Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Week 4 Heroes & Zeros

This was a great week to start…

Eli Manning, Giants – Torched the Skins on Thursday night with 300 yards and 4 passing TDs (with 1 INT) plus a 1-yard TD run.
Andrew Luck, Colts – Passed for 393 yards and 4 TDs with an INT.
Aaron Rodgers, Packers – Masterfully passed for 302 yards and 4 TDs without a turnover.
Joe Flacco, Ravens – Tossed 3 TDs with 327 passing yards without a turnover.
Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers – Passed for 314 yards and 3 TDs, with a fumble.
Philip Rivers, Chargers – Collected 377 passing yards and 3 TDs without a turnover.
Tony Romo, Cowboys – Shined in primetime with 262 yards and 3 TDs, plus 20 rushing yards.
Alex Smith, Chiefs -- Played mistake-free football while passing for 248 yards and 3 TDs.

Jamaal Charles, Chiefs – Returned with a vengeance, scoring 3 times while combining for 108 total yards.
DeMarco Murray, Saints – Shredded the Saints with 149 rushing yards and 2 TDs. 
Matt Asiata, Vikings – Scored 3 times while running for 78 yards and adding 22 receiving yards on 3 catches.
Lamar Miller, Dolphins – Finally…he had a big game, with 64 yards and 2 TDs.
Frank Gore, 49ers – Rushed for 119 yards and caught a 55-yard TD pass.

Steve Smith, Ravens – No surprise, the old man dominated with 7 catches for 129 yards and 2 TDs against his old teammates.
Antonio Brown, Steelers – Reeled in 7 passes for 131 yards and 2 TDs.
Eddie Royal, Chargers – Pulled down 5 passes for 105 yards and 2 TDs.
Terrance Williams, Cowboys – Grabbed 6 passes for 77 yards and 2 TDs.

Larry Donnell, Giants – Had his breakout game with 7 receptions for 54 yards and a TD trifecta.
Heath Miller, Steelers – Had a huge PPR day with 10 receptions for 85 yards and a score.
Travis Kelce, Chiefs – Led his team with 8 receptions for 93 yards and a TD.

Eagles – Scored all of the team’s points on an INT return, a blocked punt TD and a punt return TD, plus 4 sacks.
Chiefs -- Stifled Tom Brady and the Pats while allowing just 14 points and registering 3 sacks, 3 turnovers and an INT return for a score.

This was a great week to play against…

Kirk Cousins, Redskins – Just horrible, with 257 passing yards, 1 TD, 4 INTs and a lost fumble.
Nick Foles, Eagles – Tossed a stinker with just 195 yards and no TDs, with 2 INTs.
Tom Brady, Patriots – Once again, not so Terrific with just 159 yards and 1 TD offset by 2 INTs and a fumble.

LeSean McCoy, Eagles – Stunk it up again with just 17 rushing yards and no receptions.
DeAngelo Williams, Panthers – Only 34 rushing yards without a catch.
Shonn Greene, Titans – Ran for 10 yards.
Maurice Jones-Drew, Raiders – Combined for 3 total yards.
Pierre Thomas, Saints – Just 8 rushing and 15 receiving yards.
Stevan Ridley, Patriots – Only 28 yards on the ground.

Calvin Johnson, Lions – Only 2 receptions for 12 yards.
Pierre Garcon, Redskins – Only 28 yards on 2 receptions.
DeSean Jackson, Redskins – Had a 9-yard catch on the day.
Jeremy Kerley, Jets – Caught a 3-yarder.
Cecil Shorts, Jaguars – Just 25 yards on 2 receptions.
Cordarrelle Patterson, Vikings – Only 38 yards on 2 receptions.
Julian Edelman, Patriots – Limited to 23 yards on 4 catches.

Vernon Davis, 49ers – Just 8 yards on 2 balls before leaving with a back injury.

Antonio Gates, Chargers – Just 30 yards on 3 catches despite the favorable matchup.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Bye weeks make strange bedfellows

Heading into last Thursday’s game, it was hard not to feel good about my tight end matchup when I saw Larry Donnell in my opponent’s lineup. After all, I had the option of Vernon Davis or Antonio Gates, while he was forced to sit Julius Thomas due to the bye week.

By Friday, I was popping antacids, and my opponent was dishing out a heaping helping of smack talk.

Enter Matt Asiata.

When he plunged across the goal line for the third time Sunday, the tide had turned and my decision to draft Marshawn Lynch and Giovani Bernard back-to-back didn’t cost me a Week 4 victory as expected.

Indeed, unlikely heroes tend to emerge in the bye weeks. Not that the Donnells and Asiatas of the world don’t explode at other times; but those episodes are often wasted on your bench. When six teams are idle, the fantasy backups get their turn in the spotlight. Some come through at just the right time.

Ben Roethlisberger, Eli Manning, Lamar Miller, Terrance Williams and Heath Miller likewise had nice star turns in Week 4 when their bye-challenged owners needed them most.

Now if we could just figure out what’s up with LeSean McCoy.


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

Mike Vick, QB, Jets. Not surprisingly, the Bronx cheers have already begun from Jets fans, and it seems inevitable that Vick will soon get his chance under center. Geno Smith received his coaches’ dreaded vote of confidence; but the truth is, he’s just not getting the job done. Vick would be a significant upgrade.
Jerick McKinnon, RB, Vikings. Asiata is a grinder and TD beast, but his rookie backup has some serious hops. McKinnon, the Vikings’ third-round draft pick, was both elusive and explosive in Sunday’s victory and has likely earned more playing time. He’s worth stashing away in case this becomes a full-fledged Smash & Dash backfield.

Marvin Jones, WR, Bengals. He was a popular sleeper pick before breaking his foot in training camp. Coming off a season in which he snared 10 touchdown receptions, Jones has proven he can flourish opposite A.J. Green. He could be back on the field as soon as this weekend.

Larry Donnell, TE, Giants. Talk about a breakout game! Donnell’s TD trifecta on Thursday night served notice that he is a legitimate weapon and red-zone favorite of Eli Manning.

Jordan Reed, TE, Redskins. Here’s another guy with huge upside nearing his return to action. Reed (hamstring) could be back in the lineup as soon as Week 5, and he’s available in nearly half of all leagues.

Don’t be fooled

Lamar Miller, RB, Dolphins. If I made the mistake of drafting Miller, I’d be looking to deal him now, after the first multi-touchdown game of his career. Oakland’s pathetic defense made Miller look like a star, but he’s not. And Knowshon Moreno should be back soon from his elbow injury.

Darrin Reaves, RB, Panthers. Now that DeAngelo Williams is likely to miss at least a week with an ankle injury, the undrafted rookie is the next man up in Carolina’s backfield. Sorry, but the Panthers’ running game isn’t attractive enough to go four deep. I’ll pass on Reaves, and suggest you do, too.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Sunday morning updates - Week 4

Good morning, Fools. It's a beautiful day in Dallas; and no matter where you are, it's a beautiful day for fantasy football! Let's get right to it...

In general, as of this morning, it looks like most of the players we have been concerned about will be playing today.

NFL insider Ian Rapoport said he's heard Arian Foster will be a full go today against the Bills. Go ahead and stow away Alfred Blue for another day. You'll need him if you're a Foster owner.

Looks like it's all-systems-go for Jamaal Charles on Monday night. Again, though, setbacks (and surprises) happen. If you're like me, you have Knile Davis in the wings just in case. But if you don't, there's risk involved in waiting on Charles. Also, while he's expected to play, he probably won't get a full complement of carries. So don't expect the 2013 version Charles this week. Hopefully that guy will return soon, though.

Doug Martin will be back as the starter in Tampa Bay, while Mike Glennon handles the QB duties. Vincent Jackson (wrist) should also be in the lineup as usual.

Both Megatron and Brandon Marshall are expected to play.

Dez Bryant will suit up as usual.

Roddy White will be active, but at his ripe old age, I'm a little concerned about him. I will be benching him today in favor of two guys with similar pedigrees -- Reggie Wayne and Marques Colston.

Eric Decker is expected to be active, but used sparingly. 

Rapoport says Vernon Davis will play today as well, but other reports urge caution. No doubt the Niners need him against the Eagles, but Davis' ankle injury normally would keep a player out for 2-3 weeks. He's only missed one game, so don't be shocked if he winds up inactive at the eleventh hour.

Ladarius Green could miss the tasty matchup with the Jags, further boosting Antonio Gates' prospects this week.

Jake Locker is a no-go, which leaves the Titans' offense in the care of Charlie Whitehurst. Woe unto you who playeth with Tennessee receivers...

That's it for now, boys and girls. I'll be tweeting inactives and other breaking news shortly. Good luck today, and I'll see you on the other side!

Friday, September 26, 2014

Week 4 Starters & Benchwarmers

Wondering whether or not to start LeVeon Bell and Julio Jones, or to bench Geno Smith and Donnie Avery? 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 4 of the 2014 season.

Watch ‘em roll

Tony Romo, QB, Cowboys vs. Saints. He’s not the swashbuckling Romo of old, but his back is holding up (so far) and he’ll be facing one of the NFL’s most generous pass defenses on Sunday night. Dallas’ new-found commitment to the run will be tested in this one, as Romo is likely to be chasing Drew Brees & Co. in this tasty primetime tilt.

Donald Brown, RB, Chargers vs. Jaguars. With San Diego’s depleted backfield virtually to himself, Brown couldn’t ask for a better foil than the visiting Jags. Though Philip Rivers should be able to pass at will, he’ll slow it down enough for Brown to have perhaps his best game in more than a year.

C.J. Spiller, RB, Bills at Texans. Spiller is getting more carries than backfield mate Fred Jackson, though not as many passes are headed his way. Against Houston’s soft rush defense, look for Spiller to take his turn in the spotlight (and the end zone).

Brandin Cooks, WR, Saints at Cowboys. Consider Cooks a proxy for the entire Saints offense, which is poised to exploit Dallas’ mediocre defenders. The Saints will move the ball at will against this overmatched unit – they racked up 625 total yards against them last season! – and every starting receiver is a threat to take it to the house.

Markus Wheaton, WR, Steelers vs. Buccaneers. After a 97-yard debut in Week 1, Wheaton has been fairly quiet the last two games. That will change Sunday as Pittsburgh hosts a secondary that was just shellacked by the Falcons. The second-year wideout could have a breakout game, including his first trip to the end zone as a pro.

More thumbs up (excluding the no-brainers): QBs Philip Rivers, Ben Roethlisberger, Matt Stafford, Nick Foles, Colin Kaepernick; RBs Eddie Lacy, Pierre Thomas, Ahmad Bradshaw, Fred Jackson; WRs Marques Colston, Keenan Allen, Michael Crabtree, Sammy Watkins, Jordan Matthews, Cecil Shorts, Julian Edelman, Kelvin Benjamin, Mike Wallace, Reggie Wayne, DeAndre Hopkins, James Jones.

Roll ‘em back

Tom Brady, Patriots at Chiefs. Tom Terrific hasn’t lived up to his nickname thus far, tossing just one TD per game while failing to pass for more than 250 yards. The Chiefs pose arguably his toughest challenge to date on the road, so don’t expect a breakout performance on Monday night.

Doug Martin, RB, Buccaneers at Steelers. It speaks volumes that even when his backup fumbles twice the week before, Martin is still expected to split carries with Bobby Rainey upon his projected return this week. Pittsburgh’s run defense isn’t anything special, but neither is Martin.

Reggie Bush, RB, Lions at Jets. You saw how the Jets shut down Matt Forte, right? Bush is coming off his best performance of the season, but he’s unlikely to find as much room to roam against the league’s stingiest run defense. Having to share with Joique Bell only makes his job tougher.

Roddy White, WR, Falcons at Vikings. After sitting out Week 3 with a hamstring injury, White is on track to suit up Sunday. But he’s no spring chicken and Minnesota’s above-average secondary could keep a less-than-100-percent White in check.

Kendall Wright, WR, Titans at Colts. It’s bad enough when he has to rely on Jake Locker, who has fallen apart since an encouraging opening day performance. With Locker expected to miss Sunday’s game with a strained wrist, Wright may be stuck with Charlie Whitehurst at the controls. Despite the favorable matchup, he’s not worth the risk.

More thumbs down: QBs Jay Cutler, Cam Newton, Alex Smith, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Joe Flacco; RBs Bernard Pierce, Darren McFadden, Maurice Jones-Drew, Toby Gerhart, Knile Davis, Bishop Sankey, Chris Ivory, Chris Johnson, Shane Vereen, Alfred Blue, Darren Sproles, Joique Bell; WRs Eric Decker, Dwayne Bowe, Allen Hurns, Mike Evans, Kenbrell Thompkins, Danny Amendola, Torrey Smith, Brian Hartline.


Lamar Miller, RB, Dolphins at Raiders. I’ve been saying it for more than two years: Miller’s next big game will be his first. So this is going out on a thin limb for me, but given Miami’s struggles at quarterback and against Oakland’s pathetic run defense, I am predicting Miller’s first outing with both a TD and 100-plus yards. It’s fitting that it will happen on foreign soil.

DON’T BE THE BONEHEAD WHO…benches Drew Brees just because “he doesn’t play well on the road.” Dallas’ sorry secondary will be very hospitable and besides, Brees is a Texas boy (he was named for Cowboys great Drew Pearson). AT&T Stadium is his home away from home.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Week 3 Heroes & Zeros

This was a great week to start…

Andrew Luck, Colts – Mastered the Jags with 370 yards and 4 TDs, plus 15 rushig yards.
Matt Ryan, Falcons – Passed for 286 yards and 3 TDs without a fumble before taking an early shower.
Kirk Cousins, Redskins – Passed for 427 yards and 3 TDs, with an INT.
Nick Foles, Eagles – Accumulated 325 yards and 3 TDs without a turnover.

Marshawn Lynch, Seahawks – Ran for 88 and a TD and caught 3 passes for 40 yards and a second TD.
Giovani Bernard, Bengals – Rushed for 47 yards and 2 TDs.
Rashad Jennings, Giants – Rumbled for 176 yards and a score.

Julio Jones, Falcons – Torched the Bucs with 9 catches for 161 yards and 2 TDs.
Pierre Garcon, Redskins – Caught 11 passes for 138 yards and a TD.
Antonio Brown, Steelers – Brought down 10 passes for 90 yards and 2 TDs.
Jeremy Maclin, Eagles – Made 8 receptions for 154 yards and a TD.
Jordan Matthews, Eagles – Snared in 8 passes for 59 yards and 2 TDs.

Martellus Bennett, Bears – Reeled in five passes for 54 yards and 2 TDs.

Falcons – Amassed 5 turnovers, 3 sacks, an INT TD return, a Devin Hester punt return TD and held the Bucs to 14 points (only 7 offensive).

This was a great week to play against…

Jake Locker, Titans – Passed for 185 yards and 2 INTs, plus 50 rushing yards.
Matt Stafford, Lions – Despite the big win, only amassed 246 yards without a score, but lost 3 turnovers.

Danny Woodhead, Chargers – Only 1 yard before exiting for the season.
Frank Gore, 49ers – Held to 10 rushing yards by the Cards.
LeSean McCoy, Eagles – Left briefly with a concussion scare, but still only ran for 22 yards.
Chris Johnson, Jets – Only 34 rushing yards on Monday night.
Eddie Lacy, Packers – Ran for 36 and caught a 9 yard pass, but a lost fumble almost zeroed it all out.
Montee Ball, Broncos – Ran for 38 yards and lost a fumble.
Shane Vereen, Patriots – Totaled just 37 yards against the Raiders.

Brandon Marshall, Bears – Held to a 6-yard reception on Monday night.
Keenan Allen, Chargers – Just 2 receptions for 17 yards.
Sammy Watkins, Bills – His 2 catches went for 19 yards.
Eric Decker, Jets – Only a 19-yard reception before leaving injured.
Andre Johnson, Texans – Took a back seat with only 24 yards on 4 receptions.
Randall Cobb, Packers – Limited to 29 yards on 3 passes.
Demaryius Thomas, Broncos – Only 31 yards on 4 receptions.
Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals – Just 34 yards on 3 receptions.
James Jones, Raiders – Held to 43 yards on 3 catches and lost a fumble to boot.
Kendall Wright, Titans – Only 44 yards on 5 receptions.

Antonio Gates, Chargers – Just an 8-yarder. WTF?
Dennis Pitta, Ravens – Grabbed 3 passes for a dozen yards.
Zach Ertz, Eagles – His 2 passes went for 14 yards.
Jordan Cameron, Browns – Only managed a 23-yarder on the day.

Rookies step into the spotlight, for better or worse

If the theme of Week 2 was the wicked sting of the injury bug, this weekend may go down as the dawn of the Class of 2014.

Injury and ineptitude led to a changing of the guard at quarterback in Minnesota and Jacksonville, respectively. Much like Derek Carr in Oakland, both Teddy Bridgewater and Blake Bortles are stepping into less-than-desirable offensive situations and cannot be expected to prosper in the short term. Meanwhile, in Cleveland, a certain uber-hyped freshman QB is still awaiting his turn, perhaps because his achingly short “highlight” reel features as many yellow flags as red ones.

Alfred Blue, Bishop Sankey and Lorenzo Taliaferro joined Carlos Hyde, Jeremy Hill and Terrance West as rookie runners to be reckoned with. If not right away, then soon enough.

Jordan Matthews put Rookie of the Year voters on notice with his star turn in Philly. He joins Sammy Watkins, Brandin Cooks, Kelvin Benjamin and Mike Evans as first-year wideouts with promising futures. And their definition of “future” is a whole lot shorter than we might have expected. John Brown, who also turned heads Sunday, faces a more daunting path to fantasy relevance given the established veterans above him in the Cardinals’ WR pecking order.

Even Travis Kelce stepped up to represent for the tight ends, snaring his first scoring reception in the Chiefs’ victory on Sunday.

One rookie making headlines for all the wrong reasons is Nate Freese, who missed four out of his seven field goal attempts. He was released Monday by Detroit, which signed former Eagle Alex Henery.


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, especially as you navigate the challenging bye-week schedule. Here's a look at players worth considering, and others who would look better in someone else's lineup.

Catch ‘em while you can

Donald Brown, RB, Chargers.  Now that Danny Woodhead has been lost for the season, and with Ryan Mathews (knee) sidelined, Brown is the last healthy and proven running back standing in San Diego.  Those with big holes to fill in their Week 4 schedule – thanks to the upcoming byes, injuries and/or suspensions – could land a bona fide workhorse off this week’s waiver wire.

Lorenzo Taliaferro, Ravens. So much for Bernard Pierce (thigh) solidifying his starting job. Now that Taliaferro has had his moment in the sun, the talented rookie has surely earned his fair share of Baltimore’s now-three-headed backfield. Many Ravens observers believe Taliaferro is the pick of the litter, making him worth a roster spot in the event that he emerges in a leading role.

Alfred Blue, RB, Texans. Those who drafted Arian Foster (hamstring) knew they were assuming a significant injury risk, and the inevitable came to pass in Week 3. Blue, a sixth-round rookie out of LSU, did a serviceable job as Foster’s proxy, and should be scooped up at a minimum by those banking on Foster.

Jordan Matthews, WR, Eagles. Rookie wideouts are notoriously inconsistent fantasy contributors, but Matthews has the potential to defy the odds. After his breakout game against Washington, he certainly seems more deserving of a roster spot than Riley Cooper. It’s a good thing when Nick Foles takes a shine to you.

Don’t be fooled

Blake Bortles, QB, Jaguars. It was only a matter of time before the No. 3 overall draft pick was handed Jacksonville’s starting job, but that doesn’t make Bortles roster-worthy. After all, he steps into one of the worst offenses in the land, with arguably the weakest offensive line to protect him. Look away. 

Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Vikings. Again, move along. Nothing to see here. The Bridgewater Era has arrived in Minnesota, a bit earlier than anticipated due to Matt Cassel’s broken foot. Let him work through his growing pains as a free agent – or better yet, on an opponent’s roster. With below-average talent around him, especially with Adrian Peterson out of the picture, the rookie’s ceiling is low.

Eddie Royal, WR, Chargers. Let me think, where have we seen this before? Oh yeah, last season, when Royal caught five TD passes in the first two games. Then we scarcely heard from him again outside of a brief, mid-season cameo. You can learn from Royal’s well-documented history or doom yourself to repeating it.