Sunday, October 31, 2010

Sunday morning updates - Week 8

Good morning, Fools, and welcome to the midway point of the fantasy season. I hope you're in good position in your league's standings and poised to dominate in the second half.

Let's go around the league to see what's up before we get to the early inactives (which I'll be tweeting shortly; make sure you're following me @ladd_biro).

At this point, it looks like Favre will start today, though anything can happen. He hasn't played well of late, but the Patriots' secondary offers a favorable matchup. I wouldn't want to risk it, especially given the late start of the MIN-NE game, but with six teams on bye, some of you may have little choice.

It also looks like Vince Young, David Garrard and Jason Campbell will start for their respective clubs today.

Donald Brown has been getting his practice reps over the last couple of days, and appears on track to start Monday night for Addai (shoulder). Mike Hart will also get his carries, but Brown projects as the better fantasy option at this point.

DeAngelo Williams did not fly with the team to St. Louis, so make sure he's on your bench. (He should be anyway, given his poor play lately.) Jonathan Stewart is a decent start with DeAngelo out, even though the Rams have only surrendered two rushing TDs all season.

Those betting on Rams WR Danario Alexander to catch passes from Sam Bradford today need to look elsewhere. He hurt his knee in practice Saturday and will be out 2-4 weeks.

Dexter McCluster also won't play with a high ankle sprain (though he has yet to be officially declared inactive).

Louis Murphy (lung) is out; Jacoby Ford will take his starting spot in the Raiders' lineup.

BTW, Vincent Jackson has signed his tender and will be available to suit up for San Diego after serving a 3-game suspension. If you're hurting at WR and need someone for your playoff run, you could do much worse than V-Jax.

Owen Daniels, my flier of the week, is questionable but has been practicing the last couple of days. He'll play tomorrow night, and I still think he can perform well if you're in a pinch at tight end. He's not a great play, though, which is why I'm calling him a flier.

Nick Kaeding is out again this week, leaving the Chargers' kicking duties to Kris Brown.

OK, stay tuned for the inactive reports coming in a bit. And good luck to all Fools today!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Week 8 Starters & Benchwarmers

Wondering whether or not to start Peyton Manning and Adrian Peterson, or bench Max Hall and Laurence Maroney? 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 8 of the 2010 season.

Watch ‘em roll

Matthew Stafford, QB, Lions vs. Redskins. Fully recovered from his Week 1 shoulder injury, Stafford faces the NFL’s 31st-ranked pass defense with all his offensive weapons healthy and raring to go. Unlike Jay Cutler, Stafford won’t make DeAngelo Hall his leading receiver.

Beanie Wells, RB, Cardinals vs. Buccaneers. Few teams run as poorly as Arizona does, but Tampa Bay’s rush defense is equally sorry. Wells finally crossed the goal line last week, and he should have his best game yet now that Tim Hightower has fumbled his way into the doghouse again.

Felix Jones, RB, Cowboys vs. Jaguars. Jones’ value over the last few weeks has been primarily as a receiver. He’ll be leaned on more heavily as a runner now that Jon Kitna is piloting the offense, especially against a defense that’s about as accommodating as they come.

Steve Johnson, WR, Bills at Chiefs. With five TDs accumulated over the last four games, Johnson is en fuego. The Chiefs have allowed a pair of scoring strikes apiece in their two most recent contests, so look for another banner outing for this rising star.

Patrick Crayton, WR, Chargers vs. Titans. San Diego can’t get their running game in gear, so Philip Rivers is passing up a storm. Over the past two weeks, Crayton has caught 13 passes for 199 yards, and he should keep up the pace while Malcom Floyd and Legedu Naanee sit out again.

More thumbs up (excluding the no-brainers): QBs Kitna, Fitzpatrick, Matt Cassel, Matt Schaub; RBs Ryan Torain, Darren McFadden, Thomas Jones, Jamaal Charles, LaDainian Tomlinson, Jahvid Best, Marshawn Lynch; WRs Kenny Britt, Pierre Garcon, Roy Williams, Dwayne Bowe, Terrell Owens, Mike Sims-Walker, Mike Williams (both), Michael Crabtree.

Roll ‘em back

Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Steelers at Saints. He’s amassed five TDs since returning to action two weeks ago, but the Saints have allowed only six passing scores all season. Look for Pittsburgh to pound Rashard Mendenhall all Sunday night to run the clock and keep Drew Brees off the field.

Ryan Mathews, RB, Chargers vs. Titans. Despite all the optimistic talk, the rookie has failed to seize the workhorse role in his high-octane offense. Mathews is a weak pass blocker, which forces him out of the game too often. Mike Tolbert is still poaching the TD dives, Darren Sproles is a better receiver and the Titans have yielded a solitary rushing score all season.

DeAngelo Williams, RB, Panthers at Rams. As Steven Tyler might have said, Williams’ get-up-and-go must’ve got-up-and-went. He’s reached the end zone only once all season and has yet to generate a 100-yard rushing day. Now he’s hobbling on an injured foot, and considered iffy for Sunday’s matchup. Jonathan Stewart could start against a Rams defense that’s allowed just two rushing scores to date.

Donald Driver, WR, Packers at Jets. He posted his first goose egg in 133 games last weekend, undoubtedly due to his ailing quad. Against the Jets’ talented corners, he’s unlikely to fare much better. Don’t be surprised if James Jones is a bigger part of Green Bay’s game plan again.

Braylon Edwards, WR, Jets vs. Packers. Edwards is bound to see fewer targets now that the more sure-handed Santonio Holmes has had the bye week to get in sync with Mark Sanchez. Green Bay’s secondary is playing at a high level, making the drop-prone Edwards a risky play.

More thumbs down: QBs Sanchez, Brett Favre, Sam Bradford, Donovan McNabb; RBs Ronnie Brown, Brandon Jackson, Fred Jackson, Justin Forsett, BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Chris Ivory; WRs David Gettis, Hines Ward, Robert Meachem, Kevin Walter, Eddie Royal.


Owen Daniels, TE, Texans at Colts. Though not yet 100 percent recovered from the knee injury that cost him half of the 2009 season, Daniels is poised to be a major weapon in Houston’s passing attack again. Next to Andre Johnson, he is Matt Schaub’s most trusted receiver, and you know they’ll be airing it out in Indy all Monday night.

DON’T BE THE BONEHEAD WHO…benches Brees because he’s facing the mighty Steelers. He has a history of rising to the occasion against the toughest competition, and he always rebounds nicely from sub-par outings. Besides, Pittsburgh won’t allow the Saints to run, forcing Brees to pass early and often in this near must-win home game.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Week 7 Heroes & Zeros

This was a great week to start

Carson Palmer, QB, Bengals – Passed for 412 yards and 3 TDs, without an INT.
Matt Ryan, QB, Falcons – Matched Palmer’s TD trifecta, while accumulating 299 yards and 1 INT.
Joe Flacco, QB, Ravens – Threw for 250 yards and 3 TDs, with a fumble.
Eli Manning, QB, Giants – Overcame 3 INTs with 4 TDs and 306 yards.

Darren McFadden, RB, Raiders – Returned from injury with a vengeance, rumbling for 165 yards and 3 TDs, and adding 2 receptions for 31 yards and a 4th TD.
Adrian Peterson, RB, Vikings – Ran for 131 yards and a score, plus 2 catches for 41 yards more.
Michael Turner, RB, Falcons – Rushed for 121 yards and 2 TDs, and caught 2 passes for 23 yards more.
Knowshon Moreno, RB, Broncos – Only rushed for 53 yards, but notched 3 passes for 37 yards and 2 TDs.

Kenny Britt, WR, Titans – Didn’t start, but still caught 7 passes for 225 yards and 3 TDs.
Lee Evans, WR, Bills – A half-dozen receptions yielded 105 yards and a TD hat trick.
Roddy White, WR, Falcons – Had a monster afternoon, with 11 catches for 201 yards and 2 TDs.
Dez Bryant, WR, Cowboys – Had a breakout game with 4 catches for 54 yards and 2 TDs, plus a huge punt return TD.
Hakeem Nicks, WR, Giants – Torched the Cowboys with 9 catches for 108 yards and 2 TDs.
Dwayne Bowe, WR, Chiefs – Needed just 3 balls to collect 81 yards and 2 TDs.
Steve Johnson, WR, Bills – His 8 receptions totaled 158 yards and 1 TD.
Hines Ward, WR, Steelers – Brought down 7 passes for 131 yards and a TD.
Marques Colston, WR, Saints – Reeled in 10 passes for 112 yards and 1 TD.
Percy Harvin, WR, Vikings – Ran 3 times for 41 yards and 1 TD, while hauling in 5 passes for 65 yards.
Chad Ochocinco, WR, Bengals – His 10 receptions went for 108 yards and a score.
Steve Smith, WR, Giants – Grabbed 9 passes for 101 yards and 1 TD.

Todd Heap, TE, Ravens – Scored twice on 3 catches for 59 yards.
Jason Witten, TE, Cowboys – Caught 9 passes for 95 yards and 1 TD.

This was a great week to play against

Jay Cutler, QB, Bears – His 281-yard, 1-TD afternoon was ruined by 4 INTs and a fumble.
Tony Romo, QB, Cowboys – Managed to connect on 1 TD and just 39 yards before being knocked out of the game.
Donovan McNabb, QB, Redskins – Just 200 yards and 1 score, with 2 INTs to boot.
Tom Brady, QB, Patriots – Only 159 yards and 1 TD on the day.
Brett Favre, QB, Vikings – Threw 3 INTs along with his 212 yards and 1 TD.

Ryan Mathews, RB, Chargers – Combined for a whopping 22 yards.
Ronnie Brown, RB, Dolphins – Just 14 rushing and 20 receiving yards.
Rashard Mendenhall, RB, Steelers – Limited to 37 rushing yards and a 6-yard catch.
Chris Ivory, RB, Saints – Managed just 48 rushing yards.
Chris Johnson, RB, Titans – Held to 73 total yards.

Donald Driver, WR, Packers – Held catch-less for the first time in 133 games.
Roy Williams, WR, Cowboys – Also laid a primetime goose egg.
Wes Welker, WR, Patriots – Just 25 yards on 4 receptions.
Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Cardinals – Amassed only 30 yards and 3 catches.
Robert Meachem, WR, Saints – 2 passes amounted to just 31 yards.
Michael Crabtree, WR, 49ers – Took 4 catches to produce 31 yards.
Brandon Lloyd, WR, Broncos – Limited to a single 46-yard catch.

Brent Celek, TE, Eagles – Just 8 yards on 2 catches.
Tony Gonzalez, TE, Falcons – His 2 catches got 27 yards.

Redskins defense – Forced 6 turnovers (including 4 INTs by DeAngelo Hall), collected 4 sacks, scored on one of Hall’s interceptions, and held the Bears to 14 offensive points.

I didn’t see that coming…

Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB, Bills – Torched the mighty Ravens for 374 yards and 4 TDs, with 2 INTs.

David Gettis, WR, Panthers – The rookie collected 8 passes for 125 yards and 2 TDs.
Jordan Shipley, WR, Bengals – Hauled in 6 passes for 131 yards and a score.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Wake me up when Week 7 gets here

I had the craziest dream last night.

I dreamt that an Oakland running back who deemed himself “70 percent” healthy was the leading rusher in Week 7, with 196 combined yards and four touchdowns. That’s ridiculous, since Michael Bush was expected to remain the starter while Darren McFadden eased back into action slowly so as not to re-aggravate his troublesome hamstring.

And I suppose you expect me to believe the Raiders put up 59 points on the Broncos, too.

I could have sworn I saw a boneheaded receiver – who was benched at the beginning of the game for getting in an early-morning bar fight two days before – torching the Eagles for the best receiving performance in the NFL all season. Yeah, right. As if Kerry Collins could ever pass for 225 yards and three touchdowns in one game, much less all to Kenny Britt.

Surely I was hallucinating when I watched Drew Brees pass for 94 yards and two scoring strikes to David Bowens. That’s absurd, of course, because Bowens is a linebacker and he doesn’t even play for the Saints.

In the same game, the Browns punter was one yard shy of leading both teams in rushing. As if.

Somebody needs to pinch me, because Bills QB Ryan Fitzpatrick allegedly lit up the mighty Ravens defense for 374 yards and four TDs, three of which went to Lee Evans. And I didn’t even drink last night.

I thought I heard that Jay Cutler’s leading receiver on Sunday was DeAngelo Hall, who reeled in four passes for 92 yards and a touchdown. But isn’t Hall a Redskin?

Some guy named David Gettis caught eight passes for 125 yards and two touchdowns against the 49ers. Now that’s just silly.

The voices in my head told me Packers tight end Andrew Quarless was awarded a touchdown that wasn’t, and Vikings tight end Visanthe Shiancoe was robbed of a touchdown that was, both in the same Sunday night game. You can’t make this stuff up.

I even imagined that my beloved Dolphins got hosed by the officials after Ben Roethlisberger fumbled on his way into the end zone. Even though replays showed multiple Miami defenders covering the fumble and a Dolphin emerging from the scrum with the ball. Puh-leeze…

Okay, I’m awake now. Let me know when the real Week 7 games are going to be played.


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

Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB, Bills. Since being installed as Buffalo’s starter, Fitzpatrick has amassed 969 passing yards, 11 touchdowns and just four interceptions. And he’s not doing it against scrubs, either. With six teams on bye each of the next two weekends, Fitzpatrick and his top receivers (Lee Evans and Steve Johnson) are suddenly prime waiver-wire candidates.

Matt Stafford, QB, Lions. Before Shaun Hill went down with a broken forearm in Week 6, he was the sixth-best quarterback in Fantasyland. Now that Stafford is headed back from the shoulder injury he suffered in the opener, he’ll find himself at the controls of a surprisingly potent offense. He, too, offers a solution to your bye-week conundrums.

Kenny Britt, WR, Titans. When you post the best receiving game of the 2010 season against a solid Eagles secondary, you deserve some love. Britt should continue to benefit from the attention lavished on Chris Johnson by opposing defenses. Best of all, he’s available in more than a third of all fantasy leagues.

Owen Daniels, TE, Texans. Before he blew out his knee in Week 8 of the 2009 season, Daniels was the most prolific tight end in the business. Coming off the Texans’ bye, Daniels should again be at or near full-strength, and poised to dominate down the stretch. Overlooked or forgotten in half of all leagues, Daniels could be an invaluable acquisition for fantasy owners looking to shore up a position that has been decimated by injuries.

Don’t be fooled

LeGarrette Blount, RB, Buccaneers. One week removed from the game-day inactive list, the undrafted rookie was Tampa Bay’s leading rusher with 76 yards, 46 of which came on one play. In Week 5, Earnest Graham was the team’s top back, with 65 yards. Cadillac Williams led the way in Week 6 with a whopping 18 rushing yards. Get the picture? Even if you could predict who’ll get the most carries in any given week, this is not a backfield worth messing with.

Jordan Shipley, WR, Bengals. Carson Palmer has stepped up his game recently, but there still aren’t enough passes to go around in Cincinnati to warrant picking up Shipley. Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens aren’t known for sharing, and they certainly won’t cheerfully surrender targets to a rookie.

David Gettis, WR, Panthers. I’m not sure what was going on in Carolina Sunday, but I’m fairly certain it’s not going to happen again. There may not be a worse passing offense in the league, so expecting consistency from this rookie wideout is like asking Paris Hilton to skip a photo op. Let someone else waste a waiver claim on Gettis. Ditto Brandon LaFell.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Sunday morning updates - Week 7

Good morning, Fools. Ready to seize the day?

First things first: Get all Colts, Lions, Texans and Jets out of your starting lineup. And while you're at it, better make plans now for next week if you have Addai, Collie or Dallas Clark, because none of them will be available in Week 8 (and Clark, as you know, is out for the duration).

Here's what we know so far this morning. Late-breaking news and inactives will follow via Twitter (@ladd_biro) roughly an hour before the early kickoffs.

In Cleveland, Colt McCoy gets another start, with Delhomme and Wallace (out) unavailable. Massaquoi is also out, meaning Brian Robiskie will start in his place. While I wouldn't be surprised if Colt puts up decent stats, the only Browns I would start are Hillis and, in a pinch, TE Ben Watson.

Mike Vick is expected to suit up today, but Kolb will be the starter. If Kolb has trouble, though, Vick could be pressed into action. If Kolb excels again, it could set up a delicious QB controversy in Philly, which has a Week 8 bye.

Todd Bouman is set to start at QB for the Jags, since Garrard (concussion) and Edwards (finger) are unlikely to play. Sorry, Mike Sims-Walker owners.

Looks like Jason Campbell will get the call in Oakland, so no Kyle Boller. I still don't like anyone associated with the Raiders' passing game.

Also in Raider Nation, look for Darren McFadden to return to action today, but he'll likely be eased back in slowly.

Thanks to another boneheaded move by Kenny Britt (early morning bar fight), he won't start today's game. No telling how soon he gets in.

You know DeSean Jackson is out with his concussion. Look for Jason Avant to fill in capably in his absence, which could last even longer than next week's bye.

Hakeem Nicks' status for Monday night's game has been the subject of recent speculation, due to a hamstring issue. But don't hesitate to keep one of Fantasyland's most productive WRs in your starting lineup against the Cowboys. Nicks says there's "no question" he will play, giving new meaning to his "questionable" status.

Chris Cooley (concussion) looks like a go for today's game.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Week 7 Starters & Benchwarmers


Wondering whether or not to start Drew Brees and Steven Jackson, or bench Jason Campbell 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 7 of the 2010 season.

Watch ‘em roll

Kyle Orton, QB, Broncos vs. Raiders. Coming off his worst statistical outing of the season, Orton is suddenly no longer the golden boy of Fantasyland. But he’ll get back in his owners’ good graces against a secondary that has allowed the second-most passing TDs in the league (12), with only two interceptions. Even if Eddie Royal (groin) is out, Orton has plenty of other options to light up the scoreboard.

Marshawn Lynch, RB, Seahawks vs. Cardinals. Last week’s game gave us the information we were looking for: Lynch received more carries than Justin Forsett (17 vs. 10), as well as the goal-line work. Arizona’s rush defense is pretty awful, so feel free to start Lynch and savor the results. Forsett goes to the bench.

Knowshon Moreno, RB, Broncos vs. Raiders. This is the game you’ve been waiting for. Moreno’s hamstring held up well after his long-awaited return to the lineup last week. He’s a good bet to find the end zone, and possibly even his first 100-yard game of the season, against the NFL’s 30th-ranked rush defense.

Robert Meachem, WR, Saints vs. Browns. The third-year playmaker entered the season with high expectations, but he was virtually invisible for the first four weeks. After scoring in each of the past two games, though, he has reestablished himself as a key weapon in the Saints’ pass-happy arsenal. He’s a great start against a Browns secondary that has surrendered 11 passing TDs to date.

Johnny Knox, WR, Bears vs. Redskins. The speedy wideout was targeted 11 times last week, and he should continue to see the lion’s share of Jay Cutler’s attention against the second-weakest pass defense in the NFL.

More thumbs up (excluding the no-brainers): QBs Joe Flacco, Matt Ryan, Matt Hasselbeck, Sam Bradford; RBs Chris Ivory, Jamaal Charles, Thomas Jones, DeAngelo Williams, Peyton Hillis, Ahmad Bradshaw; WRs Anquan Boldin, Derrick Mason, Dwayne Bowe, Patrick Crayton, Mike Williams (both), Terrell Owens.

Roll ‘em back

Donovan McNabb, QB, Redskins at Bears. Chicago has allowed a league-low three passing TDs in six games, while McNabb has thrown only five all season, matching his interception production. There are better options out there.

Ronnie Brown, RB, Dolphins vs. Steelers. Not only will he face the league’s stingiest run defense, but he’ll have to share carries with Ricky Williams. Even though the pair fared well in Green Bay, the Steelers are virtually impenetrable these days.

Felix Jones, RB, Cowboys vs. Giants. Jones seems firmly established as Dallas’ featured back, but Marion Barber is clearly the team’s short-yardage (read: goal-line) specialist. The Giants have stifled Arian Foster and Jahvid Best in consecutive weeks, and they should dominate the Cowboys’ struggling offensive line on Monday night.

Percy Harvin, WR, Vikings at Packers. It’s always risky to bet against Brett Favre, especially when he’s facing his old team. But aside from his kickoff return TD, Harvin was a bit player last week. The Packers’ secondary is getting healthy again, and they should minimize Harvin’s receiving contributions Sunday night.

Michael Crabtree, WR, 49ers at Panthers. He’s scored in consecutive weeks, but don’t expect him to make it three in a row. Alex Smith is still struggling, the Panthers’ pass defense is very stingy, and the 49ers will likely opt to run Frank Gore all over Carolina’s soft rush defense.

More thumbs down: QBs Brett Favre, Vince Young, Alex Smith, Chad Henne, Ryan Fitzpatrick; RBs Brandon Jackson, Ryan Mathews, BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Cadillac Williams, Beanie Wells, Tim Hightower; WRs Donald Driver, Santana Moss, Steve Johnson, Mike Sims-Walker, Roy Williams.


Demaryius Thomas, WR, Broncos vs. Raiders. Only the Texans and Jaguars have coughed up more passing scores than the Raiders to date. Meanwhile, Eddie Royal is likely to miss this week’s game with a groin injury, giving Thomas a golden opportunity to shine. The rookie found the end zone on his only catch last week, and he is poised for his best outing since his eight-reception, 97-yard, one-TD debut in Week 2.

DON’T BE THE BONEHEAD WHO…waits until Tuesday to plan for the six-team byes coming up next. If you thought it was hard to field a strong starting lineup now, the job gets tougher when the Falcons, Ravens, Bears, Browns, Giants and Eagles all take a breather in Week 8. Making your roster moves now, before you face competition on the waiver wire, could pay off later.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Week 6 Heroes & Zeros

This was a great week to start

Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Steelers – Returned with a vengeance, passing for 257 yards and 3 TDs, with 1 pick.
Kevin Kolb, QB, Eagles – Torched the Falcons with 326 yards, 3 TDs and 1 INT.
Drew Brees, QB, Saints – Had 3 scoring strikes and 1 INT while passing for 263 yards.
Matt Cassel, QB, Chiefs – Passed for only 201 yards, but had a TD trifecta without a turnover.
Matt Schaub, QB, Texans – Passed for 305 yards and 2 TDs without a turnover.

Arian Foster, RB, Texans – Ran for 71 yards and 2 TDs, plus 6 catches for 26 yards.
Ryan Torain, RB, Redskins – Rumbled for 100 yards and 2 TDs, plus a 9-yard catch.
LaDainian Tomlinson, RB, Jets – Ran for 55 yards and 2 TDs, plus 2 receptions for 12 yards.
Joseph Addai, RB, Colts – Rushed for 128 yards and 1 TD before leaving with an injury.
Chris Johnson, RB, Titans – Ran for 111 yards and a TD plus 2 receptions for 20 yards.
Brandon Jacobs, RB, Giants – Scored twice while gaining 35 rushing yards.

Dwayne Bowe, WR, Chiefs – A half-dozen catches produced 108 yards and 2 TDs.
Jeremy Maclin, WR, Eagles – Caught 7 passes for 159 yards and a pair of TDs.
DeSean Jackson, WR, Eagles – Though he left with a brutal head injury early, he scored both rushing and receiving, and totaled 78 yards.
Calvin Johnson, WR, Lions – Corralled 5 passes for 146 yards and 1 score.
Andre Johnson, WR, Texans – Collected 8 passes for 138 yards and 1 TD.
Greg Jennings, WR, Packers – Caught 6 passes for 133 yards and a TD.
Deion Branch, WR, Patriots – Pulled down 9 catches for 98 yards and 1 TD in his New England homecoming.
Roy Williams, WR, Cowboys – Scored twice on just 3 catches for 28 yards.
Brandon Marshall, WR, Dolphins – Hauled in 10 passes for 127 yards.
Mike Williams, WR, Seahawks – He amassed 123 yards on his 10 catches.

Tony Gonzalez, TE, Falcons – Only 3 catches for 19 yards, but scored twice.

This was a great week to play against

David Garrard, QB, Jaguars – Only 49 passing yards and 1 INT before leaving with a head injury.
Shaun Hill, QB, Lions – Threw for just 91 yards and 1 TD before leaving with an arm injury.
Jay Cutler, QB, Bears – Held without a TD while passing for 290 yards, and rushing for 19 more.
Mark Sanchez, QB, Jets – Passed for only 198 yards and 1 TD with 2 INTs.
Brett Favre, QB, Vikings – Collected just 118 yards and 1 TD, and lost a fumble.

Jahvid Best, RB, Lions – Ran for just 16 yards, and caught 6 passes for 31 more.
Michael Turner, RB, Falcons – Held to 45 rushing yards and one 4-yard reception.
Michael Bush, RB, Raiders – Failed to capitalize on his starting job with 47 rushing yards and 2 catches for 12 yards.
Maurice Jones-Drew, RB, Jaguars – Limited to 57 rushing yards, with 2 catches for 8 yards.

Kevin Walter, WR, Texans – Laid a goose egg.
Devery Henderson, WR, Saints – So did he.
Nate Washington, WR, Titans – Had one 9-yard catch.
Hakeem Nicks, WR, Giants – Fantasy’s #1 wideout was held to 3 catches for 8 yards.
Miles Austin, WR, Cowboys – Caught a pair of balls for 12 yards, and negated his 68-yard score with his own interference penalty.
Malcom Floyd, WR, Chargers – Just 2 passes for 15 yards before leaving with an injury.
Mike Sims-Walker, WR, Jaguars – He got 16 yards on his 2 receptions.

Antonio Gates, TE, Chargers – Left with a _____ injury after catching 2 passes for 12 yards.
Visanthe Shiancoe, TE, Vikings –

I didn’t see that coming

Chris Ivory, RB, Saints – Ran for 158 yards and caught a 17-yard pass.

Monday, October 18, 2010

The best fantasy defense isn’t who you think

Quick: Which team fields the best defense in Fantasyland?

First, did you answer out loud? If so, please don’t do that again. You’re embarrassing yourself.

So, did you say Pittsburgh? Nope.

How about the Giants? Nuh-uh.

Maybe Tennessee? Wrong again.

Okay, so it was a trick question. My criteria for this distinction doesn’t involve sacks, turnovers, points-allowed or defensive scoring. Rather, I’m referring to the defensive unit that serves up the most fantasy points to its opponents.

And by that measure, nobody holds a candle to the Houston Texans.

In a league where there are few absolutes and every trend is meant to be broken, the Texans are the closest thing to a sure bet you’ll find. Plug a quarterback and receiver into your starting lineup against Houston, and watch the fantasy points fly.

Four of the six QBs that have faced the Texans thus far in 2010 – Peyton Manning, Donovan McNabb, Bruce Gradkowski and Eli Manning – had their best statistical performances of the season against them. Matt Cassel had his second-best outing, and Tony Romo had a strong day as well.

Hakeem Nicks, Steve Smith, Dwayne Bowe, Roy Williams and Zach Miller each posted their most productive games of the year against the Texans’ sieve-like secondary. Austin Collie, Reggie Wayne and Dallas Clark torched them for 342 yards and a touchdown apiece in the opener. Santana Moss never reached the end zone, but his 10-catch, 89-yard effort was a keeper. Among top wideouts, only Miles Austin has been held in check by Houston this season.

Perhaps the Texans will right their defensive ship over their Week 7 bye, though that seems highly improbable given the season-ending injury suffered by All Pro linebacker DeMeco Ryans against the Chiefs. More likely, fantasy’s “best” defense will return from the break just in time to get walloped by the Colts again. Then the Chargers, Jaguars, Jets and Titans will take turns feasting at Houston’s fantasy smorgasbord in November.

Plan accordingly.


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

Chris Ivory, RB, Saints. After his 175-combined-yard performance against the Bucs, the undrafted rookie deserves some love. Should Pierre Thomas miss another game, as expected, with his sprained ankle, Ivory will have a favorable matchup against the Browns in Week 7. He doesn’t offer much long-term value, and he’ll give up some touches to Ladell Betts and even Julius Jones, but he can be a nice bye-week filler in a pinch.

Deion Branch, WR, Patriots. Before you get caught up in the “good ole days” bandwagon, remember that Branch has never cracked the Top 20 ranks among fantasy wideouts. His career highs in receiving yards (998) and touchdowns (5) came in 2005. That said, Branch’s nine-catch, 98-yard, one-TD outing Sunday was the best production for a Patriot receiver this season. He’s worth a pickup; just don’t expect consistent fireworks.

Jason Avant, WR, Eagles. If you saw the hit DeSean Jackson took Sunday, you know he’s not playing next week (and the Eagles’ bye is Week 8). His absence could extend even longer, given the severity of his concussion (and subsequent memory loss). Avant ascends to the starting lineup, which is a good place to be when both the quarterbacks who could be passing to you are playing great.

Fred Davis, TE, Redskins. The backup notched six TD passes in 2009 after Chris Cooley fractured his ankle in Week 7 and was lost for the season. Davis should get another chance to shine while Cooley recovers from a concussion incurred Sunday night, especially with tight end-friendly McNabb at the controls.

Don’t be fooled

Shaun Hill, QB, Lions. He had a great run, but a broken forearm and the impending return of starter Matt Stafford spell the end of Hill’s fantasy relevance this season. Give him a peck on the cheek and promise to give him another chance next year, especially if he finds a starting job via free agency.

Patrick Crayton, WR, Chargers. If Antonio Gates misses time with his ankle injury, and if Malcom Floyd’s hamstring forces him out, and if Legedu Naanee remains inactive with his own hamstring problem, then Crayton could followup his fine outing in St. Louis with another solid performance against the Patriots next week. That’s a lot of ifs.

Devery Henderson, WR, Saints. The problem with Henderson is that he always seems to have a good game the minute you give up on him. Which underscores the real issue: He’s inconsistent as all get-out. After being targeted just once against the Bucs, and being out-shined by Lance Moore and Robert Meachem again, it may be best to eliminate the problem altogether.

Kevin Walter, WR, Texans. Jacoby Jones and Owen Daniels are now fully healthy. The team is heading into their Week 7 bye. And Walter wasn’t targeted a single time against the Chiefs. Three strikes, he’s out.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Sunday morning updates - Week 6

Greetings, Fools. Who's ready for another great day in Fantasyland?

Here's what I know -- and think I know -- as of this morning. As always, I'll be tweeting inactives and other late-breaking news as we get closer to kickoff.

Aaron Rodgers is a virtual lock to start. Don't hesitate to start him if you've got him.

Favre will surely start, too, though he's not as safe a bet to perform well against the Cowboys.

Vick will be the emergency QB today, which raises hopes that he'll be back under center as the starter in Week 7.

Donald Brown and Anthony Gonzalez did not travel with the Colts to Washington, so consider Addai a very good start. Garcon and Collie are still a toss-up, with Collie having a much better body of work to date, though Garcon has reclaimed his starting job.

Peyton Hillis says his sore thigh is feeling great, so no worries about him suiting up today. But I don't think he or his thigh will be feeling so hot after the Steelers are done with him.

No-Show Moreno will be a game-time call, but don't bother with him even if he starts against the Jets.

Fred Taylor is out again, leaving the backfield mostly to BenJarvus Green-Ellis. He's OK in a pinch, but not a great option.

Pierre Thomas won't play this weekend, and they're saying now that he could even be out again NEXT week. Wow. Betts and Ivory will continue to share the load in his absence.

Darren McFadden's status will go down to the wire, but don't count on much even if he plays. BTW, as long as Bush keeps doing well, there's no guarantee Run-DMC gets his starting job back once his hammy is 100%. It's a tough world...

This could/should be the last week Ryan Mathews comes off the bench. Assuming he has no further set-backs this week, he should be the starter in Week 7, and the workhorse of the Chargers' offense going forward.

Dez Bryant will probably be active, but he's clearly not 100% and should be reserved against the Vikes.

Calvin Johnson will be a last-minute decision today. He's warming up on the field now, but it could still go either way.

Andre Johnson is a much better bet, and even Jacoby Jones should be back. That's good news for the struggling Schaub against a tough KC secondary; but don't count on much from Jacoby.

Tampa Bay's Mike Williams will be a game-time call, but he will probably play.

As I said in my Sporting News column yesterday, keep an eye on Owen Daniels today. He should be close to fully recovered from his knee surgery, and he's still available in more than half of all fantasy leagues. He could be a steal heading down the stretch.

John Carney is out, and Garrett Hartley is back in as the Saints' kicker. If you're riding this roller coaster, be sure to adjust accordingly.

NOTE: Lawrence Tynes sprained an ankle this week in practice and could miss today's tasty matchup with Detroit. Shayne Graham was brought in just in case. If you're relying on Tynes, you'd better make other arrangements.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Week 6 Starters & Benchwarmers

Wondering whether or not to start Philip Rivers and Chris Johnson, or bench Colt McCoy and Patrick Crayton? 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 6 of the 2010 season.

Watch ‘em roll

Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Steelers vs. Browns. Cleveland’s pass defense is not as bad as you’d think, but they will be no match for Big Ben and his receivers. Roethlisberger has been champing at the bit to return, so don’t expect him to settle for handing the ball off all afternoon. Pittsburgh’s defense will reward him with plenty of short fields to navigate as well.

Ahmad Bradshaw, RB, Giants vs. Lions. His ankle injury is behind him; and though Brandon Jacobs will poach the occasional goal-line carry, Bradshaw is sure to romp through Detroit’s porous run defense.

Shonn Greene, RB, Jets at Broncos. Denver surrendered an unfathomable 233 yards and four touchdowns on the ground last week, while Greene finally scored for the first time on Monday night. Both New York tailbacks should have a field day in this highly favorable matchup.

Eddie Royal, WR, Broncos vs. Jets. You know Kyle Orton and Brandon Lloyd are red hot, but Royal is quietly approaching Top 10 fantasy receiver status himself. The Jets’ secondary has been struggling (23rd-ranked pass defense), while its run defense remains stingy. Watch Orton and his wideouts soar again, especially with a high probability that Darrelle Revis misses the game with a nagging hamstring.

Tony Moeaki, TE, Chiefs at Texans. The rookie has been the most consistent and productive receiver in the Chiefs’ lackluster aerial attack. Facing the league’s passing doormat, he should have his best performance to date. You’d like to think Dwayne Bowe also would excel, but his butter fingers make him less than reliable.

More thumbs up (excluding the no-brainers): QBs Orton, Joe Flacco, Jay Cutler, Eli Manning, Mark Sanchez, Matt Ryan; RBs Matt Forte, LaDainian Tomlinson, Michael Bush, Ryan Torain, Joseph Addai; WRs Johnny Knox, Brandon Lloyd, Pierre Garcon, Malcom Floyd, Hines Ward, Mike Wallace, Greg Jennings, Percy Harvin, Steve Smith (NY), Santonio Holmes, Michael Crabtree, Nate Washington, Santana Moss.

Roll ‘em back

Shaun Hill, QB, Lions at Giants. It’s hard to believe, but Hill is the sixth-best fantasy passer in the league, despite a nearly even TD (8) to INT (7) ratio. But his most dangerous weapon, Calvin Johnson, may be limited – or even out – with a shoulder injury, and the Giants’ defense has been absolutely suffocating in recent weeks.

Peyton Hillis, RB, Browns at Steelers. One of the biggest surprises in Fantasyland will be asked to shoulder the offensive load with Colt McCoy expected to make his first NFL start (talk about bad timing). Unfortunately, Hillis will be facing the NFL’s stingiest run defense – coming off a bye, no less – with a painful thigh injury and little air cover to support him.

Justin Forsett, RB, Seahawks at Bears. Now that Marshawn Lynch is in the fold, Forsett’s touches will surely be reduced. How dramatically in this first game is anyone’s guess. But Chicago’s rush defense is the league’s third-toughest, so neither Seattle back can be expected to produce much in this one.

Mike Sims-Walker, WR, Jaguars vs. Titans. He’s been boom-or-bust this season, thanks mostly to David Garrard’s inconsistent play. The Titans specialize in harassing opposing quarterbacks (NFL-best 22 sacks, plus 7 INTs), which spells trouble for everyone in the Jaguars’ passing offense.

Kevin Walter, WR, Texans vs. Chiefs. His early-season heroics are a distant memory now, as injuries to Andre Johnson and Matt Schaub’s struggles have combined to ground Houston’s air attack. Kansas City’s secondary held Peyton Manning without a passing score last week, which doesn’t bode well for Schaub or his No. 2 receiver.

More thumbs down: QBs Schaub, Garrard, Kevin Kolb, Matt Hasselbeck, Sam Bradford, Jason Campbell; RBs Knowshon Moreno, Ronnie Brown, Cadillac Williams, Earnest Graham, Marshawn Lynch, Felix Jones, Marion Barber; WRs Dez Bryant, Calvin Johnson, Danny Amendola, Brandon Tate, Jacoby Jones.


Matt Cassel, QB, Chiefs at Texans. Cassel has had only one solid fantasy day this season (250 yards, 3 TDs, 1 INT vs. the 49ers in Week 3), but he has yet to face a secondary as welcoming as Houston’s. Everyone seems to have a career day against the Texans, so don’t be shocked when Cassel sits at or near the top of the passing charts this weekend.

DON’T BE THE BONEHEAD WHO…benches an active Aaron Rodgers against the Dolphins. His playing status may go down to the wire Sunday due to the concussion he sustained last weekend, but if the Packers start him, you must follow suit. Even without TE Jermichael Finley, he has plenty of dangerous weapons at his disposal; so it’s safer to roll with Rodgers than without him.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Week 5 Heroes & Zeros

This was a great week to start

Eli Manning, QB, Giants – His 297-yard, 3-TD performance was offset a bit by 2 INTs.
Shaun Hill, QB, Lions – Torched the Rams for 227 yards and a TD hat trick.
Philip Rivers, QB, Chargers – Passed for 431 yards and 2 TDs, but lost 2 fumbles and the game.
Tony Romo, QB, Cowboys – His personal-best 406-yard, 3-TD game was spoiled by 3 INTs.
Alex Smith, QB, 49ers – It was ugly, but his 309-yard, 3-TD, 2-INT performance, with 16 rushing yards added for good measure, worked for his fantasy owners.
Brett Favre, QB, Vikings – Overcame an awful start to pass for 264 yards and 3 TDs, but 3 turnovers hurt.

Ray Rice, RB, Ravens – Scored twice while rushing for 133 yards and adding 26 yards on 4 receptions.
Matt Forte, RB, Bears – Blitzed the Panthers for 166 rushing yards and 2 TDs, plus a pair of catches for 22 yards.
Chris Johnson, RB, Titans – Ran for 131 yards and 2 short TDs.

Hakeem Nicks, WR, Giants – Schooled the Texans with a dozen catches for 130 yards and 2 TDs.
Brandon Lloyd, WR, Broncos – Continued his stellar season with 5 catches for 135 yards and 2 TDs.
Malcom Floyd, WR, Chargers – Produced 213 yards and a TD on 8 catches.
Steve Johnson, WR, Bills – Reeled in 5 passes for 46 yards and a pair of TDs.
Percy Harvin, WR, Vikings – Caught 5 balls for 97 yards and 2 TDs.
Miles Austin, WR, Cowboys – Collected 9 passes for 166 yards and an electrifying score.

Marcedes Lewis, TE, Jaguars – Posted his second 2-TD game of the season on 4 receptions for 54 yards.

Nick Folk, K, Jets – Knocked in 5 field goals (including a 53-yarder) plus 2 extra points.

Raiders defense/special teams – Scored a safety and TD on 2 blocked punts, scored another TD on a 64-yard fumble return, recovered 3 fumbles and notched 3 sacks.

This was a great week to play against

Peyton Manning, QB, Colts – Held without a TD while passing for a mediocre 244 yards and an INT.
Matt Schaub, QB, Texans – Failed to throw a TD pass while collecting just 196 yards and coughing up 2 turnovers.
Bruce Gradkowski, QB, Raiders – So bad, he was replaced after passing for an awful 14 yards.
Sam Bradford, QB, Rams – Threw for 215 yards, 2 picks and no TDs against the suddenly dominating Lions.

Thomas Jones, RB, Chiefs – Only 19 rushing yards against the Colts.
Arian Foster, RB, Texans – Tanked with just 25 rushing yards and 2 short receptions.
Cadillac Williams, RB, Buccaneers – His 33-yard rushing performance could be a sign of committee days to come.
Beanie Wells, RB, Cardinals – Still can’t get on track with just 35 rushing yards and a 5-yard reception. Tim Hightower was even worse, ending with only 6 yards on the day.
DeAngelo Williams, RB, Panthers – Managed only 51 rushing yards and 8 receiving yards on 3 catches. Jonathan Stewart (30 rushing, 4 receiving) was worse than that.

Mario Manningham, WR, Giants – Posted his second consecutive goose egg.
Legedu Naanee, WR, Chargers – Held catchless before leaving with a hamstring injury.
Mark Clayton, WR, Rams – After his lone 6-yard reception, left with a season-ending injury.
Anquan Boldin, WR, Ravens – Held to a single, 8-yard catch.
Lance Moore, WR, Saints – Ditto.
Bears WRs – Johnny Knox led with a 14-yard catch, while Devin Hester went nowhere on his 2 receptions.
Chad Ochocinco, WR, Bengals – Upstaged by TO again, with just 3 receptions for 20 yards.
Greg Jennings, WR, Packers – Limited to a pair of receptions for 22 yards.
Dez Bryant, WR, Cowboys – Same for the rookie.
T.J. Houshmandzadeh, WR, Ravens – Just 2 catches for 24 yards.
Kevin Walter, WR, Texans – Him too.
DeSean Jackson, WR, Eagles – Followed the same trend.
Dwayne Bowe, WR, Chiefs – His 2 catches resulted in 33 yards.

Jermichael Finley, TE, Packers – Injured before catching a single pass.
Dustin Keller, TE, Jets – Limited to 2 receptions for 14 yards.
Visanthe Shiancoe, TE, Vikings – Only 2 catches for 28 yards.
Dallas Clark, TE, Colts – Just 20 yards on 3 receptions.

I didn’t see that coming

Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB, Bills – Passed for 220 yards and 3 TDs without a turnover.

Lions defense/special teams – Scored on a kickoff return and a 42-yard INT return, posted 1 sack, and collected 3 turnovers, while holding the Rams to a pair of field goals.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Few fantasy stars shine brightly in Wk 5

Some things defy explanation.

Why gas stations tack nine-tenths of a cent to every gallon. Why millions of Americans give a rat's behind about John and Kate. And how Max Hall’s Cardinals beat Drew Brees’ Saints on Sunday.

Aside from a handful of masterful performances – highlighted by Matt Forte, Ray Rice, Hakeem Nicks and Brandon Lloyd – Sunday’s games were noteworthy more for their surprising real-world outcomes than the exploits of their fantasy stars.

Packers players were dropping like flies. Houston’s running game was even more anemic than its passing attack. Peyton Manning won without a passing touchdown, while Tony Romo and Philip Rivers lost while amassing 837 yards and five touchdowns between them. And, of course, Brees was thwarted by a defense that had surrendered 41 points apiece in two of its past three games.

The only thing left to determine from Week 5 is who will emerge with bragging rights from the epic rematch between Randy Moss and Darrelle Revis. Countless fantasy matchups hinge on the outcome.

Hopefully it will be a thrilling end to an otherwise non-descript weekend in Fantasyland.


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

Steve Johnson, WR, Bills. This is one of those recommendations that goes against my every instinct, because I simply cannot imagine relying on a Buffalo wideout. But Johnson has quietly accumulated four touchdown catches over the past three games, so he demands our attention. For that matter, Ryan Fitzpatrick has thrown seven TDs and only two INTs over the past three weeks, so go figure.

Danny Amendola, WR, Rams – The pickings are indeed slim in free agency this week. But with Mark Clayton lost for the year with a knee injury, someone has to catch passes from the gun-slinging Sam Bradford. Assuming St. Louis doesn’t make a play for Vincent Jackson, Amendola is the most likely beneficiary of Clayton’s demise, after posting a dozen catches for 95 yards against the Lions.

Aaron Hernandez, TE, Patriots – With news that Jermichael Finley will miss the next three weeks or so after undergoing knee surgery, fantasy owners will be scrambling to replace one of the game’s most dominant tight ends. Hernandez, owned in just over a third of all leagues, has now served his bye week and should become an even more integral weapon in the Patriots’ passing arsenal now that Moss has been traded.

Don’t be fooled

Marion Barber, RB, Cowboys – Though it’s hard to get excited about any member of the Dallas backfield, the long-anticipated transition to Felix Jones may finally have begun on Sunday. Jones amassed 109 yards on 15 carries and caught all four balls thrown his way, while Barber touched the ball only six times. With the Vikings on tap next, this may be your last chance to unload Barber for some semblance of value.

Legedu Naanee, WR, Chargers – He left Sunday’s game with a hamstring injury but, just as concerning, he’s been a non-factor in the San Diego passing game since his excellent Week 1 performance. There’s little reason to keep Naanee on anything but the deepest of fantasy rosters.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Sunday morning updates

Good morning, Fools.

I'm tweeting the inactives now. No big surprises. Knowshon Moreno is out. Jay Cutler out, Clinton Portis out, as is Carolina's Steve Smith, as expected.

LeSean McCoy looks good to go tonight, but keep Mike Bell around just in case.

Donald Brown is out for the Colts, which is good news for Addai. Collie also active and ready to roll, though Garcon will be back.

Jacoby Jones is out, but Andre Johnson is active and ready to roll.

Check out my tweets for more info.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Week 5 Starters & Benchwarmers

Wondering whether or not to start Peyton Manning and Arian Foster, or bench Max Hall and Maurice Morris? 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 5 of the 2010 season.

Watch ‘em roll

Carson Palmer, QB, Bengals vs. Buccaneers. He has been up and down thus far this season, with two awful performances book-ended by a pair of 340-plus-yard, two-touchdown outings. You can trust him to deliver again in this matchup against a secondary that most recently allowed Charlie Batch to post a TD hat trick.

Michael Bush, RB, Raiders vs. Chargers. With Darren McFadden expected to sit out with a bad hammy, Bush will be the workhorse in this matchup. San Diego’s run defense has been solid, but Bush is a wrecking ball who should have plenty of success behind a line that has blocked well for McFadden all season.

Ladell Betts, RB, Saints at Cardinals. With Max Hall taking the snaps for Arizona, the Saints could be playing on a short field all day. If Pierre Thomas (ankle) rests again, as expected, Betts will be the preferred play over rookie Chris Ivory, since he’s a better receiver. Betts can’t help but find the end zone this weekend against Arizona’s sieve-like defense.

Mario Manningham, WR, Giants at Texans. Houston’s pathetic secondary is the tonic Eli Manning needs to get his groove back. In addition to Hakeem Nicks, Manningham should be very busy on Sunday. The oft-overlooked wideout has out-performed Steve Smith to date, despite posting a goose egg last week due to a borderline concussion.

Lance Moore, WR, Saints at Cardinals. Marques Colston has caught four more passes than Moore thus far, but the “backup” has done more with his opportunities (209 yards and 3 TDs vs. 190 yards and zero TDs). At this point, though Colston remains a solid option, Moore is a must-start.

More thumbs up (excluding the no-brainers): QBs Brett Favre, Matt Ryan, Sam Bradford, Joe Flacco, Shaun Hill; RBs Ryan Torain, Joseph Addai, Peyton Hillis, Ryan Mathews, Cedric Benson, Matt Forte; WRs Mark Clayton, Austin Collie, Dez Bryant, Terrell Owens, Mike Sims-Walker, Dwayne Bowe, Malcom Floyd, Brandon Lloyd, Kevin Walter.

Roll ‘em back

Donovan McNabb, QB, Redskins vs. Packers. McNabb has thrown no more than one scoring pass in any game this season, and he’s coming off an emotional victory against his former team. Though Green Bay’s defense has been uneven to date, this is an unlikely week for McNabb to reclaim his fantasy mojo.

Knowshon Moreno, RB, Broncos at Ravens. He could be a game-time decision on Sunday, but only desperate owners should take the chance that Moreno would fare well anyway. Though the Ravens are not as stout as usual against the run, Denver is now a pass-centric team. Whichever tailback gets the starting nod is a bad bet this week.

Beanie Wells, RB, Cardinals vs. Saints. There’s little going for the Cardinals these days, and that’s unlikely to change soon. New Orleans could easily run up the score early, rendering Arizona’s rushing attack moot for the second consecutive week. Neither tailback is likely to deliver positive fantasy returns.

Johnny Knox, WR, Bears at Panthers. Carolina held Drew Brees to a single TD pass last week, so you know they can handle Todd Collins, who will start in place of the concussed Jay Cutler. That’s bad news for Knox and all of his fellow receivers.

Jeremy Maclin, WR, Eagles at 49ers. With Kevin Kolb back under center, the Philly passing attack becomes a major question mark. DeSean Jackson is too explosive to bench, but Maclin is different. Though the 49ers’ secondary has been disappointing, they should rally at home against this struggling offense.

More thumbs down: QBs Kolb, Vince Young, Bruce Gradkowski, Alex Smith; RBs Shonn Greene, Brandon Jackson, Tim Hightower, Laurence Maroney, Jonathan Stewart, Willis McGahee, Marion Barber; WRs Larry Fitzgerald, Nate Washington, Michael Crabtree, Devin Hester.


Santonio Holmes, WR, Jets vs. Vikings. All the Monday night attention will be focused on Randy Moss, but Holmes will be making his own debut in a new uniform. In a game where both rushing attacks could struggle against stiff run defenses, look for Mark Sanchez to get his new toy involved early and often, especially if Minnesota focuses its attention on Braylon Edwards and Dustin Keller.

DON’T BE THE BONEHEAD WHO…fails to track the Sunday morning inactive reports. Several owners were burned last week when they left Pierre Thomas and Andre Johnson in their lineups. Follow my tweets, and you’ll be spared the ignominy of the goose egg.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Moon over Minnesota

While today's news isn't entirely surprising, it is nonetheless shocking.

The Pats have dealt Randy Moss back to his original club for a 3rd round draft pick. The Vikings are negotiating a contract extension for their once and future star, and they obviously intend to get him in the starting lineup by this weekend.


As great a move as this is for Minnesota and Brett Favre, in particular, it seems like a huge loss for the Patriots and Tom Brady. I don't care how reliable Julian Edelman is, or how much promise they see in Brandon Tate, neither comes close to Randy Moss' explosiveness.

This is bad news for Brady's owners, and possibly even worrisome news for Wes Welker's owners, who will likely see their star receiver blanketed by opposing defenses who no longer have to double-up on Moss.

Tate may be the biggest beneficiary, since he's likely to step into Moss' deep-threat role. And I wouldn't think he'd draw two defenders on most plays. Edelman should likewise be worked into the offense more. Aaron Hernandez's rise up the TE rankings should also get a boost.

Obviously, Favre is the big winner in this blockbuster trade. Moss gives him the play-making target that was lost when Sidney Rice went down. And just imagine what Minnesota's offense will look like down the stretch when Rice returns. Moss, Rice, AP, Harvin, Shiancoe. Wow...

While I'd rather have Brady throwing to Moss than the ancient Favre, even Moss gets a slight uptick in that he won't have a bye week this season. Though I suppose you could count his Week 4 goose egg as worse than a bye...

Anyone still holding onto Bernard Berrian should dump him immediately.

Meanwhile, those wondering if Dwayne Jarrett would be a good pickup while Carolina's Steve Smith misses time with an ankle injury should look elsewhere. Jarrett was arrested for DUI (again), and summarily dismissed by the Panthers. Bonehead.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Lynch to Seattle, injury updates and the return of Big Ben

It's been a busy week so far.

Marshawn Lynch has been traded to Seattle for future draft picks. There's nothing surprising about this development, as Buffalo has been showcasing Lynch for weeks in anticipation of trading him.

This helps clear up the Bills' backfield situation, where Fred Jackson is currently locked in as the starter, while rookie C.J. Spiller tries to reclaim the feature back role he thought was his after a phenomenal preseason. Jackson has more short-term value, but despite his early struggles during the regular season, Spiller is destined to emerge as the better long-term fantasy performer. And given the fact that Buffalo (0-4) is already essentially out of the playoff picture, it only makes sense for them to give their No. 1 pick plenty of work as the season progresses.

In Seattle, I don't anticipate much change in the short term, as Justin Forsett remains the primary ballcarrier. But Lynch wasn't acquired as window dressing...he'll be worked into the offense as quickly as possible. The Seahawks, fittingly, operate a West Coast offense, which is new to Lynch, so it could take a couple of weeks. But the timing is perfect, as Seattle has their bye this week. Don't be a bonehead and release Forsett (as some sites have already suggested), but if you're still holding out hope for Leon Washington, it's time to say goodbye. He'll likely be relegated to return duties. Julius Jones is already looking for work.

On the injury front, Michael Vick says he will be out 1 or 2 weeks, or more. The Philadelphia Inquirer is speculating that it could be more like 6 weeks. You didn't come into the season counting on Vick, so hopefully you can manage without him while he recovers from his rib cartilage injury.

LeSean McCoy, currently the No. 3 RB in Fantasyland, fractured a rib in the same game in which Vick went down. He kept playing through it, though; and the Eagles are hoping he can tough it out this week, too. But you can bet this will come down to a game-time decision, which could be problematic since the Eagles-49ers contest is on Sunday night. Mike Bell will start if McCoy is unavailable.

Clinton Portis has hinted that he won't be able to play on his injured groin in the Week 5 matchup with Green Bay, which makes Ryan Torain an intriguing play, especially with several good RBs on bye and injured.

A sore hammy will probably keep Darren McFadden out of action for at least a week, giving Michael Bush a shot at the feature role against San Diego. The Raiders aren't yet a good team, but they aren't awful anymore either. Bruce Gradkowski is a legitimate passing threat, which helps open up the running lanes. Bush could be a solid bye-week filler this weekend.

And, in case you've been too busy watching Dancing With the Stars to notice, Big Ben is back with the Steelers preparing to torch the Browns when they visit in Week 6. Pittsburgh is one of four teams on bye this week (along with the Dolphins, Patriots and Seahawks).

Santonio Holmes will be on the field when the Jets host the Vikings on Monday Night Football. No telling how quickly Holmes will get into the groove with Sanchez, but I imagine Rex Ryan will be eager to see what his new toy can do.

Look for game-time decisions for both Andre Johnson and Jacoby Jones. You'd think that would be great news for Kevin Walter and his owners, but AJ's absence proved detrimental to Walter last weekend, when he drew Oakland's top CB, Nnamdi Asomugha. He should have an easier go of it in Week 5 against the Giants' secondary.

Carolina's Steve Smith will surely miss Sunday's contest due to his high ankle sprain.

Week 4 Heroes & Zeros

This was a great week to start

Kyle Orton, QB, Broncos – Continued his pass-happy ways, with 341 yards, 2 TDs and an INT, plus 11 rushing yards.
Peyton Manning, QB, Colts -- Tossed 2 TDs with 1 INT, plus 352 passing yards.
David Garrard, QB, Jaguars – Turned around his fortunes with 163 passing yards and 2 TDs, plus 44 more on the ground with another TD.

Arian Foster, RB, Texans – After scaring his owners (read: me) by being benched for a quarter and a half, he made up for it with 131 rushing yards, 56 receiving yards, and a pair of TDs.
LaDainian Tomlinson, RB, Jets – Showed what he has left in the tank with 133 rushing yards and 2 TDs, plus 3 catches for 22 more yards.
Maurice Jones-Drew, RB, Jaguars – Finally got it in gear, with 105 rushing yards, 2 catches for 16 yards, and a TD both ways.
Joseph Addai, RB, Colts – Cashed in with 63 rushing yards and 2 TDs, plus 3 catches for 19 yards.
Rashard Mendenhall, RB, Steelers – Scored twice while rushing for 79 yards.
LeSean McCoy, RB, Eagles – In PPR leagues, his 12-catch, 110 yard receiving day, plus 64 rushing yards, were especially sweet.
Ahmad Bradshaw, RB, Giants – Ran for 129 yards and a TD, plus 2 catches for 14 yards and a fumble.

Terrell Owens, WR, Bengals – His 10-reception, 222-yard, 1-TD day marked his best fantasy production since mid-2007.
Calvin Johnson, WR, Lions – Reeled in 6 passes for 86 yards and 2 TDs.
Eddie Royal, WR, Broncos – Hauled in 8 catches for 113 yards and a TD.
Davone Bess, WR, Dolphins – Collected 9 passes for 93 yards and a score.
Reggie Wayne, WR, Colts – Torched the Jags with 15 catches and 196 receiving yards.
Brandon Lloyd, WR, Broncos – In PPR leagues, his 11-catch, 115-yard day was golden.

Antonio Gates, TE, Chargers – Another monster game, with 7 catches for 144 yards and 2 TDs.
Zach Miller, TE, Raiders – Captured 11 balls for 122 yards and a TD.
Dustin Keller, TE, Jets – Just 28 yards on 4 catches, but 2 went for scores.

Patriots defense/special teams – Scored on a kickoff return, a blocked punt and an interception return. Also blocked a field goal, had 2 sacks and 4 INTs.
Giants defense – Registered 10 sacks and 3 turnovers while limiting the Bears to a 4th-quarter field goal.
Chargers defense – Scored on an INT return, racked up 9 sacks and 3 turnovers and held Arizona to 3 offensive points.

This was a great week to play against

Mike Vick, QB, Eagles – Got hammered on his way to the end zone and left the game after passing for just 49 yards and running for 17 more.
Jay Cutler, QB, Bears – Looked awful before leaving with a concussion, passing for just 42 yards and an INT, and losing 1 of his 3 fumbles.
Matt Hasselbeck, QB, Seahawks – Passed for just 191 yards with 0 TDs, 1 INT and a fumble against the no-longer-sorry Rams.
Eli Manning, QB, Giants – Despite the winning effort, passed for just 195 yards without a score, and lost 2 fumbles.

Tom Brady, QB, Patriots – Didn’t need to pass much, so he finished with just 153 yards and a single TD.

C.J. Spiller, RB, Bills – Followed up a great Week 3 with 11 rushing and 4 receiving yards.
Marshawn Lynch, RB, Bills – Rushed for a paltry 8 yards and lost a fumble.
Laurence Maroney, RB, Broncos – Ran for 5 yards, and caught 2 passes for 10 more.
Ray Rice, RB, Ravens – Though he got into the game, he tallied just 20 rushing yards and a solitary 9-yard reception.
Matt Forte, RB, Bears – Tallied 34 combined yards on Sunday night.
Beanie Wells and Tim Hightower, RBs, Cardinals – Just 49 combined yards on the day for the backfield committee.
Cedric Benson, RB, Bengals – Registered 60 yards on the ground, with no receptions.
Chris Johnson, RB, Titans – When he rushes for a mediocre 53 yards, catches 3 passes for 11 more, and coughs up a fumble, it’s a great week to face him.
Ronnie Brown, RB, Dolphins – Ran for 27 yards and added 4 catches for 29 more.

Randy Moss, WR, Patriots – Held catchless by the Dolphins.
Mike Sims-Walker, WR, Jaguars – Blanked during his team’s upset victory over the Colts.
Santana Moss, WR, Redskins – He posted a goose egg in McNabb’s triumphant return to Philly.
Mario Manningham, WR, Giants – He played, but caught nothing.
Andre Johnson, WR, Texans – Those who weren’t paying attention, or following my tweets, may have started the game-time scratch.
Legedu Naanee, WR, Chargers – Missed out on the fun with a 4-yard catch.
Louis Murphy, WR, Raiders – Managed a single 5-yard catch.
Lee Evans, WR, Bills – No Darrelle Revis? No problem for the Jets' secondary, as Evans produced one 6-yard catch.
Steve Smith, WR, Panthers – Left with a high ankle sprain after catching just 2 balls for 11 yards.
Jacoby Jones, WR, Texans – A calf injury contributed to his failure to soar in AJ’s absence, with one 12-yard reception.
Johnny Knox and Devin Hester, WRs, Bears – Suffered with their QBs, pulling in just 4 catches for 42 yards total.
Mike Wallace and Hines Ward, WRs, Steelers – Held to two catches apiece, with 24 and 14 yards, respectively.
DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin, WRs, Eagles – With Vick gone, the dynamic duo recorded just 4 catches for 34 yards between them.

Owen Daniels, TE, Texans – Upstaged by fellow TE Joel Dreesen, with 8 yards on a single reception.

Colts defense/special teams – Did absolutely nothing. No sacks, no turnovers and gave up 31 points to a team that scored 3 points last week. Yeah, I picked them up in one league just for this “primo” matchup…

Monday, October 4, 2010

In Fantasyland, as in the NFL, expect the unexpected

Four weeks into the 2010 NFL season, the Kansas City Chiefs are the only undefeated team still standing, with an assist from this week’s bye. No disrespect, but who would be shocked if Don Shula and his ’72 Dolphins have already popped the champagne?

Meanwhile, in Fantasyland – where this columnist resides – Kyle Orton has out-performed Drew Brees, Matt Schaub and Tony Romo, and Michael Vick’s injury is cause for mourning.

Chris Johnson has almost fallen out of the Top 10 ranks among running backs, which now features a former practice squad player (Arian Foster), a presumed draft bust (Darren McFadden), a rookie on a winless team (Jahvid Best) and a 7th-round draft pick and Denver castoff (Peyton Hillis).

Among wideouts, the players to own thus far include Brandon Lloyd, Mark Clayton, Kevin Walter and, of course, the incomparable…Austin Collie.

Can you imagine the ridicule you would have endured had you drafted a roster comprised of such newcomers, no-names and has-beens?

To be sure, just as Maurice Jones-Drew showed that it’s too early to give up on slow-starting fantasy studs, there’s plenty of time for the shooting stars to fall back to Earth. Just ask your neighborhood Jay Cutler owner how quickly your fantasy fortunes can change.

All of which is to say that a losing record at this point of the season, though undesirable, is not irreversible. Bye weeks, an unrelenting parade of injuries and the temperamental fantasy gods are sure to wreak havoc on your high-flying competitors at some point.

Keep tweaking your roster, concentrate on making wise starting lineup decisions and, if all else fails, cross your fingers. As we’ve seen already, anything can happen in today’s NFL.


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

Sam Bradford, QB, Rams – It’s hard not to be impressed by what this rookie is doing in, and for, St. Louis. He’s tossed a touchdown or two in every game, and aside from a three-interception debacle in his debut, he’s kept the turnovers to a minimum. With a favorable schedule ahead, owners with bye-week or injury issues could do worse than Bradford, especially with the Lions on tap next.

Ryan Torain, RB, Redskins – He looked great on his 12-yard scoring rumble, and finished with 70 rushing yards on the day. With Clinton Portis adding a groin injury to his wrist problems, Torain should stay busy for at least another week, and possibly much longer.

Michael Bush, RB, Raiders – If Darren McFadden’s hamstring injury forces him out of action, Bush can be a decent proxy in his absence. Oakland is actually moving the ball this season, and Bush is a battering ram at the goal-line.

Brandon Lloyd, WR, Broncos – I had reservations about him earlier this season, but Lloyd has consistently been one of Kyle Orton’s favorite targets. And this year, that’s a very good thing. Despite his status as a Top 10 wideout after four weeks, Lloyd is still available in more than a third of fantasy leagues. (For that matter, Orton is still available in many leagues, too!)

Don’t be fooled

Kevin Kolb, QB, Eagles – It’s too early to project when Michael Vick will return from his rib cartilage injury, but it’s not too soon to know that Kolb will yield the job back the minute Vick is ready. Kolb has been unimpressive in limited playing time this season, so despite the weapons at his disposal, he can’t be counted on in the interim.

Laurence Maroney, RB, Broncos – Even if Knowshon Moreno doesn’t return as expected in Week 5, Maroney’s performance since being traded to Denver – capped by Sunday’s five-yard rushing effort against the Titans – confirms his expendability, especially with Baltimore up next.

Derrick Ward, RB, Texans – The box score shows 80 rushing yards and a touchdown. Look closer and you’ll see that the bulk of his damage was done while Arian Foster was being disciplined for missing a team meeting. Ward may not even be the best handcuff to Foster, as Steve Slaton remains above him on the depth chart.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Sunday morning news you can use

Greetings, Fools. Here we go again. Let's take a quick look at what we know so far today, before the tweeting begins.

Donald Brown and Pierre Garcon did not travel with the team to Jag-land, so that's great news for Addai and Collie owners. Addai is questionable with a knee, but don't let that fool you. He's fine (just rested on Friday after practicing Wed/Thurs). They didn't want to take any chances because they knew Brown was unlikely to play.

It's looking more and more like Pierre Thomas won't play. The Saints brought DeShawn Wynn up from the practice squad, which is what they were expected to do if Thomas can't roll. Ladell Betts and Chris Ivory should get the most RB action, with Betts the better of the two.

If I had to guess, I'd say Andre Johnson will suit up today, but I'd also not be surprised if he was used mostly as a decoy. As I said earlier this week, you have to start him if he plays, because he's AJ. But you might not like what you get in return.

Ray Rice (knee) is a near lock to play today. Again, you probably can't afford to sit him, but going against the Steelers, in rainy/sloppy conditions, it could be a rough day for the fantasy superstar.

Fred Taylor (toe) won't play Monday night, which leaves the door open again for BenJarvus Green-Ellis to get the bulk of the carries for the Pats. He's a nice flex play against a Dolphins squad that has given up plenty of rushing yards this season.

The Raiders' passing attack has a terrific matchup this week, and Louis Murphy (clavicle) should be on the field. While it's hard to get excited about any Oakland player, Gradkowski-to-Murphy could be heard often today. In a pinch, both could make nice starters.

Looks like Jahvid Best will play today, so get him in your lineups against the Pack.

Steven Jackson is much more iffy, as he's not warming up on the field yet. Ken Darby is a risky proxy who could surprise.

Check my tweets for further updates in a bit. Good luck to all Fools!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Sporting News Fantasy Source column

Here are a few excerpts from my 4th & Long column, which runs every Friday on Sporting News' Fantasy Source site.


Several players will be game-time decisions on Sunday, so you're playing with fire if you don't follow the inactive reports prior to the game. As a reminder, I tweet them all every Sunday morning (, along with other breaking news.

Pierre Thomas is one of the guys I'll be tracking. He has a history of missing time with injuries, and his sore ankle could cost him a tasty matchup in Carolina. Ladell Betts is projected to get the bulk of the reps if Thomas sits, with rookie Chris Ivory also seeing action. But more likely, we'll just get more of Drew Brees -- who will wear a brace to protect his sore knee -- and his receivers. I'm not hanging my hat on either backup rusher, or, for that matter, Thomas, as he carries the risk of seeing limited action if he does suit up.

Kenneth Darby played well after Steven Jackson suffered a groin injury last Sunday, and it's looking more and more like he'll get another chance to prove his value this weekend. The Rams took a look at free agent Larry Johnson earlier in the week, and they decided he was no better than the guy they already had. Jackson's status against Seattle will go down to the wire; but as of now, it's not looking promising. Darby could be a decent flex-play in a pinch, but the real beneficiary of Jackson's absence will probably be Mark Clayton.

Ray Rice practiced Friday and is preparing as if he'll play this weekend, though a bruised knee won't be his only obstacle. Willis McGahee will likely take the pounding at the goal-line, if the Ravens are fortunate enough to get there against Pittsburgh's defense, which has been playing lights-out all season. You probably can't sit your No. 1 pick if he plays, but keep your expectations for Rice low.

Rookie sensation Jahvid Best used the word "definitely" when asked if he will play Sunday despite his turf toe injury. We haven't heard his coach say that, though; but it's a good sign. I learned my lesson about projecting sub-par results for Best against the Eagles in Week 2, so I'd start him if he's active against Green Bay. But if he sits, I wouldn't touch either Maurice Morris or Kevin Smith with a 10-foot pole.

Knowshon Moreno is all but certain to rest his hammy again this weekend, leaving Denver's backfield in the hands of Laurence Maroney and Correll Buckhalter. As with last week's game, neither back offers much to get excited about.

Beanie Wells looked good in his 2010 debut against the Raiders, and you can expect even more from him this week, especially since Arizona's receiving corps is in such a shambles. Larry Fitzgerald is the last man standing, while Steve Breaston and Early Doucet both nurse injuries.

Ronnie Brown labored through a sore hamstring during Sunday night's matchup with the Jets, we are now told, but he is fully expected to play against the Patriots. Still, there's a measure of risk there, since they don't play until Monday night. Keep an eye on his status in case you need to hedge your bets.

Mario Manningham may not have suffered a concussion last week as originally feared. He is expected to play Sunday, and he's a decent start against Chicago.


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

What in the name of Brandon Stokley is going on in Indy? Three weeks into the 2010 season, the No. 1 wide receiver in Fantasyland is...wait for it...Austin Collie! Yeah, I predicted that. (Not.) Remember Pierre Garcon? He'll probably miss another week with his sore hammy. Collie has been limited by a heel injury in practice this week, but he's still an absolute must-start against the Jags.

Now that the deadline has passed for Vincent 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.

Owen Daniels is still noticeably hampered by his knee injury, and he has sat out practice this week due to a hamstring injury. Keep him in reserve against Oakland, even if he's active.


To Jay Cutler: I'm sorry I doubted you. Nice work so far. But, for the record, it's a long season and you still have time to prove me right.

To Terrell Owens: Are you kidding me? You're already throwing Carson Palmer under the bus? Dude...just shut up and play. You wore out your act years ago.

To Shonn Greene: I would never have used a first- or second-round pick on you, but when you were there in the middle of Round 3, I though I had a steal. How 'bout you toss me a bone every now and then, huh?

Friday, October 1, 2010

Week 4 Starters & Benchwarmers

Wondering whether or not to start Aaron Rodgers and Chris Johnson, or bench Jimmy Clausen and Brian Westbrook? 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 4 of the 2010 season.

Watch ‘em roll

Kyle Orton, QB, Broncos at Titans. Only Philip Rivers has passed for more yards than Orton to date, and Denver’s aerial attack should remain prolific while Knowshon Moreno rests another week. Though Tennessee’s secondary has allowed just one passing TD in 2010, they gave up big yards to the Giants in their first test against a decent passing team. Orton poses their biggest threat to date.

Joseph Addai, RB, Colts at Jaguars. Donald Brown is nursing a hamstring injury and could miss Sunday’s game. That’s great news for Addai’s owners, who have yet to celebrate any visits to the end zone this year. He’ll fix that Sunday against the Jaguars’ mediocre run defense.

Ryan Mathews, RB, Chargers vs. Cardinals. All signs point to the rookie returning to the field after recovering from an ankle injury. Even though Mike Tolbert has looked solid in the interim, and he could poach a goal-line carry or two, a healthy Mathews is worth starting against the awful Arizona run defense.

Jacoby Jones, WR, Texans at Raiders. Whether or not Andre Johnson (ankle) suits up, Jones will undoubtedly be a bigger part of the Texans’ game plan. Kevin Walter is approaching every-week-starter territory, but Jones also belongs in your lineup against a statistically sound Raiders secondary that nevertheless has surrendered two passing scores apiece in three games against mediocre competition.

Mark Clayton, WR, Rams vs. Seahawks. Steven Jackson will be a game-time decision with his injured groin; but either way, the Rams will likely choose to attack Seattle’s 30th-ranked pass defense in this contest. Clayton remains red hot in tandem with his rookie quarterback.

More thumbs up (excluding the no-brainers): QBs Michael Vick, Donovan McNabb, Jay Cutler, Chad Henne, Mark Sanchez; RBs Matt Forte, Ronnie Brown, Peyton Hillis, LaDainian Tomlinson, Justin Forsett, Cedric Benson, BenJarvus Green-Ellis; WRs Austin Collie, Lance Moore, Johnny Knox, Donald Driver, Jeremy Maclin, Braylon Edwards, Nate Washington, Santana Moss, Malcom Floyd.

Roll ‘em back

Joe Flacco, QB, Ravens at Steelers. The Browns (and Anquan Boldin) made him look like an All Pro last week, but Flacco has otherwise been a fantasy scrub this season. Look for another sub-par performance on Pittsburgh’s home turf. The Steelers have given up just one passing TD versus five interceptions to date.

Ahmad Bradshaw, RB, Giants vs. Bears. He has excelled while Brandon Jacobs has imploded. But Bradshaw will hit a speed bump against the Bears’ NFL-best rush defense. Reserve him if you can.

Clinton Portis, RB, Redskins at Eagles. Though Philly’s run defense is nothing special, Portis would be best left on your bench, thanks to a wrist injury and the expectation that Ryan Torain will get more involved in the action, especially on first and second downs. Portis may be relegated to passing-down duties, since he’s better at blitz pickups than the younger Torain.

Steve Smith, WR, Panthers at Saints. You probably don’t have the luxury of sitting Smith now that the bye weeks are here, but things could get ugly(er) for rookie QB Jimmy Clausen in the raucous Superdome on Sunday. Smith will be blanketed by the Saints’ opportunistic secondary, so don’t expect him to help you win this week.

Michael Crabtree, WR, 49ers at Falcons. With a new coordinator striving to inject some creativity into the offense, it will take time to turn this struggling unit around. Traveling cross-country won’t help. Crabtree and his QB have been on different pages all season – Alex Smith has a pathetic 6.6 quarterback rating when throwing his way – so don’t expect an overnight fix.

More thumbs down: QBs Carson Palmer, Alex Smith, David Garrard, Derek Anderson; RBs Ray Rice, Jahvid Best, Jerome Harrison, CJ Spiller, Correll Buckhalter; WRs Derrick Mason, Mike Sims-Walker, Hines Ward, Calvin Johnson, Eddie Royal.


Bruce Gradkowski, QB, Raiders vs. Texans. With the onset of the bye weeks, short-term fixes are needed at virtually every position. Gradkowski had a solid showing in Arizona last week and now returns home to face the awful Texans secondary. Houston has coughed up a league-worst 1,143 passing yards and six touchdowns, while failing to capture a single interception over the first three games.

DON’T BE THE BONEHEAD WHOkeeps Garrett Hartley in your starting lineup this week. Because he remains on the Saints’ roster, inattentive fantasy owners may believe he’s a safe play. (In fact, Hartley is still owned in more than three-quarters of fantasy leagues!) But he’ll be inactive now that John Carney has returned to handle the field goal duties.