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Tuesday Morning Buzz – Week 9, 2012

By: — November 6, 2012 @ 9:02 am
Filed under: Player Analysis

Editor’s Note: The Buzz will be on hiatus this week but will return for Week 10.

Tuesday Morning Buzz – Week 8, 2012

By: — October 30, 2012 @ 10:24 am
Filed under: Player Analysis

Welcome to the Tuesday Morning Buzz! Week 8 was a week of affirmations. Most of the teams and players that we expected to do well, did. And many of the questions about some players and teams on the bubble were answered. Let’s get right into it:

The Bucs once again looked fantastic in a blowout victory, with Josh Freeman and Doug Martin leading the way. Freeman’s three touchdowns and 262 yards made for a great fantasy day, but it was Martin that truly sold me on this Buccaneers offense. Perhaps I was too hard on him early on. I really believe his running ability allows the passing offense to click. It appears that the Tampa Bay rushing game is for real.

For the Vikings, Ponder improved from his epic, eight-completion victory last week, but once again it was ADP who attained the lion’s share of the fantasy points. However, the draft position value award has to go to Percy Harvin, who was undrafted in some leagues. Even one 17-point game will get a guy picked up from the waiver wire, and Harvin accomplished just that, in addition to his moderate success week in and week out.

Cam Newton

The sophomore slump continues.

Poor Cam Newton. The Preacher’s son is getting lambasted in the media for his turnover rate. Maybe he and Michael Vick should become better friends! Sadly, I would find another fantasy QB if Newton is your starter this year. However, next year he will be a great value pick. We had a healthy discussion in the comments section last week regarding Steve Smith’s career dominance of the Chicago Bears. That logic proved to be sound, and hopefully he can carry some of that momentum into future games as the rest of his offense is stalling.

For my preseason darling Bears, it was a great day for Matt Forte and Brandon Marshall but a horrific day for Jay Cutler. Not only was his yardage total unacceptable for fantasy (186 yards), but he threw a pick that negated most of those yards. Despite his feast-or-famine nature, I would still gladly release Newton for Cutler regardless of matchup. Cutler’s team is winning and spirits are high in Chicago; Newton’s team is losing and the criticism is only going to get worse.

The Chargers, in classic San Diego Charger fashion, are falling apart. This must be the final season for Norv Turner and A.J. Smith, right? How long will the organization and the fans put up with a team that can’t find it within themselves to play well for a full season? This team is in definite need of a culture shock, and until that happens they are going to be virtually useless on the field and in fantasy. My condolences to Chargers owners (hang in there—they may flip the switch when the win-loss record gets out of hand).

Also, what another success for the city of Cleveland! I won’t say the Browns played well, but Cleveland once again worked its deadly black magic on the visitor. Like an ugly, soggy, unapologetic Venus flytrap, they drew in the energetic Chargers and sapped their life from them until they were no more. I don’t have the numbers, but I would wager that Cleveland owns the record for most games with less than 21 total points scored.

The Seahawks couldn’t have asked for a better 55 minutes of football. Russell Wilson was accurate and Marshawn Lynch hit 105 yards on 12 carries. They were up with five minutes remaining, and their clamp-down defense had to hold a struggling Lions offense to close out the game. But they just couldn’t pull it off. Also of note, 13 of Wilson’s 25 completions went to Golden Tate and Sidney Rice for 64 and 55 yards, respectively. These wideouts will be promising low-cost options in next year’s draft.

For the Lions, it was the same old same old on offense. Running backs fought tooth and nail (unsuccessfully) for 50 yards, and the passing offense flourished on 49 attempts. If you’re hurting for WRs, though I can’t imagine that you would be, Ryan Broyles‘ arrow is definitely pointing up. Watch for his role to steadily expand in the Lions offense.

The most reassuring thing about the Jaguars lackluster showing in Green Bay was Rashad Jennings‘ 17 rush attempts. Even though the result was only 59 yards, those yards will eventually be augmented by touchdowns. For the passing options, the Jaguars continued to look mediocre at best. I’m not buying Cecil Shorts or Justin Blackmon with Gabbert at quarterback this season, but I am buying the six receptions Rashad Jennings had in addition to his rushing. If you’re playing in a dynasty league, you should consider holding onto Jennings, as MJD may find himself in a new home next year.

For the Packers, it was a rough day for Aaron Rodgers but a structurally sound day for the receiving core. I thought this might finally be the week that James Jones and Randall Cobb both have a great fantasy day, with Nelson and Jennings out, and while they scored similar points, neither was really worthwhile among this year’s bevy of WRs. Jermichael Finley was still unable to do much with both of the Packers top pass catchers out and is essentially droppable at this point.

Yikes! It was a bad day for Miami quarterbacks. Tannehill went down early with an injury (shown to be not too serious via MRI) and Matt Moore, last year’s starter, proved to be quite a downgrade. With Moore at quarterback, all of your Dolphins are suddenly virtually worthless in fantasy. However, Bush and Hartline may be able to produce next week against a weak Indy Defense.

Yikes! It was a bad day for New York Jets quarterbacks! Mark Sanchez is not the worst problem on this team by far, but he is going to take all of the blame. And with a fan favorite like Tebow waiting in the wings, it is only a matter of time before Sanchez takes the fall for the ineptitude of the players on this roster. However, if Tebow does start, Keller and Greene may actually see an uptick due to the absolute failure of the intermediate and deep passing game.

What is left to say about these Falcons? A few players stand out on paper, such as Jacquizz Rodgers, D.J. Davis and Jason Snelling, but when you see that the majority of their scoring came from single plays on just a few touches, all of a sudden their performance is less impressive. These Falcons get great production from their stars, and their stars are the only players you want on your fantasy team.

For the Eagles, see the Chargers comments above. These Eagles are stuck in a rut and nothing less than a complete restructure will dig them out. This isn’t a statement against Andy Reid, similar to Jeff Fisher’s exit from Tennessee; it’s simply a statement of fact. Until something brings these players together under a new banner, no one will be a guarantee…And fantasy is all about looking for guarantees.

I don’t think there are any fantasy owners bailing on RGIII after two less-than-perfect performances, but if you find one, take advantage. I trust that Griffin will be back in swing next week versus the woeful Carolina defense. The Steelers defense is as complex and difficult to play as they come, and no rookie quarterback should be expected to excel against them. Keep starting RGIII and Alfred Morris, and if you feel like taking a shot, think about Santana Moss.

For the Steelers, this was an example of a quarterback having a field day using every resource in his offense. Big Ben completed passes to nine different receivers, and all three of his touchdowns went to infrequent targets. That being said, this Steelers passing offense looks better each week, and I would be very optimistic about the falling Antonio Brown next week against a possibly gassed Giants D.

Unfortunately, blowout games like this say very little about the winner or the loser. There are all sorts of Patriots with gaudy numbers, and Chris Givens is one 50-yard touchdown from joining every single other St. Louis Ram in fantasy nonexistence. If there is any info to be gleaned, it is that Daryl Richardson and Steven Jackson both carried the ball seven times on Sunday. Is it finally time for Richardson to break into the starting workload and fantasy relevance?

Andrew Luck, who quietly has been more impressive than Robert Griffin III in my opinion, had a great day on 38 passes, despite a 1:1 TD-to-INT ratio. There is possibly some fantasy gold on this team, as Donald Brown, Dwayne Allen, Donnie Avery, and T.Y. Hilton all made a splash on Sunday. Brown should definitely be picked up from the waiver wire if someone in your league dropped him out of necessity.

P.S. If you missed Vick Ballard’s sweet barrel-roll touchdown, Google it.

The Titans played on the arm of Matt Hasselbeck and the legs of Chris Johnson on Sunday, and they looked pretty good doing it. They’re no offensive or defensive juggernaut, but the defense kept them in the game and the offense hung in there against one of the best young arms in football. Credit CJ2K’s 99-yard rushing performance and Kendall Wright’s continuation of his excellent rookie campaign. If Wright is still floating around in your league, he is a must-have for the rest of the season.

The Raiders were a nice, safe play this week in most situations. Palmer threw enough touchdowns to make up for a subpar yardage total and an interception, Darren McFadden had high yardage but no score, Denarius Moore and Darrius Heyward-Bey performed up to snuff, Sea Bass kicked field goals with all the force and style of the General Lee, and the Raiders D nearly held Kansas City to a third week of no touchdowns. Overall, each Raider you started gave you exactly what was expected.

For the Chiefs, however, no one should have seen fantasy light-of-day unless you were so hurt in your flex position that you needed to start Dexter McCluster. There isn’t much else to say about these Chiefs. Avoid them like the plague until something changes at quarterback—which is a likely prospect for next season.

The result for the Giants was familiar, but the stat line was bizarre. Eli Manning didn’t touch 200 yards or complete a touchdown pass, Reuben Randle was the leading receiver, and Ahmad Bradshaw couldn’t outscore Andre Brown in fantasy points despite rushing for 19 more carries. However, Lawrence Tynes and the Giants D performed admirably and proved why they are worth their spots on your team, regardless of matchup.

Hey, remember when the Cowboys beat the Giants in the opening game of the season, and how this was finally going to be the Cowboys year, and how Eli and the Giants were going to finish third in the division behind the Cowboys and the Eagles? Here is the issue with every Cowboys team over the past 15 years: No discipline. The Cowboys are always in competition with the Raiders for most penalties on the season, and they are always in competition with no one for sloppiest route running and least inspiring play downfield. Until the Cowboys have a GM not named Jerry Jones, they will never be week-in, week-out starters for your fantasy team, and they will never compete for 16 games in a row.

Wise Saints fans knew before the previous season ended, before the bounty scandal, before the coaching suspensions, that this season would be for naught. How so, you say? Because the Super Bowl is in New Orleans this year. Having the Super Bowl in your home town is a death knell for your football team, and that is far less arguable than the more popular, “Madden Curse.” Thankfully, those rules don’t apply to fantasy. Though this week was somewhat lackluster for the Saints, there are a heap of them that can get you into your fantasy playoffs—despite the fact that they will not make their own playoffs. Keep starting all of your Saints.

Football Demigod Peyton Manning has already set the Broncos record for most consecutive 300-yard games (5) and has tied his own record with the same performance. For that specific reason, above all others, look for Denver to head to Cincinnati and push for a great fantasy day for the receiving corps. Eric Decker and Demaryius Thomas should definitely be starters next week, and strong consideration should be given to Brandon Stokley as well.

The 49ers attained the first really great overly complicated, hyper-specific record of the season:
Alex Smith set the NFL record for most passes thrown with only one incompletion: 18 of 19. What is more impressive to me than his unsightly accuracy is that on his 18 throws he managed 232 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions. That is phenomenal for Alex Smith and was good for sixth best this week among fantasy performances by QBs in standard scoring.

Amazingly, this same pitiful Arizona team that took the field on Monday Night started the season as 4-0. Now they are at 4-4 with no light at the end of the tunnel. The defense didn’t look great against a game-management style offense, but truly, the lack of rushing is their biggest Achilles’ heel. There were eight total rushes by Cardinals running backs in this game, and none of them were particularly astounding. As long as John Skelton is passing 52 times per game, this team will not win, and no Cardinals deserve your roster spots until that changes.

And that’s it! Week 8 is in the books and so is the first half of a season of epic proportions. As the races for the playoffs, MVP, and various in-season records heat up, we should see fantasy explosions all over the board in the second half. We luck out in Week 9, as very few startable fantasy players are on bye (Rams, Pats, Jets, 49ers), but if you should need assistance, look to your Broncos, Bears, Panthers, Redskins, Texans (blowout material—start Ben Tate!), and Saints. Also, please leave questions and comments in the section below or on Twitter, and I will respond on Wednesday. Have a great week!

Tuesday Morning Buzz – Week 7, 2012

By: — October 23, 2012 @ 10:55 am
Filed under: Player Analysis

Welcome to Week 7 of the Tuesday Morning Buzz! This week was an exciting display of offensive and defensive prowess across the league which resulted in many inflated scores across the board. Let’s get right into it:

What is the opposite of a shootout? 13-6 felt more like 9-6 on Thursday. For fantasy, however, the Thursday night game should have had little do with your perception, and if you looked at fantasy first, you’d probably guess a higher score. Frank Gore, Marshawn Lynch, and the kickers are the prime fantasy players from their respective teams, and each performed up to snuff. All in all, there was little to glean here.

Chris Johnson owners rejoice! Rejoice that CJ2K was finally able to break out against one of the worst defenses in history. Rejoice because you can now off-load him to a believer. A performance like that says a lot about a player. However, it is indicative of potential fantasy hemlock if it requires a matchup against a defense whose stench will linger for ages. If you need a QB, find the owner who drafted RGIII, see who he or she drafted to be their starter, and offer them CJ2K for that QB.

For the Bills, Ryan Fitzpatrick continued to be a fine stand-In QB and finished fifth overall in standard scoring this week. Spiller and Jackson are finally seeing even carries (Yay for Spiller! Boo for Jackson!), but Jackson’s dominance in the pass-catching aspect of the game was not to be ignored (Yay for Jackson! Boo for Spiller!). However, it was Steve Johnson who was happiest after the game on Sunday, as he ended a three-week skid by putting up 71 yards and a score. With the Bills down and throwing often, Johnson should be a top-tier receiver every week.

You Have to Be Very Rich or Very Poor to Live Without a Trade
There has been much talk in this column lately about trading. No matter if it is an under-performing player who I think will surge, or an over-performing player who I think will fall, trading is an essential part of my fantasy stratagem—and I think it should be part of yours, as well. Rare is the draft that works out perfectly, so that all of your players should remain on the roster. In fact, you’re much better off drafting your best and then either trading or hitting the waiver wire on a near-weekly basis.

Especially during the byes, there are many players who will be great for one week, and you can exploit that for a fantasy victory. For instance, Arian Foster is on bye next week, so Jonathan Dwyer facing a Redskins defense in Pittsburgh is a great option. Also, as stated above, Chris Johnson is having a terrible year as a part of a terrible team, but he had a great week last week, and he has a reputation for being an excellent running back. Therefore, he has the potential to earn you a tremendous payout for what I’m predicting will be a season of little value. Be a frequent trader and be active with the waiver wire, my friends, and enjoy the success that comes with it.

The Cowboys maintained their .500 record on the leg of Dan Bailey on Sunday. For Fantasy, no one on the Cowboys was highly effective, as Miles Austin (97 yards and a touchdown) lost a fumble to tarnish an otherwise great showing.

As for the now 1-5 Panthers (a popular pick to win their division, mind you), it was more of the same. The whole team was meh-worthy, and that can be attributed directly to Cam Newton’s sophomore slump. It may be time to punt on your Panthers, unfortunately, as they are likely being out-performed by the waiver wire in your league.

Many may argue that this was a matchup of the AFC’s two best teams. As true as that statement may be, only one played like it on Sunday. Justin Tucker opened things up with a field goal in the first quarter, but the Ravens didn’t score again until partway through the third quarter. Since no started-in-fantasy Raven caught or rushed for a touchdown, and Flacco threw two picks to neutralize his only score, all Ravens not named Justin Tucker were essentially useless in fantasy.

As bleak as the Ravens’ effort seemed, the Texans were exuberant after a blowout loss at the hands of Aaron Rodgers’ inflamed ego last week. This week, all of your Texans performed admirably—though watch Andre Johnson, as he was only the third-highest scoring pass catcher on his team. Also, Ben Tate didn’t do nearly as much as one would have hoped in a 30-point victory. Those who had to resort to him as a starter this week were likely disappointed.

If I told you one quarterback in this game would complete 61 percent of his passes and throw for two touchdowns while the other would complete 55 percent for only 186 yards and no touchdowns, which would you attribute the stats to? Luck got lucky with two rushing touchdowns to salvage the game and his fantasy day, but keep Weeden in the back of your mind—he may just eventually be of fantasy value. Also, Richardson could only muster eight carries due to his rib injury, so a backup option for your fantasy squad will likely be necessary next week.

The stat line for this game seems impossible! Take a look:

Offensive TDs Time of Possession Total Yds Pass Yds Rush Yds
The Losers 2 35:05 356 230 126
The Winners 2 24:55 20 43 166

How often does a quarterback not named Tim Tebow complete only eight passes for 58 yards, one touchdown, and two interceptions yet still win the game? Such is the might of a single pick six… Of course, the force of Adrian Peterson crashing through the defense doesn’t hurt either.

In typical backfield-by-committee style, LaRod Stephens-Howling got all the love this week. Until some balance in amount of carries is maintained, both Arizona RBs are very risky.

RGIII was once again electric on Sunday, as his 89 rushing yards supplemented an already good passing day. Also, it seems, Shanahan has turned over a new leaf in starting Alfred Morris each week. With said starts, Morris is shattering the totals of other Redskins running backs under the mercurial head coach.

For the Giants, it was great to see Ahmad Bradshaw, Andre Brown, and Martellus Bennett get back into the game plan. Bradshaw and Bennett should be starters; however, Brown is a red herring. I wouldn’t trust him at a starting position on my team unless I were in a very deep league—though he might be worth stashing in case of injury to Bradshaw.

Green Bay won their second straight game for the first time this season, thanks in part to the arm of Aaron Rodgers (342 yds, 3 TDs) and the legs of Randall Cobb (89 yds, 2 TDs) and Jordy Nelson (122 yds, 1 TD). Big surprise, am I right? The one question mark left on this offense remains the James Jones/Randall Cobb conundrum. It seems that one or the other will have an offensive explosion each week—but never both, even when they have similar reception totals.

For the Rams, 14 of their 20 points came during a furious fourth-quarter comeback attempt, but it was too little too late. Both the rushing game (93 total yards) and the passing game (no receiver with more than five receptions) lacked star power and underwhelmed, and if Chris Givens hadn’t broken out for 56 yards on a busted coverage, the Rams’ stat line would look even worse. This is an offense to avoid like the plague, as their Calvin Rating is well under 0.5. My condolences to Steven Jackson owners on what is shaping up to be a long season.

Josh Freeman

Josh Freeman and Drew Brees were the top scoring QBs in Week 7.

Drew Brees maintained his statistical dominance on Sunday, completing 72.9 percent of his passes for 377 yards and four touchdowns, enough to keep him within 100 yards of Eli Manning (league leader) and one touchdown of Aaron Rodgers (league leader), neither of whom has had their bye week yet, which Brees has. Since Brees must complete these passes to someone, Marques Colston, Jimmy Graham (when healthy), Darren Sproles, and Garrett Hartley should be started with gusto.

The Buccaneers played the game perfectly but simply weren’t able to hang on. Two early touchdowns put the Saints in a hole, and moderate rushing success against a terribly weak Saints’ D should have been enough to seal the deal. However, a furious 9 minutes in the second quarter led to the Saints’ touchdowns. This kept the Bucs passing game alive to the end, allowing for a massive 420 yards and three touchdowns for Freeman, of which 216 yards and one touchdown went to the hyper-talented Vincent Jackson.

The Jets looked good on Sunday, forcing the epically-good-at-home Pats to come from behind and win in overtime. Sanchez’s 328 yards were impressive, but it was Jeremy Kerley and Dustin Keller who were truly shocking. Kerley’s 120 yards on seven receptions was tops, but Keller’s 93 yards touchdown makes him an even greater waiver wire option, as TE is more shallow than WR this year. Both should occupy your bench, however, awaiting consistency from this Jets offense.

For the Pats, it was business as usual. Brady was great, and the Gronk was able to haul in two touchdowns on six receptions for 72 yards. Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen combined for 109 yards on 25 rushes—a nice day for a single running back—though 17 of those 25 carries went to Ridley. If you’re struggling, Vereen may be a good bye-week fill-in, or at least worth sitting on your bench in case of injury to Ridley.

The biggest news of this game is the loss of Maurice Jones-Drew. While the exact nature of his injury is unclear, if there is soft tissue damage, you can blame is squarely on his holdout. It will never be clear if the injury would’ve happened anyway, but MJD joins a long list of badly injured players in their holdout years. Let this be a lesson: Don’t draft a RB or WR in a holdout year! Also, pick up Rashad Jennings at any cost from the waiver wire.

Since Run-DMC had a pitiful showing of 19 rushes for 53 yards, it was up to Carson Palmer (1 pass TD, 1 rush TD) and Darrius Heyward-Bey (4 rec, 85 yds) to save the day for the Raiders. Of course, none of this would have been possible without the leg of the greatest white trash kicker the NFL has even seen in Sebastian Janikowski. I have heard tell that an odor of Pabst Blue Ribbon can be smelled as far as 10 years downfield after a Sea Bass 60-yarder.

In a night thick with Jerome Bettis references, Jonathan Dwyer rushed for 122 yards on 17 carries and looked every bit the future lead back of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Right now, he’s running well and all is grand in the Steel City. However, when Mendenhall and Redman return, it may be a three-back committee, and that could wind up being fruitless for all three backs. Until then, however, Dwyer is your man, and he should be picked up with the same force as Rashad Jennings.

For the Bengals, it was a disappointing second half that really could’ve been a lot worse. Despite the 17 points on the board, Andy Dalton had only 105 yards for one touchdown with one interception. Luckily for A.J. Green, his single catch of the night was for a touchdown, or he would’ve ended the day with a bizarre goose egg. It was simply an off night for the Bengals against a tough Steelers team. Look for Dalton, Green-Ellis, Green, and Jermaine Gresham to each perform well in the future, especially with a bye this week to recover.

The Lions looked tired and dysfunctional on Monday night. Heck, Calvin Johnson didn’t secure his first catch until the third quarter! If your No. 1 skill position player doesn’t have a touch until the third quarter, you don’t have a chance. I wouldn’t panic too much regarding these Lions; they’re still a great offense. But I wouldn’t be too excited about their matchup versus that Seattle defense next week. You obviously can’t sit Calvin Johnson, but I’d consider benching anyone else on this team next week.

For the Bears, while Cutler’s stats are underwhelming (150 yds, 1 TD), Brandon Marshall looked dominant, and Matt Forte came in just a hair short of 100 yards. It was an “old school AFC North matchup,” in that neither offense was particularly sharp, and it was simply a matter of who could manufacture the most points in a mud fight. Look for these Bears to be running on high octane next week at home against the not-so-tough Carolina defense.

$#^% Chris Collinsworth Says
This week, CC was strangely quiet, so his role will be played by Jon Gruden, who simply stated the truest factor about Monday night’s game:

“You shut out the Lions offense on Monday Night Football and that’s saying something. It’s a lot of talent on that Detroit offense.”

You can say what you want about the Bears not truly shutting out the Lions, but Detroit got a pity score with less than a minute remaining in the fourth quarter. For 59 minutes, this Bears defense disallowed a fantastic offensive machine even a field goal. With the offense rolling and the defense playing league-best, is this the most complete Bears team ever?

And that’s it! Week 7 has come to a close and Week 8 is already just around the corner. We’re back to four teams on bye for Week 8 (Buffalo, Cincinnati, Baltimore, Houston), so owners should seek fantasy solace in the arms of Saints, Broncos, Bears, Colts, and Titans. Please ask your questions below or tweet me and I’ll reply by Wednesday.

Tuesday Morning Buzz – Week 6, 2012

By: — October 16, 2012 @ 11:28 am
Filed under: Player Analysis

Welcome to Tuesday Morning Buzz! Week 6 was pretty pedestrian overall, as most of the matchups were fairly uneventful. However, there was some great action and some insight to be had in fantasy, and TMB will try to bring it all to you without tearing a triceps. Let’s get right into it:

Last week, much to-do was made about Drew Brees breaking one of passing’s most prestigious records; however, this week there is very little press about another magnificent record falling. Roethlisberger, in his hottest passing start ever, became the best quarterback the Steelers have ever had statistically. Now, Terry Bradshaw was not exactly a prolific passer by today’s standards, but we should consider that it took Roethlisberger only eight full seasons and some change to get the record. That’s impressive.

The Titans also looked impressive on Thursday night, what with four 50-yard receivers. Kendall Wright and Kenny Britt may be worth starting if you feel like playing roulette—it’s an all-or-nothing offense. CJ2K also ran well against the Steelers, racking up 91 yards and a near-touchdown.

Just to throw fantasy owners for a loop, the Raiders decided to go on the road against an undefeated team and play their best football of the season. Palmer managed to keep his TD:INT ratio at 1:1 (a fantastic achievement for him), and Denarius Moore hit almost 21 yards per catch on five receptions, and he scored a touchdown to ice the proverbial cake. I would like to see Palmer complete four passes to Derek Hagan for 80-plus yards more than once before I start playing these Raiders in non-bye-week matchups.

My analysis of the Falcons’ fantasy value after this week would be like the Vice Presidential debates: highly unlikely to change your mind. So I won’t waste your time. Typically, even the most dominant teams don’t blow out their opponents every week. Keep starting your Falcons.

Felix Jones

Jones: A hot commodity for Week 7

The Cowboys learned a great lesson from their intrastate rival, the Houston Texans, and let the run open up the pass. This isn’t your father’s Baltimore D; they can’t stop the run, and DeMarco Murray and Felix Jones proved it. Look for Jones to be a hot commodity, as Murray is hurt and may miss some time. The Ravens overall looked on par offensively, though Anquan Boldin once again performed well past his station, with 98 yards on five catches.

Also, that 24/7 security detail needs to get Dez Bryant on the practice field a little more. He’s dropping balls like crazy!

If I told you the 3-2 Bengals and the 0-4 Browns game in Cleveland this Sunday would end 34-24, how much could I get you to bet on the Bengals? Of course, if I knew the end score, I probably couldn’t get most of you to bet much, but that’s beyond the point. This Browns offense is moving the ball! Is Brandon Weeden finally the savior of Cleveland? May there come a time this season when a Browns pass catcher is worthwhile? We’ll have to wait and see, but things are looking up a little.

For the Bengals, Jermaine Gresham again proved his fantasy worth as a starting TE, and A.J. Green is saving fantasy seasons everywhere. You might consider Andy Dalton if you’ve grown tired of having quarterbacks named Cam Newton or Ryan Fitzpatrick on your roster.

Despite Miami’s scoring only 17 points, this game was not as close as the 14-17 final score belies. The Rams were able to get good yardage, but they did not score a touchdown until there were only five minutes remaining. Bradford did save his fantasy day with a rushing touchdown, but the Rams are virtually forgotten in fantasy, as well they should be.

Speaking of saving their day with touchdowns, Anthony Fasano and Ryan Tannehill both embellished sub-par yardage totals with scores. Look for Tannehill to come off the waiver wire in many leagues this week. It may not be a bad idea to pick him up if you’re looking for QB depth or can play two.

In the first of a couple of unlikely blowouts this weekend, the Jets swarmed and put up 35 points to the Colts’ measly 9. Don’t be surprised if this Jets team stays alive and pesters the Patriots all the way into the playoffs. Shonn Greene put on a vomit-inducing 161-yard, 3-touchdown performance, and Joe McKnight added another 71 yards rushing. In addition, Mark Sanchez impressively managed to throw two touchdowns on only 11 completions for 82 yards. So, what does this mean for the Jets fantasy prospects? N-o-t-h-i-n-g! The Colts were obviously not ready for a Jets rushing attack and simply couldn’t adjust. Just as I cautioned when they scored 48 points in week one: this is not the norm for the Jets.

For the Colts, the offense was so non-existent (thanks largely to the let-down that almost always follows an emotional high like last week’s victory over the Packers) that there is little to take away. Take note that Reggie Wayne still got 87 yards on five receptions when the rest of his team was fading away.

In a somewhat bizarre turnout, Stafford and Vick both threw for 311 yards, though Vick threw for twice as many touchdowns (and picks) and rushed nine times for 59 yards. Also, Calvin Johnson and Jeremy Maclin both caught 6 passes for 135 and 130 yards, respectively. However, while DeSean Jackson followed Maclin with five catches for 74 yards, it was Tony Scheffler who most closely followed Johnson. Despite his 81-yard performance, I feel there are many stronger TE options than Scheffler—l would let someone else have that game-day worry each week.

Is Brady Quinn the answer to the Cassel conundrum? Here is how they break down:

QB Comparison
QB Yards TDs INTs
Matt Cassel (5-Week Avg) 230 1 1.8
Brady Quinn 180 0 2

Looking at those numbers, the answer is definitively “no.” However, Cassel has had similarly illustrious failures under center (92 yds, 0 TD, 2 INT against Baltimore). Sadly, whoever can come out and consistently impress under center for the Chiefs is not currently on their roster. I would avoid all of these passers like the plague. More prevalently for fantasy, however, I would struggle to start any Chiefs pass catchers as well. Even Dwayne Bowe is having a disgustingly feast-or-famine year.

For the Buccaneers, Josh Freeman is another great waiver-wire option if you need him during the bye weeks, and Doug Martin is proving to be worth your time as a starter if you paid the right price for him. Finally, Mike Williams is showing up again, with the help of the physically astounding Vincent Jackson drawing most of the coverage. Williams and Jackson are the poor man’s Roddy White and Julio Jones, and in my opinion, they don’t get the respect they deserve.

Only the Arizona Cardinals could welcome the historically awful Buffalo Bills defense to the Western time zone and struggle to score 16 points in a loss. Neither passing game was able to muster 200 yards. William Powell did have a promising push for 70 yards on 13 carries, but if his time-share with LRSH persists, those 13 carries won’t net your team many points.

The Pats receiving game thrived as usual on multiple pass catchers (four with more than 40 yards, three with more than 60), but could not get the complimentary rushing attacking the 2012 new-look Pats offense needs to win. Simply put, the Seattle D is just too tough at home for rushers to get much ground. Look to find replacements most weeks when your favorite players see those horrific navy and electric green unis across the line of scrimmage.

The second unlikely blowout of the weekend happened in San Francisco. That’s not a knock against the Giants offense, which has been good all year, but these 49ers were exploited big-time on Sunday. The Giants are looking D-proof, as three wide receivers (Hixon, Cruz, Nicks) and two running backs (Bradshaw, Wilson) all had nice days in addition to Manning’s. In fact, Bradshaw is probably the most exciting of all, with 116 yards and a touchdown against a very stingy run D on their home field. For the Niners, it’s tough to say much fantasy-wise when you score 3 points. I would definitely use this de-motivation to ditch Smith if you’re still starting him.

Christian Ponder once again put up good numbers alongside too many turnovers, but he was unable to get as much done with his legs as he had in weeks past. Adrian Peterson was unable to score, but 79 yards isn’t bad for limited opportunities (17 carries). For the Redskins, it was promising to see RGIII go from being unable to remember what quarter it was to throwing a touchdown and rushing for 138 yards and two more scores a week later. He is undoubtedly the value pick of the year, since he may have gone undrafted in your league and is the No. 1 fantasy scorer after six weeks.

It went largely unnoticed, but Texans defensive end Antonio Smith listed his education as “Shaolin Temple.” This is a dig at his hilarious edition of “On the Nose” with Shaun Cody, which is, of course, is a dig at his “Ninja Assassin Slash of Death” sack celebration.

On to the game! I think Aaron Rodgers is the most vindictive quarterback in history. Every time someone slights this man, he comes out and has a career game. If I were the Packers media, I’d be looking at every chance possible to piss him off. His anger manifests itself in ways like, “Oh? You think I’m not MVP-worthy this year? Have six touchdowns!” and, “Oh? The NFL thinks Alex Smith is better? Look at that! I just won the Super Bowl!” Always start Rodgers, but make bets when the media starts to get down on him.

For the Texans, they were just in the wrong place at the wrong time. They played a good game, but rare is the opponent that allows 45 points and still wins. The Packers were an irresistible force in Houston, and the Texans were a slightly-moveable object.

$#^% Chris Collinsworth Says
CC on Daniel Manning’s moronic punching of the helmet of Marshall Newhouse:

“Alright now, you’re going to fight. You’re going to hit him in the head… with a helmet on! You might as well have given him a kiss! Oh my, I’ve never seen a team self-destruct like this!”

This is classic. I can’t ever figure out what players see in punching a helmet meant to withstand the force of a 300-pound man running a 4.6 40. The only thing Manning did when he attacked Newhouse was give the Packers a third set of downs to try to score a touchdown with, which they did. The Packers were held to a field goal (on three downs), then Connor Barwin leapt off the back of a teammate to give them a first down, then the Packers were once again held to a field goal (three more downs), and Manning decided to strike three blows alongside the helmet of Newhouse. Finally, on their eighth down with goal to go, the Packers scored on Rodgers’ fourth touchdown pass of the night.

This was a game of two separate halves. In the first half, the Rivers–Gates connection was rocking and the DST was picking up the slack. The Chargers were up 24-0 at halftime. Then, Peyton Manning, the football demigod, descended upon the field in the second half and wrought havoc among the San Diego elite. He threweth not one touchdown but three to his valiant receiving corps, and his defensive battalion unleashed a turnover-crazed might upon the Bolts such that the world may never see again. In fact, ‘twas never before accomplished that which the Broncos did this eve, for they were down by 24 and led so furious a charge, nay, so courageous a refusal to accept defeat, that they won by double digits! A feat hitherto never ascended. So be it known the great power of the Football Demigod Peyton Manning!

P.S. Eric Decker wasn’t too shabby, and that Denver D wasn’t too bad either. Not that the Manning Mythos won’t consume all credit for this game.

And that’s it! Week 6 had some epic late action, despite the morning and afternoon Sunday games being somewhat of a snoozefest. With your Falcons, Broncos, Chiefs, Dolphins, Eagles, and Chargers on bye next week, look to the Titans, Giants, Saints, Buccaneers, and Texans to fill in for you. Also, ask me questions in the comments below or via my Twitter account and then make sure to check back in on Wednesday for a reply!

Tuesday Morning Buzz – Week 5, 2012

By: — October 9, 2012 @ 11:23 am
Filed under: Player Analysis

Welcome to Tuesday Morning Buzz for Week 5! And what a week it was! This week we will attempt to break the record for most consecutive fantasy football recaps authored by an Aaron Williams. Let’s get right to it:

Cardinals – Rams
With many QBs struggling, injured, or on bye, many fantasy owners may be looking for a temporary fill-in. Kevin Kolb could be that guy. The Cards are doing well and Kolb is a big part of that, with a 60.5 completion rating and seven touchdowns. He’s no world-beater but could be a nice fill-in for you in the right matchup. Ryan Williams is now done for the year and Beanie Well is out until late November, so look for the Cards to trade for a running back soon. For the Rams, the perennially-too-highly-drafted Steven Jackson ran for 76 yards on 18 carries, which is still not enough to be worth your while.

Dolphins – Bengals
Daniel Thomas and Reggie Bush make up a true running back committee, with 48 an 29 yards, respectively, and a touchdown each. Either player would be great if he were playing alone, but as it is, the timeshare makes me uncomfortable starting either one. Brian Hartline again led the Dolphins passing attack—but this time with much more realistic numbers. He had five receptions, but so did fullback Charles Clay. Caveat emptor.

The story of this game for the Bengals was Jermaine Gresham’s 60 yards. Gresham is a borderline starter and definite fill-in. With future injuries inevitable for starting tight ends, Gresham should be stashed from the waiver wire or traded for cheaply before he does something great and becomes unavailable.

Matt Cassel

Cassel's injury will have Brady Quinn starting in Week 6.

Ravens – Chiefs
This is the first of a couple of games that had very little fantasy value, as all of the scoring involved field goals. Rice and Charles both operated under their MO: running for high yardage totals but not touchdowns. Also, Shane Draughn got 12 carries, and he’s likely to fill the Peyton Hillis role. If Draughn continues on, he may prove Hillis superfluous. Don’t expect Matt Cassel (concussion) to play Week 6. Brady Quinn will be under center when the Chiefs travel to Tampa.

Speaking of Kansas City’s quarterback woes, Chiefs fans booed Cassel and cheered for his injury as he was knocked out after a legally vicious hit. The most effective illustration of my own opinion on the matter was quietly noted by Chiefs offensive lineman Eric Winston.

“We are athletes. We are not gladiators… It’s sickening. I want every fan to know it. We have a lot of problems as a society if people think that’s okay.”

I encourage you to Google his entire comment and take it in—especially if you happen to be a Chiefs fan or broadcast animosity towards any other fellow man. Many times, especially in terms of fantasy football, players are seen as objects instead of humans. I hope we can all agree that this perspective is ghoulish; we should all cheer the big hits, but not the injuries.

Browns – Giants
If the Browns could be guaranteed a day like this from Weeden (291 yds, 2 TDs, 2 INTs) each weekend, they could expect one of their best seasons ever. At some point these Browns are going to have to stop trading down and get some elite talent on their team, and maybe Trent Richardson is a good sign of the future.

The Giants passed the ultimate test this week as they were able to play offense and maintain their talent level against the Browns. Typically, Cleveland is able to sap the strength and will of opponents and force them to play some kind of penalty-laden mud fight. Until something changes, start ALL your Giants!

Eagles – Steelers
The Eagles broke an NFL record after Week 4, winning their first three games with the lowest margin of victory in history (+1, +1, +2). Now, after a 2-point loss to the Steelers, the Eagles have finally felt the numbing loss of giving away a football game. Michael Vick threw no interceptions but did have three fumbles and lost two of them. At this point, these Eagles are walking a thin line to fantasy sit-worthiness. Only LeSean McCoy had a great day for the Eagles.

For the Steelers, Big Ben and the passing attack had a mediocre game plagued by drops, but Mendenhall was excellent rushing the ball in split time. Be wary if the Steelers go back to him full time though, as Mendy is a very old 25 and could see more injury with a heavy workload. If Isaac Redman continues to spell him, he should be quite effective in fantasy and on the field.

Falcons – Redskins
Matt Ryan (345 yds, 2 TDs) was once again fantastic and should be started every week, as the coaching staff has finally done what they have been promising for years and taken off the reins. Tony Gonzalez made the most of the Falcons’ passing success with 123 yards and a touchdown, continuing his epic 16th season.

It was a scary game for Redskins fans as RGIII went down with a concussion; and I assure you no one was cheering, as Griffin was apparently unable to recall the score of the game or the current quarter. Yikes! It seems the effects of the concussion have worn off, However, and the electric RGIII should be back in action on the field and on your team in Week 6.

Seahawks – Panthers
The second un-fantastic football game of the week was played in Carolina. It seems the book is out on Cam Newton, and his play has decreased because of it. Fantasy owners would be wise to keep this in mind for Andrew Luck and especially Robert Griffin III next year.

Bears – Jaguars
The Bears defense has five pick-sixes through as many games and are well on pace to break the NFL record of nine held by the 1961 San Diego Chargers. The Bears DST should be started at all costs, and at this point I would consider trading someone like Marshawn Lynch or Alfred Morris for them; I don’t see any reason this defense will stop its ball-hawking strategy and success. Forget this game if you’re playing a Jag, as it likely wasn’t a good indicator of their performance—unless you’re starting Cecil Shorts.

Titans – Vikings
Chris Johnson is another bad game closer to being tradable for the Bears defense, too. The Vikings are playing way above their heads right now—but this is unacceptable for CJ2K. He was 15 for 24; however, considering one of those runs went for nine yards, the rest of his carries came to 1.07 yards per carry. The Vikings are now 4-1 and Peterson and Harvin should be started in all formats as long as this team is flying high. Ponder is another promising bye-week fill-in as well.

Broncos – Patkowskis
The Broncos are actually not playing that well. The Patriots controlled this game from the onset, and the Broncos simply defended their honor by scoring late in garbage time. Here’s the great thing about fantasy though: none of that matters! The Broncos getting down and fighting back through the air will lead to Peyton Manning, Demaryius Thomas, Willis McGahee, and Eric Decker having great fantasy days and winning matches for your team. Wise fantasy owners of said Broncos should be actively rooting against Denver.

This is the best Pats running game we’ve seen in some time. Stevan Ridley, Brandon Bolden, and Danny Woodhead all performed admirably, but Ridley especially proved his fantasy effectiveness and could be great trade bait right now. From an owner looking through Pats-colored glasses, you could probably get yourself a RB who’s much better than Ridley.

Bills – 49ers
At this point, any offense playing Buffalo should be started with gusto. The Bills have the dubious honor of breaking multiple team and NFL records for being a miserable defense. They broke a team record for most yards given up (580) last week to the Patriots and followed that up by breaking it again, allowing 621 yards to the 49ers on Sunday! On top of that, the Bills became the first team since the NFL–AFL merger to give up 300 yards passing and rushing in the same game and also became the first to give up 550 or more yards in consecutive games. It was truly a defensive stenchfest of epic proportions.

For the 49ers, it was obviously a fantastic day. But be warned that this won’t be the norm. This is not a 45-point team, and they likely won’t eclipse 25 points in most games this season. Don’t get sucked into an Alex Smith trade either, as there are plenty of cheaper and equally valuable options out there.

Chargers – Saints
Both quarterbacks had fantastic nights, but this one belonged to Brees. Floyd and Meachem looked great for the Chargers, and Colston and Henderson swung a lot of fantasy games with elite performances. Even Greg Camarillo got involved, catching four passes for 44 yards. The only rusher worth his weight on Sunday night was Ryan Mathews, who rushed 12 times for 80 yards—and a hyper-athletic touchdown—and tacked on six receptions for 59 yards.

$#^% Chris Collinsworth Says
On Brees having to crane his neck to see over his offensive linemen:

“It’s a six-year-old trying to see over Dad to throw a pass or something—but this six-year-old is pretty good!”

Collinsworth certainly has an interesting way of putting things, but my own thoughts on Brees are best summed up in the following hotly-contested piece from last year’s Tuesday Morning Buzz.

Brees for MVP!
I have made no bones about my infatuation with Drew Brees or about making outlandish statements of opinion. Last year I argued that Drew Brees was just as legitimate of a candidate for MVP as Aaron Rodgers and is the best quarterback playing today. This year I will argue one step further: I believe that Drew Brees is the best quarterback the NFL has ever seen. Consider what Brees has done in his limited play time: Most passing yards in a single season (5,476), most seasons with 5,000+ yards, Highest completion percentage in a season (71.2), most seasons with a 70 percent completion percentage, most completions in a season (468), Most 400+ completion seasons, most consecutive 4,000-yard and 30+ touchdown seasons (4), Most games with 5+ touchdowns, and dozens more. I highly suggest anyone skeptical of my opinion to view his full list of accomplishments. Oh, and guess who is leading the league in yards and touchdowns through five weeks?

This week, however, Drew Brees broke one of the records that, as commentators love to say, “I thought would never be broken” in Johnny Unitas’s streak of 47 games with a touchdown pass. It should be said that Johnny U played primarily in a rushing league, which intensifies how epic that record was then. But as no other quarterback is really close to that number (Brady is next at 37), I don’t view today’s passing league as having anything to do with Brees’ domination.

In his pursuit of this record, Brees has used his great accuracy to burn through passing yardage stats (fastest to reach 40,000 yards in a career as well as fastest to reach 3,000, 4,000, and 5,000 yards in a single season). Just to use the stats presented during the game, Brees broke Unitas’s record of 1,302 completions on 1,891 total passes (68.8%) compared to Unitas’s 697 completions on 1298 passes (53.7%). In addition, Brees threw 114 touchdowns with 50 picks while Unitas threw 102 touchdowns and 61 picks over the same span.

Finally, Brees’ leadership quality and personality traits cannot be questioned. He is a fiery competitor, a fierce teammate, a consummate professional, and carries the entire city of New Orleans on his back. There simply is no category in which another quarterback has ever been better. Now, if your requirement for “greatest quarterback ever” is Super Bowl wins, then he likely will not meet your expectations; but in efficiency, skill, or any other quarterback trait, Brees cannot be definitively outmatched and is a first-ballot Hall of Famer. Sadly, I don’t believe most of the NFL fanbase realizes the greatness we’re seeing.

Texans – Jets
The story of the Texans offense in Week 5 is the story of Arian Foster and Owen Daniels. We’re used to Foster (152 yds, 1 TD), but it’s been a while since Owen Daniels put his targets to good use. If he’s able to maintain the level of production this Texans offense can give him, he can easily crack the top 5 at his position this year. For the Jets, this seems to be a lost season. They started slow in the preseason, had a fantastic Week 1 win against the Bills’ pitiful defense, and then went on a slew of unimpressive performances up to, at least, Monday night. I can’t imagine there are many New York Jets on fantasy teams, but if you’re hanging on to someone like Shonn Greene, I’d find other options.

And that’s it! For Week 6, I believe you should maximize matchup decisions and bye-week fill-ins using players from the following teams: Falcons, Lions, Eagles, Vikings, Packers, Texans, Broncos, and Chargers. Feel free to ask me questions in the comments here, but please also ask them/follow me on Twitter!

Tuesday Morning Buzz – Week 4, 2012

By: — October 2, 2012 @ 12:41 pm
Filed under: Player Analysis

Welcome to the Tuesday Morning Buzz! Week 4 is all about finding patterns and things you can count on throughout the bye weeks. To that end, much of this article is about what you can take away and what you should ignore. And now, a moment of silence for the much maligned Replacements.

Pain Heals. Chicks Dig Scars. Glory Lasts Forever.
So, after our glorious debate last week, the NFL caved and gave the regular officials their pension and ridiculous pay increase. Imagine this, not only do you get to keep your pension of yesteryear, you get a 30 percent pay increase over the next five years. Can you imagine a 30 percent pay increase in five years? That is a CEO level of bump. Such is the world of the NFL! However, it is great to have the regulars back again, so that at least the teams and players can focus on playing the game and not on trying to rattle rookie refs. My favorite moment with The Replacement was the ludicrously named Don King and his JFK-esque manner of speech. What was your favorite ref-related instance from the first three weeks?

I’ve got to start this week by eating a little crow. The Browns are better than I thought they were. With high fantasy points from their star RB and WR, as well as confident play from their quarterback, the Browns looked like they just may not be the worst winless team in football. Start Richardson and maybe Little, but relying on Cleveland still terrifies me. The Ravens showed you nothing new this week, as Ray Rice, Joe Flacco, and Anquan Boldin played exactly as you expected they would when you drafted them. Make sure Torrey Smith is owned in your league, as that spotlight is not going away any time soon.

Matt Ryan

Mad man, Matt Ryan.

This week, Cam Newton put forth a statistical spectacular of Vick-like proportions, as though saying to fantasy owners, “Look baby, I know I hurt you last week, and I know you’re mad, but let me make it up to you.” At this point, I’d take the preacher’s son over Tom Patkowski. The Falcons have finally become a consistent offensive powerhouse, as they have been talking about for four years. Not only is Matt Ryan throwing the ball like a mad man, but White and Jones are becoming the NFL’s wide receiver tandem of the year. Don’t worry about Jones’ one catch this game; he’ll bounce back next week against a Redskins defense that will contain Roddy White.

The Pats were pissed. They’d been looking downright human the past couple of weeks, and that doesn’t sit too well with a team that considers themselves the cream of the crop—and the Bills only made matters worse by jumping out to a 21-7 lead into the third quarter. Then, with five straight possessions ending in touchdowns, the Pats came back and took a victory. I’m not sure how much I would trust Brandon Bolden, or Wes Welker for that matter, to repeat that performance again this year, but Stevan Ridley earned my vote to start the rest of the season. The Bills aren’t world beaters, but the rookie looked impressive.

For the Bills, it’s an impossible-to-win guessing game as to which one of their WRs will approach 100 yards from week to week, so I would generally stay away if you can. However, I would consider starting Spiller, even in the presence of Fred Jackson. Spiller’s injury is the only thing that kept his touches down in this game.

How ‘bout them Minnesota Vikings? With good fantasy days from Adrian Peterson and Percy Harvin, whose numbers were helped by a classic return for a touchdown, the Vikings are challenging for a division title (which they won’t win). However, as long as a team thinks they’re good, they’ll continue to play excellently until someone deflates them. And since they’ve recently won the toughest game on their schedule (49ers), it may be some time before the Vikings fall into fantasy insignificance.

For Detroit, it was good to see Matthew Stafford return and throw 51 passes for 319 yards, plus running back Mikel Leshoure rushed with every meaningful carry in the game—a pattern likely to repeat for higher rewards. Leshoure may be easy to trade for with your flex WR, and he is likely to be a much better value.

In the wake of an injury to Jake Locker early on, Chris Johnson flourished under the quarterback play of Matt Hasselbeck. Amazingly, when a competent quarterback stands behind them, the offensive line suddenly performs and Johnson suddenly has legs again. This likely has to do with defenses respecting Matt Hasselbeck, but that should provide a bit of breathing room, and as we all know, a little bit of room is all Johnson needs to take it all the way.

For the Texans, the only real news is the resurgence of Owen Daniels. Just in the nick of time, too, as he should fill in nicely for TEs on bye. Six receptions for 72 yards and a touchdown is no fluke.

If you ever need a replacement defense—say, if you own the now Revis-less Jets—the Chargers are always a good choice. They never seem all that dominant, even when they are first in the league, as they were a couple of years ago, but they will likely be a top-10 DST by season’s end. Also, look for Ryan Mathews to come back and be a workhorse in the coming weeks—that is, if he can stay on the field.

The Chiefs have exactly two players worth owning in 10-team leagues: Dwayne Bowe and Jamaal Charles. Both played highly important roles in the Chiefs’ limited success on Sunday, and both are automatic starts most weeks. If you picked Charles at value, you should feel extremely confident in the explosive back’s play for the rest of the year.

What is there to say that hasn’t already been said by these San Francisco 49ers? The defense is fantastic, the offense is good enough, and their fantasy value is a razor-thin line between not-enough and decent. Essentially, Frank Gore is matchup-proof and should be started at all times, with Kendall Hunter waiting in the wings for his inevitable fall.

For the Jets, is Greg McElroy the best passer on this team? I hate to be so terrible to Mark Sanchez, who just got paid and has a great record, but I’ve liked McElroy since college. I’ve spoken at length on how a quarterback’s brain is more important than his arm or legs in modern-age football, and this is why Peyton Manning and Drew Brees are able to play at the level they do. Not to mention his Rhodes scholarship finalist status, McElroy scored a 48 out of 50 on the Wonderlic test (twice the average score of quarterbacks) and was sadly underwritten.

Why do I bring this up? In my opinion, the Jets are sitting on a goldmine in McElroy and will someday be rewarded if the Sanchez–Tebow combination ever gets run out of town. I don’t know what will happen if this team continues to flounder, but if they give McElroy a real starter’s chance, I believe he will change the concept and the skill level of the Jets offense on the field. He’s definitely worth a pickup if the Jets continue to flame out.

How sad is the state of affairs for these offenses when there is but one player between both teams who is worth starting each week? Marshawn Lynch broke free from the bonds of Buffalo and has since electrified the Seattle fanbase, but otherwise there are no fantasy studs in this matchup. “But what about Steven Jackson?” you ask. Jackson has taken 59 carries for 195 yards (3.3 yards per carry) and has scored as many touchdowns as Marshall Faulk this season. Don’t let the name and the NFL Shop commercials fool you—Stevan Ridley will end this season with more points.

In Training Camp Hype, yours truly stated that, “Brian Hartline is the best thing [the Dolphins] have got talent-wise, and that is certainly damning with faint praise.” I have known that the wide receiver was good since his Ohio State days. However, he has always been good for a few big catches per year but has never been an every-week starter. We shall see if he can turn that corner and become a consistent target for Ryan Tannehill. Either way, he is definitely worth a bench spot—at least as trade bait—in case he turns out.

Another DST unit in the same underrated and ugly class as the San Diego Chargers is that of the Arizona Cardinals. They are so good up front that they can sometimes pressure the quarterback with only two down linemen. They don’t always hold off a high point total, but they’re usually good for some defensive bonus points. And in the manner of Brian Hartline, I would also consider stashing Ryan Williams, just in case the Cardinals do the sensible thing and feature him.

What? The Raiders played a sloppy football game and got forced to play out of their comfort zone in a big divisional matchup on the road versus Peyton Manning? You don’t say! I hope you started your Broncos, as Manning, McGahee, Thomas, and Decker all did very well for themselves, and should continue to produce when the matchup is favorable enough. This was a game that went exactly as the Broncos drew it up. Get to a lead early to reduce the risk of Darren McFadden, and then pummel the weak Raiders passing offense with lockdown D. Raiders fans should have heart, though, as McFadden and Sebastian “White Trash Awesome” Janikowski will continue to be startable in all formats.

BenJarvus Green-Ellis owners everywhere must have ripped their hair out when Andy Dalton scored the only rushing touchdown of the game for either side. Sadly, Green-Ellis’ stat line looks a little flat with 82 yards and zero touchdowns. I still maintain that he will end the year ranked far higher than he was drafted due to the Bengals red-zone rushing tendencies, but this definitely put a hamper on his week. He should fare better next week when they play the Dolphins in Cincy.

Marcedes Lewis, similar to Martellus Bennett, is a low-value waiver-wire TE pickup. Perhaps you have Jermichael Finley or Jason Witten and are looking for a replacement until they get it together. If so, look no farther than Lewis, who has quietly had two excellent games this year. He’s definitely a matchup play, but TE is tough this year.

Drew Brees, last year’s rightful MVP according to yours truly, showed his mettle on Sunday, throwing for 446 yards, three touchdowns, and just a dash of hope for fantasy owners. Most of the scoring in this game has to do with the bad defensive play of both teams, and little to do with the power of either offense. Rest assured that Marques Colston probably has his best game behind him and should be shipped off to the highest bidder. Brees will not allow this team to quit on this season, so expect point production all year long from at least Brees and Graham.

A couple of interesting points for the Packers: James Jones believed in himself and filled in nicely for the oft-injured Greg Jennings. Perhaps those Jet Ski push-ups aren’t the best rehab option for a groin injury. Cedric Benson also showed up briefly and ran against the Saints’ miserably weak run defense. Around 85 yards and maybe a touchdown is about the best performance you can expect from Benson, who won’t get a lot of carries in a five-wide Packers offense.

I want to say that Alfred Morris has earned a role as a fantasy starter. However, the arrival of Ryan Grant may throw a wrench into those plans. If you drafted RGIII as the backup to any quarterback, sell your previous starter as quickly as possible. Griffin’s going to be just fine all season long and should produce staggering fantasy numbers. For the Buccaneers, Doug Martin and LeGarrette Blount cannibalize far too much of each other’s game to make either anything more than a bye-week fill-in. The Bucs passing game is clicking, however, as Mike Williams and Vincent Jackson played excellent games on Sunday and should continue to produce for the remainder of the season.

In Week 1, I brought to your attention the R.E. Shay quote, “Depend on the rabbit’s foot if you will, but remember it didn’t work for the rabbit,” after the Eagles managed a 1-point victory over the Cleveland Browns in a game rife with turnovers. This statement still holds true, as the Eagles won their third of four games this season by less than one field goal—thanks to a rare miss by Lawrence Tynes—and Michael Vick has been a one-man turnover machine (albeit he was clean this week).

This year, the Giants have found early success on the stat sheet and in the win column, which means one of two things: Either this will be Eli Manning’s best season to date, or the Giants will fizzle out by playing their best football early. Remember, this team has made their hay by turning it on late the past few years. Your Giants starters may become less valuable as the season wears on, so it would be prudent to keep a close eye on their momentum.

$#^% Chris Collinsworth Says
This week, Jon Gruden is our resident Chris Collinsworth, with his bizarre and hilarious likening of Jay Cutler and Tony Romo to famous Hollywood Cowboys.

“God Bless Tony Romo—They need to change the words of this song!”

All of my frustration with Gruden’s berating of The Replacements last week was gone, as he related Cutler to my favorite spaghetti western character, Josey “Buzzards Gotta Eat Too” Wales. If you haven’t seen Clint Eastwood’s Josey Wales flick, do yourself a favor and check it out—it’s fantastic. If you didn’t catch Gruden’s pre-game, he also compared Tony Romo to John Wayne in stating, “This is the toughest Cowboy in Texas.”

I don’t see how someone could have written a script more telling of the storylines for these two teams. The Cowboys came out, at home, and threw away the game by throwing the ball to the other team. Those interceptions were all good plays by the defense on ruined routes by the Dallas wide receivers, but it will all be blamed on Tony Romo. However, Romo did end up cancelling out some turnovers with a touchdown throw early, and Kyle Orton helped the slow-starting Jason Witten save his fantasy day with a late touchdown. For the Bears, it was a good, but not great, offensive performance. Cutler had a modest stat line, and Brandon Marshall racked up some yardage and a touchdown on a busted play in garbage time. These Bears are for real if they can ever develop a consistent O-line. I’m looking to a strong remainder of the season from Forte, Cutler, and Marshall.

P.S. How weird and awesome was that Los Lonely Boys intro? I have no idea who they are, but I hope ESPN continues to make really cool region-pieces for all of their Monday Night Football games.

And that’s it! Week 4 is in the proverbial books and there was not much controversy to mar the actual football talk of the week. For Week 5, I believe you should maximize matchup decisions and bye-week fill-ins using players from the following teams: Packers, Panthers, Patriots, Chargers, and Texans. Feel free to ask me questions in the comments here or on my brand new Twitter account!

Tuesday Morning Buzz – Week 3, 2012

By: — September 25, 2012 @ 10:39 am
Filed under: Player Analysis

Welcome to Tuesday Morning Buzz! The first truly crazy weekend in the season had it all: fourth quarter comebacks galore, five call reversals in one game, coaches yanking on the arms of officials, emotional performances in response to familial deaths. I hope simply to make it through with my ear fully intact. Let’s get right into the action:

Well, the Panthers certainly got more than bargained for Thursday night. The Giants were large and in charge of all aspects of this game. When Cam Newton gets a rushing touchdown and still only gets 9 total points in standard scoring formats, something is terribly wrong. If the Panthers can’t get the run game going, including Newton, they can’t win. With New York, there are two names that should disappear instantly from your waiver wire if they haven’t already: Martellus Bennett and Andre Brown. Bennett is especially not going anywhere, as the Giants have had big plans for a big tight end for years. The Giants didn’t draft rookie running back David Wilson in the first round to sit him, but it will be hard to put the lightning-in-a-bottle they’ve found on the bench.

The Bears once again failed to capitalize on a defense they should have torched. Most people weren’t sipping much fantasy Kool-Aid on Jay Cutler, but there were huge expectations for Brandon Marshall and Matt Forte. Through three games, an unclear ankle injury, and two throw-away performances, neither has excited fantasy owners. However, I still believe there is an untapped offensive potential on this team just waiting for Mike Tice to get a scheme together for the O-Line. Trade for Bears if you can get them cheap. The Rams currently have no business being discussed in fantasy and will likely be irrelevant for the entire year.

The Bills, tied for the lead in their division through three weeks, were able to defeat the Browns in Cleveland. This is probably the biggest accomplishment for the Bills in this young season, as the city of Cleveland typically debilitates visiting offenses. However, the Bills took a huge blow when C.J. Spiller went down early on. The outlook appears good for Spiller, as there is a chance he won’t miss a full game, but I’d bench him until you’re sure you’ll get 60 minutes out of him.

For the Browns, I am still highly skeptical of Trent Richardson and the Browns offense, but it appears I was premature in saying that Richardson wouldn’t make the Top 20. He is scoring enough touchdowns early that his eventual season-ending injury should occur after he secures a spot among the top 20. Don’t take solace in that, however. In this RB-starved year, I’d sell Richardson to the highest bidder.

This week the Cowboys were a couple of touchdowns away from being a fantasy point machine. The overall result was disappointing, but take a look at these yardage totals:

If Romo had thrown even one touchdown, he and at least one of those wide receivers would have had a fantastic fantasy day.

For the Bucs, there is still little to be gleaned from their current play regarding start/sit decisions. Obviously, no Buccaneer is an every-week starter, but yours truly is beginning to wonder if they are worth the stress. I wouldn’t trade Doug Martin, but no one else has been given enough consistent touches, let alone production, to keep them from the fantasy chopping block.

In a battle of two offenses with no expectations, the Jags were able to come out with a win on the heels of an incensed Maurice Jones-Drew. MJD ran for 177 yards and a touchdown; however, I’m still terrified of a major injury due to his lack of an offseason practice regimen. He is another RB that will fetch high value, perhaps even greater value in the form of two players from another team. For the Colts, it was more of the same, as Reggie Wayne, Donald Brown, and Andrew Luck continued to have outstanding fantasy days for their status. T.Y. Hilton may be worth picking up and stashing just in case he becomes a regular big-yardage play.

Here is the good news for the Jets: They were able to defeat the Dolphins in overtime. Here is the bad news for the Jets: They needed overtime to beat the Dolphins. Oh yeah, and they lost Darrelle Revis for the season. Is this defense good enough that it can still be a value-pick, every-week start without Revis? Sadly, it appears that this Jets fantasy offense is even more tepid than the Dolphins, Browns, Bills, and maybe even the Cardinals. Yikes!

The Dolphins may have suffered a terrible injury loss as well, as their entire offense was injured when Reggie Bush’s knee was hurt for the 900th time in his career. Look for Daniel Thomas to step up in Bush’s absence, but the offense may sputter without the run and catch threat that Bush provides.

Last year, yours truly had this to say after Week 12: “Christian Ponder is the anti-Tebow. He always looks better to me than his stat line. He’s proven his mobility, his competency, and his football IQ. Yet, when it all shakes out, all of that great play amounts to less than Matt Moore or Carson Palmer put up on the stat sheet.” Luckily for the Vikings, hardworking, cerebral quarterbacks typically work out in the long run, and Ponder flashed greatness on Sunday, throwing two touchdowns and no picks versus a ridiculously nasty 49ers D.

For the 49ers, no real fantasy news here. Keep starting Vernon Davis, start Crabtree or Manningham when the matchup warrants, and hang on to Kendall Hunter in anticipation of Frank Gore’s inevitable injury.

I thought both offenses looked fantastic through three quarters, though how dubious is that statement with how pitiful these defenses have been? Jamaal Charles ran for what seemed like a season’s worth of yards and racked up two or three games’ worth of receiving yards as well. The “chief” take away from this game: start anyone who plays the Saints or the Chiefs. In that same vein, don’t be too impressed by anything you saw from this game, as it is liable to be a flash in the pan.

Pain Heals. Chicks Dig Scars. Glory Lasts Forever.
The truly amazing stat about this game is that The Replacements averaged one call reversal per quarter in a game with a quarter of overtime. My favorite part, however, is how much the hilariously named Don King sounds like John F. Kennedy. If you missed this game, go to one of the hundreds of articles bashing The Replacements and check out the calls. “Ask not what the replay booth can do for you, but what you can do for the replay booth!”

The analysis of the Titans is easy: You should not expect this kind of production from any of their players, as they will not score 40-plus points every week. Not even 20. However, even when they did score 44 points, CJ2K still managed only 24 yards on 14 carries and one reception for five yards. Chris Johnson has a 0.03 rating on the Calvin Scale this season, including a +0.02 bonus for having the same family name. I wonder if he considers that performance the fault of the O-line as well. At this point, he may be a difficult sell for any kind of value, but if someone will take him, you should make the move.

For the Lions, you may be excited about 26 carries for 100 yards and a touchdown, and rightfully so, but Detroit does not run much. However, this may have been perfect timing if Stafford is indeed out. If it turns out that Stafford is back next week, LeShoure’s chances of a repeat performance are far from a sure thing.

Count yours truly among those who had no business winning in their fantasy leagues this week, except for the simple excellence of A.J. Green. Quietly, Green cashed in 183 yards and a score, including a textbook 80-yard bomb on the first play from scrimmage. Also, the Law Firm scored his second touchdown on the year in what looks to be a high-scoring season for the sturdy-handed RB. For the Skins, how mad must Santana Moss be now that he finally has a passable quarterback in his 12th season, when he has lost a step and his talent is sapped. Once regarded as one of the top talents at his position, Moss now ironically relegated to one-catch games with the best quarterback he’s ever lined up with.

Oh the sad, sad prospects of the Eagles. Philly fans are cursing that lucky rabbit’s foot I warned about after the Week 1 “victory” against the Browns. If these Eagles can stop the bleeding from their turnover ratio, they may yet be able to win their division and compete in the playoffs, but fantasy prospects are looking grim for the Iggles.

Meanwhile, the Cardinals are playing with so much swag after a 3-0 start that Kevin Kolb threw for Rick Ross numbers of 222 yards for two touchdowns. Larry Fitzgerald also came back to life this week in a performance that can only feel like what Han Solo must have felt after being freed from the carbonite.

In a strange turn of events, Ryan Mathews had a total of 15 touches for 76 yards, but the Chargers were only able to muster an anemic 3 points against an Atlanta Falcons team that is on an NFL-wide tear. The disgusting lack of yards and points for the Chargers leaves all analysis at the door, outside of Mathews appearing to be in capacity enough to warrant a starting consideration. On the Atlanta side, there simply weren’t enough touchdowns for all of the surging skill positions. Turner, Gonzalez, Julio Jones, and Jacquizz Rodgers each scored to amplify their yardage totals. Only Roddy White was left out, in what was essentially an exhibition of the Falcons’ offensive capabilities. It appears that all San Diego RBs not named Mathews are back to the bench, unless you think Jackie Battle will continue to have success as a third-down back.

Nothing goes better with football than clichés—except maybe Tapenade. Despite this, I’ve had it up to here with concept that opposing quarterbacks are battling against each other. I understand when pitchers have duels and single-handedly determine the fate of their games, but football is far too much of a team sport for that kind of talk.

Matt Schaub had a fantastic game on top of what is turning out to be a fantastic season for the Texans. However, he did not “out duel” Peyton Manning, as such seems impossible to me. Comparing two quarterbacks against one another in a game where they are playing totally different defenses is asinine, in my humble opinion. Take Schaub and Arian Foster for granted, but beware of Andre Johnson, as 72 yards and a touchdown is less impressive when you realize it was on only two catches. Manning, Decker, and Demariyus Thomas are all matchup plays and bye-week starters, but Brandon Stokley is also quickly becoming a bye-week fill-in if you’re light at WR.

If I were the head coach of the Raiders, I would always take a touchback out to the 20-yard line and then attempt a field goal on every fourth down. Janikowski is the man in my book—he looks like he cares about three things: Chicken Wings, Pabst Blue Ribbon, and super long field goals. If Janikowksi ever gets the chance, I’m certain he will break the record for longest field goal. I’m sorry I’m going on so much about a kicker, but he is so white-trash awesome.

For the Steelers, Ben Roethlisberger dominated the Raiders defense and angered fantasy owners everywhere who benched him for Cam Newton, Peyton Manning, Matthew Stafford, Drew Brees, or Tony Romo. Todd Haley’s philosophy is starting to take hold as the Steelers offense is slowly transitioning to a passing-centered game. Watch for your Steelers passing stars to continue to rise and your Steelers 300-carry running backs to fade into oblivion.

I can’t imagine how disappointed each of these teams must have been when they lost in Week 2, knowing that they would have to play each other the next week. Going 1-2 is never a good thing, but preseason darlings that go 1-2 start to deteriorate very quickly. For the Patriots, this offense will bounce back under the cool-headed leadership of Bill Belichick, so don’t panic, but don’t be surprised if it’s a few more weeks before they really click.

The difference between Brady’s “subpar” performance and Flacco’s “elite” performance was completions for touchdown. Both completed 28 passes and Flacco threw for around 50 yards more, but the 3:1 touchdown-to-inception ratio made Flacco the far better man for fantasy. He should be writing a thank you letter to Torrey Smith, who torched the Patriots to keep the Ravens in the game. Don’t look for this kind of performance every game, but Smith has probably earned 7 to 10 targets a game and will likely be starting material for your fantasy team all season long.

$#^% Chris Collinsworth Says
On finally getting his way after screaming all of the first quarter that The Replacements weren’t throwing a flag to control the emotions when skirmishes were breaking out:

“I wouldn’t have thrown the flag—I’ll just put it that way!”

Even CC had to get into the action of abusing The Replacements this week, and I’m beginning to wonder if the NFL will eventually ask the broadcast companies to pay the issue less attention. If there should be any criticism levied from this whole situation, it should be against the players, and especially the coaches, for trying to intimidate The Replacements. Not only is it unsportsmanlike, but it’s just generally deplorable.

What a remarkable spectacle of a game. First, the Seahawks have a great defense. Especially when playing in Seattle, you should temper your expectations for any QB or WR against this lockdown defense. For the Packers, this offense will get itself under control. As the madness of the early season begins to settle down, the Packers skill players will come through for your team.

Pains Heals. Chicks Dig Scars. Glory Lasts Forever. Part II

The NFL has a mess on their hands.

The NFL has a mess on their hands.

Oh boy. All The Replacements needed was the fiasco at the end of this game. First, let’s restate what happened:

  1. Russell Wilson throws a deep bomb to the end zone where there are two Seahawks and about 52 Packers. The first infraction the world is screaming at The Replacements about is Golden Tate shoving Sam Shieldsout of the way. Even Jon Gruden, who notoriously complains about The Replacements, stated that end-of-the-game Hail Mary’s are essentially “Let ’em play” situations, and that offensive pass interference is rarely if ever going to be called on a play like that, even by the regular officials.
  2. Next, M.D. Jennings elevates and grabs the ball with two hands while Tate places one hand on the ball. As Jennings brings the ball to his chest, Tate places his second hand on the ball, then the pile of players collapse to the ground. If, for even a fraction of a second, Tate established 50% control of the ball before Jennings’ feet hit the ground, the correct call is “simultaneous possession.” Furthermore, the simultaneous possession that was ruled on the field cannot be overturned by replay, even if the officials saw in their review that Shields clearly had control first. The Replacements made the best call they could see on the field, which turned out to be unreviewable. And there lies the rub.
  3. When Tate and Jennings fell into the scrum with questionable-but-not-obvious simultaneous possession, both refs in the end zone looked at each other, nodded, and then provided two different signals. Each ref had assumed the other saw what he saw. Instead of huddling to determine the call, The Replacements felt harried and terrified and simply went with the touchdown call.
  4. Finally, and most inexcusably, the refs called a touchdown and got the heck out of Dodge without completing the game with the mandatory extra point. They then had to be notified to come back on the field to finish the game.

The sad truth is that The Replacements are overmatched and are being taken advantage of. Just as we say the game moves too fast for rookie players, the game is too fast for The Replacements, and they have lost all control of the field. Players are being liberal with their gamesmanship to test the mettle of the officials. How many coaches are going to receive fines because of their miserable behavior? You can blame The Replacements for the calls, they did make them, but neither the coaches nor the players are handling this with class. With an immaturity that apparently knows no boundaries, the players and coaches are applying so much pressure that they are rattling these officials into making quick decisions and playing with a disregard for the rules—the strategy NFL teams take against rookies on opposing teams. It is the official’s job to call out rule breaking; however, it is the responsibility of the players and coaches to try to play within the rules. How can we expect The Replacements to be thoughtful and accurate with the pressure being placed on them by the players and coaches? The refs are not a third team on the field, and they should not be strategized against. How many of these situations would have been different if the media didn’t barbeque them beforehand, with the coaches following suit during the game, and the players moaning and groaning about them afterwards? In the end, these guys are out there making the best calls they can—even the best refs will make bad calls—but they are the scapegoats of a bad situation mixed with unprofessional play.

My last thought is this, how much are the regular officials at fault here? They are demanding to maintain a pension as part-time employees. How many full-time employees still have a pension in 2012? I’m guessing that NFL Referee is one of the only part-time jobs in the United States that is pensioned. It simply isn’t the way of American business anymore. There is nothing wrong with the NFL pushing to move the referee job into the 21st century. Perhaps instead of moaning for the NFL to give in to whatever demands the refs make so that they can regain control the field, we should be yelling at the referees to accept being paid what is acceptable.

And that’s it! What an interesting conclusion to a very interesting week. Next week, look for your Falcons, Patriots, Vikings, Chargers, Texans, Broncos, Cardinals, Packers, and Bears to excel. Come on, these Bears have to pack some offensive firepower into a Monday Night game right? Don’t forget your Colts and Steelers are on bye, so find suitable replacements!

P.S. I really enjoyed your questions last week, keep them coming and I’ll reply on Wednesday and Thursday as they come in.

Tuesday Morning Buzz – Week 2, 2012

By: — September 18, 2012 @ 3:09 pm
Filed under: Player Analysis

Welcome to Tuesday Morning Buzz! After receiving the praise of an impossibly generous 1.1 rating on the Calvin scale, TMB only hopes to be able to follow up with a second effort. This week, the ultimate lesson to take away rings true in Denny Green’s famous rant, “They are who we thought they were!” Many teams returned to their original status this weekend, or had a deceptive performance that will trick many into becoming disbelievers. TMB is here with a word of caution to ignore those feelings and to wait it out. Let’s get right into it:

Bears – Packers
Impressively, Green Bay’s defense was able to clamp down on what yours truly referred to as possibly “the most explosive Chicago Bears offense in history.” Now, that is somewhat damning with faint praise, but certainly the skill players are in place. However, if your star running back has a high ankle sprain and your O-line can’t stay upright, you can’t expect the offense to click much. The Packers offense was still probably not worth what you paid for them, but don’t fret. Rodgers, Jennings, Nelson, and Jermichael Finley will all be worth it when the dust settles.

Dwayne Bowe

Bowe's fourth quarter explosion saved the day for his fantasy owners.

Chiefs – Bills
In the first of a few games following this trend, KC compiled some garbage points to make the match look respectable. If you started Dwayne Bowe due to the matchup this week, you got lucky, but don’t forget that he was 15 points lighter going into the fourth quarter. For the Bills, C.J. Spiller and cast dominated for 60 straight minutes. For those of you on the fence, Spiller should be started without afterthought until Fred Jackson comes back or the weather changes, ironically, since the Bills likely won’t maintain success into the second half of the season.

Saints – Panthers
The Saints are now two losses deeper than their fans thought they would be two weeks in, and I blame the offseason issues, but not in the typical fashion. I believe that these Saints had pent-up frustration regarding the offseason suspensions and persecution, but the reinstatement of the players just before the week sapped most of that anger. The Saints now are terribly debilitated and unmotivated. I wouldn’t be surprised if these Saints bail on the season if they start the first half something like 3-5. Brees and Sproles should be kept in case this thing turn around, but the rest of the Saints should be trade bait for the hopeful.

For the Panthers, Cam Newton’s passing stat line came close to mirroring Romo’s and Flacco’s, yet he was heralded as a hero at home, mostly because of his insane 71 yards rushing. In addition, Williams and Stewart combined for 120 rushing yards and Steve Smith totaled 104 receiving yards . With the dynamic Cam Newton leading the charge, keep starting those Panthers.

Browns – Bengals
The Browns and Trent Richardson were encouraging, but I still stick by my lifelong fantasy football mantra, “Never trust the Browns.” Keep in mind that this statistical anomaly was against a culture-conflicted Bengals team. If you see enough to feel good about starting a Cleveland Brown, caveat emptor; but this wise guy will stubbornly be selling, regardless of outcome. I personally don’t believe the stress and general iffy-ness is worth it, and I’d always be willing to trade for a star player in a more stable franchise.

For the Bengals, it’s simple. Dalton and Green can be starters if you need them to be, and Green-Ellis will manage 70-plus yards and a touchdown more weeks than not due to Cincinnati’s style of play. Be careful with lesser-known Bengals, however, as they have a Brownsesque tendency to look like superstars one week and then disappear.

Vikings – Colts
The Vikings hung in with the Colts all game but fell in the final moments to the immortal Adam Vinatieri, as so many have before them. Ponder and Harvin followed up solid Week 1 performances with better Week 2 performances, though Harvin could really have been a force with a touchdown. Adrian Peterson turned in a rare zero-touchdown performance as well, but he clearly is on a snap count, with only 16 carries all game.

Andrew Luck led his Horseshoes to a win, despite having a slightly worse passing day than Ponder. Donnie Avery and Reggie Wayne, however, clearly outperformed their competition across the field. It turns out that Fleener may not play as much as expected (with only four targets against the Vikings). You may be wise to pick up a second TE and play the matchups if you have Fleener.

Texans – Jags
The touchdowns will not always stay the same, but in my opinion, Foster and Tate are both startable against bad defenses. I wouldn’t often consider starting a backup, but when the Texans play a bottom-half defense, I would gladly rank Tate in the top 30. The Jaguars crumbled in typical fashion, but again I preach caution: it’s early in the season and they won’t always be playing a top 10 opponent who is also a divisional rival.

Raiders – Dolphins
Imagine you are presented with this statement: “A running back in the Raiders–Dolphins game will run for 172 yards and two touchdowns. Who will it be?” Do you pick Darren McFadden or Reggie Bush? I would pick McFadden 10 times out of 10, even now. The Dolphins looked good against a mentally feeble Raiders team 3,100 miles from home in an early game. Similar to the Browns game, I believe this is far and away the exception, and a repeat should not be expected this season. For the Raiders, Carson Palmer was as double-sided as a Batman villain, what with a completion percentage of 50, a single touchdown, and an interception…and with the rest of the Raiders languishing under his leadership.

Cardinals – Patkowskis
I think there should be a children’s book called “The Gutsiest Little Cardinal” after Arizona’s Week 2 win. Kevin Kolb excelled on Sunday. Not only was he a game-managing, winning quarterback, but he was also arguably their most valuable rusher. The Pats fell into a trap game, it seems, and were looking ahead to their upcoming matchup with Baltimore. Start your Pats next week, however, as Gostkowski, Lloydkowski, Welkowski, and Gronkowski are angry and embarrassed, and should see a spike with the absence of Hernandez.

Buccaneers – Giants
Both of these offenses put up stellar numbers and won a lot of fantasy matchups, but remember that 24 of the Giants’ points came in the fourth quarter. Eli Manning’s 510 yards and three touchdowns this week makes him the NFL’s leading passer by a mile two weeks in. Andre Brown got the inevitable Ahmad Bradshaw injury carries instead of the rookie David Wilson. I would give it one full game to see if the rookie gets a crack at starting, but it’s back to the waiver wire if he gets fewer than 10 runs. On the Buccaneers side, V-Jax had a promising second effort, but I need to see him be a consecutively dominant force before he climbs the ranks out of the flex position.

The media talk on Monday centered around the controversial decision by Brian Schiano’s Bucs to rush the victory formation on the heels of a Giants interception. Obviously, the Giants are upset because of an unspoken rule that the quarterback kneel means the game is over, and that the risk of injury when the players are not expecting a defensive rush is high. However, the Bucs say that there were five seconds left and they were down by one score. Why not go for a fumble and try to tie it? Come to your own conclusions, but ponder this: Schiano still had a timeout in his pocket after that kneel-down. If it was truly a trying-to-win-it situation, why didn’t he call time and try again?

Ravens – Eagles
Philly, with a 1-point victory in each of their first two games, continues to do just enough to win. Vick is on a record-setting pace of 48 interceptions this season, with six picks through two weeks, but the rest of the offense looked typical of the Eagles. Be cautious with Brent Celek, however, as his explosion may have been scheme-driven. His history with Michael Vick is far less exciting. For the Ravens, it was much of the same as Rice and Flacco kept the Ravens in it until the last. Watch for your Ravens to be highly productive in a shootout at home next week.

Cowboys – Seahawks
Romo, with near identical stats to Flacco, did not fair nearly as well. No one around him performed particularly well, so what was the embattled quarterback to do? Don’t let the mix-up scare you, however, as Seattle is an incredibly difficult place to play. I’m sure Dallas fans and players alike cannot wait to get back home and welcome the Buccaneers to town next week. As to be expected, Seattle looked decidedly “meh” in a big win. Marshawn “Beast Mode” Lynch had a good day (122 yards and a score), but not a single yard was memorable. Keep Lynch in your starting lineup, and leave all other Seahawks on waivers.

Redskins – Rams
The biggest storyline for the Redskins this week was RGIII’s return to earth against a better-than-you-think Rams defense. However, the biggest story for fantasy concerning the Redskins is that Alfred Morris once again received the lion’s share of carries and Roy Helu did not advance the ball a single yard. Morris is your guy if you must, but be warned, the week you start him is the week that someone starts in his place. The Rams’ performance could be the headline of the world’s most obvious newspaper: “Sam Bradford Talented Quarterback. Steven Jackson out with Injury. World Still Turning.” Bradford is a perennial bye-week and injury fill-in, but he has the physical tools to put together a top 10 season, if only his supporting cast could keep pace. Until that changes, he’s a great option for backup quarterback and you should pick him up if he’s on your waiver wire.

Jets – Steelers
The Steelers looked impressive Sunday with controlled pass plays—not broken-down scramble plays. Todd Haley is bringing a passing aspect to the Steelers that has not been in the game plan in the past. While Roethlisberger continued to extend plays and make something from nothing, he was sacked only one time and the offense controlled the game. In addition, Brown and Wallace split the passing success for 79 and 74 yards, respectively. This is what the Steelers need to mask their annually bad O-line.

These Jets looked far less effective one week after they put up 48 points, as the certain-to-win-the-Super Bowl Mark Sanchez threw for only 138 yards and Tim “Just Win” Tebow had one run for 22 yards. It seems that the Jets spent all of their offensive firepower on Week 1. Be careful with these Jets, you never know if you’ll walk away with a win or a black eye.

Titans – Chargers
The Chargers are rolling early, which has always been their biggest struggle. The Broncos will play them close for the division title, but the Super Chargers are surging. The Philip Rivers-to-tight end connection looked particularly great as they connected for 48 yards and three touchdowns. Dante Rosario should be picked up from the waiver wire as soon as he is available. If New Orleans is in danger of jumping ship, then Tennessee is already starting to sink. Chris Johnson spoke out on Monday, saying, “People need to step up and do their job.” For some reason, I doubt the self-sure running back was speaking introspectively. Sell your Titans.

Lions – 49ers
San Francisco has a superb defense. A couple of years ago, you will recall, the Colts and the Saints were defense-proof. Both teams flirted with undefeated seasons and went to the Super Bowl as the No. 1 seed. In that vein, are the 49ers offense-proof? Can defense really still win championships? The fantasy production on offense may be light for this team (.40 Calvin), but the fantasy defense seems like a lock to be ranked No. 1. The Lions were simply locked down by the 49ers and could not get anything going on the ground or in the air. Don’t take it personally though; they won’t be playing such a terrific defense again this season.

$#^% Chris Collinsworth Says
“Guys like Justin Smith, they don’t even need a helmet to play defensive tackle on this team!”

I’m not sure what Chris was going for with that quote, but I have already chimed in that classic schoolyard bully Jim Harbaugh has the 49ers defense playing quite spectacularly. I believe that Justin Smith would’ve been far less impressive sans headgear, but I cannot stress enough how badly San Francisco on your players schedule means SIT, possibly regardless of stature.

Broncos – Falcons
The Broncos fought notoriously to come back and win this game, but Manning’s awful first quarter made it impossible. Outside of the interceptions, however, 241 yards and a touchdown are par for the course. Considering that Manning was negative in fantasy points for much of this game, his end result is acceptable.

The Falcons are seeing their defensive front mature in front of their eyes, as the middle of their defense held strong without the presence of Curtis Lofton. Matt Ryan was excellent as usual, and Michael Turner lucked out when the Falcons got right up to the line to get him a touchdown. Tony Gonzalez, however, blew past defenders and snagged an obscene seven catches for 70 yards and a touchdown. Unless you have Jimmy Graham or Rob Gronkowski, you shouldn’t even have to think about rostering Gonzalez if he’s on your waiver wire.

Pain Heals. Chicks Dig Scars. Glory Lasts Forever.
If you didn’t stick around to hear the diatribe in the postgame show about how awful The Replacements are, then you missed out. No one would defend otherwise, they blew a couple of calls on Monday Night, and it was a generally sloppy performance. However, John Fox replied in his postgame interview, “It was like any other game, it doesn’t matter who the officials are.” It’s as though some media members have never seen the regular officials don’t blow calls! Ed Hochuli can remind you of plenty of embarrassing blown calls that cost teams important games. Let’s give the poor Replacements a chance to get better.

Fin. Week 2 is behind us and Week 3 is waiting to begin on Thursday night. We’ll see matchups between many equally talented and positioned teams in my opinion, so this week could have far-reaching playoff implications. In Week 3 you should start your Giants, Panthers, Bears, Cowboys, Lions, Saints, Chargers, Patriots, and Ravens. Also, leave me a comment if I helped make a good or a terrible decision for you this week. I’d love to hear about it. We’ll see you Week 3!

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