Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Updates from around the league

If you haven't already, you need to check your lineup(s) to make sure you'll have enough warm bodies to get through the bye weeks, which begin this weekend. You won't have the services of any Eagles, Falcons, Panthers or Cardinals in Week 4. With the byes and so many injuries to deal with, you should probably start trolling the waiver wire early.

I had the joy of taking my son Preston to the Cowboys game last night at the Death Star for his 14th birthday. Even managed to get us seats in an awesome suite with the help of a good (now great) friend. And what do you know? There's Ochocinco in the suite next door. We exchanged tweets in the most manly of ways and shook hands outside in the hall. So much for my brush with greatness.

And while I was happy to see the home team win, I was not pleased that Romo failed to get the two TDs I needed to overcome the deficit I faced in one league where my opponent had both Peyton and MJD. But I was very happy to see Felix Jones working his magic, though his production only amounted to pouring on the points in my lopsided win in another league. That is, until he suddenly disappeared and Tashard Choice took over in the second half. We didn't know it at the time, but Felix had strained his knee (Wade Phillips just said he "sprained his PCL" in his news conference). Wow...that guy is some kinda brittle. Barber is expected back for Week 4, and Jones could be out for a couple of weeks. Choice should be picked up asap.

By the way, that's back-to-back 200+ yard rushing games for the Cowboys. Not too shabby.

Chad Pennington is lost for the season with a shoulder injury, so it's the beginning of the Chad Henne era in Miami. How long that era will last, and whether it is remembered fondly or with disgust, is anyone's guess at this point. But this could be very welcome news to Ted Ginn's owners, as Henne is known for throwing a good deep ball. That was clearly not Pennington's forte.

In related news, Tyler Thigpen was traded by the Chiefs to the Dolphins. Just in case the Henne era gets off to a slow start.

Not surprisingly, the Byron Leftwich era in Tampa Bay lasted about 2.5 weeks. The Josh Johnson era officially begins on Sunday. I'm guessing the Josh Freeman era kicks off around Week 7.

The Eagles just released Jeff Garcia. The message would be that Donovan McNabb will be ready to roll after the team's bye this week. Meanwhile, JaMarcus Russell has passed for 378 yards, 1 TD and 4 INTs as Oakland's starter. How Garcia is not heading west right now is beyond me.

Looks like Frank Gore will be out for at least a couple games, maybe more. As mentioned in yesterday's column, Glen Coffee will see the lion's share of carries for the 49ers in his absence, and he has a nice couple of matchups (Rams, Falcons) on tap.

Kevin Smith's shoulder injury doesn't appear to be too serious, but it's still not certain that he will be able to play on Sunday. Maurice Morris would get the nod if the starter can't go.

Willie Parker apparently has a minor turf toe issue that will cause him to miss some practice time this week. That's not what you want to hear if you own Fast Willie, who had a nice bounce-back game last weekend. If he can't go, Rashard Mendenhall could get a start. He was kept off the field by head coach Mike Tomlin in Week 3 because he had a poor week of practice.

There's good news and there's bad news for those who invested an early pick on Marshawn Lynch. Good news: You can finally insert him in your starting lineup this week, now that his 3-game suspension is over. Bad news: Fred Jackson performed awfully well in Lynch's absence, and has earned a continued role in the offense. It will be interesting to see how this situation shakes out in the weeks ahead. Smells like the makings of yet another committee backfield to me.

Speaking of which, Brian Westbrook and LeSean McCoy could be the next dynamic duo to share carries. After McCoy's solid performance Sunday, and given Westbrook's well-documented injury history, this is a logical move for the Eagles. It doesn't help us fantasy players though, but methinks Andy Reid could care less.

LT probably won't practice again all week, which would mean Darren Sproles gets another week as the lone starter. Wow...as disappointed as I have been thus far with Matt Forte, I guess it could have been a lot worse!

Greg Jennings aggravated his wrist injury on Sunday, but played through it. Though it was good to see him top 100 yards after his goose egg in Week 2, his two-reception total was not encouraging. Hopefully he can put the wrist issue behind him soon.

The hamstring injury that kept Dwayne Bowe out of Sunday's game could cost him the Week 4 matchup as well. The team doesn't want to risk making it worse by pushing him back onto the field too soon. Prepare to play without him this week.

And you thought things couldn't possibly be any worse in St. Louis. Ha! Marc Bulger bruised the rotator cuff on his throwing arm and could miss the next game vs. San Fran. (OK, it's arguable whether Kyle Boller is actually a downgrade.) The two starting WRs, Donnie Avery (ribs) and Laurent Robinson (broken fibula, out for season), were also knocked out of the game. Will Steven Jackson ever see the red zone again???

Monday, September 28, 2009

Week 3 Column: Real Men of Genius

The Fantasy Fools Present: Real Men of Genius.

(Real men of genius.)

Today we salute you, Mr. Set Your Lineup on Friday and Walk Away Fantasy Football Guy.

(Mr. Set Your Lineup on Friday and Walk Away Fantasy Football Guy!)

You stubbornly refuse to believe your star players could possibly encounter an eleventh-hour set-back, confident in the notion that once you’ve locked in your starting lineup, nothing can stop your gridiron gladiators from annihilating your out-matched competitor.

(Wes Welker’s gonna torch ‘em!)

Sure, every NFL team publishes its list of inactives well in advance of kickoff, but you’ve got Brian Westbrook at home against the Chiefs, and nothing’s going to spoil that party.

(Bring the pain!)

You’ve even heard your favorite fantasy guru is sending Twitter updates every Sunday, just to make sure you don’t mistakenly start Dwayne Bowe when his hammy flares up prior to the game.

(I’m still working on my MySpace.)

As you strut toward your PC around 3 PM to check your score, you exude the confidence of a Super Bowl champion, even though you haven’t sniffed the fantasy postseason since 2004.

(One and done!)

And then you see it…that all-too-familiar digit heralding another demoralizing loss to the neighbor who loves nothing more than rubbing your nose in your own flower bed every Monday morning.

(How’d he know to start LeSean McCoy?)

So crack open a frosty can of whoop-ass, oh Guardian of the Goose Egg. Because even though you’re 0-and-3, you’ve got Frank Gore at home against the Rams next week.

(Mr. Set Your Lineup on Friday and Walk Away Fantasy Football Guy.)


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

Glen Coffee, RB, 49ers. Though details are sparse, Frank Gore’s ankle injury seems likely to keep him sidelined through the 49ers’ Week 6 bye. Coffee has not looked particularly strong since the preseason, but home games against the Rams and Falcons offer the rookie a chance to excel in the starter’s absence.

Ladell Betts, RB, Redskins. You’re playing with fire if you own Clinton Portis and don’t have his backup waiting in the wings. Portis has bone spurs in both ankles and did not play well against the Lions. With regime change expected in Washington at any time, and Portis’ durability at issue, Betts could soon be asked to breathe life into the team’s anemic offense.

Pierre Garcon, WR, Colts. I steered you away from Austin Collie when Anthony Gonzalez went down in Week 1, urging you to wait until a clear No. 3 receiving target emerges for the Colts. After registering his second touchdown catch in as many weeks, Garcon has risen to the occasion. The speedster is a viable bye-week option against the Seahawks and Titans in the weeks ahead.

Don’t be fooled

Lynell Hamilton, RB, Saints. Welcome back, Pierre Thomas. Thanks for the memories, Lynell. Though the undrafted rookie got off to a nice start Sunday, a rejuvenated Thomas took over in the second half and reminded any who had forgotten that he is a game-changing play-maker when healthy. Barring another injury, Hamilton’s 15 minutes are up.

Vernon Davis, TE, 49ers. Go ahead and jump on Davis’ bandwagon after his 96-yard, two-touchdown outing if you like. I’m not buying it. Not only is his offense too inconsistent, but Davis is a perennial underachiever who has never finished a season among the top 12 tight ends. Yesterday’s pair of TDs matched his scoring production for all of 2008.

Daniel Fells, TE, Rams. You can’t be serious. You wouldn’t really buy into the Kyle Boller-to-Daniel Fells combo, would you?

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Week 3 Heroes & Zeros

This was a great week to start…

Peyton Manning, QB, Colts -- Blitzed the Cardinals for 379 yards and TDs to 4 different receivers.
Matt Schaub, QB, Texans -- Threw for 300 yards and 3 TDs.
Kevin Kolb, QB, Eagles -- Scored twice through the air and once on the ground, with 327 passing yards.
Aaron Rodgers, QB, Packers -- Passed for 269 yards and 2 TDs, and added 38 yards and another score running.

Maurice Jones-Drew, RB, Jaguars -- Ran for 119 yards and a TD trifecta, adding 4 catches for 28 yards.
Pierre Thomas, RB, Saints -- Returned with a bang, rushing for 126 yards and 2 TDs.
Willis McGahee, RB, Ravens -- Scored twice for the third straight game, and added 67 rushing yards.

Santana Moss, WR, Redskins -- Caught 10 passes for 178 yards and a score.
DeSean Jackson, WR, Eagles -- Reeled in 6 passes for 149 yards and 1 TD.
Reggie Wayne, WR, Colts -- His 7 receptions generated 126 yards and one TD.

Vernon Davis, TE, 49ers -- Scored twice on 7 catches for 96 yards.
Brent Celek, TE, Eagles -- Hauled in 8 passes for 104 yards and a TD.

This was a great week to play against…

Drew Brees, QB, Saints -- Passed for 172 yards and no TDs. Huh?
Matt Ryan, QB, Falcons -- Only 199 passing yards with no scores.

Frank Gore, RB, 49ers -- Ran just once for 4 yards before leaving with an ankle injury.
Adrian Peterson, RB, Vikings -- Any time you can hold AP to 99 total yards, you should be thankful.
Clinton Portis, RB, Redskins -- Ran for only 42 yards.
Larry Johnson, RB, Chiefs -- Rushed for 38 yards.
Thomas Jones, RB, Jets -- Held to 20 yards by the Titans.
Cadillac Williams, RB, Buccaneers -- Gained just 8 rushing yards.
Derrick Ward, RB, Buccaneers -- Got to start against his old team, but generated 9 combined yards.
Beanie Wells, RB, Cardinals -- Lost 2 yards on 2 carries against the worst run defense in the league.

Braylon Edwards, WR, Browns -- Reeled in just 3 passes for 35 yards.
Roddy White, WR, Falcons -- 4 catches amounted to 24 yards.
T.J. Houshmandzadeh, WR, Seahawks -- His 4 receptions totaled 35 yards.
Santonio Holmes, WR, Steelers -- Had one 18-yard reception.
Eddie Royal, WR, Broncos -- Caught one 4-yard pass.
Terrell Owens, WR, Bills -- Posted a goose egg against the Saints.
Ted Ginn, WR, Dolphins -- Ditto.

Tony Gonzalez, TE, Falcons -- Caught 1 pass for 16 yards.
Kellen Winslow, TE, Buccaneers -- Got just 14 yards on his 3 catches.

I didn’t see that coming…

Kyle Boller, QB, and Daniel Fells, FB, Rams -- Hooked up just twice, but the connections produced 35 yards and 2 TDs.

Sunday updates on Twitter

Be sure you're following me on Twitter www.twitter.com/ladd_biro to get today's inactives and actives, and other updates.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Late updates heading into Week 3

Wow, what a mess. NFL players are the walking wounded this week. I strongly advise you to watch for my actives/inactives tweets on Sunday before finalizing your starting lineups.

Here's what's up as of Saturday night --

Forget about Matt Hasselbeck and Donovan McNabb. For that matter, don't bother with Seneca Wallace either, though Kevin Kolb is a solid start vs. KC.

Jamal Lewis is out this week, according to Adam Schefter's Twitter, so you know it has to be true. Jerome Harrison and James Davis are expected to split carries against the Ravens, so forget about the Browns RBs this week. But...it will be interesting to see how the backups perform in this real-time audition for Lewis' job.

Clinton Portis has bone spurs in both ankles, but will play this week. Just don't be surprised if those injuries cost him time -- possibly a lot of it -- this season. If you have Portis, you'd better back him up asap with Ladell Betts.

Derrick Ward will be the starting Bucs RB against his former team, the Giants. Both Cadillac and Earnest Graham are nursing hamstring injuries, so Ward is a fine start this week for the first time all season.

Randy Moss popped up unexpectedly on the injury report with a back problem. As usual, the Pats are saying nothing else about Moss. Welker is questionable too, but looks good to go. If either Moss or Welker are held out, rookie Julian Edelman is a very strong play in PPR leagues.

Kevin Walter is listed as probable for Sunday's game, and could have a terrific 2009 debut vs. the Jags. Or, he could play sparingly and give you a goose egg. Consider him a high-risk, high-reward play in Week 3.

Game-time decisions: Knowshon Moreno (groin), Brian Westbrook (ankle), Marion Barber (quad), Cadillac Williams (knee), Percy Harvin (migraines), Randy Moss (back), Wes Welker (knee), DeSean Jackson (groin), Kevin Curtis, Antonio Bryant (knee), Dwayne Bowe (hamstring)

Out this week: LT, Mike Bell, Jamal Lewis, Lance Moore, Brandon Stokley, Chaz Schilens, Phil Dawson (CLE kicker).

Friday, September 25, 2009

Week 3 Starters & Benchwarmers

You don’t need me advising you to start Drew Brees and Adrian Peterson, or to bench JaMarcus Russell and Arnaz Battle. So I’ll spare you the obvious recommendations, focusing instead on the players typically on the bubble of most fantasy lineups. Here are my picks to roll, and get rolled, in Week 3.

Watch ‘em roll

Joe Flacco, QB, Ravens vs. Browns. It’s hard to believe the second-best passer in Fantasyland is still available on many waiver wires. The young gun should have no problem exploiting a Cleveland secondary that has yet to pick off a pass this season.

Felix Jones, RB, Cowboys vs. Panthers. Dallas leads the NFL in rushing, and Jones was a key part of the mix on Sunday night. With Marion Barber (quad) limited at best Monday night, a healthy, game-breaking Jones will be the primary ball carrier against one of the league’s softest run defenses.

Willis McGahee, RB, Ravens vs. Browns. The veteran is more than just a touchdown poacher (four TDs in two games). He’s rushed for 123 yards and caught six passes for 41 more – just 38 combined yards fewer than Ray Rice. Even better, Cleveland has given up five rushing scores already.

Steve Smith, WR, Giants at Buccaneers. In all the gushing over Mario Manningham’s spectacular emergence, let’s not forget that Smith remains Eli Manning’s top target. Both receivers should be starting against Tampa Bay’s woeful secondary, especially in point-per-reception leagues.

Jerricho Cotchery, WR, Jets vs. Titans. Tennessee’s secondary has been the defense’s Achilles heel, responsible for losing games to both Pittsburgh and Houston. Rookie Mark Sanchez is still not ready for fantasy primetime, but Cotchery has posted games of 90 and 87 receiving yards and is overdue for a trip to the end zone.

More thumbs up: QBs Matt Schaub, Eli Manning, Trent Edwards; RBs Brandon Jacobs, Ryan Grant, Darren Sproles, Fred Jackson; WRs Greg Jennings, Vincent Jackson, Devery Henderson, Santana Moss.

Roll ‘em back

Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Steelers at Bengals. Cincinnati has allowed just two passing TDs and leads the league in sacks (nine), while Pittsburgh’s offensive line has struggled to protect Big Ben (sacked six times to date). The Steelers will likely jump-start their running game in this matchup.

Thomas Jones, RB, Jets vs. Titans. As Leon Washington gets more involved in the offense, Jones’ value declines. Facing the NFL’s second-stingiest run defense, the veteran could be watching from the sidelines a lot since his backup is a more lethal receiving option.

Cedric Benson, RB, Bengals vs. Steelers. The workhorse of the Bengals offense heads into a very tough matchup with a sore ankle. Though he’s expected to start, bench him against a defense that has already held Chris Johnson and Matt Forte out of the end zone this season.

Braylon Edwards, WR, Browns at Ravens. Baltimore is not a fun place to visit when your quarterback is struggling, as Brady Quinn is. Edwards had a decent game in Week 2, but expect a performance more like the opener (1 reception, 12 yards) as the Browns will be lucky to score on the Ravens at all.

Justin Gage, WR, Titans at Jets. Jets CB Darrelle Revis has shut down Andre Johnson and Randy Moss in consecutive weeks. If you think he’s going to have any trouble covering Gage, well, there’s not much I can do for you.

More thumbs down: QBs Brett Favre, Byron Leftwich, Kyle Orton; RBs Joseph Addai, Jamal Lewis, Larry Johnson, Julius Jones; WRs TJ Houshmandzadeh, Chris Henry, Eddie Royal, Earl Bennett.


Chris “Beanie” Wells, RB, Cardinals vs. Colts. While everyone expects this game to be a shoot-out, Arizona should have its greatest success on the ground against an Indy team that is virtually defenseless against the run. Beanie Wells has had fumble problems, and Tim Hightower is still the top back; but Wells’ 5.2 yards-per-carry average suggests the rookie could be poised for a breakout game on the big stage.

DON’T BE THE BONEHEAD WHO…benches Tony Romo after his awful game on Sunday night. Not only is he facing a Panthers secondary that has surrendered five passing TDs already, but he has a well-documented history of bouncing back nicely after poor performances. Romo will excel on Monday night.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Chris Henry's quad, and other injury updates

A strained quad is the culprit in Chris Henry's slow start to the season, according to the receiver. "It's been killing me...I never had an injury like this," he said yesterday. With this information in hand, it's wise to bench him until he's back to full strength.

Other injury updates:
Matt Hasselbeck didn't practice, but the team is crossing its fingers that they won't have to play the Bears with Seneca Wallace at the controls.
Jonathan Stewart missed practice due to an illness.
Cadillac Williams missed practice today for "unknown reasons."
LT sat out practice and most likely will sit this weekend.
Pierre Thomas is practicing and will suit up Sunday. He claims he's ready to roll.
Wes Welker was back at practice today, but limited.
Brian Westbrook and DeSean Jackson did not practice today, but both are expected to play this weekend.
Antonio Bryant missed practice again, and is not expected to be ready Sunday.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Hammy problems for Jamal...Davis on deck?

You haven't released James Davis, have you?

Word out of Cleveland is that Jamal Lewis is dealing with a hamstring injury, on top of the neck problem that bothered him heading into last Sunday's game. Now that Davis is healthy and practicing fully, this could be the week that we finally get to see the dynamic rookie strut his stuff in real game action.

I'm certainly not suggesting you start Davis against Baltimore this weekend, but I am urging you to hang onto him if you were starting to worry that he's not going to pan out. I didn't recommend him as a sleeper because I thought he'd produce right away. But by midseason, you just might be loving him.

HC Gary Kubiak is not happy that Steve Slaton has fumbled three times in 26 carries in the team's first two games. That, on top of poor production overall from the running game, suggests that Slaton had better get his act together lest Chris Brown start seeing more action.

A few guys who missed Wednesday's practice: Donovan McNabb, Matt Hasselbeck, Cedric Benson, Mike Bell, Lance Moore, Wes Welker, Chris Henry and DeSean Jackson.

Missing Wednesdays is not necessarily a big deal. But, all things being equal, you'd prefer not to see your guys on that list.

Two who practiced: Pierre Thomas and Marion Barber. Though Barber was not a full participant.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Updates from around the league

Lots of injuries coming out of Week 2. Here are the highlights:

Matt Hasselbeck got "McNabbed" on Sunday, and it doesn't look like he'll be able to play in Week 3 against Chicago. Even if he does play with his cracked rib, you shouldn't trust him.

Brett Favre bent a fingernail back on his throwing hand. Something tells me that's not going to keep him from starting in his 272nd consecutive game.

Concerned about Aaron Rodgers taking five sacks from Antwan Odom on Sunday? Get ready for more, as LT Chad Clifton is expected to miss Week 3 and will be replaced by Daryn Colledge, who was burned repeatedly by Odom after Clifton left the game with a sprained ankle. Rams DEs Leonard Little and Chris Long could have a field day on Sunday. Hopefully Rodgers will get a little more time to find Greg Jennings (he of the Week 2 goose egg) this week.

Mike Bell had a nice run as the Saints' starting RB, but after spraining his MCL on Sunday, the party could be over for him. Pierre Thomas should be ready to step back into the lineup, and he's always shined when given the spotlight. A healthy Bell will certainly be woven back into the rotation, but my guess is that Thomas will solidify his hold on the lead role with a good performance against the Bills on Sunday.

The quad injury to Marion Barber will cost him 1-2 weeks, according to NBC-5 in Dallas. Look for a heavy dose of Felix Jones vs. Carolina on Monday night, interspersed with a little Tashard Choice. After Week 3, my preseason projection of Jones being as valuable a pick as Barber (for a fraction of the price) should be on track.

Expect to see Brian Westbrook sit out practice most of the week with his ankle sprain. But as we've seen over the years, Westy often plays without practicing, and he usually plays very well. Don't hesitate to start him vs. KC if he's in the lineup.

How long before Donald Brown supplants Joseph Addai in the starting RB role in Indy? Not much longer, if last night's game was any indication. Addai has to shoulder some of the blame for the Colts' historically low time of possession. And the rookie's TD run was a thing of beauty, unless you're a Dolphins fan like me.

Though it's not official yet, Troy Williamson is probably out for the year with a torn labrum in his shoulder. If you drafted him as a late-round flier after his breakout preseason, feel free to drop him now. Grab Mario Manningham if he's available.

The following WRs will likely remain in "day-to-day" status all week: Antonio Bryant (knee), Lance Moore (hammy), DeSean Jackson (groin) and Wes Welker (knee). Dominick Hixon's (knee) status has not yet been reported, but it appears that Manningham has leapt over him on the depth chart anyway.

Johnny Knox is pushing Earl Bennett for the Bears' starting WR job. Apparently Bennett's BFF ties to Jay Cutler from Vandy aren't enough to stave off competition from a more polished, faster receiver.

Plaxico Burress begins a 2-year jail sentence today. He'll probably get out in 20 months. How the mighty have fallen...

Monday, September 21, 2009

Week 2 Column: Another week, another fantasy superstar

For the second consecutive weekend, one player dominated the competition like no other. Fortunately for those of us who weren’t blessed with the first pick in our fantasy draft, it was someone other than Adrian Peterson.

Sunday, Chris Johnson put on a show of epic proportions, rushing for nearly 200 yards and two touchdowns, while adding nine receptions for another 87 yards and a third score.

On any other day, Frank Gore’s scoring runs of 79 and 80 yards would have made him the toast of Fantasyland. But Johnson’s three trips to the end zone – covering 57, 69 and 91 yards respectively – made even Peterson’s owners envious.

Sunday also brought comfort to stakeholders in the Texans’ passing game, as Matt Schaub and Andre Johnson got off the schneid in style. And apparently Kurt Warner isn’t quite ready to limp off into the sunset.

These are just the latest examples of how quickly fortunes can change in this game that variously torments and delights us.

There’s even hope on the horizon for the legions of frustrated owners of Matt Forte, Steve Slaton and Willie Parker. Though each player has struggled out of the gates against a pair of formidable opponents, the schedule gets markedly softer for all three in the weeks ahead.

Indeed, you could be the one frolicking in a downpour of fantasy points courtesy of the superstar running back of Week 3.


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

Kevin Kolb, QB, Eagles. Eyeing an early bye (Week 4), head coach Andy Reid has declared Kolb the starter against the Chiefs next weekend, thereby allowing Donovan McNabb extra time to mend his broken rib. Though he threw three interceptions, Kolb’s 391 passing yards and two TDs against the Saints suggest he would be a decent one-week filler for those teams struggling without McNabb.

Tashard Choice, RB, Cowboys. If Marion Barber misses time with his pulled quad, Choice will immediately step back into a significant role in the Cowboys’ offense. Felix Jones would be the biggest beneficiary, but Choice would be used frequently as a change-of-pace weapon. He proved late last season that he can excel when given the opportunity.

Mario Manningham, WR, Giants. Last week, I wasn’t buying it. But now that Domenick Hixon (sprained knee) has joined Hakeem Nicks on the sidelines, I’m a believer. Not only is Manningham’s path to a starting job smoother, but he has demonstrated both big-play and possession-receiving capabilities. He and Steve Smith both belong on fantasy rosters.

Devery Henderson, WR, Saints. Much like Lucy snatching up the football as Charlie Brown revs up to kick it, Henderson inevitably disappears every time I recommend him. With that caveat out of the way, Lance Moore’s hamstring injury and Henderson’s performance over the first two games have me taking another swing. After all, how can Brees’ No. 2 wideout not be a fantasy star?

Don’t be fooled

Julian Edelman, WR, Patriots. Except for his jersey number, you could be forgiven for mistaking Edelman for the injured Wes Welker in Sunday’s game. Targeted a whopping 16 times by Tom Brady, the rookie was the team’s leading receiver and would have added a touchdown had Brady not overthrown him on one drive. Feel free to dump Joey Galloway in his favor, but don’t expect similar stats from Edelman once Welker returns to the lineup.

Brandon Stokley, WR, Broncos. He’s been the team’s most productive receiver in each of the first two games, though it took a miracle tip for Stokley to register his only reception (an 87-yard score) in the team’s opener. But unless he supplants Brandon Marshall or Eddie Royal in the starting lineup, Kyle Orton’s third option is not worth a roster spot.

Mike Sims-Walker, WR, Jaguars. You might not recognize the name (he added the Sims this offseason), but you may recall him as the promising, but oft-injured, speedster who has been touted as the Jags’ best hope at receiver since he was drafted in 2007. Though he has re-claimed a starting job over preseason sensation Troy Williamson, the team’s run-oriented offense and his durability issues should cause you to steer clear.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Sunday's Heroes and Zeroes

This was a great week to start…

Matt Schaub, QB, Texans -- Bounced back in style with 357 yards passing plus 4 TDs, with zero INTs.
Drew Brees, QB, Saints -- Kept the train rolling with 311 yards and 3 TDs.
Byron Leftwich, QB, Bucs -- Threw 3 TDs and 296 yards, with 2 INTs
Philip Rivers, QB, Chargers -- Passed for 436 yards and 2 TDs, but also had 2 INTs.

Chris Johnson, RB, Titans -- This week’s biggest star ran for 197 yards and 2 TDs, and added 9 receptions for 87 yards and a third score.
Frank Gore, RB, 49ers -- Raced for 207 yards and 2 TDs, adding 39 yards on 5 receptions.
Fred Jackson, RB, Bills -- Rumbled for 163 yards and caught 6 passes for 25 yards.
Willie McGahee, RB, Ravens -- His second consecutive 2-TD game also included 79 rushing and 10 receiving yards.
Darren Sproles, RB, Chargers -- Only ran for 26 yards, but caught 7 passes for 124 yards and 1 TD.

Andre Johnson, WR, Texans -- Hooked up with Schaub for 10 receptions, 149 yards and 2 TDs.
Marques Colston, WR, Saints -- Scored twice on his 8 catches for 98 yards.
Vincent Jackson, WR, Chargers -- Reeled in 6 passes for 141 yards and a score.
Mario Manningham, WR, Giants -- Caught 10 passes for 150 yards and a TD.

This was a great week to play against…

Tom Brady, QB, Patriots -- Passed for just 216 yards and 1 INT, without a score.
Matt Hasselbeck, QB, Seahawks -- Threw for only 97 yards before leaving with an injury.

Thomas Jones, RB, Jets -- Ran for only 54 yards.
Brian Westbrook, RB, Eagles -- Totaled just 66 combined yards.
Steve Slaton, RB, Texans -- Still stuck in neutral with 59 total yards.
Willie Parker, RB, Steelers -- Rushed for 47 yards.
Jamal Lewis, RB, Browns -- 38 rushing yards.

Greg Jennings, WR, Packers -- Laid a goose egg.
Randy Moss, WR, Patriots -- Caught just 4 passes for 24 yards.
Devin Hester, WR, Bears -- Only 21 yards on 4 catches.
Justin Gage, WR, Titans -- His 2 catches amounted to 27 yards.
Eddie Royal, WR, Broncos -- Still not on track after catching 3 balls for 20 yards.
Donnie Avery, WR, Rams -- Had 1 catch for 4 yards, and lost a fumble.
Cowboys WRs -- Roy Williams had 1 reception for 18 yards while Patrick Crayton chimed in with one for 4 yards.

I didn’t see that coming…
Kevin Kolb, QB, Eagles -- Passed for 391 yards and 2 TDs in place of the injured Donovan McNabb.
Mike Sims-Walker, WR, Jaguars -- Led team with 6 catches for 106 yards and 1 TD.
Julian Edelman, WR, Patriots -- Every time the Patriots had the ball, Brady seemed to be looking at the rookie, who led the team with 8 catches for 98 yards.

The Tweets have it

So you like the tweets. You really like them!

With most precincts reporting, 57% of you felt that 100+ tweets during the course of 6 hours was exactly what you wanted on a Sunday afternoon. Only 11% thought it was overkill.

Today is one of those days when I'll be camped out in front of the Red Zone Channel all afternoon, and my wife probably won't even mind since she's extremely hungover from a wild night on the party bus for a friend's 40th birthday party. Apparently she didn't get the memo that she's not 25 anymore...

Today's updates will come via Twitter, but here's some early news for those who haven't yet heard:

Donovan McNabb: OUT, as expected
Antonio Bryant: OUT

Friday, September 18, 2009

Starters & Benchwarmers -- Week 2

You don’t need me advising you to start Drew Brees and Adrian Peterson, or to bench Tarvaris Jackson and Anthony Gonzalez. So I’ll spare you the obvious recommendations, focusing instead on the players typically on the bubble of most fantasy lineups. Here are my picks to roll, and get rolled, in Week 2.

Watch ‘em roll

Matt Ryan, QB, Falcons vs. Panthers. After a decent start against Miami, Ryan faces a team that denied him a scoring pass in both contests during his rookie season. But Carolina is a team in disarray, and the more seasoned passer will have no problem picking them apart with his talented receiving corps.
Darren McFadden, RB, Raiders at Chiefs. He romped over the Chiefs for 164 yards and a touchdown in Week 2 last season. Though he’s sharing the backfield with the equally impressive Michael Bush, McFadden will get plenty of chances to rack up the yards, and scores, again.
Ronnie Brown, RB, Dolphins vs. Colts. Miami’s strength (running game) matches up favorably with Indy’s weakness (rush defense). Expect a healthy dose of Brown on the ground, as well as in the short passing game, even if the Dolphins fall behind early.
Percy Harvin, WR, Vikings at Lions. Nearly lost in the noise surrounding Peterson’s romp were the multi-talented rookie’s contributions. Harvin was the team’s leading receiver in Week 1 (36 yards, 1 TD), and he added 22 yards as a rusher. He’s clearly a major weapon in Minnesota’s arsenal, especially with Bernard Berrian still gimpy. You’ve gotta love his chances against Detroit.
Santana Moss, WR, Redskins vs. Rams. Moss has a well-deserved reputation for inconsistency, so it follows that he should excel this week after a meager effort against the Giants. The Rams have a knack for helping their opponents rebound.
Other thumbs up: QBs Brett Favre, Joe Flacco, Ben Roethlisberger; RBs Chris Johnson, Ray Rice, Ahmad Bradshaw; WRs Derrick Mason, Eddie Royal, Justin Gage.

Roll ‘em back

Matt Schaub, QB, Texans at Titans. You can never bench Andre Johnson, but Schaub is a different story. His offensive line barely gave him time to breathe against the Jets’ relentless pass rush, and now he’s facing a team that held him to just 472 yards, 1 TD and 3 INTs in two meetings last season.
Darren Sproles, RB, Chargers vs. Ravens. I like his chances better if LaDainian Tomlinson doesn’t suit up, but with the injuries along San Diego’s line and Baltimore’s outstanding run defense in town, Sproles will still have trouble excelling in this matchup.
Willie Parker, RB, Steelers at Bears. Parker has been dealing with a sore hamstring, and Mewelde Moore over-shadowed him in the opener. Chicago’s run defense takes a hit with the loss of Brian Urlacher, but they can still put the clamps down on the Steelers backs.
Laveranues Coles, WR, Bengals at Packers. Facing Green Bay’s ball-hawking secondary after a disastrous opener, Cincinnati’s aerial attack is a huge risk. Coles should be nowhere near your starting lineup until he shows some kind of a spark.
Ted Ginn, WR, Dolphins vs. Colts. Indy’s secondary is among the league’s stingiest, and Ginn has given no indication that he is finally ready to break out. He should be on your bench until further notice.
Other thumbs down: QBs Philip Rivers, Matt Hasselbeck, Jay Cutler; RBs Matt Forte, Steve Slaton, Pierre Thomas, Felix Jones, Julius Jones; WRs Bernard Berrian, Patrick Crayton, Devery Henderson, Devin Hester, Donnie Avery.


Trent Edwards, QB, Bills vs. Buccaneers. Returning home after a bitter loss to the Patriots, the Bills will seek revenge on the next available opponent. Tampa Bay’s secondary broke down against Dallas, and Edwards – who performed well in the opener – should find similar success. Look for strong outings for Terrell Owens and Lee Evans as well.

DON’T BE THE BONEHEAD WHO…gets discouraged after a tough defeat on opening weekend and starts mailing it in. In my leagues, some of the owners who drafted worst are 1-0 and getting cocky. Their time will come. If you keep on plugging, so will yours.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

To tweet, or not to tweet?

Please answer the poll question posted to the right. I need to know if all the effort I put in to tweet scoring plays from each of the Sunday afternoon games was worth it or not. Did I drive you crazy? Did you love it? Did you even notice?

Let me know. I don't mind doing it if enough of you like it, though, sadly, family/business commitments will get in the way on occasion and make it impossible for me sit in front of the Red Zone Channel every week.

Please note that I am NOT asking about tweeting game-day actives and inactives. I will continue to tweet those regardless of the result of this poll (again, time permitting).

Chief Fantasy Fool

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Worried about Forte? Walter update, and future fantasy star

With Matt Forte getting off to a terrible start against Green Bay, and set to face the imposing Pittsburgh run defense on Sunday, what's a desperate Forte owner to do?

Simple --
1. Leave him in your starting lineup (you'll kick yourself if you don't);
2. Pray that Lovie Smith gets his head out and goes back to game planning around his star RB rather than the woefully off-target Jay Cutler;
3. Look forward to much smoother sailing beginning in Week 3 with Seattle. And it gets even better after that: Detroit, bye, Atlanta, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Arizona and San Fran.

In fact, if you don't own Forte, consider making a below-market offer to his owner this week. He won't accept it, most likely, but if Forte has another rough outing against Pittsburgh, a second salvo on Monday could pay off.

I wish I could offer the same words of encouragement to Steven Jackson's owners. But I'm just not convinced the Rams are going to score all season, regardless of the opposition...

Further south, what are we to make of the pitiful performance of Houston's offense against the Jets? That's a good question. While I wasn't surprised by Steve Slaton's poor output (in fact, I predicted it in my Starters & Benchwarmers column Friday), I was stunned by the Texans' inability to get their aerial attack in gear. Matt Schaub didn't look as bad as his numbers would suggest. He simply got no protection from his offensive line against New York's relentless pass rush, and his receivers were blanketed all day. With Kevin Walter likely to return in Week 2, let's hope Schaub & Co. can have similar success against the Titans' secondary as Big Ben & Co. had last Thursday night. (Recent history would suggest otherwise, though. Schaub passed for just 472 yards and 1 TD in two games against Tennessee last season.)

Willie Parker's hamstring just ain't right. Though I don't think he can blame it entirely for his ineffectiveness in the opener, it could be an issue going forward. Keep an eye on this, because Mewelde Moore has done very well when Parker has been sidelined in the past. Whomever gets the carries should be in for solid production in the weeks ahead (Minnesota in Week 7 is the only formidable run defense they will face for some time).

As mentioned in yesterday's post, I love Darren Sproles' chances to excel this season, especially with LT already dinged up. That doesn't mean, however, that Sproles will be a great start this weekend against the Ravens, especially with the injuries along the Chargers' offensive line. Don't bench your normal starters for him; but if LT is inactive, Sproles has significant upside.

Anybody else willing to sign my petition to Kurt Warner demanding that he stop passing to Tim Freaking Hightower (14 targets, 12 receptions, 121 yards) and turn his attention back to Fitz and Boldin?

And finally, this from our reporter in Flower Mound, TX: McKamy Middle School TE/DE Preston Biro put on a show for college scouts and fantasy enthusiasts alike in Tuesday night's opener vs. Shadow Ridge M.S. The eighth grader, who proudly plays the role of wedge buster on the kickoff team, announced his presence early with a lethal, textbook tackle that flattened the returner and elicited gasps from the fans. He followed up with the first of two highlight-reel sacks. In the second period, Biro caught a short pass in the flat at the Shadow Ridge 20-yard-line and broke three tackles before squeezing inside the pylon for the score. He then perfectly executed the same play to the opposide side for the two-point conversion. Biro later sealed the 29-0 victory by sacking the QB from behind after relentlessly pursuing the play from the opposite side of the field.

Hey, you can never prepare too soon for your 2017 fantasy draft!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Don't ignore Murphy. Is Sproles available?

It's awfully hard for me to recommend a Raider WR, especially a rookie and especially knowing how hard it is for JaMarcus Russell to hit them. (Why is it so easy to connect with Zach Miller, and not his wideouts anyway?) But it's just as hard to ignore what Louis Murphy did on Monday night. His final stats (4 rec, 87 yards, 1 TD) were impressive enough, but he was also robbed of a 19-yard TD catch on a replay review that neither the announcers nor I understood.

Every year, a relatively unknown WR emerges in Week 1 and goes on to have an outstanding season (e.g. Royal, Colston, Boldin). Could it be Murphy in '09? I'm not willing to bet against him.

It's certainly not Darrius Heyward-Bey, whose well-earned reputation for dropping passes was on display from the opening drive of last night's game. But when Chaz Schilens returns, will there be enough balls for Murphy to be a reliable fantasy contributor? Hard to say...

LT is already listed as a game-time decision for Week 2 after rolling his ankle in the game Sunday night. Wow...that didn't take long! This is exactly why I had him listed #17 in my preseason RB rankings, lower than any other expert I saw. And the crazy thing is, I might have been overly optimistic! If you watched the game, you'll understand why I'm urging you to grab Darren Sproles right now if he happens to be available.

Don't be surprised if Mike Bell retains the starting RB role for at least another week after racking up 143 yards against the Lions. Why rush Pierre Thomas back when Bell is running so well? For his part, Pierre says he will play in Week 2. Remember: Even before his injury, Bell was slated for goal-line work.

Rookie RB Danny Ware will miss at least a couple weeks with a dislocated elbow. If you were worried about him stealing carries from Brandon Jacobs or Ahmad Bradshaw, you can stop worrying for awhile.

Don't release Anthony Gonzalez just yet. He's out at least two weeks, but it could be significantly longer. If it's not too long, he's worth hanging onto. If you have room to add Murphy, he could be a decent fill-in.

Unless you need help at TE, in which case you have to consider Ben Watson. Not only was he on the money end of both of Tom Brady's TD passes, but he was targeted seven times on the night. He's shown flashes in the past, and it now looks like he's got Brady's confidence. No reason he can't be a top-level TE in that offense.

After catching a dozen passes on Monday night, I guess it's safe to say Wes Welker's mysterious ailment wasn't so bad. Damn Belicheck and his games... I hope none of you benched him, especially in PPR leagues!

Did I tell you Percy Harvin was going to be special? Yeah, I thought so...

Monday, September 14, 2009

Garcia to Philly, Feeley to Carolina

Look who's back in Philly... Jeff Garcia was signed by the Eagles today, obviously as a result of Donovan McNabb's rib injury. No word yet on which QB will start Week 2 -- McNabb hasn't been officially ruled out yet, and Kevin Kolb is the incumbent backup -- but this is an interesting development nevertheless.

Further south, the Panthers signed free agent QB A.J. Feeley. This after Jake Delhomme looked absolutely terrible on Sunday and was benched following his fourth INT. Shortly thereafter, backup Josh McCown sprained his knee and Matt Moore finished out the game. Head coach John Fox is still expressing confidence in Delhomme, which means nothing, of course. Don't be surprised if Feeley is Carolina's new starter by halftime of Week 2. That said, I wouldn't rush to the waiver wire to get him. There's a reason he was a free agent until today.

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.


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.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Week 1 Studs and Duds

It was a great week to start…

Drew Brees – Blistered Detroit for 358 yards and 6, count ‘em, 6 TDs
Tony Romo – Career-high 353 yards and three scores
Joe Flacco – 307 passing yards, 3 TDs
Matt Hasselbeck – Overcame 2 early INTs to pass for 279 yards and 3 TDs

Adrian Peterson – No 1 pick? Yeah, I think so. His 180 yards rushing and 3 TDs, plus 18 receiving, put an explanation point on his fantasy supremacy
Thomas Jones – Busted loose for 107 yards and 2 TDs
Tim Hightower – Reeled in a dozen passes for 121 yards, and ran for 15

Santonio Holmes – 9 catches, 131 yards, 1 TD
Reggie Wayne – 10 receptions, 162 yards, 1 TD

Tony Gonzalez – 5 receptions, 73 yards and a score
John Carlson – 6 catches, 95 yards and 2 TDs
Jeremy Shockey – Scored twice while catching four balls for 31 yards

Eagles D/ST – DeSean Jackson scored on a punt return, while the defense turned in 5 sacks, 5 INTs and returned one of two fumble recoveries for a TD

It was a great week to play against…

All the Broncos (except Brandon Stokley)
All the Texans
Carson Palmer – Passed for a paltry 247 yards, no scores and 2 INTs
Jake Delhomme – Benched after throwing 4 picks
Jay Cutler – Threw 4 INTs and just 1 TD, plus 277 yards
Aaron Rodgers – Nearly blanked till last drive gave him a TD and 184 yards

Willie Parker – 19 yards rushing, 5 receiving
Larry Johnson – 26 combined yards
Chris Johnson – 68 total yards, no scores
Ronnie Brown – 53 combined yards; Ricky Williams got the score
Michael Turner – Just 65 rushing yards
Felix Jones – Only 22 yards on the ground
Steven Jackson – Held to 67 rushing yards
Matt Forte – Inexplicably ignored for most of Sunday night, amassing just 55 yards
Brandon Jacobs – Ground out just 46 yards

Roddy White – 5 catches for just 42 yards
Steve Smith – 3 receptions, 21 yards
Torry Holt – 3 catches for just 47 yards
Lance Moore – Missed out on the scoring bonanza with just 38 yards on 2 catches
Chris Henry and Laveranues Coles – Just one reception each, for 18 and 11 yards, respectively
Anquan Boldin – 2 receptions for 19 yards on his gimpy hammy
Antonio Bryant – 2 catches for 29 yards
Braylon Edwards – One 12-yard catch, with a TD overturned by replay
Bernard Berrian – Turned in a goose egg
Santana Moss – Two catches amassed just 6 yards

Greg Olsen – Pulled in one 8-yard catch

I didn’t see that coming…

Willis McGahee – Scored rushing and receiving, adding 75 total yards
Patrick Crayton – 4 catches for 135 yards and a TD

It was a painful day for…

Donovan McNabb – Scored three times before being knocked out with a rib injury
Anthony Gonzalez – Will miss at least two weeks, probably more, after hurting knee
Hakeem Nicks – Sprained his foot in the fourth quarter

Sunday updates via Twitter only

I'm tweeting all morning/afternoon. Won't be updating the blog till tonight or tomorrow.

Sign up for late-breaking updates at www.twitter.com/ladd_biro.

FYI, Kevin Walter, Pierre Thomas and Matt Cassel are OUT.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Pierre out, Bell in, Welker looks good to go

No game-time decision on Pierre Thomas. He's out for Week 1. Don't hesitate to put Mike Bell in your lineup if you had been counting on Thomas. He should get a big load against the Lions; and, even if it's a blowout, he will likely stay in the game longer than the other key position players, since he's not a bona fide starter. Bell is the team's goal-line back even when Thomas is playing, so count on at least one score from the preseason sensation. (FYI, I "tweeted" this news last night. Make sure you're signed up for breaking news updates at twitter.com/ladd_biro.)

If I had to guess -- I don't, but I will anyway -- I'd say that Wes Welker will play (and play well) on Monday night, but we probably won't see Kevin Walter or Bernard Berrian. Not that you probably care, but I doubt Deion Branch suits up either.

I don't like the words that came out of Anquan Boldin's mouth yesterday: "You don't want to risk getting injured and then being out four weeks. That would be stupid. It's a long season. It's only Week 1. I'd rather sit out game one as opposed to sitting out four or five other games."

Hmmm. Methinks I know which way he's leaning now. Time for Plan B.

Conversely, here's Chris Henry's take on the thigh bruise that landed him on the injury report this week: "I'm playing. You can't miss this, it's the opener. I'm doing everything I can do to rehab and be ready for this game."

Funny. Given their respective histories, you'd expect those quotes to be reversed, wouldn't you?

Why am I not buying all the enthusiasm for Matt Hasselbeck, who's facing the stink-ola Rams defense in the opener? Because LT Walter Jones and C Chris Spencer are out, and last year's starting LG left in free agency. Leonard Little could be using Hasselbeck as a futon by the second quarter of this game. Those counting on big numbers out of Hasselbeck this week should remember that QBs are worthless when they're lying on their backs.

Jets TE Dustin Keller is listed as probable for Sunday's game against Houston. If he's your top TE option, start him with confidence.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Week 1 Starters & Benchwarmers

You don’t need me advising you to start Drew Brees and Adrian Peterson, or to bench Tarvaris Jackson and Michael Crabtree. So I’ll spare you the obvious recommendations, focusing instead on the players typically on the bubble of most fantasy lineups. Here are my picks to roll, and get rolled, in Week 1.

Watch ‘em roll

Carson Palmer, QB, Bengals at Broncos. This may be the last time I can recommend Palmer without sounding like Captain Obvious. But as he returns from an injury-marred 2008, and a sprained ankle this preseason, questions abound. Fortunately, Denver’s aging secondary will be no match for his dangerous receiving corps, boosting Palmer’s chances of beginning the ’09 campaign with a bang.

Ray Rice, RB, Ravens vs. Chiefs. The second-year back is now the undisputed starter in the Ravens’ backfield and should have little trouble breaking free at home against an inferior opponent. The top receiving threat among Baltimore’s running back troika, Rice should find the end zone at least once, despite concerns about his teammates poaching the goal-line carries.

Thomas Jones, RB, Jets at Texans. Where’s the love for the 2008 AFC rushing champ? It’s shifted to his more electric backfield mate, Leon Washington. But Jones remains the workhorse of this offense, especially with rookie Mark Sanchez under center. Jones will make you wonder why he slid so far on draft night as he plows through the Texans’ suspect defense Sunday.

Roy Williams, WR, Cowboys at Buccaneers. The only result worse for the Cowboys than an opening day loss would be failing to get Williams fully integrated into the offense. Expect Tony Romo to look his way often – possibly too often – in an effort to silence the critics and move beyond the Terrell Owens era.

Lance Moore, WR, Saints vs. Lions. Drew Brees & Company should score at will against their outmatched opponents, with both starting wideouts having field days. Moore is fully recovered from offseason shoulder surgery, and has a proven chemistry with his quarterback.

Other thumbs up: QBs Matt Schaub, Matt Ryan; RBs Cedric Benson, Felix Jones, Chester Taylor; WRs Chris Henry, Derrick Mason, Anthony Gonzalez.

Roll ‘em back

Eli Manning, QB, Giants vs. Redskins. Breaking in a new set of starting receivers against a solid secondary, Manning is unlikely to put up starter-worthy passing numbers. Washington bolstered its pass rush in the offseason, so look for a healthy dose of Brandon Jacobs and quick passes in this divisional slugfest.

Steve Slaton, RB, Texans vs. Jets. I realize you probably have to start him; just be prepared for a frustrating day. With Chris Brown slated for goal-line duty, and a sturdy Jets rush defense clogging the line of scrimmage, Slaton’s role could be scaled back in favor of Schaub’s aerial attack.

Larry Johnson, RB, Chiefs at Ravens. It’s hard to find any Chief worth starting in this lop-sided matchup. With a hobbled quarterback facing one of the NFL’s fiercest defenses, the offense will be a rare visitor to the red zone. Johnson may even be pulled early for Jamaal Charles, a better receiver who’ll get more reps while the team plays catch-up.

Antonio Bryant, WR, Buccaneers vs. Cowboys. He hasn’t suited up all preseason while rehabbing his surgically repaired knee, and he’s been limited in practice all week. He’s also working with a new quarterback under the direction of a hastily installed offensive coordinator. Dallas’ secondary is solid, though not air tight. Let’s just say the odds are stacked against Bryant this weekend.

Torry Holt, WR, Jaguars at Colts. Indy is a tough setting for Holt to begin his first season as a Jag. The Colts’ secondary, even without Bob Sanders, is extremely stingy, and Holt no longer has the breakaway speed of his youth.

Other thumbs down: QBs Matt Cassel, Brett Favre; RBs Pierre Thomas, Knowshon Moreno, Fred Jackson, Jonathan Stewart; WRs Kevin Walter, Brandon Marshall, Bernard Berrian, Dwayne Bowe.


Mike Bell, RB, Saints vs. Lions. With Pierre Thomas likely sitting out the opener, and Reggie Bush (knee, calf) still on questionable footing, the stars are aligning beautifully for Bell to romp in his regular-season debut in the Big Easy. The preseason sensation couldn’t ask for a better matchup, as Detroit’s rush defense was the league’s worst in ’08.

DON’T BE THE BONEHEAD WHO…forgets to bench Marshawn Lynch during his three-game suspension. According to one leading fantasy site, Lynch was still listed as a starter on more than a third of his teams as of Friday morning. Please, folks, pay attention!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Tough opener for the RBs

I had my final draft of the preseason last night. Selected Chris Johnson with the eighth pick. Which means I own both starting RBs playing in tonight's season opener, albeit in different leagues.

No, I'm not crazy about the matchup for either back. Yes, I'm starting them both. And crossing my fingers.

By the way, make sure you're signed up for my Twitter feeds (@ladd_biro). Starting with tonight's game, I'll be "tweeting" key inactives as soon as I get them. While I don't expect to have anything terribly interesting to report tonight, I bet you'll appreciate the last-minute updates you get on Sunday mornings.

My goal is to make certain no Fantasy Fool unwittingly starts an inactive player this season. Likewise, I'll let you know when the dreaded game-time decision swings in the player's favor, so you can make a fully informed starting call while there's still time to adjust your roster.

And if there's interest, I might even tweet key scoring plays on Sunday afternoons (e.g., "Brees to Colston, 25-yard TD"). Please respond to this post or shoot me an email at lbiro@championmgt.com if you like (or hate) that idea. No guarantees -- I have to TiVO the games sometimes due to family commitments -- but I'll do what I can if there's interest from the Fools.

And remember: Sign up now at www.twitter.com/ladd_biro. Fear not...it's painless!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Injury updates from around the NFL

More good news for several players nursing injuries during the preseason. The following now appear to be fully healthy, or well on track to start and/or play as usual in Week 1:

Matt Cassel -- Still, he'll be playing against the Ravens. Don't you dare start him.
Maurice Jones-Drew -- Start 'im if you got 'im.
Anquan Boldin -- Ditto.
Kevin Curtis -- Another player I wouldn't start. In fact, I wouldn't even draft him. Before you know it, Jeremy Maclin will be taking his job.
Antonio Bryant -- Hasn't played all summer. Very risky, especially with a new QB under center.

In addition, Jonathan Stewart will be in the lineup, but you'd be wise to bench him for the opener since he missed virtually all of the preseason and there's no telling what condition he's in. Sunday's game should be all about DeAngelo Williams.

Still uncertain:

Matt Schaub -- Practiced fully today. Looks like he'll be good to go.
Pierre Thomas -- Don't count on him. Mike Bell could have an excellent outing against the Lions in Thomas' absence.
Bernard Berrian -- Hamstring issues aren't clearing up as quickly as he'd like.
Wes Welker -- The Pats aren't disclosing whatever is ailing him
Kevin Walter -- Didn't practice with his bum hammy today; still questionable

Brady Quinn won the starting QB job in Cleveland. We may never see Derek Anderson again.

And from the "I can't believe what I'm hearing (oh yes I can)" file...the Broncos are reportedly talking with Brandon Marshall's agent about a contract extension. That can only mean the All Pro WR will be getting major bucks, which would suggest that Marshall's childish behavior is about to be rewarded. I realize the team needs him, but still...this is a very bad precedent to be setting if, in fact, they're really talking turkey on the extension.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Weird doings in the Tampa Bay backfield

In one of the strangest set-ups in recent memory, Cadillac Williams has been named the starter in a "2-2-1" backfield rotation for the Bucs. That means Caddy gets the first two series, followed by two for Derrick Ward, then one for Earnest Graham. Weird...

That doesn't seem like a viable long-term arrangement but, rather, a chance for the coaching staff to get a look at each of their RBs and see which one has the hot hand (or feet, as it were) in any given game. It seems safe to assume that when/if one RB stands out from the others over the course of a few games, he will be given the majority of the workload.

For now, those of us who jumped on Cadillac while he was cheap just might like what we found, as he remains the most gifted of the three RBs when healthy. Those who spent a high pick on Ward (despite all my efforts to persuade you against it) should be very concerned. And Graham owners...well...I guess you can hope that Caddy blows out yet another knee while Ward disappoints.

In other news, I'm starting to worry that Anquan Boldin's hammy is going to be a problem in Week 1. He's still not practicing, and he's starting to look like a dreaded game-time decision.

You can probably forget about Pierre Thomas for the opener. He's still limping and it appears inevitable that the Saints will let him sit out the tasty Week 1 matchup with the Lions. If you need a one- or two-week filler at RB, you could do a lot worse than Mike Bell. Heck, even Reggie Bush is heading into the regular season with injury issues. (Shocker, I know.)

So Brandon Marshall has been reactivated. Will he play? Will he start? Will he say or do something stupid before or during the game? Will he know the playbook? That's too many questions for my blood. I wouldn't start him even if I owned him which, thankfully, I don't.

As projected by yours truly (and plenty of others), Matthew Stafford will be the Lions' Week 1 starter. He bears watching, if only because he has Megatron (Calvin Johnson) to throw to. Nobody at this time last year thought Matt Ryan would do diddly in his rookie season with the awful franchise he was drafted into. While it's just about inconceivable that Stafford could replicate Ryan's success and lead Detroit to the playoffs, I wouldn't put it past him to turn in some decent fantasy outings on occasion in 2009.

Matt Cassel is back at practice and could play this week. That said, how could you possibly put him in your starting fantasy lineup against the Ravens?

Monday, September 7, 2009

Final preseason rankings online

I've just posted my final positional rankings for the 2009 preseason. Not a lot of changes from last week, but if you haven't yet drafted, these are the rankings you'll want to consult.

Get them all here, including my Top 100, at http://www.scribd.com/laddbiro

Final preseason column: Last-minute do’s and don’ts

T-minus three days, and counting…

That’s how long we have until Kerry Collins electrifies the NFL with a 400-yard, five-touchdown shellacking of the Steelers, exposing Pittsburgh’s defense as a fraud and signaling his assault on Tom Brady’s 50-TD season record.

Would you believe 20 scoring tosses for Collins?

Perhaps five screen passes to Chris Johnson and a goal-line sneak against the Cardinals in Week 12?

Indeed, the interminable wait for the 2009 NFL regular season can generate all sorts of crazy notions. But rather than fooling ourselves into thinking the Collins-to-Nate Washington tandem will usher in a record-breaking passing era in Tennessee, let’s use our time more productively, shall we?

Here are a handful of last-minute do’s and don’ts to consider as the clock ticks down to Thursday night’s kickoff.

Don’t: Get in premature trade mode. Judging by the flurry of questions I’ve fielded on the radio and via email over the past few days, many of you are itching to make a move – any move – because you can’t stand staring at your stagnant roster. Relax, my friend, and admire the team you prepared so hard to assemble. Stop second-guessing yourself and give your squad the chance to perform for at least a couple weeks before you engage in serious trade talks.

Do: Trade Jamal Lewis while you can. So there’s an exception to every rule. Lewis is on borrowed time as the Browns’ starter, and could be supplanted by dynamic rookie James Davis any minute. Before Minnesota holds the aging veteran to 28 yards on 15 carries in the opener, deal him to an unsuspecting competitor in need of RB depth. And if Davis is somehow still available, grab him now. I said now! As in, stop reading this and go get him!

Don’t: Use a first-round pick on Steve Slaton. For those yet to draft, be aware that Chris Brown has been tagged as Houston’s short-yardage and goal-line back. This was the well-documented risk associated with drafting Slaton, and head coach Gary Kubiak recently confirmed it to be legitimate. If you already have Slaton, console yourself with the knowledge that Brown can blow out a knee simply doing jumping jacks, so his threat to your top back’s production may be short-lived.

Do: Scan your opponents’ rosters to identify their strengths and weaknesses. Consider sending a casual shot across a competitor’s bow to the effect of “Wow, you sure have some nice WR depth, but what are you going to do with those RBs?” Don’t propose a trade yet; just let him stew a bit on your words. After a week or so, when it’s clear that his backs aren’t cutting the mustard, you can follow-up with a “friendly solution” to his dilemma.

Don’t: Buy the Michael Vick hype. Vick was one of the most frustrating (read: inconsistent) fantasy quarterbacks when he was the top dog in Atlanta. What on Earth makes people think he can deliver starter-worthy production as a backup QB/gadget player three years later? Unless you can somehow designate him as a receiver, he’ll never amass enough points to become a legitimate fantasy quarterback.

Do: Watch the injury reports. Several fantasy stars, and stars-in-waiting, are still nursing ailments of varying severity. A number of them – including Tom Brady, Carson Palmer, Matt Schaub, Maurice Jones-Drew, Brian Westbrook, Anquan Boldin and even Donnie Avery – are on track to suit up and perform well out of the gates. Others, such as Matt Cassel, Pierre Thomas, Knowshon Moreno, Kevin Walter, Antonio Bryant and Wes Welker, are less certain. Make sure you have a Plan B in place should any of your starters need a little extra rest to begin the season.

Don’t: Choke your girlfriend. See Merriman, Shawne. This advice should be followed year-round.

Do: Invest in the Red Zone package. First, this is not a paid endorsement. Second, I don’t want to exaggerate, but I’m starting to believe that God had the Red Zone Channel in mind when He told us to rest on the seventh day. Created by DirecTV (or possibly by the Almighty Himself) to eliminate the scourge of “remote control thumb,” the RZC magically transports the viewer between concurrent games to the one where scoring is most imminent. You’ll wonder how you ever enjoyed Sunday afternoons without it.

Don’t: Forget to set your lineup for Thursday’s matchup. In what is likely to be a defensive showcase, the Steelers-Titans tilt kicks off the ’09 season. Make sure Chris Johnson, Santonio Holmes, Hines Ward and both defenses are in your starting lineup. And now that head coach Mike Tomlin has emphatically declared Willie Parker to be the Steelers’ feature back – no committee or goal-line encroaching from the underachieving Rashard Mendenhall – lock Fast Willie in your starting column as well.

Do: Keep an eye out for this year’s breakout receiver. Seemingly every season, a little-known wide receiver (often a rookie) emerges from nowhere in Week 1 and proceeds to have an outstanding year. In 2008, Eddie Royal caught many (who weren’t reading this column) by surprise. Marques Colston and Anquan Boldin got off to similar fast starts after being ignored in most preseason drafts. Malcolm Kelly, Troy Williamson, Jeremy Maclin and Greg Camarillo are solid candidates to be this year’s breakout sensation. And don’t be surprised when Packers tight end Jermichael Finley bursts onto the fantasy radar against the Bears.

Don’t: Work late on Thursday. You’ve got more important things to do.

Do: Sign up for my Twitter feeds. I’ll “tweet” all the important game-day actives and inactives and other late-breaking news you need to make the most informed lineup decisions each weekend. Fear not…if I can figure out Twitter, you can too. Tweet with me @ladd_biro.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Fast Willie is back, Garcia is gone

I've been telling you all Summer long that Willie Parker would be an excellent value in this year's draft. I included him in my Top 10 Sleepers column and in several blog postings. I came very close to including him in my Perfect Draft as a 4th round pick, but opted instead for Rivers there.

I've been high on Fast Willie because it's been clear to anyone watching the games that (a) Rashard Mendenhall is quickly becoming a bust, (b) Willie has no problems scoring at the goal-line, and (c) a healthy Parker will be a solid fantasy RB2, if not better.

Now comes this confirmation from Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin: "Willie Parker's our runner. Rashard's done a nice job and he's going to get an opportunity to get his touches, but more important than anything else, Willie Parker is our runner."

Tomlin made it clear that the Steelers backfield would not be a RBBC, nor would any other back replace Willie at the goal-line.

If you let him slide by in the 4th or 5th rounds, you'll regret it. Barring injury -- which, by the way, can happen to anyone at any time -- he'll be a Top 15 fantasy back in '09.

Meanwhile, the only surprise (to me) in this weekend's final roster cuts was Jeff Garcia. Looks like the Raiders will sink or swim with JaMarcus Russell this year.

Raiders fans better get their life jackets ready...

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Preseason's over, bring on the real deal!

Fortunately, nobody of fantasy relevance was injured in the final three games of the preseason played on Friday night. So now we sit and wait...and wait...and wait...for the Thursday night opener.


Looks like MJD's leg will be fine. No problems emerged from the MRI, so while he may be a bit sore, there's no reason to think he won't play -- and play well -- in the Jags' opener next weekend.

Pierre Thomas is another story. He was quoted as deeming himself "questionable" for Week 1 and said his injured knee is currently at "65 percent." Normally players are overly optimistic about their chances of playing, so this can't be viewed as anything but a major concern for Thomas' owners. If you haven't yet drafted, you need to factor in the very real possibility of Thomas not suiting up in Week 1 (or being a dreaded game-time decision who could end up playing sparingly). That's a shame, because the Saints play the Lions in Week 1. Don't forget that Mike Bell is also squarely in the backfield picture, with a good chance of poaching goal-line carries even when Thomas is healthy. I wouldn't call Thomas undraftable now (we've seen how explosive he can be when given the opportunity, and it's a long season), but I would probably take my chances letting him slide past the 3rd round and grab him if he's still there in the 4th.

Bears RB Kevin Jones is out for the season after tearing a ligament in his ankle the other night. Don't be surprised if Chicago brings in a veteran backup, since Garrett Wolfe and "the other Adrian Peterson" are not considered adequate reserves in case Matt Forte goes down. Deuce McAllister, perhaps?

Chris Henry is now 4 for 4 in the preseason: 4 games, 4 TD catches. How he could still be flying under the radar is beyond me. If you don't grab him by the 9th round, you probably won't get another chance.

Michael Crabtree still hasn't signed. Amazing...

Steven Hauschka is the new K for the Ravens. Don't worry...nobody outside Baltimore has heard of him either. But he just might be a decent fantasy performer if the Ravens offense kicks it up a notch under Joe Flacco's leadership.

If you had been eyeing Matt Bryant as your kicker, you should know he's been cut by the Bucs. He was out-played by Mike Nugent, and couldn't get healthy in time to effectively compete for his job. Nugent is a borderline fantasy K.

A few other semi-interesting releases: Dominic Rhodes (Bills), Leonard Pope (Cards), Ronald Curry (Rams), Antonio Pittman (Rams, leaving Samkon Gado as S-Jax's handcuff), and David Tyree (Giants Super Bowl hero).

Jamal Lewis is still employed by the Browns...as of this writing.

Friday, September 4, 2009

T-minus 1 week till the 2009 season kicks off!

All but six teams wrapped up their preseason schedule on Thursday night, and only two notable injuries resulted (at least those we've heard about thus far). Of course, very few starters played any significant amount of time, if at all, so we weren't expecting many problems to begin with.

At the top of the list of injury concerns is consensus Top 5 fantasy pick Maurice Jones-Drew, who took "a ‘UFC shot’ to the shin or lower leg," according to HC Jack Del Rio. The contusion is unlikely to jeopardize MJD's availability for the season opener, but it could be painful enough to limit his touches and/or effectiveness. Still, he's an elite athlete who has 10 days to heal. Chances are, it will be a non-issue by kickoff.

Also of note, especially to Matt Forte owners, is a seemingly more serious ankle injury to Kevin Jones, Forte's backup. X-rays were negative, and we're awaiting the results of an MRI scheduled for today. Not that we Forte owners wish anything but the best for Jones, but it's comforting to know that our top pick will handle virtually the entire rushing load for at least the first couple of weeks of the season.

Also nicked up was Giants rookie WR Hakeem Nicks, who left Thursday's game with a hip flexor. It doesn't look serious, and likely won't cost him any regular season action. That said, he's still a rookie WR, and he's unlikely to produce attractive stats as long as he's a backup.

The news for Steve Slaton's owners is not so positive. It seems HC Gary Kubiak has essentially proclaimed Chris Brown to be the Texans' preferred short-yardage and goal-line back. Here's his direct quote: "Our goal is to use [Brown] basically as a short-yardage runner, a red zone runner and Steve's backup." Which helps explain why Slaton, rather than going near the end of the first round, is now regularly available a half to full-round later. Of course, throughout his career Brown has barely been able to do a jumping jack without getting hurt; so the vulture threat may not last long.

James Davis again looked terrific in the Browns' final preseason game. Do yourself a favor: Let Jamal Lewis go to some other schmuck. You wait a few rounds and grab the real starter in Cleveland.

Second-year speedster Malcolm Kelly has evidently secured a starting WR gig for the Redskins, opposite Santana Moss. He far out-performed '08 Draft classmate Devin Thomas this preseason, and appears to be 100% recovered from the knee surgery that cost him his rookie season. Don't draft Kelly, but keep an eye on him in the early going. He could be a intriguing waiver-wire pickup if he gets off to a good start.

Updating previous reports, Rams WR Donny Avery has been cleared to play in Week 1. That's some serious rehab success! If you haven't yet drafted, make sure you consider Avery as an excellent mid-to-late-round pick.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Injury updates, plus Jamal on chopping block?

The primary concern everyone has about Matt Schaub is his ability to stay healthy, so it wasn't a shock to see him limping after he scrambled out-of-bounds Monday night. He's now listed as "day-to-day," so if you're counting on him being available in Week 1 (or any week, for that matter), you'd better have another solid option.

For now, that option shouldn't include Kyle Orton (finger) or Matt Cassel (MCL). Both are unlikely to suit up for the opener. Carson Palmer (ankle) and Marc Bulger (finger) should be good to go, however.

SLEEPER ALERT: I told you 2 weeks ago to put Browns RB James Davis high on your sleeper radar. Now there's word that Davis is looking so good, the team may cut Jamal Lewis. While that possibility seems somewhat remote, the chances of Davis supplanting Lewis in the starting lineup are anything but. Meanwhile, if you haven't already wasted a draft pick on Lewis, don't.

Don't be surprised if the next announcement we get from Carolina is that Jonathan Stewart will be undergoing surgery to fix his nagging Achilles heel issues. He's still not practicing, and the rumors are a-swirling.

Chiefs WR Devard Darling has been put on IR after tearing his ACL this weekend. That should give Mark Bradley a clear path to the starting gig opposite Dwayne Bowe. Consider Bradley a potential waiver-wire pickup should he get off to a decent start.

Greg Jennings took a nasty double-whammy to his head in the third preseason game, and likely suffered a concussion. Look for the Pack to take it easy on their top wideout until the regular season begins.

Breakout candidate Kevin Walter pulled a hammy Monday night, but all indications are that he will be ready for the opener. Keep an eye on his return to practice, however.

Good news, for a change, out of Buffalo. Terrell Owens is back at practice. Assuming he doesn't aggravate his toe injury, he should be ready to roll by Week 1.

Laurent Robinson appears to have secured the No. 2 WR position in St. Louis. Good for him, but I don't expect him to be fantasy worthy in 2009. If ever.

Stay away from Lions K Jason Hanson, for a lot of reasons. Not least of which is the knee surgery he just went through. He could be out for an extended period.