Fantasy Football Strategy, Advice, and Commentary
By: Dave Stringer — October 2, 2013 @ 1:00 am
Peyton Manning, Broncos
Stating the obvious? Yes, but sometimes you need to. With four touchdowns and 327 passing yards, Manning was the leading point scorer at QB in Week 4—in three quarters worth of work! He is on pace to finish the season with 5,880 yards and 64 touchdown passes. And the Broncos offense shows no signs of letting up, averaging 41.3 PPG (removing Trindon Holliday’s two returns for touchdowns).
Matt Cassel, Vikings
Cassel was hardly great this week, with 16 completions on 25 attempts for 248 yards and a pair of touchdowns, but the Vikings won and he showed an ability to make opposing defenses pay for stacking the box. That’s more than can be said for incumbent starter Christian Ponder, and that likely guarantees that Cassel stays in the starting lineup until Minnesota loses. And they can’t lose this week because they are on a bye.
Brian Hoyer, Browns
It’s hard to hold your nose while you type but Hoyer faces passing defenses ranked 28th or lower in four of the next five weeks. With the Browns having won both of his starts, it’s hard to see head coach Rob Chudzinski sitting him down, so don’t believe any signals coming from Cleveland suggesting otherwise.
Joe Flacco, Ravens
How do you throw for 347 yards and a pair of touchdowns and get the Moving Down treatment? Simple, take into account Flacco’s five interceptions, the injuries the Ravens have at the wide receiver and tight end positions, and the absolutely abysmal and incomprehensible game plan that resulted in 54 dropbacks and just nine runs. Let’s make the calculated assumption that the Ravens will start leaning on the run game a lot more beginning in Week 5.
Russell Wilson, Seahawks
So much for the notion that the Seahawks would open it up on offense in 2013. Wilson is averaging just 24 pass attempts and 196.8 passing yards per game. Against a solid Texans defense this week, he struggled to complete 12 of his 23 attempts for just 123 yards. Wilson rates as a matchup play until he proves otherwise.
Reggie Bush, Lions
In the two games in which he has been healthy, Bush has accumulated 229 rushing yards, 135 receiving yards and a pair of scores while averaging 7.7 yards per touch. Let’s just say that he has found the perfect fit in Detroit. You can mark it down that if Bush can stay healthy, he will be a top five fantasy RB at season’s end.
That 50-50 workload split between Foster and Tate isn’t happening.
Arian Foster, Texans
Apparently, the reports of his demise were greatly exaggerated. After three subpar efforts in which he failed to top 100 total yards in any game, Foster went off against a stout Seahawks defense with 102 rushing yards and six receptions for 69 yards and a touchdown. Meanwhile, in a game viewed as a potential Super Bowl preview, backup Ben Tate had just eight touches to Foster’s 33. History has shown that the Texans lean on Foster in big games, and it showed again this week.
Le’Veon Bell, Steelers
In his first game as a pro, Bell was hardly dynamic with 16 rushes for 57 yards and four receptions for 27 yards. He did find the end zone twice, however, and his backups totaled just five touches. The Steelers follow a Week 5 bye with tough matchups against the Jets (6th-ranked run defense) and Ravens (4th), then with four softies, two more tough ones, and a very reasonable stretch from Weeks 14–16.
Fred Jackson, Bills
Although Jackson suffered a sprained MCL, he has said that he will be a go this week. Meanwhile, C.J. Spiller suffered an ankle injury and will either be kept out or limited during the Bills’ Thursday night matchup against the Browns. Despite playing as a backup, FJax is on pace to finish the season with 1,024 rushing yards, 404 receiving yards and eight touchdowns. That is mid-tier RB2 status, folks.
Doug Martin, Bucs
When the Bucs benched Josh Freeman, I had an inkling that Martin would be Moving Down this week. I just didn’t think it would be this ugly, with Martin managing just 45 yards on 27 carries against the Cardinals.
Maurice Jones-Drew, Jaguars
Playing in quite possibly the worst offense ever, MJD is on pace to finish the season with 552 rushing yards, 100 receiving yards and four touchdowns while the Jaguars are averaging less than eight points per game. Ugh!
Daryl Richardson, Rams
If there is one thing that Richardson has proven this year, it’s that he is not a feature back. After one and a half games of subpar play, he was hurt in Week 2 against the Falcons, causing him to miss Week 3. In his return this week against the 49ers, he was abysmal with 16 yards on 12 carries.
Isaiah Pead, Rams
Not just ineffective… Benched. As in stuck behind an ineffective Richardson, rookie fifth-round pick Zac Stacy, and rookie undrafted free agent Bennie Cunningham. It’s been a tough sled for the Rams’ 2012 second-round pick.
Kenbrell Thompkins, Patriots
After struggling somewhat in his first three pro games, Thompkins went off against the Falcons this week with six receptions for 127 yards and a score. Better yet, he had 11 targets to just three for Aaron Dobson, giving some clues as to which receiver will continue to get looks when Rob Gronkowski returns to the lineup.
Greg Jennings, Vikings
With Matt Cassel subbing in for an injured Christian Ponder, Jennings came to life with three receptions for 92 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
Jeff Maehl, Eagles
With Riley Cooper struggling, those in deep leagues can keep an eye on this cat (who I know nothing about). All I know is that Cooper can’t get open (8 rec. on 18 targets) and Maehl hauled in both of his targets for 43 yards and a score this week. The Eagles will chuck it, and Cooper has proven that he’s nothing more than a backup.
Austin Pettis, Rams
This is a begrudging Moving Up. Pettis is averaging just under eight targets per game and is getting looks in the red zone with a pair of touchdowns. For whatever reason, Sam Bradford likes throwing it to him, and that counts for something when the Rams running game is struggling as badly as it is.
Hakeem Nicks, Giants
A free agent at season’s end on a team with major salary cap problems in 2014, Nicks is playing his way right out of New York. After his second consecutive dud (3 for 33 against the Chiefs after an 0-fer the previous week), Nicks doesn’t even rank as a top 50 receiver, with just 230 yards and no touchdowns.
Golden Tate & Sidney Rice, Seahawks
Rice needs to score touchdowns to be a useful fantasy option, and that’s something Tate can only dream of in 2013. Both of these players need to be on your bench until they prove otherwise.
Kenny Stills, Saints
After a solid Week 1 performance, Stills has gone stone cold with just five receptions for 48 yards over the Saints’ last three games. That’s not the kind of explosive playmaking they were expecting, and that could have Stills riding the pine in favor of Robert Meachem if he doesn’t get things back on track.
Antonio Gates, Chargers
In another instance of a player’s demise being greatly exaggerated, we present Antonio Gates. Gates shredded the Cowboys linebackers and safeties this week for ten receptions, 136 yards and a score. He remains a strong option in the red zone and is on pace to finish the season with more than 1,400 yards. This one is half about his resurgence (a solid offseason conditioning program) and half about the lack of other options at wide receiver and tight end for quarterback Philip Rivers.
Kyle Rudolph, Vikings
The most overrated fantasy TE heading into this year’s draft was Rudolph, and he is working hard to prove that pronouncement correct. Rudolph padded his 2012 fantasy point total courtesy of nine touchdowns, but he had just 493 receiving yards. This year, he is on pace to finish with 412 receiving yards and four touchdowns, proving it is foolhardy to chase touchdowns in almost all instances.
By: Dave Stringer — September 28, 2013 @ 9:53 am
1. With the bye weeks upon us, fantasy owners begin the weekly scramble of finding suitable replacements for their regular starters. In Jacksonville, Cecil Shorts and rookie Ace Sanders figure to be in line for plenty of targets during the Jaguars home game against the Colts. With Justin Blackmon serving the final game of his four-game suspension and Stephen Burton and Mike Brown both likely out, Jacksonville has just two healthy receivers on their roster. In addition, tight end Marcedes Lewis has yet to play this season due to a calf injury and figures to be a game time decision on Sunday. That makes both Shorts and Sanders decent options in leagues that start three wide receivers or use a flex postion.
2. In St. Louis, Isaiah Pead was a healthy scratch for Thursday’s home blowout loss to San Francisco. A 2nd round pick in the 2012 draft, Pead struggled mightily as a rookie losing the backup spot to Steven Jackson to fellow rookie Daryl Richardson. With Jackson having left as a free agent, Pead had a golden opportunity to earn a spot in a committee with the diminutive Richardson but a one-game suspension to start the season didn’t help his cause. Neither did a middling preseason performance or his production last week when he averaged just 3.3 yards per carry and 6.1 yards per reception on 13 touches during the most extensive work of his career. Pead has plummeted down the depth chart behind a pair of rookies in 5th round pick Zac Stacy and undrafted free agent Bennie Cunningham. Unless Pead sat out for disciplinary reasons (none of which were reported), he is well on his way to becoming a bust.
3. Sticking with the Rams, after Thursday night’s performance, it seems safe to conclude that the only standard league fantasy worthy starter they have on offense is tight end Jared Cook. Quarterback Sam Bradford’s play is reminiscent of Alex Smith, as he checks down early and often. With offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer unwilling to take shots down the field, he is effectively neutralizing the speed of the team’s receivers including speed merchants Chris Givens and Tavon Austin. With the running game struggling mightily and Schottenheimer unwilling to help open things up by throwing downfield, Cook is the only Ram you should consider in your starting line-up.
Frank Gore is averaging 11.8 fantasy points per game.
4. Moving to the 49ers, it appears that the buy low tag is now officially off Frank Gore. Three weeks into the season is far too early to give up on your players and Gore owners who have stuck with him were rewarded this week with his 153-yard, one-touchdown performance. The fact is that hanging on to him or buying low shouldn’t have been a tough decision as the 49ers possess a solid running quarterback in Colin Kaepernick, one of the league’s top run blocking offensive lines and little receiving talent outside of Anquan Boldin and Vernon Davis.
5. Bucs coach Greg Schiano decided to throw himself a life line this week with his decision to bench starting quarterback Josh Freeman, the team’s 2009 1st round pick, in favor of rookie 3rd round pick Mike Glennon. While Glennon comes from a pro style offense at North Carolina State, he struggled in the preseason, failing to complete 50% of his passes with three touchdowns and three interceptions. If he wasn’t ready then, it is unlikely that he’s ready now. While Freeman was clearly struggling, the decision to bench him is questionable and seems motivated by Schiano’s desire to buy himself more time to prove himself as a solid head coach in Tampa Bay. The Bucs best chance to win this season is with Freeman under center, a player who threw for 25 touchdowns with just six interceptions during his second season in the league in 2010. This move would make sense in a few more weeks, not three weeks into the season. Time will tell if Bucs upper management views this move as a ploy by Schiano to buy himself time or a sincere effort to improve the team. Either way, fantasy owners need to downgrade their expectations for wide receivers Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams as well as running back Doug Martin.
6.After three games, Broncos free agent acquisition Wes Welker is on pace to finish the season with 101 receptions for 1,013 yards and 16 touchdowns. Over the past three years, Welker has averaged 109 receptions for 1,257 yards and 7.3 touchdowns. Patriots free agent acquisition Danny Amendola has missed two games and is on pace to finish the season with 53 receptions for 555 yards and no touchdowns. Over the past three years, Amendola has averaged 51 receptions for 467 yards and two touchdowns. Sometimes what you get is exactly what you should have known you were getting. Sometimes that is good and other times it isn’t. Let’s hope fantasy owners knew what they were getting with Amendola. I’m not so sure the Patriots did.
7. With Christian Ponder out with a broken rib, the Vikings will turn to Matt Cassel at quarterback for this week’s game against the Steelers in London. With a bye in Week 5, a solid performance by Cassel will start the quarterback change rumors flying but fantasy owners shouldn’t get too excited. There have been no indications out of Minnesota that they are ready to demote Ponder and Cassel has proven to be effective only when surrounded by solid weapons.
By: Dave Stringer — September 25, 2013 @ 10:08 am
Matt Flynn, Raiders
Nothing to get excited about this week, so with Terrelle Pryor possibly out with a concussion, Flynn gets the nod.
Josh Freeman’s days in Tampa Bay are numbered.
Mike Glennon, Buccaneers
Out with Josh Freeman and in with Glennon. The coaches want Glennon to start this week so they can have video to work with during the Bucs bye in Week 5. Glennon won’t be a potential fantasy start until Week 6 but his supporting cast is talented enough to provide him value over the second half of the season.
Colin Kaepernick, 49ers
After his sublime performance in Week 1, when he threw for 412 yards and three touchdowns, Kaepernick has hit the skids hard with a pair of sub-200-yard performances and no touchdown passes. We can forgive him for the Week 2 dud against a strong Seahawks defense, but there are no excuses for his getting run over by a shoddy Colts defense. With no Vernon Davis and a group of wide receivers that lack big-play ability, Kaepernick isn’t worth starting unless he gets some yards on the ground.
Brandon Weeden, Browns
Brian Hoyer was pretty awful but the Browns did pick up a win. That likely leaves Weeden on the outside looking in when he returns to the lineup.
DeMarco Murray, Cowboys
One week after getting called out by an ESPN analyst for his inability to make tacklers miss, Murray ran roughshod over the Rams with 203 total yards and a touchdown. That’s the good news. The bad news is that it was his first 100-yard game since Week 1 of last season. Yeah, this is a lukewarm endorsement.
Johnathan Franklin, Packers
Another “good news, bad news” scenario. When James Starks went down, the Packers had no other running backs available other than Franklin, and he looked dynamic with 103 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries plus 23 yards on three receptions. Then he fumbled on a key fourth-down play late in the game, which the Bengals returned for the game-winning touchdown. We don’t know when Eddie Lacy or James Starks will return, but with the Packers on a Week 4 bye, Franklin’s time in the spotlight could be short.
Jason Snelling, Falcons & Joique Bell, Lions
Both player were very competent fill-ins this week and are worthy of RB2 status until they head back to the bench. Grab these guys with the byes starting this week.
Fred Jackson, Bills
Jackson is Moving Up two weeks in a row, this time courtesy of C.J. Spiller’s knee injury. If he can’t go this week, FJax is a low-end RB2.
Brandon Bolden, Patriots
With Shane Vereen out, Bolden looks like New England’s most explosive runner. The Patriots backfield is a fantasy mess, but odds are that Bolden is either on the wire in your league or available for a song.
Bilal Powell, Jets
I’ll be honest. I thought Chris Ivory was going to have his coming-out party this week against a soft Bills run defense, but he went down early with a hamstring injury, leaving Powell to chalk up 149 yards on 27 carries. Powell is clearly an average running back but he could emerge as a workhorse for the next few weeks if Ivory misses time, which seems likely. Only Alex Green is in reserve, which leads us to…..
Chris Ivory, Jets
This guy looks great in a part-time role but has proven to be injury-prone throughout his four-year career. Move on.
Stevan Ridley, Patriots
With just 121 yards on 36 carries, Ridley has been pretty much awful. Full stop. He’s useless as a receiver, with only 10 career receptions through 33 games, so he needs to earn a living as a runner. And there is now competition for touches in the New England backfield.
Trent Richardson, Colts
Just a gentle reminder that coaches don’t just take away a pile of touches from players who played as well as Ahmad Bradshaw did this week.
Antonio Brown, Steelers
If you whine, apparently you get rewarded. Brown complained about his targets after only getting nine looks in Week 2. Anyway, he went off against the Bears this week with nine receptions for 196 yards and a pair of touchdowns in the first multi-touchdown game of his career. With the Steelers’ running game in shambles, Brown figures to get plenty of targets going forward.
Cecil Shorts, Jaguars
Speaking of targets… quick—who leads the league in them? It’s Shorts, with 40. Early-season fantasy production can be skewed by touchdowns, and sometimes that is fair, given the offense a player plays in. However, even though Shorts is stuck on a bad Jaguars team, he managed seven touchdowns in 14 games last season.
Josh Gordon, Browns
Back with a bang, Gordon had a whopping 19 targets this week against the Vikings, hauling in ten receptions for 146 yards and a score. He won’t get the Vikings’ porous secondary every week, nor will he likely have another 19 target game, but it’s nice to know he can be productive even when Brian Hoyer is under center.
Donnie Avery, Chiefs
Coming off a career year in 2012 with the Colts, Avery had his coming-out party as a Chief in Week 3, catching all seven of his targets for 141 yards. He showcased his blazing speed, a trait that seems to be absent from the Kansas City offense outside of Jamaal Charles.
Santonio Holmes, Jets
This one’s kind of like beating up on your little brother, but it’s worth noting that Holmes caught five passes for 154 yards and a score this week against the Bills. He’s not a player that anybody loves, but he could be useful as a WR3 the rest of the way, provided he can stay healthy and keep his head screwed on straight.
Nate Washington, Titans
Meets the Titans’ new No. 1 receiver with Kenny Britt now residing in the doghouse. Eight receptions for 131 yards this week.
Ryan Broyles and Patrick Edwards, Lions
Nate Burleson is out with a broken arm. Neither of these guys has done much, but opportunity is knocking.
Steve Smith, Panthers
With just 143 yards and one touchdown on 26 targets, could Father Time be catching up with the 34-year-old Smith? Get off this train before it rolls off the tracks.
Dwayne Bowe, Chiefs
Against a sad sack Eagles secondary, Bowe caught one of his three targets for four yards. Entering the season, there were two trains of thought on Bowe. Either he would thrive as a big receiver in Andy Reid’s West Coast offense or he would struggle with Captain Checkdown, Alex Smith, being under center and reluctant to pass the ball into tight areas. Looks like those who advocated for the latter were correct.
Michael Floyd, Cardinals
After putting up 82 yards in Week 1, Floyd got the hopes up of his owners, who were banking on a breakout season. Since then, he has caught seven of his 13 targets for 71 yards and looks much like the struggling rookie he was last season.
Jordan Cameron, Browns
Even with Brian Hoyer at quarterback, Cameron was lights out with 66 yards and three touchdowns on six receptions. I don’t own him but if somebody thinks he’s the next coming of Jimmy Graham, I’d be selling high. Note that one of his touchdowns came on a trick play (a fake field goal) and the Browns offense won’t get the sad sack Vikings defense every week.
Charles Clay, Dolphins
Clay didn’t do much this week (four receptions for 40 yards) but he is quietly emerging as a consistent threat in a solid Dolphins offense. He has caught 14 of his 19 targets on the season for a surprising 203 yards.
Kellen Winslow, Jets
The comeback was fun but short-lived. After a three-reception, 16-yard performance in Week 2, Winslow wasn’t even targeted this week. And you all know the state of the Jets’ group of wide receivers.
By: Dave Stringer — September 20, 2013 @ 3:38 pm
Our sympathies to Browns fans everywhere.
1. The big news of the week was the Browns trade of running back Trent Richardson, the 3rd overall selection in the 2012 draft, to the Indianapolis Colts for a 2014 1st round pick. First off, we should all send our condolences to long suffering Browns fans who have had to endure some of the worst football the NFL has to offer over the past 15 years. Now this. While the trade was amongst the worst the league has seen in decades (to be fair, there aren’t that many blockbusters in the NFL so the sample size is small and usually inconsequential), Browns management added insult to injury by claiming that they hadn’t given up on the 2013 season. Then they promptly announced that Brian Hoyer and not Jason Campbell would start for the injured Brandon Weeden at quarterback this week against the Vikings. Let’s be clear about what president Joe Banner, general manager Mike Lombardi, head coach Rob Chudzinski and offensive coordinator Norv Turner are telling Browns fans. Folks, we’re not only not good enough to develop Weeden, we’re also not smart enough to use a sure fire top 10 pick in this year’s draft as well as all of our other picks and additional 3rd and 4th round picks and our 2015 1st round pick to acquire a franchise signal caller in the 2014 draft. Of course, let’s not jump to the conclusion that Browns owner Jimmy Haslem ever considered that thought when he allowed his newly hired management and coaching staff to jettison Richardson. Or whether he considered that his new staff might just be buying themselves another year or two of employment by extending the rebuilding process. While the team’s local columnists and some national writers can justify this move as the team doing what is necessary to find a franchise quarterback in a passing league, don’t be fooled. The new brain trust has already proven they aren’t going to be up to the task of putting together a team that can contend. If their personnel evaluation concluded that the consensus top running back in the 2013 draft, a player the former regime felt the need to move up one spot to acquire, is worth a 1st round pick near the bottom of the 2014 draft, then Browns fans had better close their eyes not just for the balance of this season but for years to come.
2. Every year, teams make personnel decisions that give fantasy owners comfort to acquire those players in their drafts and auctions. And then they get burned. In Washington, the Redskins seem to have moved on from tight end Fred Davis even though they signed him to a one year contract worth up to $3.75-million. Davis was benched this week against the Packers and has been targeted just six times this season compared to nine targets for rookie 3rd round pick Jordan Reed. Other than very deep leagues, Davis is no longer worth owning.
3. With Ryan Broyles sitting out the first two weeks of the season, the assumption has been that the receiver is not fully recovered from the torn ACL that ended his 2013 season. However, Lions coach Jim Schwartz stated this week that health wasn’t the only reason Broyles hasn’t played. Patrick Edwards, another speedy second-year player, and Kris Durham have played the outside wide receiver position opposite Calvin Johnson with Nate Burleson operating out of the slot. Broyles will likely dress this week with Edwards likely out with an injured ankle and he needs to play well in order to earn back a spot on the active roster on game day.
4. If you’re desperate for help at running back, you might want to take a flyer out on Saints running back Pierre Thomas. While Darren Sproles has played well, the diminutive back has accumulated 27 touches in two games, putting him on pace to finish the season with 216 which would easily surpass his career high of 176. In addition, Mark Ingram has struggled with just 31 yards rushing on 17 carries as he continues to prove that the Saints erred in selecting him late in the 1st round of the 2011 draft. If Ingram continues to struggle and Sproles sees his touches reduced, Thomas will see his fantasy value rise. Over the balance of the season, the Saints face six run defenses that are ranked 21st or lower.
By: Dave Stringer — September 19, 2013 @ 8:25 am
Richardson changes uniforms and gets a nice fantasy value bump.
In one of the most shocking trades in the NFL in years, the Cleveland Browns have traded second year running back Trent Richardson to the Indianapolis Colts.
In return the Browns will receive the Colts 1st round pick in the 2014 draft.
Just one year and two games after using the 3rd overall selection in the 2012 draft to acquire Richardson, the Browns chose to go in a different direction as first year general manager Mike Lombardi continued his remake of the team’s roster. Richardson had quickly emerged as a team leader and the face of the franchise and trading him away so early in the 2013 season is not going to viewed favorably by the team’s rabid fan base.
In Indianapolis, the acquisition of Richardson solidifies a shaky backfield that lost second year player Vick Ballard, the team’s leading rusher as a rookie in 2012, to a season-ending knee injury prior to Week 2. The trade signifies that the team’s management is convinced that a run deep into the playoffs is possible just one year into Andrew Luck‘s reign as the team’s starting quarterback.
Reports indicate that the Browns will bring Willis McGahee to Cleveland for a physical. If signed, he will compete with Chris Ogbonnaya and Bobby Rainey to replace Richardson in the starting line-up.
The Colts entered the season envisioning a backfield led by Ahmad Bradshaw and Vick Ballard.
Two games into the season, it will be led by Richardson with Bradshaw in a supporting role.
Richardson proved to be a true workhorse back as a rookie in 2012, rushing for 950 yards and 11 touchdowns while catching 51 passes for 367 yards and another touchdown despite playing much of the season with injured ribs. Simply put, he has the talent to emerge as a top-five fantasy running back playing in a solid offense and this trade affords him that opportunity.
Assuming the Colts are in the hunt for a playoff spot at season’s end, they will have acquired a franchise running back for a late 1st round pick. Stunning.
In just a week, Bradshaw goes from being in a timeshare with Ballard, to a starter with little proven depth behind him, to a pure handcuff to Richardson. Fantasy owners that acquired him are left with little value just two weeks into the season.
In Cleveland, quarterback Brandon Weeden has been put on notice that anything short of a spectacular finish to the season will cost him his job. It’s also possible, and maybe even likely, that nothing can save Weeden’s job as the team’s starter. Look for the Browns to use their bevy of draft picks to acquire a quarterback in the 2014 draft.
At running back, McGahee is the odds on favorite to assume the starting job but it is fair to question how much he has left to give as he approaches his 32nd birthday. Although he rushed for 731 yards with four touchdowns in just 10 games with Denver last season, he suffered a season-ending knee injury and remained unsigned throughout the preseason. With the Browns offense struggling and having lost its most dynamic playmaker, McGahee rates as low end RB3 or high end RB4 over the balance of the season.
Of course, that is based on his holding off Ogbonnaya and Rainey. Ogbonnaya is a fifth year veteran journeyman will little upside while Rainey is a second year player who has yet to register a carry. The running back situation in Cleveland has very little upside.
By: Dave Stringer — September 17, 2013 @ 9:15 pm
Michael Vick, Eagles
Two games into the season, we can safely conclude that Vick has an opportunity to put together a career year in 2013. Provided he can stay healthy of course. With the Eagles taking their foot off the gas in Week 1, Vick amassed 29.6 fantasy points, and in Week 2 he put up 37.7 on 428 passing yards and a pair of touchdowns, as well as his second rushing touchdown of the season.
Rivers has 7 TD passes in 2 games.
Philip Rivers, Chargers
Rivers is protecting the football (one interception and no lost fumbles through two games) and elevating the play of his receivers, something that was missing from his game over the past couple of years. With seven touchdown passes and 614 passing yards in two games, Rivers has emerged as a low-end starter after two weeks. The schedule isn’t horrible, so this could be a situation where you can move your starter for help elsewhere and roll with Rivers.
Sam Bradford, Rams
This isn’t the St. Louis offense of yesteryear, dominated by Steven Jackson. The Rams are chucking it because of a subpar rushing attack, with Bradford second in the league in pass attempts. He has throw for 299 and 352 yards and multiple touchdowns (three and two, respectively) in each game. And the young weapons he has on offense will only get better as the season progresses.
Tom Brady, Patriots
I coach 8-year rep hockey, so I am well aware that what you start the season with isn’t what you finish it with. Unfortunately for Brady owners, they are going to have to endure more games like this week’s effort against the Jets, in which Brady completed 19 of 39 passes for 185 yards and one touchdown, before the light at the end of the tunnel gets brighter. Simply put, this is the worst collection of receivers that he has ever had to work with.
Josh Freeman, Buccaneers
Two games into his free-agent year, it appears that Freeman is destined to make this a “break it” year rather than a “make it” one. He was abysmal this week against the Saints, going 9 of 22 for 125 yards and a touchdown with one interception. He wasn’t much better in Week 1, and control freak head coach Greg Schiano isn’t going to waste much more time before he inserts rookie third-round pick Mike Glennon into the lineup.
Robert Griffin III, Redskins
Ugh. It was another ugly performance for RGIII this week, although he still managed to pad his fantasy stats with 320 passing yards and three touchdown passes. At 0-2 and with the season on the line, there is a small chance that head coach Mike Shanahan will put him on a short leash if the turnovers keeping coming (three interceptions so far in 2013). The truth of the matter is that RGIII hasn’t produced other than in garbage time.
James Starks, Packers
Starks came off the bench this week to become the first Packers player in 44 games to top 100-yards rushing. With Eddie Lacy out with a concussion, Starks had the finest game of his four-year career with 132 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries, while chipping in four receptions for 36 yards. He entered training camp fifth on the depth chart but pushed aside Alex Green (released) to keep his job. With rookie fourth-round pick Jonathan Franklin struggling, DuJuan Harris out for the year, and Lacy questionable for next week, Starks now sits atop the depth chart for a Packers offense that is humming. It’s worth mentioning that reports out of Green Bay in the preseason noted that Starks was having the best training camp of his career and that he looked like a different player.
Knowshon Moreno, Broncos
At this point, you can feel comfortable inserting Moreno into the starting lineup. He has outshined his two younger backups with 172 yards and a pair of touchdowns on 28 touches. There is simply no reason why the Broncos would give rookie second-round pick Montee Ball more touches in Week 3.
Fred Jackson, Bills
With FJax getting 33 touches over the first two weeks of the season, it looks like the plan to give C.J. Spiller the rock until he pukes isn’t going to be put in place. Jackson hasn’t even done a lot to warrant the work, averaging 3.9 yards per carry and 8.0 yards per reception, but his 11.1 PPG average looks pretty solid.
Joique Bell, Lions
Reggie Bush is having an MRI on his knee and Bell has made the most of his opportunities thus far in 2013, with 164 total yards and a pair of touchdowns on 24 touches.
Brandon Jacobs, Giants
Although he is destined for the bench when Andre Brown returns, Jacobs could prove useful for a few weeks. He had seven rushes this week, many of them as a short-yardage runner, scoring once. He even had a pass thrown his way, although the Giants presumably had the wrong personnel in the game on that play.
Jordan Todman, Jaguars
After a first-half ankle injury, Maurice Jones-Drew never returned. Rather than turn to Justin Forsett or Denard Robinson, the Jaguars inserted Todman, who carried five times. For seven yards. No, not pretty, but worth noting that he—not Forsett, as most expected—is MJD’s handcuff.
Arian Foster, Texans
I’m not pulling the plug yet because I think better days are ahead, but Arian is averaging 3.7 yards per carry against a pair of run defenses that aren’t exactly considered upper-tier.
Trent Richardson, Browns & DeMarco Murray, Cowboys
These guys aren’t chopped liver but the offensive lines they run behind sure are. Richardson is averaging 3.4 yards a pop while Murray is at 3.5. Let’s call these buy-low situations.
Mark Ingram, Saints
Stick a fork in this dude. He’s done. Unless the Saints offensive line becomes dominant, Ingram will never be a consistent fantasy producer. There is too much competition for touches in the Saints backfield and he just doesn’t deserve to get enough of them to make him fantasy relevant. This guy needs volume touches to put up decent numbers.
DeAndre Hopkins, Texans
With Andre Johnson out with a concussion, Hopkins hauled in the winning touchdown in the Texans overtime win over the Titans, finishing the day with seven receptions for 117 yards and the score. He was also instrumental on the Texans’ game-tying scoring drive in the fourth quarter with three receptions for 64 yards. It looks like Hopkins will get his in the Texans offense, but he will get even more if AJ is out for any length of time.
Eddie Royal, Chargers
Sometimes tone is important. You’re not here with me and these words are being typed, so let me spell it out for you: This is lukewarm endorsement. Sure, Royal has five touchdowns in two games and the Chargers passing offense looks surprisingly potent. But it won’t be a surprise if Royal doesn’t find the end zone over the rest of the season, since his five scores match his touchdowns production over the past four seasons combined.
Steve Johnson, Bills
Just in case anybody was doubting his fantasy relevance with rookie EJ Manuel at quarterback, Johnson has touchdowns in each of his first two games and topped 100 receiving yards this week.
Lance Moore, Saints
With four targets in each of his first two games (three receptions for 38 yards), Moore is starting to look like an afterthought in the Saints offense.
Vincent Brown, Chargers
Brown is averaging a respectable 5.0 PPG but that is padded by his Week 1 touchdown. With just six receptions on 11 targets for 39 yards, he has had a rather underwhelming start to a season in which he was considered a breakout candidate by many (not here, BTW—ahem).
Kenny Britt, Titans
After a one-reception, 15-yard performance in Week 1 in which he had only two targets, Britt was more involved in the Titans’ Week 2 matchup against the Texans. Unfortunately, he caught just four of his nine targets for 28 yards before getting benched.
Martellus Bennett, Bears
Bennett put together a career year last season in his first year with the Giants, despite playing through an early-season knee injury, and it looks like he will have another career year with another new team in 2013. Two games into his Bears career, Bennett is clearly a key cog in Chicago’s passing attack, with ten receptions for 125 yards and three touchdowns. He appears headed for mid-tier TE1 status.
Fred Davis, Redskins
Two games into the year, Davis has been targeted just six times compared to nine for rookie third-round pick Jordan Reed. While Reed has shown little playmaking ability, averaging 7.0 yards per reception, it appears there is a changing of the guard occurring at the tight end position in Washington.
Brandon Pettigrew, Lions
After a two-reception, six-yard performance in Week 1, Pettigrew was marginally better this week against the Cardinals, catching three of his six targets for 32 yards. After watching Rams tight end Jared Cook scorch the Cardinals safeties in Week 1, Pettigrew owners were hoping for more. Unfortunately, with the addition of Reggie Bush, his role in the Lions offense appears to have been marginalized.
By: Dave Stringer — September 14, 2013 @ 6:04 am
1. With news that Vick Ballard is out for the year with a torn ACL, fantasy owners will be heading to the waiver wire to add the previously forgotten Donald Brown. With Ahmad Bradshaw not yet ready to handle a heavy workload (and perhaps not ever), Brown figures to get 10-12 touches this week against the Dolphins. However, it won’t be a surprise if the Colts add a veteran running back to the roster since they were only carrying three players at the position. With Bradshaw’s health always in question and the inconsistent Brown not being relied upon, Indianapolis is likely to add veteran insurance at the position rather than a young street free agent.
2. In Atlanta, news broke after the Falcons Week 1 loss to the Saints that wide receiver Roddy White was suffering from a high ankle sprain. Fantasy owners weren’t likely expecting that little tidbit to surface and more than a few likely posted a loss due to White’s meagre stat line of two receptions for 19 yards. Since White isn’t practising this week, he will likely be a game time decision for Atlanta’s Week 2 home game against the Rams. Even if White goes, he will likely be used as a decoy once again since St. Louis has two solid corners in Cortland Finnegan and Janoris Jenkins. That makes diminutive slot receiver Harry Douglas a sneaky play in Week 2 and maybe longer. He is coming off a four-reception, 93-yard performance in Week 1.
3. Down in Dallas, Dez Bryant suffered a sprained foot late in the Cowboys Week 1 win over the Giants. With Bryant limited in practice this week, there is a chance he won’t get a full workload this Sunday against the Chiefs. With the Giants relegating his targets through the use of double teams, look for Tony Romo to make full use of Miles Austin and Jason Witten this week. There is also an outside chance that rookie 3rd round pick Terrance Williams could see his usage increased. Unfortunately for Williams, he displayed shaky hands and poor route running in Week 1. The Cowboys are high on him, however, so Dwayne Harris seems unlikely to supplant Williams, at least not so early in the season. If Bryant’s injury lingers, Williams could be worth an add in deeper leagues.
4. In St. Louis, Isaiah Pead returns to the line-up this week after serving a one-game suspension. While the Rams quickly installed him at number two on the depth chart ahead of rookie 5th round pick Zac Stacy, all indications are that Daryl Richardson has a stranglehold on the starting position. With St. Louis basing their offensive philosophy on having as much speed as possible at the skill positions, Richardson is a better fit than Pead, who displayed little playmaking ability as a rookie despite being taken in the 2nd round of the draft. While Richardson wasn’t stellar in the team’s Week 1 win over the Cardinals, he displayed plenty of speed in open space and a willingness to get the tough yards between the tackles.
5. After Geno Smith’s three interception performance in the Jets Thursday night loss to the Patriots and his uneven performance during the preseason, there is little wonder why former starter Mark Sanchez is delaying having surgery on the torn labrum in his throwing shoulder. While the Jets appear to be committed to Smith and he was reasonably solid in their Week 1 win over the Bucs, it is also abundantly clear that he is not currently an NFL calibre starting quarterback. Sanchez deserves kudos for sticking out to help the maturation process of the player that took his job, rather than mailing it in by having season-ending surgery, even though his career in New York will almost certainly end following the season. At just 26 years of age, Sanchez will have an opportunity to resurrect his career elsewhere in 2014 and it won’t be a huge shocker if that happens. His career floundered in New York as the quality of the players at the Jets skill positions decreased over the past few seasons.
6. Sticking with the Jets, it seems only a matter of time before Chris Ivory supplants Bilal Powell in the team’s starting line-up. While Powell has some shiftiness and is clearly a superior receiver, he can’t match Ivory’s explosiveness as a runner. Ivory is clearly a faster, more powerful runner and would appear to be exactly the type of threat the team needs to help open things up in the passing game. Look for Ivory to get more extensive work beginning in Week 3 against a Bills defense that has played poorly against the run for the past several seasons.
7. After a strong preseason, Christine Michael failed to get a single touch during the Seahawks Week 1 win over the Panthers. With Marshawn Lynch getting the early down work and Robert Turbin playing on passing downs, Michael was persona non grata in the Seattle game plan. While his inability to supplant Turbin as a receiving option isn’t a surprise and removes any chance of him being a solid flex option, Michael is likely the handcuff to own in the Seattle backfield. If Lynch were to go down, Michael would likely step into the role as the team’s early down back although he would not be likely to receive as many touches.
By: Dave Stringer — September 10, 2013 @ 6:02 pm
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Manning is making his case for the top fantasy QB in 2013.
Peyton Manning, Broncos
The Broncos’ talent at the skill positions is just ridiculous, and with Manning orchestrating it, Denver has a good shot to have the most potent offense in the league in 2013. With tight end Julius Thomas emerging as a weapon, Manning threw for 462 yards and a career-high seven touchdown passes in Week 1. This isn’t a sell-high option. It’s a sit-back-and-enjoy-the-show scenario.
Colin Kaepernick, 49ers
Kaepernick shed any concerns that he would struggle without his top wide receiver in Michael Crabtree, topping 400 yards for the first time in his career (he topped 300 yards only once previously, in last year’s Super Bowl loss to the Ravens) while throwing for three touchdowns. This cat is ready to join the elite fantasy QBs in the league.
Terrelle Pryor, Raiders & Geno Smith, Jets
Giving you a heads up that these guys weren’t as bad as advertised and they have some hope of emerging as decent QB2s in 2013. That’s more than we thought a week ago.
Blaine Gabbert, Jaguars
Can somebody please put this man out of his misery? And end the misery of the Jaguars fans who have to watch him. Totaling just 121 yards on 35 pass attempts (3.5 yards per attempt) is pathetic.
Brandon Weeden, Browns
Weeden showed some promise in the preseason but he reverted to form in Week 1, holding on to the ball too long (six sacks) and making poor decisions (three picks). The truth is that Weeden absolutely has to be surrounded by solid talent, and he is guaranteed to struggle until Josh Gordon returns in Week 3.
Reggie Bush, Lions
I was all in on Bush even as his ADP grew during the preseason, and he didn’t disappoint in Week 1 with 191 total yards and a touchdown. He also had another score overturned. With the Vikings defense focused on shutting down Calvin Johnson, Bush had space to do his thing and he seems a perfect fit in Detroit. If only we could guarantee full health for 16 games.
Joique Bell, Lions
Meet Reggie Bush’s real handcuff and a guy who totaled 92 yards and a pair of touchdowns in Week 1. Mikel Leshoure owners can now safely move on.
LeSean McCoy, Eagles
After McCoy’s 32-touch, 189-yard, one-touchdown performance, we can put to rest any concerns about Chip Kelly’s offense being a success in the NFL and the impact Bryce Brown would have on Shady’s touches.
LeGarrette Blount, Patriots
Stevan Ridley was benched for bumbling (er, fumbling) and Shane Vereen is apparently out with a broken wrist. Blount looked very ordinary against the Bills this week (seven carries, 15 yards) but he just might be in the starting lineup in Week 2. I’m not calling it, but there is a chance.
David Wilson, Giants
The worst nightmare for Wilson owners came to fruition on Sunday night as he managed to lose two fumbles on his first seven carries, finding himself nailed to the bench. The Giants haven’t given up on him but that’s because they don’t have any other viable options. That is, until they sign one, which seems likely.
Lamar Miller, Dolphins
Another preseason breakout candidate flopped big time in Week 1 with Miller being limited to just three yards on 10 carries. No, that’s not a typo.
Montee Ball, Broncos
Dude’s going to get his turn at some point in his rookie season, but it looks like it’s going to be later than most of us expected. Even with Knowshon Moreno looking clearly average in a blowout win, Ball had only eight carries.
Shane Vereen, Patriots
Yet another blow to the Pats offense as Vereen (wrist surgery) has been placed on the IR / designated for return list which means he’s going to miss eight weeks. Given the Patriots have a bye in Week 10, he’s not likely to see the field until Week 11. It’s a shame as Vereen was one of two running backs (LeSean McCoy) to top the 100-yard rushing mark in Week 1.
Anquan Boldin, 49ers
Boldin led all receivers this week in targets (17), receptions (13) and yards (208). We all knew he was going to have a major role in the 49ers offense this season, but his output in Week 1 was ridiculous. Apparently he has something to prove to the Ravens, who shed his $6-million salary in exchange for a sixth-round pick. An angry Boldin is not a man to be messed with. Ask the Packers’ defensive backs.
Julian Edelman, Patriots
Turns out Edelman, not one of their prized (joking!) rookies, is the Patriots second best fantasy WR. He hauled in seven of his nine targets for 79 yards and a pair of scores. And with Danny Amendola nicked up after Week 1, Edelman has a shot to emerge as their leading receiver, at least until Rob Gronkowski returns.
Leonard Hankerson, Redskins
Could the light finally stay on for the Redskins’ 2011 third-round pick? Hankerson has plenty of talent but has been a tease during his first two years in the league. With the Redskins playing from behind this week, he managed five receptions for 80 yards and a pair of scores. Washington values Josh Morgan for his blocking but there is a decent chance Hankerson supplants him as a starter early in 2013.
Brian Hartline, Dolphins
I was ready to write him off as a fantasy backup, but Mike Wallace’s pout job and Hartline’s nine-reception (15 targets), 114-yard, one-touchdown performance puts him back on the map as a viable WR3 in 12-team leagues.
Jerome Simpson, Vikings
Seven receptions on eight targets for 140 yards. Just saying.
Marlon Brown, Ravens
Jacoby Jones is going to miss some times, the Ravens tight ends were awful and Torrey Smith just isn’t a target hog. Meet Marlon Brown, a 6’5”, 216-pound undrafted rookie free agent who had four receptions for 65 yards and a score this week against the Broncos. Sleeper? Or, sleeper no more?
Mike Wallace, Dolphins
Losah!!!!!!!!!!!! Whining and needing to be escorted off the field by the general manager that signed you to a five-year, $60-million contract after your new team won its first game of the year. Clueless.
Roddy White, Falcons
There were whispers late in the preseason that White’s ankle injury was worse than the Falcons were revealing, and his use as a decoy in Week 1 (two receptions, 19 yards) confirmed it. And then he totally let the cat of the bag by confirming that he has a high ankle sprain.
Kenbrell Thompkins, Patriots
The Patriots’ undrafted rookie free agent had the fourth most targets among wide receivers this week, but he hauled in just four receptions for 42 yards, blew a couple of routes and eased up on a throw to the end zone. Some guys need shades when the lights come on.
Jared Cook, Rams
The Rams signed Cook to a massive contract this offseason and they had no intention of underutilizing him the way the Titans did during his first four years in the league. With Patrick Peterson taking away Chris Givens and with Yeremiah Bell ill-equipped to handle him, Cook caught seven passes for 141 yards and two touchdowns. Unfortunately, he was stripped just before hitting the end zone on another play or he would have had another score. Cook is clearly poised to have a breakout season in St. Louis.
Julius Thomas, Broncos
Another athletic tight end arrived on the scene in Denver, where Thomas, a barely used 2011 fourth-round pick, had a career day with five receptions for 110 yards and a pair of scores. His performance reminded me of Dante Rosario’s three-touchdown opening day a number of years back, but Thomas looks like he will have more staying power. With all of the options in Denver, defenses will have to pick their poison, and Thomas isn’t a player than many linebackers and safeties will be able to handle.
Jordan Cameron, Browns; Kellen Winslow, Jets; Brandon Myers, Giants
Does it seem like it was the week of the tight end? All of these players had plenty of catches and plenty of targets, plus they found the end zone.
Ed Dickson, Ravens
It seems like I pile on Dickson early every year, so I might as well get it out of my system in 2013. With Dennis Pitta out long term, Dickson has an opportunity to earn a big role this season, but things started out poorly in Week 1 as he hauled in just one of his five targets for 13 yards. The four targets he failed to bring in were all catchable balls. Meanwhile, recently signed backup Dallas Clark caught seven of his 12 targets for 87 yards, although he failed to haul in an easy touchdown catch.
Zach Sudfeld, Patriots
Preseason starlet. Week 1 dud.
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