1. Reports out of New York indicate that running back Brandon Jacobs hasn’t taken his demotion to backing up Ahmad Bradshaw well. Jacobs blew off reports in one instance of bad behavior and followed that up during the Giants loss this week to the Colts by inadvertently throwing his helmet into the stands. Inadvertent or not, (and it’s hard to imagine how someone inadvertently throws their helmet into the stands), Jacobs isn’t doing himself any favors. With the Giants preferring to split the carries at running back, Jacobs not playing well on the field or behaving himself off it and Bradshaw an unproven first year starter, grabbing Danny Ware off the waiver wire in deeper leagues might turn into fantasy gold by season’s end.
2. The Ravens were the preseason favorites to win the tough AFC North after Cincinnati captured the division crown in 2009. However, with their win over the Ravens at home this week, the Bengals have now beaten Baltimore in three straight games, relying on a ball control offense led by running back Cedric Benson and solid defense, led by the outstanding cornerback duo of Leon Hall and Jonathan Joseph.
3. While I don’t like jumping to conclusions on players too early in the season, there are times when the performance of aging veterans should bring cause for concern early in the season. One prime example is Brett Favre of the Vikings. Favre has been perhaps the biggest fantasy bust of the year thus far at the quarterback position with just 396 passing yards and a touchdown with four interceptions after two games. While his receivers have received a large part of the blame for his poor performance, Favre is clearly struggling with an injured ankle that may be hindering his accuracy. The Lions come to Minnesota this week and if Favre doesn’t get it going against Detroit, then it might be time to pull the plug on him as a fantasy starter.
4. Keeping with the theme, Redskins running back Clinton Portis is also struggling badly early in 2010. Portis has had a slow start to the season, with just 96 yards on 31 carries in games against Dallas and Houston. His fantasy stats look respectable, courtesy of a pair of touchdown runs during this week’s loss to the Texans. The Redskins released Larry Johnson this week, leaving undrafted rookie free agent Keiland Williams as the top backup for the team’s game in St. Louis. If Portis can’t get it going against a Rams defense that has given up 285 yards to a pair of teams that were each missing a key component of their running game (Arizona – Chris Wells, Oakland – Michael Bush), then he truly is washed up.
5. I’m going to toss out a couple of “sell highs” this week. How about Raiders running back Darren McFadden? He’s looked like dynamite thus far in 2010 but how quickly we forget why he was a low-end RB3 in the preseason. McFadden missed time with a turf toe injury in his rookie year, was out with a knee injury last season and suffered a hamstring injury in the preseason, ultimately losing the starting job to Michael Bush. He beat up on the lowly Rams for 145 yards on the ground, giving him 240 rushing yards with a nifty 5.0 yards per carry average to go along with eight receptions for 63 yards and a touchdown after two games. While Michael Bush is expected back this week, it’s a foregone conclusion that McFadden will get the majority of the carries since he is an Al Davis favorite. Fortunately for Bush owners, it’s only a matter of time before McFadden gets injured or the Raiders coaches remember that Bush has been the team’s most effective running back over the last two years.
6. Not quite a much of a “sell high” is Packers running back Brandon Jackson. You’ve read that I’m not a fan of Jackson’s and he was a disappointment last week in his first start against Buffalo, with just 29 yards and a touchdown on eleven carries. Worse yet, head coach Mike McCarthy split the workload, with John Kuhn getting nine carries and Dmitri Nance getting two and then stated this week that it would be a committee approach going forward. I guess that’s because Jackson is so valuable as a receiver on third downs. Or, more likely, it’s because he’s useless as a runner. In my opinion, Jackson’s value is going to steadily decline and each passing game will prove how ineffective he is. The Packers travel to Chicago on Monday night and, rest assured, Jackson will disappoint against a Bears defense that has given up 56 yards on the ground during the first two weeks of the season. This one is “sell now” since Jackson will continue to disappoint.
7. Buying low – how about Jamaal Charles of the Chiefs? Good luck finding somebody out there who thinks that Thomas Jones is a superior running back to Charles. Err, other than Chiefs head coach Todd Haley. Once Haley comes around to realizing that the Chiefs can’t continue to win football games with a popgun passing offense and relying on defense, he will see the need for big plays and Charles’ opportunities will increase.
8. Sticking with the theme, how about C.J. Spiller of the Bills? While he clearly doesn’t have Charles’ upside, it’s also clear that the ninth overall pick in the draft needs more playing time. It seems inconceivable that the Bills would continue to give Lynch the 17 carries he had against Green Bay and it’s safe to conclude they were gambling he would come up big and tempt a running back-needy team like the Packers to pony up a solid package for his services. Of course, Buffalo is Buffalo and there’s a reason they have been one of the worst teams in the league over the past decade. Nonetheless, Spiller should see more touches soon and if his owner is getting antsy, giddy up with a lowball offer for Spiller.
9. After losses to the Redskins on the road and Bears at home, the Cowboys could go 0-5 to start the season. This week, they travel to Houston to play the Texans before a Week 4 bye. After that, it’s the Titans at home and the Vikings on the road.
10. In deeper leagues and dynasty formats, Bills wide receiver Steve Johnson had some appeal as a potential sleeper pick given his starting status and the improved play of Trent Edwards at the quarterback position. This week, Edwards was benched in favor of Ryan Fitzpatrick and Johnson told the Bills press corps that Roscoe Parrish was taking his spot in the starting line-up. While Parrish has looked decent so far this season, there are plenty of good reasons why he has seen minimal playing time during his five years in the league.
11. So much for diminutive second round pick Dexter McCluster being the key to a revival of the Chiefs passing attack. After two games, the Chiefs wide receivers are on track to be a major disappointment once again in 2010. Entering the season, Kansas City was hopeful that Dwayne Bowe would finally establish himself as a number one receiver and McCluster would develop into a big play threat out of the slot. In addition, the Chiefs rewarded Chris Chambers for his solid production with a lucrative contract after 2009, a move that was greeted with skepticism by most pundits. Sure enough, neither Bowe, McCluster nor Chambers has done much thus far in 2010, combining to catch 14 passes for 114 yards and no touchdowns. Rookie tight end Tony Moeaki, the team’s third round pick this year, is leading the team with eight receptions for 79 yards and a score. Looks like he may be the Chief to own in the passing game and he’s available on the waiver wire in most leagues.
12. Buccaneers running back Kareem Huggins, considered a breakout candidate once Derrick Ward was released late in the preseason, hasn’t been used much thus far in 2010. He missed last week’s game with a lingering groin injury and didn’t get a touch in Week 1. With Cadillac Williams struggling and averaging just 2.6 yards per carry, Tampa Bay could clearly use some speed and a change of pace option at running back. However, word out of Tampa Bay is that Huggins won’t get major playing time until he improves in pass protection, an area many young players struggle to master.