Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Mid-week updates

Jacksonville picked up recently released Bills QB Trent Edwards. Don't be surprised if he doesn't challenge David Garrard for the starting job at some point this season. Garrard has been pretty bad so far this year.

Early indications are fairly optimistic for Ryan Mathews, Ray Rice, Pierre Thomas and Cedric Benson to play this weekend. Steven Jackson, Knowshon Moreno and Jahvid Best seem less likely (especially Moreno). But a lot can change between now and then.

Raheem Morris said in a radio interview that LeGarrette Blount will get the short-yardage and goal-line carries for the Bucs going forward. That's bad news for Cadillac, but don't get too excited about Blount. Rookie Kareem Huggins, when healthy, will compete for carries as well. This backfield may be best avoided altogether.

The Seahawks released Quinton Ganther and picked up WR Brandon Stokley.

Andre Johnson will likely be a game-time decision on Sunday, but it's fairly safe to assume he'll suit up. And if he suits up, you must start him.

Mario Manningham is recovering from a concussion. Don't count on him in Week 4.

As expected, Garrett Hartley has been relieved of his field goal duties in New Orleans, with John Carney being brought back. However, Hartley remains on the roster. They haven't thrown in the towel on him completely. Carney is definitely a worthy pickup for those whose kickers are on bye, or who had Hartley.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Week 3 Heroes & Zeros

This was a great week to start

Michael Vick, QB, Eagles – Continued to electrify, with 291 yards and 3 TDs, plus 30 yards and a 4th score on the ground.
Peyton Manning, QB, Colts – Just another 325-yard, 3-TD afternoon to add to his legend.
Joe Flacco, QB, Ravens – Passed for 262 yards, with 3 TD strikes to Boldin.
Tom Brady, QB, Patriots – Cooly efficient in leading the Pats with 252 passing yards and 3 TDs.
Drew Brees, QB, Saints – Made up for 2 INTs with 365 passing yards and 3 TDs.
Philip Rivers, QB, Chargers – Had as many INTs as TDs (2), but passed for a monster 455 yards on the day.
Mark Sanchez, QB, Jets – Looked sharp in passing for 256 yards and 3 TDs, without a turnover on Sunday night.

Adrian Peterson, RB, Vikings – Raced for 160 rushing yards and 2 TDs, adding 5 catches for 30 yards.
Chris Johnson, RB, Titans – Bounced back from a rough week with 125 yards and 2 TDs.
Cedric Benson, RB, Bengals – Scored rushing and receiving, and totaled 90 yards.
CJ Spiller, RB, Bills – Only had 29 rushing yards, but reeled in 3 passes for 10 yards and a TD, and scored again on a 95-yard kickoff return.
Peyton Hillis, RB, Browns – Ran through the tough Ravens defense for 144 yards and a score, while mixing in 7 receptions for 36 yards.
BenJarvus Green-Ellis, RB, Patriots – Staked his claim to lead rushing duties, with 98 yards and a TD.

Anquan Boldin, WR, Ravens – Torched the Bengals on 8 receptions for 142 yards and 3 TDs.
Austin Collie, WR, Colts – Continued his sensational year with 171 yards and 2 TDs on a dozen catches.
DeSean Jackson, WR, Eagles – 4 catches produced 135 yards and 1 TD.
Mike Wallace, WR, Steelers – Made his backup quarterback look like an all-star, reeling in 3 passes for 100 yards and 2 TDs.
Jeremy Maclin, WR, Eagles – Scored twice on 4 receptions for 83 yards.
Brandon Marshall, WR, Dolphins – Had his best day in Miami, with 10 catches for 166 yards and a score.
Randy Moss, WR, Patriots – His only two receptions produced 42 yards and 2 TDs.
Brandon Lloyd, WR, Broncos – Generated 169 yards and a TD on 6 receptions.
DeSean Jackson, WR, Eagles – Amassed 153 yards and 1 TD on five catches.
Santana Moss, WR, Redskins – Pulled down 6 passes for 124 yards and a score.

Dustin Keller, TE, Jets – Sanchez’s favorite receiver caught 6 passes for 98 yards and a pair of TDs.
Tony Gonzalez, TE, Falcons – Amassed 8 receptions for 110 yards and 1 TD.

This was a great week to play against

Eli Manning, QB, Giants – Passed for lots of yards (385), but had no TDs and 2 INTs.
Matt Schaub, QB, Texans – Kept in check by Dallas, with just 241 yards and 1 TD, plus 2 costly INTs.
Brett Favre, QB, Vikings – Threw for 201 yards and 2 INTs, with just one TD.

Brandon Jacobs, RB, Giants – At this point, perhaps his 17-yard outing is not such a surprise.
Joseph Addai, RB, Colts – Ran for 29 yards, with 2 catches for 10 more.
Shonn Greene, RB, Jets – Ran hard, but had just 36 yards to show for it.
Jahvid Best, RB, Lions – Combined for just 39 total yards before leaving with a toe injury.
DeAngelo Williams, RB, Panthers – Limited to 64 yards on the ground, and none through the air.
Matt Forte, RB, Bears – Ran for 29 yards, and caught two short passes for 14 yards.

Mohamed Massaquoi, WR, Browns – Blanked by Baltimore.
T.J. Houshmandzadeh, WR, Ravens – Remained irrelevant with one 4-yard catch.
Miles Austin, WR, Cowboys – Limited to 2 receptions for 20 yards.
Jerricho Cotchery, WR, Jets – Failed to capitalize on Braylon Edwards’ lighter workload, with just 20 yards on 2 receptions.
Chad Ochocinco, WR, Bengals – Caught 4 passes for 34 yards.
Steve Smith, WR, Panthers – 3 catches totaled 22 yards.
Mike Sims-Walker, WR, Jaguars – Led the team with 34 yards on 2 receptions.
Wes Welker, WR, Patriots – Strangely quiet, with just 4 catches for 45 yards.
Marques Colston, WR, Saints – His 4 catches amounted to only 25 yards.

Visanthe Shiancoe, TE, Vikings – Injured his leg after catching a single 7-yard pass.

I didn’t see that coming

Matt Cassel, QB, Chiefs – Finally got the passing game going with 250 yards and 3 TDs, minus an INT.

Leon Washington, RB, Seahawks – Did nothing as a rusher, but his 101-yard and 99-yard kickoff returns for scores were awesome.

Lance Moore, WR, Saints – Climbed up the depth chart with his 6-catch, 149-yard, 2-TD performance. Also added a 72-yard punt return, which ended just shy of the end zone.
Roy Williams, WR, Cowboys – Finally emerged from hiding with five receptions for 117 yards and 2 scores.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Bye weeks get dicier after Week 3’s injuries

The annual bane of fantasy players returns this weekend with the first of seven consecutive bye weeks on the NFL schedule. Four teams – the Cowboys, Chiefs, Vikings and Bucs – get an early breather in Week 4, with the Dolphins, Patriots, Steelers and Seahawks on deck.

As if it wasn’t going to be tough enough to fill the voids left by our idled stars, Week 3 delivered another wicked round of injuries to a parade of fantasy stalwarts, including Steven Jackson (groin), Jahvid Best (toe), Ray Rice (knee), Cedric Benson (leg), Pierre Thomas (ankle), Andre Johnson (ankle), Jason Witten (knee) and Visanthe Shiancoe (leg).

Fortunately, none of those players currently appears at risk of missing more than a game or two, if that. But when you combine their potential absences with the bye-week scratches and the previously wounded – including Ryan Grant, Knowshon Moreno, Ryan Mathews, Jerome Harrison, Reggie Bush and Pierre Garcon – it’s enough to make even the cockiest fantasy owners mimic “The Scream” by Edvard Munch.

Indeed, waiver wires will be humming over the next few days, as several promising free agents are snapped up for spot or long-term duty. Don’t wait until the weekend to prepare for your next matchup, or you may find yourself screaming again.


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

Catch ‘em while you can

Bruce Gradkowski, QB, Raiders. Teams looking for a quick fix while Tony Romo and Brett Favre rest could do much worse than Gradkowski, who played well enough to win against the Cardinals in his first start of the season Sunday. He’ll face off against the visiting Texans, who have surrendered a league-worst 1,143 passing yards, six touchdowns and zero interceptions to Peyton Manning, Donovan McNabb and Romo over the first three games.

BenJarvus Green-Ellis, RB, Patriots. On Friday, I told you to watch him. Now it’s time to grab him. The third-year back posted 98 yards and a touchdown on 16 rushes against Buffalo, effectively distancing himself from the remaining competition in New England’s backfield. Fred Taylor’s toe injury – the severity of which is still uncertain – adds further luster to Green-Ellis’ rising star.

Peyton Hillis, RB, Browns. His bravado performance against a tough Ravens run defense proved that he is indeed ready to be the workhorse back in Cleveland’s offense. Though Jerome Harrison (thigh) could return this weekend, Hillis – who is still available in roughly 30 percent of fantasy leagues – is clearly the preferred option.

Willis McGahee, RB, Ravens. If Ray Rice’s knee injury costs him playing time, McGahee is in line for a heavier workload. He rushed six times for 25 yards in the fourth quarter after Rice left Sunday’s game. He’s available in roughly a third of fantasy leagues; so Rice’s owners, especially, should grab McGahee as insurance.

Lance Moore, WR, Saints. With a 149-yard, two-touchdown outburst against the Falcons, Moore served notice that he is back with a vengeance and ready to reclaim his role as one of Drew Brees’ most reliable targets. With Bush lost for several more weeks, Robert Meachem pulling another disappearing act, and Devery Henderson remaining one of the most inconsistent wideouts in Fantasyland, Moore should be snapped up immediately.

Dustin Keller, TE, Jets. Clearly in sync with his young and improving quarterback, Keller now trails only Antonio Gates among tight ends after his prolific Sunday night performance. Keller has emerged as an elite option and yet he’s still available in half of fantasy leagues. Not for long.

Don’t be fooled

Kenneth Darby, RB, Rams. He played well after Steven Jackson suffered a groin injury; but if the starter can’t return this weekend, Darby is unlikely to reap the benefits. The team has already contacted free agent Larry Johnson, and they will surely consider other options before making a final decision. If Johnson gets the nod, he becomes a marginally intriguing pickup.

Maurice Morris and Kevin Smith, RBs, Lions. Rookie sensation Jahvid Best sprained his toe Sunday, but the injury is not considered serious. If he misses time, neither Morris, who took over after Best’s departure, nor Smith, who has yet to suit up this year while still recovering from knee and shoulder surgeries, would offer much hope for replicating Best’s production.

Roy Williams, WR, Cowboys. Why race to acquire a player whose first great week in a Dallas uniform was wasted on the bench of virtually every fantasy team that owned him? Williams will remain a starter in Dallas’ pass-heavy offense, but I’d bet on the Chiefs finishing 16-0 before Williams out-shines Miles Austin and Dez Bryant again.

Vincent Jackson, WR, Chargers. Now that the deadline has passed for Jackson to secure a trade that would reduce his suspension to four weeks – and with the bye weeks upon us – few teams have the luxury of carrying his dead weight any longer. Feel free to waive him for a player that actually plays.

Garrett Hartley, K, Saints. After missing what amounted to an extra point-length field goal in overtime, Hartley could soon be looking for work. Two misses in Week 1 nearly cost the Saints their opening game, but his latest whiff was devastating. John Carney has a leg up (sorry) on the competition, having filled in well during (and after) Hartley’s suspension last season.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Week 3 Sunday morning updates

Greetings, Fools. It's a cloudy day in Dallas, but it's always sunny in Fantasyland!

Here are some overnight developments to start your day. Remember to follow my tweets (@ladd_biro) for the inactives announcements and other breaking news.

Here's what we know so far:

The Chargers bumped Curtis Brinkley up from their practice squad to the 53-man roster, which seems to indicate the obvious...Ryan Mathews will be out. Mike Tolbert (pictured above) is a solid play this week.

The Denver Post says Buckhalter and Maroney will be rotated in Moreno's absence today. This latest report completes the full gamut of possibilities I've heard from various sources over the last two days: (a) Buckhalter will get the majority of carries; (b) the fully healthy Maroney will be featured, and now (c) they will rotate, presumably equally. Truth is, nobody knows, and if one player fumbles, or breaks out, that's what will determine the sharing. If I had to pick between the two, I'd roll with Buckhalter this week, simply because he has a little more experience with the team and he's likely to pull the start. But it's really a crapshoot. Against the Colts, though, there will be opportunities for one, or both, to shine.

We should get our first look at both Ladell Betts and rookie Chris Ivory in the Saints' game today. Both are contenders for the coveted backup role to oft-injured Pierre Thomas.

As if there was any doubt, Andre Johnson is active and will start as usual against the Cowboys.

Pierre Garcon did not travel with the team to Denver, so make sure he's (still) on your bench.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Week 3 Starters & Benchwarmers

Wondering whether or not to start Matt Schaub and Chris Johnson, or bench Ryan Fitzpatrick and Dwayne Jarrett? 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 3 of the 2010 season.

Watch ‘em roll

Matt Ryan, QB, Falcons at Saints. After a rough opener, Ryan got back on track with an outstanding effort against the Cardinals last Sunday. He’ll need to stay sharp to keep pace with the Saints, especially if Michael Turner isn’t back to full strength.

Clinton Portis, RB, Redskins at Rams. By releasing Larry Johnson, Washington has confirmed that Portis will remain the unchallenged workhorse in their offense. Though he’s been lacking in the yardage department, the veteran managed to find the end zone twice last week. Look for even smoother sailing against a Rams defense that is surrendering 4.7 yards-per-carry to date.

Shonn Greene, RB, Jets at Dolphins. LaDainian Tomlinson averaged seven yards per rush in Week 2, but Greene was given more carries. More importantly, the youngster held onto the ball. The two backs will continue to share touches, but the Jets will keep increasing Greene’s workload to keep LT fresh for the whole season. Greene is a good start against the Dolphins, who were torched by Adrian Peterson last week.

Dez Bryant, WR, Cowboys at Texans. The rookie was targeted a dozen times in the opener, but only twice last week, though he still managed 52 yards, plus the punt-return TD. Now, Tony Romo & Co. face a Houston secondary that’s given up huge passing yards to the Colts and Redskins. We know Dallas can’t run, and Jason Witten may not be 100 percent after returning from a “minor” concussion. Despite his sore ribs, Bryant should be very busy in this Texas shootout.

Jeremy Maclin, WR, Eagles at Jaguars. Suddenly, Michael Vick is all the rage, and for good reason. Going up against a Jacksonville defense that is bombarded regularly, Maclin is a good bet to notch his third TD in as many weeks.

More thumbs up (excluding the no-brainers): QBs Vick, Donovan McNabb, Alex Smith; RBs Jahvid Best, Pierre Thomas, Darren McFadden, Mike Tolbert, Matt Forte, Correll Buckhalter, Joseph Addai, Ahmad Bradshaw; WRs Kevin Walter, Donald Driver, Michael Crabtree, Santana Moss, Mike Sims-Walker, Malcom Floyd, Mark Clayton, Jerricho Cotchery.

Roll ‘em back

Brett Favre, QB, Vikings vs. Lions. How can you sit Favre against Detroit, of all teams? Start with his current 1:4 touchdown-to-interception ratio. Then add in the deficiencies in his receiving corps, and the fact that Minnesota can win on the strength of Adrian Peterson’s running alone. Favre shouldn’t be trusted right now.

Jamaal Charles, RB, Chiefs vs. 49ers. Thomas Jones has turned out to be a bigger threat to Charles’ production than expected, and he remains the starter. Charles will get his carries, but the Niners are playing solid run defense. He’ll have to produce more as a receiver in order to deliver decent fantasy returns this week.

Brandon Jackson, RB, Packers at Bears. He didn’t do enough in his starting debut to convince anyone that he can fill Ryan Grant’s cleats. Even John Kuhn out-rushed him, though Jackson notched the short TD plunge. Look for more sharing, and fewer opportunities, against a solid Chicago run defense.

Steve Smith, WR, Giants vs. Titans. One of last season’s shooting stars has gotten off to a rough start in 2010, with just nine catches for 78 yards and no TDs to date. Tennessee’s secondary has played well thus far, so look for more lackluster production from the forgotten man in the Giants’ receiving corps.

Hines Ward, WR, Steelers at Buccaneers. Tampa Bay’s secondary has been solid against mediocre passing attacks thus far this season. With Charlie Batch at the controls, Pittsburgh presents yet another mediocre challenge. Ward was held to a single 9-yard reception last week. It may not get much better until Big Ben returns.

More thumbs down: QBs Carson Palmer, Mark Sanchez, Joe Flacco, Eli Manning, Kyle Orton; RBs Brandon Jacobs, Ryan Mathews, Cadillac Williams, CJ Spiller, Jonathan Stewart, Cowboys RBs, Browns RBs; WRs Steve Smith (CAR), Dwayne Bowe, Percy Harvin, Lee Evans, Terrell Owens, Jabar Gaffney, Braylon Edwards, Steve Breaston, Mike Wallace.


BenJarvus Green-Ellis, RB, Patriots vs. Bills. I wouldn’t rush out to grab him, but don’t be surprised if Green-Ellis emerges as the lead back in New England’s no-longer-crowded RB stable this week. Now that Laurence Maroney has been shipped to Denver, and Kevin Faulk (knee) is on injured reserve, only the ancient Fred Taylor and Sammy Morris (one carry in 2010) remain. I’m just saying…

DON’T BE THE BONEHEAD WHOsits Tony Romo against the Texans. While he’s piled up the yards, Romo has posted only two TDs against three INTs in his first two outings of 2010; and we can’t even blame Jessica Simpson. Meanwhile, Dallas can’t run to save their lives. Romo will be forced to air it out to keep pace with Houston’s offensive firepower, and the Texans’ secondary won’t offer much resistance. Though the Cowboys could easily head into their bye winless, Romo will take good care of his fantasy owners.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Busy Tuesday in Fantasyland

Lots of breaking news to report today, including --

Andy Reid reversed course and declared Michael Vick his starting QB. Kevin Kolb is ready to roll, but Reid decided to stick with the hot hand. That's not like him to change his mind like that...remember all those years he hung tight with McNabb? But Vick changed his mind with his stellar play. Grab him if he's still out there.

Reggie Bush broke his leg Monday night, and will miss 6 weeks, if not more. Look for Ladell Betts to come back to the team, but this is the best news Pierre Thomas' owners could have asked for (strictly from a fantasy perspective, of course).

In other news, Braylon Edwards was arrested for DWI. He's been in hot water with the NFL before, so a significant suspension is surely coming. Rumors are swirling that Jets coach Rex Ryan will bench him this weekend even if he doesn't have to, just because he's so upset with the bonehead. Consider trading Edwards before the announcement is made.

The Redskins released Larry Johnson, which is a huge boost for Portis' owners and a kick in the pants to my prediction of LJ's sleeper status this year. The team says they may bring him back, but they needed the roster room for special teams. They brought in Chad Simpson, who is a RB that also plays special teams. Could Green Bay give LJ a look now?

The Pats' Kevin Faulk is done for the year with a torn ACL, and the Falcons' Jerious Norwood is headed to IR with the same injury. That boosts Jason Snelling's role as Burner Turner's sole handcuff, making him a more attractive pickup this week than we thought just a day ago. But keep in mind that Turner appears to be fine, so it may be a while before Snelling gets another shot at significant playing time.

It's not official yet, but Bruce Gradkowski is expected to be named Oakland's starting QB over Jason Campbell tomorrow. You may recall Gradkowski put up some impressive stats last season when given the chance, so this is not an inconsequential development.

Devin Aromashodu has officially dropped below Earl Bennett, to the #4 spot on Chicago's WR depth chart. So much for the hype (which you didn't find here).

Jags backup QB Luke McCown is also on IR now, so anyone worried that David Garrard's job wasn't safe now only has to worry about Todd Bouman.

Dennis Dixon will have surgery, so scratch him off your really long QB list.

And more shocking news: The Colts' injury-prone Anthony Gonzalez is out yet again, this time for 4-6 weeks with a high ankle sprain. His fantasy relevance is officially kaput.

Week 2 Heroes & Zeros

This was a great week to start

Matt Schaub, QB, Texans – Slung it for 497 yards and 3 TDs, with 1 INT.
Donovan McNabb, QB, Redskins – Out-gunned by Schaub, but his 426 yards and 1 TD was very respectable.
Peyton Manning, QB, Colts – Whooped up on brother Eli with 255 yards, 3 TDs and no INTs.
Aaron Rodgers, QB, Packers – Passed for 255 yards and 2 TDs, and added 20 yards and a third TD on the ground.
Philip Rivers, QB, Chargers – Picked off twice, but had 334 yards and a TD trio.
Jay Cutler, QB, Bears – Tossed 3 TDs and 277 yards.
Matt Ryan, QB, Falcons – He also had 3 TDs with 225 yards.

Jahvid Best, RB, Lions – Ran for 78 yards and 2 TDs and added 154 yards and another TD on 9 catches.
LeSean McCoy, RB, Eagles – Rumbled for 120 yards and 3 TDs.
Frank Gore, RB, 49ers – Rushed for 112 yards and a score, while catching 7 passes for 56 yards and another TD.
Adrian Peterson, RB, Vikings – Ran for 145 yards and 1 TD, plus 5 catches for 41 yards.

Andre Johnson, WR, Texans – Despite a brief injury scare, pulled down a dozen balls for 158 yards and the TD that sent it into O/T.
Kevin Walter, WR, Texans – Nearly as explosive as AJ, with 144 yards and a score of his own.
DeSean Jackson, WR, Eagles – 4 catches produced 135 yards and 1 TD.
Mike Sims-Walker, WR, Jaguars – Bounced back from his Week 1 goose egg with 10 catches for 105 yards and 1 TD.
Miles Austin, WR, Cowboys – Didn’t score, but 10 catches for 142 yards is still pretty salty.

Dustin Keller, TE, Jets – Had the best game of his career, with 7 receptions for 115 yards and a score.
Antonio Gates, TE, Chargers – Scored twice while catching 5 passes for 57 yards.

Mike Nugent, K, Bengals – Accounted for all 15 of his team’s points, with field goals of 25, 30, 36, 38 and 46 yards.

Steelers D/ST – Registered 4 sacks and 3 INTs, recovered 4 fumbles, held Chris Johnson and the Titans to 11 points and scored on an 89-yard kickoff return. Not a bad day’s work.

This was a great week to play against

Brett Favre, QB, Vikings – Held to 225 yards without a TD, plus 4 costly turnovers.
Vince Young, QB, Titans – Passed for 66 yards and lost a fumble before being relieved by Kerry Collins.
Carson Palmer, QB, Bengals – No scores, no turnovers and just 167 passing yards.
Joe Flacco, QB, Ravens – Managed only 154 yards and 1 TD, with 4 INTs.

Brandon Jacobs, RB, Giants – Gained 8 yards on 4 carries, and nearly lost his helmet in the process.
C.J. Spiller, RB, Bills – Ran for 3 yards on his only carry, and chipped in just 23 yards on 4 receptions.
Chris Johnson, RB, Titans – An 85-yard TD run was nullified by a penalty, leaving him with just 34 rushing and 19 receiving yards, plus a fumble.
Maurice Jones-Drew, RB, Jaguars – 31 yards rushing and 17 yards receiving, plus a fumble, just won’t cut it.
Ryan Mathews, RB, Chargers – Rushed for 26 yards, caught 2 balls for 29 yards, and fumbled before leaving with an ankle injury.
Jamaal Charles, RB, Chiefs – Just 49 yards rushing on half the carries of Thomas Jones, plus one 27-yard catch.
Cowboys RBs – Marion Barber ran for a meager 31 yards, while Felix Jones had 7 rushing and 12 receiving.
Rashard Mendenhall, RB, Steelers – Limited to 69 rushing yards.

Lee Evans, WR, Bills – Posted a goose egg against the Packers.
Devin Aromashodu, WR, Bears – He did the same thing vs. the Cowboys.
T.J. Houshmandzadeh, WR, Ravens – Ditto.
Robert Meachem, WR, Saints – Him, too.
Mohamed Massaquoi, WR, Browns – Just one 9-yard reception.
Pierre Garcon, WR, Colts – A bit player in the Colts’ win, with one 11-yard reception.
Steelers WRs – Hines Ward had a 9-yard catch, while Mike Wallace reeled in 2 for 25 yards.
Legedu Naanee, WR, Chargers – Followed up a great Week 1 start with one 14-yard catch.
Steve Breaston, WR, Cardinals – Three catches amounted to 10 yards.
Michael Crabtree, WR, 49ers – Produced one 32-yard catch.
Greg Jennings, WR, Packers – Just 3 receptions for 36 yards.
Percy Harvin, WR, Vikings – Amassed only 32 yards on 5 receptions.

Heath Miller, TE, Steelers – His 2 receptions produced 3 yards.
Tony Gonzalez, TE, Falcons – Caught 2 passes for 19 yards.

I didn’t see that coming

Jason Snelling, RB, Falcons – With Michael Turner on the sidelines, he turned in a career game of 129 rushing and 57 receiving yards, with 3 total TDs.
Mike Tolbert, RB, Chargers – With Ryan Mathews injured, rushed for 82 yards and a pair of scores, plus a 13-yard catch.

Demaryius Thomas, WR, Broncos – In his first pro outing, reeled in 8 catches for 97 yards and 1 TD.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Rookies: Some bad, some good, but just one Best

Two weeks into the season is too early to pass judgment on anything, much less the relative merits of the 2010 rookie class. But fantasy enthusiasts aren’t known for their patience, so you’ll forgive me for engaging in a little premature evaluation, as it were.

The bad. Following a scintillating preseason, you can count C.J. Spiller’s cumulative rushing yards over two games on both hands (minus a pinky). He’s totaled eight receptions for 31 yards, and has taken a back seat to both Fred Jackson and Marshawn Lynch. Don’t give up on him, of course; but he should be nowhere near your starting lineup until he gets his mojo back.

After an ankle injury, and his second fumble in as many weeks, Ryan Mathews has yet to fulfill the lofty expectations placed on him as the heir apparent to LaDainian Tomlinson. It didn’t help that Mike Tolbert looked like an All Pro after replacing him Sunday. Mathews could have returned after having his ankle examined in the locker room, but he watched from the sidelines instead. How this plays out in Week 3 and beyond will be interesting.

Dexter McCluster was a popular free agent pickup after he scored on a dazzling punt return in Week 1. But aside from that highlight-reel play, the multi-talented rookie has been virtually invisible. He’s not worth a roster spot unless and until the Chiefs make him a starting wideout, and perhaps not even then, given Matt Cassel’s struggles.

The good. Unlike Spiller, Tampa Bay’s Mike Williams has built upon his sensational preseason, scoring in consecutive weeks and cementing his role as Josh Freeman’s go-to wideout. The sky’s the limit for this fourth-round steal, who could post stats comparable to those of Marques Colston and Anquan Boldin in their brilliant rookie campaigns.

Dez Bryant’s targets dropped from a whopping 12 in the opener to just two on Sunday. But the electrifying wideout scored on a punt return, and when (if?) the Cowboys get their offense back on track, he should be a consistent contributor, particularly in the red zone.

After missing the entire preseason and Week 1 with a foot injury, Demaryius Thomas showed why Denver made him the first receiver selected in the 2010 draft with a dominating eight-reception, 97-yard debut, including a touchdown, against the Seahawks. His talent clearly dwarfs that of both Eddie Royal and Jabar Gaffney, so he’s worth picking up for the occasional start in favorable matchups.

Tight ends Aaron Hernandez and Jermaine Gresham are making their presence with the Patriots and Bengals, respectively, and one or both could merit a mid-season flier if they continue to progress. Tony Moeaki is likewise turning heads in Kansas City, but his ceiling is fairly low given the Chiefs’ lackluster passing attack.

Sam Bradford is a clearly player, but there’s no way you can trust a rookie passer in St. Louis with your fantasy team. Maybe next year, Sam.

The Best. Meanwhile, in the NFL backwater that is Detroit, Jahvid Best is staking an early claim on Rookie of the Year honors. In fact, it’s not even a close race at this point. Best has notched five touchdowns already, and he followed his modest rushing performance in the opener with a monster 232-combined-yard outing against the Eagles on Sunday. He appears to be single-handedly elevating the Lions’ moribund offense, and he’s richly rewarding those who risked an early-round fantasy pick on him. Tough matchups with the Vikings and Packers over the next two weeks are no longer relevant with this every-week fantasy superstar.


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 Tolbert, RB, Chargers – Just when we thought Darren Sproles was the back to own should Mathews go down, Tolbert steps up and proves otherwise with an 85-yard, two-touchdown effort. Mathews’ tweaked ankle should be healed by the weekend, but his fumbling problems and Tolbert’s strong performance could lead to a possible time-share. Grab Tolbert as Mathews’ handcuff at worst, especially if you were carrying Sproles for the same contingency.

Marshawn Lynch, RB, Bills – If you’re in the mood to gamble, grab Lynch and hope that the Packers persuade the Bills to trade him. Buffalo seemed to be showcasing Lynch for the possibility, and Brandon Jackson was just okay in his first start in place of Ryan Grant.

Kevin Walter, WR, Texans – I’m not relenting (yet) on my insistence that Jacoby Jones is the second-best wideout in Houston, but I can’t ignore Walter’s rebound from a lousy 2009 any longer. After catching 11 passes for 144 yards and his second TD of the season, Walter served notice that he is back to his playmaking 2008 form. Meanwhile, he’s owned in roughly 10 percent of fantasy leagues.

Demaryius Thomas, WR, Broncos – Thomas is undoubtedly the most talented receiver in Denver, so he’s worth stowing away as a bye-week or injury fill-in. But the rookie faces a rough schedule over the next several games, so don’t count on more big days until the second half of the season.

Don’t be fooled

Kyle Orton, QB, Broncos. He has been fairly impressive in two games against mediocre competition. Now the road gets tougher, with the Colts, Titans, Ravens and Jets on tap over the next four weeks. Let someone else pick him up now. They’ll likely drop him again before Denver’s schedule lightens up in late October.

Jason Snelling, RB, Falcons – His outstanding, three-touchdown afternoon in relief of an injured Michael Turner (groin) was boosted by Jerious Norwood’s early exit and, of course, Arizona’s mediocre defense. Turner is unlikely to miss next week’s start, so if the starter goes down in the future, Snelling’s upside would probably be limited by a healthy Norwood.

Devin Aromashodu, WR, Bears – After an offseason of irrational exuberance, Aromashodu dropped several passes (including one in the end zone) in the season opener and wasn’t even targeted in Week 2. Meanwhile, Earl Bennett has resurfaced and possibly surpassed the speedster on the depth chart. If you can trade Aromashodu to the guy who groaned when you drafted him too early, do it. You can’t say I didn’t warn you.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Sunday morning updates - Week 2

Not many big names out today, other than Beanie Wells, as expected.

You know both starting QBs in the Philly/Detroit game are down, meaning Michael Vick and Shaun Hill get the start.

Percy Harvin is active, and prospects for Hakeem Nicks playing tonight are getting better (though there's still some risk, whether or not he suits up).

Check out all my late breaking updates via Twitter (@ladd_biro).

Good luck everybody!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Week 2 Starters & Benchwarmers

Wondering whether or not to start Aaron Rodgers and Arian Foster, or bench Shaun Hill and Kenny Britt? 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 2 of the 2010 season.

Watch ‘em roll

Michael Vick, QB, Eagles at Lions. I have a well-documented history of skepticism about Vick as a fantasy quarterback, but that changed (for now) last Sunday. The former All Pro looked as dynamic as ever – both passing and running – against a salty Packers defense. He’ll have a field day against the Lions, while stirring up the QB controversy in Philly. He won't pass for 300 yards, but rushing yards add up faster.

Ahmad Bradshaw, RB, Giants at Colts. If Arian Foster’s career day against Indy wasn’t enough, perhaps Bradshaw’s nearly two-to-one workload over Brandon Jacobs in Week 1 will convince you to start him. Bradshaw should improve upon last week’s 93-total-yard, one touchdown outing under the Sunday night lights.

Brandon Jackson, RB, Packers vs. Bills. He may not be the long-term answer to Ryan Grant’s season-ending injury, but Jackson will have a great opportunity to prove his worth against a bad Buffalo run defense. If you managed to grab him off the waiver wire, plug him into your starting lineup and enjoy the results.

Pierre Garcon, WR, Colts vs. Giants. Everybody except Garcon scored last week, but Indy’s No. 2 wideout was targeted 10 times and nearly had a TD of his own. In the primetime matchup of the Brothers Manning, Garcon will get plenty of chances to shine against the Giants’ suspect secondary.

Mike Williams, WR, Buccaneers at Panthers. Josh Freeman’s favorite target lines up against a team that coughed up three TDs to Hakeem Nicks in Week 1. Look for the first 100-yard outing of the rookie’s career, along with his second TD in as many games.

More thumbs up (excluding the no-brainers): QBs Brett Favre, Eli Manning, Donovan McNabb; RBs LeSean McCoy, Knowshon Moreno, Cedric Benson, Jamaal Charles, Ryan Mathews, Darren McFadden; WRs Anquan Boldin, Malcom Floyd, Dez Bryant, Donald Driver, Robert Meachem, Santana Moss.

Roll ‘em back

Carson Palmer, QB, Bengals vs. Ravens. He totaled just 495 yards and two TDs in two games against Baltimore last season. Despite his strong start in New England in Week 1, Palmer is a bad bet against a Ravens defense still fired up over Monday night’s dominating performance.

Jahvid Best, RB, Lions vs. Eagles. Though he salvaged his day with two TD runs, the talented rookie was limited to 1.4 yards per rush against the Bears in Week 1. With little concern over an aerial “attack” piloted by Shaun Hill, Philly will load up to stop the run, leaving Best scant room to roam. Detroit may also be forced to abandon the run early, if they fall behind as expected.

Shonn Greene, RB, Jets at Patriots. The presumed workhorse of New York’s backfield fumbled twice and was benched in the opener, while LaDainian Tomlinson showed the youngster how it’s done. Offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer later clarified his position that any player who fumbles will immediately be removed from the game. The Jets can’t afford similar mistakes against their divisional rivals Sunday, so avoid the likelihood of another disappointing stat line from Greene if possible. LT should get the bulk of the workload against the tough Pats defense.

Calvin Johnson, WR, Lions vs. Eagles. Do you sense my pessimism about Detroit? With Hill at the controls, and the ground game struggling, this contest has all the makings of a Motor City blowout. Philly held Aaron Rodgers to 188 passing yards in the opener, and they should have no trouble shutting down Hill and his only legitimate receiver.

Derrick Mason, WR, Ravens at Bengals. The wily veteran was a bit player in the new-look Baltimore passing attack in Week 1, and last season’s results in two games against Cincinnati (3 receptions, 31 yards, 0 TDs, including a goose egg) offer little hope for a rebound this weekend.

More thumbs down: QBs Joe Flacco, Matt Ryan, Jay Cutler, Matt Hasselbeck, Alex Smith, David Garrard; RBs Matt Forte, C.J. Spiller, Tim Hightower, Ronnie Brown, Fred Taylor, Clinton Portis; WRs Bernard Berrian, Chris Chambers, Devin Hester, Braylon Edwards, Nate Washington, Lee Evans, Mike Sims-Walker, Mike Wallace, Mike Williams (SEA).


Jacoby Jones, WR, Texans at Redskins. Kevin Walter is still Houston’s designated starter opposite Andre Johnson, and he grabbed the sole scoring catch in Week 1; but Jones is the more explosive of the two wideouts. Walter made the most of his only two targets of the game, while Jones had a team-high six targets (including one that slipped through his hands in the end zone). Houston will surely pass more frequently in Washington, giving Jones plenty of opportunities to excel.

DON’T BE THE BONEHEAD WHO…benches Randy Moss against Darrelle Revis. Yes, I realize the diva wideout was held under 35 yards on Revis Island in both games last season, but Moss did manage to add a touchdown in their second battle. Like trying to time the stock market, sitting an elite receiver of Moss’ caliber is riskier than starting him.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

V-Jax can play in Week 5, if traded

The NFL just announced that Vincent Jackson may play in Week 5 if he is traded by 4:00 PM (Eastern) next Wed., Sept. 22. This, per an agreement reached between the NFL and the players union. Jackson will have to serve the full six-game suspension if he isn't dealt before the deadline.

This is huge news, in that is resolves a thorny impediment to Jackson's mobility, and it puts a timeline on a potential move. If the Pro Bowl WR is going to play, and San Diego is going to get any value from him, they'd better make a deal fast.

The Vikings are at the top of the rumor mill, and there's no doubt that they and at least a few other teams have already started talking possible terms with the Chargers. A trade cannot be consummated any earlier than Friday at 4:00 PM.

Frankly, there aren't many teams that couldn't use a player of Jackson's ability. If he's available in your league, scoop him up now. Week 5 will be here before you know it, and there's a good chance he'll be the leading receiver for whichever team ponies up for him.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Maroney to Broncos; Fred Taylor more interesting

New England has shipped Laurence Maroney to Denver, where he will join the mix with Knowshon Moreno and Correll Buckhalter. This either means that Moreno's hammy didn't react well to the workload he got on Sunday, or the team simply feels that Maroney is an upgrade to Buckhalter as a backup.

As a Moreno owner in one league, I'm hoping it's the latter; but we'll see.

Back in New England, Fred Taylor's stock rises, but perhaps the biggest beneficiary in the long run might be Ben-Jarvis Green-Ellis. Sammy Morris and Kevin Faulk are still in the picture though, so while it's worth keeping an eye on BJGE, I'm still staying away from this backfield completely for now.

Ryan Grant out for season; grab Brandon Jackson NOW

FOX Sports just reported that Ryan Grant is out for the season with leg and ankle injuries. Huge blow for the Packers and for Grant, who had never missed a game due to injury in his pro career.

Whether or not you own Grant, Brandon Jackson is a must-get free agent. Go all-in on a guy who is likely to be the primary ball-carrier in one of the league's most explosive offenses.

Green Bay will probably bring in a veteran to help out, but Jackson has the talent to do the job on his own. John Kuhn may get some of the goal-line work, but Jackson is the man to own now.

Week 1 Heroes & Zeros

This was a great week to start

Peyton Manning, QB, Colts – His 433-yard, 3-TD performance came up short for the Colts, but his fantasy owners are ecstatic.
Tom Brady, QB, Patriots – Looked razor sharp in passing for 258 yards and 3 TDs without a turnover.

Arian Foster, RB, Texans – Rumbled for a team record 231 yards and a TD trifecta. Believe he’s the real deal now?
Chris Johnson, RB, Titans – Hit the ground running with 142 yards and 2 TDs. Just another day at the office.
Matt Forte, RB, Bears – Rumors of his demise apparently are premature, after he torched Detroit for 151 receiving yards and 2 TDs, plus 50 on the ground. Then again, this was Detroit.
Darren McFadden, RB, Raiders – Gotta give him his due. 95 yards rushing plus 6 catches for 55 yards and a TD is exactly what we’ve been waiting for.

Hakeem Nicks, WR, Giants – Solidified his role as the Giants’ top wideout, with 4 catches for 75 yards and a trio of TDs.
Chad Ochocinco, WR, Bengals – Hauled in a dozen passes for 159 yards and a score.
Wes Welker, WR, Patriots – Caught 8 passes for 64 yards and 2 TDs. Yeah, he’s back.
Miles Austin, WR, Cowboys – The lone bright spot for Dallas, with his 10 receptions for 146 yards and the game’s only offensive TD.
Austin Collie, WR, Colts – Reeled in 10 catches for 131 yards and a late score.
Legedu Naanee, WR, Chargers – For one night anyway, he was the Chargers’ most prolific receiver, with 5 catches for 110 yards and a TD. He was all alone near the end zone when Rivers badly overthrew him, or he would have added another long TD to his tally.
Steve Breaston, WR, Cardinals – His 7 receptions totaled 132 yards.

Dallas Clark, TE, Colts – Peyton’s favorite target caught 11 balls for 80 yards and a TD.

This was a great week to play against

Matt Schaub, QB, Texans – When your RB is busy setting the world on fire, you don’t need to throw for more than 107 yards, with 1 TD and 1 INT.
Mark Sanchez, QB, Jets – Had a horrendous night, with just 74 passing yards.
Donovan McNabb, QB, Redskins – His 171 passing yards without a TD was enough to win the game, but it didn’t help his fantasy owners.
Matt Cassel, QB, Chiefs – Managed to beat San Diego with just 68 yards passing and 1 TD.
Joe Flacco, QB, Ravens – Passed for 248 yards without a score, but with an INT and fumble.
Drew Brees, QB, Saints – His 237-yard, 1-TD outing wasn’t awful, but he isn’t likely to repeat such pedestrian stats soon.
Brett Favre, QB, Vikings – Another gunslinger held in check, with just 171 passing yards, 1 TD and 1 INT.
Matt Ryan, QB, Falcons – 252 yards passing with 1 INT and 0 TDs is no way to break out of a sophomore slump.

C.J. Spiller, RB, Bills – Accumulated 6 yards on 7 carries, plus 8 yards on 4 receptions. Perhaps this is what happens when the opponent isn’t worried about the passing game?
Jonathan Stewart, RB, Panthers – Ran for only 12 yards against the same team he gashed for 206 yards and a score in late 2009.
Shonn Greene, RB, Jets – Welcome to the NFL, rookie. Virtually invisible on Monday night, except when fumbling, with 18 rushing and 9 receiving yards.
Michael Turner, RB, Falcons – 42 rushing yards is not what you want from your first-round pick.
Ray Rice, RB, Ravens – Just 43 yards rushing and 2 catches for 19 yards, while his short TD run was poached by Willis McGahee. Speaking of which, McGahee managed the one score, but lost 2 yards on 6 carries and another 6 yards on his only reception.
Jerome Harrison, RB, Browns – Posted a 52-yard rushing day against 2009’s worst run defense, while Peyton Hillis vultured his TD run.
DeAngelo Williams, RB, Panthers – Held to 62 rushing yards and no receptions.
Seahawks RBs – The three-headed committee of Justin Forsett, Leon Washington and Julius Jones combined for a paltry 73 rushing yards.
Cowboys RBs – Marion Barber and Felix Jones tallied 77 rushing and 27 receiving yards between them.

Mike Sims-Walker, WR, Jaguars – I expected Champ Bailey to keep him in check, but I sure wasn’t expecting a goose egg.
Kenny Britt, WR, Titans – Also posted a goose egg.
Bernard Berrian, WR, Vikings – His 3-yard effort won’t make us forget Sidney Rice any time soon.
Chiefs WRs – Chris Chambers had one reception for 14 yards, which was better than Dwayne Bowe’s 13-yarder.
Jets WRs – Jerricho Cotchery led the team with 2 catches for 18 yards. You can imagine what Braylon Edwards’ stats looked like.
Percy Harvin, WR, Vikings – One 12-yard catch is enough to give any Harvin owner headaches.
Michael Crabtree, WR, 49ers – He needed two catches to amass 12 yards.
Devin Hester, WR, Bears – His sole catch for 17 yards made him a bit player in this one.
T.J. Houshmandzadeh, WR, Ravens – Targeted 4 times, but only brought down one 27-yarder.
Derrick Mason, WR, Ravens – He had 2 for 21 yards.
DeSean Jackson, WR, Eagles – Caught only 4 passes for 30 yards. On the bright side, all of his completions were thrown by Vick.
Andre Johnson, WR, Texans – His 3 receptions for 33 yards will likely be a one-game aberration.
Calvin Johnson, WR, Lions – Robbed of an outstanding TD catch that should have stood, he finished the day with a mediocre 45 yards on 4 receptions.

Owen Daniels, TE, Texans – His 9-yard day may have had more to do with Foster than his knee, but he needs to stay on your bench until he’s 100%.

Garrett Hartley, K, Saints – Missed both field goal attempts, but made two XPs.
David Buehler, K, Cowboys – Blew his only field goal try, and made one XP.

I didn’t see that coming

Mark Clayton, WR, Rams – With less than a week to get acclimated, the Ravens’ castoff reeled in 10 receptions for 119 yards. Not too shabby.
Brandon Lloyd, WR, Broncos – Notched 5 catches for 117 yards.

Marcedes Lewis, TE, Jaguars – Turned his only two catches into 31 yards and 2 TDs.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Week 1 column: Lions and Texans and Bears, oh my!

I’m guessing you’ve heard about Arian Foster’s record-setting, 231-yard, three-touchdown breakout game against the Colts on Sunday. Foster’s explosion was undeniably the fantasy story of the weekend; but it wasn’t the only one worth reviewing.

For starters, Calvin Johnson – and his fantasy owners – were robbed. I don’t care what the rules state, that was a touchdown catch, and I empathize with anyone who loses their matchup over that travesty. (Especially my brother-in-law, who could have used those nine points against me. Sorry, bro; but rules are rules.)

Any confusion over the pecking order among Giants wideouts was cleared up when Hakeem Nicks racked up three touchdowns against the Panthers. Those who drafted Steve Smith several rounds earlier had better get used to that sinking feeling. Nicks is the real deal.

Chris Johnson’s dominant outing surprised no one; but was Matt Forte’s role as the Bears’ most prolific receiver a harbinger of things to come in Mike Martz’s pass-happy offense, or simply a byproduct of the matchup with the toothless Lions? Keep Forte in your lineup against the Cowboys next week, but don’t be shocked if you get a fraction of the production.

Has Darren McFadden finally seized the feature-back role Oakland drafted him to fill two years ago? Until he’s able to followup one solid outing with another – a feat that has eluded him to date – don’t bank on it. Especially with Michael Bush on the verge of returning to the lineup.

Is it too early to panic over lackluster opening-day performances from such notables as Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, Matt Schaub, Michael Turner, DeAngelo Williams, Andre Johnson and DeSean Jackson?

In a word, yes.

As for some other underachievers – I’m looking at you Matt Ryan, Jerome Harrison, C.J. Spiller and Mike Sims-Walker – you’re on a very short leash. Another flop like that and you’re going straight to our doghouse. And trust me, it stinks in there.


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

Michael Vick, QB, Eagles – He looked like the dazzling All Pro of old in taking over for the concussed (and ineffective) Kevin Kolb against a talented Packers defense. Kolb hasn’t been ruled out of Week 2 (yet), but even if he returns, Vick’s shadow will loom large over his shoulder. Next up, Detroit!

Brandon Jackson, RB, Packers – Ryan Grant has never missed a game due to injury, but a badly sprained ankle will change that. Jackson looked good in relief Sunday, and he’ll get the start for at least one week. Consider the understudy a decent proxy for the Packers’ workhorse against the mediocre Bills. And remember, ankle injuries can linger.

Mike Williams, WR, Buccaneers – The rookie wideout picked up where he left off in the preseason with five catches for 30 yards and a score. Not world-beating stats, to be sure; but enough to reinforce his value. I’ve been singing Williams’ praises for weeks, and yet he’s still available in more than half of fantasy leagues.

Austin Collie, WR, Colts – Peyton Manning isn’t going to throw 57 passes every week, but any receiver that catches 10 balls from him is worth a look. Collie still ranks behind Reggie Wayne, Dallas Clark and Pierre Garcon in the hierarchy, but as we saw Sunday – and several times last season – he can produce when called upon.

Mark Clayton, WR, Rams – One team’s excess is another team’s gold. With less than a week to get acclimated, the Ravens’ castoff hauled in 10 passes for 119 yards, on a whopping 16 targets. Since St. Louis is bound to be playing from behind more often than not, Clayton should be in line for several more days like this.

Don’t be fooled

Peyton Hillis, RB, Browns – He was the surprise starter and poached the touchdown run from Jerome Harrison, but Hillis also coughed up the ball twice (losing one) while gaining just 41 rushing yards. I’m more concerned now about Harrison than intrigued by Hillis.

Tim Hightower, RB, Cardinals – There may not be a better time to deal Hightower, after his solid, but flawed, performance against the lowly Rams. Even with Beanie Wells inactive, Hightower had just 54 yards rushing (with one TD); but his two lost fumbles won’t sit well with the coaches. Sell high, while you can.

Marcedes Lewis, TE, Jaguars – Throughout his four-year NFL career, Lewis has scored no more than twice in any season. He equaled that against the Broncos, on his only two receptions. That’s what we in the business call an aberration.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Sunday morning updates - Week 1

I've just started tweeting today's early inactives. Among the highlights:

Lawrence Maroney and Julian Edelman sitting out for Pats. Fred Taylor will start, and share with Sammy Morris.

Michael Bush won't play for Raiders. Run DMC (Darren McFadden) will get the start. Still not high on him.

Early buzz is that Beanie Wells could sit this one out, making Hightower an even better play vs. the lowly Rams.

Be sure to sign up for my tweets for more late-breaking news, as well as inactives for the later games.

Good luck today, Fools!

Sunday updates

Greetings, Fools! It's finally here!

Check back in about 2 hours for late-breaking news and early inactives info. Also, don't forget to sign up for my tweets ( for all the game day inactives, and -- depending on the poll results above -- possibly every touchdown scored during the Sunday afternoon games.

It's time for football. The Chief Fool is ready. Are you?

Friday, September 10, 2010

Welcome, Bay Area fools!

I'm pleased to announce that, just in time for the 2010 regular season, the San Francisco Chronicle has picked up my weekly column!

Fools in the Bay Area will see my Starters & Benchwarmers in the Chronicle's Sports section beginning tomorrow, Sept. 11.

This is another great honor for the Chief Fool, as the Chronicle is one of the nation's most influential and respected newspapers in the nation, if not the world. Not to mention, it serves what I believe is the most breathtaking city in the United States.

I still haven't gotten over my beloved Dolphins' loss to the 49ers in Super Bowl XIX, but this helps a bit.

I look forward to reaching a new audience of Fantasy Fools throughout the Bay Area this season.

Fantasy Source 4th & Long column now posted

My weekly column in the Sporting News' Fantasy Source is now up. Lots of injury updates and coverage of key position battles.

You'll need a subscription to view it all, but aside from my stuff, you'll get great advice from a team of fantasy experts that's second-to-none in the fantasy biz.

Check it out now at

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Week 1 Starters & Benchwarmers

Wondering whether or not to start Aaron Rodgers and Chris Johnson, or bench Jake Delhomme and Brian Finneran? The network bozos specialize in that kind of advice. If you’re looking for real advice on your starting lineup conundrums, read on.

Here are my picks to roll, and get rolled, in Week 1 of the 2010 season.

Watch ‘em roll

Jay Cutler, QB, Bears vs. Lions. I have serious doubts about Cutler’s long-term outlook, but not this week. He tossed 4 TDs and no interceptions against Detroit in last season’s finale, and you can bet Mike Martz will be aiming for a similar start this year.

Jerome Harrison, RB, Browns at Buccaneers. He rushed for 561 yards and five TDs in the last three games of the 2009 season. Running behind one of the best offensive lines in the league against last year’s worst run defense, Harrison’s streak of impressive performances should continue.

Tim Hightower, RB, Cardinals at Rams. Hightower opens the season as the team’s starting tailback. Beanie Wells should play, but he’s nursing a gimpy knee. Derek Anderson is at the helm. And they’re playing St. Louis’ porous run defense. What more do you need?

Malcom Floyd, WR, Chargers at Chiefs. It’s anyone’s guess how long Floyd will be Philip Rivers’ go-to wideout, but he should start off that way in this favorable matchup. Floyd is an imposing red-zone target, and San Diego should be frequent visitors to that area Sunday.

Jabar Gaffney, WR, Broncos at Jaguars. Kyle Orton has been stellar this preseason, while Gaffney has emerged as his favorite target. With concerns about the health of their top rusher, Knowshon Moreno, Denver will seek to exploit the soft Jaguars secondary. Gaffney is in the best position to prosper.

More thumbs up (excluding the no-brainers): QBs Kyle Orton, Alex Smith; RBs Ryan Mathews, Ronnie Brown, C.J. Spiller, Matt Forte, Arian Foster; WRs Jacoby Jones, Robert Meachem, Pierre Garcon, Terrell Owens, Hakeem Nicks, Braylon Edwards, Mike Williams (TB).

Roll ‘em back

Joe Flacco, QB, Ravens at Jets. Everyone’s favorite breakout star (present company excepted) could get off to a rough start against the most stifling defense in the league. While Darrelle Revis may not be completely ready for primetime, he’ll have plenty of help in grounding Baltimore’s upgraded passing attack as the Jets christen their new digs.

LeSean McCoy, RB, Eagles vs. Packers. It’s always hard to bench one of your top backs; but in this case, facing 2009’s best rush defense, it’s your safest call. McCoy has tons of upside this season, but not in this tough matchup.

Justin Forsett, RB, Seahawks vs. 49ers. Seattle’s offense is a wreck, while the 49ers boast a stout run defense. Though Forsett has shown promise, and he will be the starter, Leon Washington will get plenty of carries, too. Neither is a good bet.

Mike Sims-Walker, WR, Jaguars vs. Broncos. Denver brings one of the NFL’s stingiest secondaries into this contest. Champ Bailey will be locked onto Sims-Walker from the outset, so don’t be surprised if the boom-or-bust receiver begins the season with another bust.

Santana Moss, WR, Redskins vs. Cowboys. He has a history of torching the Cowboys, but they haven’t allowed him into the end zone since 2007. Dallas has shut down Donovan McNabb in three consecutive games, and Pro Bowl CB Mike Jenkins will be glued to Moss all night.

More thumbs down: QBs Kevin Kolb, Donovan McNabb, Matt Hasselbeck; RBs Joseph Addai, Pierre Thomas, Felix Jones, Clinton Portis, Darren McFadden, all Patriots RBs; WRs Hines Ward, Derrick Mason, all Seahawks WRs.


Mark Sanchez, QB, Jets vs. Ravens. He had a rough preseason and his best receiver (Santonio Holmes) is suspended, but I still like his chances. The Jets may have trouble running against Baltimore’s solid defensive line, but the Ravens’ secondary is in a shambles. Sanchez will likely be forced to throw often, and the opportunities will be abundant.

DON’T BE THE BONEHEAD WHO…hesitates to start Maurice Jones-Drew this week. There’s been a lot of Internet chatter suggesting that the Jaguars’ best player is hiding the severity of his sore knee, but don’t buy into it. He may not be 100 percent, but he’s better than any other back on your roster and he’s facing one of the league’s worst run defenses from 2009.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

My final draft of the season

Had my final draft of the 2010 season earlier tonight. For the first time in several years (actually, I can't ever remember this happening), I had the #1 overall pick.

In a 10-team league, here's what I got:

1. Chris Johnson - Of course
2. Miles Austin - The #2 WR on my board
3. Matt Schaub - Brees, Rodgers, Manning, Brady gone
4. Anquan Boldin - Great WR2
5. Arian Foster - Finally landed him in a draft
6. Hakeem Nicks - Nice WR3
7. Ahmad Bradshaw - The new starter for the Gmen
8. Visanthe Shiancoe - Finley, Gates, Clark gone before the 6th round
9. Reggie Bush - It's a PPR league, and we have a RB/WR flex, so why not pick a RB/WR hybrid?
10. Mike Williams - Tampa Bay's #1 target
11. Cadillac Williams - Last starting RB on the board
12. Jacoby Jones - You know I love him
13. 49ers D/ST - Best available
14. Alex Smith - Need him one week
15. Neil Rackers - Most top Ks gone; very happy with Houston's man
16. Mike Williams - Auto pick grabbed Seattle's Williams when I dropped out by accident

Not my favorite team ever, but I like my starting lineup. We'll see.

Can't wait for tomorrow night!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Final 2010 positional rankings now posted

My final rankings for fantasy QBs, RBs, WRs, TEs, Ks, D/STs and the Top 100 are now available here:

Check out how far TJ Houshmandzadeh fell, is Vincent Jackson still in the picture, and what about Ahmad Bradshaw?

If you still have a draft, you'll want to check out my final adjustments.

Peterson to labor silently in this fantasy league

Adrian Peterson slid past the first two picks in one of my leagues. He wasn’t even taken in the first round. Or the second. In fact, following our 17-round draft, Peterson remains a free agent. And he’ll stay that way all season.

The Flower Mound Fantasy Football League lost one of its original owners a few months ago. Our buddy Phil, my next-door neighbor, was taken from us far too early, and far too tragically. He left a wife and two young sons behind.

We were determined to honor his memory this year; but a simple dedication didn’t seem sufficient.

Phil was a passionate University of Oklahoma alumnus, and his favorite Sooner of them all was Peterson. Phil refused to call him AP, as most fantasy enthusiasts do, because he knew his true nickname is AD: All Day. When he could, Phil drafted AD. Last year, when his second overall pick wasn’t good enough to bag his prize, he christened his team “Missing AD.”

So, in tribute to our fallen friend, Peterson has been idled for the 2010 campaign – perhaps the only fantasy league on the planet with that distinction. AD’s conspicuous absence will serve as a constant reminder of the real void left by our trash-talking, roster-flipping adversary and comrade.

Rest in peace, Phil. We love you, man.

Last-minute developments of note

As we steam toward Thursday night’s regular-season kickoff, several high-profile players are looking for work or getting familiar with new playbooks. But few of the recent roster moves will cause more than a blip on the fantasy radar, and the biggest domino of them all (Vincent Jackson) has yet to fall. Here are the developments worth tracking.

In a secret basement near Tempe, AZ, work has begun on a plaster image of Matt Leinart in anticipation of his pending enshrinement into the pantheon of all-time NFL busts. Leinart’s unceremonious departure is unlikely to end the Cardinals’ nightmare, especially since he out-played the new starter, Derek Anderson, throughout the preseason. As we’ve warned all offseason, those banking on Larry Fitzgerald are in for a rude awakening.

Sam Bradford was named the Rams' Week 1 starter, in the least surprising announcement of the week. Now all they need is a legitimate receiving threat. (No offense, Laurent Robinson.) I still anticipate Jackson to land here eventually.

Ahmad Bradshaw has been declared the Giants’ starter, which is not sitting well with Brandon Jacobs. Two weeks ago in my “sleepers” column, I told you Bradshaw would out-perform his backfield mate this season, even if he didn’t supplant Jacobs as the starter. That projection looks even better now.

If you were counting on Michael Bush, I’ll start by asking why. Then I’ll tell you to prepare for a possible extended absence, as he could miss three or four weeks due to his broken thumb. Darren McFadden is the only Raider RB worth a spot on your opening day roster.

Deion Branch and Mike Williams are your starting wideouts in Seattle, now that T.J. Houshmandzadeh has been set free. Suddenly, another USC star-turned-bust has fantasy players across the country a-twitter, despite the fact that Williams has just 51 career receptions since he was drafted in 2005 and he hasn’t played in two years. I have no interest in any wideout currently on the rosters in Buffalo, Cleveland, Oakland, St. Louis, Seattle or Tennessee.

Baltimore’s signing of Houshmandzadeh could hurt Derrick Mason’s production, but not enough to interest me in Seattle’s castoff. There’s a reason the Seahawks released him, and it’s not because they’re stacked at his position.

Perhaps the most intriguing move of the last few days was Dallas’ trade of Patrick Crayton to the Chargers. Once he gets acclimated, Crayton could force his way into the starting rotation, most likely hindering the development of Legedu Naanee.

I’ve taken some heat for placing Jermichael Finley atop my tight end rankings. Some critics even warned that Spencer Havner would poach red-zone targets from Finley. Now that Green Bay has waived Havner, will you trust me now?

Those of us counting on the Jets defense were relieved by the end to Darrelle Revis’ contract holdout. Will Anquan Boldin be lost on Revis Island on Monday night? Let’s just say I like Boldin’s chances better this week than once the shut-down corner shakes off the rust.

Three key kicking battles were also settled when the Texans chose Neil Rackers, Baltimore picked Billy Cundiff and Mike Nugent prevailed in Cincinnati. All three will be batting clean-up for solid offenses, making them good last-round values if you’re drafting this week.

Thursday night can’t get here soon enough.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

And the cuts keep coming

A few more cuts of note today, with Julius Jones the most prominent. Again, no huge surprise here, but it's nice news for owners of Justin Forsett and Leon Washington. I continue to believe a healthy Washington will be the primary ballcarrier in Seattle's offense, but there's little doubt Forsett will also get his fair share of the action. At least they'll both be spared the five or six carries that would have been wasted on Julius.

Former 49ers RB Michael Robinson was picked up by Seattle today, but he's strictly cheap injury insurance.

J.T. O'Sullivan, once an over-hyped fantasy prospect for the 49ers, was released by the Bengals.

Andre Brown was claimed by the RB-challenged Broncos, one day after the Giants cut him.

Cleveland released Chris Jennings.

The Jags gave up on Troy Williamson.

The Lions dumped WR Dennis Northcutt.

Former Dolphins WR Patrick Turner landed with the Jets.

Fantasy flash in the pan David Clowney was cut by the Jets.

And for the few people who thought my projection of Jermichael Finley as the top TE of 2010 was crazy because Spencer Havner would poach some of his red-zone targets, I'm pleased to report that Havner is no longer a Packer. So, thppppppppppppt!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Much ado about nothing

Over the last 24 or so hours, NFL teams have made a number of moves involving fairly high-profile players; but, when the dust all settles, it's surprising how little affect the changes are likely to have on the fantasy landscape this season.

Here are the key moves from the offensive side of the ball:

Matt Leinart was released by Arizona. No big surprise here, given the rumors swirling over the past couple of weeks. This makes Derek Anderson the unchallenged QB in the desert, which is probably better news for Fitz and Breaston than if they were waiting for check-downs from Leinart. But not much better.

Sam Bradford was named the Rams' Week 1 starter, in the least surprising announcement of the day. Why St. Louis doesn't give their franchise QB a real receiver like Vincent Jackson to throw to is beyond me. Laurent Robinson is the best wideout on the roster now, which is just asking for a 1-15 season.

The Vikings traded backup QB Sage Rosenfels to the Giants, where he will now be the #2 behind Eli. And knowing the Manning brothers, Rosenfels will never see the field.

No-longer-fast Willie Parker was released by the Redskins, as expected. I've told you all long that Larry Johnson is the tailback to own in Washington, and this move further supports that. Ryan Torrain was also cut, but the team hopes to re-sign him to the practice squad.

The Gmen released RB Andre Brown, which comes as a mild surprise. Danny Ware is now the understudy to Bradshaw and Jacobs. By the way, Bradshaw appears to be the new starter in New York, which is not sitting well with Jacobs. Again, this development was projected more than a month ago on this blog.

Derrick Ward, fresh off his release by Tampa Bay, was signed by Houston to backup Arian Foster and Steve Slaton.

T.J. Houshmandzadeh was cut outright by Seattle, when they couldn't find a willing trade partner. Mike Williams -- he of the 15 receptions since 2005 -- is now starting alongside Deion Branch. That is one sorry WR corps on paper. We'll soon find out what Pete Carroll sees in the first-round bust out of USC and the former Super Bowl MVP. Methinks V-Jax will be shopping for a home in the Seattle area very shortly. Housh is rumored to be heading for Minnesota, which further complicates that WR rotation.

Perhaps in anticipation of Housh's arrival -- or more likely the result of general suckiness -- the Vikes released Javon Walker.

Dallas traded Patrick Crayton to the Chargers on Friday, which is arguably the most interesting move of them all. Don't be surprised if he works his way into the starting lineup soon, as neither Malcom Floyd nor Legedu Naanee have proven anything during the NFL careers. Crayton is steady and reliable, if unspectacular. Rivers will like him.

Michael Clayton, who flamed out after an awesome rookie season a lifetime ago, was finally cut by Tampa Bay.

James Hardy was dumped by the Bills. Lots of other experts were high on him this season. Not the Fools.

You know Neil Rackers won the kicking competition in Houston. But Shayne Graham came up short in Baltimore (a mild shock), losing out to Billy Cundiff. And Mike Nugent prevailed in Cinci, over Dave Rayner.

Other familiar names now looking for work:

J.P. Losman, QB, Seahawks
Chris Simms, QB, Titans
Patrick Ramsey, QB, Saints
Pat White, QB, Dolphins
Troy Smith, QB, Ravens
Colt Brennan, QB, Raiders
Samkon Gado, RB, Titans
Ladell Betts, RB, Saints
Kolby Smith, RB, Jaguars
Chris Henry, RB, Texans
J.J. Arrington, RB, Eagles
Michael Robinson, RB, 49ers
Brandon Stokley, WR, Broncos
Matt Jones, WR, Bengals
Jason Hill, WR, 49ers
Josh Reed, WR, Chargers
Kelley Washington, WR, Eagles
Chase Coffman, TE, Bengals
Kris Brown, K, Texans

Friday, September 3, 2010

Perfect Draft 2.0 - Updated after a busy week

A lot can change in a matter of a few days, and those changes have affected the Perfect Draft column I wrote just five days ago.

Among other things, Arian Foster and Jacoby Jones have gotten pricier (but are still worth drafting). Moving them up the list meant I had to replace and juggle some of the other picks, while also remaining within everyone's ADP.

Check out my updated Perfect Draft at the Sporting News' Fantasy Source:

And in case you missed it...

Rookie RB Montario Hardesty is out for the year with a torn ACL. That's a big blow to the Browns, but good news for owners of Jerome Harrison (right). Peyton Hillis and James Davis are the backups, with Hillis the more valuable of the two.

Also, Big Ben's 6-week suspension was reduced to four weeks, while Byron Leftwich has suffered a knee injury that will keep him sidelined indefinitely. That means Dennis Dixon will be the Steelers' QB to begin the season. That could be interesting. Plan accordingly if you own Ward or Wallace.

Neil Rackers, as predicted here a month ago, has won the kicking battle in Houston. He's a terrific last-round pick, given the offense he'll be batting cleanup for. Kris Brown will likely land elsewhere soon, but not in as sweet a kicking destination.

And LenDale White is done for the season (heck, let's call it a career) with a torn Achilles.

Don't forget to tune into The Fantasy Files on Sporting News Radio tomorrow morning (9 AM ET/8 AM CT) for more late-breaking news and advice for your upcoming drafts.