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.
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
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.