock and push Domenik Hixon, the No. 1 receiver replacement-of-the-moment. Maybe he can defy that 6 on the Wonderlic and grasp the playbook a little sooner than expected.
Davone Bess – Miami Dolphins
His troubled past in college at Oregon State didn’t stop Hawaii recruiters from picking up on Bess’ talents, and despite going undrafted, he still made the Dolphins roster in 2008. When Greg Camarillo went down with an injury, Bess filled his role as Chad Pennington’s most reliable wide receiver, and Bess finished the season with more receptions than all but two rookies, Eddie Royal and DeSean Jackson. With Camarillo returning from his injury, Bess may find himself back in the slot receiver role, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Pennington looked Bess’ way a little more often in 2009.
Mike Walker – Jacksonville Jaguars
While Matt Jones caught most of the nose candy praise and passes in 2008, David Garrard showed that he had a lot of faith in Mike Walker by looking to him to make a big play when they needed it. If Walker can stay healthy in 2009, he might be a big factor now that Jones and Jerry Porter are out of town. His only major competition for the most looks in Jacksonville is an aging Torry Holt unless the Jaguars take a receiver early in the draft.
And if crazy things happen…
Brad Smith / David Clowney – New York Jets
Without Laveranues Coles, the Jets have a hole opposite Jerricho Cotchery. Chansi Stuckey appears to be at the top of the depth chart, but Brad Smith and David Clowney are two of the lesser-known and possibly more promising wide receivers in the Jets’ arsenal. Smith has talents as both a quarterback and receiver, and Clowney sat out most of 2008 with a broken collarbone after blowing up in the preseason. If either takes hold of No. 2 spot or slot position for whichever quarterback steps into the pocket for the Jets, they stand a chance of becoming a household name. Clowney, in my opinion, is currently the more intriguing of the two.
Early Doucet – Arizona Cardinals
It would take an Anquan Boldin trade for Doucet to become relevant, but the coaching staff praised him and his ability after drafting him just last year. Even though Steve Breaston is ahead of him on the depth chart, it’s a proven fact that the Cardinals passing game produces numbers for everyone who gets involved. Watch for Doucet to earn his spot as the No. 3 receiver if any draft-day deals move Boldin from the sunny desert of Arizona.
Steve Johnson – Buffalo Bills
Unfortunately for Steve, who looked promising in the short time he played near the end of 2008, the Terrell Owens signing in Buffalo limits his potential for at least the 2009 season. Second-round selection James Hardy still sits ahead of him on the Bills’ depth chart, and Johnson will be lucky to lock down the fifth receiver spot behind Lee Evans, Owens, Josh Reed and Hardy if Roscoe Parrish stays in Buffalo. He’s still worth keeping an eye on, but it would take some roster moves for Johnson to make an impact anytime soon.