Fantasy Football Strategy, Advice, and Commentary
By: Dave Stringer — October 6, 2010 @ 10:23 am
With their projected top wide receiver out indefinitely and still using crutches, the Minnesota Vikings today acquired Randy Moss from the New England Patriots.
Reports indicate the Patriots will receive a third round draft pick in the 2011 draft in return. Interestingly enough, the Patriots would likely have received a compensatory third round pick if Moss signed with another team as a free agent following the season.
The acquisition of Moss reunites the mercurial receiver with the franchise that selected him in the first round of the 1998 draft. Moss burst on to the scene as a rookie, catching 69 passes for 1,313 yards and an amazing 17 touchdowns – a rookie record that no other wide receiver has come close to approaching and which may never be broken.
In his initial stint in Minnesota, Moss had an amazing six-year run, topping 1,200 yards each season, before having a disappointing year in 2004 which ultimately led to the team trading him to Oakland.
During the period from 1998 to 2003, Moss caught 525 passes for 8,375 yards and 77 touchdowns. Only Jerry Rice and Marvin Harrison have exceeded that level of production over a six-year period.
Just what the Vikings needed.
In Minnesota, Moss immediately becomes the Vikings top wide receiver and unites him with quarterback Brett Favre for the first time in their careers. As a Packer, Favre encouraged team management to pursue Moss, but a trade with the Raiders never materialized and Moss was dealt to the Patriots.
Reports have circulated that the Packers refusal to trade for Moss was the point at which Favre began contemplating life in a uniform other than gold and green.
Minnesota’s passing attack has struggled thus far in 2010, failing to match the lofty heights it achieved in 2009 when Favre passed for 4,202 yards and 33 touchdowns with only seven interceptions. With Sidney Rice (hip) on the physically unable to perform list, the Vikings deep passing attack has floundered with few big plays in 2010.
However, the acquisition of Moss provides the team with a player that excels on deep passes and jump balls. In essence, Moss is a similar player to Rice with better deep speed… although Rice is a more skilled player on crossing routes.
In New England, it appears the Patriots are once again choosing to jettison a veteran player on the downside of their career in return for a quality draft pick. The decision to trade Moss follows the pattern that was set with the trade of defensive end Richard Seymour to the Oakland in return for a first round pick.
As with the Seymour trade, it is difficult to argue that trading Moss will help the Patriots in the short term, even if the team has developed young players at the wide receiver and tight end positions over the last two years.
If red lights aren’t going off for Sidney Rice owners, they should be. With reports indicating Rice is still walking with crutches after preseason hip surgery, the move to acquire Moss may be an indication that Rice is behind in his recovery and possibly headed for injured reserve.
With Moss on board, even if Rice comes back healthy, he now shapes up as a high-end WR3 given that Moss will almost certainly cut into his opportunities on deep passes and in the red zone.
Second-year jack-of-all-trades, Percy Harvin was a preseason favorite as a potential breakout player, in part due to Rice’s injury, but the chances of that happening now become nil.
In the short term, Harvin remains a viable option as a fantasy starter since he will continue to get opportunities in the short and intermediate passing game. Moss’ presence may actually help Harvin as teams will likely move their safeties further from the line of scrimmage to prevent Moss from getting deep.
However, Harvin becomes a WR4 with both Moss and Rice in the line-up. Don’t give up on him in dynasty formats since the trade was not conditional on Moss signing a contract extension with Minnesota.
Owners of Bernard Berrian, already fed up with his lack of production, can now safely jettison him from their rosters.
Favre is obviously a huge fantasy winner with this trade as Moss provides him with the exact type of player he loves to throw to – a tall player, with excellent deep speed and leaping ability. While Favre remains unlikely to hit the top five as a fantasy quarterback in 2010, he immediately moves from being a matchup play to being a fantasy starter that should be ranked just outside of the big six – Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Tony Romo and Matt Schaub.
Brady moves to the bottom of the aforementioned list of big six now that Moss no longer resides in the Patriots starting line-up.
As for Adrian Peterson, he remains arguably the top fantasy running back but his touchdown projection may take a slight hit as Moss is an excellent red zone option as are tight end Visanthe Shiancoe and Rice. Shiancoe also will likely lose red zone touches with Moss in the line-up.
In New England, second-year receiver Brandon Tate is the player most likely to assume Moss’ role in the team’s offense. However, he will not receive the same opportunities that Moss had in the deep passing game and the team will look to replace Moss’ production with a number of players.
Tate becomes an intriguing fantasy option but is nothing more than a WR4 or WR5 in most formats. He is more valuable as a prospect in dynasty leagues.
Slot receiver Wes Welker already gets plenty of use and it is difficult to imagine the Patriots actually increasing his role given that he is less than a year removed from ACL surgery.
That leaves the Patriots tight ends and running backs as the players most likely to increase their fantasy production with Moss no longer on the roster.
Rookie tight end Aaron Hernandez has had an excellent start to the season and has more receiving yards in his first four games than any tight end has ever had. Look for him to become an integral part of the team’s offense and to replace Moss as the team’s preferred option in the red zone.
Fellow rookie tight end Rob Gronkowski figures to get more looks as well but is unlikely to be worthy of a roster spot in fantasy leagues that are not dynasty formats.
Diminutive running back Danny Woodhead has already proven adept in the passing attack and has been effective replacing Kevin Faulk, who is out for the year. While Woodhead may get more touches, he is a low-end flex play in larger leagues only.
By: Dave Stringer — October 5, 2010 @ 8:20 pm
With a trio of smaller running backs, all with similar skill sets, the Seattle Seahawks have been in the market for a physical back since the draft.
Today, they finally found that back, acquiring Marshawn Lynch from the Buffalo Bills. ESPN reports that the Bills will receive a 2011 fourth-round pick and a conditional pick in 2012. With Buffalo having used its first-round pick in this year’s draft on Clemson running back C.J. Spiller and with Fred Jackson having three years remaining on his contract, Lynch was expendable.
In Seattle, Lynch will compete with Justin Forsett and Leon Washington for playing time. Following Lynch’s acquisition, the team released Julius Jones, who started 29 games during the 2008 and 2009 seasons.
Lynch’s departure comes as no surprise given his legal difficulties since entering the league and the tumultuous relationship he had with Bills management as well as the Buffalo fanbase.
Picked by the Bills in the first round of the 2007 draft, Lynch showed much promise during his rookie season, rushing for 1,115 yards and seven touchdowns. He followed that up with another 1,000-yard season in 2008 but fell out of favor with last year’s coaching staff, losing his starting job to Jackson by season’s end.
During his time in Buffalo, Lynch was investigated in connection with a hit and run incident, ultimately pleading guilty to a reduced traffic violation charge.
Then in February of 2009, police approached Lynch and two companions inside a vehicle that smelled of marijuana and found a gun they claimed belonged to Lynch. He pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor gun charge.
Ten months later, Lynch was accused of stealing $20 from the wife of a Buffalo police officer.
The most talented RB on the Seahawks roster.
Look for Lynch to quickly assume the lead back role in Seattle. Both Forsett and Washington are better suited to serve as backups, coming off the bench to provide a change of pace and to play on passing downs.
While Lynch has started in Buffalo since Week 2, it was widely assumed the team had moved him into the starting lineup to showcase him for a potential trade. It is hard to argue with that considering today’s developments.
Lynch has been decent thus far in 2010, but he has hardly been dominant, and it remains to be seen whether he will fulfill the potential he displayed during his first two years in the league.
Although he has solid size at 5’11, 235 pounds, there were whispers out of Buffalo that the coaching staff wanted him to be a more physical, downhill style of runner. Nonetheless, he immediately becomes the most talented running back on the Seahawks roster. He was named to the 2008 Pro Bowl and is just 24 years of age.
Lynch shapes up as a RB3 for fantasy purposes due to the Seahawks struggles on offense and the woeful performance of their offensive line so far this season. It would be foolish to suggest that his acquisition will result in a marked improvement in the Seahawks rushing attack, which currently ranks 27th in the league.
Look for Forsett to become the team’s main backup and for Washington to concentrate on his return duties on special teams. While the biggest fantasy loser from Lynch’s acquisition has to be Jones since he’s now out of a job, Forsett’s decline in value is likely causing his fantasy owner’s some major headaches right now.
In Buffalo, it’s anybody’s guess as to whether Spiller or Jackson will assume the lead role. Spiller clearly has major upside, but the coaching staff has been reluctant to use him. Jackson was productive in 2009 and seems the odds-on favorite to assume the lead back role until Spiller is ready to take over.
Both players shape up as flex plays at best, given that Buffalo has perhaps the worst offense in the league.
By: Dave Stringer — @ 2:35 pm
(This is just a Tribute…)
We’re going back in time, folks.
Back to a simpler time, when you needed two solid running backs to win your fantasy league. Back to when there were three solid fantasy options at tight end, otherwise you were praying for your starter to score a touchdown. Back to when teams had two starting wide receivers that got most of the targets. Back to when base defenses were 4-3, not the “exotic”3-4 alignment.
That’s right, we’re heading back to 2005, when FFToday ran the FF In The Groin article every week courtesy of Mike MacGregor. Mike’s busy with other FFToday tasks at the moment but I wanted resurrect his column, if only for a week. I can’t promise you the excellence you got back then but I’ll give it my best shot.
We all know the wide receiver position is fickle. Quarterbacks can decide to look elsewhere, opposing defenses can smother top receivers with constant double teams, your starting quarterback gets injured or your team jumps out to a lead and proceeds to grind out the clock on the ground. Or maybe, just maybe, your guy is in line for a huge play but the DB yanks him to the ground before the ball gets there – sixty-yard penalty for the offense and zero fantasy points in your starting line-up. I hate when that happens. There were a lot of goose eggs and poor performances posted by wide receivers this week causing an extraordinary amount of abdominal pain in Week 4.
Groin Shot of the Week Candidates
If you faced these guys, you likely got burned…
RB LaDainian Tomlinson (138, 2) – We knew he would be solid against the Bills but we didn’t know he would run roughshod over them. LT looked like the LT of old (circa 2005 even) and the Bills were no match.
WR Terrell Owens (222, 1) – Another “Oldie But a Goodie” who played like it was 2005 all over again. T.O. found his game this week in the Bengals loss to the Browns, topping 200 yards for the first time since Week 12 of 2008 . In the process, he surpassed former Rams’ WR Isaac Bruce, to move into second place on the NFL’s career receiving yardage list, behind only the immortal Jerry Rice.
QB Shaun Hill (331, 2) – Interesting little dynamic going on in Detroit. The Lions get behind, Hill chucks it all over the field for big yardage. He chipped in 53 rushing yards on his way to a 29-FPt effort this week.
QB David Garrard (163, 2) – Garrard padded his fantasy points total on the ground also with 44 rushing yards and a touchdown. Even with the modest passing totals, he still finished with a tidy 26 FPts. Not exactly what his opponents were expecting.
TE Antonio Gates (144, 2) – Should Gates even be here? Doesn’t he put up these kind of numbers every week? At this point, it’s safe to assume that Gates is just adding Vincent Jackson’s 2009 production to his usual production and will finish the year around 2,000 receiving yards and 20 touchdowns.
WR Brandon Lloyd (115, 0) – Come on, man, how does this guy keep doing it? Lloyd has been given up for dead for several seasons now but has been reinvigorated this season in Denver. He torched the Titans and is remarkably the second leading receiver in the NFL. Wow!
WR Davone Bess (93, 1) – The Dolphins facsimile of the Patriots Wes Welker did his best impersonation this week getting plenty of looks with Brandon Marshall getting double-teamed on every play. With the bye weeks beginning, Bess was in plenty of lineups with his opponents likely banking on a typical 40-50 yard performance. No such this luck this week.
New England D/ST – It’s not often that a team has a kickoff return touchdown, a blocked field goal returned for a touchdown, an interception return for a touchdown and a blocked punt. When that happens, you can expect them to win and if you had the New England defense in your fantasy league, you likely won. Throw in a pair of sacks and three other interceptions for good measure. Maybe their defense isn’t so bad after all.
Take your picks from the multitude of bad performances at wide receiver this week. We all started these guys and got burned in the process.
RB Ray Rice (20, 0) – There it goes across the wire on Sunday at noon – “Ravens running back Ray Rice is active and will play this week against the Steelers.” Here’s what should have went across the wire – “Ravens running back Ray Rice will play against the Steelers only if every other running back on the roster gets hurt.”
WR Randy Moss (0-0, 0) – Hmmm. Three zeros from the second rated fantasy wide receiver entering the season. It’s one thing get shutdown by a stud cornerback like Darrelle Revis but has Vontae Davis of the Dolphins been elevated to Island status? If so, it’s news to me. He pitched the shutout on Moss who has yet to top 60 receiving yards in a game and is on pace to finish the year with 556 yards.
WR DeSean Jackson (3-19, 0) – No Michael Vick, no big plays for the Eagles. Jackson is a boom or bust kind of guy who usually goes boom but he relies on big plays and that wasn’t happening with Kevin Kolb checking down to LeSean McCoy on every play.
WR Mike Sims-Walker (0-0, 0) – This is a recurring theme for the Jaguars disappointing wide receiver. Hopefully, he’s not your disappointing wide receiver. If so, I don’t need to tell you this is his second game putting up three zeros. That’s just ugly for a guy who was a consensus WR2 entering the season.
QB Jay Cutler (42, 0) – Nope, those aren’t Cutler’s rushing statistics. You can thank the Bears offensive line for this one as well as Cutler’s utter refusal to get rid of the ball in the face of a withering Giants’ pass rush. Quarterbacks have thrived playing for Mike Martz because of their ability to beat the blitz but Cutler still needs some (plenty?) of work in that area. He might not be doing much work in that area this week since his eggs got scrambled.
WR Johnny Knox (1-26, 0) – Two targets for Knox and one measly reception. As noted above, you can blame the offensive line and Cutler for part of this but reality is Knox isn’t helping his fantasy owners much because he isn’t making the big plays he made as a rookie. He has yet to find the end zone in 2010.
QB Michael Vick (49, 0) – Vick left the game after the Redskins used him as their own personal human pinball machine. Those hits had to hurt and it hurt if you were expecting Vick to light up a suspect Washington secondary only to see him finish with five fantasy points.
And the winner is…
Winner, winner, chicken dinner!
Hey, if we’re going back in time, how about we hand the award this week to LaDainian Tomlinson. I told countless people in the preseason that LT looked better than his stats indicated and that he came close to breaking a number of long runs last year in San Diego. The blocking prowess of the Jets offensive line allows him to actually break loose on those plays in New York. Clearly, LT is not finished and we’re all happy to see it, except maybe Shonn Greene and his owners.
And if you want to give an award for this weeks’ Dud, here’s to you, Nate Clements. With your team stumbling badly at 0-3 and with a chance to upset the Falcons in Atlanta, you grab what should be a game-clinching interception and then try to take it to the house; only to be stripped by Roddy White when he catches you from behind. The Falcons recover and proceed to march down the field for the game winning field goal.
By: Dave Stringer — @ 1:11 am
Shaun Hill, Lions
If there’s a timetable for Matthew Stafford’s return, please let me know what it is. At this point, with the Lions struggling at 0-4 and having no chance to make the playoffs, it makes sense for them to sit Stafford until after their Week 7 bye. If that’s the case, Hill has another two games to start, and he currently has five touchdown passes while averaging 301 yards passing in his three starts. Not bad. You can definitely start him next week against the Rams, who are giving up massive yards through the air (though just three passing touchdowns over four games). Week 6 against the Giants is a little more iffy.
Alex Smith, 49ers
It’s not that Smith has been that bad, it’s just that he hasn’t been that good, and the 49ers are 0-4. Worse yet, with the Bills decision to release Trent Edwards, Smith is the new Captain Checkdown among the league’s starting quarterbacks. Running back Frank Gore is the prime beneficiary of Smith’s reluctance to chuck it downfield, with 29 receptions on the year. Smith currently ranks next to last in the league in yards per completion and fourth last in yards per attempt. With all the weapons around him and a young, talented offensive line, Smith was a sleeper candidate entering the season. But his play over the first four weeks had pretty much extinguished any hope of fantasy fortune. Move on.
A major fantasy disappointment.
Eli Manning, Giants
It was expected that Manning would retain his status as a low-end fantasy starter in 2010, but there was upside in that expectation, given the Giants increased reliance on the passing attack as well as their outstanding trio of wide receivers in Hakeem Nicks, Steve Smith, and Mario Manningham. However, after three games, Manning is the 18th-ranked fantasy quarterback. Worse yet, in leagues that penalize interceptions, Manning is ranked much lower thanks to his six interceptions. He has posted starter-worthy numbers in two of four games but has failed to top 200 yards twice. In fact, remove some garbage time production against the Titans and Manning would rank as one of the major fantasy disappointments at quarterback.
Kevin Kolb, Eagles
On the positive side for Kolb owners, he may get a chance to start next week against the 49ers. On negative side, he had a perfectly mediocre performance in relief of injured starter Michael Vick this week against the Redskins, with the Eagles losing at home. Kolb checked down early and often to running back LeSean McCoy, and the end result was no production from Philadelphia’s group of talented wide receivers. Hard to imagine him winning the job back from Vick without some major improvement, and there’s little evidence to suggest that will occur.
Michael Bush, Raiders
Last week, Bush was Moving Down when I reminded you of Darren McFadden’s history of injury—and Bush’s value in light of that history. Sure enough and right on cue, McFadden suffered a hamstring injury during the Raiders loss to the Texans. If he’s out, Bush will get an opportunity to reclaim his starting position this coming week against the Chargers. Unfortunately, five of the Raiders’ next six opponents have rushing defenses ranked in the top 10.
Maurice Jones-Drew, Jaguars
MJD owners can breathe a sigh of relief after his performance during this week’s win over the Colts. After putting up modest numbers during the first three games of the season, this week Jones-Drew gained 105 yards and a touchdown on the ground as well as 16 yards and a score through the air. The touchdowns were his first of the year, and his fantasy production this week matched his total entering the game. The concern that the knee injury he suffered in the preseason might be hampering him can now be put to rest.
Ryan Torain, Redskins
I know, he was here last week and isn’t it redundant to have a guy Moving Up two weeks in a row? Not when there’s more positive news to digest. For the second week in a row, Clinton Portis was sidelined during a game so just maybe injuries are beginning an issue. This week, he said he heard his groin pop. That doesn’t sound good and likely means he’s out at least a week. Last week, he suffered a wrist injury. I could be describing my grandfather, not a starting running back in the NFL. Next up for the Redskins are the Packers (22nd ranked run defense), Colts (27th), Bears (6th), Lions (23rd) and Eagles (25th). Anyway, that’s why Torain is here and I should mention he’s averaging 4.6 yards per carry. Opportunity plus ability plus motivation equals success. That equation applies to everything including fantasy football and I should mention that it works great in interviews. “Well, Mr. Givemeajob, I am motivated and I have the ability to be successful in this position. All I need is for you to provide me with an opportunity.”
Derrick Ward, Texans
Hey, it’s a slow week for developments at running back, plus four teams were on a bye. With Arian Foster benched for the first quarter of this week’s game against the Raiders, Ward filled in and finished with ten carries for 80 yards and a touchdown. Looks like Ward (and not Steve Slaton, who is apparently relegated to the pass-receiving role) is Foster’s new handcuff.
Steve Slaton, Texans
See Derrick Ward above and note that Slaton’s pass-catching role isn’t much of one, with only three receptions in 2010. Slaton is roster-worthy only in larger leagues.
Laurence Maroney and Correll Buckhalter, Broncos
It has been a nerve-wracking season for Knowshon Moreno owners so far. First, he suffers a hamstring that keeps him out of much of the preseason. Then he injures his other hamstring and the Broncos trade for former Patriots first-round pick Laurence Maroney. Well, after two games, it’s clear that Maroney is either injured or completely ineffective. He had 12 carries for 24 yards in Week 3 and followed that up with an 11-carry, five-yard performance this week. As for Buckhalter, he split the workload with Moreno for much of 2009 but looks washed up thus far in 2010, as he is averaging only 1.8 yards per carry.
The better wide receiver?
Terrell Owens, Bengals
He’s back, baby. T.O., wait, make that Robin…or is it Batman? Whatever you call him, Owens went wild in the Bengals loss to the Browns this week with a whopping 222 yards and a touchdown on ten receptions. The naysayers will contend that his touchdown came on a play where the defender fell down, but the optimists will point out that, even minus the touchdown play, Owens still had a very productive afternoon. Meanwhile, Chad Ochocinco (the real Batman) had another quiet day and has 11 receptions for 137 yards and no touchdowns since his big opening game in New England. Which begs the question, Who is the Bengals receiver to own? It looks like Owens right now. After all, Ochocinco told us in the preseason that Owens was the better receiver. Maybe we should believe him.
Derrick Mason, Ravens
Both Mason and T.J. Houshmandzadeh were disappointments entering this week’s game against the Steelers, seemingly forgotten options in the passing game with the addition of Anquan Boldin and the re-emergence of tight end Todd Heap. However, both players got it going this week, which really shouldn’t be a huge shock given that Ray Rice was an emergency option at running back and Willis McGahee and LeRon McClain both were injured. While Houshmandzadeh had the better fantasy production with three receptions for 49 yards and a touchdown, Mason was used more frequently and came through with six receptions for 80 yards on eight targets. Of the two, he’s the guy I want going forward.
Brandon Lloyd, Broncos
Quick! Who has the second most receiving yards in the NFL with 454, two behind Reggie Wayne? Well, you obviously know the answer, but do you believe it? Are you currently loading the stats page on FFToday.com to confirm it? Don’t you trust me? That’s okay; you don’t have to trust me. We are talking about Brandon Lloyd—the same Brandon Lloyd who had 495 receiving yards over the last three years combined. No, he’s not going to do it every week, but he does have double-digit fantasy points in three of four weeks, and the Broncos have been extremely productive in the passing game.
Braylon Edwards, Jets
It’s hard to endorse a player who averages fewer than five targets per game, was just arrested for DWI, and might not be his team’s best wide receiver once another returns from suspension. It’s even harder when you don’t particularly think he’s all that good. That being said, I have for you Braylon Edwards (please excuse my gagging). Hey, he has a touchdown in three straight games and 218 yards from 11 receptions on only 16 targets. It’s hard to be consistently productive with such a low number of targets, but it’s possible the Jets will begin using him more. On the other hand, he may just be benefiting from a strong Jets rushing attack that creates opportunities on play action.
Steve Johnson, Bills
This one’s for deeper leagues only. Since Ryan Fitzpatrick took over at quarterback for Trent Edwards, Johnson has been targeted six times, catching all six for 97 yards and a pair of touchdowns. On the season, he’s been targeted 13 times, catching 12 passes. So, when will Bills head coach Chan Gailey figure out that Johnson needs more opportunity? He has yet to figure out that first-round pick RB C.J. Spiller needs more touches at running back so I have my doubts.
Marques Colston, Saints
It seems sacrilegious to have the number one wideout from the most explosive offense in the league in 2009 Moving Down, but there’s no getting around it. Colston has been a major disappointment fantasy-wise in 2010, failing to catch a single touchdown and accumulating just 190 yards on 18 receptions. His production is down due to a confluence of events: injury problems at running back have allowed defenses to focus on the pass and take away deep plays, the team is spreading targets among four wide receivers and two tight ends, and the offense is functioning at the same level it did last season. All of this is causing Colston to get lost in the shuffle. Although it’s too early to give up on him, it now seems unlikely that he will match preseason expectations of over 1,000 receiving yards and 8-10 touchdowns.
Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals
Another player who is flirting with bust status is Fitzgerald, who is on pace to finish the year with 76 receptions for 832 yards and eight touchdowns. Like Colston, it’s not so much about the player as it is about his team’s current situation. Fitzgerald has struggled with Derek Anderson at quarterback, with the two not having played together in the preseason because Fitzgerald was out with an injury. Anderson was benched this week in favor of undrafted free agent Max Hall—an ominous sign for Fitzgerald. Anderson is bad, but is he worse than an undrafted rookie free agent? Apparently head coach Ken Whisenhunt thought so this week, and there are whispers out of Arizona that Hall will be the starter at some point this season.
Mike Sims-Walker, Jaguars
Hi, I’m Mike Sims-Walker, the most maddeningly inconsistent wide receiver in the NFL. Although I had close to 1,000 yards receiving last year (869, to be exact—in essentially 14 games), I have two games this year with no receptions. If you start me, I will disappoint you. If you bench me, I will have a big game. So, how about helping me out by benching me more often so I can have more big games? After all, I’m no use to you in your starting lineup. Yours sincerely, Mike.
Lee Evans, Bills
Current projection: 40 receptions for 376 yards and no touchdowns. Production in 2009: 44 receptions for 612 yards and seven touchdowns. Why does anybody think this guy can produce in the Bills anemic offense? Just because they’re paying him $9 million a season doesn’t mean he can produce. If the offensive line can’t pass block, then a one-dimensional player who excels only in the deep passing game can’t do a thing. It’s not rocket science, folks.
Zach Miller, Raiders
He was a sleeper at tight end entering the season and he hasn’t disappointed, now ranking fourth amongst tight ends. Miller was moderately productive over the first two games of the season, but he has turned it on over the last two games now that Bruce Gradkowski is his quarterback. Against the Cardinals and Texans, Miller was targeted 22 times, catching 15 passes for 186 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
John Carlson, Seahawks
One good game, one below-average game, two stinkers. Such is the John Carlson fantasy story—not just for 2010, but 2009 as well. After Carlson had a solid rookie season in 2008 with 55 receptions for 627 yards and five touchdowns, he seemed like a solid fantasy prospect for years to come. And the thing is that he’s actually a decent receiver. Unfortunately, the Seahawks offense is lacking in playmakers, they can’t consistently move the ball, and—here’s the real kicker—their offensive line is horrendous, which forces Carlson to spend time blocking. He’s not the first solid receiving tight end to suffer because of his offensive line, and he certainly won’t be the last.
Heath Miller, Steelers
It was expected that Miller would benefit early in 2010 from Ben Roethlisberger’s suspension and the departure of wide receiver Santonio Holmes. Many (yours truly included) thought the combination of no Big Ben and no Holmes would result in more opportunities for Miller as a checkdown option and red zone target. Unfortunately, it hasn’t happened, and Miller has 10 receptions for 100 yards and no touchdowns to this point. It’s not time to cut bait just yet, but if he doesn’t produce after the Steelers’ Week 5 bye, it might be time to move on.
By: Mike MacGregor — October 4, 2010 @ 4:58 pm
With the late pre-season rush to keep projections updated, breaking news flowing and help people using the Cheatsheet Compiler & Draft Buddy to prep for their most important fantasy football drafts, my plan for a series of articles on playing high-stakes fantasy football went on the back burner.
As we hit Week Four of the season, I’ve told you the high-stakes contest options I compared and which two I finally decided to play in. Of course there is a lot to report since then – the draft, waiver moves, results through three weeks, current standings and future outlook for my teams.
In the interest of speeding things back up to the present, I’ll show you my drafted team and changes to get to the current roster, plus write a short blurb on each team with the results so far.
Overall, the competition in both leagues is TOUGH. Neither draft went very close to what I had hoped or planned. Either I was in leagues where I wrongly estimated where my top targeted players would fall, or I just happened to be in leagues with some like-minded owners.
In the Footballguys Players Championship (FPC), I snagged the third pick in the draft. Great! I’m all locked and loaded for Ray Rice, which I’m happy about. However, no WR I was excited for fell to me in the second round. Miles Austin miraculously fell all the way to 2.09 as the ultimate tease I might land him. When he went, I defaulted back to Ryan Mathews for a RB-RB start.
The third round, again, no WR available after I expected DeSean Jackson to get there. He didn’t. Okay, Jamaal Charles it is, for a RB-RB-RB start. For someone who preaches RB-WR balance to start your fantasy drafts, especially in a PPR league, this was not even close to the start I wanted.
Similarly in the NFFC Online Championship (NFFC), I had the ninth pick in the draft. With how far Austin fell in the other draft I was thinking a Miles Austin-Roddy White start was possible from nine. For whatever reason, I balked on Austin and took Reggie Wayne in the first round. Then the unexpected happened, in that the team drafting twelfth took Austin-White. Hey, that is my team! Ha.
At any rate in the first league someone could have had the choice of Austin or White at 2.04, and in this draft, neither one. I took Brandon Marshall instead, which is working out well, but again, not what I expected and it caused some fluster in my draft from there on out.
Okay, without further adieu, here are the cards I dealt myself and what I’ve exchanged them for, with my current record and brief outlook:
I started Kolb and he was a complete train wreck, even before the Clay Matthews induced concussion. Kolb was only part of the problem though, as none of my players seemingly knew where to find the end zone to start the season. Not a single starting RB, WR or TE scored a touchdown through the first two weeks except Charles in Week One against the Chargers.
Not surprisingly, I started 0-2. I since rebounded with a win thanks to adding Vick in Week Two plus Tolbert and Moeaki in Week Three, starting all of them last week along with Hernandez and benching Celek.
At 1-2 this team is going to need to keep clawing to earn the wins as I wait and hope for the Rice-Mathews-Charles trio to breakout. Santana Moss has been great but I am going to need some WR help from one of the prospect receivers Massaquoi, Jones and Thomas sooner or later.
This team is doing better than the FPC team, which goes to show why the label fantasy football expert can be a farce sometimes, as I thought this draft went somewhat worse than the first one. Gates has been superb though, as have Wayne and Marshall to a lesser degree. Thankfully Barber and the Cowboys running game showed some life last week, as did Dwayne Bowe, not that I started Bowe of course.
I’m 2-1 but I’m “kicking” myself for not being 3-0 right now. The first two weeks there are no head-to-head matchups, but rather the top six scoring teams get a win. In Week Two I finished seventh in scoring by under three points. The “kicker” (see where this is going)? The 49ers looked so bad Week One I dropped Nedney for Kasay, who scored a grand total of one point in Week Two. Now we know how bad the Panthers are, and really how the Giants aren’t that good either, which disguised the fact the Panthers were this bad after Week One. It goes without saying I hate kickers.
QB is sketchy on this team but as long as Bradshaw can keep it going and Barber comes through more consistently, the team looks in pretty good shape to compete in the league.
If any other FF Today members are competing in the FPC, NFFC or other high-stakes contest like WCOFF, let us know how you are doing. Right now I want to send props out to FF Today forums member madd futher mucker who is off to a great start in the FPC currently in the top 70 overall. Nice job mfm!
Keep it going and maybe we’ll change your team name to “FF Today” and mine to … uh … “Joe Fantasy Website.com”.
By: Dave Stringer — October 1, 2010 @ 1:56 pm
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1. If you’ve read my columns much, you know that I love to pile on Broncos head coach Josh McDaniels. This week, with the Broncos having a first down at the Colts one-yard line, McDaniels gave Laurence Maroney carries on first and second down before calling an unsuccessful pass on third down. Maroney was then stuffed on fourth down, part of his 12-carry, 24-yard performance. Meanwhile in Baltimore, Browns running back Peyton Hillis (who McDaniels traded away in order to acquire quarterback Brady Quinn) had a nice 22-carry, 144-yard, one-touchdown performance to go along with 36 yards on seven receptions. Oh, he’s also a good short-yardage back.
2. Keeping with McDaniels…During the Broncos 27-14 loss to the Colts, Denver failed to score on any of their five trips to the red zone, twice turning the ball over on fourth down. After the game, McDaniels explained that you need to score touchdowns if you want to beat the Colts. Hmmm. Five field goals equals 15 points. Add the 14 points they actually scored and you get 29 points. A field goal on each trip to the red zone would have resulted in a Broncos victory. We all know McDaniels is a bad head coach. Now we know he’s also bad at math.
3. 49ers wide receiver Michael Crabtree: six receptions, 81 yards, no touchdowns.
Raiders wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey: ten receptions, 140 yards, no touchdowns.
Eagles wide receiver Jeremy Maclin: 11 receptions, 147 yards, four touchdowns.
Colts wide receiver Austin Collie: 27 receptions, 359 yards, four touchdowns.
So, who was the best receiver taken in the 2009 draft?
A buy low candidate.
4. With those stats in mind, Crabtree seems to be a great buy-low candidate at the moment. After catching a respectable 48 passes for 625 yards and two touchdowns in 11 games as a rookie, despite missing all of training camp, he has been a huge bust in 2010. Word out of training camp was that he had developed an inflated ego (which was reputed to be big enough already coming out of college) and that he was not working hard during the team’s practices. However, he is clearly a talented player, and the move to replace offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye with quarterbacks coach Mike Johnson may be the move that ignites Crabtree. Johnson is expected to use more spread formations and reduce the team’s reliance on running back Frank Gore, which should translate into a bigger role for Crabtree going forward.
5. If the Lions lose to the Packers this week, which seems very likely, head coach Jim Schwartz will have coached the Lions to two wins over their first 20 games. If that happens, Schwartz will have the worst record of any Lions head coach over their first 20 contests, eclipsing (hey, hey) Marty Mornhinweg’s 3-17 record.
6. There seems to be a fair amount of debate about whether Packers general manager Ted Thompson will make a trade for a running back, with Marshawn Lynch of the Bills often mentioned as a potential trade target. Here’s my take on this one: While Thompson has a well-known affinity for draft picks and is loath to trade them, the team’s running game since losing Ryan Grant for the season two weeks ago has been nothing short of pathetic. The only reason for the Packers not to trade for a running back is that they are convinced rookie sixth-round pick James Stark can provide a spark. But he hasn’t played since 2008, so that seems very unlikely.
7. Here’s how I would make the Packers running back situation work to my advantage in my fantasy football leagues: First off, try to get Lynch on the cheap from his owner, with the upside in mind that he could do some damage if he were the starter in Green Bay. Secondly, I would make a play for C.J. Spiller and/or Fred Jackson. Both can likely be had for a song in redraft leagues. If you can pull off both deals, you’ve gained a potential RB1 as well as a solid RB3 or flex league player.
8. Here’s a name to consider in deep leagues and dynasty formats: Stephen Williams. The Cardinals undrafted rookie wide receiver had an impressive training camp, forcing his way onto the team’s opening day roster. Now it looks like he will get a solid opportunity much sooner than expected, with injuries decimating the team’s depth chart at wide receiver. Steve Breaston will miss at least one game after undergoing surgery to repair a torn meniscus, and Early Doucet will miss another game—more likely two—as he recovers from hernia surgery. With rookie third-round pick Andre Roberts still playing behind both Williams and fellow undrafted rookie Max Komar, Williams will likely start each of the next two games. He has ten targets over the first three weeks and could post decent numbers this week if the Cardinals fall behind early against the Chargers.
9. See you later, Trent Edwards. If you’re looking for career advice, I hear you can win in Pop Warner throwing five-yard passes all game.
10. Great move by the Jaguars to pick Edwards up. Let’s call this one desperation. David Garrard continues to disappoint and the team has only Todd Bouman behind him. It will be shocking if Jack Del Rio is back in Jacksonville next year.
11. It might be time to bump Broncos wide receiver Eddie Royal down your wide receiver rankings a few notches. With rookie Perrish Cox struggling as the team’s punt returner, Royal is expected to take over that role. Last season, the Broncos cut back his snaps on offense when he handled punt returns, and there is a solid chance that will happen again this year, particularly with Brandon Lloyd, Jabar Gaffney, and rookie first-round pick Demaryius Thomas all producing at wide receiver.
12. Another player to drop in your rankings is Saints running back Pierre Thomas. Entering the season, it was expected that Thomas would have a much larger role in 2010, with Lynell Hamilton possibly earning the short-yardage role. Once Hamilton suffered a season-ending injury, it seemed Thomas was a safe bet to get major touches each week. But even with Reggie Bush also injured, head coach Sean Payton has not used Thomas as his workhorse back. Chris Ivory split the workload with Thomas in Week 3, and that development is solid evidence that Thomas will never be a true lead back in New Orleans. In 43 career games, Thomas has just three 20-carry outings.
13. The word out of St. Louis is that Laurent Robinson, currently out with a foot injury, is struggling to gain separation after tearing his ACL in Week 3 of last season. Robinson didn’t endear himself to the coaches during his time in Atlanta due to his inability to stay healthy, and he seems well on his way to the same outcome in St. Louis.
14. Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome is renowned as being one of the best at his craft in the league, a reputation he deservedly owns. However, Newsome may have outsmarted himself with the decision to sign Seahawks castoff T.J. Houshmandzadeh prior to the season, which forced the team to trade Mark Clayton to the Rams. Houshmandzadeh has not produced in his three games as a Raven, and he voiced his displeasure with his lack of use this week—hardly a surprising development given his overinflated sense of his own abilities. Houshmandzadeh has been a disappointment ever since leaving a pass-happy Bengals offense that featured Chad Ochocinco opposite him. Meanwhile, Clayton, who had his best training camp as a Raven this year, is enjoying great success in St. Louis. With 17 receptions for 228 yards and two touchdowns, he has developed into the Rams top receiver in 2010.
15. The word out of Tampa Bay is that LeGarrette Blount has earned the role of backup to starter Cadillac Williams and that Blount will assume the short-yardage duties going forward. If Kareem Huggins fails to get any work next week, you can safely drop him from your roster in redraft leagues—if you haven’t done so already.
16. For what it’s worth, Tennessee head coach Jeff Fisher stated this week that he wants to give backup running back Javon Ringer more opportunities to spell starter Chris Johnson. With Johnson playing well but with his production down slightly from a year ago, there may be some truth to this one. He is currently on pace for a 400-carry season, and it looks like Fisher doesn’t want to overload his star running back.
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