Three weeks into the NFL season and there are a pile of high profile players struggling to meet the expectations of their fantasy owners. At this point, there’s a chance that a third of your league is sitting at 0-3 and likely convinced that 0-4 will doom their season. With a number of high quality fantasy stars on the sidelines this week courtesy of byes for the Cardinals, Falcons, Eagles and Panthers, there are bound to be some major holes in the lineups of teams that need wins this week. It’s time to pounce.
- Pierre Thomas, Saints – Bit of risk with this one given that he is ostensibly the lead RB for the Saints powerful offense but a closer look reveals that all of his fantasy points this week came in the second half. Plus, he was apparently healthy enough to sub in for Mike Bell in Week 2 once Bell got hurt but didn’t get any carries before that. So in three weeks, he was hurt once, subbed in for Bell once and wasn’t used when the game was in doubt in the other game. Maybe I’m reading this one the wrong way but those are the facts.
- Jason Campbell, Redskins – After two lackluster performances, Campbell went off on the Lions this week for 340 yards and 2 TD passes. Throw in 21 yards on the ground and it was a tidy 27 fantasy points on the day. If somebody is viewing Campbell’s number 12 ranking at the QB position and making you an offer, think hard about it. The Redskins aren’t going to throw 41 times in game very often (once in 2008) plus there is a risk that Campbell will be benched if the team’s season continues to go south.
- Julius Jones, Seahawks – I had him here after his 20 point performance in Week 1 and he basically proved me right in Week 2 when he rushed for 9 yards and had -2 yards receiving. His fantasy performance was, however, saved by a receiving TD, making for one of the oddest stat lines you will ever see. It’s well known that Jones blows hot and cold and can’t be relied on when the Seahawks are on the road (4.5 fantasy points per game in 2008) or against tough defenses. There are 3 games over the remainder of the season where I would feel comfortable using him.
- Vernon Davis, 49ers – As I pointed out in this week’s Moving Up, Moving Down column, Davis has put up double digit fantasy points 5 times in 43 career games. He’s coming off a double digit game, he’s got a big name and the 49ers face the pathetic Rams this week. I’ll bet somebody in your league is willing to buy this snake oil.
- Tom Brady, Patriots – Whoever in your league has Brady likely paid dearly for him and may not be ready to throw in the towel just yet. However, Brady and the Patriots offense has struggled and faces a major test this week against the Ravens. If Brady doesn’t put up a nice performance on Sunday, have your offer ready for his owner on Monday morning.
- Clinton Portis, Redskins – No, I don’t like the Redskins offense. No, I don’t like Jason Campbell’s inability to generate many big plays. What I do like is Portis’ toughness (he hasn’t missed a game since 2006 despite being on the injury report on a regular basis) and his history of production. He has averaged between 13.1 and 21.1 fantasy points per game during his 7 year career. He’s currently at 7.0 PPG and that’s going to go up, starting this week against the Bucs 31st ranked run defense. He’s certainly not the Portis of old but his performance has to go up.
- Roddy White, Falcons – Entering the season, White was as high as the the 5th WR on many draft boards and generally no lower than 10th. After putting up 119 yards and 1 TD in three games, he’s nowhere near the top 10. The Falcons are on a bye and figure to spend a chunk of their time off devising ways to get White more involved.
- Braylon Edwards, Browns – With 139 yards and 10 receptions in three games, Edwards has basically done nothing to warrant much optimism. However, the Browns have moved Derek Anderson back into the stating QB role and he is much more of a downfield passer than Brady Quinn, which makes Edwards an interesting option. Edwards’ best season came in 2007 with Anderson under center. You won’t have to sell the farm to get fantasy football’s currently 62nd ranked WR.
- Terrell Owens, Buffalo – T.O.’s stock is so low that you can likely get him for a song. Granted his prospects aren’t great with Captain Checkdown (that would be Trent Edwards) at the controls of the Bills offense. Regardless, Owens has 16 fantasy points on the season mostly because he’s only had 13 targets which frankly, is a joke. As confounding as head coach Dick Jauron is, there’s no denying that the Bills need to get T.O. more involved. Buy low before that happens.
- Mike Bell, Saints – Read Pierre Thomas above. If you can grab this guy for next to nothing (which is very likely), then do it. This is as close to low risk, high reward as you can get.