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Dave’s Take: Week 8 – Fantasy Football Tips, News & Notes


By: — October 29, 2010 @ 12:58 pm
Filed under: Player Analysis

1. Panthers running back DeAngelo Williams has had a rough start to the 2010 season with just 361 yards and a single touchdown during the team’s first six games. Williams has suffered from Carolina’s lack of production in the passing game. However, there is hope on the horizon in the form of the Panthers upcoming schedule, and that makes Williams a definite buy-low candidate provided his foot injury isn’t severe. Over the next five weeks, the Panthers face run defenses ranked 15th or lower (Rams, 15th; Saints, 16th; Bucs, 31st; Browns, 19th). Unfortunately, the fantasy playoffs are a mixed bag, with the Falcons (8th), Cardinals (29th), and Steelers (1st).

The ultimate buy-low candidate.

2. Keeping with that theme, let’s have a look at the case of the Cowboys’ Felix Jones. Jones hasn’t been a complete bust this season, but his 36th ranking at running back is disappointing considering many were predicting a breakout season for the speedy tailback from Arkansas. There are some positives for Jones, however, and he could be ready for a big second half. Over the last three games, he has 55 touches to just 24 for Marion Barber; and Jones has racked up 126, 93, and 62 total yards in those games, with the 62 coming against a stiff Giants defense. Here are the rankings of the run defenses the Cowboys face between Week 8 and Week 16: Jaguars (25th), Packers (23rd), Giants (3rd), Lions (26th), Saints (16th), Colts (25th), Eagles (18th), Redskins (20th), Cardinals (29th). That makes Jones perhaps the ultimate buy-low candidate.

3. With the acquisition of wide receiver Brandon Marshall from the Broncos and with strong-armed Chad Henne at quarterback, the Dolphins offense was expected to feature more big plays in the passing game this season. However, that has failed to materialize, and Marshall has contributed just four plays of 20 yards or longer, two plays of more than 40 yards, and only one touchdown. While he has been a solid contributor in the passing game with 524 yards in six games (projected to a career-high 1,397 yards), the big plays aren’t going to come until the Dolphins rushing attack begins forcing opposing defenses to play closer to the line of scrimmage and out of the cover two defense the team has faced for most of 2010.

4. There have been a lot of stops and starts on Beanie Wells’ path to becoming the Cardinals full-time starter at running back, but it now appears that he will assume the starting role over incumbent Tim Hightower. After Hightower lost his fourth fumble of the season (all of which have come at inopportune times), head coach Ken Whisenhunt noted that there would be a point where fumbling issues would cost players playing time—a comment clearly directed at Hightower. If Wells does indeed get the promotion, it comes in perfect timing with the Cardinals facing the Buccaneers’ 31st-ranked run defense this week.

5. Speaking of the Buccaneers run defense, it has gone completely downhill over their last four games. After allowing just a combined 223 yards on the ground to the Browns and Panthers during their first two games, the Bucs have allowed 723 rushing yards over their last four games, an average of 181 yards per game. Safe to say that it’s high time to get your running backs in the starting lineup if they face the Bucs.

6. It looks like the biggest benefactor in Green Bay’s offense after tight end Jermichael Finley’s season-ending injury is wide receiver Greg Jennings. Jennings has come out of his four-game slumber over the last two weeks, catching 12 passes for 207 yards and a pair of scores. With Donald Driver suffering from a quadriceps injury that is clearly slowing him down (3 catches for 31 yards in Week 6, and held off the score sheet this week), Jennings figures to keep producing. As for Driver, keep him on your bench until the quadriceps injury is healed.

7. It appeared that Cardinals wide receiver Steve Breaston would be back in the lineup in Week 7, but instead he missed his third consecutive game. He was held out due to the playing conditions in Seattle but will return to the starting lineup this week. That bodes well for quarterback Max Hall and wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, who should see fewer double teams with Breaston starting.

8. It looks like the Bills are close to giving up on 2009 first-round pick Aaron Maybin. With Buffalo switching to a 3-4 defense, Maybin was converted to a pass-rushing role as an outside linebacker after a disastrous rookie season in which he failed to record a sack and saw minimal playing time due to his inability to hold the point in the rushing game. He was inactive this week during the Bills trip to his hometown of Baltimore, and Bills head coach Chan Gailey was clearly sending a strong message, reasoning that the team would play the players who give them the best chance to win. Maybin barely played during the two games prior to the trip to Baltimore, and it doesn’t look like he will see field again for a while, barring injuries to the team’s other linebackers. This is likely to be his last season in Buffalo, and if that happens, he will be another in a long line of questionable Bills draft picks.

9. The Texans were dealt a huge blow to their defense when middle linebacker DeMeco Ryans suffered a season-ending Achilles tendon injury during the their Week 6 win over the Chiefs. The team announced this week that starting strong-side linebacker Brian Cushing will slide over to the middle with Kevin Bentley starting on the strong side. While that would generally increase a player’s IDP production, it’s not necessarily the case this time. Since entering the league, Cushing has out-produced Ryans, so he may see fewer tackles in his new role. Bentley becomes an intriguing option, although you should wait to see how he does this week against the Colts before adding him to your roster in IDP leagues.

10. Has there ever been an instance in which a team as talented as the Chargers made two completely boneheaded plays in one game? First off, rookie wide receiver Richard Goodman was credited with a fumble after making a 25-yard reception on his first reception as a pro. No big deal, right? Except he went to the ground untouched after making the catch, put the ball on the ground, and got up and walked away. It’s not college, big fella. Later, fullback Jacob Hester was the target on a swing pass that he failed to catch. Only problem was the swing pass was actually a backwards pass, and as Hester jogged back to the huddle, the Patriots recovered the ball and returned it 63 yards to the Chargers eight-yard line.

11. Keeping with the Chargers, they have now lost 12 fumbles, the most in the league, including three in the red zone. With all the fumbles, it’s no wonder the Chargers sit at 2-5 despite having the top-ranked offense and defense in the league.

Here's to you, T.O.!

12. Here’s to Bengals wide receiver Terrell Owens, who scored his 150th career touchdown this week against the Falcons, making him only the fifth player to accomplish that feat. Owens is currently on pace to finish the year with 1,504 receiving yards and eight touchdowns, so we can now officially say that his lack of production last year in Buffalo was a direct result of the team’s poor quarterback play and unimaginative offense.

13. Despite uneven play at the quarterback position, the Titans offense has been on fire this season. They are second in the league in scoring at 28.4 points per game and have topped 30 points in each of their last three games. If you follow the theory that a rising tide lifts all boats (and you should), then it’s time to start adding some Titans to your roster. Running back Chris Johnson and wide receiver Kenny Britt have seven touchdowns each; but it’s unlikely that distribution will continue going forward, so Nate Washington and Bo Scaife are decent pickups given that they can likely be had for next to nothing at the moment.

14. Broncos owner Pat Bowlen has been a staunch defender of head coach Josh McDaniels over the last season and a half, and the team’s fans have generally been supportive of McDaniels as well. However, that support seems to have dried up considerably after the Broncos were crushed at home this week by a score of 59-14 to the hated Raiders. It seems that bad coaching, bad drafting, and horrendous trades are perfectly acceptable to Bowlen and Broncos fans, but losing to the Raiders is simply unacceptable. After going 6-0 to start the 2009 season, the Broncos are 4-13 since then, and their biggest problems have been their inability to generate a consistent rushing attack and their failure to stop the run. As John Madden used to repeatedly say, if you can’t run and you can’t stop the run, you’re not going to win many games in the NFL. During the Broncos’ 13 losses over the last two seasons, they have given up 173 or more rushing yards seven times and over 200 rushing yards five times. If the Broncos don’t start winning soon, look for McDaniels to insert rookie first-round pick Tim Tebow into the starting lineup in an attempt to appease the Broncos faithful and buy himself one more season in Denver.

15. The Ravens secondary had a strong start to the 2010 season, which was unexpected given preseason predictions that they would struggle early with safety Ed Reed out of the lineup. After four games, that proved to be wrong, and the Ravens were near the top of the league in passing defense, having surrendered only one passing touchdown and just 119 passing yards per game. However, the wheels have come off over the past three weeks, with Baltimore giving up 314 yards to Kyle Orton, 292 yards to Tom Brady, and—worst of all—382 yards this week to Ryan Fitzpatrick. They have also allowed seven touchdowns over that span, with Fitzpatrick tossing four of them. Looks like it’s time to get your receivers and tight ends in against Baltimore.

16. Earlier this season, Rams running back Steven Jackson moved past Marshall Faulk to become the franchise’s second all-time leading rusher. During the Rams loss to the Bucs this week, Jackson moved ahead of Eric Dickerson into first place. Nice company to keep.

17. The question du jour this week is what to make of new Cowboys starting quarterback Jon Kitna. With Tony Romo on the shelf for a minimum of six weeks with a broken left clavicle (and most likely for the season since the Cowboys are unlikely to be in the playoff hunt by the time he is healthy), Kitna shapes up as the team’s starter for the balance of 2010. While he has barely played since the 2008 season, he did put up a pair of 4,000-yard seasons in 2007 (4,066 yards) and 2006 (4,208 yards), and the Cowboys offense features more talented skill position players than those teams—along with a comparable offensive line. Kitna is thirty-eight years old, but his arm showed some zip this week and appears to have the strength to hit some deep passes to the team’s trio of talented wide receivers. My guess is that he shapes up as a solid backup for fantasy purposes—one I would be comfortable starting on a weekly basis if necessary. If you need a quarterback and Kitna is available, grab him from the waiver wire rather than deplete your roster in a trade to fill your quarterback needs.


Moving Up, Moving Down – Week 8


By: — October 27, 2010 @ 2:10 am
Filed under: Player Analysis

QUARTERBACKS

Moving Up

Ryan Fitzpatrick, Bills
Here are Fitzpatrick’s fantasy points in his last four games: 22, 21, 23, 36. Better yet, the 36 game was a road game against the Ravens in which Fitzpatrick threw for 374 yards and four touchdowns. Another added bonus with Fitzpatrick is that he can scramble and has chipped in 116 rushing yards. That’s almost three fantasy points per game, which is nice gravy if you are relying on a quarterback who is starting in a questionable offense.

Jon Kitna, Cowboys
Initial indications are that Tony Romo is out at least 6-8 weeks with a broken clavicle and that means Kitna will step under center for the Cowboys. While this warrants a downgrade for all of the Cowboys receivers, it moves Kitna into the “Moving Up” category since he was persona non grata before the Romo injury. No, he’s not going to replace Romo’s production. No, he’s probably not going to be starter worthy, certainly not for his first couple of games. However, he does have a pile of impressive weapons at his disposal and he does have a pair of 4,000 yard passing seasons under his belt – the last one in 2007. He’s worth grabbing as a fantasy backup and, who knows, maybe you hit the jackpot.

Moving Down

Jay Cutler, Bears
One game, Cutler can’t avoid the rush and his stats suffer; the next game, he avoids the rush and throws a bunch of picks. On a side note, it was humorous to read that he planned to go after DeAngelo Hall again—and even funnier to see Hall pick him off four times. Proof that Cutler’s bravado is a little bigger than his brain at times. Anyway, he has one touchdown pass in his last three games or, if you’re a cup-half-full guy, two in his last four. That’s not cutting it.

RUNNING BACKS

Moving Up

Believe it!

Darren McFadden, Raiders
“Just the numbers, baby, just the numbers. Give me the deep ball on the play action, dammit, Tom!” There’s my ode to Al Davis. Here are McFadden’s numbers from his monster fantasy performance this week against the Broncos: 16 carries for 165 yards and three touchdowns, plus two receptions for 31 yards. That’s all the more impressive considering it was his first game back since suffering a knee injury in Week 4. Despite missing two games, McFadden is currently the fourth-ranked running back in total fantasy points and the top-ranked running back in points per game. It’s time to believe.

Brandon Jackson, Packers
If you read my column like you’re supposed to (it’s like the vitamins your mother told you to take—you may not like it but you have to do it), you know I’m not big on Jackson. Not big, not fast, not very shifty, not a great receiver. Not sure why he’s the lead back on the Packers offense. Now that that’s out of the way, it’s time to point out he’s coming off his finest game of the season. Against the Vikings he had 58 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries as well as three receptions for 46 yards. That gives him double-digit fantasy points in two of the last three weeks, which makes him a mid-tier RB2 at the moment.

LeGarrette Blount, Bucs
Blount had a nice game against the Rams this week, bowling over their defenders on his way to an 11-carry, 72-yard performance. With Cadillac Williams struggling and on his last legs, Blount will continue to see his workload increase, provided he can improve upon his blitz protection. The team won’t risk the health of franchise quarterback Josh Freeman, so Blount will continue to sit on passing downs until he picks up the team’s protection schemes. Nonetheless, while he doesn’t possess outstanding speed, he is clearly a physical back capable of churning out yards between the tackles and bouncing to the outside for extra yardage. Not to mention that he will clearly get the goal line work over the smaller Williams.

Moving Down

Cadillac Williams, Bucs
The Cadillac story is a compelling one. Alas, it appears to be in its final chapter in Tampa Bay. This week, the Bucs coaches followed through on their promise to get LeGarrette Blount more involved, and he performed well, rushing 11 times for 72 yards against the Rams. While the box score indicates that Williams had a solid fantasy performance, it is misleading, as he padded his stats with the game-winning touchdown with less than a minute to play. Blount got a healthy majority of the work on first and second downs with Williams subbing in on obvious passing downs. Williams is clearly the Bucs’ third-down back at this point.

Beanie Wells, Cardinals
I’m dropping my rankings for all Cardinals running backs and wide receivers until I see some decent play from their quarterbacks. Wells can’t do it all by himself, so it doesn’t much matter that Cardinals head coach Ken Whisenhunt has indicated Tim Hightower will start to lose touches due to his fumbling issues.

Ryan Mathews, Chargers
Mathews is clearly a very talented back, but he just isn’t getting enough touches to produce consistently, especially with Mike Tolbert getting the goal-line work. The ball clearly isn’t bouncing Mathews’ way, and it doesn’t help when the Chargers get behind early. This week, trailing the Patriots, head coach Norv Turner turned to Darren Sproles in the passing game, relegating Mathews to the bench for almost the entire second half. End result: 15 yards on eight carries with Tolbert stealing a score.

WIDE RECEIVERS

Moving Up

Kenny Britt, Titans
Granted, I’m not a rocket scientist, but anybody with a modicum of intelligence would say that Britt is clearly Moving Up, courtesy of his gangbuster performance this week. He torched the Eagles for seven receptions, 225 yards, and three touchdowns and is becoming a touchdown machine for the Titans, with seven over his last five games. Britt earned the ire of the Titans coaches by showing up for OTAs seriously out of shape, but he has heeded the lesson to become the team’s top wide receiver and is on the verge of establishing himself as a high-end WR2 for fantasy purposes.

Steve Johnson, Bills
I’ve had him here before, and it’s well past time for fantasy owners to consider making Johnson a regular presence in their starting lineups. He had the best game of his career this week against the Ravens, catching eight passes for 158 yards (both career highs) and a touchdown. He now has touchdowns in four straight games (five in total during that stretch) and has caught over 60 percent of his targets. Johnson’s chemistry with quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick has him sitting at a surprising 15th ranking among wide receivers.

David Gettis and Brandon LaFell, Panthers
Both of the Panthers rookie wide receivers had the best games of their careers this week, as they each lit up a struggling 49ers secondary. Gettis hauled in eight catches for 125 yards and a pair of scores while LaFell had a solid six receptions for 91 yards. With Matt Moore starting at quarterback and Steve Smith getting consistent double teams, the prospects for Gettis and LaFell are on the rise. Consider them worthy bench material at this point, in the hopes one of them establishes himself as the clear second option in Carolina.

Jordan Shipley, Bengals
Shipley had a career day this week against the Falcons, hauling in all six of his targets for 131 yards and his first career touchdown. For the season, he has caught 21 of his 25 targets for 321 yards and a score. With the Bengals struggling to get their running game going and defenses doing a solid job shutting down Chad Ochocinco (though not this week, mind you), look for the Bengals coaches to get Shipley more involved going forward. He is beginning to look like a decent flex play in larger leagues.

Moving Down

Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals
It’s officially time to give Fitzgerald a serious downgrade. While he is clearly one of the most talented wide receivers in the league, the Cardinals quarterback situation is causing his production to drop to unprecedented levels. Neither Derek Anderson nor Max Hall seems capable of consistently getting the ball to Fitzgerald and, as a result, he is currently the 35th-ranked among receivers who have played at least five games. This week he caught three of his 10 targets for 30 yards, and he is currently on pace to finish with less than 900 receiving yards and six touchdowns. And, no, I’m not even rating him as a solid buy-low guy.

Wes Welker, Patriots
Welker is another talented receiver suffering from issues beyond his control, only it’s clearly not the quarterback in New England causing his production to suffer. In Welker’s case, it’s the Randy Moss trade. In the two games since Moss was dealt to Minnesota, Welker has 11 receptions on 17 targets for 78 yards and no touchdowns. He is seeing more frequent double teams, which are reducing his yards after the catch. In addition, the Patriots are a far less explosive offense without Moss; they are now dinking and dunking their way down the field, and that reduces Welker’s touchdown opportunities. He is currently the 31st-ranked wide receiver and is on pace to finish the season with under 800 receiving yards.

Miles Austin, Roy Williams, and Dez Bryant, Cowboys
It’s a long way down from Tony Romo to Jon Kitna. While Kitna threw for two touchdowns in relief duty against the Giants, it was against a soft defense because New York had a solid lead. Romo is likely out for the year, so Kitna steps in—and he hasn’t played extensively since the fifth game of the 2008 season. At best, it’s going to take him awhile to shake off the rust.

Michael Crabtree, 49ers
More injury problems at quarterback in San Francisco. Alex Smith is likely to miss time with a shoulder injury, an issue he’s had in the past. As mediocre as Smith had been this year, the 49ers had not gone to David Carr—and Carr showed us exactly why during his relief performance against the Panthers, going 5 of 13 for 67 yards and a key interception that cost the 49ers the game. It doesn’t bode well for Crabtree if Smith is out for an extended period.

TIGHT ENDS

Moving Up

Andrew Quarless, Packers
Some teams successfully draft lineman, some running backs, while some aren’t successful at drafting any single position. The Packers apparently know how to draft tight ends. With stud Jermichael Finley on injured reserve, the Packers dialed up rookie fifth-round pick Quarless this week, and he caught two passes for 16 yards and a score. Big deal, you say. Well, he should have had another 30 yards had he not fallen down on his way to making the catch. Plus, he looks like he’s more athletic than Donald Lee, which makes him the more logical candidate to take on a piece of Finley’s receiving role. If you’re desperate at tight end, Quarless is worth a look.

Todd Heap, Ravens
I keep getting asked by a friend what he should do with his tight end position because he wants an upgrade from Heap. Here’s the answer I keep giving him: Nothing. The Ravens offense started the season slowly, but they are averaging 25.8 points per game over the last five games, after starting the season with a pair of 10-point efforts. As for Heap, he is coming off a three-reception, 59-yard, two-touchdown performance and is currently ninth amongst active tight ends in fantasy points per game. Looking at the schedule, the Ravens face a number of bottom feeders over the next several weeks. Their schedule and his performance this week have Heap Moving Up.

Moving Down

Brent Celek, Eagles
A full seven games in, Celek has 21 receptions for 243 yards and a pair of touchdowns. That’s close to what he had during Kevin Kolb’s two starts last year. Worse yet, even with DeSean Jackson out of the lineup, Celek had only five targets this week, catching two passes for eight yards. At this point he is no longer a guaranteed starter, and his owners should be looking around their leagues for an upgrade.


High-Stakes League Update: Recap and Blind Bidding Tips


By: — October 23, 2010 @ 4:53 pm
Filed under: Leagues & Contests

Since my last update (after Week 3), I’ve gone 1-1 in the league I was doing worse in, Footballguys Players Championship (FFPC), and 2-0 in the league I was doing better in, National Fantasy Football Online Championship (NFFC). That brings the FFPC team to 2-3 (9th in record; 10th in scoring) and the NFFC team to 4-1 (2nd in record; 3rd in scoring).

FFPC

Back in Week 4, this team got smoked. Ray Rice did nothing against the Steelers, Michael Vick got knocked out early against the Redskins and Santana Moss had his worst game of the season amongst other issues. In Week 5 the team posted a good, solid score but squeaked out the win Monday night when Adrian Peterson was held under (just under) 13 fantasy points. Whew, that was close.

I’ll keep battling in this league to see what happens. Now Ray Rice seems to have turned a corner – finally – and if the starting Philly QB can finish a game with regularity (only 60% of games so far), maybe we can run off a string on wins and get back in the hunt for the playoffs. The top four teams make the league playoffs.

NFFC

On the other end of the spectrum, this team posted its best two scores of the season the past two weeks. The majority of thanks go to Antonio “Superman” Gates and Brandon Lloyd. Lloyd made Brandon Marshall‘s bye week a non-event last week.

RB is still an issue for this team, with Ahmad Bradshaw at RB1 but neither Marion Barber nor Cadillac Williams doing much of anything in the RB2 spot. WR is strong with Reggie Wayne, Marshall, Lloyd and Dwayne Bowe if he can keep from dropping the ball at the worst possible times.

Big game this week as I take on the first place team, who sits at 5-0 even though they are seventh in scoring (got to love head-to-head). This won’t be easy though, as the team is built with similar strong receivers Roddy White, Miles Austin, Steve Smith (Giants) and Santana Moss, plus Jason Witten at TE.

A win will be a big boost but the outlook for my playoffs should be pretty good regardless. The top two teams in the league advance to the Championship Round.

Blind Bidding

Most high stakes leagues use what is considered the fairest method of waivers, blind bidding, over the more traditional worst-to-first waiver priority order. In both the FFPC and NFFC, teams start the season with 1,000 fictional dollars to bid on free agents all season. If you run out of money, then your team cannot pick up any free agents for the rest of the season, so money management is important.

As is to be expected, I have used more blind bidding dollars so far on the FFPC team than the NFFC team, but I did finally make my first bigger splash in NFFC last week. I picked up Brett Favre who was dropped the prior week, pre-Randy Moss trade of course, by a QB heavy team, and Javon Ringer, another drop.

In my humble opinion, I’ve done a pretty good job overall getting players I want for just the right amounts on waivers without overbidding. Here is a summary of my free agent acquisitions to date for each league, and I’ll follow that up with some commentary on key players missed in the FFPC bidding (can’t seem to get the detailed bid history on the NFFC website) and some general tips.

FFPC
Week Player Winning Bid Next Highest Bid
5 Sam Bradford (3rd priority) $12 $11
5 David Buehler (1st priority) $5 $4
4 Kenny Britt (3rd priority) $5 -
3 Mike Tolbert (1st priority) $212 $200
3 Tony Moeaki (1st priority) $55 $52
2 Kansas City Chiefs (2nd priority) $8 -
2 Michael Vick (1st priority) $176 $57
NFFC
Week Player Winning Bid Next Highest Bid
5 Brett Favre $325 $275
5 Javon Ringer $75 $66
3 Nick Folk $9 -
2 Brandon Lloyd $21 $1
2 John Kasay $3 -

Key Players Missed (FFPC)

Week 5, Brandon Pettigrew – I didn’t put an aggressive bid on Pettigrew, since I was already flush at TE with Brent Celek, Moeaki and Aaron Hernandez. At 1.5 points per reception, and the ability to flex 2 TE (to go with 1 starter), I would try to squeeze him in if I could though. I bid $55; winning bidder paid $333, way too much in my opinion.

Week 5, Kansas City Chiefs – Yes, I had them back in Week 2 and I was excited about this defense, but at the time I needed roster room. KC had bye Week 4, at IND Week 5 and at HOU Week 6. I figured if I dropped them prior to Week 4 I could get them back before anyone was interested in them again. Surprisingly someone bid, and bid a lot, earlier than I expected. I bid $12; winning bidder paid $67. I would never pay that much for a defense off waivers.

Week 4, LeGarrette Blount – RB is supposed to be a strength on my team with the early draft picks at that position. I wouldn’t mind taking a flier on Blount but I was pretty sure someone would outbid my passive bid. I bid $67; winning bidder paid $203. More than I would spend on a player who got a handful of “lets get this game over with” carries (PIT game) competing with two to three other guys for snaps and guaranteed nothing.

Week 4, Ryan Torain – Similar to Blount, RB is not my major concern with this team. Torain has more promise for production than Blount given less competition for carries and he has shown more in the past, but we also know his bad injury history. I still don’t expect to win this bid but I put in something in case the other owners are asleep at the wheel. I bid $67; winning bidder paid $256.

Week 2, Mark Clayton – Most people had to bid high to win Clayton’s services after his Week 1 performance, but were happy with their payback until his season ending injury last week. I wasn’t convinced of Clayton at the time given how long he toiled in obscurity in Baltimore, plus I needed to put an aggressive bid on Michael Vick since Kevin Kolb went down. I bid $76; winning bidder paid $355.

Week 2, Mike Williams (SEA) – I actually had Williams prioritized ahead of Clayton, but for similar reasons wasn’t sold on him, just figured he had slightly more upside. I bid $76; winning bidder paid $200.

Week 2, Brandon Lloyd – Now here is a player I really didn’t believe in based on his history ducking under balls and such. Had to be a fluke, right? Maybe not. The guy in this league who bypassed higher bids for Clayton and Williams has to be happy at this point. I bid $21; winning bidder paid $125.

Week 2, Brandon Jackson – This was the waiver wire darling after Ryan Grant went down for the season in Week 1. I never liked Jackson’s talent as he hasn’t shown anything, even in a limited role, in his three prior years in the league. Three years and nothing to make me say, “wow”. That is a long time for a RB. Plus I knew someone was going to blow their wad on this guy, a huge mistake in my opinion to drain almost your entire account after one week. I didn’t even bid on him. Winning bidder paid $991.

Tips

Here are some blind bidding tips to wrap up this update. The first thing I do every week is make a list of free agent targets at all positions, regardless if I have a need at a position or plan to drop anyone or not. I need to see what players are out there, not just for this week but future weeks too.

The big key to winning the free agent bidding war is to grab guys cheaply before they blow up, not pay top dollar the week after they blow up. I remember my second year in the World Championship of Fantasy Football (WCOFF) paying just over $100 for Domanick Davis the week before he wrestled the starting job away from whatever other scrubs were on the Texans roster.

I’m not sure anyone else in my league bid on him that week, so the $100 was overspending, but in most of the WCOFF leagues he was still on waivers the following week and went for six or seven times that much. That move propelled me to the league championship.

Often the best place to look for your free agent targets is not in the stats reports, but at the prior week drop list. See what players other owners gave up on out of frustration or they just needed to make room for another position and couldn’t hold any longer. As late as Week 5 there are still players who were drafted but off to a slow start and may yet turn it around.

Now, I got lucky with Favre being available since he got value boost after the unexpected Moss trade (here is hoping the elbow holds out), but a player like Ringer, sure I would love to take a chance on him in the event Chris Johnson goes down. Ringer has shown the wow factor in his limited carries off the bench.

For positions like QB and TE, where there is normally just one starter per team, review the other rosters to try to judge just how much competition you might have for a free agent player. I did this with Favre, and each team was pretty strong at QB except I figured maybe one or two other teams would be interested in adding him. So, I couldn’t bid $100 or less and expect to get him. It had to be a reasonably healthy bid.

Brandon Jackson this year is a perfect example why you do not want to bid north of 90% of your cap on any player. Of course, Anquan Boldin‘s rookie year was perhaps the exception to that rule, but it was a long shot that would work out at that price. Give me five to ten shots a season at the next Domanick Davis (is it Ryan Torain or Brandon Lloyd in 2010?) instead of putting all my eggs in one basket.

Final tip: If you really want a player, try to peg a reasonable value that most people would likely pay, and then bump it up a little beyond that to help guarantee the acquisition. Just how much to bump it will depend how much you want him. Don’t get emotional; get analytical to outthink the other guys in your league. That will help you spend wisely from start to finish.


Dave’s Take: Week 7 – Fantasy Football Tips, News & Notes


By: — October 22, 2010 @ 1:58 pm

Garcon's value is on the rise.

1. Last week I told you that there were three quarterbacks on pace to top Dan Marino’s record for the most passing yards in a single season. One of the three was the Colts’ Peyton Manning, but the odds of him bettering Marino’s record took a major hit this week. Running back Joseph Addai may miss a number of weeks with nerve damage in his shoulder, and Manning will be without two of his top three receivers for a number of weeks, also. Tight end Dallas Clark has a rare type of wrist injury and is out indefinitely, while wide receiver Austin Collie will miss 2-4 weeks after undergoing surgery on his hand. Look for Manning’s numbers to drop slightly over the coming weeks as he adapts to either Jacob Tamme or Brody Eldridge at tight end and Blair White, an undrafted rookie free agent, at wide receiver. Former first round pick Anthony Gonzalez will also be available once his high ankle sprain heals. The player most likely to benefit is wide receiver Pierre Garcon, who should see plenty of targets until the team’s other receivers recover from their injuries.

2. Sticking with Manning, one of the issues with having the league’s premier player on your fantasy roster is that the Colts often have home field advantage locked up by the time the fantasy playoffs roll around .That leaves Manning owners with a tough decision on which of their quarterbacks to play—but there shouldn’t be any such conundrum this season. The AFC South is a tough division this year, with the Colts, Texans, and Titans all tied atop the division with 4-2 records and with Jacksonville a game back at 3-3. If the Colts lose another game or two while waiting for their numerous injury issues to go away, they are very unlikely to have home field locked up before Week 17.

3. Another top-tier quarterback who may see his fantasy production go down over the next couple weeks is Philip Rivers. The Chargers may be without all three of their top receivers this weekend, with Malcolm Floyd likely out and Legedu Naanee and Antonio Gates questionable. It’s a big drop from those three to Patrick Crayton, Buster Davis, and Randy McMichael. Look for Chargers head coach Norv Turner to get Darren Sproles more heavily involved in the passing game until the injury issues pass over. It also might be a great time to target Ryan Mathews as a buy-low candidate. Since returning to the lineup, Mathews hasn’t seen many carries, but that is more a result of the team playing from behind than of his actual performance. Mike Tolbert is still stealing the short-yardage work, but Mathews is clearly a talented player who will break out if he stays healthy.

4. Sticking with the Chargers, it looks like Vincent Jackson will sign his tender next week, serve a three-game team suspension, and then be in the lineup for Week 12. Unfortunately for his fantasy owners, that’s too late to get anything in a trade for him, and he’s unlikely to establish himself as a quality starter before Week 15 or 16. If some other team is desperate, unload V-Jax for some depth and move on.

5. You have to love the intelligence of some of the players in the league. Bucs defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, the third player taken in this year’s rookie draft, told reporters that he was going to “kill” former college teammate quarterback Sam Bradford. Presumably McCoy missed the news that two players were fined $50,000 this week for illegal hits while another player received a $75,000 fine.

6. Continuing with the fines handed down by the NFL this week and the intelligence of some the league’s players, did Steelers linebacker James Harrison really think his comments about retiring were anything more than a major league sulk job? Since he signed a six-year, $51.2 million contract with a $10 million signing bonus and $20 million in guarantees, Harrison would have to cut a significant check to the Steelers and forego an additional $10 million in guarantees if he were to retire. No surprise then that he returned to the team after “debating” his retirement for a day.

7. Broncos running back Knowshon Moreno, the first running back taken in the 2009 draft, has had a slow start to the season due to a hamstring injury suffered in the preseason—and with 12 carries for 48 yards, he didn’t do much in his first game since Week 2. Moreno owners also certainly took note of the 13 carries that went to Correll Buckhalter and Laurence Maroney. However, Moreno was benched for committing a false start penalty and fumbling and was likely being eased back into action by head coach Josh McDaniels. Look for Moreno to have his first big game of the year this week at home against a Raiders run defense that is once again among the worst in the league.

8. While Eagles head coach Andy Reid’s comments can never be taken at face value, I am convinced that Michael Vick will be back under center as soon as he is healthy. That being said, it is worth noting that with his 326-yard performance this week, Kevin Kolb has now passed for over 300 yards in three of his five career starts. Only two other quarterbacks have accomplished this feat.

9. Given their 1-4 record, it would be easy to write off the Cowboys’ playoff chances. But a closer look reveals that none of their losses has been by more than seven points. Dallas remains a talented team that is capable of going on a lengthy winning streak, which would be more likely if they could reign in their propensity for shooting themselves in the foot with numerous penalties.

10. Earlier this season, Rams running back Steven Jackson passed Marshall Faulk to become the franchise’s second-leading rusher. Jackson now stands just 32 yards shy of surpassing Eric Dickerson to become the Rams all-time leading rusher.

11. Ravens wide receiver Donte’ Stallworth is back practicing with the team after breaking a bone in his left foot during the preseason that kept him out of the first six games. Baltimore signed Stallworth to provide a speed element to their group of wide receivers, and he figures to be used on deep plays to help soften up opposing defenses. With tight end Todd Heap enjoying a productive season and Anquan Boldin and Derrick Mason playing well, there is a possibility the Ravens could jettison T.J. Houshmandzadeh from the roster at some point. While that might sound ridiculous to some, Houshmandzadeh is no longer the player he was in Cincinnati, and he has made waves in Baltimore since signing with the Ravens, after being released by the Seahawks in the preseason. Showing his frustration might have been acceptable if he were producing, but he has just nine receptions for 128 yards and a touchdown in six games this season. Ravens management may well decide that Houshmandzadeh is likely to act out if Stallworth’s presence reduces his role (which is likely), and that he is more bother than he is worth at this point in his career. It doesn’t help matters than none of the Ravens top four wide receivers play special teams, which makes it possible that Houshmandzadeh could even become a game-day inactive when Stallworth returns.

12. I am the first to admit that I am not a huge college football fan, but my friends who are say that the performance of Rams wide receiver Danario Alexander in his first game as a pro was no fluke. Alexander caught four of his five targets for 74 yards and a touchdown against the Chargers, blowing past a flat-footed Antoine Cason before making a nice diving catch in the end zone. Alexander was expected to be a taken in the early rounds of the draft; that was, before he suffered a knee injury at The Senior Bowl, which caused him to go undrafted. The Rams other outside receivers (Brandon Gibson, Laurent Robinson, Mardy Gilyard) are unproven players, so Alexander has a chance to impress. While he’s hardly a candidate to start on a weekly basis in 10-team leagues, he could be useful in larger redraft leagues and is a great prospect in dynasty formats.

13. Another wide receiver that is worth picking up is Jason Avant of the Eagles. Avant will step into the starting lineup until DeSean Jackson returns from the concussion he suffered against the Falcons. The concussion is Jackson’s second since entering the league, and it’s possible that could cause him to miss multiple games. Like most teams in the league, the Eagles do not divulge any more information on injuries than is required, but players with multiple concussions are often held out for more than a week. While Avant is no threat to supplant Jackson or Jeremy Maclin in the starting lineup, he is a solid receiver on short and intermediate routes and is not afraid to go across the middle. He also has decent size and could steal some targets in the red zone.

14. With their loss this week to the Giants in New York, Detroit tied their own record of 24 for most consecutive road losses. Fortunately for the Lions, their next road game is in Buffalo in Week 10, where they have a solid chance to snap that losing streak.

15. Keeping with the Lions, rookie running back Jahvid Best was a fantasy revelation after the first two weeks of the season, with 55 fantasy points—40 of which came during a monster Week 2 performance against the Eagles. However, he has struggled since then, with just 274 total yards and no touchdowns. Worst yet, he has averaged just 3.2 yards per carry during that four-game span.

16. Could a 0-16 season be in the cards for the Panthers? After this week’s home game against 1-5 San Francisco, their remaining home games are against teams that currently have winning records. Their only road game against a team that currently has a losing record comes in Week 12 against the Browns.

17. If you go to the San Diego Chargers page on NFL.com, you will see that they rank first in the league in both offense and defense. Interesting stats considering they are 2-4. Further proof that there are lies, damn lies in statistics.

18. We all know about the Mike Martz factor on a team’s offense. Here’s further proof: The Bears gave up 35 sacks in 2009 but have given up 27 over just six games in 2010 (a projected total of 72 for the season).

19. Here’s to Chargers wide receiver Patrick Crayton for pointing out that his former coach in Dallas, Wade Philips, is very laid back and not involved in the team’s offense. If that’s not stating the obvious, I’m not sure what is. Philips has been a defensive coach for his entire career, and it is widely assumed that the only reason he has remained the Cowboys head coach, despite their repeated failures in the playoffs, is because he does what owner Jerry Jones tells him to do. If the NFL has a lap dog coach, Philips is it—and Crayton certainly would have been better-served keeping quiet on what is clearly well-known throughout the league.


Moving Up, Moving Down – Week 7


By: — October 19, 2010 @ 7:02 pm
Filed under: Player Analysis

QUARTERBACKS

Moving Up

Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers
In his first game back after serving a four-game suspension, Roethlisberger looked to be in midseason form. Playing at home against a weak Browns defense, he looked rusty early in the game but shook it off to finish 16 of 27 for 257 yards and three touchdowns with a single pick. Roethlisberger’s owners have to be excited by his early success, and after this week’s performance, he looks like he could be a top ten fantasy quarterback over the balance of the season.

Moving Down

A big part of the problem.

Brett Favre, Vikings
After an up-and-down performance last week in his first game with Randy Moss replenishing the team’s depth chart at wide receiver, Favre fell back to earth this Sunday against the Cowboys. He finished the Vikings 24-21 win going 14 of 19 for 118 yards and a touchdown, throwing for less than 200 yards for the second time in five games. (He managed just 201 yards in one of those other three games.) It’s looking more and more like Favre—not just his receivers—could be a big part of the problem with the Vikings passing game.

Jason Campbell, Raiders
Just in case you were holding onto Campbell in hopes that he would win the starting job back from Bruce Gradowski and become productive, you can now safely move on. Subbing again for an injured Gradowski, Campbell went 8 for 21 with 83 yards and two picks against an average 49ers secondary. He has failed to top 200 yards passing in four games and is averaging just over 125 passing yards per game.

RUNNING BACKS

Moving Up

Ryan Torain, Redskins
Torain was impressive this week, topping 100 yards for the first time in his career. Playing against the soft Indy run defense, he had 104 yards and two touchdowns on 20 carries. He gets a tough Bears run defense next, followed by a pair of softies (Lions and Eagles) with the team’s bye in the middle. With Clinton Portis’s return not yet on the horizon, Torain is beginning to look like a low-end RB2.

Chris Ivory, Saints
Ivory clearly separated himself from the Saints’ other backup running backs this week with his first big performance of the season. He had a healthy 158 yards on just 15 carries and chipped in 17 receiving yards on his lone reception. Ladell Betts and Julius Jones looked pedestrian against the Bucs, and Pierre Thomas has yet to even test his injured ankle in practice, which means Ivory could be line for significant touches against a porous Browns defense.

Danny Woodhead, Patriots
It looks like Woodhead has assumed Kevin Faulk’s role in the Patriots offense and is getting plenty of playing time when the team runs its no-huddle. He is splitting time with BenJarvus Green-Ellis and is also being used on passing downs while Green-Ellis gets the short-yardage work. In the Patriots pass-heavy offense, Woodhead figures to get enough looks to be a solid flex option. He has 25 touches over the last two games and has turned that into 162 yards and a touchdown.

Moving Down

Willis McGahee, Ravens
McGahee was a decent flex play last season and was shaping up to be one again in 2010 in larger leagues. It might be time to change that line of thinking. This week against the Patriots, he failed to get on the field as the Ravens went exclusively with Ray Rice and LeRon McClain. Repeat after me: Not One Single Play. No plays means no touches, which means there’s no point in owning him.

WIDE RECEIVERS

Moving Up

Legedu Naanee and Patrick Crayton, Chargers
Injuries create opportunities and it looks like Naanee and Crayton are the two Chargers most likely to benefit from the injuries suffered by wide receiver Malcom Floyd and tight end Antonio Gates. Early reports indicate that Floyd will miss this coming game against the Patriots; Gates may be able to suit up. However, Gates is likely to see a reduced workload due to his injured ankle. Naanee is dealing with an injured hamstring but appears ready to return. Crayton has already taken advantage of his increased role, catching six of seven targets for 117 yards against the Rams.

Jeremy Maclin and Jason Avant, Eagles
One player is here because of his production and the other is here because of his opportunity. After this week’s monster performance (seven receptions for 159 yards and two touchdowns), Maclin now has six touchdowns in six games and is the fourth-ranked fantasy wide receiver. With DeSean Jackson expected to miss at least one game with a concussion (and possibly several more), Avant will step into the starting lineup—and he has produced when given an opportunity in the past. In 2009 he caught 41 of 58 targets for 587 yards and three touchdowns. He immediately becomes a decent bye-week starter as long as Jackson is out.

Johnny Knox, Bears
Okay, Devin Hester fans, it’s officially time to give up on his becoming the go-to wide receiver in the Bears offense. That role officially belongs to Johnny Knox. At a certain point, the numbers can’t lie. That point occurred during this week’s game against the Seahawks. Knox saw 11 targets to just three for Hester, and he turned those targets into five receptions for 120 yards. For the season, Knox has been targeted 34 times, catching 18 passes for an eye-opening 392 yards—an average of 21.8 yards per reception. While he hasn’t yet found the end zone, it’s safe to assume that those big plays will translate into touchdown production in the coming weeks. More on Hester below in the Moving Down section.

Michael Crabtree, 49ers
Since Michael Johnson took over as offensive coordinator in San Francisco three games ago, Crabtree has had 18 receptions for 220 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He is also averaging just under nine targets per game, which means he has regained quarterback Alex Smith’s trust. It’s gone from night to day since Jimmy Raye was fired. If Crabtree is languishing on another team’s bench, go get him.

Deion Branch, Patriots
I didn’t think Branch had much left to offer, but he certainly proved me wrong this week with nine receptions for 98 yards and a touchdown against the Ravens. With Brandon Tate not ready to assume a large part in the Patriots offense, and with defenses likely to clamp down on Wes Welker, Branch should be in line for plenty of single coverage in the coming weeks. There’s a bit of a qualifier with this one since the Ravens secondary played very poorly this week. Nonetheless, Branch proved that he can still beat mid-level corners. He looks like a WR3 going forward.

Mike Williams, Seahawks
Williams had been relatively silent since an encouraging Week 1 performance against the 49ers when he had four receptions for 64 yards. A shoulder injury suffered in Week 3 appeared to have slowed him down. But with Deion Branch traded, Williams was featured this week against the Bears and came through in a big way with 10 receptions for 123 yards on 15 targets. He shapes up as the Seahawks’ top wide receiver at the moment, but that figures to be a fluid situation, with Deon Butler and possibly Golden Tate getting some opportunities for big roles as well.

Moving Down

Devin Hester, Bears
Aside from a solid performance in Week 1 against the Cowboys, Hester has been a complete non-factor this season and is playing worse than he did in 2009. He is currently on pace to finish the year with 405 receiving yards, which would be his lowest production since being shifted to wide receiver on a full-time basis for the 2008 season. Here are his fantasy points per game: 1, 13, 1, 2, 1, 2. Here are his receiving yardage totals: 17, 77, 16, 16, 0, 26. There you have it. There is a one-in-six chance he will help your fantasy squad on any given week.

Kevin Walter, Texans
Looks like the target well has run dry for Walter in Houston. After his monster performance in Week 2, Walter has been held to under 35 receiving yards for three straight games and did not get a single target this week against the Chiefs. With Andre Johnson, Jacoby Jones, and Owen Daniels all healthy, it looks like Walter will be relegated to a minor role in the Texans offense.

Brandon Tate, Patriots
To be honest, I never felt like Tate was ready to take over for Randy Moss in New England, and he showed during this week’s win over the Ravens just how unprepared he is to become a major contributor in the team’s pass-heavy offense. Tate was targeted four times but failed to catch a single pass during a game in which Tom Brady attempted 44 passes.

TIGHT ENDS

Moving Up

Owen Daniels, Texans
Nothing spectacular from Daniels this week but, then again, we learned early in 2010 that he wasn’t going to duplicate his production from last year—at least not until he was fully recovered from the knee injury that prematurely ended his 2009 season. He had his first big game of the year this week against the Chiefs, catching five passes for 79 yards. While Daniels failed to find the end zone, his performance was still encouraging, given that his season-high for receiving yards had been 45 and he was averaging just 23 yards per game.

Ben Watson, Browns
After languishing in New England, Watson has clearly found a home in Cleveland. Always known for his superlative physical ability but a disappointment due to his inability to turn that into production, Watson has blossomed in Cleveland and is the ninth-ranked fantasy tight end after six weeks. This week, with six receptions for 88 yards and a score, he played his best game since Week 11 of the 2008 season. With the Browns struggling to get production from their wide receivers, Watson has been getting a steady number of targets and has topped 45 yards in five of six games in 2010.

Moving Down

Greg Olsen, Bears
Olsen had been surprisingly productive through four weeks, given the history of starting tight ends in a Mike Martz offense. However, the wheels have fallen off over the last two weeks, with Olsen failing to make even a dent in the stat column. And after two straight games without a single reception, Olsen should be nailed to your bench until he puts up a decent performance.


Dave’s Take: Week 6 – Fantasy Football Tips, News & Notes


By: — October 15, 2010 @ 1:19 pm

1. We all know that the NFL has become a passing league over the last decade, with several quarterbacks regularly putting up numbers that would have been considered remarkable 10 to 20 years ago. Two years ago, Saints quarterback Drew Brees came within 15 yards of tying Dan Marino’s record for passing yards in a season, a record that was considered unbreakable after Marino’s amazing 1984 season. However, after five weeks this year, three quarterbacks are on pace to break that record. The trio of Philip Rivers (on pace for 5,629 passing yards), Kyle Orton (5,545), and Peyton Manning (5,149) all have a chance to eclipse Marino’s single-season numbers, with Rivers likely having the best chance if the Chargers running game fails to breakout.

2. The Rams passing attack was dealt a major blow when wide receiver Mark Clayton suffered a torn patellar tendon during this week’s loss to Detroit. Since being acquired from the Ravens just prior to opening day, Clayton had quickly emerged as the team’s top receiver and had caught 22 passes for 300 yards and two touchdowns during the first four games. Although Laurent Robinson may seem like the obvious choice to replace Clayton in the starting lineup, look for rookie fourth-round pick Mardy Gilyard to get the nod. Clayton was playing flanker in the Rams offense, and Gilyard has been learning the slot and flanker positions while Robinson has been lining up at split end, where Brandon Gibson usually gets most of the reps.

3. With their win over the Rams this week, the Lions won their first game of 2010 and just their third over their last 38 games. This week in New York against the Giants, they will attempt to win back-to-back games for the first time in 45 contests, dating back to the 2007 season.

4. This week, the Bills announced they were abandoning their 3-4 defense and moving back to the 4-3 as their base package. Head coach Chan Gailey wanted to run the 3-4 and brought in former Dolphins assistant George Edwards to be the team’s defensive coordinator and lead the switch. However, Gailey and general manager Buddy Nix failed to obtain the proper personnel to run the 3-4, so it comes as no surprise that Buffalo has not been able to stop the run in 2010. The Bills don’t have a run-stuffing nose tackle to anchor the front line, their outside linebackers consist almost exclusively of former defensive ends in their first year at a new position, and they were relying on former Dolphin and Giant retread Reggie Torbor to provide a pass rush along with overrated 2009 first-round pick Aaron Maybin, who routinely gets steamrolled in the rushing game by opposing offensive lineman.

5. Keeping with the Bills, if you’re in an IDP league, roll with any defensive lineman that is facing the Bills in the coming weeks. Left tackle Demetrious Bell continues to struggle as he recovers from knee surgery, and right tackle Cornell Green is expected to miss several weeks with a sore knee that has bothered him since the preseason. Even though Green hasn’t been very good in his first year in Buffalo, the Bills failed to bring in a veteran swing tackle backup, so they will turn to undrafted rookie free agent Cordaro Howard to start in Green’s absence.

6. The Texans, as expected, didn’t re-sign cornerback Dunta Robinson in the offseason as he entered free agency, choosing instead to go with a group of young players at the position. The team’s top four cornerbacks entering the season were a pair of second year players in Brice McCain and Glover Quin and a pair of rookies in Kareem Jackson (first round) and Sherrick McManis (fifth round). Quin and Jackson have struggled in starting roles, and the Texans currently rank last in the league in passing defense, giving up 330 yards per game. They have also given up a whopping 11 touchdown passes, ranking second-worst in the league in that category. Although general manager Rick Smith has maintained that the pass defense will come around, the team signed aging veterans Adewale Ogunleye and Ryan Denney (since released) to help out in pass rushing roles (and thus to help the cornerbacks). They also claimed former Bears defensive end Mark Anderson off waivers this week.

Gimme the damn ball!

7. Greg Jennings of the Packers has never been mentioned in the same category as the league’s diva wide receivers, such as Terrell Owens and Chad Ochocinco, but he apparently went off on the coaches over his lack of use during this week’s loss to the Redskins. He has had a disappointing start to the season with just two receptions in three straight games and 101 receiving yards over the last four. However, he figures to get more looks in the coming weeks with Green Bay’s other receivers coming off poor performances against Washington (six drops between Donald Driver, James Jones, and Jordy Nelson) and tight end Jermichael Finley out at least eight games (and possibly for the year) with a knee injury. That makes Jennings a great buy-low candidate.

8. The sports world is full of stories of players and their agents turning down lucrative contract offers, only to sign at a later date for far less money. It’s just not often that you see a pair of players from the same team do so over a two-week period with such differing results. Chargers left tackle Marcus McNeill and wide receiver Vincent Jackson both received restricted free agent tenders back in February for just over $3-million, and both players vowed they would not sign the tenders, opting to sit out the 2010 season instead. However, McNeill backed down and signed his tender two weeks ago, agreeing to a five-year contract extension for $48.5-million that contains $24.5-million in guaranteed money. This week, word leaked out that Jackson will sign his tender but will not receive the $3.3-million contract he was tendered back in February. Chargers general manager A.J. Smith reduced the tendered amount back on June 15th, and Jackson will play for a prorated portion of the new tender of $583,000. That means he will make $218,000 if he reports in time to play six games—the minimum number of games required for him to become an unrestricted free agent next year.

9. Keeping with Jackson, he faces numerous hurdles in order to have a productive stretch of games when he returns. First of all, he will not be in game shape, and that will put him at a significant disadvantage for his first couple of games. While Jackson is a quality wide receiver, he doesn’t rank among the league’s elite yet. Secondly, it remains to be seen whether he will show up in the proper frame of mine and be motivated. There is certainly a chance that he will simply go through the motions. Finally, as we have seen with other players who have missed time with holdouts, there is an increased chance of injury for those who attempt to get up to game speed quickly and try to do too much, too early. If you are a V-Jax owner and a team comes looking for him in a trade, I would seriously consider moving him, given the various obstacles he faces in becoming a quality fantasy contributor in 2010.

10. The Saints haven’t been nearly as explosive this season as in 2009. New Orleans is currently on pace to finish with just 317 points after scoring 510 last season. The question is: why has there been such a dramatic drop off? Well, there are two main reasons. First off, the team’s rushing attack has suffered with the loss of Reggie Bush and Pierre Thomas. After ranking sixth in the league in rushing in 2009, with 21 rushing touchdowns while averaging 4.5 yards per carry, they now rank 31st, with just a single rushing touchdown in five games. Secondly, with Bush out of the line-up, opposing defenses can play both safeties deep, thereby taking away the big plays that were the Saints’ hallmark over the last two seasons. Don’t expect much to change until both Thomas and Bush return to the lineup.


Moving Up, Moving Down – Week 6


By: — October 12, 2010 @ 2:11 pm

QUARTERBACKS

Moving Up

Ryan Fitzpatrick, Bills
Fitzpatrick has topped 20 fantasy points in three consecutive games and ranks sixth in points per game at the quarterback position, despite passing for just 595 yards during that stretch. He has padded his fantasy production by tossing eight touchdowns, and he also added 74 rushing yards in Week 4. While I’m not anointing him starter material by any means, given the state of the Bills offense, he is decent bye week filler and is now worthy of a roster spot in most leagues.

Moving Down

Matt Schaub, Texans
I’m a little wary to designate Schaub as Moving Down. I put him here after Week 1, following the Texans’ bullying of the Colts behind a solid rushing attack led by Arian Foster, rationalizing that with a decent running game, Houston would throw far less in 2010 than they did last season. Then Schaub went out and tossed for 497 yards and three touchdowns against the Redskins in Week 2. That was nice, since he’s my starter in one league; yet not so nice, since it made my prognostication look bad. Since then, he has thrown for 633 yards (a 211-yard per-game average) and has now thrown for less than 200 yards in three out of fives games.

RUNNING BACKS

Moving Up

Michael Bush, Raiders
Bush didn’t get much work in his first couple games back from missing time with a wrist injury, and it appeared he had become nothing more than Darren McFadden’s handcuff. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, however, given McFadden’s injury history. This week, with McFadden out because of a strained hamstring, Bush had a solid game against a tough Chargers run defense, gaining 104 yards and a touchdown on 26 carries. He also chipped in three receptions for 31 yards and may have earned himself a bigger portion of the touches out of the Raiders backfield going forward. Plus, he will be a nice fill-in if (when?) McFadden gets hurt.

Jamaal Charles, Chiefs
Charles fumbled this week and failed to score a touchdown, but the most interesting development in the Chiefs backfield was that Charles received significantly more touches than starter Thomas Jones. Charles had 17 touches to just eight for Jones, marking the first time since Week 1 that has happened (the Week 1 tally was 12 for Charles and 11 for Jones). Could the light have gone on during the team’s Week 4 bye, showing Chiefs head coach Todd Haley that maybe the team’s most dynamic offensive player should get more touches? Will it take until next year’s bye before Haley figures out that the best players should be in the starting lineup? Just how quick is Haley on the uptake? Fantasy owners want to know. I’m guessing this is the beginning of a trend as Haley realizes that the Chiefs can’t rely on special teams and defense to carry them, as they did during their first three games.

Fred Jackson, Bills
Marshawn Lynch is gone. Bills head coach Chan Gailey said that Jackson would take over as the team’s starter, and Jackson got the majority of the work this week over C.J. Spiller (13 touches to six). While Jackson is the current starter and was productive in 2009, I’m not getting too excited about him. Expect Spiller to earn a larger role as the season progresses and don’t forget that the Bills offense is hit-and-miss, with more misses than hits. While Jackson topped 1,400 total yards in 2009, it is worth noting that he scored just four touchdowns.

Jerome Harrison, Browns
He’s back! After getting no touches during Week 4, Harrison got some work this week against the Falcons, gaining six yards on six carries. While that is hardly stellar production, the more interesting development was starting running back Peyton Hillis suffering another injury. Hillis has now suffered thigh and quad injuries over the last two weeks and may not be suited for such a heavy workload. Harrison has been productive at times, including having some huge games at the end of last season, so he is worth stashing away on your roster in case Hillis gets hurt again.

Mike Hart, Colts
This one’s for deeper leagues. Let’s take stock of the Colts backfield. Joseph Addai is injury prone and is well on his way to averaging under 4.0 yards per carry for the third consecutive season (he’s currently at 3.7 yards per tote). Donald Brown also can’t stay healthy, having missed seven games out of 21 in his career, and he has done little to suggest that he’s ready to challenge Addai as the starter. Then there is Hart, who had a tidy game this week with 11 carries for 50 yards and a touchdown as well as a reception that went for five yards, subbing for the injured Addai. The Colts generally release injury information early, so expect an update on Addai’s neck or shoulder injury before many fantasy leagues process their waiver wires.

Felix Jones, Cowboys
Jones had 19 touches this week to just six for Marion Barber, which may indicate that the Cowboys will start using him more. That will likely lead to another Jones injury, so I’m hardly excited. Here’s my quick take on Jones: He will not develop into a consistent fantasy option in 2010. The Dallas running attack has been miserable. And good luck guessing which week the Cowboys will actually succeed at running, combined with Jones being the back (between himself, Barber, and Choice) who gets the rock. Nonetheless, he’s moving up simply because this was one of those weeks—he picked up 126 total yards.

Brandon Jackson, Packers
I’m moving Jackson up—not because I like him, but because I have been so harsh on him that I must make amends for his big game this week against the Redskins (10 carries for 115 yards, five receptions for 25 yards). So, just to be clear, he’s up because he was good this week, not because I think he’ll be good over the balance of the season. And he’s last on this list for a reason. Take head.

Moving Down

Justin Forsett and Leon Washington, Seahawks
After the Seahawks acquired Marshawn Lynch from the Bills, the odds of Forsett having a breakout season in 2010 dropped to virtually nil. As for Washington, there was a chance he might gain a majority of the work at running back around midseason if he could prove that he was completely healthy. That also seems highly unlikely now. With the Seahawks offence hardly being a juggernaut, Forsett is worth holding onto only in deep leagues, and you can officially drop Washington in all but the largest fantasy formats.

Mike Tolbert, Chargers
Tolbert had a touchdown this week against the Raiders. But he also had just 12 yards on his 11 carries and sat for most of the fourth quarter while Ryan Mathews got the work. Mathews finished with 59 yards on just nine carries and it is abundantly clear that he is the team’s top threat out of the backfield.

WIDE RECEIVERS

Moving Up

Malcom Floyd, Chargers
Well, I benched Floyd this week in favor of (ahem) Derrick Mason, thinking that the Raiders would put Nnamdi Asomugha on Floyd. All he did was go off for eight receptions, 213 yards, and a touchdown. Basically, I had him down as a must-start except in games against the Broncos (Champ Bailey) and the Raiders. After this performance, he is now the fourth-ranked wide receiver in standard fantasy formats, which makes him a must-start on a weekly basis.

Michael Crabtree, 49ers
There was a Michael Crabtree sighting this weekend and that collective sigh that reverberated across the fantasy landscape was his owners contemplating what the 2009 first-rounder might accomplish with his head screwed on straight. Facing a respectable Eagles pass defense, Crabtree had easily his best game of the season and the best game of his brief career, catching nine passes for 104 yards and a touchdown. He was targeted 14 times by quarterback Alex Smith, hopefully squashing the rumors that Smith was apprehensive about going to Crabtree after he caused numerous interceptions earlier this season.

Brandon Lloyd, Broncos
Keeping with what appears to be this week’s theme, Lloyd has also now firmly established himself as a week-in, week-out must-start for fantasy purposes. The mercurial Lloyd now leads the league in receiving yards with 589 on just 30 catches, which translates into an impressive 19.6 yards per catch. He also has three touchdowns and is the top-ranked fantasy wide receiver after five games. Imagine what you could have won in Vegas had you thrown down some money on that! Lloyd has topped 100 yards receiving in three straight games and has four 100-yard games in 2010. He is clearly the best Broncos receiver to own and has established himself as Kyle Orton’s go-to guy in an offense that is throwing it plenty.

Percy Harvin, Vikings
Harvin more than doubled his 2010 fantasy production this week with a pair of touchdowns and 97 receiving yards against the Jets. Harvin seemed to benefit from playing opposite Randy Moss, with the Jets frequently putting a safety deep on Moss’s side of the field. If Sidney Rice fails to make it back onto the field in 2010, Harvin shapes up as a decent WR3 going forward. Monitor the Rice situation and consider Harvin a potential sell-high candidate in the coming weeks if he continues to play well and Rice’s return becomes imminent.

Steve Johnson, Bills
Who? Steve Johnson, that’s who. And, yeah, that’s right, he plays for the woebegone Bills. Johnson entered the season as the starter opposite Lee Evans, only to quickly lose the job to Roscoe Parrish. No matter. Johnson had a nice game this week against Jacksonville with five receptions for 46 yards and two touchdowns, and he has now scored touchdowns in three straight games. For the season, Johnson has caught 17 of his 18 targets for 214 yards and four touchdowns. Which begs the question: Why isn’t Buffalo throwing it to him more often?

Moving Down

Greg Jennings, Packers
Failing to produce on a consistent basis, Jennings has been one of the biggest disappointments at wide receiver in 2010. This week, he had his third consecutive two-catch performance, and he has just 14 receptions for 183 yards over the Packers’ five games. His fantasy stats have been padded by three touchdowns, but he has not attained the WR1 status most owners expected entering the season. With Green Bay’s offensive line struggling and opposing defenses playing mostly cover-two sets to take away big plays from the Packers potent offense, Jennings has become a bit of a forgotten man. I still like him, just a lot less than I did earlier in the season.

Chad Ochocinco, Bengals
Ochocinco ranks right up there with Jennings in terms of being a huge disappointment. Although I’m not ready to write him off just yet, my expectations for him over the balance of the season are definitely lower than those of Jennings. At this point, Ochocinco is clearly the number two receiver behind Terrell Owens in Cincinnati’s passing offense. Much like when T.J. Houshmandzadeh was in Cincinnati, Owens has become the team’s best option on short and intermediate routes and Ochocinco is working downfield. However, Owens is a much more viable target on deep passing plays than Houshmandzadeh was. Perhaps that’s why Ochocinco has just 11 targets over the last two games.

Catching the ball - a key component in being a relevant fantasy receiver.

Dwayne Bowe, Chiefs
Well, I don’t know. I’ve never been an NFL receiver or head coach, but I’m guessing that you can’t produce if you can’t catch the ball—and Bowe can’t seem to do that. I’m also guessing that head coaches aren’t going to keep calling plays for receivers who can’t make the catch. This week, Bowe dropped two easy passes, including one in the end zone that would have given the Chiefs a 13-9 lead over the Colts in a game they eventually lost. Of course, the Chiefs head coach is a guy who starts Thomas Jones over Jamaal Charles at running back, so maybe he will keeping throwing it to Bowe.

TIGHT ENDS

Moving Up

Marcedes Lewis, Jaguars
I had him moving up after Week 2 and it’s time to put him here again. Although Lewis has put up a middling receiving yardage total (192 in five games), he has emerged as a quality red zone target for quarterback David Garrard. After failing to catch more than two touchdowns during any of his first four years in the league, Lewis has five touchdowns already in 2010, making him the fourth-ranked fantasy tight end.

Moving Down

Dustin Keller, Jets
After suffering through a disappointing sophomore season, Keller emerged as a threat early this year, catching 19 passes for 254 yard and five touchdowns during the Jets first four games. This week, with Santonio Holmes in the line-up for the first time and Jerricho Cotchery and Braylon Edwards healthy, Keller was targeted just five times, catching two passes for 14 yards. While Keller is still a valuable fantasy tight end, there are warning signs on the horizon. And expecting him to produce as he did during his first four games is unwise. He’s definitely a sell-high candidate.


Dave’s Take: Week 5 – Fantasy Football Tips, News & Notes


By: — October 8, 2010 @ 11:16 am
Filed under: Player Analysis

1. The leading fantasy producer at tight end for the Houston Texans is Owen Daniels, right? Wrong. It’s Joel Dreessen courtesy of his five-reception, 73 yard, one touchdown performance this past week against the Raiders. In fact, his 13 fantasy points last week are nine more than Daniels (who has two games with under 10 yards) has this season. At this point, it appears that Dreessen has surpassed Daniels in the tight end pecking order in Houston.

2. Eagles head coach Andy Reid has always had a reputation of being poor at clock management but he seems to have taken his incompetence to a new level. This week, LeSean McCoy was ruled down just short of the goal line with 23 seconds remaining before halftime and Philadelphia trailing Washington 17-3. The replay booth called for a review that took five minutes to complete and the call was not overturned. Despite having all that time to come up with a fourth down play call, the Eagles were called for delay of game, forcing them to kick a field goal on fourth down at the six-yard line.

3. Jaguars kicker Josh Scobee’s 59-yard game winning field goal against the Colts last week was the third longest game winning field goal and eighth longest in the history of the league. For whatever reason, the Jaguars always play the Colts tough and Scobee now has three game winning field goals over Indianapolis, all from greater than 50 yards. I have some advice for Josh. After you nail a game winning kick, don’t try to run away from your teammates. You are a kicker. They will catch you. Hit the ground after the kick and take cover so you don’t get hurt.

He's good.

4. Moving to the Colts, Reggie Wayne’s monster day last week (10 receptions for 176 yards) moves him and quarterback Peyton Manning into second place on the list of most receiving yards between a wide receiver and quarterback in league history. The only duo ahead of them are Manning and former Colts wide receiver Marvin Harrison.

5. Since the start of the 2007 season, there have been three 40-yard runs by quarterbacks. It’s not surprising that Vince Young and Donovan McNabb have accomplished the feat given their running ability but Lions quarterback Shaun Hill was a surprise addition with a 40-yard scamper last week against the Packers.

6. Packers cornerback Charles Woodson had an interception return for a touchdown last week against the Lions, given him ten such plays in his career. That ranks him third all-time in that category behind Deion Sanders (12) and Rod Woodson (11).

7. With their special teams having a dominant performance during the shellacking of the Dolphins on Monday night, New England became the first team in NFL history to score a touchdown on a run, a pass, interception, kickoff return and a blocked field goal.

8. Here’s to the Rams, who are currently tied for first place in the woeful NFC West with a record of two wins and two losses. Entering last week’s home game against Seattle, the Rams had lost ten straight games to Seattle and 15 straight division games. With their 20-3 thrashing of the Seahawks, the Rams stopped both streaks and are beginning to look like they could challenge for the division crown behind rookie quarterback Sam Bradford and running back Steven Jackson, who surpassed Marshall Faulk this week to become the team’s second leading all-time rusher behind Eric Dickerson. That’s good company to keep.

9. Keeping with the Rams, they have allowed 17 points or less in their first four games, an astounding statistic given that their defense has ranked at the bottom of the league for most of the past decade. This is the first times a Rams defense has achieved this feat since the 1978 season.

10. More Rams. Their defense has given up four touchdowns – tied for the league lead with the Steelers and Ravens (sorry – I’m a Rams fan and I just had to mention that since I may never get the opportunity to do so again).

11. It was a coup for Fred Jackson owners when Buffalo finally traded Marshawn Lynch; shipping him to the Seahawks. Jackson figures to take over for Lynch in the Bills starting line-up and was a solid producer in that capacity in 2009. However, the Bills figure to be out of the playoff hunt early and so there’s a high probability that the team’s management will want rookie first round pick C.J. Spiller to see extended playing time before the end of the year. Jackson definitely shapes up as a sell high candidate over the next few weeks, provided of course that he performs the way he did last season.

12. Keeping with the Bills, tight end Shawn Nelson is eligible to return to the team this week after serving a four-game suspension for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy. Nelson underwent groin surgery four weeks ago so he may not be quite ready but the Bills are hopeful that the speedy tight end can help provide a spark to their anaemic passing attack. He flashed his ability at times during his rookie season in 2009 and may be ready for a bigger role in 2010.

13. With Randy Moss out of the picture, reports are circulating that the Patriots have contacted the Chargers about Vincent Jackson and the Seahawks about Deion Branch. While Jackson would make some sense in New England, it seems unlikely that Chargers general manager A.J. Smith would deal him to a team that San Diego could face in the playoffs. However, the Patriots are loaded with 2011 draft picks so they have the ability to make an offer that Smith would have a hard time turning down. As for Branch, he is on his last legs and would merely provide veteran depth and experience to the roster. Perhaps the Patriots are putting the Branch option out there to help drive down the price on Jackson, who is the player that could help propel them into the playoffs.

14. Here’s to Bears offensive coordinator Mike Martz for stepping up and taking the blame for the team’s inept offensive effort during last week’s loss to the Giants. However, more than a fair share of the blame should go to quarterback Jay Cutler as well as the team’s offensive line. Cutler’s ability to read defenses has always been a question mark and never more so than against the Giants. While the league’s best quarterbacks are all adept at defeating the blitz, generally by throwing to the location that a blitzing defender has vacated, Cutler either misread several blitzes last week or refused to throw to the area the blitzing player left open.

15. Sticking with the Bears, look for the team to alter it starters along the offensive line for the third time this season. J’Marcus Webb, a rookie seventh round pick, has been subbing in for starter Kevin Shaffer at right tackle but may take over in the starting line-up this week. Guard Edwin Williams (Redskins), plucked off the waiver wire prior to the season, could start ahead of second-year player Lance Louis at right guard. In addition, left tackle Chris Williams may return to the line-up this week. Either way, it looks like the Bears will start their third offensive line combination in five games this season.

16. Looks like Tennessee wide receiver Justin Gage is battling a hamstring injury and might miss this week’s game against the Cowboys. Perhaps that will provide an opportunity either Nate Washington or second-year player Kenny Britt to finally emerge as the Titans number one wide receiver.

17. Keeping with the Titans-Cowboys matchup, here’s a little tidbit that might be useful – the Titans have won ten straight games against NFC opponents.

18. Here’s a name to keep your eye on if you are in a dynasty, PPR league – Rams wide receiver Danny Amendola. The Rams grabbed him off the Eagles practice squad last year and he played reasonably well as a rookie with 43 receptions for 326 yards and a touchdown. In the preseason, he held off rookie fourth round pick Mardy Gilyard to retain his position out of the slot. So far in 2010, he’s been targeted just under eight times per game and has 21 receptions for 208 yards – good enough to qualify as a solid backup in PPR leagues. He’s shown a willingness to go over the middle and he’s quick on underneath routes. In short, he’s a poor man’s Wes Welker but only in his second year and could grow into one of the league’s top slot receivers over the next couple of years.

19. After his second DWI charge, the Panthers finally rid themselves of wide receiver Dwayne Jarrett. Taken in the second round of the 2007, Jarrett had done little during his first three years in Carolina but was expected to be elevated to the starting line-up this season. I guess when the general manager uses a second round pick on you and is so convinced of your abilities that he releases Keyshawn Johnson, he is bound to give you more opportunities than you deserve in order to save face. Jarrett’s release is one in a long list of reasons why nobody should be surprised if both head coach John Fox and general manager Marty Hurney are looking for employment following the 2010 season.

20. Like every other fantasy enthusiast, I love reading the Start ‘Em, Sit ‘Em articles out there (none more so than FFToday’s own The Shot Caller’s Report by Bill Aquaviva). However, I’m getting more than a little tired of reading that I should be starting whichever wide receivers are facing the Baltimore Ravens. As Bill points out in this week, the Ravens are giving up a miniscule 119 yards per game through the air and have given up just one passing touchdown in 2010. Entering the season, the Ravens were expected to have a poor passing defense but that clearly hasn’t been the case so it’s past time to adjust that viewpoint.


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