Fantasy Football Strategy, Advice, and Commentary
By: Dave Stringer — October 23, 2012 @ 10:15 am
Josh Freeman, Buccaneers
Has the light finally come on for the Bucs 2009 1st round pick? Freeman lit up the Saints this week, throwing for a career-high 420 yards and three touchdowns. Freeman now has two consecutive 300-yard performances after posting just three such performances over the first 45 games of his career. Over the past three weeks, the Bucs signal caller has thrown for 1,047 yards and seven touchdowns.
Matthew Stafford, Lions
It’s been an ugly start to the season for Stafford and now he will be without Nate Burleson for the rest of the season due to a broken leg. After throwing for 5,038 yards and 41 touchdowns in 2011, Stafford is on pace to finish 2012 with 4,677 yards and just 13 touchdown passes. This might be a buy low opportunity but it’s not a great one since the Lions face six passing defenses ranked 11th or better over the next nine weeks.
Jennings will get a heavy workload over the next few weeks.
Rashad Jennings, Jaguars
Jennings isn’t chopped liver as a running back and he proved it this week, subbing in for an injured Maurice Jones-Drew and gaining 102 yards and a score on 28 touches. With MJD likely out for an extended period with a foot injury, Jennings is in line for a major workload over the next few weeks.
Chris Johnson, Titans
Look who is back. Finally. Johnson torched a sad sack Bills run defense for 195 yards and a pair of scores this week, bringing his two-week total to 312 total yards. His performance gives Johnson three double digit point performances in his last four weeks and a reasonable schedule makes him a low end RB1 the rest of the way.
Jamie Harper, Titans
It’s official. Harper is the Titans goal line back and that seems unlikely to change given his performance over the last two games which includes three touchdowns (two this week against the Bills). That makes him decent flex material against soft run defenses.
LaRod Stephens-Howling, Cardinals
In the “so what” category, I present LaRod Stephens-Howling. He had his first 100-yard rushing game this week, with 104 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries, and also chipped in 45 yards on four receptions. Grab him if you are absolutely desperate but keep in mind that he needs a favorable matchup in a game the Cardinals coaches think he gives him the best chance to win over William Powell or Alfonso Smith. It’s likely Stephens-Howling had his first and last game with 100 rushing yards.
Jonathan Dwyer, Steelers
Dwyer proved this week that he can produce when healthy and if given enough touches, putting together the best game of his three-year career (122 yards on 17 carries). If Rashard Mendenhall and Isaac Redman can’t go again this week, Dwyer is startable in a home game against the Redskins.
Alex Green, Packers
Stringer – 2, Comment Board – 0. Take that! Two weeks ago, I took it for not having Antonio Gates Moving Down and then he then went out and had 81 yards and a pair of scores. Last week, I got a pile of hate for having Green Moving Down after his 22 carry, 65-yard performance against the Texans. This week, Green was even worse, carrying 20 times for 35 yards against the Rams and gaining 29 receiving yards. The fact is that if you take away his one solid run this season, he is averaging 2.2 yards per carry. At some point the Packers are going to explore their other running back options.
Felix Jones, Cowboys
If Andre Brown can roll all over the Panthers so can Jones. At least, that was the line of thought for much the entire fantasy community entering this weekend. But what we all forgot was that Felix is Felix and so he laid an egg against a Charmin soft Panthers run defense, gaining 44 yards on 15 carries and failing to find the end zone. Speaking of the end zone, Jones has found himself there twice in his last 21 games, four times in his last three seasons and just ten times during his four and a half years in the league.
DeAngelo Williams, Panthers
Two touches this week, folks. Hard to be a useful fantasy starter when that happens. Looks like Williams is out of favor but I would hold onto him until the trade deadline passes. If he isn’t moved then he isn’t worth owning.
Randall Cobb, Packers
Cobb has become a bit of a target machine in Green Bay with 18 over his last two games and 30 over the past four weeks. And he’s producing with 26 receptions for 339 yards and three touchdowns during that stretch. Coming off a career best performance against the Rams (eight receptions for 89 yards and a pair of scores), Cobb shapes up as a low end WR2 until Greg Jennings returns to the lineup.
Chris Givens, Rams
Givens is clearly the Rams big play guy at receiver, with a pass play of at least 50 yards in four straight games. With Danny Amendola out and rookie 2nd round pick Brian Quick out of favor, Givens has emerged with eight receptions for 261 yards and a touchdown over his last four games. He should be line for more targets (just 20 in those four games) and hopefully an uptick in his fantasy production.
Santana Moss, Redskins
There are conflicting reports out of Washington as to whether Pierre Garcon has torn tendons in his foot but one thing is clear – this injury isn’t going to heal without rest. That should mean more targets for Moss who is coming off his best game of the year, a three-reception, 67-yard, two-touchdown performance against the Giants. That gives him 193 yards and three scores over his past three games.
Vincent Jackson, Buccaneers
I had him here last week but let’s give it to him two weeks in a row after seven receptions, 216 yards, one touchdown… a one man demolition of the Saints secondary despite playing with a calf injury that cost him a touchdown.
Titus Young and Ryan Broyles, Lions
Neither of these former 2nd round picks has done much this year but with Nate Burleson out with a broken leg, they figure to be in line for more targets going forward. Your guess is as good as mine as to whether they will do anything with them. If you need to pick one, go with Young.
Torrey Smith, Ravens
After playing at a high level for the first four games of the year, Smith has leveled off with just nine receptions for 103 yards over this past three games. A touchdown in Week 6 was a bit of a saving grace but he saw just four targets in Weeks 5 and 6 and caught just four of his 13 targets in Week 7.
Brandon Lloyd, Patriots
Lloyd struggled in Week 7 against the Jets, catching just one of eight targets for six yards and missing a couple of catchable balls. That gives him just ten receptions for 120 yards on 25 targets over the past three weeks.
Dustin Keller, Jets
Finally healthy, Keller hauled in all seven of his targets this week against the Patriots for 93 yards and a touchdown. With Santonio Holmes out for the season and only Jeremy Kerley a consistently productive target at wide receiver, Keller could be in line for plenty of targets and production as the season enters its second half.
Logan Paulsen, Redskins
The Redskins re-signed Chris Cooley after starter Fred David was lost to an Achilles injury this week. However, Paulsen might end up getting most of the receiving work and he looked good in relief of Davis, catching four passes for 76 yards.
Scott Chandler, Bills
Chandler has gone cold over the past three weeks, catching just seven passes for 59 yards and failing to find the end zone. With four scores in his first four games, Chandler was shaping up as a solid TE2 but he is Moving Down this week after a two-reception, 15-yard performance against a suspect Titans secondary.
By: Dave Stringer — October 19, 2012 @ 12:26 pm
1. In Philadelphia, the team’s fans are growing increasingly frustrated with the turnover play of quarterback Michael Vick. With the Eagles having a Week 7 bye and head coach Andy Reid providing Vick with an lukewarm endorsement as his starting quarterback, speculation has mounted that Reid could make the switch to rookie 3rd round pick Nick Foles. However, there are several reasons why that is unlikely to happen. First off, Reid appears to have been put on notice by owner Jeffrey Lurie that he needs to make the playoffs in order to secure his job for the 2013 season. With the Eagles sitting at 3-3 and just one game back of the New York Giants in the NFC East, Philadelphia remains in contention to win the division crown and switching to a rookie quarterback does not give the team the best chance of securing a playoff spot. Second, Reid has no assurances that Foles is ready to take over in the starting lineup since he has yet to throw a pass in the NFL. Finally, while Vick’s turnovers have been the team’s biggest issue, not far behind is the play of the team’s offensive line, which is missing two starters in Pro Bowl left tackle Jason Peters and center Jason Kelce. If Vick continues to struggle, look for both he and Reid to be looking for new employers in 2013, making Foles a solid add in deep dynasty leagues.
2. If you are a Michael Turner owner, it might time to sell high on the Falcons starting running back. While he is coming off a poor performance in Week 6 against the Raiders (11 carries for 33 yards and a reception for six yards), a closer look reveals that Turner’s 15th ranking at running back is more than a tad misleading. The Falcons have their bye in Week 7 which will push Turner down the rankings but it is also worth noting that of his 67.4 fantasy points, 13.7 have come in the passing game and that trend is unlikely to continue. In addition, after having had 15 games with 20 or more carries over the past two seasons, Turner has yet to hit that mark in 2012. While the Falcons upcoming schedule is appealing, that doesn’t mean as much considering Turner’s lack of carries in the running game.
3. Giants running back Ahmad Bradshaw has been the hottest running back in the league over the past two weeks, torching the Browns in Week 5 for 229 total yards and a touchdown and following that up with a 120 total yard, one touchdown performance against a stout 49ers defense. Of course, the injury prone Bradshaw has missed practice time this week with a foot injury. With Andre Brown just returning from a concussion and rookie 1st round pick David Wilson having displayed solid playmaking ability over the last two games with nine carries for 79 yards and a touchdown, the common assumption seems to be that Wilson is the back to own as Bradshaw’s handcuff. Not so fast. With Bradshaw missing practice, Brown took 1st team reps ahead of Wilson and would likely start in the event Bradshaw were to miss time.
4. In Oakland, it appears that the Raiders new management has begun the process of parting ways with starting middle linebacker Rolando McClain. Taken with the 8th pick in the 2010 draft, McClain was expected to become a dominant playmaker in the middle of the Raiders defense but that has failed to materialize. While McClain is a big hitter, he has had numerous off the field issues and has not proven to be a solid player in coverage. Rookie 4th round pick Miles Burris has taken over for McClain on obvious passing downs and the Raiders are not going to pay McClain his current salary ($9-million over the 2013 and 2014 seasons) to be a part time player.
5. Sticking with the Raiders, Carson Palmer has had a decent start to the season, throwing for 1,434 yards but just six touchdowns in Oakland’s first five games. That production has him as the 17th ranked quarterback on a FPts/G basis but better things might be on the horizon. Palmer played the first game of the season without Denarius Moore, was without Darrius Heyward-Bey for one game and part of another and Jacoby Ford, the team’s third wide receiver, was placed on season ending injured reserve without catching a single pass. In addition, running back Darren McFadden has struggled to adapt to the team’s new zone blocking scheme. However, the Raiders upcoming schedule is favorable with matchups against the Jaguars (21st ranked pass defense), Chiefs (12th), Buccaneers (31st), Ravens (22nd), Saints (28th), Bengals (15th) and Browns (30th). With both starting wide receivers in the lineup and a productive McFadden, Palmer’s prospects are looking up. Consider this a buying opportunity.
6. Super deep league flyer tip. The Chargers have announced they are going to sign former Ram Danario Alexander. Alexanader failed to make the St. Louis out of training camp due to a hamstring injury but he is exactly the type of big bodied, speed receiver that the Chargers like and that quarterback Philip Rivers likes to throw to. Given Robert Meachem’s lack of success in his first season in San Diego and Malcom Floyd’s inability to stay healthy, Alexander may end up seeing the field at some point in 2012. When healthy with the Rams, he was productive.
7. With the Ravens defense a hurting mess, it might be time to invest in quarterback Joe Flacco. Baltimore has clearly made the attempt to become a more dynamic offense in 2012 with middling success along the way. However, since the defense was clearly in decline even with linebacker Ray Lewis and cornerback Lardarius Webb healthy, their absence will only make matters worse and should cause the offense to open up even more. Flacco was already on pace to finish the season with over 4,500 passing yards (which would be a career high) and 21 touchdowns so he could emerge as a low end QB1 if the defense continues to struggle as is expected.
By: Dave Stringer — October 16, 2012 @ 1:07 pm
Aaron Rodgers, Packers
The King is Back! Long Live the King! After three subpar performances (for him) to start the season, Rodgers has been back to his 2011 self over the Packers last three games, throwing for 900 yards, rushing for 87 more and tossing 13 touchdowns. In Week 6, he demolished the league’s best defense, torching the Texans for 338 yards and six touchdown passes. If Greg Jennings gets healthy, look out.
Kevin Kolb, Cardinals
No real Moving Down trends at quarterback this week so Kolb gets the nod after injuring his ribs against the Bills. Playing behind the league’s worst offensive line, it was only a matter of time before Kolb went down. While backup John Skelton was horrendous in replacing him, there are no guarantees Kolb will be available this week at Minnesota.
William Powell, Arizona
Powell’s the man in Arizona after LaRod Stephens-Howling’s first quarter flop against the Bills. He played decently enough, totaling 70 yards on 13 carries and catching one pass for eight yards. However, being the lead back in an offense possibly led by John Skelton isn’t exactly a winning fantasy proposal, especially against a solid Vikings defense this week.
It's time to sell Shonn Greene
Shonn Greene, Jets
Greene was the leading fantasy rusher in Week 6, posting career highs in rushing yards with 161 and touchdowns with three against a clearly overmatched Colts run defense. Has he finally turned the corner? Nah. This is a sell high, folks, all the way. The 100-yard performance was just his 4th in 47 games and Greene puts up one or two solid performances to tease us every year (33.3% of his 2011 fantasy production came in two games). Up next are the Patriots (6th ranked run defense), Dolphins (5th), a bye and then the Seahawks (2nd).
Ahmad Bradshaw, Giants
Torching the Browns for 200 rushing yards, 29 receiving yards and a touchdown was impressive but you could easily make the argument that getting 116 yards and a touchdown on the ground in a road game against the 49ers is more impressive.
Felix Jones, Cowboys
With DeMarco Murray going down with a foot sprain, Jones received his most extended playing time of the season, carrying the rock 18 times for 92 yards and a touchdown. Essentially persona non grata for the first four games of the season (nine total touches on offense), Jones will move into the starting lineup if Murray misses extended time and has proven to be an explosive runner during short spans of games. He rates as a mid-tier to high-end RB2 over the next several weeks if Murray is out, courtesy of a schedule that features the Panthers (23rd ranked run defense), Giants (16th), Falcons (27th), Eagles (15th) and Browns (25th).
Jahvid Best, Lions
Detroit management released a statement yesterday that Best is still not cleared to play after suffering a concussion during Week 6 of last season, exactly one year ago to the day. While the statement left open the possibility of his return later in the season, it seems clear that a 2012 return isn’t in the cards and Best’s career is likely over. Unfortunate, given his dynamic playmaking ability and short time in the league.
Adrian Peterson, Vikings
While Peterson has been solid and is on pace to finish the season with over 1,300 rushing yards and just under 1,700 total yards, the touchdowns just aren’t coming. After a pair of scores during the Vikings opening week win over the Jaguars, AP has failed to find the end zone and is on pace to finish the season with a career-low five touchdowns (his previous low was 10 during his sophomore season in 2008).
Alex Green, Packers
The good: the Packers gave him a whopping 22 carries, a rare occurrence in their offense. The bad: Green didn’t pretty much nothing, looking entirely pedestrian in gaining 65 yards, just under three yards a pop. That opens the door a crack for James Stark beginning with this week’s game against the Rams.
Mike Williams, Bucs
After a disappointing performance in his sophomore year, Williams has been decent in 2012 but has really clicked with quarterback Josh Freeman in the Bucs last two games despite being targeted just 14 times. He topped 100 yards in each game (for the 2nd and 3rd time in his career and first time since Week 8 of his rookie season in 2009), catching one touchdown pass.
Wes Welker, Patriots
Welker is certainly doing his best to make the Patriots brain trust of head coach Bill Belichick and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels look like fools for playing Julian Edelman ahead of him for the first two and half games of the season. Over his past five games, Welker has totaled 608 receiving yards and scored two touchdowns (one each in Weeks 5 and 6). Even with tight end Aaron Hernandez back in the lineup, Welker was targeted 14 times against Seattle, giving him 61 over his past five games.
Denarius Moore, Raiders
With 35 targets in his four games, Moore is clearly the Raiders leading receiver and he is coming off his best performance of the season, catching five passes for 104 yards and a score against the Falcons. With the Raiders up and down, there will be plenty of garbage time points in Oakland’s offense and Moore figures to lap up much of that.
Vincent Jackson, Buccaneers
Vjax is a target machine in the Bucs offense, on pace to finish with a career-high 147 in that category. He’s also on pace to finish the season with 1,184 and 13 touchdowns, which would also be career-highs. With his 66-yard, two-touchdown performance this week against the Chiefs, Jackson has 166 yards and three touchdowns over his past two games.
Pierre Garcon, Redskins
Garcon put up a pair of dud performances (44 yards in total) after his return from a injury suffered in Week 1 and was declared inactive this week with an inflamed foot. Few thought he would emerge as a truly leading wide receiver for the Redskins but that was expected to be performance based. Looks like it will be caused by injury instead, since he looked solid in his only healthy game this season. Buy low and hope for health, folks.
Brian Hartline, Dolphins
Zero catches on zero targets for a big fat O-fer. Hartline is the epitome of a mid-level player playing in a role he is ill-suited for as the Dolphins leading receiver. The Rams completely shut him down and you can expect that to happen several more times this season.
Greg Little, Browns
This guy’s talented but he has hands of stone and the Browns seem to have moved on to using Josh Gordon as their leading wide receiver. Little has just seven targets in his last two games, catching three passes for 18 yards (all this week). If there is a Browns wide receiver to own, it is Gordon.
Antonio Gates, Chargers
Looks like San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers has remembered who butters his bread. Gates was targeted a season-high 10 times this week against the Broncos, catching six passes for 81 yards and his first two touchdowns of the season. His performance should put his naysayers to bed as he looked like solid, if not exactly like the Gates of years gone by.
Dennis Pitta, Ravens
Pitta’s promising start to the season seems like a long time ago. After three solid games in which he caught 18 passes for 188 yards and a pair of scores, Pitta has gone stone cold. He put up an O-fer in Week 4 and has followed that up with 22 and 33-yard performances. The reason? Opportunity. He averaged over ten targets a game for the first three weeks of the season but just 3.7 over the last three weeks.
By: Dave Stringer — October 12, 2012 @ 3:56 pm
Are the Shanahanigans over?
1. It looks like the running back carousel in Washington js over with rookie sixth-round pick Alfred Morris having laid claim to the starting position and unlikely to relinquish it barring injury. With his 115-yard rushing performance this week against the Falcons, Morris became just the second rookie in NFL history to rush for at least 75 yards in his first five games in the league. With 491 rushing yards to go along with four touchdowns, Morris is currently the 6th ranked fantasy running back. While he is unlikely to attain that lofty ranking by season’s end due to his lack of ability as a receiver (just two receptions for 16 yards) and the likelihood the Redskins will be trailing in at least a few games this season, his fantasy owners have been rewarded by a solid performance from a Mike Shanahan coached running back, a situation that hasn’t occurred much in recent seasons. And that’s unlikely to change with 2nd year player Evan Royster and veteran journeyman Ryan Grant in reserve.
2. With Donald Brown out two to three weeks with a knee injury, rookie 5th round pick Vick Ballard will take over in the starting lineup with Delone Carter and Mewelde Moore spelling him. While Brown has been a decent fantasy producer over the first four weeks of the season, a closer look reveals that his production is mostly volume based as he has averaged just 4.0 yards per carry and caught three passes for 47 yards. Given that the Colts have spent plenty of time playing from behind against soft defenses, his production this season and poor performance during the first three years in the league hardly ensures that he will get his starting job back if Ballard or Carter performs well. Both Brown and Carter were inherited from the previous regime making it likely that Ballard will be given an opportunity to win the job outright. His production thus far in his rookie season has been underwhelming (21 carries for 42 yards and one reception for four yards) but he is definitely worth taking a flier on if you are in need of help at running back.
3. With Matt Cassel out with a concussion this week, Brady Quinn will take over in the Chiefs staring lineup at quarterback. Cassel owners likely weren’t using him as a starting quarterback so Quinn will only end up on rosters in leagues that have 14 to 16 teams but his presence will have an impact on the Chiefs other skill position players. And that impact is most likely to be negative. While it is hard to believe that Quinn, the 22nd pick in the 2007 draft, has only started 12 career games, what is harder to believe is how unbelievably bad he has been in those games, averaging 154 passing yards with ten touchdown passes and nine interceptions. Look for opposing defenses to stack the box to stop running back Jamaal Charles, forcing the Chiefs to open up the passing game. Wide receiver Dwayne Bowe has had a hot start to the season and is on pace to finish the year with a career-high 1,286 receiving yards and ten touchdowns but a long stay in the starting lineup for Quinn is likely to result in a decrease in his production.
4. Last week’s Cardinals-Rams matchup may have featured the worse group of starting offensive tackles in a game in decades with the Cardinals lining up D’Anthony Batiste (cut by five teams) and rookie 4th round pick Bobby Massie and the Rams countering with Wayne Hunter and Barry Richardson. Of course, this week’s Cardinals-Bills matchup will come close to topping that with the Bills starting rookie 2nd round pick Cordy Glenn, who has been decent, and veteran journeyman Erik Pears. The Rams accounted for eight sacks last week with most of the pressure being applied by defensive ends Robert Quinn and Chris Long so if the Bills prized free agent acquisition Mario Williams doesn’t get it going this week, it might be time to purge him from your IDP roster. Williams has failed to record a sack in four of five games thus far in 2012.
5. Sticking with the Cardinals, wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald is once again putting together a solid season with 30 receptions for 337 yards and a pair of touchdowns during Arizona’s first five games despite another season of poor quarterback play in the desert. With 9,953 career receiving yards, Fitzgerald is just 47 yards shy of the 10,000 mark and with Buffalo, the team’s Week 6 opponent, having surrendered over 1,200 totals yards in its last two games, it seems a good bet he will reach that milestone this weekend.
6. Recently signed by the Dolphins, Jabar Gaffney figures to make his season debut this week against the Rams. Coming off a career year in 2011 with the Redskins in which he caught 68 passes for 947 yards and five touchdowns, Gaffney signed this offseason with New England only to be released in training camp. With a depth chart that basically goes two deep with Brian Hartline and Davone Bess, Gaffney is likely to earn a significant role early in his tenure with the Dolphins. Rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill, the team’s 1st round pick in this year’s draft, has played reasonably well after his Week 1 debacle against the Texans so Gaffney may emerge as a decent addition in deeper fantasy leagues.
7. With a pair of touchdown receptions this week against the Giants, Browns rookie receiver Josh Gordon became the first Cleveland receiver to score multiple touchdowns in a game since Braylon Edwards accomplished the feat late in the 2007 season. With Greg Little failing to nail down the lead receiving job due to his poor hands, look for the Browns to utilize Gordon in the coming weeks. With Little struggling, it seems likely the Browns will either bench him when Mohamed Massaquoi returns from the hamstring injury he suffered in Week 3 against the Bills or have the two players split time opposite Gordon.
By: Dave Stringer — October 9, 2012 @ 1:42 pm
Andrew Luck, Colts
Move over Aaron Rodgers, there’s a new sheriff in town. Well, maybe not but there was for one day at least. Luck proved he is no ordinary rookie with a come from behind win over the Packers. He completed 31 of 55 passes for a career-high 362 yards and a pair of touchdowns – his third consecutive game with two touchdown passes.
Brandon Weeden, Browns
Another rookie who is playing well is Weeden. If your league doesn’t punish interceptions, Weeden has been productive over his last four games after an opening day flop against the Eagles. In his last four contests, Weeden has thrown for 1,170 yards and five touchdowns. It would be nice if he could cut down on the picks (nine on the season and five in his last four games).
Sam Bradford, Rams
Bradford was a borderline fantasy backup despite having just one starting caliber wide receiver. And he just lost that guy with Danny Amendola out for six to seven weeks with a dislocated collarbone.
Mendenhall: RB2 rest of the way.
Rashard Mendenhall, Steelers
He was Moving Up last week because he was ready to resume playing for a Steelers team in need of a spark at running back. Spark supplied to the tune of 81 rushing yards, over 100 total yards and a score. RB2 the rest of the way.
Ahmad Bradshaw, Giants
So much for a time-share in the Giants backfield. Bradshaw extinguished that possibility with a 200-rushing yard, one touchdown performance this week against the Browns. While Bradshaw was chalking up 34 touches, backup Andre Brown went down with a concussion and failed to touch the ball on offense.
Ryan Mathews, Chargers
Mathews showed this week why he’s the man in San Diego and no longer the hottest buy low opportunity in fantasy football. You needed to make that happen last week, folks, because Mathews owners won’t be letting him go for 50 cents on the dollar after his 80 rushing yards, 59 receiving yards, and one touchdown performance this week against the Saints. Jackie Battle proved he is a plodder while Mathews looked like a hungry, top five fantasy running back.
Alex Green and James Starks, Packers
Cedric Benson could be headed to injured reserve with a Lisfranc sprain, opening up the starting gig in the Packers backfield. Green subbed in with a nine carries, 55 yards this week but 41 of those yards came on one carry. Head coach Mike McCarthy has said he doesn’t yet trust giving Green a full workload but Starks may not be fully healed from the turf toe injury he suffered in the preseason. Looks like it will be a committee but if I had to pick one guy, I’d gamble on Starks.
LaRod Stephens-Howling, Alfonso Smith and William Powell, Cardinals
Beanie Wells is on injured reserve and Ryan Williams is headed there so the Cardinals backfield is wide open. These three guys have to be Moving Up but none can be trusted until they emerge and I don’t see that happening. Don’t give up your waiver priority for a 1/3 chance at a RB3. If you’re truly desperate, my pick is Smith but it is worth noting that there are several serviceable veteran free agent running backs that are looking for work.
Daniel Thomas, Dolphins
Goal line dud in 2011 to goal line stud in 2012? Not quite but he does have touchdowns in two of his last three games and the bye weeks are upon us with the injuries at running back piling up.
Ryan Williams, Cardinals
He’s out for the year with a shoulder injury which means he won’t set a MU/MD record of Moving Down three weeks in a row. Basically, Williams’ injury forces his owners not to start him, which isn’t a bad thing the way he was playing.
DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart, Panthers
With Stewart healthy and the Panthers offensive line a mess, neither Panthers running back is startable. They are bye week fill in or flex options, at best.
Marques Colston, Saints
Colston looked a step slow and like a player playing through a foot injury during the first three weeks of the season. Sure enough, he was. Over the Saints past two games, Colston has caught 18 passes for 284 yards and four touchdowns. Looks like the foot is healed. Did we mention that tight end Jimmy Graham was wearing a walking boot after the Saints-Chargers game this week?
Victor Cruz, Giants
Duh. With Hakeem Nicks out, Cruz has been a target machine, averaging over 11 per game. This week, he caught five balls for a measly 50 yards but three were for touchdowns. With Nicks’ future cloudy, Cruz is looking set as a WR1 over the balance of the season.
Josh Gordon, Browns
In his most extensive action of the season, Gordon came up big for the Browns, hauling in a pair of touchdown passes and gaining 82 yards on the day. Sure, the touchdowns were the only catches he had but he made them count and his eight targets were six more than the drop prone Greg Little had. Gordon could be the team’s new top threat at wide receiver much earlier than expected. If you read above, you also know the Browns are throwing it around plenty over their last four games.
Robert Meachem, Chargers
Meachem is another guy who made his catches count this week, hauling in a pair of touchdowns amongst his three receptions. Looks like he might finally be on the same page as quarterback Philip Rivers and if the price is right, he makes for a good trade target.
Jeremy Kerley, Jets
The Jets need to throw it to someone and with Stephen Hill and Dustin Keller out this week, Kerley had nine targets, catching five of them for 94 yards.
Jordy Nelson, Packers
After his two receptions and 29 yards this week against the sad sack Colts secondary, Nelson is on pace to finish the season with 925 receiving yards and three touchdowns and that’s with Greg Jennings having missed almost three full games. That’s a tad off his 1,263-yard, 15-touchdown performance from 2011. That being said, I would rate him as a buy low option.
Jeremy Maclin, Eagles
Returning from a hip injury this week, Maclin caught five of his eight targets for 39 yards against the Steelers. That gives him seven receptions for 69 yards over his last three games.
Brandon LaFell, Panthers
After a pair of nice games to open the season, LaFell has gone cold, catching just four passes for 71 yards over his past three games including an O-fer in Week 4. After the Panthers Week 6 bye, he gets the Cowboys and Bears. Not good.
Justin Blackmon, Jaguars
The most receiving yards he has put up in a single game is 48 and he’s averaging 2.4 FPts/G. Blaine Gabbert isn’t helping Blackmon but it doesn’t appear that Blackmon’s helping Gabbert either.
Joel Dreessen, Broncos
He ain’t sexy, he’s my touchdown scoring tight end. Meet Joel Dreessen. Dreessen has become Mr. Red Zone for the Broncos, tallying scores in each of the team’s last three games despite chalking up just 74 receiving yards in those games.
Jimmy Graham, Saints
An ankle injury caused him to miss time this week and we won’t know until next week how serious the injury is since the Saints have a bye in Week 6.
By: Dave Stringer — October 5, 2012 @ 5:54 pm
1. It has been written about plenty but we will chime in here anyway. It seems only a matter of time before the Jets make a switch at the quarterback position. Incumbent starter Mark Sanchez has been nothing short of awful after dismantling Buffalo in Week 1 but it turns out that was hardly a monumental achievement as the Bills ranked a lowly 23rd in pass defense despite facing the Chiefs and Browns in two of their four contests. With the team’s rushing attack struggling and Santonio Holmes, the team’s top playmaker on offense, out for the season and a cast of journeymen and unproven rookie 2nd round pick Stephen Hill on the depth chart at wide receiver, the Jets will be forced to run more often. We expect the Jets coaching staff will determine that backup Tim Tebow gives the team the best chance to win over the remainder of the season. If he is available on your league’s waiver wire and you need a QB2 for your fantasy roster, grab him a week early rather than waiting a week too long and missing out.
Greene: Off to another slow start.
2. Sticking with the Jets backfield, running back Shonn Greene is off to another slow start in 2012. After a solid performance in Week 1, Greene has struggled to find running room over the last three weeks, gaining just 97 yards on 41 carries and failing to top the 40-yard mark. While the Jets have faced some strong run defenses to open the season including the Steelers and 49ers, those numbers are disappointing and New York has increased backup Bilal Powell’s workload, particularly in games where the Jets are playing from behind. Greene’s contract expires at the end of the season and it does not appear the team is any hurry to offer him an extension. Given his struggles and contract situation, it won’t be a surprise if the Jets have a new starting backfield by midseason.
3. Another running back that has struggled after a solid start to the season is Buccaneers rookie 1st round pick Doug Martin. Expected to log extended playing time, Martin saw his role reduced this past week after a pair of subpar efforts in Weeks 2 and 3. In his last three games, Martin has averaged just 3.3 yards per carry on his 47 attempts. Worse yet, he has failed to be a target in the passing game with just four receptions during those contests and lost goal line touches to LeGarrette Blount. Thought to be a solid RB2 entering the season, Martin is shaping up as an RB3.
4. With their win last night over Arizona, the Rams went over .500 for the first time since the 2006 season (not a typo, folks, they have been that bad). While their win over the Cardinals was big news, even bigger was the news that the team had renegotiated running back Steven Jackson’s contract to allow him to void the final year of his deal in 2013. With the Rams looking to reload at the running back position and having used 2nd and 7th round picks in this year’s draft on Isaiah Pead and Daryl Richardson, Jackson will need to have an impressive year to remain with the team in 2013.
5. Sticking with the Rams, the news that slot receiver Danny Amendola will miss six to seven weeks with a dislocated clavicle is a devastating development for the team’s passing attack and quarterback Sam Bradford. Clearly the team’s best receiver and Bradford’s go to guy, Amendola had caught 31 passes for 351 yards over the first four weeks of the season. Look for Steve Smith or Austin Pettis to take over his role and if one takes over the job outright, they are worth taking a flyer on in deeper leagues.
6. The word out of Green Bay is that the Packers brass has been pleased with the play of running back Cedric Benson. The question is why? He is averaging 3.6 yards per carry while finding the end zone just once in four games. What he has done is avoid coughing up the ball, fumbling just once on a play that did not result in a turnover. While there is plenty of evidence to suggest Benson will hold on to the lead role in the Packers backfield, those desperate for running back depth could stash Alex Green or James Stark on the bench in the hopes that the Packers determine they need more from their lead back or Benson rediscovers the fumbling issues that plagued his last season in Cincinnati.
7. Redskins coach Mike Shanahan compared rookie running back Alfred Morris to Terrell Davis this week and said he had a “big time” future. In past seasons, you would figure it would be any minute before Morris found himself on the inactive list. However, with Roy Helu on injured reserve, Evan Royster struggling and unable stay healthy and only Ryan Grant also on the roster, it appears that Shanahan will likely lean on Morris for much of the 2012 season. This might just be the year that the Shanny curse at running back doesn’t materialize.
8. With Santonio Holmes out for the year, there has been plenty of speculation as to which wide receiver on the roster will benefit from his absence. Rookie Stephen Hill, 2nd year player Jeremy Kerley and veteran journeyman Chaz Schilens figure to earn the majority of the playing time at wide receiver but none are expected to emerge as a solid, go to receiver for the team’s quarterbacks. If you are looking for the player to reap the benefit the most from Holmes’ absence, look no further than tight end Dustin Keller. While Keller has missed the past three games with a hamstring injury, he should emerge as the team’s main weapon in the short and intermediate passing game and should be plenty motivated given his impending free agent status.
9. Broncos running back Willis McGahee was expected to see his production decrease in 2012 after a stellar campaign in 2011 when he rushed for 1,199 yards during his first year as a Bronco. However, he has benefitted from a running back depth chart that has suffered through injury, ineffectiveness and fumbling issues to continue to get a healthy number of touches each week as the team’s lead back. With 325 yards on the ground in four games, McGahee is on pace to eclipse his production from last season and while his current projected total of 1,300 rushing yards seems unrealistic, nobody on the team’s roster seems set to eat into his playing time in a big way at the moment. That makes him a great target since whoever added him to their fantasy roster likely picked him up as a RB3.
By: Dave Stringer — October 2, 2012 @ 1:02 pm
Matt Ryan, Falcons
Okay, this one’s obvious but there was a lack of suitable candidates so this is recognizing that Ryan is the real deal as a fantasy starter. The Falcons are chucking it plenty even when they play soft run defenses, putting Ryan on pace to throw for over 4,500 yards and 44 touchdowns. That’s upper tier QB1 territory.
Matt Cassel, Chiefs
Seven picks and three lost fumbles and we’re only four games into the season. If Cassel continues to be a turnover machine and the Chiefs continue their losing ways (currently sitting 1-3), it won’t be long before Cassel finds himself riding the pine.
Blaine Gabbert, Jaguars
Gabbert has had his moments this season but it said a lot when he couldn’t produce this week against a Bengals secondary that was missing its four top cornerbacks. With Leon Hall, Nate Clements, Dre Kirkpatrick and Jason Allen out, Gabbert threw for just 186 yards. After a solid performance in Week 1 against the Vikings, Gabbert has thrown for 394 yards over Jacksonville’s last three games. That type of production will have him heading to the bench at some point in 2012.
Stafford is the 14th-ranked fantasy QB after four games.
Matthew Stafford, Lions
Opposing defenses are forcing Detroit to march the ball down the field and the Lions and Stafford have not adjusted. With just three touchdown passes on the season, Stafford is going to have to have a monster performance over the final 12 games to match the 41 touchdown passes he threw in 2011. That seems unlikely.
Russell Wilson, Seahawks
Seattle head coach Pete Carroll said this week that backup Matt Flynn won’t start because his elbow isn’t ready to handle a full week of practice. That doesn’t mean Wilson won’t be on a short leash during this week’s matchup against the Panthers.
Chris Johnson, Titans
He’s alive! Sure – it was in a blowout loss. But Johnson looked good, gaining 141 yards on 25 carries against the Texans. CJ2K is probably still a buy low but not quite as bad as he was last week when I was offered his services for Darren Sproles and declined.
Rashard Mendenhall, Steelers
Steelers have averaged a very un-Steeler like 65 yards per game on the ground with Mendenhall out of the lineup. He’s apparently ready and he vaults to the top of the team’s depth chart at running back provided he is healthy. Look for that to happen this week.
Branden Bolden, Patriots
With 137 yards and a touchdown this week on just 16 carries, Bolden has to be Moving Up. Will he be joining my roster in any of the leagues that I am in? Probably not. Let’s remember that Danny Woodhead was claimed in many leagues based on the 16 touches he had in Week 3 and this week he touched the ball twice.
Michael Turner, Falcons
Sell high, folks! When a former stud running back who can’t catch the ball has seen his role decrease to the point where he is getting 15 touches a game pads his point total with a 60 yard touchdown pass, the first of his nine-year career, against a sad sack defense and notches 23 points on the day, you thank the fantasy gods and sell high.
Ryan Williams, Cardinals
When the Cardinals placed Chris Wells on injured reserve, everybody went gaga over Williams. But you didn’t see him Moving Up last week, did ya? Outside of Williams chalking up some garbage time points against the Eagles in Week 3 (seven rushes for 62 yards in the fourth quarter of the Cardinals blow out win), he’s been nothing short of awful. Take away the garbage time points and Williams has rushed 69 yards on 37 carries. No, that’s not a typo. Touchdowns – zero. Receiving yards – 39.
Darren McFadden, Raiders
It has been tough sledding thus far in 2012 for Run-DMC, as he has failed to top 2.6 yards per carry in three of his four games. There has been plenty of speculation as to whether the team’s new blocking scheme is to blame but really, does it matter when he’s averaging 9.3 FPts/G, a far cry from the 15.3 he put up in 2011.
DeMarco Murray, Cowboys
He’s averaging 3.9 yards a pop on the season and just 2.6 over his last three games. His receiving chops are helping out (16 for 114 on the season) but if the Cowboys offensive line doesn’t improve, Murray is clearly headed for RB2 status.
Ryan Mathews, Chargers
It’s a timeshare for the time being in San Diego with Mathews splitting carries with the legendary Jackie Battle. And no, Mathews isn’t the one getting the goal line looks.
Doug Martin, Bucs
Martin’s lackluster performance over the past three weeks (3.2 yards per carry) resulted in LeGarrette Blount getting his most extensive work of the season this past week, including some goal line carries.
Dez Bryant, Cowboys
Moving Down one week. Moving Up the next. Sure – he dropped a ton of balls but he also showed us on Monday night just how good he can be if he ever gets rid of the concentration lapses. Bryant caught eight of 13 targets for 105 yards but he could have come close to 200 yards without the drops.
Brian Hartline, Dolphins
Who knew Hartline was this good? Not me, that’s for sure. After failing to top 100 receiving yards during his first 45 games in the league, Hartline has topped the century mark twice in the last three weeks, including his 12-reception, 253-yard, one touchdown performance this week against the Cardinals. Let’s not go overboard here but I’m ready to make the call that Hartline is a mid-tier to low end WR3 over the balance of the season.
Andre Roberts, Cardinals
Four games, four touchdowns for Roberts to go along with 15 receptions for 229 yards. The Cardinals like Roberts although this Moving Up is tempered by the knowledge that rookie 1st round pick Michael Floyd was targeted eight times this week.
Domenik Hixon, Giants
I guess after Hixon’s six-reception, 114-yard performance this week it is safe to conclude that Ramses Barden isn’t the Giants third wide receiver after all.
Laurent Robinson, Jaguars
It appears that Robinson suffered his second concussion of the season this week. Not good.
Hakeem Nicks, Giants
Can’t seem to get healthy.
Greg Jennings, Packers
Greg Olsen, Panthers
Our preseason preview made note of the fact that Olsen was AWOL from the Panthers offense for the last few games of the 2011 season. That’s ancient history. With 21 targets over the last two games and 31 on the season, Olsen has emerged as a lower tier TE1. Better yet, he’s on a roll over his last two games with 13 receptions for 187 yards and a score.
Jermichael Finley, Packers
Seriously, folks. Will Finley ever break out? He had another okay game this week catching four of his five targets (the third week in a row that has happened) for a ho-hum 54 yards. With Greg Jennings sidelined, Finley’s owners need to ask themselves why he hasn’t been a bigger part of the Packers offense and whether it’s time to see what they can get for the talented yet enigmatic Green Bay tight end, who is on pace to finish the season with 748 receiving yards and four touchdowns.
By: Dave Stringer — September 28, 2012 @ 1:41 pm
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1. Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers was held without throwing a touchdown during this week’s Monday night loss to the Seahawks, marking the first time since Week 3 of the 2011 season that has happened. Green Bay has clearly failed to move the ball as consistently as they did last season and Rodgers currently sits as the 24th ranked fantasy quarterback. With plum matchups against the Saints and Colts on tap, the odds are that Rodgers will end his slump with a pair of solid outings. However, it is worth noting that dating back to last season, Rodgers has thrown for under 300 yards in five of his last six regular season starts and looking further back, eight of his last eleven starts.
2. Another stud performer who has had an uneven start to the 2011 season is Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald. Once again suffering from the poor performance of the team’s quarterbacks, Fitzgerald has caught just 14 of his 25 targets for 181 yards and a touchdown. However, he had a solid performance with Kevin Kolb at quarterback this week, catching all nine of his targets for 114 yards and a touchdown. That has to be considered an encouraging sign since the two failed to be on the same page since the early part of the 2011 season.
3. Sticking with Fitzgerald, he became the youngest player to top 700 receptions, doing it just after his 29th birthday which was on August 31st.
4. Here’s to Lions head coach Jim Schwartz and all the fantasy football owners who lost this week because Schwartz failed to trot out Jason Hanson for a chip shot field goal during overtime of the Lions loss to the Titans. Rather than kick the tying field to extend overtime, the Lions ran a quarterback sneak inside the Titans 10-yard line with Schwartz later claiming there was a communication error on the play. Nothing like throwing your quarterback under the bus, coach.
5. If you are looking for a buy low candidate at running back, one option has to be the Rams Steven Jackson. Sjax has had a slow start to the season, struggling in Week 1 against the Lions, suffering a groin injury that cost him most of Week 2 and then struggling while playing hurt this past week against a stiff Bears defense. With a pair of solid run defenses up next in the Seahawks and Cardinals, the road doesn’t get any easier for the Rams main offensive threat. However, those who drafted Jackson did it on the premise that the Jeff Fisher led team would run the ball plenty (which they have) and on Jackson’s distinguished performance over the past seven seasons. During that time, he has topped 1,000 rushing yards every year and averaged 1,605 total yards per season while topping 1,300 total yards six times.
Is Jake Locker ready for primetime?
6. Here is a toast to the high-flying Tennessee Titans. What’s that, you say? During the Titans overtime win over the Lions this week, Tennessee became the first team in the history of the NFL to score five touchdowns of 60 or more yards in a single game.
7. Sticking with the Titans, quarterback Jake Locker didn’t look quite ready for primetime during the team’s thrashing losses to the Patriots and Chargers to open the season with the Titans chalking up a combined 23 points. However, he had a career outing this week against the Lions, despite the continued struggles of running back Chris Johnson, throwing for 378 yards and a pair of touchdowns while completing 29 of 42 passes. Locker makes for an interesting QB2 and a solid prospect in dynasty leagues due to the presence of a number of solid young playmakers at wide receiver and tight end coupled with Johnson’s continued struggles, which now date back to the latter stages of the 2010 season.
8. And if you are wondering whether Johnson is a buy low candidate, you might want to think again. Over his past 21 regular season starts, Johnson has topped 100 rushing yards just four times while averaging 9.6 points per game.
9. With his first rushing touchdown of the season this week against the Colts, Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew eclipsed Fred Taylor’s franchise record for rushing touchdowns with 63 during just his 7th season in the league. That is an impressive accomplishment considering that MJD spent the first three seasons of his career backing up Taylor and the sorry state of the franchise during his time in Jacksonville.
10. Opening the season, the San Francisco 49ers were the overwhelming favorites to win the NFC West but they now sit a game behind the 3-0 Arizona Cardinals and tied with the 2-1 Seattle Seahawks. Both the Cardinals and Seahawks feature upper tier defenses that while not yet comparable to the 49ers, have helped their organizations quickly close the gap on San Francisco. With their win this week over the Eagles, the Cardinals are now a very impressive 10-2 over their past 12 games dating back to last season while the Seahawks are 7-4 over their last 11 regular season games.
11. Rashard Mendenhall owners can thank Isaac Redman for letting the cat out of the bag during the Steelers Week 4 bye as to who was going to be starting for the team when they return to action in Week 5. Redman told the Pittsburgh Tribune that the Steelers were looking for Mendenhall to come in and “be the feature guy”. With 195 rushing yards over the first three games and a 2.6 yards per carry average, look for Mendenhall to resume his starting role during the Steelers Week 5 home game against the Eagles.
12. Giants backup running back Andre Brown gave New York’s rushing attack a jolt this week with his 113-yard, two-touchdown performance over the Panthers. That game brought Brown’s yearly totals to 33 carries for 184 yards and three touchdowns. While the common assumption is that Ahmad Bradshaw will remain the team’s starter and that is likely an accurate assessment, there are certainly major question marks as to how the workload will be split up over the balance of the season. With Bradshaw leading the rushing attack in 2011, the Giants finished last in the league in average rushing yards per game and in average yards per carry. While some of those poor results could be laid at the feet of the departed Brandon Jacobs, Bradshaw was also to blame as his career low 3.9 average yards per carry attests. Throw in his inability to stay healthy and it is safe to assume that Brown is in line for a healthy dose of carries over the balance of the season, provided he can hold off 1st round pick David Wilson.
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