Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Gore, V-Jax out

Just a quick note to be sure you heard the news that Frank Gore is out for the season after injuring his hip in the Monday night tilt with the Cards.

Brian Westbrook looked surprisingly spry in relief last night, running for 136 yards and a TD. Granted, it came against an awful Arizona defense, and the road gets tougher this weekend (at Green Bay). But the 49ers' schedule during the fantasy playoffs is pretty favorable (including the Seahawks in Week 14 and Rams in Week 16), so Westy could be a nice add for teams heading into the postseason. Especially those who were counting on Gore.

Also, Vincent Jackson injured his groin on Sunday while overcompensating for a nagging calf injury incurred during practice last week. He's expected to miss 2 weeks, which would then -- at best -- make him a risky start in Week 15. There's always a chance he could dazzle then, and in Week 16; but there's also a chance he'll be deadweight for two weeks, then a big question mark for the duration.

Plan accordingly.

Week 12 Heroes & Zeros

This was a great week to start

Tom Brady, QB, Patriots – Gave his owners 341 yards and 4 TDs to be thankful for.
Jay Cutler, QB, Bears – Threw for 247 yards and 4 TDs and ran for 17 yards.
Matt Cassel, QB, Chiefs – Passed for 233 yards and 4 TDs, while running for 28 yards.
Kyle Orton, QB, Broncos – Accumulated 3 TDs and 347 yards without a turnover.
Sam Bradford, QB, Rams – Passed for 308 yards and 3 TDs.

Peyton Hillis, RB, Browns – Ran for 131 yards and a trio of TDs, and added 63 receiving yards on 6 catches.
Jamaal Charles, RB, Chiefs – Rushed for 173 yards and 1 TD.
Rashard Mendenhall, RB, Steelers – Rumbled for 151 yards and a score, with a fumble.
Mike Goodson, RB, Panthers – Withstood J-Stew’s presence to run for 55 yards and 1 TD, while adding 8 receptions for 81 yards.
Arian Foster, RB, Texans – Ran for 143 yards and caught 9 passes for 75 yards.
Fred Jackson, RB, Bills – Caught 5 passes for 104 yards and 1 TD, plus 59 rushing yards.
BenJarvus Green-Ellis, RB, Patriots – The Law Firm ran for 59 yards and 2 scores on Thanksgiving.
Chris Ivory, RB, Saints – Only ran for 38 yards, but scored twice in the process.

Dwayne Bowe, WR, Chiefs – Caught 13 passes for 170 yards and a TD hat trick.
Jacoby Ford, WR, Raiders – Caught 4 passes for 108 yards and 1 TD, ran for 13 yards and returned a kickoff 101 yards for another score.
Deion Branch, WR, Patriots – Torched the Lions for 113 yards and 2 TDs on just 3 catches.
Wes Welker, WR, Patriots – Scored twice on 8 catches for 90 yards.
Brandon Lloyd, WR, Broncos – Hauled in 4 passes for 76 yards and 2 TDs.

Chargers defense/special teams – Scored twice on INT returns, racked up five turnovers and added a sack, while holding Peyton Manning & Co. to 14 points.
Jets defense/special teams – Accumulated 3 sacks, 2 INTs, a safety and an 89-yard kickoff return score by Brad Smith, while holding Cincinnati to 10 points.

This was a great week to play against

Carson Palmer, QB, Bengals – Threw for just 135 yards and 1 TD, with 2 INTs.
Mark Sanchez, QB, Jets – Managed only 166 yards, 1 TD and an INT.
Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Steelers – Just 246 yards passing and an 18-yard run against the lowly Bills defense.
Brett Favre, QB, Vikings – Passed for 172 yards without a score (or a turnover).
Philip Rivers, QB, Chargers – Threw for 185 yards, but no TDs.

Chris Johnson, RB, Titans – Somehow managed to amass a measly 5 rushing yards plus 2 more yards on 2 catches.
Jahvid Best, RB, Lions – Was active, but didn’t get a single carry.
Tim Hightower, RB, Cardinals – Couldn’t get a stinking yard on 5 carries.
Reggie Bush, RB, Saints – In his first action in several games, got just one 1-yard carry and a 12-yard reception.
Keiland Williams, RB, Redskins – Had 21 yards on 4 receptions, but just 5 rushing yards.
Cedric Benson, RB, Bengals – Held to 41 rushing yards.
Brandon Jackson, RB, Packers – Limited to 26 rushing yards and 3 receptions for 10 more.
Marshawn Lynch, RB, Seahawks – Ran for 20 yards and added 2 catches for 13 yards.
Frank Gore, RB, 49ers – Managed 52 rushing yards before leaving with a hip injury.

Dez Bryant, WR, Cowboys – Held without a catch on Thanksgiving.
Vincent Jackson, WR, Chargers – Posted a goose egg in his first game back, thanks to groin and calf injuries.
Malcom Floyd, WR, Chargers – Also held catchless.
Lee Evans, WR, Bills – One 9-yard reception on the day, with a fumble to boot.
Nate Washington, WR, Titans – Caught a 10-yard pass against the league’s worst secondary.
Terrell Owens, WR, Bengals – Marooned on Revis Island again, with just 3 catches for 17 yards.
Braylon Edwards, WR, Jets – Only 20 yards on 2 catches.
Mike Williams, WR, Buccaneers – Ditto.
Sidney Rice, WR, Vikings – Got his 20 yards on a single reception.
Randy Moss, WR, Titans – Tripled his catch total as a Titan with 3 for 23 yards.
Donald Driver, WR, Packers – His 2 catches were good for 26 yards.
DeSean Jackson, WR, Eagles – Ditto.
Anquan Boldin, WR, Ravens – Notched 3 passes for 27 yards.
Steve Smith, WR, Panthers – Another disappointing day, with 33 yards on 2 catches.
Mike Wallace, WR, Steelers – Got his 33 yards on 3 catches.

I didn’t see that coming

Maurice Morris, RB, Lions – Ran for 55 yards and 2 TDs and caught 5 passes for 20 yards.
Brian Westbrook, RB, 49ers – Subbing for an injured Frank Gore, Westy rushed for 136 yards and 1 TD, and looked good doing it.

Ben Obomanu, WR, Seahawks – Caught 5 passes for 159 yards and 1 TD.
Earl Bennett, WR, Bears – Reeled in 4 passes for 56 yards and 2 scores.

Billy Bajema, TE, Rams – Scored twice on 3 receptions for 32 yards.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Moving past the Thanksgiving hangover

I can’t decide which is worse. The conclusion of Dancing with the Stars (I thought I was golden when I took Kurt Warner in the first round of my DWTS fantasy league), or the fact that this weekend marks the end of the regular season in most fantasy football leagues.

Admittedly, that’s a ridiculous quandary; but I’m still a bit doped up on tryptophan.

Come to think of it, maybe that’s what happened to Philip Rivers on Sunday night. That seems like a better excuse for his first non-scoring game of the season than “his defense was so good, he didn’t need to throw a TD pass.”

I’m too pooped to do the research, but perhaps tryptophan has the opposite effect on diabetics, which could explain Jay Cutler’s monster performance against the proud Eagles defense.

Is Peyton Hillis diabetic too?

Nah…he’s just a frickin’ frackin’ stud, as my Aunt Pat might say. (Note to the IRS: The use of “frickin’ frackin’” in this column justifies my write-off of the Biro family’s Thanksgiving-week vacation to Indiana. Thanks for your understanding.)

And what are we to make of Houston’s much-maligned defense pitching a shut-out against the Titans? Apparently we must amend our once-bulletproof hypothesis that “anyone can torch the Texans’ secondary” with the qualifier “anyone but Rusty Smith.”

That said, I have no explanation for Chris Johnson’s stat line (5 carries, 7 yards). Or the appeal of fruitcake, for that matter.

Alas, wherever your team resides in your league’s standings, it’s too early to hit the couch. Whether you’re cruising to the top seed, vying for a playoff berth, or playing the role of spoiler, there’s work to be done.

It begins Thursday night, when the Eagles host the Texans. Free insider tip: Michael Vick is no Rusty Smith.

Also, Kurt Warner is no Emmitt Smith.

Okay, it’s time for my nap.


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 can also make a big difference. 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

Toby Gerhart, RB, Vikings. Whether or not Adrian Peterson’s ankle injury costs him his delicious Week 13 matchup with the Bills, Gerhart is a must-get for every AP owner. Better yet, non-owners should put in a claim as well, if only to block your competitor from doing what he should have done weeks ago.

Maurice Morris, RB, Lions. Jahvid Best was active on Thanksgiving, but he didn’t get a single carry due to his lingering toe injuries. Enter Morris, who crossed the goal line twice while accumulating 75 combined yards. Though the Lions face the stingy Bears defense this weekend, Morris is worth a pickup. There’s no telling when, or if, Best will be running at full speed again this season.

Tashard Choice, RB, Cowboys. With Marion Barber expected to miss two weeks (or more) with a calf strain, Choice will finally see the touches that many Cowboys fans believe he should have been getting all along. Felix Jones remains the starter, but Choice is arguably the most complete back on the Dallas roster. He has risen to the occasion previously, when injuries to Barber and/or Jones have given him the chance to shine.

Don’t be fooled

Earl Bennett, WR, Bears. He scored twice yesterday on just four catches, which now gives him a whopping three TDs on the season. He hasn’t totaled more than five receptions or 76 yards in any game to date, so count me skeptical that he’ll be anything other than a headache to anyone who picks him up for the stretch run.

Ben Obomanu, WR, Seahawks. He’s scored in three of the past four games, including Sunday’s 159-yard effort against the Chiefs. So why am I not impressed? Mostly because I don’t trust Matt Hasselbeck, and Mike Williams should return from his foot injury soon. I simply can’t envision any scenario in which I’d feel comfortable starting Obomanu with postseason success on the line; so why bother picking him up?

Texans defense. Don’t even think about it.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Sunday morning updates - Week 12

Greetings, Fools. Just returned from a weeklong trip to Michigan and Indiana late last night, so I'm catching up fast. Here's what I've got for you so far on this fine Sunday morning.

CJ Spiller is inactive for the Bills.

Brandon Marshall is out for the Dolphins. Chad Henne may or may not be ready to return. Look for lots of targets to Davone Bess if he does. If Thigpen is at the controls, all bets are off.

Look for a big game from Sidney Rice today. Berrian is out, and Rice got off to a fine start last week with loads of targets.

You know Nicks and Steve Smith are out for the Giants. Manningham and Derek Hagan will be your starting wideouts. Both should be good starts, but expect more from the running game. Jacobs is the new, old starter, but Bradshaw should still see plenty of carries (as long as he doesn't put the ball on the ground again). Jacksonville's defense stinks across the board, so everyone could potentially put up big numbers.

In something of a surprise, Mike Sims-Walker is active and will play today. That said, I don't expect much from him against the Giants. He's still not 100% recovered from his high ankle sprain.

MJD is active and will play.

Ryan Torain is inactive and Clinton Portis is on IR. Look for another solid (if not spectacular) game from Keiland Williams. The Vikings' run D isn't what it used to be, so don't hesitate to start the rookie if he's your best option.

Jonathan Stewart is active and will probably split carries with new starter, Mike Goodson. Against the Browns' solid defense, I don't expect much from either back.

Addai and Hart will be out again for tonight's game. Look for more from Donald Brown, and vultured TD plunges by Javarris James.

Forget Ryan Mathews again. It's all about Mike Tolbert now.

Jake Delhomme will start at QB for the Browns while Colt McCoy (out) nurses a sprained ankle. Don't even think about it.

Lots of questions out there about whether or not to start Vincent Jackson today. The answer is YES. Philip Rivers has made stars of Malcom Floyd, Patrick Crayton, Randy McMichael and Seyi Ajirotutu. You think he can't figure out how to reconnect with VJax after three weeks of practice?

Owen Daniels is out again. Joel Dreessen will be the #2 target for Matt Schaub again today.

Plenty of intrigue surrounding the Raiders' starting QB situation today. Will it be Gradkowski or Campbell? Surely you don't really care, right? The only Raider worth starting today is Run DMC (McFadden).

OK, it's off to the tweets. Make sure you're following me @ladd_biro.

Good luck, Fools!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Week 12 Starters & Benchwarmers

Wondering whether or not to start Aaron Rodgers and Chris Johnson, or bench Tyler Thigpen and Donte Stallworth? The network bozos specialize in that kind of advice. If you’re looking for real help with your starting lineup conundrums, read on.

Here are my picks to roll, and get rolled, in Week 12 of the 2010 season.

Watch ‘em roll

Mark Sanchez, QB, Jets vs. Bengals. Cincinnati just surrendered 316 yards and 4 TDs to Ryan Fitzpatrick, while Sanchez has tallied 950 yards, 8 TDs and just 3 INTs over the past three weeks. Look for both trends to continue Thanksgiving night.

Mike Tolbert, RB, Chargers at Colts. With Ryan Mathews unlikely to suit up (again), Tolbert will have the chance to continue his improbable run to fantasy stardom. Indy has coughed up nine rushing TDs to date, and you know San Diego is going to rack up the points in this one.

Brandon Jacobs, RB, Giants vs. Jaguars. With their two top receivers out, New York will likely turn to its lethal ground game for production. Jacobs has reclaimed his starting job from Ahmad Bradshaw thanks to the latter’s fumbling problems. Jacobs should have little trouble powering through the Jags’ weak run defense.

Donald Driver, WR, Packers at Falcons. Now that he has put his quad injury behind him, get Driver back in your lineup against an Atlanta secondary that is giving up plenty of scoring passes lately. Greg Jennings can’t keep doing it all himself.

Vincent Jackson, WR, Chargers at Colts. He’s had three good weeks of practice with Philip Rivers and he’s returning to a hobbling receiver corps that will be missing Patrick Crayton and possibly Antonio Gates as well. Malcom Floyd’s hamstring is still acting up too, so don’t hesitate to plug V-Jax in for his first game back. He should start off with a bang.

More thumbs up (excluding the no-brainers): QBs Eli Manning, Joe Flacco, Matt Cassel, Kyle Orton, Shaun Hill, Ben Roethlisberger, Sam Bradford, Matt Hasselbeck; RBs LaDainian Tomlinson, Knowshon Moreno, Jamaal Charles, Ray Rice, Ronnie Brown, BenJarvus Green-Ellis; WRs Santonio Holmes, Dwayne Bowe, Deion Branch, Robert Meachem, Sidney Rice, Mario Manningham.

Roll ‘em back

Jay Cutler, QB, Bears vs. Eagles. Coming off his subpar fantasy performance in Miami, look for a repeat appearance of “Bad Jay” against the ball-hawking Philly secondary. Cutler has yet to post good stats against a strong pass defense.

Fred Jackson, RB, Bills vs. Steelers. He’s had a terrific run over the past two weeks, but that should come to an abrupt end against the league’s stingiest run defense.

Brandon Jackson, RB, Packers at Falcons. Atlanta has allowed only two rushing scores all season. Jackson, whose quality fantasy outings have been relatively scarce, is unlikely to make it three.

Terrell Owens, WR, Bengals at Jets. Nothing cools off a hot receiver like a trip to Revis Island. Though TO has been one of the most prolific wideouts in the NFL this season, Darrelle Revis has shut down Calvin Johnson and Andre Johnson in recent weeks. Owens is next on his hit list.

Miles Austin, WR, Cowboys vs. Saints. He has caught just two passes apiece in each of the last three games, though he managed to turn three of them into scores. Austin won’t be so lucky against a New Orleans secondary that’s allowed a league-low three TDs to opposing receivers all season.

More thumbs down: QBs Carson Palmer, Jon Kitna, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Colt McCoy; RBs Joseph Addai, Beanie Wells, Felix Jones, Keiland Williams, Ryan Torain, Ryan Mathews, Jahvid Best; WRs Brandon Marshall, Bernard Berrian, Eddie Royal, Pierre Garcon, Johnny Knox, Lee Evans.


Derek Hagan, WR, Giants vs. Jaguars. Hakeem Nicks is out with a leg injury and Steve Smith is still nursing a torn pec. Hagan, who was just re-signed by the team prior to last weekend’s game, will start alongside Mario Manningham. Hagan found the end zone in his first outing, and now gets to play against one of the most generous secondaries in the business.

DON’T BE THE BONEHEAD WHO…benches Randy Moss this weekend. Yes, I realize he has stunk it up in his first two games as a Titan, and Rusty Smith is his new quarterback. But Smith and Moss actually connected on a 36-yard TD pass against Washington (it was nullified by Moss’ offensive interference), so there are grounds for optimism. Even better, the duo is facing the woeful Texans secondary. And everybody torches them.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Another huge week for passers, except Vick

Apparently Michael Vick is human after all. Just a week after he lit the fantasy world on fire with arguably the most prolific single game in the modern (post-Jim Brown) era, Vick only managed a single rushing touchdown Sunday night. What a slacker…

Many will suggest we should have seen this coming, thanks to the Eagles’ matchup with a stout Giants defense. That would make some sense if we hadn’t just seen Jon Kitna and the one-win Cowboys tear New York apart in the new Meadowlands the week before. More likely, it was a week’s worth of frantic scheming by Giants’ coaches who noticed that Vick struggles when forced to scramble to his right side.

Now it’s the Eagles’ turn to make the adjustments necessary to prevent a recurrence of this problem. Vick should be back in prime form for another tough contest with the Bears next weekend.

Meanwhile, as expected, it was a huge week for the league’s other elite passers. Peyton Manning, Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers each connected on four touchdown strikes, while the gun-slinging Ryan Fitzpatrick shook off some early struggles to match his more accomplished peers score-for-score. Eleven quarterbacks accumulated more yardage than Vick, while 16 had multiple touchdowns.

With the abundance of passing scores comes an equally explosive list of receivers, with Greg Jennings, Steve Johnson and Santonio Holmes leading the way. (Forgive the personal boast, but all three were in my starting lineup this weekend. Needless to say, I didn’t sweat my decision to start Vick over Brees too much.)

Indeed, scoring was high across the league, and across the fantasy landscape, in Week 11. Methinks Thursday’s trio of games will give fantasy owners much to be thankful for as well. Make sure you set your rosters before the tryptophan kicks in.


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 can also make a big difference. 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

Mark Sanchez, QB, Jets. The second-year pro is blossoming before our very eyes. With a big assist from Santonio Holmes, Sanchez has passed for 299 or more yards in each of his last three games, during which he has accumulated eight touchdowns. Next up: the same depleted Bengals defense that just surrendered 316 yards and 4 TDs to Fitzpatrick.

Sidney Rice, WR, Vikings. It didn’t take long for Rice to return to the top of the wideout pecking order in Minnesota. Though his three receptions for 56 yards were less than scintillating, he played nearly the entire game. Once he gets back in sync with Brett Favre, the play-making speedster will be well-positioned to excel down the stretch.

Blair White, WR, Colts. The undrafted rookie has picked up the slack in certain games while his fellow Indy wideouts have been sidelined with injuries. Now, coming off a two-TD afternoon and yet another concussion to Austin Collie, White is in position to contribute nicely down the stretch. He could even prove to be more productive than the struggling Pierre Garcon.

Don’t be fooled

Vince Young, QB, Titans. Either due to a thumb injury or the lost patience of his head coach, Young’s season -- and Titan career -- is likely over. Rusty Smith will step under center, at least until Kerry Collins is healthy again, on a team that is going nowhere fast.

Pierre Thomas, RB, Saints. Reports have surfaced that Thomas has a torn tendon in his ankle. He’s already missed seven games, and this news means it could be at least a couple more weeks of dead weight on your roster. If you need to free up space for players who actually play, feel free to cut ties with Thomas.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Week 11 Sunday morning updates

Greetings, Fools, from outside Detroit. Arrived late last night at friends' home after a Griswold family vacation-style trip from Dallas. We got suckered into stopping at "The World's Largest Gift Shop," but somehow managed to avoid "The World's Largest Jigsaw Puzzle Store," "The World's Largest Rocking Chair," and, of course, the world famous Vacuum Museum.

OK, enough about me. Let's get to the news of the day...

Addai and Hart OUT again for the Colts. Looks like more of the frustrating Donald Brown/Javarris James show. And no, I don't like either.

Brian St. Pierre will be the Panthers' starting QB today. Good luck to you Steve Smith owners... Mike Goodson will be the starting RB again.

Kevin Smith has landed on injured reserve for the second straight year. If only Jahvid Best would get back to 100%. Maurice Morris will be his new backup.

Clinton Portis is in, Ryan Torain out, and Keiland Williams possibly lost in the mix. I personally find it hard to believe that Portis will get a full load, so Williams still has a chance to produce. But he's no longer the great start that I thought he'd be when both Portis and Torain appeared unlikely to play.

Ryan Mathews is doubtful for Monday night, but he's a bad bet anyway given his recent performances. Antonio Gates and Eddie Royal are officially listed as questionable for the game. Malcolm Floyd should be a safe start, but Legedu Naanee may not play.

CJ Spiller, Owen Daniels, Kenny Britt and Josh Cribbs are inactive.

The Vikings have activated Sidney Rice off of PUP, as expected. Don't start him today, but he's worth picking up for the stretch run if he's still out there. He could quickly reclaim his role as Favre's favorite target.

Hines Ward has recovered from his concussion and will start today vs. the Raiders.

Don't forget to check the status of your kicker (they're dropping like flies). Rob Bironas has been limited in practice this week, but appears safe to start. That said, nothing's official until it's official.

I'll be sending out inactives via Twitter (@ladd_biro) soon. Be sure to stay on top of the late-breaking news.

Good luck, Fools!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Week 11 Starters & Benchwarmers

Wondering whether or not to start Michael Vick and Frank Gore, or bench Brian St. Pierre and Joey Galloway? The network bozos specialize in that kind of advice. If you’re looking for real help with your starting lineup conundrums, read on.

Here are my picks to roll, and get rolled, in Week 11 of the 2010 season.

Watch ‘em roll

Matt Cassel, QB, Chiefs vs. Cardinals. This should be another very good week for fantasy passers, so Cassel’s excellent matchup against the awful Arizona secondary merely gets him in the conversation. He certainly won’t equal his stellar 469-yard, four-TD outing against the Broncos; but Cassel should continue to build on his strong play over the past five games (12 TDs vs. just one INT).

Keiland Williams, RB, Redskins at Titans. The rookie managed to have a career game (139 combined yards, 3 TDs) on Monday night despite playing from behind from the get-go. With both Ryan Torain and Clinton Portis still on the mend and uncertain for Sunday’s game, Williams should get another chance to carry the load against a slumping Titans run defense.

BenJarvus Green-Ellis, RB, Patriots vs. Colts. Though Tom Brady was last week’s hero against the Steelers, Green-Ellis totaled more than 100 yards against the league’s toughest defense. He should find the holes much bigger against Indy’s sorry run defenders.

Santonio Holmes, WR, Jets vs. Texans. With Jerricho Cotchery (groin) out, Holmes will continue to secure his role as his team’s most dangerous receiving weapon. Facing Houston’s pathetic pass defense, this could be his best game yet as a Jet.

Lance Moore, WR, Saints vs. Seahawks. New Orleans’ running game remains a work in progress, so Drew Brees will keep his receivers busy against Seattle’s generous secondary. Moore leads the team in TDs (five), and he should continue to flourish along with Marques Colston.

More thumbs up (excluding the no-brainers): QBs Shaun Hill, Joe Flacco, Mark Sanchez, Carson Palmer, Jon Kitna, Josh Freeman, Matt Ryan; RBs Knowshon Moreno, Fred Jackson, Ray Rice, Felix Jones, Jamaal Charles, Peyton Hillis, LaDainian Tomlinson; WRs Randy Moss, Dwayne Bowe, Mario Manningham, Hines Ward, Mike Wallace, Braylon Edwards, Malcom Floyd, Miles Austin, Dez Bryant, Nate Washington, Jeremy Maclin.

Roll ‘em back

Matt Schaub, QB, Texans at Jets. Schaub spent Tuesday night in the hospital having fluid drained from his knee. Though he is expected to play Sunday, the injury, coupled with a tough matchup in New York, makes him an overly risky play. Schaub has just four multi-touchdown games to his credit this year, even when healthy.

Colts RBs vs. Patriots. Joseph Addai has returned to limited practice is hopeful to play, but don’t count on it. More likely is another week of disappointing output from Donald Brown, who will yield to Javarris James at the goal line. Even if Addai suits up, New England’s improving run defense will have little trouble slowing the Colts’ subpar rushing game.

LeGarrette Blount, RB, Buccaneers at 49ers. The rookie is coming off a solid game against the Panthers, but he is more likely to replicate his mediocre performance from Week 9 in Atlanta (46 total yards). The 49ers are playing tough run defense of late, and Cadillac Williams is still in the picture as the better receiving option.

Jabar Gaffney and Eddie Royal, WR, Broncos at Chargers. San Diego’s pass defense is among the league’s stingiest, so even the vaunted Broncos’ air attack could struggle this week. Brandon Lloyd is too hot to sit, but his fellow wideouts aren’t.

Mike Williams, WR, Seahawks at Saints. Matt Hasselbeck appears set to play despite his broken left wrist, but neither he nor his receivers are likely to fare well against the Saints’ ball-hawking secondary. They’ve allowed a league low six passing TDs, so don’t expect great returns from the Comeback Player of the Year candidate in this contest.

More thumbs down: QBs Hasselbeck, Donovan McNabb, Jason Campbell, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Brett Favre; RBs Mike Goodson, Marshawn Lynch, Beanie Wells, Ryan Torain, Ryan Mathews, Jahvid Best; WRs Donald Driver, Bernard Berrian, Jacoby Ford, Steve Smith (CAR), Kevin Walter, Mike Williams (TB).


Reggie Bush, RB, Saints vs. Seahawks. Watch the game-day inactive list or, better yet, follow my tweets; but Bush is on track to return from his leg injury against the soft Seattle defense. He should quickly resume his critical receiving and return roles, while picking up the occasional backfield carry. In point-per-reception leagues especially, a fresh-legged Bush should excel right out of the gates.

DON’T BE THE BONEHEAD WHO…assumes your kicker is set for the duration. Gone just this week are Joe Nedney, Jeff Reed and Mike Nugent. Nate Kaeding is expected back soon for the Chargers; possibly as early as Sunday. Both Nick Folk and David Buehler are skating on fairly thin ice. It’s a topsy-turvy season for the big-footed men, so don’t overlook this position.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Week 10 Heroes & Zeros

This was a great week to start

Mike Vick, QB, Eagles – Who let the dogs out??? That’s pretty obvious, after Vick passed for 333 yards and 4 TDs and ran for 80 yards and 2 more TDs, without a turnover. Unbelievable.
Matt Cassel, QB, Chiefs – Kicked butt in garbage time, with a monstrous 469 yards and 4 TDs, plus a fumble.
Kyle Orton, QB, Broncos – Had 4 TDs in the same game, with 296 yards and no turnovers.
Tom Brady, QB, Patriots – No Moss? No problem. Tom Terrific passed for 350 yards and 3 TDs, and added a short rushing TD for good measure.
Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Steelers – Passed for 387 yards and 3 TDs, plus 1 INT.
Jon Kitna, QB, Cowboys – Shocked the Giants with 327 yards and 3 TDs, plus 1 INT.
Matt Ryan, QB, Falcons – Passed for 316 yards and a TD trifecta, with no turnovers.
Joe Flacco, QB, Ravens – Connected on 3 TDs while passing for 215 yards and 1 INT.
David Garrard, QB, Jaguars – Threw for 342 yards and 2 TDs, and ran for 35 yards.

Fred Jackson, RB, Bills – Led his team to their first victory with 133 rushing and 37 receiving yards, plus a TD each way.
Maurice Jones-Drew, RB, Jaguars – Rushed for 100 yards and 2 TDs, and added 3 catches for 23 more.
Knowshon Moreno, RB, Broncos – Ran for 106 yards and added 3 catches for 50 yards and 1 TD.
Frank Gore, RB, 49ers – Combined for 154 yards and 1 TD.
Steven Jackson, RB, Rams – Rushed for 81 yards and 1 TD, and reeled in 8 passes for 67 yards.
Felix Jones, RB, Cowboys – Ran for 51 yards and caught 3 passes for 85 yards and 1 TD.

Dwayne Bowe, WR, Chiefs – Collected 13 catches for 186 yards and 2 scores.
Roddy White, WR, Falcons – Started the week off with a bang, with a dozen receptions for 138 yards and 2 TDs.
Mike Wallace, WR, Steelers – Amassed 8 receptions for 136 yards and 2 TDs.
Brandon Lloyd, WR, Broncos – Scored twice on 6 catches for 90 yards.
Calvin Johnson, WR, Lions – Hauled in 10 passes for 128 yards and 1 TD.
Mike Thomas, WR, Jaguars – Pulled in 8 passes for 149 yards and 1 TD.
Andre Johnson, WR, Texans – Caught 9 passes for 146 yards and a score.
Mario Manningham, WR, Giants – His 10 catches produced 91 yards and a TD.
Mike Williams, WR, Seahawks – Golden in PPR leagues, with 11 catches for 145 yards.

This was a great week to play against

Brett Favre, QB, Vikings – Threw 3 INTs and lost a fumble while collecting just 170 yards and 1 TD.
Peyton Manning, QB, Colts – Passed for a paltry 185 yards and no TDs.
Titans QBs – Kerry Collins managed just 51 yards without a score while Vince Young had 92 yards, a TD and 2 turnovers.

Jahvid Best, RB, Lions – Disappointed with just 35 rushing yards and 4 more yards on 4 receptions.
Thomas Jones, RB, Chiefs – Just 3 rushing yards and one 19-yard catch on the day.

Hines Ward, WR, Steelers – Left injured with nothing to show for himself.
Bernard Berrian, WR, Vikings – Never hit the field despite being declared active.
Jacoby Jones, WR, Texans – Caught a single 5-yard pass.
Reggie Wayne, WR, Colts – Caught 3 passes for 34 yards.
Randy Moss, WR, Titans – Just one 26-yard reception.
Mike Sims-Walker, WR, Jaguars – Only 3 catches for 26 yards against the lowly Texans.
Santana Moss, WR, Redskins – Just 3 catches for 28 yards.
Brandon Marshall, WR, Dolphins – 3 receptions for 34 yards.

Jason Witten, TE, Cowboys – Just one 7-yard catch.
Brent Celek, TE, Eagles – Somehow came away with a measly 2 catches for 8 yards.

I didn’t see that coming

Jerome Harrison, RB, Eagles – When you score 59 points, the backup gets plenty of work. Like 109 rushing yards and 1 TD, plus a 15-yard reception.
Keiland Williams, RB, Redskins – Though Ryan Torain was active and expected to start, the rookie ran for 89 yards and 2 TDs, plus 4 catches for 50 yards and 1 TD.

Rob Gronkowski, TE, Patriots – Caught 5 passes for 72 yards and a trio of TDs.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Lock up your handcuff for the stretch run

Week 10 marks a welcome end to the much-reviled NFL bye schedule. Much like the sense of relief Lindsay Lohan experiences each time the authorities remove her ankle bracelet, fantasy owners can relax knowing they no longer must prepare for battle with one or more star players taking mid-season siestas.

Now that the bye weeks are history, this is an excellent time to give your roster a thorough checkup to be certain you are best prepared for the stretch run. The most important strategic move you can make this week is to release any lingering dead weight from excess kickers, defenses and even tight ends. There’s little justification for carrying more than one at each position any longer. You’re much better served by stocking your bench with fresh legs that can be instrumental in a title run.

At the top of your shopping list should be the understudy to your primary running back, if you haven’t already grabbed him. I’m not referring to widely owned sidekicks like Shonn Greene, Ricky Williams, Thomas Jones and Michael Bush, each of whom was typically drafted in August and has been good for an occasional start.

Rather, some of the most important backups in the game are flying well below the radar and are still available in the vast majority of leagues. One or more of these unheralded ball carriers will undoubtedly be thrust into the limelight during the upcoming fantasy playoffs thanks to an untimely, yet inevitable, injury to a star runner.

As sure as the next Lohan relapse, it’s going to happen. Shrewd owners will put their contingency plans in place now. Remember how Jamaal Charles, Jerome Harrison and Arian Foster emerged in late 2009 to lead their owners to playoff glory?

Consider Mewelde Moore, who combined for 93 yards rushing and receiving in Sunday night’s matchup. Moore gets little fantasy love as Rashard Mendenhall’s backup, yet he could be invaluable if the starter suffers an injury. Moore already offers marginal value as Pittsburgh’s third-down specialist thanks to his superior receiving skills. His stock will skyrocket if he suddenly finds himself in the starting role.

Heaven forbid Chris Johnson gets hurt; but CJ2K’s owners should do more than pray for his health. Hedging your bets with Javon Ringer is a much more prudent approach.

Michael Turner’s owners need not speculate what Jason Snelling might do if given a chance to start, as the backup’s 186-combined-yard, three-touchdown effort in Week 2 so vividly illustrated. Why wait for lightning to strike twice? Wouldn’t Snelling offer much more peace-of-mind than a second kicker?

Other must-own handcuffs to elite starters include Toby Gerhart (for Adrian Peterson’s owners), Derrick Ward (for Foster), Rashad Jennings (for Maurice Jones-Drew), Kenneth Darby (for Steven Jackson), Mike Bell (for Peyton Hillis) and Brian Westbrook (for Frank Gore).

Chester Taylor should also be scooped up by all Matt Forte owners, given the backup’s steadily increasing workload. In fact, Taylor could soon emerge as the preferred play even if Forte remains healthy, given the starter’s recent struggles.

Don’t play running back roulette. Take the necessary steps now to avoid the waiver-wire frenzy that will occur should your lead horse pull up lame at the worst possible time.


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 can also make a big difference. 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

Mike Goodson, RB, Panthers. It’s hard to believe that the first 100-yard rushing performance for a Panther was posted by the fourth-string back. But anything’s possible when you face one of the worst run defenses in the league. While any starting tailback merits a roster spot, Goodson’s clock is ticking. His value will plummet once DeAngelo Williams, Jonathan Stewart or even Tyrell Sutton returns to the field.

Mario Manningham, WR, Giants. Steve Smith’s pectoral injury occurred too late in the week for many to grab Manningham, who excelled as expected against the Cowboys in Smith’s absence. With Smith very likely to miss another game, and Ramses Barden lost for the season with foot and ankle injuries, Manningham – who is available in roughly a third of all leagues – should have another stellar outing in Week 11.

Rob Gronkowski, TE, Patriots. Aaron Hernandez was supposed to be the better receiver of New England’s rookie tight ends, but Gronkowski put that theory to the test with his three-touchdown masterpiece on Sunday night. While this was likely a one-of-a-kind performance, Gronkowski has found pay dirt in three previous games this season. You have to assume he’s earned a few more looks from Tom Brady going forward.

Don’t be fooled

Tyler Thigpen, QB, Dolphins. The last passer standing in Miami, Thigpen is the presumed starter for at least Thursday’s game now that both Chad Henne and Chad Pennington are likely to miss the remainder of the season. Thigpen had some shining moments two years ago as a Chief, but there’s a reason he’s no longer in Kansas City (and was a third-stringer until yesterday). The Dolphins will surely bring in a veteran backup this week, so Thigpen’s leash will be short.

C.J. Spiller, RB, Bills. A hamstring injury will cost the rookie at least one game, and perhaps many more. Given Spiller’s poor regular season performances thus far – following a spectacular, and apparently misleading, preseason – there’s little reason to think he’ll contribute anything more than continued frustration down the stretch run.

Kevin Walter, WR, Texans. It would be nice if the Texans recognized that their passing attack works better with Walter, who found the end zone for the first time since Week 3. But when his big day comes against the woeful Jaguars secondary, and on the heels of three consecutive goose eggs, it’s more likely this was just a one-week aberration.

Mike Nugent, K, Bengals. The latest in an unusually long list of felled kickers, Nugent is out for the season with a severe knee injury. If he’s your man, it’s time to go shopping. No word yet on whom Cincinnati will sign in his stead.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Sunday morning updates for Week 10

Greetings, Fools. It's that time again, and even better, it's the last week of byes. Make sure you've got your Packers, Saints, Raiders and Chargers on your bench.

Here's what we know so far...

Kerry Collins will get the first chance to pass to Randy Moss. Even if Vince Young is active, he won't be starting.

Troy Smith will start for the 49ers, if that matters to you.

Shaun Hill will start for the Lions in place of Matt Stafford. I think Hill is in for a big game against the terrible Bills defense.

All signs point to Ryan Torain playing Monday night, but he's still risky given the timing of the game. If you are banking on Torain, it would be best to hedge your bets with Keiland Williams. I don't expect Portis to be ready.

DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart are out; Mike Goodson will start at RB, while Jimmy Clausen will start at QB for the Panthers. This could get very ugly, unless you own the Bucs defense.

Beanie Wells will be a game-time call; but as we saw last week, even if he plays, you can't expect much. He's a very risky (read: bad) starting option today.

Fred Taylor is out again, even though he was back at practice this week.

Contrary to previous reports, Sidney Rice will NOT be active today for the Vikings. This doesn't change my opinion that it is wise to pick him up now, and stow him away for the stretch run. But he won't get his warmup reps today.

Percy Harvin will be active.

The Giants' Steve Smith won't suit up against the Cowboys. Look for a big game from Mario Manningham in his place.

Rams WR Danario Alexander is OUT today.

Owen Daniels will NOT play today vs. the Jags. That means backup TE Joel Dreessen will draw the excellent matchup.

I'll be watching the inactive reports as they are released over the next hour. Make sure you're getting my tweets (@ladd_biro) so you don't get any unexpected, nasty surprises.

Good luck to all Fools!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Week 10 Starters & Benchwarmers

Wondering whether or not to start Peyton Manning and Arian Foster, or bench Chad Henne and David Gettis? The network bozos specialize in that kind of advice. If you’re looking for real help with your starting lineup conundrums, read on.

Here are my picks to roll, and get rolled, in Week 10 of the 2010 season.

Watch ‘em roll

Shaun Hill, QB, Lions at Bills. Before breaking his forearm in Week 6, Hill was one of the hottest passers in the league. Now that he’s returning in Matt Stafford’s place, and facing a delicious matchup in Buffalo (17 passing TDs surrendered vs. a league-low one INT), he should pick up where he left off. In a week when three top fantasy QBs are on bye, Hill offers great upside.

Ronnie Brown, RB, Dolphins vs. Titans. With Chad Pennington back at the controls, Miami’s running game must shoulder the load. Brown scored his second rushing TD of the season last week against the Ravens, and he should have more success against Tennessee’s average-at-best rush defense.

Jahvid Best, RB, Lions at Bills. For the time being, at least, Kevin Smith has receded into the background, leaving Best alone atop Detroit’s RB pecking order. That’s excellent news since he’ll be facing the league’s worst run defense on Sunday.

Mike Thomas, WR, Jaguars vs. Texans. The diminutive wideout reached the end zone against Dallas in Week 8, and now faces a secondary that’s arguably even worse. David Garrard should have another outstanding outing, along with both of his starting WRs.

Mario Manningham, WR, Giants vs. Cowboys. Steve Smith injured his pectoral muscle in Thursday’s practice and is expected to miss one or two games as a result. With Dallas’ sieve-like secondary on tap, Manningham should have an outstanding game as Eli Manning’s No. 2 wideout. Obviously, Hakeem Nicks is golden with or without Smith.

More thumbs up (excluding the no-brainers): QBs Garrard, Matt Schaub, Eli Manning, Mike Vick, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Kyle Orton, Ben Roethlisberger; RBs Jamaal Charles, Thomas Jones, Ahmad Bradshaw, Cedric Benson, Donald Brown, LeGarrette Blount, Peyton Hillis; WRs Mike Sims-Walker, Pierre Garcon, Jacoby Jones, Jeremy Maclin, Hines Ward, Mike Wallace, Steve Johnson, Dwayne Bowe, Steve Breaston.

Roll ‘em back

Tom Brady, QB, Patriots at Steelers. Brady’s owners know he has been fairly mediocre fantasy-wise since Randy Moss left town. Now he’s dealing with a sprained foot, though it won’t keep him off the field against Pittsburgh. But with Wes Welker still less than 100 percent, Brady is a shaky start at best against a defense that’s given up just eight passing TDs in as many games.

Mike Goodson, RB, Panthers at Buccaneers. The second-year back will start in place of the injured DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart. But if those two couldn’t produce behind Carolina’s weak offensive line, what are the third-stringer’s chances? With Jimmy Clausen back under center, nobody in a Carolina uniform should be within sniffing distance of your lineup.

LaDainian Tomlinson, RB, Jets at Browns. He has slowed down from his torrid early-season pace, while Cleveland (one rushing TD to date) has played formidable defense against some of the best teams in the league. With Shonn Greene’s share of the workload steadily increasing, LT is no longer a sure-fire fantasy starter in tough matchups, like Sunday’s.

Santana Moss, WR, Redskins vs. Eagles. He was blanked in the first meeting between these teams, and Donovan McNabb wasn’t much better against his old club. Both players are risky starts against Philly’s high-pressure defense.

Randy Moss, WR, Titans at Dolphins. He is unlikely to see a full workload in his first game as a Titan, and head coach Jeff Fisher has suggested he won’t even play on third downs. Regardless of which QB is under center, Moss has taken a big step down from Brady and Brett Favre.

More thumbs down: QBs Jay Cutler, Carson Palmer, Jon Kitna, Chad Pennington; RBs Beanie Wells, Ricky Williams, Matt Forte, Felix Jones, Marion Barber, BenJarvis Green-Ellis; WRs Michael Crabtree, Brandon Tate, Deion Branch, Steve Smith (CAR), Roy Williams, Mike Williams (SEA).


Buccaneers defense vs. Panthers. Jimmy Clausen will start this game for Carolina, but he may not finish it. Meanwhile, the Panthers are down to their third running back, and they were arguably the NFL’s worst offense when their starters were healthy. Look for sacks and turnovers galore for the Bucs’ defense, along with a possible shutout.

DON’T BE THE BONEHEAD WHOlets Sidney Rice remain a free agent any longer. Rice is on track to play limited snaps in Week 10, which should make him a hot commodity on next week’s waiver wire. Grab him now (he’s still available in most leagues), and sock him away for the stretch run. Rice will be playing for a new contract, and with Moss in Tennessee and Percy Harvin better suited to the slot, the big-play receiver could resume his role as Favre’s go-to target as soon as Week 11.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Thursday football begins tonight!

Don't forget to set your lineup with your Ravens and Falcons right away. Tonight's game starts at 8:20 pm ET.

Matt Ryan, Michael Turner and Roddy White are all solid starts, as are Joe Flacco, Ray Rice and Anquan Boldin.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Week 9 Heroes & Zeros

This was a great week to start

Philip Rivers, QB, Chargers – Even without his top receivers, passed for 295 yards and 4 TDs, with just one INT.
Eli Manning, QB, Giants – Toyed with the Seahawks for 290 yards, 3 TDs and no turnovers.
Aaron Rodgers, QB, Packers – Torched Dallas for 289 yards and 3 TDs, and ran for 41 yards, without a turnover, before hitting the showers early.
Brett Favre, QB, Vikings – Passed for a career-best 446 yards, plus 2 TDs and 2 INTs.

Peyton Hillis, RB, Browns – Rumbled for 184 yards and 2 TDs, and added 36 yards on 3 catches. We’ll forgive him for the fumble.
Arian Foster, RB, Texans – Ran for 127 yards and 2 TDs, while catching 4 passes for 70 yards. Had a third TD overturned on replay.
Adrian Peterson, RB, Vikings – Scored rushing and receiving while totaling 144 combined yards.
Brandon Jackson, RB, Packers – He scored both ways too, while combining for 68 yards.
Michael Turner, RB, Falcons – Scored twice while rushing for 107 yards.
Ahmad Bradshaw, RB, Giants – Combined for 92 yards and 2 rushing TDs.
Ray Rice, RB, Ravens – Rushed for 83 yards and caught 7 passes for 97 more.

Terrell Owens, WR, Bengals – Another monster outing, with 10 receptions for 141 yards and 2 TDs.
Hakeem Nicks, WR, Giants – Produced 128 yards and a TD on 6 catches before leaving early with a minor ankle injury.
James Jones, WR, Packers – Reeled in 8 passes for 123 yards and 1 TD, but dropped another sure TD catch late.
DeSean Jackson, WR, Eagles – Caught 7 passes for 109 yards and a TD, and ran for 20 more yards.
Mike Wallace, WR, Steelers – Collected 5 passes for 110 yards and a score.
Steve Johnson, WR, Bills – His 11 receptions produced 145 yards.

Aaron Hernandez, TE, Patriots – Scored twice while catching 5 passes for 48 yards.
Randy McMichael, TE, Chargers – Took advantage of Gates’ absence to score twice on his only 2 catches, which went for 23 yards.
Jacob Tamme, TE, Colts – Hauled in 11 catches for 108 yards and 1 TD in only his second start.

Packers defense/special teams – Scored on fumble and INT returns, while amassing 4 sacks and 4 turnovers and holding Dallas to 7 points.
Saints defense – Collected 4 sacks and 2 turnovers, scored on a 24-yard interception return and held Carolina to 3 points.
Cardinals defense/special teams – Scored on a kickoff return and fumble return and added 3 sacks and three turnovers.

This was a great week to play against

Matt Schaub, QB, Texans – Disappointed again, with 266 yards, no TDs and an INT.

Beanie Wells, RB, Cardinals – Actually lost 2 yards on his only carry.
Ricky Williams, RB, Dolphins – Gained a single yard against the Ravens.
Jonathan Stewart, RB, Panthers – Ran for a paltry 30 yards.
Thomas Jones, RB, Chiefs – Just 32 measly yards against the Raiders.
LeGarrette Blount, RB, Buccaneers – Last week’s hero was this week’s goat, with just 46 rushing yards to show for his day.
Cowboys RBs – Jones, Barber and Choice split 14 carries and 39 yards, without a single reception between them.
Seahawks RBs – Marshawn Lynch gained 48 yards while Justin Forsett lost a yard running, adding 5 receiving.
Matt Forte, RB, Bears – Just 49 rushing yards, plus 12 yards on 3 catches, while Chester Taylor poached the TD.

Austin Collie, WR, Colts – Lost a yard on his only catch, before leaving early after absorbing a scary hit.
Steve Smith, WR, Panthers – Three QBs could only get him a single 9-yard pass.
Calvin Johnson, WR, Lions – A 13-yard pass was all he could muster.
Chad Ochocinco, WR, Bengals – Just one 15-yarder on Monday night.
Pierre Garcon, WR, Colts – Managed only 15 yards on 2 catches.
Miles Austin, WR, Cowboys – He got 16 yards on his 2 receptions, which was better than Roy Williams’ 6-yard evening.
Wes Welker, Deion Branch and Brandon Tate, WRs, Patriots – Amassed 36, 21 and 12 yards, respectively.
Robert Meachem, WR, Saints – His 2 catches went for 15 yards.
Anquan Boldin, WR, Ravens – Held to 2 passes for 28 yards.
Brandon Marshall, WR, Dolphins – Limited to 30 yards on 5 receptions.
Andre Johnson, WR, Texans – He only produced 41 yards on 4 catches.

I didn’t see that coming

Javarris James, RB, Colts – Scored on half his 4 carries, though he only gained 12 yards in the process.

Seyi Ajirotutu, WR, Chargers – Produced 111 yards and 2 TDs on just 4 catches, though it's not entirely surprising given he did it against the Texans.
Jacoby Ford, WR, Raiders – Turned 6 catches into 148 yards, and scored on a 94-yard kickoff return.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Workhorse running backs dominate Week 9

On a weekend when Wes Welker converted an extra point and Ndamukong Suh clanged one off the goal post, perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised that Brett Favre threw for the most yards (446) in his storied career – even without Randy Moss.

Or that an undrafted rookie named Seyi Ajirotutu produced 111 yards and two touchdowns in his first NFL start.

Or that Colt McCoy and Peyton Hillis combined to embarrass the mighty Patriots, two weeks after knocking off the defending Super Bowl champion Saints.

Then again, the only thing surprising about the goings-on in Dallas was that it took a 45-7 mauling by the Packers in primetime to finally get Wade Phillips fired. Interim head coach Jason Garrett had better hand everyone a shovel now, because it’s going to take a lot of work to exhume this team from the grave. Remarkably, no Cowboys player can be considered a safe fantasy starter at this point (and yes, that includes you, Miles Austin).

On a positive note, Week 9 heralded the return of the workhorse running back, as Hillis, Arian Foster, Adrian Peterson, Michael Turner, Ahmad Bradshaw and even Brandon Jackson each reached the end zone twice while racking up big chunks of yardage. It was hard to win a matchup this weekend without at least one of these backs in your lineup, and woe unto you if you faced a pair of them (as I did in one league – ouch!).

At least we’re past the dreaded six-team bye weeks. Now comes a weekly slate of Thursday night games, beginning with a juicy clash between the Falcons and Ravens this week. Don’t forget to set your lineup early!

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 can also make a big difference. 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

Sidney Rice, WR, Vikings – Brett Favre’s favorite target from 2009 could suit up as early as Week 10, but more likely won’t be fully ready for another week. Now that Randy Moss is a Titan, a healthy Rice will immediately return to his starting role opposite the oft-injured Percy Harvin. Available in roughly two-thirds of all leagues, Rice could be a difference-maker down the stretch.

Jacoby Ford, WR, Raiders – If I were an Oakland quarterback, the only receiver I would ever target is Ford. He made two spectacular catches on Sunday, and finished the day with six receptions for 148 yards. The former Clemson track star is one of the fastest players in the NFL, as he showed on his 94-yard kickoff return. If the Raiders keep feeding him the ball, the rookie could come up huge after their Week 10 bye.

Jacob Tamme, TE, Colts – All he’s done in his two starts after replacing the injured Dallas Clark is catch 17 passes for 172 yards and two TDs. With Austin Collie bound to miss some time with a scary-looking concussion, Tamme’s value increases even more. He’s still a free agent in about half of fantasy leagues.

Don’t be fooled

Javarris James, RB, Colts – Those hoping for big things from Donald Brown are not fans of the undrafted rookie, who poached two short TD runs from the former first-round draft choice. Alas, James gained just 12 yards on his four carries, so he is more likely to be a thorn in Brown’s side than a consistent fantasy contributor. His value will plummet once Joseph Addai and/or Mike Hart return from their injuries.

Seyi Ajirotutu, WR, Chargers – It’s not entirely shocking that the undrafted rookie had a career day on Sunday. After all, we knew Philip Rivers was going to torch the pathetic Texans secondary with somebody, and Ajirotutu was starting opposite Patrick Crayton. But heading into its bye, San Diego will have a chance to get Malcom Floyd and Antonio Gates healthy, and Vincent Jackson is eligible to return in Week 12. Sadly, Ajirotutu’s 15 minutes of fantasy fame are probably gone. For this year, at least.

Stephen Gostkowski, K, Patriots – An injured quad could cost Gostkowski several games. Shayne Graham has been rumored as a replacement. The Lions will also be without Jason Hanson for at least a couple of games. If you’re counting on either kicker, it’s time to go shopping. Suh is probably not your best option.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Sunday morning updates - Week 9

Good morning, Fools! It's another beautiful day in Fantasyland. I hope you're ready to dominate your competition today. I know I am.

Did you remember to "fall back?"

First things first...Six teams are on bye this week: Broncos, Jaguars, 49ers, Rams, Titans and Redskins.

Here are a few updates from around the league before we get to the game-day inactives (starting at noon ET).

Both Joseph Addai and Mike Hart stayed home yesterday and will not play vs. Philly. Donald Brown has a chance to redeem himself for those (like me) who were counting on him last week.

DeAngelo Williams is out again; Jonathan Stewart will try to rebound from an awful start last week.

Beanie Wells is active and will start. He has a tough matchup with the Vikes, but their rush defense hasn't been as tough as advertised lately.

Pierre Thomas and Reggie Bush are both inactive (again). Look for more sharing in the Saints backfield between Chris Ivory, Julius Jones and Ladell Betts.

No surprise here: The Colts put oft-injured Anthony Gonazalez on IR, ending his season prematurely yet again.

DeSean Jackson (concussion) is fully expected to return to the field today, and will be catching passes from Michael Vick against the Colts. Get him back in your lineup.

Donald Driver is out today.

Colt McCoy will start again for the Browns, while Delhomme and Wallace continue to sit.

Percy Harvin will play today, as will Favre (duh). That said, Harvin has looked "tentative" in pre-game warmups, according to reports.

Donte Stallworth will suit up for the Ravens for the first time today. He will take some snaps away from Houshmandzadeh, but not likely from Boldin or Mason.

Antonio Gates will NOT play today (already ruled inactive). Randy McMichael, whom you'll remember from St. Louis and Miami, will start in his absence. Given the fact that the Bolts won't have Floyd, Naanee or Vincent Jackson either, you could do worse than take a flier on McMichael if you're a Gates owner.

Texans TE Owen Daniels is also inactive.

Oakland TE Zach Miller is very doubtful for the later games.

Nate Kaeding is sidelined for the third straight game; Kris Brown will kick for the Chargers.

OK, it's time to shift to Twitter for the inactive reports (follow me @ladd_biro). Good luck to all Fools!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Week 9 Starters & Benchwarmers

Wondering whether or not to start Aaron Rodgers and Adrian Peterson, or bench Matt Moore and Jerome Harrison? The network bozos specialize in that kind of advice. If you’re looking for real help with your starting lineup conundrums, read on.

Here are my picks to roll, and get rolled, in Week 9 of the 2010 season.

Watch ‘em roll

Michael Vick, QB, Eagles vs. Colts. You’ve held onto Vick
throughout his extended rehab for a reason. Now get him back in your starting lineup against an Indy defense that is vulnerable to mobile quarterbacks. All signs point to DeSean Jackson (concussion) re-joining him in the huddle as well, so we could be in for an old-fashioned shootout in the Indy-Philly contest.

Brandon Jackson, RB, Packers vs. Cowboys. Over the last several games, Jackson has distanced himself from John Kuhn as the primary ball-carrier in Green Bay’s offense, while Dallas’ defense has imploded. Jackson offers a nice change-of-pace for the Packers’ high-octane passing attack, and he should reach the end zone at least once.

BenJarvus Green-Ellis, RB, Patriots at Browns. He has scored six TDs over the past five games, including two last week against the vaunted Vikings run defense. Though Cleveland has allowed only a single rushing score all season, Green-Ellis could double that, especially if New England’s passing attack continues to struggle.

Mike Williams, WR, Buccaneers at Falcons. Atlanta has surrendered three passing scores apiece in their last two games. That’s great news for Josh Freeman and his favorite target, who just notched the first 100-yard game of his rookie season.

Davone Bess, WR, Dolphins at Ravens. Bess has produced consistently, if unspectacularly, over the past five games (33 receptions for 335 yards and 3 TDs during that span). Miami’s running game is struggling, so look for its No. 2 wideout to be a major part of the game plan against a Ravens secondary that coughed up four passing scores to the Bills prior to the bye.

More thumbs up (excluding the no-brainers): QBs Matt Ryan, Joe Flacco, Ben Roethlisberger, Jay Cutler; RBs LaDainian Tomlinson, LeSean McCoy, Fred Jackson, Matt Forte, Darren McFadden, Jamaal Charles, Thomas Jones, Peyton Hillis; WRs Greg Jennings, Patrick Crayton, Johnny Knox, Wes Welker, Steve Smith (NYG), Mike Wallace, Pierre Garcon, Steve Johnson.

Roll ‘em back

Matt Schaub, QB, Texans vs. Chargers. He has thrown for one or fewer TDs, and 201 or fewer yards, in four of seven games to date. Now Schaub faces the league’s top-ranked pass defense, which has also amassed 25 sacks (2nd most in the NFL).

Jahvid Best, RB, Lions vs. Jets. Kevin Smith and Best split carries evenly last week, despite assurances from the rookie that his turf toe had fully healed. Now Smith is dealing with soreness in the same knee that knocked him out of action last season, so Best should again get the lion’s share (get it?) of the carries this week. Still, in a shared backfield against one of the league’s stingiest run defenses, Best could be in for another rough outing.

Seahawks RBs vs. Giants. Both Marshawn Lynch and Justin Forsett were awful in Oakland last week, and neither is likely to penetrate a Giants run defense that has been playing lights-out recently. Don’t be surprised if Seattle is shut out completely in this contest.

Steve Smith, WR, Panthers vs. Saints. He shouldered the blame for Carolina’s loss to the Rams in Week 8, but it won’t be his fault this time around. New Orleans’ pass rush will smother Matt Moore, while its ball-hawking secondary blankets his best receiver all afternoon.

Braylon Edwards, WR, Jets at Lions. Detroit’s pass defense is a lot better than you think, while New York is coming off an embarrassing shutout by Green Bay. Edwards caught just one pass last week, and he should continue his struggles Sunday as the Jets focus on pounding the Lions with their running game.

More thumbs down: QBs Carson Palmer, Brett Favre, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Matt Stafford, Jon Kitna, Mark Sanchez, Jason Campbell; RBs Ronnie Brown, Cedric Benson, Beanie Wells, Jonathan Stewart, Felix Jones, Marion Barber, Chris Ivory; WRs Roy Williams, Mike Williams (SEA), Jerricho Cotchery, Jacoby Jones, Darrius Heyward-Bey, Lee Evans, Darrius Heyward-Bey.


James Jones, WR, Packers vs. Cowboys. With Donald Driver declared out due to his injured quad, Jones will start opposite Greg Jennings against a Dallas secondary that has surrendered 15 passing TDs to date (third most in the NFL) and was just torched by David Garrard for four TD passes. Heck, Jordy Nelson is a decent bet to excel Sunday night, too.

DON’T BE THE BONEHEAD WHO…benches Philip Rivers just because his receivers are dropping like flies. Even if Antonio Gates (plantar fasciitis) joins Malcom Floyd, Legedu Naanee and Vincent Jackson on the sidelines, the NFL’s leading passer will find someone (Patrick Crayton, Darren Sproles, even Seji Ajirotutu) with whom to torch the Texans’ atrocious pass defense.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Week 8 Heroes & Zeros

This was a great week to start…

David Garrard, QB, Jaguars – Torched the Cowboys with 260 passing yards and 4 TDs, plus a 5th TD on the ground, with no INTs and one fumble.
Matt Stafford, QB, Lions – Passed for 212 yards and 4 TDs with just 1 INT.

BenJarvus Green-Ellis, RB, Patriots – Scored twice while rushing for 112 yards, plus an 11-yard reception.
LeGarrette Blount, RB, Buccaneers – Ran for 120 yards and 2 TDs.
Arian Foster, RB, Texans – Rumbled for 102 yards and 1 TD while adding 9 catches for 65 more yards.
Jamaal Charles, RB, Chiefs – Blasted the Bills with 177 rushing yards and 4 catches for 61 more.

Calvin Johnson, WR, Lions – Megatron amassed 9 catches for 101 yards and 3 TDs.
Terrell Owens, WR, Bengals – His 5 catches resulted in 65 yards and a pair of TDs.
Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Cardinals – 6 receptions produced 72 yards and 2 TDs.
Brandon Lloyd, WR, Broncos – Reeled in 7 passes for 169 yards and 1 TD.
Mike Sims-Walker, WR, Jaguars – Caught 8 passes for 153 yards and a score.

Marcedes Lewis, TE, Jaguars – Had just 2 catches, but they went for 51 yards and 2 TDs.
Antonio Gates, TE, Chargers – His 5 catches produced 123 yards and a score.
Jason Witten, TE, Cowboys – Pulled down 10 passes for 97 yards and 1 TD.

Dan Carpenter, K, Dolphins – Converted 5 fields (24, 31, 38, 42 and 54 yards) plus an extra point.

This was a great week to play against

Aaron Rodgers, QB, Packers – Held to just 170 passing yards and 0 TDs.
Mark Sanchez, QB, Jets – Tossed 2 INTs and only 256 yards without a score.
Matt Hasselbeck, QB, Seahawks – Passed for 160 yards, no scores and 1 INT.
Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Steelers – Limited to just 195 passing yards and no scores, plus an INT.
Brett Favre, QB, Vikings – Passed for 259 yards, 0 TDs and an INT.

Tim Hightower, RB, Cardinals – One rush went nowhere, while his one catch went for 11 yards.
Marshawn Lynch, RB, Seahawks – Limited to 7 rushing yards.
Donald Brown, RB, Colts – Given the chance to soar in Addai’s absence, he gained just 29 total yards while being upstaged by Mike Hart.
Saints RBs – Julius Jones led the pack with 16 rushing and 20 receiving yards.
Felix Jones, RB, Cowboys – Only 22 rushing and 14 receiving yards on 3 catches.
Jonathan Stewart, RB, Panthers – Spoiled his chance to shine, with just 30 rushing yards and an 8-yard catch.
Steven Jackson, RB, Rams – Just 59 rushing yards and a 4-yard reception.

David Gettis, WR, Panthers – Last week’s rookie sensation lost 11 yards on a reverse and was blanked in the receiving game.
Kenny Britt, WR, Titans – Pulled his hammy and left without a catch.
Donald Driver, WR, Packers – Had his second consecutive goose egg before leaving with an aggravated quad.
Jacoby Jones, WR, Texans – Left Indy with 2 catches for 6 yards. At least he wasn’t shut out completely like teammate Kevin Walter.
Randy Moss, WR, Vikings – Only an 8-yard catch to show for his return to New England. Now he's looking for work.
Deion Branch, WR, Patriots – A 21-yard catch was all she wrote.
Roy Williams, WR, Cowboys – Just one 21-yard catch from his old QB buddy.
Mike Williams, WR, Seahawks – A 27-yard reception was all he could muster.
Hines Ward, WR, Steelers – His 3 catches yielded 15 yards.
Wes Welker, WR, Patriots – Limited to 3 receptions for 24 yards.
Braylon Edwards, WR, Jets – Had a single 32-yard grab.
Chad Ochocinco, WR, Bengals – Upstaged by TO again with only 3 receptions for 34 yards.

Kellen Winslow, Jr., TE, Buccaneers – Held to a 5-yarder.
Zach Miller, TE, Raiders – Had only an 8-yard reception.
Owen Daniels, TE, Texans – Ditto.
Vernon Davis, TE, 49ers – Just one 12-yard catch.

Nick Folk, K, Jets – Whiffed on his only field goal try.

Monday, November 1, 2010

The Perfect Draft: With 20/20 Hindsight

Halfway through the 2010 fantasy season, are you still lamenting the premium draft pick you wasted on DeAngelo Williams? Are you kicking yourself for allowing Hakeem Nicks to slide by round after round? Did you cast your lot with the wrong Jets running back?

Yes, dear reader, it’s time for our semi-annual exercise in self-flagellation, when we travel back two short months to examine what could have been had we made all the right moves during our preseason draft. Step right up for The Perfect Draft: Midseason Review.

As always, we start with a few key assumptions. First, we’re in a 10-team league using a standard scoring system that starts one quarterback, two running backs, three wide receivers, one tight end, one kicker and one defense/special teams. Second, we are drafting from the middle (fifth) position in a zig-zag format, meaning Chris Johnson and Adrian Peterson were not available to us in the first round. Third, since all drafts play out differently, we’ll need a little luck along the way. And finally, our goal is nothing short of total domination and the abject humiliation of our opponents.

Now, with the fifth pick of the 2010 Fantasy Draft, we should have selected…

Round 1. Frank Gore, RB, 49ers. Aside from CJ2K and AP, Gore is arguably the only first-round selection that has delivered first-round value. Though he’s only posted one multi-touchdown game, and has just four TDs on the season, he’s offered the steady, reliable production you expect from your top pick.

Round 2. Roddy White, WR, Falcons. Calvin Johnson has three more TDs to date, but White has amassed 209 more receiving yards. It’s a tough call, but we since can’t have both, White gets the nod.

Round 3. Philip Rivers, QB, Chargers. Who needs Vincent Jackson? Obviously not Rivers, whose 2,649 passing yards leads the NFL. Only Drew Brees has more TDs (16 vs. 15), but Rivers was available two rounds later.

Round 4. Antonio Gates, TE, Chargers. Once again, Gates is the pick of the litter at his position. No tight end even comes close to his 663 yards and nine TDs. In fact, those numbers would put Gates atop the wide receiver ranks as well.

Round 5. Hakeem Nicks, WR, Giants. Aside from a meltdown in Week 6, Nicks has been a red-zone beast, far out-pacing his teammate Steve Smith, who was taken roughly 20 picks earlier.

Round 6. Arian Foster, RB, Texans. If you drafted late, after Foster’s stock vaulted through the roof, you may have had to use a fourth-rounder to secure the sleeper of the year. In that case, Ahmad Bradshaw is a solid backup option here.

Round 7. Terrell Owens, WR, Bengals. Apparently he can still put his money where his mouth is. After getting off to a sluggish start, T.O. has scored at least once in four consecutive games.

Round 8. Jeremy Maclin, WR, Eagles. Though we really don’t need him, Maclin is another Top 10 fantasy receiver we’d rather let sit on our bench than in an opponent’s starting lineup.

Round 9. LaDainian Tomlinson, RB, Jets. LT has seized the lead rushing duties from Shonn Greene and is eerily reminiscent of the powerful and dynamic playmaker who once reigned in Fantasyland.

Round 10. Darren McFadden, RB, Raiders. Just when you thought it was safe to write him off as a fantasy and NFL bust, McFadden has emerged as an elite, multi-purpose tailback. Even after missing two games with a bum hamstring, he’s a Top 5 fantasy RB.

Round 11. Kyle Orton, QB, Broncos. Here’s where we start getting silly, reaching for players that others won’t consider for several more rounds, if ever. Orton could be had as late as the 16th round, but we’ll grab fantasy’s second-ranked passer now, despite the snarky remarks we’re sure to hear.

Round 12. Titans defense/special teams. Several defensive units offer strong value, but the widely undrafted Titans set the pace in most scoring systems. Tennessee leads the league in sacks (26), and rank near the top in most other important categories.

Round 13. Austin Collie, WR, Colts. Though he’s out indefinitely with a thumb injury, Collie was the Colts’ leading receiver over the first six weeks. Kenny Britt was also available here, but his goose eggs to open and close the first half of the season were costly.

Round 14. Peyton Hillis, RB, Browns. Another player who went mostly undrafted, all he’s done is seize the workhorse role in Cleveland’s backfield and make Jerome Harrison expendable. Hillis has scored in all but one game to date.

Round 15. Marcedes Lewis, TE, Jaguars. Here’s another head-scratcher that our friends will mock; but when they try to claim Lewis off waivers after the opener, they’ll be too late. Lewis trails only Gates in fantasy production among tight ends. Bills wideout Steve Johnson would be an equally confounding, and prescient, selection.

Round 16. Sebastian Janikowski, K, Raiders. As usual, there’s little distinction between the top kickers, so take your pick between Rob Bironas, Dan Carpenter and the current front-runner, Janikowski.

Round 17. Brandon Lloyd, WR, Broncos. There’s nothing quite like the thrill of selecting the NFL’s top wideout in the final round of the draft. Even if you somehow foresaw Orton’s breakout, you’d have been a stinking genius to know that Lloyd would be his favorite target. But that’s the way football go.

It’s pretty slim pickings on the waiver wire this week. Only one player is worth consideration in my book, and even then only for desperate owners.

Catch him while you can

Keiland Williams, RB, Redskins. The undrafted rookie from LSU took over after Ryan Torain left Sunday’s game with a hamstring injury. As the Redskins head into their bye week, Torain should have enough time to heal and return to his workhorse role. But the starter’s owners may want to hedge their bets by handcuffing Williams, who has performed well in spot duty.