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.
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 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.