Friday, October 30, 2009

Week 8 Starters & Benchwarmers

You don’t need me advising you to start Peyton Manning and Adrian Peterson, or to bench JaMarcus Russell and Brian Robiskie. So I’ll leave the obvious recommendations to the network bozos and focus instead on players typically on the bubble of most fantasy lineups. Here are my picks to roll, and get rolled, in Week 8.

Watch ‘em roll

David Garrard, QB, Jaguars at Titans. He still hasn’t thrown a TD pass on the road this season, but two other trends are in his favor: He lit up Tennessee for 323 yards and 3 TDs in their earlier meeting, and the Titans stink no matter where they play. Both teams are coming off a bye, so Garrard has had extra time to plan his assault on the league’s worst pass defense.

LeSean McCoy, RB, Eagles vs. Giants. The Cardinals can’t run on anybody, and yet the Giants allowed both of their RBs in the end zone last week. With Brian Westbrook sidelined with a severe concussion, McCoy will shoulder the load for Philly. The multi-talented rookie is good for at least one score and 100 combined yards.

Kevin Smith, RB, Lions vs. Rams. In a game pitting two of the NFL’s worst offenses against equally sorry defenses, it’s hard to predict if this will be a 3-0 snoozer or a 35-31 barn-burner. Either way, Smith will be Detroit’s only reliable and fully healthy weapon on the field (even if Calvin Johnson suits up), so enjoy this rare opportunity to start him with confidence.

Austin Collie, WR, Colts vs. 49ers. Though Reggie Wayne will likely play with his strained groin, he probably won’t be 100 percent. Collie has four TDs over the last three games, and will pick up the slack along with TE Dallas Clark as the Colts toy with the 49ers’ shaky secondary.

Terrell Owens, WR, Bills vs. Texans. He won’t fulfill the 10-touchdown guarantee he made to Buffalo’s mayor for this season, but the slumping diva should chip away at his goal against the same defense that revived Alex Smith’s career last Sunday. Bills QB Ryan Fitzpatrick has connected with Lee Evans for TDs in consecutive wins, and should spread the love to T.O. this week in a likely shootout.

More thumbs up: QBs Tony Romo, Brett Favre, Jay Cutler; RBs Steven Jackson, Joseph Addai, Steve Slaton, Pierre Thomas, Ricky Williams; WRs Miles Austin, Devin Hester, Mike Sims-Walker, Donnie Avery.

Roll ‘em back

Joe Flacco, QB, Ravens vs. Broncos. Only Indy has given up fewer passing scores than Denver’s three. Flacco was up-and-down prior to the off week; but even with the extra rest, he’s not likely to rack up big numbers against a defense that has allowed just 11 points per game and is also coming off a bye.

Ryan Grant, RB, Packers vs. Vikings. Following his best performance of the season, Grant faces one of the league’s stingiest run defenses in what should be a pass-happy affair. His best chance to excel will be as a receiver, but he’s better off on your bench if you have safer options.

Knowshon Moreno, RB, Broncos at Ravens. Just when it appeared the rookie had ascended to workhorse status, Correll Buckhalter returned from injury to disrupt the coronation. Sharing carries against a stout Ravens defense that held Adrian Peterson out of the end zone prior to the bye is not what you want from your starting tailback.

Roy Williams, WR, Cowboys vs. Seahawks. He called his Week 7 outing his “worst game ever,” but he could have expanded that statement to the past 12 months. Now playing in the ever-widening shadow of Miles Austin, Williams cannot be trusted in your lineup until he and Tony Romo exhibit some degree of chemistry.

Vernon Davis, TE, 49ers at Colts. After his 3-TD extravaganza against the Texans, it would be hard to sit the suddenly prolific Davis. But Indy’s pass defense is on a whole different level than Houston’s, and no team has shut down opposing tight ends better than the Colts. Alex Smith and “bust” will once again be inextricably linked after this game.

More thumbs down: QBs Eli Manning, Matt Ryan, Matt Hasselbeck; RBs Ryan Grant, Jonathan Stewart, Tashard Choice, Julius Jones; WRs Jerricho Cotchery, Mario Manningham, Bernard Berrian, Jeremy Maclin, Michael Crabtree.


Kevin Walter, WR, Texans at Bills. Walter has to be counted among the most disappointing players of 2010. After missing the first two games due to injury, he sparkled in Week 3, then promptly disappeared, despite playing with the top passer in Fantasyland. But more will be expected with Andre Johnson nursing his bruised lung (ouch!), even though the elite wideout is expected to suit up. Though Buffalo’s secondary is pretty salty, I think Walter earns his paycheck this week.

DON’T BE THE BONEHEAD WHO…benches Matt Forte this week. Trust me, I feel your pain, fellow Forte owner. I’d like to do more than bench the guy, if you know what I mean. But he’s facing the league’s second-worst run defense, and the Browns have allowed 10 rushing TDs already. Ryan Grant just posted his best game of the season against them, so maybe…just maybe…this is Forte’s week. If not, you have my permission to call me the bonehead.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Midweek update: News you can use from around the NFL

Lots of important stuff going on around the league the last couple of days...

First, you've undoubtedly heard about all the crap swirling around Larry Johnson. He's dug his own grave with a shovel called Twitter, and it doesn't look like he's going to be able to climb out of it any time soon. If you own LJ, you should attmpt to trade him immediately, before he inevitably moves from "banned" to "suspended" and/or "released" and his value plummets to zero. I'd be shocked if he hasn't played his last game in KC (possibly in the NFL, given his age and rapidly deteriorating skills, plus the target he just attached to his back). Meanwhile, if you were relying on him going forward, you might as well grab Jamaal Charles. I doubt any Chiefs RB will provide much fantasy value, but he should do at least a little better than LJ has.

You can also safely release Chris Cooley, even though the team is holding out hope that he'll be rehabbed fully from this week's ankle surgery within a month. That just doesn't sound likely; and besides, nobody else is going to pick him up right away anyway. You should be able to scoop him back up in 3-4 weeks if it starts sounding like he's coming back. Meanwhile, it will be interesting to see whether Fred Davis can step up and produce consistently in Cooley's absence. He looked pretty good on Monday night, but we're talking about the Redskins here. There's not a lot of offensive production to go around.

Ryan Fitzpatrick will get another start this week against Houston, giving him a good chance to lock up the No. 1 role at the expense of the injured and ineffective Trent Edwards. If you've got Edwards as your backup, you need to make a change. And hopefully you have better options than Fitz to pick through, since I'm not convinced he's the answer either and the weather is about to turn nasty in Buffalo.

As covered in Monday's column, Leon Washington is out for the season with his broken leg. If Shonn Greene is still out there, grab him ASAP. He could come in very handy down the road, and certainly makes for a solid bye-week or injury fill-in.

Brian Westbrook will likely miss Sunday's showdown with the Giants after suffering that concussion on Monday night. LeSean McCoy didn't do much in his place against the Skins, but he'd still be a solid starting option this weekend. He did well in Week 3 against the Chiefs (84 yards, 1 TD) subbing for Westy.

Donald Brown could miss 2-3 weeks with his shoulder contusion. That's good news for Joseph Addai's owners. If you need help at RB and can buy low on Addai this week, go for it. He's been solid -- though certainly not spectacular -- and should be an every-week starter while Brown is down.

Heath Evans injured his knee against the Dolphins, meaning the short-yardage TD poacher may not be available for a while. Again, we don't wish injury on anybody, but we have to call 'em as we see 'em. And this enhances the fantasy potential of both Pierre Thomas and Mike Bell.

Heads up: Sammy Morris (knee) could be back after the Patriots' Week 8 bye. This may be a very good time to sell high on Laurence Maroney.

Michael Turner is a scoring machine, but his 3.4 yards-per-carry are nothing to write home about. That's why we might start seeing a lot of Jason Snelling going forward, as he has done well when given the opportunity (and since Jerious Norwood is out for the duration). No need to panic if you own Turner...he's still an every-week starter. Just don't be surprised if you get a lot of 60-70 yard, 1-TD performances for the rest of the season.

Looks like Reggie Wayne (strained groin) will be fine come Sunday. We'll keep an eye on his status, but don't sweat it too much.

Unfortunately, the prognosis is not as optimistic for Calvin Johnson. He was still limping around on his sprained knee earlier in the week, and he's not back to full practice yet. Looks like you'll need to plan to play without Megatron for at least another week.

A bruised lung can't be a good thing, but that's what Andre Johnson is dealing with this week. The Texans are hopeful he can suit up, and AJ is tweeting optimistically, but he's currently day-to-day and you can bet he'll be a game-time decision. Perhaps this is the week we'll see Kevin Walter live up to his draft status. The Bills obviously offer a favorable matchup.

Bernard Berrian's owners should have another option at the ready this weekend as the receiver may not be recovered from the leg injury he incurred Sunday. If he's out, look for even bigger games from both Sidney Rice and Percy Harvin, as Favre returns to the frozen tundra for the first time wearing purple.

As if you weren't wary of him already, there's new reason to be down on Ted Ginn. Following his dreadful performance against the Saints on Sunday (and a career of underachievement), he may have worked himself out of the starting lineup entirely. Look for Brian Hartline to take over his role, with Ginn getting substantially fewer snaps as a WR going forward. Once again, if possible, trade Ginn before you're forced to release him altogether.

Psst, buddy...I'll give you LJ, Fast Willie, Ginn and Cooley straight-up for Peyton Manning...

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Week 7 Heroes & Zeros

This was a great week to start…

Carson Palmer, QB, Bengals -- Passed for 233 yards and a whopping 5 TDs.
Tom Brady, QB, Patriots -- Amassed 308 passing yards and 3 TDs, plus two INTs.
Philip Rivers, QB, Chargers -- Threw for 268 yards and 3 TDs, without a turnover.
Tony Romo, QB, Cowboys -- Passed for 311 yards and 3 TDs, plus 31 rushing yards and no turnovers.
Aaron Rodgers, QB, Packers -- Threw for 246 yards and a TD trifecta, and added 23 rushing yards.
Peyton Manning, QB, Colts -- He’s had better, but 235 yards and 3 TDs is a good week by any measure.

Ricky Williams, RB, Dolphins -- Scored three times while running for 80 yards and catching two passes for 12 yards.
Cedric Benson, RB, Bengals -- Blitzed his old team for 189 yards and 1 TD.
Steve Slaton, RB, Texans -- Rushed for 67 yards and a TD, and caught 4 passes for 22 yards and another TD.
Ryan Grant, RB, Packers -- Ran for 148 yards (his first 100-plus-yard game of the season) and a score.
Thomas Jones, RB, Jets -- Rumbled for 121 yards and a score.

Miles Austin, WR, Cowboys -- Continued to excel with six catches for 171 yards and two trips to the end zone.
Chad Ochocinco, WR, Bengals -- Reeled in 10 passes for 118 yards and 2 TDs.
DeSean Jackson, WR, Eagles – Scored on a 61-yard run and a 57-yard reception.
Vincent Jackson, WR, Chargers -- Just five catches produced 142 yards and a score.
Wes Welker, WR, Patriots -- Pulled down 10 catches for 107 yards with a TD.
Sidney Rice, WR, Vikings -- His 11 catches for 136 yards was gold in PPR leagues.

Vernon Davis, TE, 49ers -- Caught 3 TDs on 7 receptions for 93 yards.
Owen Daniels, TE, Texans -- His 7 catches produced 123 yards and 1 TD.

Saints D/ST -- Gave up loads of points, but scored twice on INT returns, notched five sacks and five turnovers.
Steelers D/ST -- Also scored twice while collecting 4 sacks and two turnovers.
Eagles D/ST – Amassed 6 sacks, 2 turnovers, and scored on an interception return.

This was a great week to play against…

Brett Favre, QB, Vikings -- Passed for 334 yards, but had no scores and two turnovers.
Matt Cassel, QB, Chiefs -- Only generated 97 yards and 1 TD, but threw 3 INTs.

Willie Parker, RB, Steelers -- One 2-yard rush says it all about his new role in the Pittsburgh backfield.
Leon Washington, RB, Jets -- Had just one 6-yard run before leaving with a leg injury.
Brian Westbrook, RB, Eagles – His 3 rushes netted 13 yards before he left with a concussion.
Tashard Choice, RB, Cowboys -- Had no rushes and just one 23-yard reception.
Ahmad Bradshaw, RB, Giants -- Limited to only 32 rushing yards and one reception for minus-5 yards.
Cadillac Williams, RB, Buccaneers -- Rushed for just 29 yards and his 2 receptions only amounted to 28 yards.
Clinton Portis, RB, Redskins – Ran for only 43 yards on Monday night.
Pierre Thomas, RB, Saints -- Amassed a combined 44 yards as a rusher and receiver.
Jamal Lewis, RB, Browns -- Held to 47 rushing yards.
Marion Barber, RB, Cowboys -- He was, too.
Matt Forte, RB, Bears -- Totaled only 49 yards rushing and receiving.
Frank Gore, RB, 49ers -- Combined for just 47 yards in his first game back from injury.
Rashard Mendenhall, RB, Steelers -- Only 69 yards on the day.

Hines Ward, WR, Steelers -- Had one 3-yard catch.
Ted Ginn, WR, Dolphins -- Had a 4-yard reception.
Braylon Edwards, WR, Browns -- His only catch went for 14 yards.
Roy Williams, WR, Cowboys -- Caught a 16-yard pass.
Ted Ginn, WR, Dolphins -- Took two catches to get to 16 yards.
Bernard Berrian, WR, Vikings -- Limited to 2 catches for a paltry 18 yards.
Lance Moore, WR, Saints -- Same for him.
Steve Breaston, WR, Cardinals -- Just one 23-yard catch on the night.
Terrell Owens, WR, Bills -- Another disappointing day, with 3 catches for 27 yards.
Kevin Walter, WR, Texans -- His 3 catches netted just 29 yards.
Pierre Garcon, WR, Colts -- You’d think he could manage more than 3 receptions for 24 yards against the Rams.

Kellen Winslow, TE, Buccaneers -- Just 9 yards on 2 catches.

I didn’t see that coming…

Alex Smith, QB, 49ers -- Didn’t know he would play, much less throw for 206 yards and 3 TDs.
Shonn Greene, RB, Jets -- With Leon Washington hurt, the rookie busted out for 144 yards and a pair of TDs.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Week 7 column: Bad teams beget bad fantasy players

In the 12 games played Sunday, only three were decided by 10 or fewer points. The average margin of victory in the other nine was 26 points. Six teams were held to single-digit scores, including the goose egg posted by Oakland.

I haven’t seen mismatches this bad since Julia Roberts married Lyle Lovett.

The disparity between the NFL’s best and worst teams is getting more pronounced by the week. And it’s killing the fantasy value not just of selected players, but entire teams.

Look at the top teams in your league and count how many Browns, Buccaneers, Chiefs, Lions, Raiders, Rams or Titans they have. I did. In my three leagues, a maximum of four players combined from these low-octane clubs were distributed across the three teams with the best records. Chris Johnson and Dwayne Bowe were the only players from those seven teams considered weekly starters.

After all, what’s the point in owning a player from a team that rarely scores?

As we head to the halfway point of the fantasy season, owners are already jockeying for postseason berths. The free agent pool is getting shallower, and trading has become the preferred method for improving rosters.

When evaluating trade propositions, don’t make the mistake of latching onto a big name from a poor squad. As teams continue to fall behind in the standings, coaches will be fired, younger players will be given the chance to replace veteran starters, and many teams will simply throw in the towel.

If you can’t acquire talent from the high-scoring offenses, don’t waste your time. You’re much better off waiting for a Matt Forte or Marion Barber to kick into gear than hoping that Justin Fargas or Jamal Lewis posts his team’s only points.


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 players worth considering, and others who would look better in someone else’s line-up.

Catch ‘em while you can

Shonn Greene, RB, Jets. Given the opportunity to replace Leon Washington, who was lost for the season with a compound leg fracture, the rookie made an emphatic statement (144 yards, 2 TDs), albeit against a doormat of a defense. Though Thomas Jones will remain the lead back in the Jets’ offense, Greene should continue to play a strong supporting role.

Chris “Beanie” Wells, RB, Cardinals. It took longer than expected, but the rookie finally made a splash, notching his first touchdown and a 4.8 yards-per-carry average against the Giants on Sunday night. He still has work to do before supplanting Tim Hightower, but the transition appears to be in process. Wells is available in roughly half of fantasy leagues.

Don’t be fooled

Alex Smith, QB, 49ers. His name invariably is mentioned in any conversation about first-round busts for good reason. So while anything is possible, the notion that Smith could resuscitate his career following his surprising 206-yard, three-touchdown second half against the Texans seems fairly remote.

Larry Johnson, RB, Chiefs. Don’t be surprised if he is suspended, or even released, during the upcoming bye week following his provocative comments via Twitter about Chiefs head coach Todd Haley. LJ is heading quickly toward his 30th birthday with an awful 2.7 yards-per-carry average, so the no-nonsense coach could easily afford to flex his authority. Trade the veteran before it’s too late. In keeping with the theme of this week’s column, his backup, Jamaal Charles, is only worth a pickup for the most desperate of fantasy squads.

Willie Parker, RB, Steelers. After a game in which he saw only one carry, Parker’s value as a fantasy back is now solely as insurance for Rashard Mendenhall. Even that may be a stretch, since Mewelde Moore is getting more touches and snaps than Parker at this point. If you need roster space, you can safely eject Not-So-Fast Willie as the Steelers head into their bye.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Sunday morning observations

Happy Sunday, Fools!

Here are a few last-minute updates from around the league to get you primed for today's action. Don't forget to follow my tweets for inactives and other late-breaking developments.

Clinton Portis (sprained ankle and other assorted leg problems) will start as usual on Monday night. But there are much better options out there.

According to SI's Peter King, Anquan Boldin "looks like a go" for tonight's matchup. Still, anything can happen between now and then with his high ankle sprain (e.g., set-back in pre-game warmups), so proceed with caution if you plan to use him. Doctors told him initially that he could miss 3-4 weeks! I'm rolling with Breaston tonight (though I don't have Boldin), since he's been pretty solid even when Boldin is playing. I figure the starter won't get his usual number of targets (many reports have suggested he'll be on a snap count) and he could easily exit early.

Felix Jones reportedly went full speed without a knee brace in practice Friday, and Wade Phillips was quoted as saying Jones will play "quite a bit." If you are hurting at RB, and need an explosive playmaker who just might play quite a bit, go for it. As much as I love Felix, I think Barber and Choice are more likely to split the majority of the snaps today.

Looks like WR Roy Williams will suit up for the Cowboys today, but keep in mind that his ribs still aren't fully healed. There was a lot of concern that he might not be ready to take a beating today, so be aware that one stiff shot to the gut could put him on the sidelines early.

Preseason sensation Chaz Schilens is expected to make his '09 debut for the Raiders today. Obviously, don't start him. But keep an eye on him, as he was the only WR Jamarcus Russell seemed capable of hitting consistently during the preseason.

Rams WR Donnie Avery and Vikings WR Percy Harvin are expected to play today. But I'm not expecting much from either.

Eagles WR Kevin Curtis had knee surgery this week. If you still have him on your roster, dump him and get someone else who actually plays.

Browns K Phil Dawson is out again today. Not sure why I wasted your time saying that, or my time writing it. Sorry.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Week 7 Starters & Benchwarmers

You don’t need me advising you to start Drew Brees and Larry Fitzgerald, or to bench Derek Anderson and Josh Reed. So I’ll leave the obvious recommendations to the network bozos and focus instead on players typically on the bubble of most fantasy lineups. Here are my picks to roll, and get rolled, in Week 7.

Watch ‘em roll

Matt Ryan, QB, Falcons at Cowboys. Now clearly in sync with his top receiver, Roddy White, Ryan has thrown at least two scoring passes in all but one game this season. He will have little trouble carving up the Cowboys’ struggling secondary in what should be a high-scoring affair.

Ryan Grant, RB, Packers at Browns. He hasn’t scored since Week 2 or topped 100 rushing yards all season. Both trends should change this week against the league’s 30th-ranked run defense, which has already surrendered nine TDs on the ground and just lost their best player (D'Qwell Jackson) to injury.

Larry Johnson, RB, Chiefs vs. Chargers. I’ve been down on him all season – as have been his owners – but San Diego’s soft run defense offers hope. LJ should visit the end zone for the first time this season, and 100 combined yards is well within reason.

Steve Breaston, WR, Cardinals at Giants. New York’s secondary was lit up by Drew Brees last week, and it now faces the challenge of slowing down the pass-happy Kurt Warner. With Anquan Boldin probably out with a high ankle sprain, Breaston will step in capably in this Sunday night showdown.

Miles Austin, WR, Cowboys vs. Falcons. The star of Week 5 has been elevated to the starting lineup, and he makes a solid WR3 start against the vulnerable Falcons secondary, especially with Roy Williams still hampered by sore ribs.

More thumbs up: QBs Matt Schaub, Eli Manning, Tony Romo, Ben Roethlisberger; RBs Frank Gore, Thomas Jones, Joseph Addai, Tashard Choice, Brian Westbrook; WRs Dwayne Bowe, Austin Collie, Lance Moore.

Roll ‘em back

Brett Favre, QB, Vikings at Steelers. Call it a hunch, or perhaps an educated guess, but the red-hot Favre is overdue for one of his patented multi-turnover games. On the road against a hostile Steelers defense with Troy Polamalu and his hair lurking deep, I wouldn’t take any chances on the 40-year-old gunslinger.

Brandon Jacobs, RB, Giants vs. Cardinals. His disappointing season should continue against the league’s top run defense on Sunday night. Ahmad Bradshaw has the hotter hand of the Giants’ backs and is better suited to excel against Arizona’s defenders.

Cadillac Williams, RB, Buccaneers vs. Patriots. The Bucs could be trailing by 21 points by the end of the first quarter, taking their running game out of the game early. The Pats have allowed only one rushing TD all season, and Cadillac is unlikely to post the second.

Santana Moss, WR, Redskins vs. Eagles. With a new play caller, uncertainty at quarterback and one of the toughest secondaries in the league gunning for him, the odds are stacked against Moss on Monday night. Look for a third consecutive subpar outing.

Steve Smith, WR, Panthers vs. Bills. It’s official: Jake Delhomme has stripped Smith of his elite fantasy status. After his single four-yard reception against the Bucs’ putrid secondary, Smith is hanging onto fantasy rosters strictly on reputation. You can’t waive him (yet), but you sure don’t have to start him.

More thumbs down: QBs Matt Cassel, Mark Sanchez; RBs Felix Jones, Willie Parker, Reggie Bush, Justin Fargas; WRs Donnie Avery, Mohamed Massaquoi, Ted Ginn, Lee Evans, Patrick Crayton.


Laurence Maroney, RB, Patriots at Bucs. With both Sammy Morris and Fred Taylor out, Maroney gets the start and should receive the lion’s share of the carries in London against the league’s second-worst run defense. Of course, we’re talking about New England here, so you never know if they’ll turn the tables and pour on Kevin Faulk or BenJarvis Green-Ellis. But after last week’s blowout performance in the snow, Maroney has a leg up.

DON’T BE THE BONEHEAD WHO…waives Matt Hasselbeck to buy roster space over the bye weekend. Though he was awful last week against the Cardinals, his post-bye schedule is extremely favorable, and he should have many more solid outings than bad ones going forward.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

News you can use from around the NFL

A couple interesting tidbits out of New England... First, QB-turned-WR Julian Edelman suffered a broken arm and is out indefinitely. Second, curiously, the Pats released Joey Galloway. Strange they would let him go after Edelman's injury. That leaves the Pats pretty thin at WR (Sam Aiken is now #3 on the depth chart).

Also...Sammy Morris (knee) will likely miss Sunday's game, which you'd think is good news for Laurence Maroney (above). Then again, this is the Patriots we're talking about, so Week 7 could just as easily be Kevin Faulk's or Jarvis Green-Ellis' turn to shine. After Maroney's monster outing in the snow, you have to believe he is in the cat bird seat. But caveat emptor.

Ohbytheway...did you know the Pats and Bucs are playing in London this weekend? Somehow that slipped my attention until just now.

Michael Turner's backup, Jerious Norwood, will miss at least a couple weeks with a hip flexor injury. If you've been holding onto him as Turner insurance, you can safely waive him now if you need the roster space.

Head Coach Mike Tomlin has confirmed that Rashard Mendenhall is the starting RB for the Steelers, over the healthy Willie Parker. No surprise there given Mendenhall's performance over the last few weeks. But don't give up on Fast Willie yet. As we've seen, things change fast around here.

Tashard Choice is slated to get more carries due to his outstanding production in Marion Barber's and Felix Jones' absence. But here's the thing: Both of the above are back and apparently healthy. Jones is the most explosive playmaker of the bunch; but because he's so brittle, he may be relegated to return duties and only occassional carries, according to some sources. The relative value of the Cowboys RBs now appears to be Barber, then Choice, then Felix. All this could certainly change between now and Sunday -- and week to week, for that matter -- so don't make any rash decisions just yet.

Apparently you can go home again...Ahman Green is a Packer! Signed to backup his former backup, Ryan Grant, Green replaces DeShawn Wynn, who is now on IR due to a knee injury. That should be interesting.

Darren McFadden is likely out until at least Week 10. Michael Bush was apparently hit in the back of the head in Sunday's game, which sidelined him and gave Justin Fargas the backfield to himself. Bush should be back this week, so don't expect similar results from Fargas against the Jets.

Looks like Anthony Gonzalez won't be ready for Week 7, so that's more opportunities for Austin Collie and Pierre Garcon to excel with the league's top QB.

Rookie WR Michael Crabtree is expected to start opposite Isaac Bruce on Sunday. That means Josh Morgan moves down a notch in the 49ers' pecking order and should be nowhere near a fantasy roster at this point. Not that he should have been on one in the first place...

As projected, Miles Austin will be supplanting Patrick Crayton as a starting WR in Dallas' offense.

Where have I seen this before? Anquan Boldin will be a game-time decision. Don't count on him being available Sunday night, given the initial diagnosis of a high ankle sprain. Steve Breaston could be a nice spot starter against the Giants.

Finally...and I can't stress this NOT wait until Saturday to check your starting lineup for this weekend's games. SIX teams are on bye in Week 7 -- Ravens, Broncos, Lions, Jags, Seahawks and Titans. Admittedly, there are probably fewer fantasy studs among those six teams than there were in the four that sat out Week 6, but that's still a lot of dead weight. Be prepared!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Week 6 Heroes and Zeros

This was a great week to start…

Tom Brady, QB, Patriots – Oh, there’s Tom Terrific! Dismantled the Titans with his 380 passing yards and a six-pack of TDs.
Matt Schaub, QB, Texans – Torched the Bengals for 392 yards and 4 TDs.
Drew Brees, QB, Saints – Embarrassed the NFL’s No. 1 pass defense with 369 yards passing and 4 scoring strikes.
Brett Favre, QB, Vikings – Passed for 278 yards and a TD trifecta.
Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Steelers – Threw for 417 yards and a pair of TDs, offset by two turnovers.

Maurice Jones-Drew, RB, Jaguars – Rumbled for 133 yards and 3 TDs and added five catches for 45 yards.
Ray Rice, RB, Ravens – Ran for 77 yards and 2 TDs, while catching 10 passes for 117 yards.
DeAngelo Williams, RB, Panthers – Rushed for 152 yards and 2 TDs, plus two receptions for 20 yards.
Thomas Jones, RB, Jets – Raced for 210 rushing yards and a score.
Steve Slaton, RB, Texans – Ran for 43 yards and caught 6 passes for 102 yards and a score.

Randy Moss, WR, Patriots – Connected for 8 catches, 129 yards and a trio of scores.
Wes Welker, WR, Patriots – Teamed with Brady for 10 catches, 150 yards and 2 TDs.
Marques Colston, WR, Saints – Reeled in 8 receptions for 166 yards and a score.
Hines Ward, WR, Steelers – Caught 8 passes for 159 yards and 1 TD.
Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Cardinals – Tallied 13 catches for a cool 100 yards and a score.
Eddie Royal, WR, Broncos – Failed to catch a ball, but returned a kick and a punt for TDs.

Owen Daniels, TE, Texans – Hauled in 7 passes for 78 yards and a pair of TDs.
Visanthe Shiancoe, TE, Vikings – Scored twice on 4 catches for 48 yards.

Packers defense/special teams – Amassed 5 sacks, 3 interceptions and a shutout of the toothless Lions.
Patriots defense/special teams – Forced five turnovers and blanked the Titans.
Broncos defense/special teams – Notched five sacks, two turnovers and Royal’s kick and punt return scores.

This was a great week to play against…

Matt Hasselbeck, QB, Seahawks – Followed up his 4-TD outing against the Jags with a miserable 112-yard, 0-TD, 2-turnover game vs. Arizona.
Donovan McNabb, QB, Eagles – Inexplicably failed to generate a touchdown against the Raiders, ending up with just 269 passing yards.
Matt Cassel, QB, Chiefs – Passed for 186 yards without a score.
Eli Manning, QB, Giants – His 178-yard, 1-TD, 1-INT day wasn’t a fantasy disaster; it was just so 2008.

Julius Jones, RB, Seahawks – Five carries netted just five yards – and he was Seattle’s leading rusher!
Michael Bush, RB, Raiders – Tallied only 22 rushing yards.
Jamal Lewis, RB, Browns – Ran for 21 yards and caught 2 passes for just 15 more.
Matt Forte, RB, Bears – Ran for 23 yards, caught 5 passes for 37 more, and lost a fumble.
Knowshon Moreno, RB, Broncos – Managed just 44 rushing yards on Monday night.

Steve Smith, WR, Panthers – Virtually invisible against the Bucs’ pathetic secondary, with just one 4-yard catch.
Jeremy Maclin, WR, Eagles – Followed up his breakout game with one 6-yard catch.
Percy Harvin, WR, Vikings – Two receptions netted just 10 yards.
Terrell Owens, WR, Bills – Notched three catches for 13 paltry yards.
Antonio Bryant, WR, Buccaneers – Caught 2 passes for 37 yards.

I didn’t see that coming…

Laurence Maroney, RB, Patriots – Rushed for 123 yards and a score in the snow.
Zach Miller, TE, Raiders – Brought down 6 passes for 139 yards and a score in a, gulp, Oakland victory.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Week 6 column: And now for something completely different

Just like clockwork, everything fell into place on one of the most predictable weekends of the fantasy football season.

Tom Brady dismembered the depleted Titans secondary with 380 yards and a six-pack of touchdowns (five of which came in the second quarter alone). Perhaps the unseasonably frigid conditions slapped Brady out of his recent slumber. More likely, it was the fact that he, Randy Moss and Wes Welker are infinitely more talented than their winless opponents.

Ben Roethlisberger likewise made mincemeat out of the over-matched Browns, Aaron Rodgers and Co. trounced the toothless Lions, and Maurice Jones-Drew steamrolled over the sad-sack Rams.

Kurt Warner and friends unmasked the Seahawks as the pretenders they are, and Carolina’s dynamic backfield duo got back in the groove against the pathetic Buccaneers.

And, true to form, Donovan McNabb and the Eagles thoroughly dominated the hapless Raiders in a game that was essentially over by halftime, and…

What? You mean…? Uh…how exactly did that happen?

Frankly, I have no clue. We could go back to the “any given Sunday” maxim, and repeat the tired “that’s why they play the games” adage. But in a season when “parity” has seemed little more than a quaint relic of a bygone era, Oakland 13 – Philadelphia 9 makes no sense whatsoever.

Eli Manning and his receivers had toyed with the Raiders’ secondary one week earlier en route to a 44-7 shellacking. A rested and rejuvenated McNabb similarly destroyed the Bucs in Week 5, and seemed primed to deliver a spanking so severe that Al Davis would wince in the owner’s box. My primary concern when I confidently inserted McNabb into my starting lineup was that he might be pulled early because the game had gotten so far out of hand.

Then, Sunday night, as I stood beside my 10-year-old daughter amid a sea of shrieking pre-teen girls watching Miley Cyrus (aka Hannah Montana) belt out one teenybopper hit after another, it hit me: Some things simply defy explanation.

I don’t know about you, but I’m looking forward to watching Derek Anderson light up Green Bay for 400 yards and four touchdowns next weekend.


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

Laurence Maroney, RB, Patriots. In keeping with the theme of this week’s column, Maroney’s first 100-plus-yard performance since 2007 exposes a fairly significant glitch in the matrix. Heading into a weekend when six teams are on a bye, the once-feared-now-forgotten rusher could prove valuable again next week against the Bucs, especially if Sammy Morris’ knee injury keeps him on the sidelines.

Steve Breaston, WR, Cardinals. Arizona’s No. 3 receiver had posted decent numbers since Week 2 despite concerns about a lingering knee injury, but he hadn’t found the end zone until Sunday. With word that Anquan Boldin may have suffered a dreaded high ankle sprain against the Seahawks, Breaston’s stock is about to skyrocket.

Lance Moore, WR, Saints. Drew Brees’ top receiver from 2008 was a coveted mid-round draft pick this preseason. But Moore was discarded in roughly half of fantasy leagues after a nagging hamstring injury contributed to a brutally slow start. Following Sunday’s six-catch, 78-yard, one-touchdown effort against the Giants, it’s time to welcome him back to the fold.

Hakeem Nicks, WR, Giants. I can’t recall ever recommending the same player in two consecutive weeks, but Nicks is still a free agent in roughly 90 percent of fantasy leagues. The rookie has scored in three straight games, and Mario Manningham was shaken up again Sunday. What are you waiting for?

Don’t be fooled

Justin Fargas, RB, Raiders. I don’t care that he rushed for 87 yards against the vaunted Eagles defense while out-performing Michael Bush. I’m not buying into the Raiders offense, and certainly not their third-string tailback. You shouldn’t either.

LenDale White, RB, Titans. After suffering a knee injury against the Patriots, White’s fantasy value is officially kaput. Same for every other member of that team not named Chris Johnson. Though the severity of White’s injury is not yet known, his offense’s ineptitude is well documented.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Actives and inactives for Week 6

Calvin Johnson and Matt Stafford are out for today's game.

Percy Harvin is active, but I don't like his prospects vs. Baltimore with a bum shoulder.

John Carney (and not Garrett Hartley) will be kicking for the Saints today. Pierre Thomas will start, with Mike Bell spelling him on occasion.

Jamal Lewis is active, which is bad news for Jerome Harrison.

Fast Willie is active, but will play second fiddle to Mendenhall vs. the Browns.

Those are the highlights thus far. Having trouble getting on Twitter right now, but will begin tweeting as soon as possible.

Have a great day!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Week 6 Starters & Benchwarmers

You don’t need me advising you to start Aaron Rodgers and Larry Fitzgerald, or to bench anyone wearing a Browns jersey. So I’ll leave the obvious recommendations to the network bozos and focus instead on players typically on the bubble of most fantasy lineups. Here are my picks to roll, and get rolled, in Week 6.

Watch ‘em roll

David Garrard, QB, Jaguars vs. Rams. Assuming Mike Sims-Walker avoids another pre-game blunder, Garrard’s receiving corps will be back at full strength against the sad-sack Rams. Both defenses have been sieve-like, so don’t be surprised to see Garrard bounce back from last week’s drubbing in Seattle. After all, each of his five passing TDs this year has come at home.

Ray Rice, RB, Ravens at Vikings. Minnesota has yet to surrender a score to any tailback this season, so why the favorable recommendation? For starters, Rice has finally eclipsed Willis McGahee as both a rusher and receiver. The shifty second-year back is an integral part of the Ravens’ offense, and all his talents will be exploited against the Vikings on Sunday.

Knowshon Moreno, RB, Broncos at Chargers. San Diego is giving up more than 150 rushing yards per game, while the rookie has recently emerged as the team’s workhorse back. With little competition for touches, Moreno could have a breakout game under the Monday night lights.

Steve Smith, WR, Panthers at Buccaneers. With just 20 receptions for 255 yards, the elite wideout currently resides outside the Top 50 fantasy receivers. He’ll vault into the Top 20 after torching Tampa Bay’s overly generous secondary, which has already surrendered a dozen passing scores to date.

Jeremy Maclin, WR, Eagles at Raiders. A one-week wonder? Not when the rookie’s next opponent is Oakland and his red-hot quarterback is at the controls. The Giants’ receivers toyed with this secondary last week, and Philly’s passing attack is equally lethal.

More thumbs up: QBs Matt Hasselbeck, Donovan McNabb, Ben Roethlisberger; RBs Ryan Grant, Cedric Benson, Steven Jackson, Thomas Jones; WRs DeSean Jackson, Antonio Bryant, Santana Moss, Mike Sims-Walker, Braylon Edwards.

Roll ‘em back

Joe Flacco, QB, Ravens at Vikings. After a blistering start, the second-year passer has cooled off recently. Though Minnesota’s secondary is penetrable, it’s best to bench Flacco until he and his top target, Derrick Mason (neck), get back in the groove.

LaDainian Tomlinson, RB, Chargers vs. Broncos. Facing one of the NFL’s premier defenses, LT’s miserable season is unlikely to improve soon. As difficult as it may be to sit him, his stubborn ankle injury and the presence of the explosive Darren Sproles combine to make him a bad bet this week.

Julius Jones, RB, Seahawks vs. Cardinals. Arizona has allowed a league-low 71 rushing yards per game. This matchup should be all about the passing games, and Jones was a bit player in last week’s blowout of the Jaguars.

Terrell Owens, WR, Bills at Jets. Already suffering through the worst slump of his career, Owens now squares off against Darrelle Revis, arguably the best cover corner in the NFL. Coming off two consecutive losses, the Jets will show no mercy on the toothless Bills. While you’re at it, bench Lee Evans, too.

Percy Harvin, WR, Vikings vs. Ravens. After beginning his NFL career with a bang, Harvin has been targeted just seven times over the last two games. He’s also been limited by a shoulder injury this week, so don’t count on much from the rookie in a tough matchup.

More thumbs down: QBs Brett Favre, Matt Schaub, Matt Cassel; RBs Willie Parker, Willis McGahee, Kevin Smith, Michael Bush, Brandon Jacobs; WRs Calvin Johnson, Lance Moore, Earl Bennett.


Donnie Avery, WR, Rams at Jaguars. I know, I know… I’ve preached against the evils of the “Lamest Show on Turf” for weeks. But some of you still own Avery, so you might as well play him now. Jacksonville has given up 11 passing scores to date, and it’s safe to assume the Rams will be throwing often in what could be a surprisingly high-scoring affair between two defenseless teams.

DON’T BE THE BONEHEAD WHO…benches Drew Brees against the Giants’ No. 1-ranked pass defense. Though the Saints’ gunslinger is coming off a two-game stretch without a touchdown pass, he’s simply too explosive to bench. Besides, New York’s impressive stats have been generated at the expense of four of the worst passing teams in the league, plus a bumbling Tony Romo.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Mid-week news you can use

Looks like Willie Parker will be back in the lineup on Sunday vs. the Browns. He practiced fully today for the first time in weeks. No telling what the split will be between him and Mendenhall, but if I had to choose, I'd roll with Mendenhall.

Look for a continuation of the timeshare between Brian Westbrook and LeSean McCoy in Philly's backfield. We may not like it as fantasy football players, but it makes all the sense in the world if you're running the Eagles.

I just traded Glen Coffee in one of my leagues, since the 49ers are headed into a bye and Frank Gore is likely to resume his workhorse load in Week 7. Coffee was OK in his absence, but did nothing to suggest he has earned any kind of time share with the starter going forward. It's a good time to sell the backup.

Jerricho Cotchery re-injured his hamstring in Monday night's loss to the Dolphins. Which is exactly why you should (a) be very reluctant to start a WR with a hammy problem, and (b) be more disappointed than glad when he starts after being a game-time decision. More often than not, the injury prevents the player from being himself and it's way too easy to aggravate the problem and risk even more missed time.

Percy Harvin sat out today's practice with a shoulder injury. Keep an eye on this one.

Same for Calvin Johnson, who didn't practice either due to his sprained knee. I wouldn't count on him this weekend.

Lots of rumblings about Matt Jones signing somewhere soon. I've heard Dallas and Tampa Bay are interested. Though I've never been a fan, if Jones gets in the right situation (more like Dallas than TB), he could be a viable pickup down the stretch.

I'm not ready to proclaim Chad Henne a viable fantasy QB just yet, but...if he can play that well against a very sturdy Jets defense in just his second start, I'm thinking he could be an interesting play down the stretch with the Bucs, Panthers and Bills on tap from Weeks 10-12. Now if the Dolphins could just swing a trade for a true No. 1 receiver...

Matt Stover just signed with Indy and will kick in Adam Vinatieri's place while the Colts' kicker rehabs a bum knee over the next 6 or so weeks. I don't recommend picking up Stover since it's Indy's bye week, but definitely feel free to release Vinatieri if you own him. Frankly, he hasn't been much of a fantasy K for some time anyway.

A little football humor

Three NFL quarterbacks die in a car crash, and enter the pearly gates...

God asks Peyton Manning first: "What do you believe?"

Peyton thinks long and hard, looks God in the eye, and says, "I believe in hard work, and in staying true to family and friends. I believe in giving. I was lucky, but I always tried to do right by my fans."

God can't help but see the essential goodness of Manning and offers him a seat to His left.

Then God turns to Aaron Rodgers and says,"What do you believe?"

Aaron says, "I believe passion, discipline, courage and honor are the fundamentals of life. I, too, have been lucky, but win or lose, I've always tried to be a true sportsman, both on and off the playing fields."

God is greatly moved by Aaron's sincere eloquence and he offers him a seat to His right.

Finally, God turns to Brett Favre: "And you, Brett, what do believe?"

Favre replies, "I believe You're in my seat."

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Week 5 Heroes & Zeros

This was a great week to start…

Matt Hasselbeck, QB, Seahawks – Returned from injury with a vengeance, connecting on 4 TD passes and 241 yards.
Donovan McNabb, QB, Eagles – Rested and rehabbed, he passed for 264 yards and 3 TDs, and added a team-high 30 rushing yards.
Tony Romo, QB, Cowboys -- Passed for 351 yards and two TDs.
Peyton Manning, QB, Colts – Kept the train rolling with 309 yards and 3 scores.
Matt Ryan, QB, Falcons – Tossed 2 TDs and 329 yards, and ran for another TD.
Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Steelers – His 277 yards and 3 TDs buried the Lions.

Michael Turner, RB, Falcons – Bulldozed over the 49ers for 97 yards and a TD trifecta.
Ahmad Bradshaw, RB, Giants – Racked up 110 rushing yards and 2 TDs, and added a 55-yard reception for good measure.
Clinton Portis, RB, Redskins – Scored twice and totaled 74 yards.
Adrian Peterson, RB, Vikings – He scored twice too, with 69 rushing yards.
Ronnie Brown, RB, Dolphins – Ran the Wildcat nearly to perfection, rushing for 74 yards and 2 TDs, while adding 21 passing and 14 receiving yards.
Thomas Jones, RB, Jets – Effectively bottled up by the Dolphins, but still punched in two goal-line scores and ran for 42 yards.
Ray Rice, RB, Ravens – Ran for 69 yards and caught 7 passes for 74 yards and a score.

Roddy White, WR, Falcons – Torched San Fran with 210 receiving yards and 2 TDs.
Andre Johnson, WR, Texans – Reeled in 8 passes for 101 yards and 2 scores.
Nate Burleson, WR, Seahawks – Caught two of Hasselbeck’s TD passes, plus 98 yards.
T.J. Houshmandzadeh, WR, Seahawks – Hauled in 5 passes for 77 yards and the other two Hasselbeck scoring strikes.
Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Cardinals – Amassed 79 yards and two TDs on five catches.
Brandon Marshall, WR, Broncos – His 8 receptions led to 64 yards and two trips to the end zone.

Kellen Winslow, TE, Buccaneers – Hauled in 9 passes for 102 yards and a pair of TDs.

Seahawks defense – Logged 5 sacks, a fumble-return TD, another fumble recovery and a shut-out of the toothless Jags.

This was a great week to play against…

Joe Flacco, QB, Ravens – Came back down to earth with 186 yards passing, one TD and two INTs.
David Garrard, QB, Jaguars – Continued his underwhelming play on the road with just 188 yards and no TDs.
Derek Anderson, QB, Browns – How does an NFL quarterback complete two passes for 23 yards and an INT and still win the game?

Cadillac Williams, RB, Buccaneers – Got 8 yards both as a rusher and receiver.
Julius Jones, RB, Seahawks – Just 34 rushing yards, which was 12 fewer than his backup (Edgerrin James).
Larry Johnson, RB, Chiefs – Another disappointing day, with just 37 rushing yards.
Chris Johnson, RB, Titans – Held to just 43 combined yards by the Colts.
DeAngelo Williams, RB, Panthers – Only ran for 40 yards while reeling in two passes for 19 more.
Fred Jackson, RB, Bills – Took a back seat to Marshawn Lynch, totaling just 47 yards.
Marion Barber, RB, Cowboys – Ran for only 53 yards and caught no passes.
Maurice Jones-Drew, RB, Jaguars – Limited to 34 rushing yards and five catches for 23 more.

Calvin Johnson, WR, Lions – Had only a single 2-yard catch before leaving with a knee injury.
Randy Moss, WR, Patriots – Caught just one 36-yard pass.
Pierre Garcon, WR, Colts – Played a bit role (one 9-yard catch) in Manning’s latest masterpiece.
Lee Evans, WR, Bills – Brought down 2 passes for 11 yards.
Mohamed Massaquoi, WR, Browns – Still think it’s a good idea to pickup a rookie wideout from the Browns after his single 16-yard reception?
DeSean Jackson, WR, Eagles – Caught a one-yard pass from the red hot McNabb.
Jerricho Cotchery, WR, Jets - Active despite lingering injury, he caught one pass for 4 yards while being overshadowed by Braylon Edwards.
Mike Sims-Walker, WR, Jaguars – A healthy, last-minute scratch that left many owners with a goose egg.
Laveranues Coles, WR, Bengals – He actually played and still posted a goose egg.
Derrick Mason, WR, Ravens – Ditto.

I didn’t see that coming…

Miles Austin, WR, Cowboys – Blitzed the Chiefs for 250 yards and 2 TDs on 10 receptions.
Jeremy Maclin, WR, Eagles – Rookie caught 6 passes for 142 yards and 2 TDs.
Austin Collie, WR, Colts – Reeled in 8 catches for 97 yards and two scores.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Week 5 column: Sometimes, ‘tis better to receive

This could be remembered as the weekend when Austin Collie and Jeremy Maclin emerged as future elite wideouts. But Week 5 may also go down as a turning point in the 2009 season, when receivers served notice that they would be a dominating factor in fantasy title runs.

Not only were we treated to the season’s first two 200-plus-yard performances by wideouts (Miles Austin and Roddy White), but no fewer than ten receivers posted a pair of touchdowns each. That’s twice as many as last weekend’s previous season-high.

That’s a pretty dramatic turn of events, considering four fairly prolific offenses weren’t even playing this weekend.

Of course, few owners benefited from the exploits of Austin, Maclin and Collie, each of whom is a free agent in more than 90 percent of fantasy leagues. You can bet they’ll be flying off the shelves this week.

So what can we learn from this remarkable confluence of aerial fireworks?

For starters, never sit an elite wideout. Roddy White, Brandon Marshall, Andre Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald and T.J. Houshmandzadeh all proved they have the ability to torch opposing secondaries at any given time. Getting cute by playing the matchups, or last week’s shooting star (Mohamed Massaquoi anyone?), is more often a prescription for disaster than a winning formula.

Second, when in doubt, it’s almost always better to start a complementary receiver playing with a gun-slinging quarterback than a lead receiver in a pass-challenged offense. You could be forgiven for starting Pierre Garcon over Collie. But those who cast their lot with Kenny Britt or Massaquoi got what they deserved: A painful reminder that all the talent in the world can be squandered when it’s paired with an erratic passer.

Last, injury reports matter. When a talented backup finally gets his opportunity to start for a high-octane offense, good things can happen. We saw it earlier this season when Mario Manningham took over for Domenick Hixon, and when Mike Sims-Walker replaced Troy Williamson. This week, Maclin and Austin filled-in for injured starters and made an emphatic case for hanging onto the job even when those players return.

Here’s more good news: If your receiving corps is shooting blanks, this is a great week to re-load.


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. After a week in which receivers dominated the fantasy headlines, let’s look at a few wideouts worth considering, and others who would look better in someone else’s lineup.

Catch ‘em while you can

Jeremy Maclin, WR, Eagles. It was only a matter of time before Philly’s most electric new toy took over for the mediocre Kevin Curtis. After Maclin’s 142-yard, two-touchdown outing against the Bucs, the transition seems complete. The rookie won’t out-shine DeSean Jackson every week, but he obviously has earned the trust of the pass-happy Donovan McNabb. That’s good enough for me.

Miles Austin, WR, Cowboys. Prior to the season, I thought Austin would claim a starting job opposite Roy Williams by opening day. A poor preseason derailed that notion. Williams’ rib injury opened the door again, and Austin exploded through with 10 receptions for 250 yards and a pair of touchdowns. It helped that the Chiefs’ secondary can’t tackle, but don’t be surprised if Austin replaces Patrick Crayton in the starting lineup after the Cowboys’ Week 6 bye.

Austin Collie, WR, Colts. Last week’s highlight-reel scoring reception was clearly no aberration. Any receiver who catches eight passes for 97 yards and a pair of touchdowns from Peyton Manning gains instant fantasy cred. Though the rookie may still swap turns in the spotlight with Garcon, Collie’s days as a free agent are behind him.

Hakeem Nicks, WR, Giants. After notching his second TD reception in as many weeks, the rookie should be on your radar. More important, with Mario Manningham suffering a chest contusion on Sunday, Nicks’ prospects are even brighter. Though Manningham claimed to be fine following the game, he could miss some practice time, giving the first-round selection extra reps with the suddenly prolific Eli Manning.

Don’t be fooled

Laveranues Coles, WR, Bengals. He has scored just one touchdown in five games (a five-yarder), and his highest production came in Week 3 with five catches for 34 yards. He’s now Cincinnati’s fourth-best receiver, trailing not only Chad Ochocinco and Chris Henry, but Andre Caldwell, too. If you can’t trade Coles, waive him.

Mike Wallace, WR, Steelers. He got some attention with a 102-yard effort against the Bengals in Week 3. After scoring on the Lions Sunday, many will be tempted to pick up the first-year speedster. But while Wallace has supplanted Limas Sweed as the No. 3 wideout in Pittsburgh’s offense, he won’t get enough consistent looks to merit a roster spot. That said, should one of the starters go down, Wallace could easily become the next Maclin or Austin.

Dennis Northcutt, WR, Lions. Calvin Johnson’s owners should be very concerned about the knee injury that sidelined him during Sunday’s game. Not only is he one of the best wideouts in the game, but his absence can’t be filled by any of his backups. Though Northcutt had a solid outing this weekend, so did Bryant Johnson in Week 3. So what? Detroit’s passing game is worthless without Megatron.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Watch Sunday morning tweets

As usual, I'll be tweeting all the inactives for the noon games as soon as they're available. However, I am out of town for a wedding and will not be planted in front of the Red Zone Channel during today's games. So...I won't be tweeting all the scoring. I'll do my best to tweet the afternoon game inactives, but no promises there as I'll be at a lake house and internet access is spotty.

Inactive reports haven't yet been released, but here's what I've heard so far:

Not playing: Matthew Stafford, Marc Bulger, Felix Jones, Roy Williams, Joey Galloway, Phil Dawson

Most likely playing: Eli Manning, Daunte Culpepper, Jamal Lewis, Cedric Benson, Joseph Addai

Also, Jerricho Cotchery doesn't play until Monday night, but it's not sounding good. Don't count on him being in uniform.

More to come shortly via Twitter (

Have a great day, and good luck to all the Fools!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Week 5 Starters & Benchwarmers

You don’t need me advising you to start Peyton Manning and Adrian Peterson, or to bench JaMarcus Russell and Michael Crabtree. So I’ll leave the obvious recommendations to the network bozos and focus instead on the players typically on the bubble of most fantasy lineups. Here are my picks to roll, and get rolled, in Week 5.

Watch ‘em roll

Donovan McNabb, QB, Eagles vs. Buccaneers. Rested and rehabbed, McNabb returns for a delectable matchup. Only two defenses have surrendered more passing TDs than the Bucs’ nine. Flack jacket and all, McNabb will soar at home.

Tim Hightower, RB, Cardinals vs. Texans. Arizona failed to take advantage of Indy’s soft run defense in Week 3, and lost the game. They shouldn’t repeat the mistake against a Houston squad that surrenders 165 rushing yards per game and has given up a league-high eight TDs on the ground. For now, Hightower remains the Cards’ lead runner and a key weapon in the passing game.

Jerome Harrison, RB, Browns at Bills. Even if Jamal Lewis (hamstring) suits up, Harrison should get the bulk of the reps against Buffalo’s sieve-like run defense. The multi-dimensional tailback excelled against the Bengals last Sunday, and should be leaned upon heavily again.

Dwayne Bowe, WR, Chiefs vs. Cowboys. Injuries and offensive ineptitude have slowed the Chiefs’ top receiving weapon over the past two weeks, but Bowe will get back on track when he faces one of the league’s softest secondaries.

Sidney Rice, WR, Vikings at Rams. With touchdowns in two consecutive games, Rice has emerged as a solid fantasy play thanks to his strong rapport with Brett Favre. Though his quarterback won’t be forced to throw as often as he did on Monday night, his receivers should have little trouble racking up the points against the lowly Rams.

More thumbs up: QBs Matt Schaub, Joe Flacco, Ben Roethlisberger; RBs Rashard Mendenhall, Knowshon Moreno, Glen Coffee; WRs Santonio Holmes, Bernard Berrian, T.J. Houshmandzadeh.

Roll ‘em back

Kyle Orton, QB, Broncos vs. Patriots. He has thrown five TDs in four games, which isn’t that impressive to begin with. Then consider that two of the five were last-minute miracles (Brandon Stokley in Week 1, Brandon Marshall on Sunday). Don’t count on big numbers from Orton against New England.

Kevin Smith, RB, Lions vs. Steelers. He managed to score twice against the Bears last weekend, though his lingering shoulder injury contributed to a lackluster 30-yard rushing effort. The going gets tougher this week, though, as Pittsburgh has allowed just 61 yards per game and only one rushing score to date.

Steven Jackson, RB, Rams vs. Vikings. I hate to pick on him two weeks in a row, but the once-elite runner is unlikely to be the first back to score against Minnesota this season. With the dearth of talent surrounding him, he’ll be lucky to penetrate the red zone, much less the end zone.

Braylon Edwards, WR, Jets at Dolphins. A fresh slate and more potent offense should salvage his fantasy prospects; but not this week. It will take his rookie quarterback some time to get comfortable with him, and he must first learn a new playbook. The Jets have little choice but to start Edwards. Hopefully you have better options.

Torry Holt, WR, Jaguars at Seahawks. With the emergence of Mike Sims-Walker, the veteran wideout has taken a back seat in the Jags’ air attack. Throw in the fact that none of David Garrard’s five TD passes has come on the road, and Holt is a very risky play.

More thumbs down: QBs Tom Brady, Trent Edwards; RBs Michael Turner, Thomas Jones, Cadillac Williams, Ricky Williams; WRs Donnie Avery, Ted Ginn, Laveranues Coles, Justin Gage.


Matt Cassel, QB, Chiefs vs. Cowboys. Both of the defenses in this game are giving up tons of yardage and plenty of passing scores, so don’t be surprised to see Cassel winging it often with success. In a week when four of the top fantasy passers are on bye, Cassel could come through in the clutch, even if that means padding his stats during garbage time.

DON’T BE THE BONEHEAD WHO…fails to check the inactive reports (or my Sunday morning tweets) before finalizing your starting roster. Several key players – including Eli Manning, Matt Hasselbeck, Brian Westbrook, Jamal Lewis, Willie Parker, Roy Williams and Kevin Boss – could be late scratches, which would have a domino effect on multiple players’ value.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Fragile Freddy alert, and more

Big news out of Beantown: The Boston Globe is reporting that Fred Taylor could miss the rest of the season following surgery on his injured ankle. Though this is unconfirmed speculation at this point, it's obviously worrisome news if you're a Fragile Freddy owner.

I would never advocate taking advantage of a fellow league-mate. But, hypothetically, if someone were to have an interest in Mr. Taylor, you might just want to explore the trade possibilities before the news spreads further. I'm just saying...

In Oakland, Michael Bush has been named the starter, giving some clarity to the Raiders backfield now that Darren McFadden is going to be out for 2-4 weeks. If you're really desperate, Bush could be a decent pickup. Justin Fargas will surely see some carries, but the bruising Bush currently has the proverbial leg up.

Looks like Cadillac Williams will be the primary RB for the Bucs going forward. He has earned the job, and Derrick Ward has done his best to give it to him as well. Here's what OC Greg Olson said: "Our thinking was we could rotate him in with the other backs, but as good as he's looked, it's time we become more committed to Cadillac Williams as a full-time guy." Isn't it cool when a coach doesn't mince his words?

Not that you'd want to pick him up, but it does appear that Daunte Culpepper will be the Lions' starting QB on Sunday, due to Matthew Stafford's knee injury. As a Megatron owner, I'm actually kinda excited about that. Culpepper knows how to heave a ball up for a guy like Calvin Johnson (or Randy Moss) to go get it, whereas Stafford actually tries to place the ball in the right spot.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Mid-week updates from around the NFL

Big news today, as ESPN's Adam Schefter is reporting that the Browns have traded Braylon Edwards to the Jets for Chansi Stuckey, a special teamer and undisclosed draft picks. I suggested trading or outright dropping Edwards in my column on Monday. Does this change things? Yep. At least for now. The prospect of Braylon starting over with a promising young QB in a better offensive situation than that in Cleveland all make him worth hanging onto. Though I don't think a move to NY can necessarily fix his terrible case of the dropsies. He could easily disappear like Roy Williams did when he moved from Detroit to Dallas, or quickly develop into a reliable target for Sanchez. (Having a hard time coming up with an analogy for the latter. Does that mean something?)

This probably won't affect Jerricho Cotchery's value in the short term, but it could over the long haul.

This also means I need to re-think my recommendation to ignore Mohamed Massaquoi, though I still have a hard time getting excited about any WR in Cleveland. Not to mention Stuckey will likely break into the starting lineup right away. I suppose Massaquoi is now worth a flier, but don't rush out to acquire Stuckey.

Looks like both Donovan McNabb and Brian Westbrook will be back this weekend, though Westy likely faces a rotation situation with rookie LeSean McCoy.

Eli Manning is day-to-day this week with his heel injury. For his sake, and that of Steve Smith and Mario Manningham, let's hope he can go. Apparently the plantar fasciitis is very painful, but not a structural problem.

Felix Jones remains doubtful for Week 5. As is Roy Williams.

As reported via Twitter yesterday, Darren McFadden will miss 2-4 weeks with his knee injury. Michael Bush and Justin Fargas will split the carries in his absence. Again, I'd just as soon avoid that backfield, but if I had to pick one, I'd go with the more powerful Bush, who would likely see the goal-line carries if the Raiders ever actually get there again.

Correll Buckhalter will likely be out at least this week with a high ankle sprain. That's great news for Knowshon Moreno owners.

The AP is reporting that Michael Crabtree and the 49ers have finally agreed to terms on a 6-year contract. Apparently the rookie isn't as stupid as some have suggested, since he didn't follow through with his veiled threat to sit out the season. I don't recommend taking up a valuable roster spot with Crabtree unless and until he demonstrates an ability to contribute on the field. Though he obviously is overwhelmingly gifted, he has had virtually zero interaction with his QB and can't possibly know the offensive scheme. More than likely, he'll be worthless from a fantasy perspective until the 2010 season.

Garrett Hartley has served his four-game suspension and is now eligible to return to the Saints. The assumption is the team will release John Carney during the bye week, but there's no certainty yet on that point. If you have Carney and need another K for this week's games, it's a reasonable risk to release him. Even if New Orleans opts to stick with him, you should be able to find another decent kicker to fill the spot.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Week 4 Heroes and Zeros

This was a great week to start…

David Garrard, QB, Jaguars -- Passed for 323 yards and a TD trifecta, adding 38 yards on the ground.
Eli Manning, QB, Giants -- Threw 3 TDs with 292 yards before leaving with a heel injury.
Brett Favre, QB, Vikings – Another legendary performance, with 271 passing yards and 3 TDs.
Philip Rivers, QB, Chargers -- His 254-yard, 3-TD performance wasn’t enough against the Steelers.
Aaron Rodgers, QB, Packers – Came up short on Monday night, but still tossed 2 TDs and 384 yards, plus 16 rushing.

Rashard Mendenhall, RB, Steelers -- Rumbled out of the dog house with 165 powerful rushing yards, 2 TDs, and 2 catches for 26 yards.
Kevin Smith, RB, Lions -- Injured earlier in the week, he amassed 51 yards and 2 TDs.
Ronnie Brown, RB, Dolphins -- Scored twice and ran for 115 yards.
Steve Slaton, RB, Texans -- Rewarded his owners’ patience with 89 total yards and a TD rushing and receiving.
Matt Forte, RB, Bears -- Finally got off the schneid and in the end zone, with 140 combined yards.

Steve Smith, WR, Giants -- Scorched the Chiefs with 11 receptions for 134 yards and 2 scores.
Mike Sims-Walker, WR, Jaguars -- Signaled that he’s for real, with 7 catches for 91 yards and 2 TDs.
Santana Moss, WR, Redskins -- Caught 10 passes for 178 yards and a score.
Chad Johnson, WR, Bengals -- Reeled in 3 passes for 24 yards and 2 TDs.

Antonio Gates, TE, Chargers -- Was a beast, accounting for 124 yards and a pair of TDs on nine catches.
Heath Miller, TE, Steelers -- Hauled in 8 passes for 70 yards and 2 TDs.

This was a great week to play against…

Drew Brees, QB, Saints -- Failed to throw a TD pass for second consecutive game. Just 190 yards.
Tony Romo, QB, Cowboys -- Passed for 255 yards and no TDs, plus two turnovers.

Darren McFadden, RB, Raiders -- Lost three yards on six rushes, and picked up just five yards on a solitary catch before leaving with a knee injury.
Fred Taylor, RB, Patriots -- Rushed for 25 yards and caught a 13-yard pass.
Julius Jones, RB, Seahawks -- Ran just 20 yards and 3 catches totaled just 10 receiving yards.
LenDale White, RB, Titans -- Amassed less than 10 total yards rushing and receiving.
Steven Jackson, RB, Rams -- Ran for 79 yards and didn’t sniff the end zone.
LaDainian Tomlinson, RB, Chargers -- Only generated 15 yards on the ground.
Darren Sproles, RB, Chargers -- Had no runs and only one 16-yard reception.

Braylon Edwards, WR, Browns -- Targeted five times, including at least twice in the end zone, but caught zippo.
Lance Moore, WR, Saints -- Got a single yard on his single catch.
Justin Gage, WR, Titans -- One 15-yard catch won’t cut it.
Ted Ginn, WR, Dolphins -- Had one four-yard reception.
Devin Hester, WR, Bears -- Caught one 2-yard pass before leaving with a shoulder injury.
Laveranues Coles, WR, Bengals -- Just 2 receptions for 24 yards.
Marques Colston, WR, Saints -- Two catches equaled 33 yards.
Greg Jennings, WR, Packers – His two generated 31 yards.
Roy Williams, WR, Cowboys -- Brought down 3 passes for 35 yards.
Eddie Royal, WR, Broncos -- Caught two balls for 16 yards. Time to wave goodbye.
Dwayne Bowe, WR, Chiefs -- One catch totaled 11 yards.

Kellen Winslow, TE, Buccaneers -- Just 21 yards on 2 catches.

I didn’t see that coming…

Jermichael Finley, TE, Packers – I’ve been waiting for his breakout game, and this was it. He scored and hauled in six catches for 128 yards.
49ers D/ST -- I know the Rams are awful, but five sacks, three TDs and a shut out is a little ridiculous.
Saints D/ST -- Scored on both a fumble recovery and interception, added 4 sacks and 4 turnovers and held the Jets to 10 points.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Week 4 column: A roster spot is a terrible thing to waste

Four weeks into the 2009 season, several intriguing trends are taking shape. And while there’s still a lot of football left to be played, the bye weeks are forcing many owners to make some difficult roster decisions.

Is it too soon to give up on players who, just over a month ago, we thought would help lead our teams to the Promised Land? In many cases, no.

Let’s start with some of the NFL’s worst offenses. The Rams, who would have difficulty scoring against the University of Phoenix, have just one player (Steven Jackson) with any fantasy relevance whatsoever. And his value is plummeting by the minute. Cross your fingers and hope that he overcomes the odds stacked against him like a 10-man defensive front. But feel free to eject Donnie Avery and anyone else representing the “Lamest Show on Turf.”

The Raiders are in a similar mess. JaMarcus Russell seems to have an allergic reaction to his own receivers, and Darren McFadden managed to lose yardage Sunday against what had been the league’s softest run defense. If you’re holding any stock in Oakland, sell it.

Braylon Edwards was targeted five times on Sunday, including twice in the end zone. He caught none of them. Whether it’s poor quarterbacking, offensive ineptitude or bricks for hands, Edwards just isn’t cutting the mustard. Trade him before he squanders the rest of his name value.

Tony Romo is on a troubling three-game skid, but his upside is too high to throw in the towel. His receivers are a different story. Only Jason Witten and Roy Williams deserve a roster spot now.

Eddie Royal, one of last year’s breakout rookies, now resides outside the top 100 fantasy receivers. With just 58 yards to date, Royal ranks behind three fellow wideouts and two tight ends in Denver. If you can’t trade him, release him outright.

With Wes Welker back in action, Joey Galloway was a healthy scratch for Sunday’s game. Rookie Julian Edelman is the Patriots’ No. 3 receiver, leaving the aging veteran on the outside looking in. Galloway no longer belongs on fantasy rosters.

In most scoring formats, you can also safely release the once highly ranked defenses from Tennessee, Carolina, Tampa Bay, Miami, Dallas and New England. Here’s a good rule of thumb: Where possible, pick up whoever is playing St. Louis or Oakland!

You think filling out a decent starting lineup is tough when four teams are on their byes? Just wait until Weeks 7 through 9, when six teams each are sitting out. You can’t afford to keep dead weight on your roster then, so you’d be wise to get ahead of the game by making the tough decisions now.


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

David Garrard, QB, Jaguars – With four of the top passers in the business sitting out Week 5, many owners will look for help from Garrard, whose 323-yard, 3-TD, 0-INT pasting of the Titans was the best statistical performance of his eight-year career. While Garrard often fails to notch a passing score in his games, he has taken a shine to Mike Sims-Walker and, better still, faces the Seahawks, Rams, Titans (yesterday’s opponent) and Chiefs over the next five weeks.

Rashard Mendenhall, RB, Steelers – That’s what you call a “statement game.” Ridiculed for poor practice habits and a bad case of fumbleitis, Mendenhall’s name was used in the same sentence as “bust” on a regular basis. But after he barreled through the Chargers for 165 yards and a pair of touchdowns (plus 26 receiving yards), the second-year pro is the toast of Pittsburgh (and Fantasyland). According to two leading sites, he’s available in nearly two-thirds of leagues. But not for long.

Jerome Harrison
, RB, Browns – James Davis was expected to take the reins of Cleveland’s rushing attack from the aging and injury-prone Jamal Lewis. But the dynamic rookie was just placed on injured reserve with a shoulder injury, leaving Harrison as the lone healthy back in the Browns’ stable. He racked up 152 combined yards against the Bengals, and has another tasty matchup with the Bills next. He’s a good receiver, too, boosting his value in point-per-reception leagues.

Don’t be fooled

Daunte Culpepper, QB, Lions – Rookie Matthew Stafford apparently dislocated his kneecap Sunday, which could sideline him for a game or more. Culpepper is always a hot waiver wire pickup in times like this; but for the life of me, I don’t know why. He hasn’t thrown for more than 220 yards since Week 11 of the 2007 season, or tossed two touchdowns in a game since Week 4 of that same year. By the way, the Lions face the Steelers in Week 5.

Mohammed Massaquoi, WR, Browns – Remember his name for next season’s draft, but feel free to forget it for now. Rookie receivers are risky enough. Those catching balls in Cleveland from Derek Anderson cannot be trusted. His eight-reception, 148-yard effort Sunday was a pleasant aberration.

49ers and Saints defense/special teams – Give both units props for mauling the Rams and Jets, respectively. The 49ers pitched a shutout and scored three TDs, while the Saints scored twice and held the Jets to 10 points. Alas, San Francisco’s schedule gets tougher (Falcons, bye, Texans and Colts over the next four weeks), and New Orleans draws the Giants after this weekend’s bye.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Week 4 updates

As expected, Willie Parker won't go today due to a turf toe injury. Though Rashard Mendenhall will get the start, I think Mewelde Moore (left) is the better play against the Chargers. The Steelers simply can't afford to lose this game -- lest they fall to 1-3 -- and Mendenhall has been a huge disappointment (he was even benched in Week 3 after a poor week of practice). Moore, on the other hand, has produced every time he's been given the chance. He's also an excellent receiver. I could be wrong about this (it wouldn't be the first time), but I am putting Moore in my starting lineup in one league today.

In a somewhat shocking development, Browns rookie RB James Davis was placed on IR yesterday. Who knew his shoulder injury was so serious? That makes Jerome Harrison the back to own in Cleveland, especially this week against Cinci with Jamal Lewis likely sitting the game out as well. Wow...

Make sure to follow my tweets ( this morning for game-day inactives/actives and other updates.

Have a great day, and good luck!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Week 4 Starters & Benchwarmers

You don’t need me advising you to start Peyton Manning and Chris Johnson, or to bench JaMarcus Russell and David Clowney. So I’ll leave the obvious recommendations to the network bozos and focus instead on the players typically on the bubble of most fantasy lineups. Here are my picks to roll, and get rolled, in Week 4.

Watch ‘em roll

Brett Favre, QB, Vikings vs. Packers. It seems inconceivable to me that the Vikings won’t allow Favre to do his thing in the Monday night grudge match with the Packers, especially after his solid performance against the 49ers (301 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT). He may force some throws and get a couple picked off, but you can bet he’ll pile up the yards and find the end zone twice or more, too. Don’t forget, even Kyle Boller notched two TDs against Green Bay last week.

Glen Coffee, RB, 49ers vs. Rams. Everybody runs roughshod over the Rams. Why should the talented rookie be any different? While Frank Gore is sidelined, Coffee will get the majority of the carries, including at the goal-line, which the 49ers figure to visit frequently.

Julius Jones, RB, Seahawks at Colts. Indy’s run defense is among the league’s weakest, and its pass rush took a major hit with the loss of Dwight Freeney. Jones has been surprisingly effective thus far as a rusher, and he’s scored twice as a receiver as well. Most important, even if Seattle trails early, Jones will remain in the game.

Kevin Walter, WR, Texans vs. Raiders. Not only was he targeted as many times (seven) as Andre Johnson in his ’09 debut, he posted better stats than Houston’s top wideout. Walter is fully healthy again, and he should find plenty of room to roam Sunday while Oakland’s secondary double-teams his counterpart.

Braylon Edwards, WR, Browns vs. Bengals. He has scored five touchdowns in his last four games against Cincinnati, all thrown by Derek Anderson, who will start again Sunday. Cleveland will likely be playing catch-up in this game, meaning plenty of downfield heaves by Anderson to his favorite weapon.

More thumbs up: QBs Jay Cutler, Carson Palmer, Matt Schaub, Eli Manning; RBs Matt Forte, Cedric Benson, Steve Slaton, Tashard Choice, Knowshon Moreno; WRs Chad Ochocinco, Devin Hester, Torry Holt, Mario Manningham.

Roll ‘em back

Tom Brady, QB, Patriots vs. Ravens. I know you’re wondering if Brady can rack up points against such a stingy defense. Normally I would tell you not to worry; but right now, I can’t. Brady is clearly struggling (one TD in the last two games), and there’s little reason to think he’ll turn it around against Baltimore. Reserve him if you have a safer option.

Steven Jackson, RB, Rams at 49ers. He’s coming off two consecutive 100-yard games, but he still hasn’t crossed the goal-line this season. San Francisco’s rush defense is the NFL’s fourth-toughest, and it held Adrian Peterson under 100 yards without a TD last week. For what it’s worth, Jackson hasn’t scored against the 49ers since 2006.

Marshawn Lynch, RB, Bills at Dolphins. He returns from suspension to a full-fledged backfield rotation with Fred Jackson, who has performed admirably in his stead. Miami’s run defense is stout, so don’t rush Lynch into your starting lineup just yet.

Eddie Royal, WR, Broncos vs. Cowboys. His best production of the season came in Week 2 when he amassed a whopping 20 receiving yards. Meanwhile, Brandon Marshall has gotten back into the groove while both Brandon Stokley and Jabar Gaffney have out-performed last year’s rookie sensation. Another week or two of this and Royal will be waiver fodder.

T.J. Houshmandzadeh, WR, Seahawks at Colts. He has yet to crack the end zone this season, and that streak isn’t likely to end against the tough Indy secondary. With Seneca Wallace under center, Seattle’s passing attack is just so-so.

More thumbs down: QBs Joe Flacco, Matt Cassel; RBs Larry Johnson, Fred Taylor, Thomas Jones, Ryan Grant; WRs Calvin Johnson, Roy Williams, Devery Henderson, Dwayne Bowe.


Jason Campbell, QB, Redskins vs. Buccaneers. Though he was the losing quarterback in the Week 3 matchup with the Lions, Campbell’s 340-yard, 2-TD, 1-INT performance was more than respectable. Washington could easily lose to the woeful Bucs too, but Campbell will likely find statistical success against their awful defense.

DON’T BE THE BONEHEAD WHO…forgets to account for his bye-week players. The Falcons, Cardinals, Eagles and Panthers are all resting in Week 4. Make sure you have enough warm bodies to fill in your starting lineup.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Mid-week updates and trade winds are a-blowin'

There's good news and bad news for LT owners today. Good news: He practiced for the second consecutive day. Bad news: That's what constitutes good news about LT these days. When he returns -- possibly this week -- you can bet he'll be sharing carries with Darren Sproles.

Marion Barber was also a full participant in today's practice, meaning he is very likely to play this Sunday. Tashard Choice should still be retained, and could do very well against Denver if the Cowboys limit Barber's touches. As you know, Felix Jones is out.

Willie Parker hasn't practiced all week due to his "minor" turf toe injury. Better hope he practices Friday, or his prospects on Sunday are slim. Mewelde Moore could be a sneaky start, since Rashard Mendenhall is doing everything in his power to disappoint his coaches.

Kevin Smith will probably be a game-time decision in Week 4.

Cedric Benson and Matt Forte practiced fully and are solid starts this weekend.

Dwayne Bowe returned to practice, which is a positive sign that he may be able to play with his gimpy hammy on Sunday.

Not a bad time to trade...I don't know about you, but getting Sproles, Steve Slaton and Steve Smith (NYG) in return for Randy Moss, Jamaal Charles and Cadillac seems like a pretty great deal to me. Obviously, it's tough to give up a guy like Moss (though there are some concerns about his back injury being more serious than initially thought), but Smith has actually out-performed him thus far and the upgrades at RB are pretty significant (especially if you believe, like I do, that Slaton has GOT to get better). I pulled off this trade in one of my leagues today (won't say which one to protect the innocent) because I was WR rich and RB poor. Hopefully I'll be as happy about it in a few weeks as I am today.

The moral of this story: The next couple of weeks are prime trading season. Owners see byes coming, they're not satisfied with their records, and it's too early to throw in the towel, so they can make desperate moves as a result. Be prepared to take advantage of the situation.

And when I say "take advantage," I mean in the purest sense of the phrase...