Monday, November 28, 2011

Week 12 Heroes & Zeros

This was a great week to start…

Drew Brees, Saints – Tossed 4 TD passes with his 363 yards and ran in another TD from 8 yards out; all without a turnover.
Tom Brady, Patriots – Did his thing with 361 yards, 3 TDs, no turnovers and even added 28 rushing yards.
Matt Ryan, Falcons – Passed for 262 yards and a trio of TDs.
Ryan Fitzpatrick, Bills – Returned to form with 264 passing yards and 3 TDs, plus 34 rushing yards.
Mark Sanchez, Jets – Tossed 4 TD passes with his 180 yards, plus an INT.

Beanie Wells, Cardinals – Rumbled for 228 yards and a TD in a career day.
DeAngelo Williams, Panthers – Made a rare appearance on the highlight reel with 69 yards and 2 TD runs.
Roy Helu, Redskins – Ran for 108 yards and a TD and caught 7 passes for 54 yards.
Marshawn Lynch, Seahawks – Rushed for 111 yards and added a 20-yard TD catch.
BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Patriots – Only ran for 44 yards, but scored twice.

Victor Cruz, Giants – Packed on the stats while playing catchup, finishing with 9 receptions for 157 yards and 2 TDs.
Wes Welker, Patriots – Returned to the elites with 8 catches for 115 yards and 2 TDs.
Laurent Robinson, Cowboys – Scored twice while catching 7 passes for 79 yards.
Lance Moore, Saints – Had 5 catches for 54 yards and 2 TDs.
Roddy White, Falcons – Reeled in 10 balls for 120 yards and a TD.
Johnny Knox, Bears – Only 4 receptions, but posted 145 yards and a score.

Jimmy Graham, Saints – Posted 5 catches for 84 yards and a pair of scores.
Dustin Keller, Jets – Caught 4 passes for 61 yards and 2 TDs.

Sebastian Janikowski, Raiders – Nailed field goals of 19, 37, 40, 42, 44 and 47 yards.

This was a great week to play against…

Alex Smith, 49ers – Only 140 passing yards without a score, plus an INT.
Carson Palmer, Raiders – Passed for 301 yards and an INT, without a score.

Chris Ogbannaya, Browns – Ran for 16 yards and caught a 4-yard pass now that Peyton Hillis has returned.
James Starks, Packers – Just 19 rushing yards before leaving early again.
Daniel Thomas, Dolphins – Gained 25 yards on the ground while playing second fiddle to Reggie Bush.
Frank Gore, 49ers – Managed 39 rushing yards and a 9-yard catch.

Julio Jones, Falcons – Posted a goose egg.
Sidney Rice, Seahawks – So did he.
Braylon Edwards, 49ers – Caught a 5-yard pass.
Nate Washington, Titans – Just a 12-yard catch on the day.
Mike Wallace, Steelers – Held to just 17 yards on 2 passes.
Andre Johnson, Texans – Limited to 2 catches for 22 yards in his long-awaited return.
Torrey Smith, Ravens – His 2 receptions were good for 23 yards.
Vincent Jackson, Chargers – He posted 25 yards on his 2 catches.
Jordy Nelson, Packers – Only 26 yards on 4 catches.
Dez Bryant, Cowboys – Held to 3 receptions for 35 yards.

Wake me up when November ends

It may have been the lingering effects of my tryptophan overdose, but I had some strange visions over the weekend.

I could have sworn I saw Jason Witten go out of his way to tackle a cheerleader on Thanksgiving.

Someone told me Percy Harvin returned a kickoff 104 yards, but they must have been yanking my chain since it didn’t register any fantasy points for the Vikings special teams or Harvin.

Is it true that Texans fans are actually disappointed that Matt Leinart is no longer leading their team?

Isn’t Kiln, Mississippi, a short drive from Houston?

I thought I saw a boneheaded receiver shoot himself in the foot while pretending to shoot himself in the thigh. Maybe Stevie Johnson should concentrate on catching more touchdown passes so he doesn’t need to double- and triple-up on the celebrations.

I heard Terrell Owens’ agent say one team was “very interested” in his client’s services. And I thought I was the one hallucinating…

I watched Pitbull perform last Thursday in Dallas. But I thought the Eagles had a home game.

Shouldn’t Tim Tebow’s rushing stats count double since he’s actually running on water?

The economy must have recovered when I wasn’t paying attention. How else can you explain that Tyler Palko, Curtis Painter, Blaine Gabbert and John Skelton all have high-paying jobs?

“Orakpo” really isn’t another word for “sack.” I looked it up.

The 49ers are 9-2 and Alex Smith is still the quarterback. Am I being punked?

And I suppose you expect me to believe that Mark Sanchez really threw four touchdown passes Sunday.

Wasn’t Andre Johnson due back this week?

I just noticed the Patriots have another bye next weekend. That’s not fair.

How could Troy Polamalu suffer a concussion with all that extra padding?

Was that Beanie Wells I saw running under the Gateway Arch? Someone needs to tell him the game is over now.

I don’t wanna be anywhere nearby when the next Suh falls.

I could have sworn I saw DeAngelo Williams celebrating in the end zone – twice! As if…

Was that “Little Nick” Novak I saw warming up on the sideline?

How is it that Laurent Robinson was expendable in San Diego, St. Louis and Atlanta, but indispensable in Dallas?

I saw the Chiefs score a touchdown. Okay, now you know I’m joking.


To win a fantasy championship, it helps to start with a great draft. But filling in your roster throughout the season with the right free agents is also important. Here's a look at players worth considering, and others who would look better in someone else's lineup.

Catch ‘em while you can

Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB, Bills. Maybe we gave up on him too early. After his 264-yard, three-touchdown outing against the Jets – which should have included a fourth scoring strike – Fitzpatrick finally returned to the form that made him a fantasy star at the season’s onset. With a favorable schedule ahead, and passers dropping like flies across the league, he’s worth adding if he’s available.

Shane Vereen, RB, Patriots. Looking for a tailback to stash away on your bench for your postseason run? Consider Vereen, who is slowly working his way into New England’s backfield rotation. The rookie is arguably the most talented back on the team, and he could emerge from obscurity next weekend against the woeful Colts.

Johnny Knox, WR, Bears. If Earl Bennett is the loser in the Caleb Hanie-led air attack, Knox looks like the winner. The young speedster was targeted 10 times Sunday and finished with 145 yards and a score. Knox will have a chance to keep up the good work given Chicago’s soft schedule down the stretch.

Don’t be fooled

Jackie Battle, RB, Chiefs. It’s hard to release any starting running back; but when he posts three consecutive games with single-digit carries for a team that has scored one touchdown in its past four games, it’s time to say goodbye. Battle’s running mates don’t belong anywhere near your roster, either.

Jason Avant, WR, Eagles. If not for his three receptions for 24 yards and a touchdown on the final, garbage-time drive, Avant wouldn’t even have registered on your fantasy radar. The career backup benefited from DeSean Jackson’s benching, New England’s porous secondary and Vince Young’s career day – a perfect storm that is unlikely to strike again soon.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Sunday morning updates -- Week 12

Good morning, Fools. It's getting chilly here in DFW, but the sun is out and all is well in Fantasyland.

I'm still grieving over the loss of my beloved Dolphins on Thanks-giving here in Dallas. The recovery process has been especially long since I am surrounded by evil Cowboys fans (not including my daughter, who at least felt my pain after Dan Bailey's winning kick), but I'm ready to soldier on with my fantasy teams today. I hope you are, too. Here's the news you can use...

The following have already been ruled out: Adrian Peterson, Michael Vick, Kevin Kolb and Ahmad Bradshaw. Not that it matters, but so has Chad Ochocinco (hamstring).

LT will sit out another game, leaving the Jets backfield to Shonn Greene and the up-and-coming Joe McKnight.

I'm not a fan of the Patriots backfield, mostly because there are too many good-not-great options. And now it sounds like another back will be added to the rotation, if Bill Belichick is to be believed (and usually, he isn't). Shane Vereen is slated for more action beginning today. The rookie is arguably the most explosive of the bunch, so he would be worth keeping an eye on. If you have a bench slot open for fresh legs that could be useful down the stretch, Vereen is someone to consider.

I'll be watching CJ Spiller closely today. This is his chance to finally live up to his first-round expectations.

Look for a 3-headed backfield in Cleveland today, with the expected return of Peyton Hillis. Hardesty and Ogbannaya will remain in the mix, too, against a stout Bengals run defense. If you didn't like them before, you've gotta hate 'em now.

Andre Johnson finally returns for the Texans. Unfortunately, he'll have to track down balls from Matt Leinart. I would probably start him if I owned him, but I wouldn't expect very good returns in his first game back in weeks.

AJ Green and Julio Jones are expected to play as well.

That's it for now. Make sure you're following me on Twitter (@ladd_biro) for all the inactives and other late-breaking news. Good luck, Fools!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Friday updates

Here are a few snippets from my column for today's Sporting News Fantasy Source.

Looks like one more week of rest for Ahmad Bradshaw, who is still not practicing on his injured foot. Brandon Jacobs will continue to carry the load against the Saints on Monday night.

Shonn Green (rib) is expected to suit up against the Bills on Sunday. But so is Joe McKnight, who fared well as a runner and receiver after being pressed into duty against the Broncos last week. With LaDainian Tomlinson (knee) also on the mend, this backfield is probably one worth avoiding in Week 12.

Ryan Mathews’ fortunes have dipped along with his team’s performance. He hasn’t scored since Week 3, he fumbled twice in the Week 11 loss and he can’t seem to shake the injury bug. A persistently sore knee has him iffy for Sunday’s matchup against an improving Denver defense that has allowed the third-fewest rushing scores in the NFL. Leave him on your bench this week, even if he suits up.

Stevie Johnson is playing with a bum shoulder, which has contributed to a two-game slump in which he’s managed only four catches for 24 total yards. Think twice before starting him on Revis Island.

A.J. Green is expected to return from his knee injury, but he’ll be shadowed by Joe Haden. That said, Haden doesn’t yet have a clever nickname, so Green is worth a gamble in your starting lineup if he’s active. Be sure you’re following my tweets (@ladd_biro) for all the pre-game inactive reports and other late-breaking news.

Fellow rookie Julio Jones (hamstring) is also expected back for the tasty matchup with the Vikings.

Jeremy Maclin will likely miss another game with his hamstring and shoulder injuries. Look for another start from Riley Cooper, who is a reasonable flex candidate due to his strong rapport with Young and the favorable matchup with the Patriots.

Tyler Palko is set to start in Week 12, but it’s probably more of a favor to Kyle Orton that the team is throwing Palko to the wolves (a.k.a., Steelers) instead of their new acquisition. Expect Orton to get the starting nod in Week 13 against his old friends in Chicago.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Week 12 Starters & Benchwarmers

Wondering whether or not to start Drew Brees and Mike Wallace, or to bench Tyler Palko and Patrick Crayton? The network bozos specialize in that kind of advice. If you’re looking for help with your real starting lineup conundrums, read on.

Here are my picks to roll, and get rolled, in Week 12 of the 2011 season.

Watch ‘em roll

Matt Ryan, QB, Falcons vs. Vikings. He’s on a nice three-game roll, even without Julio Jones on the field for most of the last two weeks. Now Ryan gets to feast at the trough of the Vikings’ hospitable secondary, which has allowed a league-worst 19 passing scores. Start him with confidence.

Kevin Smith, RB, Lions vs. Packers. Smith proved to be an integral part of Detroit’s offense last week as both a runner and receiver. Though Green Bay is fairly solid against the rush, they are pushovers in the passing game. One way or the other, Smith will get his touches; and his points.

Cedric Benson, RB, Bengals vs. Browns. With A.J. Green sidelined last week with a knee injury, Benson was the team’s red-zone hero. The Browns are giving up 131 yards per game to opposing rushers, while their pass defense is top notch; so look for another nice outing from Benson, especially if Green sits again.

Percy Harvin, WR, Vikings at Falcons. Harvin will be the X factor in an offense run by a rookie quarterback and missing its most dangerous weapon. The multi-purpose player could line up in the backfield nearly as often as out wide in an effort to get the ball into Harvin’s hands as frequently as possible.

Nate Washington, WR, Titans vs. Buccaneers. Washington has a strong rapport with both of his quarterbacks, as evidenced by his two scoring connections with Jake Locker last week. The Bucs cough up a lot of passing scores, so get the play-maker back in your lineup.

More thumbs up (excluding the no-brainers): QBs Matt Stafford, Ben Roethlisberger, Philip Rivers, Cam Newton, Tim Tebow; RBs Chris Johnson, Willis McGahee, Reggie Bush, CJ Spiller, DeAngelo Williams, Donald Brown; WRs DeSean Jackson, Torrey Smith, Santonio Holmes, Antonio Brown, Victor Cruz, Brandon Lloyd.

Roll ‘em back

Andy Dalton, QB, Bengals vs. Browns. The rookie continues to impress, even against stiff competition. But Dalton will be facing the NFL’s top-ranked pass defense Sunday, most likely without his top wideout, Green.

Toby Gerhart, RB, Vikings at Falcons. Adrian Peterson is unlikely to play due to his high ankle sprain, but don’t expect his backup to prosper in his place on Sunday. Atlanta has surrendered the second-fewest fantasy points to opposing rushers, and Harvin is the more likely candidate to benefit from Peterson’s absence.

Ryan Mathews, RB, Chargers vs. Broncos. Denver’s improving defense has allowed the third-fewest rushing scores in the NFL. Meanwhile, Mathews’ fortunes have dipped along with his team’s performance. He hasn’t scored since Week 3 and he fumbled twice in the Week 11 loss.

Andre Johnson, WR, Texans at Jaguars. You’ve waited seemingly forever to get him back in your lineup, but you’d be wise to give him another week to get acclimated. Not only might Johnson see limited reps, but he’ll be chasing down balls thrown by Matt Leinart. The Jags’ secondary is pretty solid as well.

Michael Crabtree, WR, 49ers at Ravens. He’s coming off his best game of the season, but Crabtree continues to be bothered by a lingering foot injury. Squaring off against the stingy Ravens secondary makes him the riskiest of Thanksgiving plays.

More thumbs down: QBs Rex Grossman, Matt Moore, Alex Smith, Ryan Fitzpatrick; RBs BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Jackie Battle, Brandon Jacobs, Roy Helu, Ryan Torain; WRs Earl Bennett, Laurent Robinson, Jerome Simpson, Stevie Johnson.

Taking a flier

Beanie Wells, RB, Cardinals at Rams. He predictably fell flat last week against the 49ers’ staunch run defense, and he’s still hindered by a balky knee. But Wells remains the workhorse for an offense that is struggling in the passing game. Best of all, he’ll be facing the porous Rams run defense. Though he struggled against them three weeks ago, consider giving him a second chance as a flex play.

Don’t be the bonehead who…fails to grab C.J. Spiller off the waiver wire. With the news that Fred Jackson has been lost for the season with a fractured fibula, Spiller will step into the job for which he was selected with the ninth overall pick of the 2010 draft. He has underachieved to date, but he’s shown flashes of brilliance (mostly in the preseason), and he’s a good receiver as well.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Week 11 Heroes & Zeros

This was a great week to start…

Matt Stafford, Lions – Bounced back in a big way with 335 passing yards and 5 TDs. We’ll forgive the 2 INTs.
Aaron Rodgers, Packers – Passed for 299 yards and 3 TDs, plus a rare INT, while adding 28 rushing yards.
Tony Romo, Cowboys – Another sharp week, with 292 passing yards and 3 TDs.
Rex Grossman, Redskins – Good Rex passed for 289 yards, with 2 TDs and an INT, plus 10 rushing yards and another score.
Jay Cutler, Bears – Posted 286 yards and 2 TDs with an INT, plus 11 rushing yards and a third TD.

Kevin Smith, Lions – Reclaimed his old job with 140 rushing yards and 2 TDs, plus 61 yards and another TD on 4 catches.
Ray Rice, Ravens – Ran for 104 yards and 2 TDs, plus 5 catches for 43 yards.
Cedric Benson, Bengals – Scored twice with just 41 rushing yards.

Jordy Nelson, Packers – Grabbed 6 passes for 123 yards and 2 TDs.
Nate Washington, Titans – Caught 9 passes for 115 yards and 2 scores.
Torrey Smith, Ravens – Hauled in 6 passes for 165 yards and a score.
Vincent Jackson, Chargers – He did the same on 7 passes.
Jerome Simpson, Bengals – Amassed 152 yards on 8 catches.

Rob Gronkowski, Patriots – Torched the Chiefs with 4 catches for 96 yards and 2 awesome TDs.
Kellen Winslow, Buccaneers – Reeled in 9 passes for 132 yards.

This was a great week to play against…

Matt Hasselbeck, Titans – Held to 124 passing yards (and 17 rushing) with an INT and zero TDs before leaving injured.
Ryan Fitzpatrick, Bills – Has lost his touch, with 209 yards and 2 INTs, without a score.
John Skelton, Cardinals – Passed for just 99 yards, no scores and 3 INTs before being benched.

Shonn Greene, Jets – Injured in first quarter after one 4-yard catch and 10 rushing yards.
Willis McGahee, Broncos – Playing on his bum hammy, but only got 18 yards for his efforts.
Beanie Wells, Cardinals – Limited to 33 rushing yards.
Chris Johnson, Titans – Underachieved again, with 28 combined yards.
Roy Helu, Redskins – Ran for 35 yards.
Brandon Jacobs, Giants – Rushed for 21 yards and caught 3 passes for 11 more.
Jackie Battle, Chiefs – Only 33 yards on the ground.
Fred Jackson, Bills – Held to 17 rushing and 50 receiving yards on 5 catches.
Steven Jackson, Rams – Just 42 rushing and 19 receiving yards.

Eric Decker, Broncos – Shut out on Revis Island.
Mario Manningham, Giants – Limited to a 4-yard catch.
Brandon Marshall, Dolphins – Held to a single 5-yard reception, after botching an apparent TD catch.
Greg Jennings, Packers – Just 6 yards on 2 catches.
Denarius Moore, Raiders – The rookie had a 14-yard reception.
Stevie Johnson, Bills – Only 16 yards on a pair of receptions.
Wes Welker, Patriots – Caught 2 passes for 22 yards.
Santonio Holmes, Jets – Just 39 yards on 4 catches.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Bolster bench depth for your title run

Week 11 marks a welcome end to the much-reviled NFL bye schedule. Much like the sense of relief Rick Perry experiences every time he remembers lists of three or more items, fantasy owners can relax knowing they no longer must prepare for battle with one or more star players taking mid-season siestas.

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

Injuries to Michael Vick (ribs), Jay Cutler (broken thumb) and fantasy backup Matt Hasselbeck (elbow) underscore the importance of reinforcing your quarterback depth this week. Though the pickings are fairly slim, guys like Carson Palmer, Andy Dalton and Matt Moore are still widely available and can help out in a pinch against favorable matchups.

But your primary goal should be adding the understudy to your lead running back, if you haven’t already. As DeMarco Murray, Michael Bush and, most recently, Kevin Smith have proven, an unheralded backup can be an invaluable contributor when injury strikes.

And with Sunday’s knicks to Adrian Peterson (ankle), Fred Jackson (calf) and James Starks (knee), the threat of disaster should be top-of-mind for every contending owner.

Some of the most important backups in the game are flying well below the radar and are still available in the vast majority of leagues. As sure as the next Perry gaffe, it’s going to happen. One or more of these ball carriers will undoubtedly be thrust into the limelight during the upcoming fantasy playoffs thanks to an untimely, yet inevitable, injury to a star runner.

Consider adding Marion Barber, Ronnie Brown, Ricky Williams, C.J. Spiller, Deji Karim, Bernard Scott or Jason Snelling to hedge your bets on your key runners. Ryan Grant has been abandoned in many leagues, yet he could see the majority of carries against the Lions on Thanksgiving thanks to Starks’ balky knee.

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


To win a fantasy championship, it helps to start with a great draft. But filling in your roster throughout the season with the right free agents is also important. Here's a look at players worth considering, and others who would look better in someone else's lineup.

Catch ‘em while you can

Vince Young, QB, Eagles. Only if you were counting on Vick or Cutler should you consider adding Young, whose three interceptions should not be overlooked in the euphoria over his game-winning touchdown drive on Sunday night. Young gets a short-term recommendation solely due to the Eagles’ schedule, which has them facing New England’s awful secondary in Week 12.

Kevin Smith, RB, Lions. There’s little question that Smith will be the prized waiver-wire acquisition this week after his scintillating 201-total-yard, three-touchdown outing against the Panthers. Jahvid Best (concussion) does not appear anywhere close to returning, so Smith could conceivably remain the starter through the remainder of the fantasy season.

Toby Gerhart, RB, Vikings. The truth is, even after Peterson left Sunday’s game early, Gerhart was only a bit player in the Vikings’ offense. Percy Harvin got nearly as many carries, and he will likely be the greatest beneficiary if Peterson sits out a game or two. But Harvin’s not available, and Gerhart should at least be a goal-line option.

C.J. Spiller, RB, Bills. Spiller has yet to translate his seemingly sky-high potential into production during his first two seasons. But the dual-purpose tailback could have his best opportunity yet, with injuries to both Fred Jackson and wideout Donald Jones (ankle). Though the Bills’ offense is sputtering, Spiller’s role will inevitably increase.

Don’t be fooled

Jay Cutler, QB, Bears. With news that Cutler could miss the remainder of the regular season after surgery to repair his broken thumb, there’s no reason to let him take up valuable space on your bench. Ditto for his inexperienced backup, Caleb Hanie. Earl Bennett’s bubble just burst as well.

Jerome Simpson, WR, Bengals. Unless A.J. Green (knee) misses more time, Simpson is unlikely to be a worthy pickup in most formats. As surprisingly effective as Dalton has been throughout his rookie season, there aren’t enough balls to go around in Cincinnati to make two wideouts consistent contributors.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Sunday morning updates -- Week 11

Good morning, Fools. It's another beautiful day in Fantasyland. Let's get to the news you can use to dominate today.

Thankfully, this is the last week of byes. Make sure you've benched your Saints, Steelers, Texans and Colts.

Also already declared out for today: Michael Vick, Jeremy Maclin, Matt Cassel, Jahvid Best, Ahmad Bradshaw, Jeremy Shockey, A.J. Green and Dolphins K Dan Carpenter. Shayne Graham was signed to kick against the Bills.

Vince Young and Riley Cooper will start in place of Vick and Maclin tonight. I don't recommend either. Brandon Jacobs is a fine start in Bradshaw's place against the Eagles.

Andre Caldwell will take A.J. Green's place. Not liking his chances against the Ravens.

Real worried about how Tyler Palko affects Dwayne Bowe's production. I wouldn't even consider starting another Chiefs WR than Bowe today.

Looks like Frank Gore will be active, but there's no telling how much action he'll get. That makes both Kendall Hunter and him awfully risky, because one could get the lion's share of the carries -- we just don't know which one. If I was forced to choose now, I'd have to go with Gore, who has performed well after being listed as questionable entering a game.

Stevie Johnson will line up against the Dolphins, but I worry about Ryan Fitzpatrick and him today against a suddenly fired-up Miami defense. The Bills have been in a funk offensively for weeks.

BenJarvus Green-Ellis is questionable, but expected to play, on Monday night. That said, I would avoid him if at all possible given his string of bit parts in recent games.

For the IDP leagues out there, Ray Lewis is out.

That's it for now. Follow my tweets (@ladd_biro) for the rest of the inactives and any other late-breaking news. Good luck today, Fools!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Week 11 Starters & Benchwarmers

Wondering whether or not to start Aaron Rodgers and Matt Forte, or to bench Colt McCoy and Chaz Schilens? The network bozos specialize in that kind of advice. If you’re looking for help with your real starting lineup conundrums, read on.

Here are my picks to roll, and get rolled, in Week 11 of the 2011 season.

Watch ‘em roll

Carson Palmer, QB, Raiders at Vikings. Since he’s gotten his bearings in Oakland, Palmer has been remarkably productive, amassing 631 passing yards and five touchdowns in his two starts. Now he faces an awful, and injury-depleted, pass defense in Minnesota. Palmer is a great injury or bye-week substitute this week.

Reggie Bush, RB, Dolphins vs. Bills. Despite Daniel Thomas’ return, Bush has remained a fixture in the Dolphins’ backfield with his solid running and receiving. Buffalo has trouble defending both, so look for more strong returns from the multi-talented back.

Brandon Jacobs, RB, Giants vs. Eagles. Get the bruising workhorse back in your lineup for another game without Ahmad Bradshaw. The Giants will look to stick a fork in the Eagles on Sunday night, and Jacobs is sure to do a lot of the damage against Philly’s mediocre run defense.

Earl Bennett, WR, Bears vs. Chargers. Now that Bennett has fully recovered from his early-season chest injury, he has reclaimed his role as Jay Cutler’s go-to receiver. San Diego doesn’t yield a lot of receiving yardage, but they have coughed up 17 passing TDs to date. Bennett is a good bet to find the end zone for the second time in three weeks.

Mike Williams, WR, Buccaneers at Packers. Among the most disappointing players in Fantasyland this season, Williams continues to get an abundance of targets in the Bucs’ passing game. Those opportunities should finally pay off against a secondary that is yielding the second-most fantasy points to opposing receivers.

More thumbs up (excluding the no-brainers): QBs Jay Cutler, Matthew Stafford, John Skelton, Eli Manning; RBs DeMarco Murray, Shonn Greene, Michael Bush, James Starks, Jonathan Stewart, Maurice Morris, Marshawn Lynch; WRs Mario Manningham, Laurent Robinson, Jordy Nelson, Denarius Moore, Brandon Marshall, Victor Cruz, Plaxico Burress, Brandon Lloyd, Percy Harvin, Vincent Brown.

Roll ‘em back

Cam Newton, QB, Panthers at Lions. As poorly as the Lions played last week, they held Jay Cutler to just 123 passing yards without a touchdown. Newton is coming off a disaster of his own, and things won’t get any easier in Detroit. Rest the rookie if you possibly can.

Beanie Wells, RB, Cardinals at 49ers. Strangely, the Cardinals have found more success lately leaning on John Skelton’s arm than Wells’ legs. His balky knee surely has something to do with that; but in any event, the pendulum is unlikely to swing back this week when Wells & Company face the league’s top run defense.

LeGarrette Blount, RB, Buccaneers at Packers. He fell flat against Houston’s top-tier run defenders last week, and he’ll face another stingy unit Sunday that benefits when opponents are forced to abandon the run early. Since Blount rarely contributes as a receiver, he’s unlikely to play a significant role in this matchup.

Stevie Johnson, WR, Bills at Dolphins. Johnson injured his shoulder last weekend, but is expected to suit up for this divisional contest. Unfortunately, Ryan Fitzpatrick has been off his game lately, while Miami hasn’t allowed a scoring pass during their two-game win streak. Johnson is a risky bet on the road.

DeSean Jackson, WR, Eagles at Giants. His team is in disarray, he’s chirping about his contract and last week’s harsh discipline, and he will probably be trying to catch passes from Vince Young. None of the above will help Jackson rebound from his three-game (and nearly season-long) slump.

More thumbs down: QBs Michael Vick, Joe Flacco, Sam Bradford, Tim Tebow, Josh Freeman; RBs Mike Tolbert, Cedric Benson, Daniel Thomas, BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Chris Ogbannaya, Ryan Torain, Roy Helu; WRs Jeremy Maclin, Steve Breaston, Torrey Smith, Sidney Rice, Eric Decker, Greg Little.

Taking a flier

Kendall Hunter, RB, 49ers vs. Cardinals. Though it appears Frank Gore is on track to play Sunday despite his gimpy knee and ankle, Hunter will see plenty of action, and possibly the bulk of the workload. Meanwhile, Arizona has surrendered a league-worst 12 rushing touchdowns. Hunter is a solid flex play.

Don’t be the bonehead whorisks a goose egg while holding out hope for Michael Vick to play Sunday night with his broken ribs. He’ll undoubtedly be a game-time decision, but his late time slot means your backup options will be limited. You don’t want to be stuck with Vince Young, either.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Week 10 Heroes & Zeros

This was a great week to start…

Aaron Rodgers, Packers – Another stellar night, with 4 TDs, 250 passing yards and 21 rushing yards.
Tom Brady, Patriots – Returned to elite form with 329 yards, 3 TDs and no turnovers.
Tony Romo, Cowboys – Threw just 3 incompletions while amassing 270 yards and a TD hat trick, without a turnover.
John Skelton, Cardinals – Did his best to create a QB controversy, with 315 yards and 3 TDs, plus 2 INTs and 15 yards rushing.

Arian Foster, Texans – Torched the Bucs with 84 rushing and 102 receiving yards, and a TD both ways.
Michael Bush, Raiders – Ran for 157 yards and a TD and caught 3 passes for 85 more yards.
Chris Johnson, Titans – Finally got rolling with 130 rushing yards and a TD, plus 4 catches for 44 yards.
DeMarco Murray, Cowboys – Rumbled for 135 yards and a TD and added 6 receptions for 36 yards.
Rashard Mendenhall, Steelers – Had just 44 yards rushing and caught a 26-yard pass, but scored twice in the process.
Reggie Bush, Dolphins – He scored twice too, while running for 47 yards (plus 4 catches for 4 yards).
Marshawn Lynch, Seahawks – Amassed 109 rushing yards and a TD, plus 5 receptions for 58 yards against the mighty Ravens.

Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals – Returned to elite form with 7 catches for 146 yards and 2 TDs.
Denarius Moore, Raiders – Hauled in 5 passes for 123 yards and 2 TDs.
Laurent Robinson, Cowboys – Took advantage of his start with 3 catches for 73 yards and a pair of TDs.
Jordy Nelson, Packers – Grabbed 5 balls for 63 yards and 2 TDs.

Rob Gronkowski, Patriots – Out-matched the Jets with 8 receptions for 113 yards and 2 TDs.
Ed Dickson, Ravens – Reeled in 10 passes for 79 yards and 2 TDs.

Bears defense/special teams – Posted 2 sacks, 6 turnovers, a Devin Hester punt return TD and 2 pick-sixes.
Titans defense/special teams – Collected 5 sacks, 2 turnovers, held Carolina to 3 points and returned a punt for a TD.
Cowboys defense – Amassed 4 turnovers, 1 sack and an INT return for a TD while limiting Buffalo to 7 points.

This was a great week to play against…

Cam Newton, Panthers – Held to 212 passing yards and 55 rushing yards, without a score but with an interception.
Jay Cutler, Bears – Passes for 123 yards without a score or INT, and ran for 188 yards.
Ryan Fitzpatrick, Bills – Picked off 3 times while throwing for 146 yards and 1 TD, plus 20 rushing yards.
Michael Vick, Eagles – Passed for 128 yards, ran for 79, but had no scores and 2 INTs.
Matt Stafford, Lions – Looked awful while being intercepted 4 times (including 2 pick-sixes), while passing for 329 yards and a garbage-time TD.

Darren Sproles, Saints – Had 4 receptions for just 2 yards, and only ran for 1 stinking yard.
BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Patriots – Rushed 8 times for 8 yards.
Mark Ingram, Saints – Returned to the field, but only had 14 combined yards to show for it.
Frank Gore, 49ers – Had just an 8-yard catch before leaving with an injury.
DeAngelo Williams, Panthers – Continued his pathetic season with 35 rushing yards and no catches.
Delone Carter, Colts – Ran for 14 measly yards.
Willis McGahee, Broncos – Ran for only 17 yards before leaving with an injury.
LeGarrette Blount, Buccaneers – Rushed for 34 yards.
Roy Helu, Redskins – Lost the start to Ryan Torain, and finished with 53 combined yards.

DeSean Jackson, Eagles – Declared inactive for missing a team meeting.
Jason Hill, Jaguars – Posted a goose egg against the awful Colts secondary.
Jeremy Maclin, Eagles – Just 6 yards on 2 balls.
Kevin Walter, Texans – He also had 6 yards, but on 1 catch.
Stevie Johnson, Bills – Held to 8 yards on his 2 catches.
Julio Jones, Falcons – The brilliant rookie amassed 9 yards on 2 receptions.
James Jones, Packers – He posted 9 yards on 1 catch.
Hines Ward, Steelers – Got in the game, but only had a 10-yard reception.
Sidney Rice, Seahawks – Caught 2 passes for 14 yards.
Dwayne Bowe, Chiefs – Limited to 2 catches for 17 yards.
Michael Crabtree, 49ers – Had a 21-yard reception.
Vincent Jackson, Chargers – Only a 22-yard catch on the night.
Anquan Boldin, Ravens – Took 2 passes to get to 22 yards.
Lance Moore, Saints – Just a 28-yard catch for the day.
Torrey Smith, Ravens – Only 28 yards on 3 receptions.
Steve Smith, Panthers – Needed 5 catches to collect just 33 yards.
Colts receivers – Austin Collie led the way with 31 yards, Pierre Garcon chipped in 30, and Reggie Wayne brought up the rear with 13 yards.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Questions abound as the fantasy postseason looms

On a weekend when DeSean Jackson was benched for missing a team meeting and Matt Stafford threw more scoring passes to the Chicago defense than he did to his own receivers, I suppose we shouldn’t be shocked that the best quarterback on the field in Philly on Sunday was named John Skelton.

Or that Tim Tebow’s second, and last, pass completion of the game was a 56-yard strike to Eric Decker that not only saved the Broncos but transformed otherwise disastrous outings from both players into solid fantasy performances.

Michael Vick broke two ribs and Matt Schaub incurred a serious foot injury, and nobody knows until Monday?

This is no way to run a fantasy season.

So what are Darren McFadden’s owners supposed to think now that Michael Bush has posted three consecutive stellar games in his relief? There’s no way Bush just puts on a baseball cap and cheers from the sidelines when Run-DMC returns, right?

And as poorly has Matt Cassel has been playing recently, should Dwayne Bowe’s owners be panicked or relieved that Tyler Palko will likely be running the Chiefs’ offense for the next few weeks, if not the rest of the season?

Ah yes, these are the things that make us fantasy enthusiasts crazy, and intrigued, as we enter the stretch run toward the postseason.

On a related note, it only took 10 weeks, but it appears Chris Johnson is finally back. Hopefully you weren’t the bonehead that lost hope and traded him for Javon Ringer and a six pack of Yoo-hoo.

Now, which of my competitors can I sucker into taking Bowe off my hands?


To win a fantasy championship, it helps to start with a great draft. But filling in your roster throughout the season with the right free agents is also important. Here's a look at players worth considering, and others who would look better in someone else's lineup.

Catch ‘em while you can

Lance Ball, RB, Broncos. Two down, one to go. Ball is the last man standing in the Denver backfield now that both Willis McGahee (hamstring) and Knowshon Moreno (knee -- out for the season) were injured in Sunday’s contest. He responded with 96 yards on a whopping 30 carries; but, of course, Tim Tebow got the rushing TD. Ball will likely lead the charge on Thursday night, albeit against a strong Jets run defense.

Kendall Hunter, RB, 49ers. Once again, if you’re a Frank Gore owner and don’t have Hunter at the ready, you’re asking for trouble. Gore added a knee injury to his ankle ailments Sunday, and missed the majority of the game. Though the starter could be ready by Week 11, there are no guarantees. And the odds keep getting worse that Gore will survive the stretch run intact.

Denarius Moore, WR, Raiders. The rookie was a popular waiver-wire wonder earlier in the season, then was promptly discarded by most owners after he disappeared from Oakland’s offense. Now that Carson Palmer has re-discovered him – most recently with a 123-yard, two-touchdown outburst last Thursday night – and with Jacoby Ford (foot) out indefinitely, Moore deserves a second chance.

Don’t be fooled

John Skelton, QB, Cardinals. A quarterback controversy is brewing in the desert, now that Skelton has played well in back-to-back wins. Kevin Kolb (toe, foot) has not played up to his contract, so Skelton could remain under center even after the starter returns. Just don’t read too much into the first three-touchdown outing of Skelton’s career.

Kevin Walter, WR, Texans. If you haven’t given up on him yet, now’s the time. Houston heads into its bye with all signs pointing to Andre Johnson’s return in Week 12. Neither Walter nor Jacoby Jones will have any remaining fantasy value at that point.

Ed Dickson, TE, Ravens. Joe Flacco’s receivers tend to accumulate stats in brief spurts, so don’t expect Dickson to lead the team in receiving, or scoring, again any time soon. Only owners desperate for bye-week help in Week 11 should consider adding Dickson; and only then as a short-term fix.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Sunday morning updates -- Week 10

Happy Sunday, Fools. It's another beautiful day in Dallas (not sure how much longer I'm going to be able to say that, so I'm going to keep it up while I can). Hope it's great where you are, too.

No byes this week! That should mean you have plenty of viable options to consider at each position; so let's get to the news you can use to make the wisest decisions possible.

The biggest news of all: DeSean Jackson will be INACTIVE today because he missed a team meeting. Wow. Talk about sending a message! That's good news for Jeremy Maclin's owners, and it makes Jason Avant a solid option this week, too -- especially in PPR leagues. Vick's matchup with the Cardinals is great with or without D-Jax.

Joseph Addai will not be active today, which means its another crapshoot on Donald Brown vs. Delone Carter. Obviously, you're best off avoiding them both if you can.

Ahmad Bradshaw is already out; Brandon Jacobs will go against the NFL's top-ranked run defense. The 49ers haven't allowed a rushing TD all season. Jacobs is not a great option today.

Beanie Wells has gotten better this week and will play. He's a decent start against the Eagles.

Mark Ingram will return to action today, but it's anyone's guess how much action he will get. This obviously puts a crimp in Pierre Thomas' value, but shouldn't affect Darren Sproles at all. Chris Ivory should be on your bench.

Looks like Hakeem Nicks will be active today, so you have to start him. Mario Manningham (knee) will be a game-time call, but I'd bench him either way since Nicks is back. Victor Cruz belongs in your lineups, though.

Another week, another inactive Andre Johnson. And Felix Jones. And Jahvid Best. And Lee Evans.

Rex Grossman will start at QB for the Redskins over John Beck. Hopefully this doesn't impact you in any way, especially since Santana Moss is still out.

That's it for now. Time to tweet the inactives (@ladd_biro). Good luck today, Fools!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Week 10 Starters & Benchwarmers

Wondering whether or not to start Arian Foster and Calvin Johnson, or to bench John Skelton and Chad Ochocinco? The network bozos specialize in that kind of advice. If you’re looking for help with your real starting lineup conundrums, read on.

Here are my picks to roll, and get rolled, in Week 10 of the 2011 season.

Watch ‘em roll

Tim Tebow, QB, Broncos at Chiefs. I don’t know any leagues that award style points, so Tebow’s unconventional approach to racking up fantasy production is irrelevant. The Chiefs have a lousy pass rush and give up plenty of passing TDs. Add in Tebow’s rushing prowess, and you’ll love the results.

DeMarco Murray, RB, Cowboys vs. Bills. The rookie has solidified his role as Dallas’ featured back; and after this weekend, he’ll be cemented in as an every-week fantasy starter. Buffalo’s run defense can be gashed, as the Jets proved again last week.

Willis McGahee, RB, Broncos at Chiefs. Just two weeks removed from hand surgery, McGahee left no doubt last week that this is his backfield. It’s hardly even worth calling it a committee at this point. Look for more big runs and scores against Kansas City’s mediocre run defense.

Antonio Brown, WR, Steelers at Bengals. Brown is my new favorite fantasy wideout. More important, he appears to be Ben Roethlisberger’s new fave as well. Brown has been targeted a whopping 34 times over the last three games, nearly matching Mike Wallace’s production during that time span. Even against the Bengals’ solid pass defense, lock Brown into your lineup.

James Jones, WR, Packers vs. Vikings. Here’s the thing: When Aaron Rodgers is en fuego, and he’s facing the league’s 30th-ranked pass defense, you go all-in with his receivers; including Jones, his fourth option.

More thumbs up (excluding the no-brainers): QBs Tony Romo, Matt Ryan, Eli Manning, Matt Schaub, Ben Roethlisberger, Matt Stafford; RBs Jackie Battle, Steven Jackson, Chris Johnson, Ryan Mathews; WRs Dez Bryant, Laurent Robinson, Stevie Johnson, Victor Cruz, Eric Decker, Plaxico Burress, Julio Jones, Anquan Boldin, Percy Harvin, A.J. Green, Jeremy Maclin, Jordy Nelson.

Roll ‘em back

Jay Cutler, QB, Bears vs. Lions. Cutler posted 249 yards and a score in the first meeting at Detroit in Week 5. He has been up-and-down since then, but the Lions’ fearsome pass rush will make it difficult for Cutler to shine; especially if the Windy City lives up to its name on Sunday.

Brandon Jacobs, RB, Giants at 49ers. He is expected to lead the charge while Ahmad Bradshaw (foot) sits out again. But the league’s stingiest run defense won’t make life pleasant for Jacobs. The 49ers force opponents to score through the air, and Jacobs is unlikely to be the first to crack the end zone on the ground.

Cedric Benson, RB, Bengals vs. Steelers. Over the past two seasons, Benson has alternated good and bad games against his division rivals. With just two scores to show for 2011 thus far, it’s hard to feel good about his chances this week against Pittsburgh’s stout run defense.

Brandon Lloyd, WR, Rams at Browns. He has been targeted a dozen or more times in every game he’s played as a Ram, so PPR leaguers have some incentive to start him. But facing the NFL’s top-ranked pass defense, including soon-to-be All Pro corner Joe Haden, Lloyd won’t deliver impressive returns.

Pierre Garcon, WR, Colts vs. Jaguars. Thanks to stellar outings in Weeks 4 and 5, Garcon ranks among the Top 15 fantasy receivers. Yet he’s been largely absent most other weeks, thanks to the Colts’ unsteady quarterback play. Keep him benched against the Jags’ stout pass defense.

More thumbs down: QBs Ryan Fitzpatrick, Josh Freeman, Sam Bradford, Alex Smith, Andy Dalton, Carson Palmer; RBs Daniel Thomas, Maurice Morris, Marshawn Lynch, James Starks, Chris Ogbonnaya, Colts RBs; WRs Mike Williams (Bucs), Early Doucet, Deion Branch, Austin Collie, Earl Bennett, Braylon Edwards.

Taking a flier

Jason Hill, WR, Jaguars at Colts. With no teams on bye this week, you may not be desperate for help. But if you are, give Hill a look. He’s become Blaine Gabbert’s go-to target, and he has reached the end zone in three of his last four games. Oh yeah; the Colts have coughed up a league-worst 18 passing TDs.

Don’t be the bonehead who…fails to set their lineup for the Thursday night games. Starting tonight, and running through Week 16, you’ll need to adjust your schedule early to avoid giving your opponent an undeserved head start.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Week 9 Heroes & Zeros

This was a great week to start…

Aaron Rodgers, Packers – Passed for 247 yards and 4 TDs, and ran for 52 yards.
Philip Rivers, Chargers – Compiled 385 yards and 4 TDs, but spoiled it with 3 INTs.
Carson Palmer, Raiders – His 3 INTs hurt, too; but 332 yards passing with 3 TDs is pretty salty stuff.
Matt Ryan, Falcons – Passed for 275 yards and a trio of TDs, plus an INT.
Matt Moore, Dolphins – Threw for 244 yards and 3 TDs without a turnover.
Tim Tebow, Broncos – It wasn’t always pretty, but in the end he accounted for 124 passing yards and 2 TDs, and ran for another 118 yards.
Andy Dalton, Bengals – Passed for 227 yards and 3 TDs without a turnover.

Willis McGahee, Broncos – Pounded the Raiders for 163 yards and 2 scores.
Arian Foster, Texans – Rushed for 124 yards and 1 TD and caught 5 passes for 26 more yards.
Mike Tolbert, Chargers – Rushed for 83 yards and a TD and caught 4 passes for 59 yards.
Marshawn Lynch, Seahawks – Ran for 135 yards and a TD against a good run defense.
LeSean McCoy, Eagles – Scored again (of course) and racked up 71 rushing yards and 5 receptions for 46 more.
Roy Helu, Redskins – Just 41 yards rushing; but in PPR leagues, his 14 receptions for 105 yards was stellar.

Vincent Jackson, Chargers – Finally showed his elite stuff, with 7 catches for 141 yards and a TD hat trick.
Julio Jones, Falcons – Caught 3 passes for 131 yards and a pair of TDs, and chipped in 33 rushing yards as well.
Eddie Royal, Broncos – Caught 2 passes for 25 yards and 1 TD, and returned a punt 85 yards for another score.
Wes Welker, Patriots – Another PPR beauty, with 9 receptions for 136 yards, plus 13 rushing yards.

Rob Gronkowski, Patriots – Caught 8 passes for 101 yards and 1 TD.
Antonio Gates, Chargers – Pulled down 8 catches for 96 yards and a score.
Anthony Fasano, Dolphins – Reeled in 2 TDs and 38 yards on his only catches.

Packers defense – Gave up 38 points, but scored 12 of their own on 2 pick-sixes, and added 2 sacks and 3 total turnovers.

This was a great week to play against…

Matt Schaub, Texans – Managed just 119 passing yards and an INT, but ran in for a short score.
Matt Cassel, Chiefs – Limited to 253 passing yards, and 38 rushing, with no scores or turnovers.
Curtis Painter, Colts – Only 98 yards passing with 1 INT.
Sam Bradford, Rams – It was good to see him back, but 255 yards and an INT without a score won’t help fantasy-wise.
Michael Vick, Eagles – Held out of the end zone and had just 213 passing yards, 34 rushing yards and a pick.

Delone Carter, Colts – Fumbled early and gave way to Donald Brown after collecting just 8 rushing yards.
Javon Ringer, Titans – Combined for a paltry 25 yards.
Beanie Wells, Cardinals – Held to 20 rushing and 13 receiving yards against the lowly Rams.
Chris Ogbonnaya, Browns – Hopefully you didn’t have to settle for his 41 combined yards, plus a fumble.
Jackie Battle, Chiefs – Only 49 combined yards on the day.

Darrius Heyward-Bey, Raiders – Posted a goose egg.
Hines Ward, Steelers – So did he.
Jonathan Baldwin, Chiefs – Followed up his breakout game with a 12-yard reception.
Devin Hester, Bears – Also had a 12-yarder.
Johnny Knox, Bears – Limited to a single 14-yard catch.
DeSean Jackson, Eagles – Ran for 10 yards, caught 2 passes for 16 yards, dropped plenty more and fumbled.
Colts receivers – Austin Collie led with 32 yards, followed by Reggie Wayne with 30, Pierre Garcon with 22 and Dallas Clark with 21.
Kevin Walter, Texans – Just one 5-yard reception.
Braylon Edwards, 49ers – Returned to action to catch 2 balls for 30 yards.
Nate Washington, Titans – Caught 3 passes for 28 yards.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Rivers, Johnson not back in good graces yet

Ever since I mastered the art of flicking a paper football across a table until it dangled off the edge, then drilling it through a two-fingered goal post, I’ve loved fantasy football. Of course, we young lads didn’t call it fantasy back in the day; but I’m sure the grade-school time-killer has its place in the evolution of the game.

But my love of all things fantasy is being tested this year. Mostly by Philip Rivers, who I drafted as a “can’t miss” anchor of two teams, but has played more like a “miss-take” waiting to happen. Even on Sunday, amidst a long-overdue stellar performance, Rivers threw three costly interceptions, including two pick-sixes. Something is clearly rotten in San Diego.

Rivers’ disappointing season, which landed him on my bench weeks ago, is just one of several implosions that have rocked countless unsuspecting fantasy owners. Naturally, Chris Johnson’s inexplicable demise ranks at the top of the list. And no, 110 yards of combined production against the Bengals hasn’t changed a thing.

I suppose $21 million of guaranteed money (roughly half the value of the five-year deal he signed this offseason) goes a long way towards soothing DeAngelo Williams’ concerns over his reduced role in Carolina. But it doesn’t make us feel any better.

We should have known Peyton Hillis would be a one-hit wonder after he became the Madden cover boy. But when will we stop believing that Shonn Greene is workhorse material? Or that Jahvid Best, Beanie Wells and Felix Jones can possibly stay healthy?

We’ll give the Colts receivers a pass this time, since their downfall was not of their own making. So what’s Chad Ochocinco’s excuse?

Halfway through the 2011 season, these and other fantasy underachievers are vying for our dreaded Bust of the Year “honors.” They’d better step up soon, or risk earning a label they may never shake.


To win a fantasy championship, it helps to start with a great draft. But filling in your roster throughout the season with the right free agents is also important. Here's a look at players worth considering, and others who would look better in someone else's lineup.

Catch ‘em while you can

Roy Helu, RB, Redskins. Counting on any Redskin back from week to week is foolhardy indeed. But Mike Shanahan has signaled all along that Helu would eventually get his shot at the featured role. While the rookie’s 41 rushing yards were nothing special, those who play in point-per-reception leagues are salivating over his 14-catch, 105-receiving yard effort against the 49ers. While you can’t count on that again, Helu is clearly more roster-worthy than Ryan Torain.

Laurent Robinson, WR, Cowboys. Robinson has been surprisingly effective since Dallas plucked him off the scrap heap earlier this season, in spite of the heavy competition at his position. Now that Miles Austin has aggravated his hamstring again, Robinson could be starting one or more games during a very favorable stretch.

Jacoby Ford, WR, Raiders. I still wouldn’t entrust my fantasy team to the mistake-prone Carson Palmer, but I’ve been a fan of Ford’s since last season. His re-emergence as Oakland’s lead receiver, coinciding with Darrius Heyward-Bey’s goose egg, makes Ford a high-upside pickup in leagues where he has been dropped. His role as an electrifying return man gives him bonus potential as well.

Don’t be fooled

Andy Dalton, QB, Bengals. Give the rookie his due. Dalton has fired a touchdown pass in all but one game this season, including multi-score efforts in half of them. Sunday’s 217-yard, three-touchdown, zero-turnover performance was his best to date. I’d recommend him if not for his brutal second-half schedule, which includes two dates each with the Steelers and Ravens.

Chris Ogbonnaya, RB, Browns. Hopefully you didn’t invest in Hillis’ backup’s backup. When you dig this low on the depth chart of a mediocre rushing team, you get what you pay for. Even in a favorable matchup with the Rams next week, stay away. Stay far away.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Sunday morning updates -- Week 9

Happy Sunday morning, Fools. All is well in Fantasyland. Let's get to the last-minute updates before the inactives come down for your Week 9 games...

First, always remember and never forget, the following teams are on bye this week: Panthers, Lions, Jags and Vikings. I'm going to try to survive this week without Stafford and AD in two lineups.

We already know Ahmad Bradshaw and Hakeem Nicks will not be suiting up today for the G-men. That means it's the Brandon Jacobs show at RB (with an assist from Danny Ware). Mario Manningham and Victor Cruz both get a nice bump with Nicks sidelined.

You know Hillis and Hardesty are out, meaning Chris Ogbonnaya will start at RB for the Browns. Yuck. Thomas Clayton will likely share carries with Ogbannaya. Double yuck.

Run DMC (McFadden) is out. Michael Bush will be a nice proxy in Oakland today.

Felix Jones won't play, so DeMarco Murray gets another shot at seizing the permanent starting role.

Mark Ingram will miss another game. That means more opportunities for Pierre Thomas, but Chris Ivory will be in the mix again. Of course, Darren Sproles is the best fantasy back of them all.

Andre Johnson will sit out another week.

Pittsburgh's Emmanuel Sanders is out, which is good news for Antonio Brown. The bad news, though, is he's playing the Ravens.

LeGarrette Blount will be back, and he's expected to carry a full load since the Bucs are basically out of RBs.

Daniel Thomas is expected to play, but probably only sparingly, given how testy his hamstring has been. Look for more action from Reggie Bush and Lex Hilliard. Thomas is a very risky start.

Tarvaris Jackson will be a game-time decision. You don't want to start him, but his presence would help Sidney Rice and other Seahawks receivers, if you have to play them. It helps Marshawn Lynch to have a credible threat at QB, too.

Joseph Addai, Malcom Floyd and Kevin Kolb will also be game-time calls.

Fred Davis is expected to play, despite a bum ankle.

Looks like Janikowski will be back kicking for the Raiders today.

That's it for now. I'll be tweeting (@ladd_biro) an hour before kickoff, as always, with the game-day inactives and other late breaking news. Good luck today, Fools!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Week 9 Starters & Benchwarmers

Wondering whether or not to start Aaron Rodgers and LeSean McCoy, or to bench John Beck and Derrick Mason? The network bozos specialize in that kind of advice. If you’re looking for help with your real starting lineup conundrums, read on.

Here are my picks to roll, and get rolled, in Week 9 of the 2011 season.

Watch ‘em roll

Matt Ryan, QB, Falcons at Colts. Ryan has thrown exactly one scoring pass in each of his last five games, making him a popular whipping boy in fantasy circles. He should break out of his funk Sunday with the expected return of Julio Jones (hamstring) and the primo matchup with the Colts’ sieve-like secondary.

LeGarrette Blount, RB, Buccaneers at Saints. He’s returning from his knee injury just in time, as the Bucs are otherwise decimated at his position. Blount should have little trouble gashing the soft New Orleans run defense.

Michael Bush, RB, Raiders vs. Broncos. Darren McFadden (foot) is still on crutches, making it highly unlikely he’ll be ready for Sunday’s tilt. Bush, already a goal-line vulture and competent receiver, will start against Denver’s average-at-best run defense. Rookie Taiwan Jones will get a few looks, too; but this is Bush’s game to shine.

Brandon Lloyd, WR, Rams at Cardinals. Despite laboring with A.J. Feeley at quarterback, Lloyd has fared better as a Ram than he did earlier this season with the Broncos; presumably due to his familiarity with Josh McDaniel’s system. Regardless of which passer gets the call this week – and Sam Bradford’s high ankle sprain is improving – you have to like Lloyd’s chances to prosper against one of the NFL’s most generous pass defenses.

Mario Manningham, WR, Giants at Patriots. Whether or not Hakeem Nicks (hamstring) plays – and he doesn’t sound like a guy who’s planning to – Manningham belongs in your lineup. He finally reached the end zone last week against the Dolphins, and he should have little trouble racking up the yards, and probably his second touchdown, against New England’s embarrassing secondary.

More thumbs up (excluding the no-brainers): QBs Eli Manning, Matt Cassel, Tony Romo; RBs Mike Tolbert, Beanie Wells, Cedric Benson, Shonn Greene; WRs Victor Cruz, Marques Colston, Mike Williams (Bucs), Jeremy Maclin, Jordy Nelson, Anquan Boldin, Sidney Rice.

Roll ‘em back

Philip Rivers, QB, Chargers vs. Packers. The once-elite gunslinger has been downright awful most of this season, and he has proven he can’t be trusted even in favorable matchups. Green Bay’s defense has racked up the second-most interceptions in the league, which doesn’t bode well for the mistake-prone Rivers.

Chris Johnson, RB, Titans vs. Bengals. As dreadful as Johnson has been all season, he is still being started each week by roughly 90 percent of his owners, who hold out hope for his “inevitable” breakout game. But Cincinnati boasts the league’s second-stingiest run defense. If a breakout is indeed coming, it won’t be this weekend.

Ryan Torain, RB, Redskins vs 49ers. Talk about a guy who has squandered his opportunities. Torain’s 14-yard rushing effort last week was actually an improvement over the five yards he lost in Week 7. Even without serious competition for carries, Torain has been a disaster. I’m setting the over/under at 20 yards against the NFL’s top-ranked run defense.

Lance Moore, WR, Saints vs. Buccaneers. Aside from Marques Colston, no Saints wideout can be banked on in consecutive weeks. Drew Brees uses his secondary receivers interchangeably, and since Moore was his leading target in Week 8, he’s more likely to disappear on Sunday than celebrate another trip to the end zone.

Nate Washington, WR, Titans vs. Bengals. On the heels of his two-touchdown outing against the Colts, it would be tough to send Washington back to your bench. But Matt Hasselbeck has been fairly pedestrian lately, while the Bengals field one of the stingiest pass defenses in the league. This should be another down week for the Titans’ lead wideout.

More thumbs down: QBs Joe Flacco, Ben Roethlisberger, Tim Tebow, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Carson Palmer, Mark Sanchez, Matt Hasselbeck; RBs BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Joseph Addai, Peyton Hillis, Marshawn Lynch; WRs Plaxico Burress, Pierre Garcon, Davone Bess, Antonio Brown, Kevin Walter, Greg Little.

Taking a flier

Jonathan Baldwin, WR, Chiefs vs. Dolphins. Kansas City’s first-round draft pick finally got a chance to strut his stuff under the Monday night lights. The 6’4”, 228-pound wideout is an imposing presence, and Miami’s lousy secondary will have a difficult time keeping up with him. Baldwin has more upside as a WR3 or flex play than teammate Steve Breaston this week.

Don’t be the bonehead whobenches Larry Fitzgerald just because John Skelton starts at quarterback. Skelton may be as raw as they get, but he managed to connect with Fitz for 57 yards and a score in just three quarters of last season’s finale. This week, if Kevin Kolb (toe) is sidelined, Skelton will face the generous Rams secondary. Fitzgerald should remain in your lineup.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Week 8 -- Heroes and Zeros

This was a great week to start

Cam Newton, Panthers – Passed for 290 yards and 3 TDs and ran for 53 yards, and lost two fumbles.
Matt Stafford, Lions – Notched 3 TDs and 267 passing yards and ran for 21 yards without a turnover.
Michael Vick, Eagles – Torched the Cowboys with 279 passing yards and 2 TDs, plus 50 yards as a rusher, without a turnover.
Eli Manning, Giants – Threw for 349 yards and 2 TDs without a turnover.

LeSean McCoy, Eagles – Ran for 185 yards and 2 TDs, and caught 2 passes for 15 more.
Ray Rice, Ravens – Had a touchdown hat trick while rushing for 63 yards and catching 7 passes for 36 more.
Steven Jackson, Rams – Burned the Saints for 259 rushing yards and 2 TDs, and added 4 receptions for 32 yards.
Adrian Peterson, Vikings – Ran for 86 yards and a TD and caught 5 passes for 76 yards and another score.
Frank Gore, 49ers – Rumbled for 134 yards and 1 TD.
Fred Jackson, Bills – Didn’t score, but amassed 194 combined yards.

Nate Washington, Titans – Scored on a 3-yard run and caught 4 passes for 34 yards and a second TD.
Calvin Johnson, Lions – Caught 6 passes for 125 yards and a TD.
Laurent Robinson, Cowboys – His 5 receptions were good for 103 yards and a score.
Steve Smith, Panthers – Reeled in 7 passes for 100 yards and 1 TD.

Scott Chandler, Bills – Scored twice and collected 35 yards on his only 2 catches.

Lions D/ST – Scored on a fumble return and an INT return, amassed 7 sacks and 3 turnovers and held Denver to 10 points.
Bengals D/ST – Amassed 4 sacks and 2 turnovers and scored on a punt return and INT return.
Bills defense – Compiled 9 sacks and 2 interceptions while pitching a shutout against the Skins.

This was a great week to play against

Philip Rivers, Chargers – Stunk it up again, passing for 369 yards and 2 INTs, plus a fumble, with no TDs to show for it.

Montario Hardesty, Browns – Ran for 6 yards before leaving with an injury.
BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Patriots – Ran for a measly 9 yards.
Ryan Torain, Redskins – Got the start and tallied 20 total yards. I give up.
Delone Carter, Colts – Ran for just 46 yards and let Donald Brown poach another TD.
Chris Johnson, Titans – Upstaged by backup Javon Ringer again, with just 51 combined yards.

Wes Welker, Patriots – Compiled 39 yards on 6 catches.
Miles Austin, Cowboys – Caught 3 balls for 27 yards.
Dez Bryant, Cowboys – His 3 catches went for 28 yards.
DeSean Jackson, Eagles – Went for 31 yards on 3 passes.
Vincent Jackson, Chargers – Underperformed again with just 49 yards on 3 catches.

Vernon Davis, 49ers – Just 27 yards on 3 catches.
Jason Witten, Cowboys – Had 4 catches for 28 yards.