It’s getting too late in the season to be reading this unless you’ve already got a playoff spot. I hope you do. But if you’re reading this with no hope of making it to the big dance, I commend you.
So what if your team imploded early in the season? You made a commitment to play 13 weeks, and I respect that. The best thing you can do when your team disappoints you early in the year is to keep making moves and improving your roster. Maybe those wins don’t matter down the stretch, but there’s nothing like knocking someone out of the playoffs when you have no shot of getting there yourself.
The best leagues have teams that remain competitive every year.
Not to mention, you’re only going to get better if you practice, practice, practice at making moves and building a team that can compete. By playing out your full string of games, you’ll figure out what you did wrong.
So what did we do wrong last week?
Week 13 Pickups
Knowshon Moreno was the surprise starter and workhorse back for the Broncos Sunday. While Ronnie Hillman is the explosive rookie, we all must have forgotten John Fox loves his vets.
Moreno does a better job of protecting the Broncos’ biggest asset on offense, Peyton Manning, so he’ll be getting most of the work in Willis McGahee‘s stead. Readjust your waiver claims and go all-in for Moreno. He’s no RB1, but decent yardage and the occasional score is totally on the radar. He’s a RB2 in the right matchups (and assuming Hillman doesn’t get anything more than a few touches per game moving forward).
Bryce Brown hit the fantasy football world in the mouth Monday night with a two-touchdown performance against the Panthers.
While he’s only the Eagles’ starter until LeSean McCoy returns, it sounds like McCoy could be out for an extended period of time. He still hasn’t passed Phase 1 of the concussion tests, which places him behind Michael Vick in terms of who’ll return to the field first.
In his place, Brown showed us he’s got RB1 ability, and he might even keep some of that workload if/when McCoy comes back. Go all in with any leftover FAAB you got stashed if you need a temporary RB2 with RB1 upside.
Since Andre Brown is out of the year, David Wilson should be back on your radar. He’ll be Ahmad Bradshaw‘s reliever for the next few weeks with a chance to start when Bradshaw eventually injures himself enough to miss time. But knowing how the Giants’ coaches feel about Wilson, they may bring in veteran depth if that happened.
And Jalen Parmele‘s time in the sun has passed. His groin injury sent him to IR this week and left us with the utterly disappointing Rashad Jennings. Claim ’em if you gotta.
Outside of these shifts in the running back pecking order, there’s a whole collection of young wide receivers to stash if you need some receiver depth for the playoffs. Tops among them are Ryan Broyles and Chris Givens. I tend to like Broyles more because he’s shown playmaking ability all over the field and should remain a starter next to Megatron for the rest of the year. But Givens has a beauty of a schedule. Both could be WR3s or decent WR2s the rest of the way.
After Broyles and Givens, there’s Mohamed Sanu, the slow but sure-handed compliment to A.J. Green these past few weeks. He’s quietly making his living in the end zone and doing it well. Standard-scoring leagues take note, and PPR leagues should stash him for depth as he could continue his hot streak in the playoffs. He has WR2 upside when he’s scoring every week.
The options are a little more risky after that. T.Y. Hilton was explosive on Sunday, but he’s hard to trust while still splitting time with Donnie Avery.
Jarius Wright will fill in while Percy Harvin remains sidelined, but Kyle Rudolph seems to benefit more than Wright from Harvin’s absence.
If you can’t get your hands on any of these players, dig back in ourwaiverwirearchives. Good luck making it into your fantasy football playoffs.
I was really disappointed in the election results. I thought we were all going to write in Doug Martin, you guys! I was looking forward to finally having a cool nickname for the POTUS like Muscle Hamster.
But alas, I guess you guys care about the economy and social issues beyond just fantasy football wins. What’s wrong with you? Winning fantasy football games was my main issue this election season.
So now I’m back to my campaign strategizing for RGIII and Doug Martin in 2016. You might think Alfred Morris would be his preferred running mate, and, in a way, he is. But Morris is much more secretary of state material.
We’re going with the same format for pickups as last week. If you didn’t like it…well, you should have spoken up last week.
Week 10 Pickups
Marcel Reece is the hottest commodity this week after both Darren McFadden and Mike Goodson suffered high ankle sprains in Week 9. It appears that Run DMC’s sprain is the most severe, but there have been few updates on either running back since they went down. I’d expect them to both miss at least one week. It’s likely to be longer in McFadden’s case.
In their absence, Reece inherited most of the running back duties and caught the ball out of the backfield. Reece was already a trusted part of the offense, so I expect the Raiders to lean on him while they wait on their top two backs to heal. Taiwan Jones is a burner, but the coaches don’t seem very confident in him just yet.
Considering McFadden’s history, stashing Mike Goodson, despite his injury, could also be a sneaky move if he’s unowned as he might return to duty before Run DMC and supplant Reece. The Raiders have a beautiful schedule down the stretch.
Ryan Tannehill continues to do much with a very little in the Dolphins’ offense. If Miami upgrades at receiver, he could be a more reliable fantasy start next season. This week, he faces a very generous Tennessee Titans D/ST. I expect him to put up decent numbers as a bye-week fill in this one.
Jake Locker returned to practicing this week but may not play until after the Titans’ bye week in Week 11. This Titans’ offense could use his arm and mobility at this point in the season, and he’ll likely benefit from the signs of life Chris Johnson has shown these last few weeks.
Also on the injury front, don’t forget that Beanie Wells, Cedric Benson, and Vincent Brown are all expected to return in the next few weeks from the IR. If they aren’t owned in your league, you best add them now. Benson may be the most lucrative of the bunch since Green Bay hasn’t figured out their running game in his absence.
For the running back needy, Joique Bell and Jacquizz Rodgers inconsistently produce in their respective offenses. Unfortunately, outside of PPR leagues, their value will be fairly limited unless the starters in front of them (Mikel Leshoure and Michael Turner) are injured. It doesn’t look like Rodgers is going to come close to the offseason hype train he was riding this offseason.
If you need pass catchers, Emmanuel Sanders should fill in for an injured Antonio Brown this week against the Chiefs, which makes him a solid one-week play if not more. T.Y. Hilton is in a similar situation if Donnie Avery can’t suit up for the Colts.
Best of luck in Week 10, and remember…RGIII/Martin in 2016.
Shonn Greene. SHONN “Couldn’t get 5 yards if you spotted him 10” GREENE.
When it comes to fantasy football, Shonn Greene is a ruiner. When you hand him the ball, he ruins any chance for a first down. But when you hand him the ball against the Colts, he ruins my week.
Greene did, of course, go off the one week I played his owner. And I didn’t even say anything bad about him this season. UNTIL NOW. He might not produce 30 or more points in his next seven games combined.
But enough grumbling. A few injuries have given us some decent pickups this week, and boy, do we ever need them with all the bye weeks in Week 7.
Where appropriate, I’ve added FAAB approximations beside each player for those of you dealing with a free agent acquisition budget.
Week 7 Pickups
Felix Jones, RB, Cowboys (25%) DeMarco Murray will miss Week 7 and maybe longer (I think longer), which locks Jones in as a RB2 against the Panthers this week and makes him the No. 1 waiver claim.
Alex Green, RB, Packers (15-20%) Green was surprisingly used as a workhorse against the Texans. Even though he didn’t do much with all his touches, he should continue to see the full workload, and that’ll make him a flex play at the very least most weeks if the Packers offense keeps rolling.
Montario Hardesty, RB, Browns (10-15%) It doesn’t sound like Trent Richardson will miss any time, but if he did, Hardesty would feast on the Browns matchup against the Colts. You saw what it did for Shonn Greene.
William Powell, RB, Cardinals (10%) LaRod Stephens-Howling started but let Powell do all the heavy lifting in Week 6. It looks like Powell’s the guy until Beanie Wells returns, but that Arizona offensive line isn’t doing him any favors.
Vick Ballard, RB, Colts (10%) We’ll have to see what he can do when it’s not a blowout, but Ballard should remain the lead back in Indy until Brown returns. He may have better luck against the Browns this week.
Daryl Richardson, RB, Rams (10%) A good chunk of his yardage in Week 6 came on one explosive play, but that’s exactly why the Rams are forcing Steven Jackson to share the load with Richardson. He should be owned by all SJax owners and warrants flex play consideration in the right matchup.
David Wilson, RB, Giants (10%) Bradshaw’s not giving up many carries these days, but when he does, Wilson’s the guy. He should become a larger part of this offense as the year drags on if the Giants plan to keep Bradshaw healthy (or fail to keep him healthy).
Donnie Avery, WR, Colts (10%) Lots of passes coming his way. Even if he hasn’t been able to do much with them every week, Avery should be owned.
Josh Gordon, WR, Browns (10%) Gordon’s a little more high-upside than Avery since he’s proven he only needs a few targets to make a huge fantasy impact. We know the Browns will be down in games, and even if they’re not, it seems that Brandon Weeden likes going deep to Gordon. He makes for a high risk, high reward WR3 this week against the Colts.
Watch or Stash List
Stephen Hill, WR, Jets A starter before his injury, Hill’s got a chance to become the Jets’ No. 1 target the rest of the way and caught a score in Week 6.
Mike Goodson, RB, Raiders Even with limited touches, Goodson is making things happen. Darren McFadden owners might make sure they lock him up before someone else does.
Brandon Gibson and Chris Givens, WR, Rams Both receivers are getting targets, but it’s just hard for me to trust any Rams’ receiver not named Amendola.
Phillip Tanner, RB, Cowboys Tanner will see some touches while DeMarco Murray recovers, and Felix Jones isn’t the most durable back. Tanner could be the No. 1 add on the waiver wire next week if Jones were to get injured. I’m not so sure Murray will be back in Week 8 as he claims.
Russell Wilson, QB, Seahawks I know, I know. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves, but shorty had a pretty nice game against the Patriots. The Seahawks just might be adapting their playbook to turn Wilson into a more reliable fantasy weapon.
Unfortunately for us all, there isn’t too much on the wire unless you’re in a very shallow league. Leshoure is probably owned. Brown probably got snatched before his start Thursday night. That leaves slim pickings if you’re in need of a running back because the injuries don’t seem too severe to the starters who went down Week 3.
As always, my pickups are listed in the order I would go after them and with FAAB estimations.
Week 4 Pickups
Mikel Leshoure, RB, Lions (75%+) If you waited this long, sorry. I talked about him before he hit the field. You’re going to have to luck out to land Leshoure, who looks to be the Lions’ preferred rusher. At least until Jahvid Best returns.
Andre Brown, RB, Giants (25%) You probably missed your chance at him by now, but Brown could continue to see action even when Bradshaw returns from his injury.
Jerome Simpson, WR, Vikings (15% if need be) There’s a lot of hype around Simpson’s return from suspension this week with the Vikings offense moving the ball this year. I think you have to jump on him before he breaks out. He’s my top recommendation this week besides Leshoure.
Jake Locker, QB, Titans (10-15%) This is the kind of potential we’ve been waiting to see. With Britt getting healthy (and MAYBE a running game showing up sometime soon), Locker should put together a nice season as a QB2 with QB1 upside.
Christian Ponder, QB, Vikings (10-15%) To follow his new WR target, I’d offer up the Vikings QB, who looks good enough to enter QB1 territory these next few weeks. His schedule is excellent if you’re looking for bye week replacement help.
Kyle Rudolph, TE, Vikings (10%) Rudolph caught two touchdowns this week, which probably serves as his coming out party, but Rudolph is worth owning in all leagues as we enter the byes. He’s a great target for Ponder near the redzone. And Simpson’s return should open up this offense, not take opportunities away.
Andrew Hawkins, WR, Bengals (5-10%) The Hawk can play. I’m ready to grab him now, and you should, too. He’s shown he can produce with few targets. I expect inconsistency, but he’s solid enough to be rostered.
Jacquizz Rodgers, RB, Falcons (<10%) Stash him now before anyone else sees him. I’m high on Rodgers, and as a result, high on the demise of Michael Turner. Turner can’t even drive fast.
Donnie Avery, WR, Colts (5-10%) Without Austin Collie for the rest of the year, Avery now gets my confidence.
Heath Miller, TE, Steelers (<5%) He looks to be a lot more involved in the offense this year than years past. He’s worth acquiring as the reigning No. 3 fantasy tight end.
Leonard Hankerson, WR, Redskins (<5%) He’s secured a starting spot, even when Garcon returns. For now, he’s getting to run as the first read for Robert Griffin III. Just don’t do anything crazy like I did this weekend if you pick him up.
Ryan Williams, RB, Cardinals (15%) I don’t love the Arizona running game, but Williams looks to be the best part of it.
Daniel Thomas, RB, Dolphins (10-15%) Lamar Miller, RB, Dolphins (5-10%) The more explosive and dependable of the two Dolphins running backs, I think Miller can emerge if given the opportunity. Daniel Thomas will probably get more action, but he may be owned in most leagues.
Tashard Choice, RB, Bills (10%) Whoever starts in Buffalo is going to rack up yards. They just run the ball well up there. But there is no guarantee Choice even gets this one start in Week 4 if Fred Jackson can get in a full week of practice. Be careful how much you bid on him here.
Shaun Hill, QB, Lions (<10% if you own Stafford) If you’re in a very deep league and want to make sure you get points for the Lions’ passing game, you might need Hill to play safe with Stafford’s injury. But it sounds as if Stafford could make the start Week 4 if the team lets him.
I’m not yet ready to bite on Nate Burleson (maybe in PPR), Brandon Stokley, Jacoby Jones, or T.Y. Hilton, but they may be worthy stashes if you have the roster room. Cecil Shorts is hard to buy as long as he’s still in Jacksonville.
Brandon Myers and Jordan Cameron look like they can ball, but the tight end position is DEEP this season.
I’m not sure what to think of Ronnie Hillman or Lance Ball just yet if McGahee sits out Week 4, but I think I’d rather stash Ball if I’m a McGahee owner.
Don’t forget about Bilal Powell just yet, but I don’t think it’s an emergency that you get him on your roster. Especially not when he faces the 49ers this week.
Austin Collie (sadly), Stephen Hill, and Greg Little are all droppable if you have a more promising guy on the waiver wire. David Wilson is bordering on droppable territory, but we’ll have to see how he’s used once Ahmad Bradshaw returns to the field.
It happens in almost every draft. It’s the magazine curse. Some league member — let’s call him Pete — is convinced that Ben Tate is going to be the next superstar after they read a profile of him that was written in June. Pete is excited. Pete gets busy with other things until draft day. And then…the unspeakable happens.
It’s kind of like watching a slow-speed accident — like watching two cars back into each other in a parking lot. Nobody wants to see that, but it’s also impossible to stop.
Approaching the draft board, Pete pulls a player sticker and slaps it up on the wall. As he turn around, he’s a little confused that he didn’t hear the gasps and sighs of a thousand voices as he took a “steal” in the mid-rounds. He was sure everyone was waiting for Ben Tate to fall to their next pick, but instead of sighs and complaints, all he gets are a few shocked faces, laughter, and a hand to the forehead.
“Ben Tate is out for the year.” Someone had to say it. Then you just feel bad for Pete. Really bad. It’s hard to watch that happen.
Sometimes in life you can save a buddy from this kind of shame and humiliation. You can take him away from the dance floor when he’s starting to think every girl in the room is attractive. You can warn him not to take that class with the crazy dictator of a professor. You can tell him when he has spinach stuck in his teeth.
That is, you have the option if you so desire, not that you HAVE to take that road. You still have the ability to jump in there and take them out of that situation. But when it’s a missed draft pick? He’s screwed. He just burned a mid-round pick on a guy that won’t play a single down in 2010. With the exception of this being a keeper or dynasty league, he just wasted a pick.
Depending on your league, you may get a chance to make amends. They may let you pick again over that “Ben Tate” you just burned, but in all fairness, you really shouldn’t get another chance. You struck out. Just sit down.
So don’t be that guy. I witnessed it firsthand in my draft this past weekend, and it’s not cool for anyone involved.
Here’s a list of other IR players you don’t want on your team this season unless you’re tucking them away in a dynasty league.
Ben Tate, RB, Houston Texans — Fractured right fibula AND torn right ankle ligaments, which sounds as serious as it is.
Sinorice Moss, WR, New York Giants — Groin injury
Jim Sorgi, QB, Indianapolis Colts — Apparently, patting Peyton/Eli Manning as they come off the field can get you a shoulder injury
Donnie Avery, WR, St. Louis Rams — Knee injury, and a general lack of the ability to stay on the field
Malcolm Kelly, WR, Washington Redskins — Hamstring injury from McNabb’s “Hell Week” will put him on IR, which, on the plus side for him, keeps him on the roster *technically* since he was on the bubble at the beginning of the preseason
Leigh Bodden, CB, New England Patriots — If you play IDP or if you were considering drafting the Patriots D/ST, which isn’t quite as good without its best corner
And some cautionary warnings…
Sidney Rice, WR, Minnesota Vikings — Out for at least half the season with a hip injury. Draft accordingly.
Vincent Jackson, WR, San Diego Chargers — Missing at least three games as of now and at least six if he doesn’t show up to sign and play by this Saturday
Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Pittsburgh Steelers — For generally being a creeper and getting himself suspended for four to six games to start 2010
Knowshon Moreno, RB, Denver Broncos — Some reports have him suiting up; others have him nowhere close. Either way, he’s not going anywhere quick with a hamstring injury.
New York Jets D/ST — Without Darrelle Revis and without Calvin Pace to start the sesason, this defense may not be the No. 1 unit everyone thinks it’s cracked up to be. I am not on this bandwagon without those two.
Brett Favre, QB, Minnesota Vikings — You probably like him less already with an ankle injury and without Sidney Rice, but hearing that the Vikings are going to “manage the pain” on a bone spur they recently discovered as well makes Favre even less safe as a QB1 this season.
So now begins our recovery from this great weekend of injuries. It’s all your fault, but I forgive you.
This week, we are left with the scraps of all the teams who lost one of their studs.
Justin Forsett, RB, Seattle Seahawks — Let’s be honest. Forsett already had a great shot of winning this starting job before Julius Jones was injured. Now that Jones is out of the way, even for just one game, Forsett could be the Seahawks’ starter for the rest of the season. He had 123 rushing yards and one touchdown on Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals, who until recently had been stout against the run.
LeSean McCoy, RB, Philadelphia Eagles — Brian Westbrook went down again, which leaves the starting job in the hands of McCoy once again with a little help from Leonard Weaver. Westbrook could miss the rest of the season after suffering his second concussion in three weeks, but McCoy has few juicy matchups on the schedule. He faces the Giants, 49ers, and Broncos in the fantasy playoffs.
Chris “Beanie” Wells, RB, Arizona Cardinals — He finally took that step Sunday in scoring twice and leading the team in carries and rushing yards. If the Cardinals find it in their hearts to anoint him the starter and give Tim Hightower the backup role, Wells could be a fantasy stud in the final weeks of the season. He faces Detroit and St. Louis in the fantasy playoffs, Weeks 15 and 16.
Jamaal Charles, RB, Kansas City Chiefs — I’d assume he’s off your waiver wire by now, but if not, Charles finally had his good game on Sunday (103 yards and a touchdown), and he could have many more. Remember that playoffs schedule: Buffalo, Cleveland, Cincinnati.
Ricky Williams, RB, Miami Dolphins — Another guy I highly doubt is on your waiver wire, but he’s worth mentioning with Ronnie Brown looking like a scratch this Thursday.
Jason Snelling, RB, Atlanta Falcons — Michael Turner will be out for a few weeks while he recovers from a high ankle sprain. Jerious Norwood stands to get some of the work if he can get healthy, but for now, this is Snelling’s job, and he looked capable while notching 61 rushing yards, a touchdown, and 32 receiving yards in Turner’s absence on Sunday.
Ladell Betts, RB, Washington Redskins — Maybe the more rested legs of Betts are a welcome change for the Redskins. He should shoulder the carries until Clinton Portis returns, and Portis could probably use as much rest as he can get. Betts ran for more than 100 yards in the two weeks since he replaced Portis.
Bernard Scott, RB, Cincinnati Bengals — No one is certain how many games Cedric Benson will miss, but the Bengals are worried enough about their depth to consider adding Larry Johnson. It must be at least that bad. Scott should be the starter in Benson’s absence, and he would get the cupcake matchups of the Bengals’ schedule if Benson sits for several weeks — Oakland, Cleveland, and Detroit.
Donnie Avery, WR, St. Louis Rams — Nobody wants to start Avery. But his schedule does look nice, and he has actually found the end zone over the past five weeks. He might just be worth stashing as the fantasy playoffs.
Laveranues Coles, WR, Cincinnati Bengals — It appears he may have finally found his rhythm with Carson Palmer, but it’s still hard to trust the veteran receiver as long as Chad Ochocinco and Andre Caldwell are also on the field.
Vince Young, QB, Tennessee Titans — Young seems to be finding his way in the Titans’ offense. The Titans are leaning on Chris Johnson to win game right now, but opposing teams will eventually learn how to shut down the speedster and force Young into action. He’s no great bet as a fantasy starter, but he carries on of the lowest price tags as a backup right now if you’re in need.
Jake Delhomme, QB, Carolina Panthers — If you’re looking for upside, Delhomme is not it, but as a backup, he could be useful down the playoff stretch, especially with the outbreak of injuries that struck this week. He threw two touchdowns for the first time this season Sunday. Maybe he’ll turn his early failures around to end the season.
Brandon Gibson, WR, St. Louis Rams — Gibson replaced Keenan Burton when Burton went down this week, and he finished the game with seven catches for 93 yards against the Saints. The Rams looked surprisingly alive against the NFC’s undefeated, but I wouldn’t be so sure they could ever put a game like this one together again. Technically, the Saints’ secondary was banged up. Still, Gibson’s a likely starter from here on out. If you’ve got the roster spot, you can stash the rookie to see if he can keep it up.
Maurice Stovall, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers — In Antonio Bryant’s absence, Stovall is benefiting from the arm of Josh Freeman. He scored on Sunday, and that could become a trend. As long as Bryant sits out, Stovall could be worth holding onto down the stretch.
Larry Johnson, RB, Cincinnati Bengals — He’s not the starter; in fact, we can’t even be sure at this point how far down the depth chart Larry Johnson will be come Sunday. Still, he is a Bengal, and he has the same schedule as Bernard Scott these next three weeks — Oakland, Cleveland, and Detroit. If he can pick up the offense (and shut his mouth long enough), he could play enough to be worth owning. But Benson’s return should relegate him to cleanup duty at best.
Michael Bush, RB, Oakland Raiders — Sure, he had a great game, even with Darren McFadden back on the field. But I don’t want any piece of the Raiders. You shouldn’t either. If you are desperate for a running back, this one has a pulse, but the talent in Oakland never lives up to expectations.
Julius Jones may never start again for the Seahawks. Justin Gage could be worth upgrading now that he’s out with a severe back injury. Willie Parker just doesn’t look like he’ll get his job back this year. Justin Fargas should lose touches to both Bush and McFadden down the stretch. In desperation, you could let Brian Westbrook go, but I’d try to trade him first. He may not play again this year.
There’s nothing glamorous about pickups at this point in the season. You’re either struggling to find meaning in your season after falling desperately behind the rest of the teams in your league or fortifying and defending your team by building a stronger bench with these free agents.
But the picks are especially un-sexy this week. Pick ’em if you gotta.
Ryan Moats, RB, Houston Texans: While Steve Slaton warmed the bench and thought about what he had done (fumbled), Moats ran for 126 yards and three touchdowns against the Buffalo Bills. And don’t forget about his 25 yards receiving. As a part of the Texans’ offense, Moats is very Slaton-like, but he also saw most of the goal line work on Sunday.
While we’d all like to hum ourselves to sleep and believe Slaton will be the unquestioned starter again heading into Week 9 against the Colts, Coach Kubiak won’t give us that comfort. He’s saying that all three backs, Slaton, Moats and Chris Brown, could play on Sunday, which leaves it up in the air whether Slaton can get his job back.
Whether you have the room or not, all smart Slaton owners will have to pick up Moats this week or risk missing the boat on the Texans’ running game. Those who don’t own Slaton could look at Moats as a speculation grab. If Houston elects to keep him as a starter, we might just have to learn to love him like our own top-drafted Texans running back.
Malcom Floyd, WR, San Diego Chargers: Chris Chambers’ release is a vote of confidence in Floyd, who has shined in a limited role for the Chargers since last season, when injuries forced him into starting duty. Now that he’s on the field as the No. 2 every week, he’s a must-claim in all formats.
The Chargers are a passing team, and Floyd’s big frame is a weapon in the end zone. As Vincent Jackson draws coverage, Floyd will find success.
Dustin Keller, TE, New York Jets: The young tight end played a big part in the offense on Sunday. If this one-game performance suggests he’ll be more involved in the future, he’s worth adding.
Mark Sanchez hasn’t been the most exciting quarterback to watch, but playing from behind forced him to include Keller and unleash the full offense on Miami. The Jets’ receivers and Keller can only get better and more in-sync with Sanchez over the bye week.
Jamaal Charles, RB, Kansas City Chiefs: Larry Johnson slurred his way off the field with a two-week suspension and left the much more promising Charles at the top of the depth chart. He may not hold up to every-down running, but he’s explosive enough to make a play when called upon.
His chance has come at a good time. The matchups are in his favor as he faces Jacksonville and Oakland with the Browns and Bills still on the schedule for the fantasy playoffs.
If you have the bench room to stash Charles, do it, but he’s a risky start until we see how Kansas City will use him as the feature back.
Vince Young, QB, Tennessee Titans: He didn’t blow us out of the water with 125 yards and a score on Sunday, but he didn’t disappoint either. His stats could improve as he gains confidence in this starting role, and his legs will bump his fantasy points when the passing yards aren’t there.
Young is worth adding if you need a backup quarterback or want to take a chance with a third quarterback on your roster.
Justin Fargas, RB, Oakland Raiders: Still productive when needed and when the matchup is right. Still a Raider.
Maurice Morris, RB, Detroit Lions: Much like Moats, Morris showed up in place of Kevin Smith in the Detroit’s “Showdown of Champions” against the Rams on Sunday. Smith went out with an injury, but he claims he could have played more if called upon.
Now, talk suggests Morris could share time in a RBBC with Smith going forward, but Smith will be working to prove he’s everything he’s cracked up to be the rest of this season. In a pinch, you can grab Morris, but how much can half the Lions’ run game really help you?
Joel Dreessen, TE, Houston Texans: With Owen Daniels out for the season, we’d like to see what Swiss-Army-knife-of-the-gridiron James Casey could do. Unfortunately, we won’t. Instead, we get Joel Dreessen. Schaub will make him a target, but Dreessen is no Owen Daniels. Look elsewhere (Benjamin Watson, Fred Davis, Kevin Boss, Dustin Keller) if you can.
Kevin Boss, TE, New York Giants: Eli Manning had to target Boss as the Eagles attacked him on Sunday, and Manning gave him his best game of the season. I don’t see seventy yards and a touchdown happening every week, especially if the Giants can’t get their offense (and Eli Manning) back on track.
Eli just hasn’t utilized the tight end much this year, but he might change that against the Chargers in Week 9. Boss did suffer a small injury on Sunday, but he was able to return. It doesn’t seem like a concern.
LenDale White, RB, Tennessee Titans: He didn’t do much of anything on Sunday, but his role could expand if the Titans become more of a running team under Vince Young than they were with Kerry Collins. Having a lead to protect will help on that front.
If you’re desperate for a running back, White is an option to add in deeper leagues.
Leonard Weaver, RB, Philadelphia Eagles: The big man took carries behind LeSean McCoy on Sunday for some big numbers, but Brian Westbrook’s return should mean the end of his fantasy usefulness.
Don’t just drop these players because they are listed here (unless it’s Marc Bulger), but if you have more promising candidates to add to your roster, these players can all be let go to make room.
Marc Bulger. Marc Bulger. Marc Bulger. Fred Jackson. Derek Anderson. Ryan Fitzpatrick. Larry Johnson. Owen Daniels. Chris Chambers (if you don’t want to see where he lands next). Julius Jones. Donnie Avery.
At some point, we have to stop framing recommendations to start LaDainian Tomlinson with stats from his past performances. “For his career, L.T. averages 100+ yards and bazillion touchdowns against (fill in the blank).”
No crap. L.T. was a dominant fantasy force up until last season, but how much suck did L.T. average just last year? Or over the whole of his career? I’d say he’s averaging a fair amount of suckage right now, and that doesn’t fit in with the pretty little stat book on him. I’m pretty sure he didn’t average zero touchdowns against the Chiefs going into Week 7, but how many tries did he have only to fail? That, my friends, is not a back I want to start.
L.T. is out of luck and out of gas, and the guy who generated all those “stats” that are being quoted at you is dead and buried. In proper Halloween form, he’s bumbling around like a zombie out there for the Chargers.
Luckily, he gets the Raiders this week, which is fitting since Al Davis is practically a zombie himself.
I always have a hard time finding a Halloween costume. Mostly because I’m gigantic. The little costumes you can buy at the store don’t fit me. I just look like the big kid who stretched out his costume. It’s completely lame.
Two years ago, I was Shredder — yes, the baddie from Ninja Turtles. I modified a child-size gladiator costume with some tin foil and added a purple shirt and brown pants to the mix.
Perfect? No, of course not. It was terrible, but it worked for what I needed. I had four females walking around as the karate turtles, so no problems if I have a blasphemy of a Shredder costume.
But that night, while roaming to the next bar, I suddenly found myself face-to-face with a 12-year-old kid wearing a full bodysuit of purple cloth, accented by dark metal shoulder blades and cuffs.
His ninja skills were far superior. Not to mention, he had a whole platoon of Foot Clan lackeys behind him. He was shorter than all of his foot soldiers, but I have never felt so small…
So, hopefully, I can come up with a costume this year that doesn’t lead me to embarrassment. I can’t roll with Shredder again. Ever. But you can roll with these guys this week.
Hot Hands Start of the Week
Chris Wells, RB, Cardinals vs. Panthers To continue our trend of going out on a limb with my “start of the week,” even though the Giants’ Steve Smith burned me a little last week, I’m taking Beanie Wells. A strong week against the Giants’ run defense leads Beanie into one of the softest matchups of the year. The Panthers are tenth in points allowed to running backs, and Jake Delhomme should have some sort of McNabb-puke-esque panic attack the second he steps out on the field against the team that made him what he is today, worthless.
Many screen caps will be made of Delhomme’s faces in this one. I can already predict that.
As scary as it is to trust a rookie who scored his first touchdown just last week, Beanie makes a very nice flex start. I might even give him RB2 status in a tough bye week. Looking ahead, that fantasy playoff schedule ain’t too shabby either.
Braylon Edwards, WR, Jets vs. Dolphins Two rookie cornerbacks are starting? Yes, please! Even dropsies couldn’t ruin that fun, and Edwards handled himself pretty well in his last appearance against Miami. The return of Jerricho Cotchery should liven up this passing game for the Jets, and as long as Sanchez isn’t too busy eating hot dogs, I expect him to get Edwards involved once again. Show ’em what you showed “friend of LeBron,” Edwards!
Matt Forte, RB, Bears vs. Browns If you own him, you’re starting him. That’s not a difficult decision. At least this week you can feel a little less self-loathing for drafting him. This is, of course, all dependent on him doing something of value against the Browns terrible run defense, but all the odds are in his favor.
Forte is a guy I really like, even though I was only able to draft him in one of my leagues. In the second half of the season, the weather should turn colder, and I could see Cutler handing it off quite a bit more. A superstar week against the Browns would go a long way in starting Forte’s return to relevance.
Donnie Avery, WR, Rams vs. Lions If you don’t start him this week, when are you going to start him? Matchups don’t get better than this one unless you’re playing the Titans. Avery is the only Rams receiver of note other than an up-and-coming Danny Amendola. Bulger should, if he has anything left to give, find him in this one for at least one touchdown.
If Avery doesn’t show up here, I think astronauts will be able to hear the click of the “drop this player” button from space.
Lee Evans, WR, Bills vs. Texans Ryan Fitzpatrick is locked in on Evans, and Evans has come back to life. Against the Texans, he should take advantage of that connection for a touchdown. You can feel safe starting Evans again, but T.O.? That’s still a no fly zone.
Zach Miller, TE, Raiders vs. Chargers Always start your tight end against the Chargers. It may not work for Sean Ryan, but hey, is he really a tight end or just an extra offensive lineman that sometimes catches a touchdown pass from Matt Cassel?
I hate trusting a Raider, but Miller has been the only man in this offense that JaMarcus Russell can hit consistently. Miller’s not a terrible start this week.
Cold Shoulders Sit of the Week
DeAngelo Williams, RB, Panthers vs. Cardinals In theory, this week would be a good one for DeAngelo. The Panthers are struggling to find a passing game, and Jake Delhomme is scarred for life after throwing enough picks to play out an NFL draft against Arizona in the playoffs.
You’d think they’d lean on the run, but the Cardinals have excelled at stopping the run this year. They’re tops at it. They’ll take DeAngelo and Jonathan Stewart out of this game as quickly as possible, putting this game in Delhomme’s hands.
And before you think about it, he won’t succeed.
Andre Johnson, WR, Texans vs. Bills Before I say anything, the disclaimer on this sit recommendation is that you must have someone with a better matchup. Don’t just pull in any old player to sub for the mighty, mighty A.J. That said, I don’t think the numbers are a lie when it comes to the Bills’ defense.
Andre Johnson already has a bruised lung to worry about. I can only imagine how much that stings, but the Texans (and A.J.) are saying that he will play this weekend against Buffalo. That’s a good sign for his toughness but a bad one for his fantasy owners. An unhealthy A.J. is hard to put your faith in during these critical weeks of the season.
Buffalo’s rookie safety has become an interception machine. I’m sure he’ll be keeping a close eye on Johnson this week. I could see Schaub having a great day, but I think it will come with the assistance of Owen Daniels, not so much Andre Johnson.
If you can sub out your stud wide receiver, do it. If you can’t, cross your fingers and hope for a significant yardage total.
Alex Smith, QB, 49ers vs. Colts I know you got him off waivers this week, but the Colts murder all quarterbacks not named Peyton Manning. When you practice against Pey Pey, no one can measure up.
I do have a lot of confidence in Smith’s chances down the stretch, and I’m rooting for the guy. Just don’t root for him this week.
Matt Hasselbeck, QB, Seahawks vs. Cowboys DeMarcus Ware and the Dallas defense regained their pass-rushing prowess last week and took Matt Ryan down a notch. Against the Seahawks’ banged-up failure of an offensive line, we could see Hasselbeck leaving this one early again.
The Dallas secondary has been inconsistent to start the year, so there’s sleeper potential in the Seahawks’ passing game. But I’d put my faith in someone else at quarterback given the choice.
Marshawn Lynch, RB, Bills vs. Texans The Texans run defense is better than advertised. Just ask Cedric Benson. Even if Lynch finds room to run, the Bills will be forced to pass all day when the Texans get a big lead.
The numbers on the Texans’ run defense will point towards starting Lynch here, and in a better offense than the Bills’, I might agree. But with the Bills’ struggles and Houston’s recent success at stopping the run, I think the numbers are misleading. Assuming you’re not forced into starting Lynch due to bye weeks, go with another option.
Ricky Williams, RB, Dolphins vs. Jets His look-what-I-can-still-do game against the Saints was impressive, but I don’t think that’s the Ricky you’ll get on a regular basis. The Jets are angry — very, very angry — about the embarrassment they suffered against the Dolphins just a few weeks ago. Rex Ryan will have them revved up and ready to kill. I wouldn’t rely on the No. 2 in the Wildcat to win it for you this week.
Ricky can only do well if a new wrinkle is added to the Wildcat to surprise the Jets. The Dolphins have been pretty good at creating those wrinkles thus far, but the creativity has to run out eventually.
Snoozer Sleeper Pick of the Week
Vince Young, QB, Titans vs. Jaguars It wasn’t too long ago that Vince Young was a shot in the arm for an 0-5 Titans team. They’re in a tougher situation now, but the player is the same. As long as Vince can carry the locker room baggage, he’ll carry this team into better record — not hard to do with zero wins in the books.
Who wants to try to stop both Chris Johnson and Young in the same backfield? Not I. The Jaguars feel the same way. Don’t bet the farm, but if you had to take a flier on a quarterback this week to fill in for Tom Brady or Big Ben, not a bad choice. I still like sleepers like Marc Bulger a little more, but I’m a Young believer.
Song to Ease Your Pain While You Set Your Lineups
“This is Halloween” from The Nightmare Before Christmas.
Is it just me or does the monster under the stars look like Larry Johnson? He looks like a guy that would average 2 yards per carry. And that clown with the tear-away face is the spitting image of LenDale White circa 2008.
I played fantasy basketball for one season a couple of years ago, and after several weeks of setting lineups only to discover I was simply filling in active players into slots based on their game schedule, I spent an afternoon setting my roster through the end of the season. I made no pickups, no drops, and no changes for the entire second half.
I finished third.
I’m sure there are more competitive leagues out there with better scoring systems, different lineups and interesting rules, but it just hasn’t caught my eye yet. Sorry, guys.
The fact that fantasy basketball overlaps with fantasy football pretty much rules me out of ever being able to really get into it. I plan on dominating my opponents deep into the NFL season on my way to a championship, there’s no time to check on whether Blake Griffin is back from his injury.
Guys I’ve mentioned before who we won’t get into today but who also might still be on the waiver wire in no particular order: Miles Austin, WR, Cowboys; Sidney Rice, WR, Vikings; Jeremy Maclin, WR, Eagles; Justin Fargas, RB, Raiders; Andre Caldwell, WR, Bengals; Mike Bell, RB, Saints; Donnie Avery, WR, Rams; Anthony Gonzalez, WR, Colts; Tony Scheffler, TE, Broncos. (If you want to talk about these fools, drop me a line in the comments.)
Shonn Greene, RB, New York Jets
Greene wins the top spot because he has the potential to dominate in a nice offense. His yardage and two touchdowns were in mop-up duty in Oakland. He’ll get a few carries to spell Thomas Jones now that Leon Washington is out for the season, but their running styles are so similar that it would take an injury, fall from grace or a Larry-Johnson-esque Twitter blow up for Jones to give a significant portion of his carries to Greene.
I do like him though when he gets his chance. This rookie has that drive that makes players successful in the NFL. Being gigantisaurus behind one of the best run-blocking lines in football doesn’t hurt either.
Alex Smith, QB, San Francisco 49ers
You know, two years ago, a guy in one of my fantasy leagues said that Alex Smith was going to the Super Bowl when he drafted him as his starting quarterback in the late rounds.
It was right off the heels of Frank Gore’s massive season, and this guy, who shall remain nameless, always has a knack for making outrageous claims during fantasy football drafts. Needless to say, he didn’t finish the season with Alex Smith under center.
But Smith looked like a total badass against the Texans on Sunday in leading the 49ers to three scores, all to Vernon Davis. True, he didn’t get the win, but he did win the starting job in San Francisco. Give him a week or two to feel comfortable in the role, and Alex Smith might just live up to expectations. This week’s matchup against the Colts will test his ability to make a play when it counts.
He’s got the weapons with Frank Gore, Vernon Davis, Michael Crabtree and Josh Morgan. Maybe revival is in the cards for this former first-round pick.
Chris “Beanie” Wells, RB, Arizona Cardinals
Is this Beanie finally awakening to the speed of the NFL? The Cardinals looked to Beanie Wells over Tim Hightower to carry the run game against the Giants this week, and he did. He even notched himself his first NFL score.
It may be a mix of these backs from week to week, but Wells is certainly the most talented in Arizona.
If Beanie can build upon this success, he could be a great add for the second half of the season. The Cardinals have been winning through their defense, and a control-the-clock running game would compliment that very nicely.
Jamaal Charles, RB, Kansas City Chiefs
Pure potential again here, but with Larry Johnson blowing up about his coach’s experience on Twitter and general habit of getting himself (and the ladies) into trouble, I think it’s a good bet we see more of Charles in the coming weeks.
From his time at Texas, I can tell you that he’s no specialist at holding onto the ball, nor is he built to be an every-down back. But what he does have is some blazing speed and moves in the open field. If the Chiefs start featuring him, they’ll probably try and go the Darren Sproles route with him.
Michael Crabtree, WR, San Francisco 49ers
Call it a slow build, but the diva looks worthy of ownership by season’s end. He could have a nice finish, like a great wine but with an idiot for an agent.
Jason Snelling, RB, Atlanta Falcons
Snelling is filling in while Jerious Norwood sits out with more injuries. He showed some burst against the Cowboys, but Michael Turner is still the workhorse of this offense. Snelling’s not really someone I’d want to depend on in any given week, but he’s a warm body if you have a hole to fill this week.
Sigh, that’s what she said.
Fred Davis, TE, Washington Redskins
Chris Cooley might be out of the year with that ankle injury, and in his stead, Davis caught the passes and a touchdown. Cooley has been the leading receiver for the Redskins so far this year, and Davis would pick up that torch easily. He’s not much of a blocker, so expect the Redskins to look deeper on the roster to fill that void left by Cooley at the line. Davis will be all about the passing game.
If you’ve been hurting for a tight end thus far, now’s your chance to snag one who could be in line for a starting role. But then again, he’s still on the Redskins.
Donald Lee, TE, Green Bay Packers
Jermichael Finley’s knee injury should keep him out for at least a few weeks. That leaves Lee alone in the starting role, and he should take advantage as the passing game in Green Bay lights up opponents these next few weeks.
If Cooley’s out for the year, Davis is the better long-term grab, but Lee could definitely have the bigger games for the next few weeks.
Buffalo Bills D/ST
I don’t know how they do it, but even banged-up and missing key players, this defense has created turnovers. The secondary is making up for this defenses weakness in stopping the run, and they just might be worth hanging onto in your league if you used them as a fill this week against Carolina.
Right now, they’re a top-10 fantasy defense.
Names I Keep Mentioning
Mike Wallace, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers
As I said before, Wallace has designed plays coming his way every week in this newly christened Steelers’ passing offense. He should be a reliable fill-in when needed even if he can’t reproduce his yardage and touchdown from Week 7 every week you need him.
New Orleans Saints D/ST
Darren Sharper is the man, and as long the Saints keep the lead, this defense is going to create turnovers all day long. Even trap games like this week against Miami turn into decent performances thanks to Sharper’s ability to find the end zone when he gets the ball in his hands.
Denver Broncos D/ST
Coming off a bye week, don’t forget about the surprise defense of the year. Mike Nolan is making adjustments that win games, and the Broncos are getting to the quarterback. If no one else has taken a chance on them this year, maybe you should.
Braylon Edwards, of stone hands fame, caught almost everything that came his way in his debut with the Jets on Monday night. It’s possible to argue that he was robbed of a second touchdown on the night when a circus catch down the sideline got reviewed on a challenge.
I just wanted sleeper numbers. I was good after the first touchdown snag in the end zone, but this Monday night breakout has me sold on Edwards as a Jet.
Maybe he just got out of sync in Cleveland. Maybe being on a good team, one with more weapons in the passing game, has opened his eyes — and his catching fingers.
Whatever the reason, Edwards looked good in green. I’ll have to ask the Jets what they traded for those hands he was using. Maybe the Browns just have the worst wide receiver gloves in the league.
Get them while they’re hot — and some of them are going to be very, very hot.
Hot Claims Miles Austin, WR, Dallas Cowboys: It’s hard to ignore 250 yards and two touchdowns. That kind of yardage sets records and saves franchises that really, really shouldn’t play with my emotions like that by trying to lose to the Chiefs. Seriously. People are going to remember Miles Austin’s performance, and Wade Phillips says he will see just as many snaps after the bye week against Atlanta, even if he won’t officially be named a starter. You want a piece of that. Week 7 could be the Roddy White-Miles Austin showdown to determine who is the best 200-yard receiver.
Austin Collie, WR, Indianapolis Colts: The rookie had another fine day assisting Peyton Manning to his fifth game with 300 passing yards. As long as the Colts play at this level, it’s a good idea to start every single on of Peyton’s weapons. Manning could turn Alge Crumpler into a 100-yard receiver if he wanted to on any given day. That’s impressive because Alge Crumpler is fat. Note that Collie is not fat, hence easy to make awesome. I am sure you now understand.
Jeremy Maclin, WR, Philadelphia Eagles: So the Eagles have two explosive receivers for Donovan McNabb to target? That’s just not fair. Any given week could be a big one for Maclin or DeSean Jackson as long as they are starting. Heaven forbid they could share the stats. While hard to trust every week, Maclin should be owned. The two-touchdown club membership is only a sign of what’s to come for this rookie in this explosive offense.
Sidney Rice, WR, Minnesota Vikings: As long as the Vikings are passing, Rice will be a part of it. He’s passed up Percy Harvin in this passing game, at last, and Rice has the best leaping ability of all the Minnesota receivers. That’s only an untrue statement when Favre lines up at wideout because we all know he can leap with the strength of five inner children. Those five make all his decisions as well.
Eddie Royal, WR, Denver Broncos: Royal emerged once again as a favorite target of Kyle Orton on Sunday. Maybe Orton just couldn’t see him through the neckbeard these first four weeks? It remains to be seen whether Royal will be a large part of the passing game, but with Brandon Marshall solidifying himself as the No. 1 target and red zone threat, it would make sense for Royal to finally lock down the No. 2 spot he held last season. Still, you’re taking a chance if you get Royal. We’ll have to see how he gets used over the next few weeks.
Jamal Lewis, RB, Cleveland Browns: You can’t expect 100+ yards every week, but Sunday was a promising return for the old veteran running back. As long as Derek Anderson is under center, the Browns should be able to keep defenses honest, especially when it’s the Bills defense. If your desperate for a running back and Lewis is on your waiver wire, he’s worth snagging. Old running backs need loving, too.
Chad Henne, QB, Miami Dolphins: He’s no Peyton Manning, but Henne out-poised Mark Sanchez on Monday night. With a weapon like Ted Ginn, he could do some damage. Don’t go dropping a solid backup quarterback option for Henne, but keep an eye on his performances over the next two or three weeks. Late in the season, he could be an opportunistic start.
Ted Ginn, WR, Miami Dolphins: Speaking of Ginn, Henne made him a star on Monday night, and that trend might continue a la Devin Hester in Chicago. If no one else has punched the Ginn ticket, you should see what he’s worth in a few weeks after Henne has connected with him for a few more long bombs.
Donnie Avery, WR, St. Louis Rams: He’s still the No. 1 in St. Louis, and Marc Bulger returns to the starting role this week. He could make Avery a late-season star again, or Bulger could just look miserable and get broken again. Like those odds?
Mohamed Massaquoi, WR, Cleveland Browns: Though he’s not doing as well as the departed Browns receiver, Massaquoi should play much better when it’s not windy enough to blow down Brady Quinn by his clipboard. It’d also be nice if Derek Anderson completed more than two of his passes in a game.
Andre Caldwell/Chris Henry, WR, Cincinnati Bengals: They’re both getting looks rather than Laveranues Coles when Carson Palmer needs plays late in games. It’s not a bad idea to stash one of them on your bench to see how long the Bengals can pretend Coles is a part of this offense. Caldwell has been the more reliable one, but Henry has the breakout potential.
Mike Wallace, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers: The Steelers have designed plays to take a shot at the end zone with Wallace, and they’ve used those plays at least once in every game this season. Against the Lions, he finally found pay dirt. Trend? Possibly. Worth picking up? Certainly. I like any receiver that gets at least one chance for a touchdown every week.