Friday, October 31, 2014

Week 9 Starters & Benchwarmers

Wondering whether or not to start Tom Brady and Jamaal Charles, or to bench Derek Carr and Toby Gerhart? 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 2014 season.

Watch ‘em roll

Nick Foles, QB, Eagles at Texans. Foles has been finding his groove over the past three weeks, though he is still tossing as many interceptions as TDs. Houston’s defense excels against the run, while its secondary poses few problems to opposing passers. Foles should find great success Sunday, likely posting his second three-TD outing of the season.

Ronnie Hillman, RB, Broncos at Patriots. Everyone is expecting an aerial showcase in this game, and we’ll certainly get that. But Hillman has proven to be a worthy change-of-pace in the Broncos’ high-powered offense. If you can stomach the prospect of more goal-line vulturing from Juwan Thompson, Hillman is your guy against the weak Patriots run defense.

Denard Robinson, RB, Jaguars at Bengals. Counting on a Jaguar player is always a dicey proposition, but Robinson has found a way to make chicken salad out of chicken scratch. He has posted 100-plus yards in consecutive weeks and will face a Bengals run defense that has surrendered 278 yards and 3 TDs on the ground over the last two games.

Andrew Hawkins, WR, Browns vs. Buccaneers. Last week against the lowly Raiders, Brian Hoyer got back on track and Hawkins scored his first TD of the season. With Cameron Jordan (concussion) almost certainly out, the duo will now face an arguably worse pass defense that seems to have already thrown in the towel.

Terrance Williams, WR, Cowboys vs. Cardinals. Regardless which QB is at the controls this week, Dallas should have no trouble moving the ball through the air against Arizona’s soft secondary. The Cardinals’ pass rush is nothing like the Redskins’, so Tony Romo or Brandon Weeden will have plenty of time to locate their talented receivers.

More thumbs up (excluding the no-brainers): QBs Colin Kaepernick, Russell Wilson, Carson Palmer, Alex Smith, Eli Manning, Ryan Tannehill; RBs Andre Ellington, Ahmad Bradshaw, Lamar Miller, Ben Tate, Branden Oliver, Alfred Morris; WRs T.Y. Hilton, Jeremy Maclin, Michael Crabtree, Anquan Boldin, Larry Fitzgerald, Andre Johnson, Mike Wallace, Brandon LaFell, Emmanuel Sanders, Steve Smith, Vincent Jackson, Doug Baldwin, Odell Beckham, Jr.

Roll ‘em back

Joe Flacco, QB, Ravens at Steelers. Remember way back in Week 6 when Flacco was the toast of Fantasyland? Yeah, well, he’s regressed since then (as is his custom), tossing twice as many picks (four) as TD passes (two). Seemingly out of rhythm with his receivers, Flacco can’t be trusted on the road in this traditionally low-scoring matchup.

Tre Mason, RB, Rams at 49ers. The Rams’ backfield is a hot mess and they just lost their best offensive lineman. The quest to identify a weekly “hot hand” has led to a democratic distribution of touches among three backs. Though Mason looked like he seized the lead role two weeks ago, he isn’t getting enough opportunities to excel. The 49ers run defense didn’t give up much against this trio two weeks ago either.

Chris Ivory, RB, Jets at Chiefs. The inevitable transition at QB has finally taken place, but Michael Vick is not the feared passer he once was. Expect the Chiefs to sell out to stop the run, both by Vick and his backfield mates. Ivory has been effective in recent weeks, but I don’t like his chances in the unfriendly confines of Arrowhead.

Keenan Allen, WR, Chargers at Dolphins. Philip Rivers is too hot to bench, even in a bad matchup; but Allen is a different story. Though he finally found the end zone in Week 8, Allen is no longer Rivers’ go-to target. Miami boasts one of the league’s stingiest pass defenses and San Diego must travel cross-country to face them.

Wes Welker, WR, Broncos at Patriots. Aside from the home crowd, and people who hate Old Spice, who wouldn’t love to see Welker come up big against his former team? It’s a delicious story line, and Peyton Manning will surely give him his chances. But Welker has become a bit player in this offense, and Manning has too many hungry mouths to feed. Play with your head, not your heart.

More thumbs down: QBs Michael Vick, Robert Griffin III, Austin Davis; RBs Jerick McKinnon, Jonas Gray, Darren Sproles, Andre Williams, Darren McFadden, Maurice Jones-Drew; WRs Julian Edelman, Percy Harvin, Eric Decker, Andre Holmes, Cordarrelle Patterson, Cecil Shorts, Torrey Smith.


Bobby Rainey, RB, Buccaneers at Browns. Just when it looked like the Bucs were finally ready to move past the overrated and oft-injured Doug Martin (ankle) and hand the ball to the patient yet fumble-prone Rainey, Charles Sims is on the verge of returning from his preseason ankle surgery. The rookie is an excellent receiver and he should get plenty of chances to vie for a starting job once he is activated. Assuming Martin sits out, Rainey now appears most likely to carry the load against the Browns’ soft run defense. But keep an eye out for Sims. If he’s not ready Sunday, Week 10 could be his moment in the spotlight.

DON’T BE THE BONEHEAD WHO…fails to plan ahead for yet another six-team bye in Week 10. Several fantasy studs will be idle next weekend, so scouring the waiver wire early could yield some unexpected treats. With owners scrambling to fill out their rosters this week, you might be surprised by some of the talented players that were reluctantly released in hopes that they escape your attention.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Week 8 Heroes & Zeros

This was a great week to start…

Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers – Had a monster game with 522 yards and 6 TDs without a blemish.
Peyton Manning, Broncos – Just another ho-hum 286-yard, 3 TD outing.
Tom Brady, Patriots – Soared again with 354 yards and 5 TDs, without a turnover.
Kyle Orton, Bills – Passed for 238 yards and 4 TDs on just 10 completions, with no turnovers.
Andrew Luck, Colts – Tossed 2 INTs, but made up for it with 400 passing yards, 3 TDs and 26 rushing yards.
Drew Brees, Saints – Passed for 311 yards, 3 TDs and zero INTs in a huge Sunday night win.

Arian Foster, Texans – Raced for 151 yards and 2 TDs and caught 4 passes for 22 yards and a third score.
Matt Forte, Bears – Ran for 114 yards and caught 6 passes for 54 yards and a score.
Jamaal Charles, Chiefs – Rumbled for 73 yards and 2 TDs, and added 4 catches for 44 yards.
Mark Ingram, Saints – Generated 172 rushing yards and a TD in his breakout game.
DeMarco Murray, Cowboys – Rushed for 141 yards and took 4 passes another 80 yards.

Emmanuel Sanders, Broncos – Had his star turn on Thursday, with 9 receptions for 120 yards and a TD trifecta.
Jeremy Maclin, Eagles – Pulled down a dozen passes for 187 yards and 2 TDs.
Antonio Brown, Steelers – Caught 10 passes for 133 yards and 2 TDs.
Sammy Watkins, Bills – Notched 3 passes for 157 yards and a TD.
Golden Tate, Lions – Hauled in 7 passes for 151 yards and a TD in London.
Brandon LaFell, Patriots – Was money in PPR leagues, with 11 receptions for 124 yards and a TD.
T.Y. Hilton, Colts – Brought down 6 passes for 155 yards and a TD.
Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals – The old guy raced for 160 yards and a TD on 7 receptions.
Martavis Bryant, Steelers – Caught 5 passes for 83 yards and 2 TDs.

Rob Gronkowski, Patriots – Reeled in 9 passes for 149 yards and 3 TDs.
Antonio Gates, Chargers – Brought down 5 passes for 54 yards and 2 TDs.

Dolphins – Scored on two pick sixes along with 4 sacks and 3 turnovers.
Chiefs – Accumulated 7 sacks, an INT, a kick return TD and held St. Louis to 7 points.

This was a great week to play against…

Cam Newton, Panthers – Limited to 171 yards passing, 24 rushing, no TDs and 2 turnovers.
Joe Flacco, Ravens – Passed for 195 yards, no scores and 2 INTs.
Geno Smith, Jets – Hit a new low with 5 passing yards, 0 rushing yards and 3 INTs.

Shonn Greene, Titans – Two days after his arrest, had 1 carry for 1 yard.
Marshawn Lynch, Seahawks – Another disappointing performance, with 62 rushing yards.
Tre Mason, Rams – Held to 32 rushing yards on the day.
Shane Vereen, Patriots – Just 22 rushing and 23 receiving yards.
Doug Martin, Buccaneers – Ran for a paltry 27 yards.

Torrey Smith, Ravens – Posted a goose egg, and an injury.
Michael Floyd, Cardinals – Also had a gooser, but no injury excuse.
Wes Welker, Broncos – Had 5 yards on 2 receptions.
Brian Quick, Rams – Just a 10-yarder to show for his efforts before a season-ending injury took him down.
Vincent Jackson, Buccaneers – His only reception went for 13 yards.
Julian Edelman, Patriots – Only a 14-yard catch on the day.
Jordy Nelson, Packers – Held to 25 yards on 2 receptions.
Steve Smith, Ravens – Only 35 yards on 3 catches, after a questionable offensive PI penalty negated a long, game-winning TD.
Brandon Marshall, Bears – Also had 3 for 35, and surely wasn’t happy about it.

Julius Thomas, Broncos – Held in check with only 23 yards on 2 balls.

Greg Olsen, Panthers – Caught a 16-yarder.

Monday, October 27, 2014

The Perfect Draft, with 20/20 hindsight

I don’t spend a lot of time regretting decisions I’ve made in life, mostly because there’s nothing I can do about them now. Besides, even the biggest mistakes often work out for the best. At least that’s what my parents always said about me…

Still, I regret targeting Nick Foles ahead of Andrew Luck in my drafts this year. And though Foles hasn’t been a bust by any stretch, I don’t think this mistake is going to end so well for me.

When it comes to fantasy drafting, most of us have regrets, don’t we? Seriously, who thought DeMarco Murray would be a record-breaking beast? And weren’t most so-called experts convinced that Antonio Gates was all washed up?

Indeed, the time has come for our semi-annual exercise in self-flagellation, when we reflect back two short months on what could have been had we made all the right moves during our preseason draft.  Ladies and germs, step right up for The Perfect Draft 2.0: Midseason Review.

Let’s quickly review our parameters. First, we’re in a 10-team non-keeper league using a standard scoring system that starts one quarterback, two running backs, three wide receivers, and one tight end, kicker and team defense. Second, we are drafting from the middle (fifth) position in a snake format, meaning we won’t have a shot at Matt Forte. Third, since all drafts play out differently, we’ll need a little luck along the way. And last, our goal is nothing short of total domination and the abject humiliation of our opponents.

Now, with the fifth pick of the 2014 Perfect Draft, we should have selected…

Round 1: DeMarco Murray, RB, Cowboys. On pace to break the all-time season rushing record, Murray has also scored at least one TD in all but one game. He’ll seem like a reach at the fifth pick, but not for long.

Round 2: Arian Foster, RB, Texans. I hate passing on Jordy Nelson, but aside from an early-season injury, Foster is looking like the beast we remember from 2010-12.

Round 3: Antonio Brown, WR, Steelers. No defense has been able to hold the game’s most prolific receiver in check yet.

Round 4: Andrew Luck, QB, Colts. Available three rounds later than Peyton Manning, Luck has been a machine. Even his “off” games have been solid.

Round 5: T.Y. Hilton, WR, Colts. He didn’t find the end zone until Week 6, but Hilton could be counted upon to deliver consistent production regardless. 

Round 6: Jeremy Maclin, WR, Eagles. Though Foles has disappointed, Maclin has flourished as his new primary weapon.

Round 7: Emmanuel Sanders, WR, Broncos. Much like Hilton, you knew it was only a matter of time before Sanders exploded.

Round 8: Golden Tate, WR, Lions. Detroit has finally found a worthy counterpart to Calvin Johnson. Imagine how well Tate will do once Megatron returns? Prefer to fortify your backfield? Lamar Miller is a solid option here.

Round 9: Philip Rivers, QB, Chargers. He’s proving that his comeback season in 2013 was no fluke. The biggest surprise is that Rivers is soaring mostly without Keenan Allen’s help.

Round 10: Martellus Bennett, TE, Bears. He went through a short slump but was back in the end zone Sunday.

Round 11: Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Panthers. The early leader in the Offensive Rookie of the Year competition – though Sammy Watkins is gaining fast – Benjamin came out of the gate strong and hasn’t slowed down since.

Round 12: Mark Ingram, RB, Saints. Though he’s only played in half of the Saints’ games, Ingram is finally living up to his first-round draft status in New Orleans. He gets the nod in this round for the potential he offers down the stretch.

Round 13: Steve Smith, WR, Ravens. Who woulda thought Joe Flacco would be Smith’s Fountain of Youth?

Round 14: Antonio Gates, TE, Chargers. Ladarius who? Like Smith, Gates is laughing at those who thought his best days were behind him.

Round 15: Ahmad Bradshaw, RB, Colts. He doesn’t even start for his team, but Bradshaw is an every-week starter in Fantasyland. I can’t recall ever seeing that before.

Round 16: Eagles defense/special teams. Fantasy’s top defense (in most scoring formats) was an afterthought at draft time.

Round 17: Adam Vinatieri, K, Colts. Stephen Gostkowski has been the most prolific kicker thus far, but plenty of excellent alternatives were available several rounds later. Vinatieri hasn’t missed yet, and Dan Bailey would be equally welcome on this roster.

If it makes you feel any better, the final Perfect Draft roster will likely see plenty of turnover.  It always does.


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

Kyle Orton, QB, Bills. He’s heading into a bye week, but it’s hard not to be impressed by what Orton has done since taking the helm in Buffalo. He has brought out the best in Sammy Watkins and is playing some of his best football in years. Orton has several favorable matchups down the stretch for those needing depth at QB.

Bobby Rainey, RB, Buccaneers. I’ve been trumpeting his potential all season, just waiting for the underachieving Doug Martin to get out of his way. Martin has been the subject of recent trade rumors, but Sunday’s ankle injury could squelch them. Either way, Rainey should soon get his opportunity.

Brandon LaFell, WR, Patriots. I had my doubts after his Week 4 outburst, but LaFell has since proven to be one of Tom Brady’s most trusted weapons. After his third stellar performance in five weeks, he won’t be available in most leagues much longer.

Don’t be fooled

Martavis Bryant, WR, Steelers. In just his second game on the active roster, Bryant reeled in two TD receptions, adding to his first career score last week. Impressive, for sure; but Ben Roethlisberger doesn’t toss six TDs in a game very often. Bryant is worth watching, but he probably won’t merit a roster spot this season. Besides, the last thing we should do is reward someone wearing that god-awful uniform.

Donte Moncrief, WR, Colts. Another beneficiary of the Colts-Steelers aerial shootout, Moncrief’s breakout game should likewise be eyed with suspicion. Reggie Wayne was out due to a short-term elbow injury, and Hakeem Nicks is still above the rookie on the WR depth chart. You likely will never start Moncrief, so why pick him up?

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Sunday morning updates -- Week 8

Good morning, Fools.

So we all know Matt Ryan doesn't play well on the road, and London hardly qualifies as a home game. Add to the mix Detroit's league-leading defense, and this one is as easy a call as they get.

Wrong again. As I write, Ryan is on fire and his Falcons lead the Lions 21-10. But so far at least, Julio and Roddy haven't produced much. His TD passes have gone to bit players.

I hope you weren't the bonehead who forgot to check the inactives before the early game. I tweeted at 7-ish CT that not only was Megatron inactive, but all three of his TEs (Ebron, Fauria, Pettigrew) and Reggie Bush, were too. Atlanta is at full strength. Obviously.

Let's see what else is happening around the NFL today, as we try to figure out this crazy league.

Lots of chatter this weekend about interested suitors for Vincent Jackson -- from Seattle to New England, and others in between. It will be interesting to see how he fares today, given all the distractions, not to mention his sore ribs.

If V-Jax is traded, Mike Evans will be the new lead WR in Tampa Bay. He's available in most leagues and might be worth snatching for the stretch run.

A.J. Green (toe) has been ruled out, as expected.

Shane Vereen has missed practice this week due to an illness, but he will suit up against the Bears today.

Shonn Greene was arrested on Friday for a handicapped parking violation, plus assorted other offenses. But naturally, it will likely take months before he gets any kind of consequence.

Still looks like Colt McCoy will get the start for the Redskins on MNF. But don't be surprised if RG3 is active and available to come in should McCoy flounder.

OK, that's it for now. Heading back to Twitter for the inactives and other late-breaking news. Good luck today, Fools.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Week 8 Starters & Benchwarmers

Wondering whether or not to start Aaron Rodgers and Dez Bryant, or to bench Blake Bortles and Chris Givens? 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 8 of the 2014 season.

Watch ‘em roll

Matt Stafford, QB, Lions at Falcons. With just one 300-yard outing (in Week 1) and only nine passing scores in his first seven games, Stafford has been a huge disappointment. It doesn’t help that Calvin Johnson has been gimpy or absent for much of that time. But Stafford will be facing a very generous Falcons pass defense when they square off in London. Whether or not Megatron suits up, Stafford should prosper.

Jerrick McKinnon, RB, Vikings at Buccaneers. The rookie is clearly the leader of Minnesota’s backfield and he will continue to be leaned upon by his fellow rookie under center. Tampa Bay’s soft run defense will give McKinnon plenty of room to showcase his playmaking abilities.

Ben Tate, RB, Browns vs. Raiders. Everyone in a Cleveland uniform fared poorly against the Jags last week, but Tate should have a nice rebound against Oakland’s sieve-like run defense. With a suddenly shaky Brian Hoyer at the controls, the hard-running Tate will be his QB’s best friend.

Terrance Williams, WR, Cowboys vs. Redskins. Williams doesn’t reel in a lot of passes, but he makes the most of the chances he gets, scoring six times on just 19 receptions. He has at least one TD in five of seven games to date, and he’ll go up against a Redskins defense that has allowed 15 passing TDs (second-worst in the league) on Monday night. Chalk him up for another end zone trip, and at least 60 yards.

Brandon LaFell, WR, Patriots vs. Bears. Tom Brady has been en fuego recently, but LaFell only occasionally capitalizes on the bounty. Following an off week against the Jets, LaFell should return to prominence against a Bears pass defense that has been torched by much lesser QB-WR tandems.

More thumbs up (excluding the no-brainers): QBs Nick Foles, Russell Wilson, Tony Romo, Carson Palmer, Joe Flacco; RBs Justin Forsett, Andre Ellington, Joique Bell, Ahmad Bradshaw, Mark Ingram, Shane Vereen, Tre Mason; WRs Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd, Torrey Smith, Steve Smith, Golden Tate, Jeremy Maclin, Doug Baldwin, T.Y. Hilton, Vincent Jackson, Kelvin Benjamin, Cordarrelle Patterson, Mike Wallace.

Roll ‘em back

Matt Ryan, QB, Falcons vs. Lions. Ryan has a well-earned reputation for playing poorly on the road, but he won’t feel much comfort in the designation of London as this week’s “home field.” Ryan’s offensive line keeps losing key starters, leaving the quarterback running for his life…when he’s not on his back. The Lions field one of the league’s most stifling defenses, and QB pressure is their forte. God may save the Queen, but He won’t spare Ryan.

Chris Ivory, RB, Jets vs. Bills. Ivory is coming off his best game of the season (125 combined yards, 1 TD), but he’ll run into Buffalo’s brick wall this week. The Bills have yet to allow a rushing score to date, and Ivory still must contend with a shared backfield with Chris Johnson.

Bills RBs at Jets. Anthony Dixon and Bryce Brown will share the load against a Jets run defense that has come down several notches from their early-season success. Still, neither of these backs is worth risking in your lineup. Surely you have better options.

Pierre Garcon, WR, Redskins at Cowboys. This is a tough week to believe in Washington’s wideouts. Colt McCoy almost certainly will get the starting nod, and the only thing harder to imagine than Dallas having a 7-1 record at the season’s mid-point is McCoy slicing up the Cowboys’ surging secondary on Monday night. I wouldn’t risk DeSean Jackson in my lineup, either.

Percy Harvin, WR, Jets vs. Bills. The Jets’ newest weapon is expected to get a limited number of reps in his New York debut, but it’s hard to believe he’s had enough time to get in sync with his new quarterback. Buffalo plays solid pass defense as well, so keep Harvin out of your lineup (again).

More thumbs down: QBs Ben Roethlisberger, Andy Dalton, Jay Cutler, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Austin Davis, Geno Smith; RBs Darren McFadden, Steven Jackson, Alfred Morris, Bishop Sankey, Storm Johnson, Zac Stacy; WRs Reggie Wayne, Roddy White, Mike Evans, Brian Quick, Eric Decker, Kendall Wright, Mohamed Sanu.


Andrew Hawkins, WR, Browns vs. Raiders. Two weeks ago, Hawkins was blanked by the Steelers. He topped 100 receiving yards against the lowly Jaguars last week, but the shifty wideout is still hard to trust. That said, Oakland’s depleted secondary is very generous, especially in the scoring department. Hawkins has a good opportunity to turn his ample targets into points on Sunday.

DON’T BE THE BONEHEAD WHO…waits until late Sunday morning to set your starting lineup. The Lions and Falcons kick off in London at 9:30 a.m. Eastern and Calvin Johnson is likely to be a game-time decision. His playing status will be announced around 8 a.m. ET (that’s 5 a.m. for our west coast friends). Ouch!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Week 7 Heroes & Zeros

This was a great week to start…

Peyton Manning, Broncos – On his historic night, bagged 4 TD passes and 318 yards without a turnover.
Russell Wilson, Seahawks – Lost the game but pleased his owners with 313 yards passing and 2 TDs, plus 106 rushing with a third score.
Aaron Rodgers, Packers – Threw for 255 yards and 3 TDs and ran for 21 yards, with no turnovers.
Tom Brady, Patriots – Back in fine form with 261 passing yards and 3 TDs without a turnover.

Matt Forte, Bears – Scored as a runner (with 49 yards) and a receiver (6 for 60 yards).
Shane Vereen, Patriots – Ran for 43 yards and caught 5 passes for 71 yards and a pair of TDs.
Ronnie Hillman, Broncos – Asserted himself with 74 rushing yards and 2 TDs, plus 4 receptions for 29 yards.
Ahmad Bradshaw, Colts – Ran for 52 yards and caught 3 passes for 36 yards, with a TD both ways.
LeVeon Bell, Steelers – Ran for 57 yards and added 8 receptions for 88 yards and a TD.

Demaryius Thomas, Broncos – Another monster outing with 8 catches for 171 yards and 2 scores.
Sammy Watkins, Bills – Had his breakout game, with 9 receptions for 122 yards and 2 TDs.
Golden Tate, Lions – Hauled in 10 passes for 154 yards and a TD.
Randall Cobb, Packers – Took 6 passes 121 yards and a score.
Roddy White, Falcons – Soared unexpectedly with 9 catches for 100 yards and a TD.
Doug Baldwin, Seahawks – Turned his 7 receptions into 123 yards and a TD.
Antonio Brown, Steelers – In PPR leagues, his 9-catch, 90-yard night with a passing TD was golden.

Gavin Escobar, Cowboys – Emerged from obscurity with 3 catches for 65 yards and 2 TDs.

This was a great week to play against…

Andy Dalton, Bengals – Held in check with 126 passing yards and no scores.

Zac Stacy, Rams – Active but never touched the ball.
Maurice Jones-Drew, Raiders – Ran for 6 yards. Six.
Marshawn Lynch, Seahawks – Only 53 rushing yards and 18 receiving yards on 2 balls.
Giovani Bernard, Bengals – Got rocked all day and ended with 17 rushing yards and a yard lost on 2 receptions.
Frank Gore, 49ers – Held to 20 rushing yards in a blowout.
Steven Jackson, Rams – Ran for 22 yards and caught a 3-yarder.
C.J. Spiller, Bills – Just 53 rushing yards before leaving injured.
Fred Jackson, Bills – Combined for 38 yards before his injury.
Mark Ingram, Saints – Eased back in with 39 total yards.
Pierre Thomas, Saints – Only 30 combined yards.
Reggie Bush, Lions – Little opportunity to exact revenge, with 10 rushing and 22 receiving yards (on 5 passes).
Ben Tate, Browns – Just 36 rushing yards, and a catch for -2 yards.
Andre Williams, Giants – Held to 51 rushing yards.
Alfred Morris, Redskins – Had 54 yards on the ground. And that’s it.
Bishop Sankey, Titans – Another start, another paltry total (58 yards).

Percy Harvin, Jets – Gets an extra bye week thanks to trade timing.
Markus Wheaton, Steelers – Posted a goose egg on MNF.
Justin Hunter, Titans – Bagged a 6-yarder.
Alshon Jeffery, Bears – His 2 catches went for 9 yards.
Brandon Marshall, Bears – Just 3 for 48.
Brandin Cooks, Saints – Limited to 23 yards on 2 balls.
Reggie Wayne, Colts – Marginalized with 15 yards on 4 receptions.
Cecil Shorts, Jaguars – Only 12 yards on 3 catches.
Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals – Took 4 passes 21 yards.
Michael Crabtree, 49ers – Left with 27 receiving yards to show for his night.
Brian Quick, Rams – Just 33 yards on 2 receptions.
Andre Holmes, Raiders – Turned believers into doubters with his 3-catch, 34-yard performance.
DeSean Jackson, Redskins – Handled 3 passes for 49 yards.

Jimmy Graham, Saints – Held catchless while playing the decoy.
Jordan Cameron, Browns – Caught a 5-yarder.
Vernon Davis, 49ers – Another disappointing outing, with 2 catches for 21 yards.
Jason Witten, Cowboys – Had 2 for 27.
Julius Thomas, Broncos – Remarkably, he too had 27 yards, on 4 receptions.

Week 7: Just another ho-hum week in Fantasyland

Brandon Marshall is screaming at BFF Jay Cutler.

Peyton Manning breaks the all-time touchdown record, but leaves Julius Thomas out of the fun.

DeMarco Murray one-ups the legendary Jim Brown.

And Bills running backs drop like flies.

What’s next, the Jaguars are going to win a football game?

It was that kind of weekend in Fantasyland. One of those quirky weeks when usually reliable studs like Marshawn Lynch, Giovani Bernard, Alshon Jeffery and Jimmy Graham are marginalized and fantasy scores are generally depressed across the board.

And what must Percy Harvin’s owners be thinking? Not only have they suffered through several exasperating performances, but Harvin’s trade to the Jets left him idle this week with a second bye upcoming in Week 11. Talk about adding insult to infamy.

I suppose it could be worse. You could be the guy that left Russell Wilson and Shane Vereen on your bench this week.

Right, Carl?


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

Tre Mason, RB, Rams. Though Zac Stacy was active, he never touched the ball in the Rams’ victory over the Seahawks. Mason, instead, handled the bulk of the rushing, finishing with 85 yards and a TD. Stacy has clearly fallen out of favor in St. Louis, while the explosive rookie has leap-frogged over Benny Cunningham. Though he’s not much of a receiving threat, Mason has the look of a reliable RB2.

Doug Baldwin, WR, Seahawks. For one week, anyway, Harvin’s absence led to a starring role for Baldwin. The fourth-year wideout has shown flashes in the past, but has never been the alpha receiver in Seattle. He’ll get his chance now.

Don’t be fooled

Bryce Brown and Anthony Dixon, RBs, Bills. Brown had a fleeting moment in the spotlight in 2012 while subbing for the injured LeSean McCoy in Philly, but he’s been a healthy scratch for his entire tenure in Buffalo. Dixon arrived after four uninspired years in San Francisco. With C.J. Spiller (collarbone) likely done for the season and Fred Jackson (groin) sidelined for multiple games, Brown and Dixon should share the workload. Next week’s matchup with the Jets is not promising.

Denard Robinson, RB/WR, Jaguars. Repeat after me: “I will not pick up a Jaguar. Jaguar players won’t make my title dreams come true.”

Gavin Escobar, TE, Cowboys. Escobar’s two-touchdown performance is not a sign of things to come. He’s a bit player in the Cowboys’ passing game and doesn’t merit a roster spot as long as Jason Witten is on the field. That said, Escobar fits the mold of the modern-day massive, athletic tight end, so the long-term potential is there.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Sunday morning updates -- Week 7

Good morning, Fools, from beautiful uptown Dallas -- where's only three out of 1.26 million people have contracted Ebola, so just relax, okay?

Lots of stuff brewing in the NFL today as we prepare to set our final, winning rosters. Let's get to it.

You know Percy Harvin is now a Jet. As I said via Twitter after the trade came down, I don't think this is going to have much of a fantasy impact at all. I suppose if you are really banking on Geno Smith, then you're encouraged. And if you thought Eric Decker was going to lead you to a title, then you might want to re-think that.

But the talented yet disgruntled Harvin was already terrible as a Seahawk (those 3 TDs in Week 5 never happened), so he can't do much worse as a Jet. Russell Wilson gets a slight down-tick, but perhaps not having to feed the ball to the temperamental WR/RB/KR will be a good thing. Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse should see a few more passes their way, but not enough to change their overall fantasy value.

So, net-net, I see it as a non-event. Moving on…

Good news for Cam's owners…Kelvin Benjamin is expected to play today, now that he has cleared the concussion protocol. Given the depleted state of Green Bay's secondary, you have to like Newton's chances today as both a runner and passer.

And as covered in my Flier of Week yesterday, Jonathan Stewart is a very intriguing play as the only healthy veteran RB worth a damn playing today for the Panthers against the league-worst Packers run defense. Having Benjamin back on the field helps everybody wearing Carolina blue.

Here's another reason I'm anti-Zac Stacy this week. The Rams say they will stick with the "hot hand" approach when it comes to Stacy, Benny Cunningham and Tre Mason. Add that to his matchup against the Seahawks, and Stacy is a sitter in Week 7.

Shonn Greene won't play today, so Bishop Sankey gets another shot at the lead backfield role. He didn't set the world on fire against the lowly Jags, so I doubt he will in Washington either.

I picked up Carson Palmer last week as a bye-week sub for Nick Foles, and I think he's going to reward me handsomely. And if I'm right, it might make for a tough weekly decision going forward, given Foles' less-than-stellar performances thus far.

A.J. Green has been ruled out and, barring a miracle, Megatron will be too.

It looks like Jimmy Graham is going to give it a go today, but he may be restricted to situational snaps -- mostly in the red zone. That's all you need if you're a Graham owner. If you own him, you probably have to start him. And assuming he does suit up, most of the optimism surrounding Marques Colston picking up the slack fades away.

That's it, that's all. Off to Twitter, where I'll be fielding questions and tweeting the inactives and other late-breaking news.

Good luck to all Fools!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Week 7 Starters & Benchwarmers

Wondering whether or not to start Andrew Luck and Matt Forte, or to bench Jake Locker and Brian Hartline? 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 7 of the 2014 season.

Watch ‘em roll

Carson Palmer, QB, Cardinals at Raiders. With a 250-yard, two-TD, zero-INT performance in his return under center last week, Palmer signaled that he can be trusted in your lineup. He’s a good spot start at the Raiders, who have been very generous to opposing quarterbacks this season.

Justin Forsett, RB, Ravens vs. Falcons. Operating mostly under the radar, Forsett has gained the fourth-most rushing yards in the league, with a whopping 6.4 yards-per-carry average. Though Bernard Pierce is sharing carries, Forsett is clearly the alpha back in Baltimore, and he’ll face an Atlanta run defense that has given up 12 rushing scores to date – the most, by far, in the NFL.

Reggie Bush, RB, Lions vs. Saints. He is expected to return from his ankle injury to face the team that drafted him, then let him go. With Calvin Johnson sitting out another game, Bush will get plenty of opportunities as a rusher and receiver to exact his revenge. Joique Bell is in the picture, too; but this should be Bush’s time to shine.

Reggie Wayne, WR, Colts vs. Bengals. Cincinnati’s defense has been lit up by Tom Brady and Cam Newton over the last two games, and here comes Andrew Luck. T.Y. Hilton was the receiving star last week, but Wayne will get plenty of opportunities to torch this reeling secondary as well.

Cecil Shorts, WR, Jaguars vs. Browns. No matter how bad Jacksonville’s passing game has been, a healthy Shorts usually manages to please his fantasy owners. Coming off a solid 10-reception, 103-yard outing against the Titans, Shorts is a solid bet to excel against Cleveland’s so-so secondary.

More thumbs up (excluding the no-brainers): QBs Jay Cutler, Tony Romo, Russell Wilson; RBs Alfred Morris, Le’Veon Bell, Ben Tate, Ahmad Bradshaw, Andre Ellington, Fred Jackson, Branden Oliver; WRs Michael Floyd, Larry Fitzgerald, Torrey Smith, Golden Tate, Steve Smith, Mike Wallace, T.Y. Hilton, DeSean Jackson, Terrance Williams, Reuben Randle, Malcom Floyd, Brandin Cooks, Mohamed Sanu, Andrew Hawkins.

Roll ‘em back

Eli Manning, QB, Giants at Cowboys. Normally, you’d love Eli’s chances in his home-away-from-home in AT&T Stadium. But he lost Victor Cruz, he’s coming off a shellacking in Philly and suddenly, out of nowhere, the Cowboys are energized, confident and playing solid pass defense.

Frank Gore, RB, 49ers at Broncos. He’s been up and down all season, but look for his second consecutive subpar performance against a Denver run defense that has imposed its will against recent opponents. It helps that teams are forced to abandon the run early to keep up with Peyton Manning & Co., which is what you can expect again on Sunday night.

Mark Ingram, RB, Saints at Lions. Though he is expected to return to action this week, don’t rush Ingram back into your starting lineup just yet. For starters, his snaps will likely be limited. He’ll also be sharing with Khiry Robinson and Pierre Thomas, and Detroit’s run defense is among the best in the business.

DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Texans at Steelers. After a torrid start to his sophomore season, Hopkins has cooled off in his last two outings. Andre Johnson finally got back into the end zone last week, but Houston’s offense has been dominated by Arian Foster of late. Hopkins can’t be trusted right now.

Roddy White, WR, Falcons at Ravens. White likewise got off to a fine start, but recently has been M.I.A. in Atlanta’s passing game. In addition, Matt Ryan isn’t the same quarterback on the road, especially with that depleted offensive line “protecting” him; and the Ravens have been stingy against opposing receivers on their home turf.

More thumbs down: QBs Andy Dalton, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Kyle Orton; RBs Zac Stacy, Darren McFadden, Ronnie Hillman, Maurice Jones-Drew, Khiry Robinson, Steven Jackson, C.J. Spiller, Jerick McKinnon, Matt Asiata, Bishop Sankey; WRs Kendall Wright, Dwayne Bowe, Cordarrelle Patterson, Eddie Royal, Wes Welker, Kelvin Benjamin, Markus Wheaton, Percy Harvin, Marques Colston.


Jonathan Stewart, RB, Panthers at Packers. Stewart (knee) is on track to return on Sunday, and he should get a heavy load given the depleted state of the Panthers’ backfield. With the Packers’ sorry run defense on tap, Stewart is a very sneaky start and he’s a free agent in about two-thirds of all leagues.

DON’T BE THE BONEHEAD WHO…throws in the towel this early in the season. Too many players that start off poorly mentally check out of the game, fail to mind their rosters and starting lineups and drop out of the waiver-wire action. First off, it’s not too late to turn things around. But for the integrity of the competition, finish what you started. Have some pride, man!