Another critical bye week hits us right where it hurts, in the middle of the season. At least this week provides us with a few more players that have value from now until the end of the season.
If anyone was silly enough not to pick up Miles Austin after I talked about him for the past two weeks and recommended him as a sleeper start this past week, well, there’s always fantasy basketball, right?
Kidding, of course. Don’t do that to yourself.
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.
As always, the comments are yours. Discuss. Refute. Deny. Bring the funny.