Before we get to this week’s column, I’m going to broach the subject of fantasy football etiquette. That’s right. Just like you shouldn’t chew with your mouth open, interrupt others when they are speaking and forget to flush the toilet when you’ve done number two, there is etiquette in fantasy football.
This week, there were a number of significant injuries at running back and when injuries happen at fantasy football’s key position, trade activity heats up. And with trading deadlines approaching in many leagues, there’s even more reason for big trades this week.
A pair of dynasty leagues that I’m in have seen a number of dubious moves this season so as the trade deadline in your league approaches, try to remember that other owners put their hard earned cash on the line to play in your league. If you’re out of contention, don’t give away your solid, or even decent players for 10 cents on the dollar. If you’re trading away a stud, you need at least two solid players you can have for next year in return and maybe a draft pick if your league has a rookie draft. If keepers are limited in your league, then you need one really good keeper.
Giving away solid players for marginal assets for next year (think Donnie Avery’s, Justin Forsett’s and low round draft picks) puts the money others have put up at risk all because you’ve helped load up a solid team and got back pretty much nothing in return for next year. Ask yourself these two questions – do you want to be that guy? and what if the shoe was on the other foot and you were P.O.’ed at that guy?
Don’t give away your backup quarterback, a solid handcuff and a stud IDP player for a 4th round pick. Have some consideration. Have some fantasy football etiquette. Your league will be better for it.
- Jason Snelling, Falcons – Meet fantasy football’s Pickup of the Week, provided of course that Michael Turner misses a few games with the dreaded high ankle sprain. Of course, he might just have a normal ankle sprain which is far less serious. Cardinals receiver Anquan Boldin missed only one game with a high ankle sprain and wasn’t at full health a couple of other games but the injury is of more concern to running backs. I expect Turner to miss at least a week and likely more and Snelling has looked very good with the limited opportunities he has received this season – 4.9 yards per carry, 9.4 yards per reception and two touchdowns on 51 touches. It also doesn’t hurt that the have found their running game over the last four weeks.
- Chris Wells, Cardinals – Looks like Wells MAY finally have taken over the lead role in Arizona with his 85 yard, two touchdown performance this week against the Seahawks. The 32 receiving yards were just gravy. Wells is a punishing runner and his presence may be what’s required to force opposing defenses out of the cover two look that the Cardinals have been facing all season and which has reduced their ability to make big plays in the passing game. Wells hasn’t been used much this season and his fresh legs might yield big time production over the balance of the regular season.
- Kurt Warner, Larry Fitzgerald, Anquan Boldin and Steve Breaston, Cardinals – I said two weeks ago that the Cards had a schedule that featured sad sack pass defenses the rest of the way. Since the Carolina debacle, they have scored eight touchdowns in two games. If Wells can jump start the running game, it will only add to the team’s production in the passing game.
- Tom Brady, Patriots – Four straight 300 yards games and 1,395 passing yards to go along with 13 touchdown passes qualifies for moving up. Should have been here sooner. It says here that Brady will surpass Aaron Rodgers and Peyton Manning to be the top ranked fantasy quarterback by season’s end.
- Steven Jackson, Rams – Three straight games with over 100-yards rushing and touchdowns in each of the last two games. Looks like Jackson is ready to fulfill his role as a top five fantasy back.
- Ricky Williams, Dolphins – Williams was already a low end RB2 depending on the match up as well as a solid flex play but he moves into high end RB2 status with Ronnie Brown expected to miss at least a week with an ankle injury. Opportune timing given that there are some struggling run defenses ahead on the schedule. Grab this guy if you can. You will be rewarded.
- Ladell Betts, Redskins – There was some concern early in the week that the Redskins would rotate Betts with Rock Cartwright because of Betts’ ankle sprain but the rotation didn’t materialize this week against the Broncos. Betts finished with 26 carries for 114 yards and a touchdown and Cartwright failed to find the end zone. Don’t expect the Redskins to run it 40 times a game like they did this week but Betts is looking like a decent option until Clinton Portis returns from the concussion he suffered last week.
- Matt Forte, Chicago – His schedule is ugly but it looks like the Bears have been watching the Cardinals and learning a thing or two. Basically, if the offensive line can’t run block then let’s throw quick hitters to our receivers and screens to our backs and that’ll be the running game. Results – 120 yards through the air for Forte.
- Lee Evans, Bills – Don’t look now but Mr. Inconsistency is putting up solid numbers every week with touchdowns in three of his last four games, including a two touchdown performance. Over the next six weeks, he faces four pass defenses ranked 25th or lower.
- T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Seahawks – There are so many lessons that football can teach you. With T.J., it’s if you whine, you will receive. Or the squeaky wheel gets the grease. And so, it is that after whining for the football, Houshmandzadeh had an incredible 17 targets this week, six more than his previous high. Good for him that he turned them into nine receptions for 165 yards and bad for the Seahawks for teaching their players that if you whine, you will receive.
- Roy Williams, Cowboys – I think I’ve had this guy Moving Down more times than there have been weeks in the season so I will begrudgingly put him as Moving Up based on his 180 yards and a touchdown over the last two games. I’m cringing as I write this. Next task – draft up Week 11′s column with Williams Moving Down.
- Jamaal Charles, Chiefs – Split the carries with Kolby Smith this week on a 2-1 ratio and turned his share of 18 into 103 yards and a touchdown. And in case you were thinking that might happen every week you might want to know that was the first rushing touchdown for the Chiefs in 2009.
- Donnie Avery, Rams – It took until Week 10 but Avery finally delivered the break out performance that his owners were hoping would occur on a more regular basis. He put up 67 yards and two touchdowns on four receptions this week against a banged up Saints secondary. His upcoming schedule is favourable so he is a worth a look as a low end WR3 or for depth at wide receiver.
- Justin Forsett, Seahawks – I told you last week that Julius Jones would be useful in Week 12 against the Rams and in Week 15 against the Bucs. Take out Jones and put in Forsett. At this point, the 3-5 Seahawks know what they have in Jones (not much) so they might as well find out what they have in Forsett (likely not much). For dynasty owners, no, I do not see either player entering next season as the starter in Seattle.
- LeSean McCoy, Eagles – With Brian Westbrook back in the line-up, McCoy was relegated to backup status and seemed to be a mere afterthought, barely seeing the field until Westbrook went out with his second concussion of the year. Expect Westbrook to be out for a number of weeks and McCoy to assume the lead role in an Eagles offense that has looked explosive at times this season.
- Jason Avant, Eagles – We keep hearing how much the Eagles coaches like Avant but with 15 catches in eight games, they weren’t backing up their words with action. That is, until this week when Avant turned nine targets into eight receptions for 156 yards. Sure, the Eagles were behind early and that helped but he performed well and it’s not like the Eagles are about to become a running team anytime soon.
- Brandon Gibson, Rams – Who? Yeah, the guy the Rams got from the Eagles for linebacker Will Witherspoon, that’s who. Sorry, my kids like Dr. Seuss. Anyway, the Eagles, who know a thing or two about acquiring talented players including wide receivers (at least lately), were impressed enough by Gibson, their 6th round pick this year, that they opened the season with seven wide receivers on the roster. This week he went off for seven receptions and 93 yards. With Keenan Burton suffering what looked to be a serious knee injury, Gibson figures to move into the starting line up next week.
- Larry Johnson, Free Agent – As I said above, there were significant injuries this week at running back and L.J. is the best available veteran on the free agent market. It says here that somebody bites early this week. [This just in - it looks like it's going to be the Bengals.]
- Michael Bush, Raiders – With Darren McFadden out with an injury and the team going nowhere, they give the ball to Justin Fargas and reduce the number of touches Bush gets. Then when McFadden returns, Bush gets 14 carries which he turns into 119 yards including a long run where he got hauled down at the one yard line. Fargas had ten carries and McFadden only four. God love ‘em, these are the Raiders.
- Bill Belichick, Patriots – Bill, was the hood pulled down too far over your head last night? Please tell me you really thought it was 3rd down. Otherwise, you’re seriously losing it. Really. And just a quick reminder that a one yard pass when you need two yards – not exactly a good idea.
- Michael Turner, Falcons – Potential high ankle sprain means big time worries for Turner owners. MRI results should be released today or Tuesday so act accordingly. It might be time to start working the phones for a replacement.
- Ronnie Brown, Dolphins – He has an ankle injury, he was on crutches after the game and the Dolphins play on Thursday in Carolina. He’s almost certainly out this week and potentially for several games if he has a high ankle sprain.
- Brian Westbrook, Eagles – In his first game since suffering a concussion three weeks ago, Westbrook left this week’s game against the Chargers with another concussion. At this point, Westbrook’s season is in serious jeopardy with an outside chance that his career may be over.
- Cedric Benson, Bengals – Benson has had a remarkable comeback season and has provided his fantasy owners with incredible value until he went out this week against the Steelers with 22 yards rushing due to a hip injury. He’s expected to be fine for next week but this type of injury could reduce his effectiveness or knock him out again during a game.
- Julius Jones, Seahawks – Man, where do you start. Reports indicate that he has a broken rib and that the injury caused him to have bleeding in the lungs. If that’s me, I’m not rushing back to the football field.
- Kyle Orton, Broncos – Injured ankles for quarterbacks sound bad but at least Orton injured his left ankle which is not the one us pushes off on. He sounded optimistic about next week so it does not appear that he will miss significant time.
- Darren McFadden, Raiders – That’s right – Kyle Orton’s ankle injury is more significant than the lack of use of this year’s big breakout candidate at running back. Four carries for 11 yards in his return. Not what his fantasy owners were hoping for. McFadden is essentially not startable until he puts together a couple of decent games which seems unlikely. See ya.
- Santana Moss, Redskins – No touchdowns in his last five games, a stretch in which he is averaging 43 yards a game. Yuck.
- Correll Buckhalter, Broncos – Going back to the teaching theme, here is what Josh McDaniels taught Buckhalter this week – if you fumble, I will bench you. And so a decent flex play turned into two carries for 11 yards.
- Alex Smith, 49ers – The Alex Smith feel good story lasted exactly three weeks. Then he went out and had 118 yards passing and no touchdowns against a struggling (I’m being kind here) Bears pass defense.
- Austin Collie and Pierre Garcon, Colts – I haven’t looked at their stats and I don’t need to. Both of these guys played so bad last night that the Colts coaches have no choice but to reduce their targets going forward. After those performances, I’m willing to throw out a waiver claim for Anthony Gonzalez if need be.
- Torry Holt, Jaguars – With eight catches for 78 yards over the last three weeks, Holt’s 33 year old legs are looking pretty tired. It doesn’t help that he hasn’t found the end zone yet this year. Off to Dumpsville for him.
Not Sold Yet
- Reggie Bush, Saints – Nice stat line for Bush this week with a touchdown on the ground and in the air as well as 98 total yards. However, here is what is more relevant – he hasn’t topped 100 total yards yet this season, this was only his second double digit fantasy points game of the season and it came against the lowly Rams. His success is based solely on touchdowns (six in nine games) and guys who average 9.3 touches and 53 yards a game don’t generally get touchdowns in two out of every three games.
- Marc Bulger, Rams – The Rams quarterback had a nice game this week with 298 yards, two touchdowns and an interception against a solid Saints defense. Sounds good. But a closer look reveals maybe it’s not so good after all. The Saints defense is solid but they were without starters Sedrick Ellis, Jabari Greer and Darren Sharper this week and also lost Tracy Porter during the game. Despite missing three starters in the secondary, the Saints chose to play eight men in the box on every play (including 3rd and 15). Plus, Bulger has topped 200 yards in only two of eight games this year and is averaging 0.625 touchdown passes per game.
- Nate Burleson, Seahawks – Sure, he’s overrated and I probably should dump him into Moving Down but I feel generous and nice today. So, I’m trying to look past the fact that he hasn’t scored in four games and failed to get a reception in five targets this week. The question is – should you?