Monday, September 14, 2009

AP, Brees bulldoze the competition


How dominant was Adrian Peterson on Sunday? Let’s put it this way: In standard scoring leagues, you could have started all four of the running backs that typically followed him in the first round of your fantasy draft – Michael Turner, Maurice Jones-Drew, Matt Forte and Steven Jackson – and thrown in Willie Parker for good measure, and Peterson would still be kicking your butt.

In other words, Peterson was the Terminator of Week 1, laying waste not only to the Browns defense, but to his fantasy opponents as well. If you couldn’t win with him in your lineup, you must have some serious issues with the rest of your roster.

Then again, the list of opening week chumps is at least twice as long as the champs. Drew Brees’ six touchdown passes were more than Jay Cutler, Carson Palmer, Aaron Rodgers, Matt Schaub, Kurt Warner and both Mannings combined produced in their matchups.

The list of top receivers still stuck in preseason mode was equally extensive, led by Andre Johnson, Steve Smith, Anquan Boldin, Roddy White and both Broncos wideouts. Heck, without some spectacular late-game heroics, Greg Jennings and Larry Fitzgerald (who should have known better than to appear on the latest Madden cover) would have joined that list.

Perhaps the most telling sign of a glitch in the Week 1 matrix: Jeremy Shockey scored twice!

So don’t panic, my friend. It’s just one week. If you ran into the Peterson or Brees buzz saw and your top picks fell flat, just blame the schedule-maker and look forward to a smoother Week 2.

Those facing Peterson this weekend, though, had better buckle up. He’s heading to Detroit.

FREE AGENT PICKS AND PANS

To win a fantasy championship, you need to start with a good draft. But filling in your roster throughout the season with the right free agents is also important. Here’s a look at a few players worth considering, and others who would look better in someone else’s line-up.

Catch ‘em while you can

Joe Flacco, QB, Ravens. Any quarterback who puts up 307 passing yards and a trio of touchdowns in the NFL demands a measure of fantasy respect. That said, statistics amassed at the expense of the Chiefs should be viewed with some skepticism. So while one week does not a trend make, it’s clear that you could do much worse than rely on Flacco as your backup QB, especially when he faces such favorable matchups as Cleveland (Weeks 3 and 10), Cincinnati (Weeks 5 and 9) and Detroit (Week 14).

Mike Bell, RB, Saints. Though his quarterback hogged all the touchdowns, Bell’s 143 rushing yards were second only to Peterson’s haul through Sunday night. His performance will surely earn him additional carries going forward, and may even prompt the team to ease Pierre Thomas back more slowly from his knee injury. If Bell is still available, grab him.

Willis McGahee, RB, Ravens. Ray Rice is clearly the lead runner in Baltimore’s backfield stable. But if Sunday’s game is any indication – see caveat above concerning the Chiefs’ defense – McGahee may get the bulk of the goal-line work. In touchdown-heavy scoring systems, he could merit the occasional start as the poor man’s LenDale White.

Don’t be fooled


Mark Sanchez, QB, Jets. Don’t get swept up in the hoopla surrounding the rookie’s opening day victory. As impressive as he was against Houston’s secondary, the road ahead is much tougher (Patriots, Titans in the next two weeks). Let’s see how he fares against stingier defenses before anointing him this year’s Matt Ryan.

Austin Collie, WR, Colts. Many owners, especially those seeking to replace the injured Anthony Gonzalez in their lineups, will be rushing to pick-up the rookie this week. But Collie is still competing with the speedier Pierre Garcon for the role of Indy’s No. 3 receiver. In fact, both players are likely to share Gonzelez’s projected workload, while Dallas Clark’s targets increase the most.

Robert Meachem, WR, Saints. New Orleans receivers not named Colston have an uncanny, indeed irritating, tendency of performing miracles one week and disappearing the next. Devery Henderson is the poster child of fantasy inconsistency. Meachem, arguably the most talented of the corps, made the most of the two targets he received against the Lions. Alas, we may not hear from him, or Henderson, again until October. Lance Moore, a wallflower this week, remains the safest bet going forward.

Mario Manningham, WR, Giants. With rookie Hakeem Nicks probably sidelined for at least two weeks with a sprained foot, Manningham will have more opportunities to build off his solid 58-yard, one-touchdown opener. But he’ll still play third fiddle behind Domenick Hixon and Steve Smith – not to mention tight end Kevin Boss – which means he should remain on the waiver wire.

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