Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Week Five: Pull The Trigger. The Barbershop Quartet

Breakout of the Week

Marion Barber, DAL: Barber had a dismal week against Washington, primarily because he was limited to eight carries in the entire game. This week, all the attention will be on Terrell Owens and Chad Johnson, but I have a feeling Marion Barber will have the most to say come post-game. Cincinnati is ranked 28th against the run so Phillips will take advantage of this statistic all day. This also means that Felix Jones will also benefit from this matchup. Although any Dallas offensive player is worth a start in week 5, Marion Barber should produce like the top five running back he is.


Start Em

Philip Rivers, SD: Rivers had his first below average performance of the 2008 season against Oakland in week 4. The success of LT on the ground played an important role in limiting River's statistics last week. Rivers faces Miami in week 5, which should drastically increase his 2008 statistics from an already remarkable 1,024 yards and 10 touchdowns. Kurt Warner was able to throw for 361 yards and three touchdowns against Miami, so Rivers and company should have a productive week. Eli Manning, NYG: Fresh off of a bye week, Manning enters week 5 without the always deadly Burress. However, Manning led the Giants to a victory in week three without any productivity from Burress until overtime. Trent Edwards, BUF: Edwards continues to remain a consistent fantasy option. Although he does not post yardage statistics like Warner, Kitna, or any other low level passing quarterbacks, he also doesn't make as many mistakes. A solid running game in Buffalo allows Edwards to hit the little passes to move the chains and take big chances with Lee and Hardy. He faces Arizona in week 5 after they allowed Brett Favre to throw six touchdown passes against them. Edwards is a great start in all fantasy leagues.

Others to consider starting: Carson Palmer, CIN; Donovan McNabb, PHI

Sit Em

David Garrard, JAC: Garrard has been decent all year, but the Pittsburgh Steeler's defense has been great all year. In any sport, I will take the team that performs well over the one leader that performs well. Garrard has yet to throw over 250 yards or over one touchdown in any game this season. Pittsburgh is ranked 7th against the pass and only has allowed three passing touchdowns all season. Give Garrard a rest this week and start any viable option you have on your roster. Aaron Rodgers, GB: The only reason I have decided to place him here is because of the recent shoulder injury. The Packers are generally mum when it comes to disclosing injuries, so until he is declared ready to play, we will have little information. If he plays, Rodgers goes up against a mediocre Falcons defense at home. Monitor this situation and if Rodgers is cleared to play, you may want to start him this week. Kerry Collins, TEN: It is now apparent that no player will have a good week against the Baltimore Ravens. Although Tennessee is winning, it is the result of their defense and the running game. Kerry Collins will have another down week and this will be a defensive battle. Reserve Collins in all leagues.

Others to consider sitting: Matt Schaub, HOU; J.T O'Sullivan, SF;

Running Backs

Start Em

Matt Forte, CHI: Not only is Detroit a dirty city, it is also notorious for its terrible sports franchises (Red Wings and Pistons excluded). This year in the NFL is no exception. Detroit is ranked 32nd against the rush and will have trouble stopping Chicago's primary back out of Tulane University. Forte has had a great rookie campaign thus far and will continue to add to his statbook on Sunday. Start him in all leagues this week. Joseph Addai, IND: Fresh off of a bye week, Indy will look to regain the momentum offensively that they have been used to with Peyton Manning. Indy has been trying to commit more to the run to open up looks for Manning and what better way to accomplish this than against the 27th ranked rushing defense of the Houston Texans. Addai has scored at least once in his last two games and he will find the endzone again in week 5. Earnest Graham, TB: Another 60-yard scamper turned a decent week for Earnest Graham into a great performance in week 4. The lacks of carries until the fourth quarter concerned some owners, but Graham still finished with 20 carries for 111 yards and a touchdown. Earnest goes against Denver in week three and should be able to post similar numbers as Larry Johnson did in week 4 (198 yards and two touchdowns).

Others to consider starting: Edgerrin James, ARI; Reggie Bush, NO; Jonathan Stewart, CAR

Sit Em

Clinton Portis, WAS: Portis was able to reach the the 100 yard mark last week, but a tough Philly D and a balanced offensive attack will prevent him from doing so in week 5. Philly is ranked first against the rush, so it is difficult to imagine that he will have a field day. I am not suggesting that you sit Portis for any other running back, but if the options are available, this may be a down week for Portis. LenDale White, TEN: He has been a touchdown machine in the first four weeks (5 touchdowns) but has never rushed for more than 60 yards. Chris Johnson found the endzone twice last week which is a disaster for all White owners. Bench White this week and wait till the matchup is favorable to activate him again. Hopefully, you handcuffed him with Johnson! Selvin Young, DEN: Denver is a nightmare at running back when it comes to fantasy production. One week, Young could rush for 160 yards on 12 carries good for two touchdowns, only to lose his job the next week to the running back third on the depth chart. Denver has seen more running backs in the last 10 years than Brianna Banks has sex partners, due to Shannahan's fickle personality. Young faces Tampa Bay, who did an excellent job stuffing Ryan Grant in week 5.

Others to consider sitting: Deuce McAllister, NO; Julius Jones, SEA

Wide Receivers

Start Em

Calvin Johnson, DET: Johnson was a monster in the first two games of the season and should repeat the same numbers against Chicago this week. Chicago's run defense is superb, but the pass defense has left a lot to be desired. Chicago ranks 28th against the pass and Calvin has replaced Roy Williams as the primary receiver in Detroit. Larry Fitzgerald, ARI: Boldin almost left week 4 in a body bag, so it is safe to say that Fitz should get a lot more attention in week 5. Fitz has 415 yards and two touchdowns on the season, so he should continue to shine against the 4-0 Buffalo Bills. Man does that feel weird to say. Start Fitzgerald in week 5 because the 4-0 Bills made the Rams look like a passing team. Chris Chambers, SD: Teams in the past have just abused the Dolphins offensively. This will be a great week for Rivers to get back on track. Expect Chambers to find the endzone again this week. The Dolphins are ranked 25th against the pass so the Chargers should toss it all day in good old Miami.

Sit Em

Hines Ward, PIT: Hines has not done much since his explosive week 1 performance to justify starting him this week. Fat Boy in Pittsburgh cannot throw the ball for over 200 yards and is banged up from the abuse he has taken early on. Jacksonville's pass defense is rather weak, but Fat Boy never gets it done through the air when the running game is struggling. Willie Parker is out and Mendenhall is out for the year, so sit Ward this week until the running game is established in the Steel City. Randy Moss, NE: Owners at the beginning of the year were hoping that Moss would be able to repeat his 2007 numbers. Now all they are hoping for is an idiot to accept him in a trade package. The injury to Brady has crushed Moss' fantasy reputation and production across the board. Moss faces San Francisco in week 5, meaning Clement and Harris should be able to limit him in week 5. Derrick Mason, BAL: Mason has surprised some owners in 2008, serving as the leading receiver in Baltimore thus far. Baltimore faces a tough Tennessee defense in week 5, which should limit the production of Flacco and Mason.

Tight Ends

Start Em

Dallas Clark, IND:

Tony Gonzalez, KC:

Greg Olsen, CHI:

Sit Em

Chris Cooley, WAS:

Todd Heap, BAL:

Heath Miller, PIT:

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Pull The Trigger? I won't be FRANK!!!

In fantasy football, it is all about the matchups. I would be a returning champ if I would have noticed that Earnst Graham went against a tough team with the division clinched and Clinton Portis went against a porous defense in week 15 of the 2007 season. That was a big "if" and as a result, I sit here writing as the second place finisher, or as some would say, first loser. Every week, I will analyze the matchups of different players to help you determine who is worth starting and who should join your reserves for an early bye week in fantasy land.

Breakout of the Week

Frank Gore, RB, SF: This is the week Frank Gore has been waiting for. He gets to play at home against the worst run defense in the NFL coming off of a huge division win against Seattle. Detroit has allowed an average of 221 yards per game in the first two weeks of the 2008 season. Gore has yet to reach the 100 yard mark this year, but he has spent some time in the endzone every week. In week three, look for Gore to eclipse the 100 yard mark and spend some more time in the endzone. Martz will want to stick it to his former employer, resulting in a lot of scoring regardless of the deficit. If Frank Gore does not explode in week three, I am trading in my San Fran fan card and selecting a new team.

Start Em

Drew Brees, NO: Brees is headed to Denver in week three and hopes for a rebound performance after week two. Denver allowed Phillip Rivers to pass for three touchdown passes and Jamarcus Russell for two. Allowing Russell to throw two touchdowns on you is about as degrading as losing an IQ test to Jessica Simpson. Brees is one of the best quarterbacks in the league and despite missing Colston, should have a huge week against 29th ranked Denver. Matt Cassel, NE: If he is going to prove to fans that he can be the leader in New England, this is the week it will happen. New England faces Miami on Sunday. Miami gave up 140 yards three touchdowns to Anquan Boldin alone in week two. If Boldin can shred the Miami defense, imagine what Moss will do. This type of physical domination should result in Cassel having his his first career day since his sophomore year of high school when he actually played. Jake Delhomme, CAR: Minnesota has been destroyed through the air in 2008. Aaron Rodgers made them look silly and Peyton Manning threw for over 200 yards in the second half. Delhomme will have his favorite target back in week three which will contribute to the increased production by Delhomme. Delhomme struggled last week against Chicago, but so did Manning in the season opener. Look for Delhomme to post decent numbers in week three.

Sit Em

Derek Anderson, CLE: Cleveland is a sloppy mess when it comes to offensive production. This will not change in week three. Baltimore is ranked in the top five in both rush defense and pass defense. Playing in Baltimore is difficult enough, but add the best pass defense in the league and Anderson could be seeing stars by the end of the day. In 2007, Anderson threw for 274 yards, zero touchdowns and one interception. Bench Anderson and wait until Cincinnati to activate him. Jason Campbell, WAS: Jason had a coming out party last week, connecting with Santana Moss for a score, capping off a 321 yard performance. This week, Campbell goes against a decent Cardinals defense that has improved over the year. Bench Campbell this week and wait until he can prove he is worthy of a start every week. Marc Bulger, STL: If he is unable to perform this week, he may be done for his career. Bulger has a great running game in Steven Jackson, a solid receiver in Holt, and a serviceable tight end in McMichael. However, his receiving corp lacks depth and this may cause a problem throughout the year. Until Bulger can prove he is back to his 2006 form, he is nothing more than a reserve in fantasy leagues.

Running Backs

Start Em

Michael Turner, ATL: He already proved that he can run the ball against a weak defense. Turner takes on the Kansas City Chiefs at home, a team that has allowed an average of 213 yards a week, qualifying them for second to last place in the league. He should have a field day as long as his ankle holds up. Brandon Jacobs, NY: Jacobs has gone over 90 yards in each of his first two contests. Running against a porous Cincinnati defense, Jacobs should find the endzone for the first time in 2008. In addition to a weak defense, Cincinnati's lack of scoring power will mean a quick lead by the Giants, followed by clock management through the running game. Jacobs will see over 20 carries, which is a good sign when you are averaging 5.8 yards per carry. Julius Jones, SEA: His breakout performance came last week, but don't be surprised if you see a similar type performance in week three. Seattle will entertain Saint Louis, which is a good thing when your opponent gives up an average of 491 total yards and 39.5 points per game. With Maurice Morris out, Jones will have a big week, so he should be a starter in all leagues.

Sit Em

Jamal Lewis, CLE: As an owner of Lewis, it is difficult for me to put him on this list. However, the matchup strength and past performance of the Brown's offense indicates serious trouble in week three. Lewis has yet to gain over 70 yards in a single game and will face the third best run defense in the Baltimore Ravens. He is nursing an ankle injury that caused some problems in week two. Some relief to Lewis owners is that Cincinnati is next in line on the schedule, so give him a break this week and prepare for Cincinnati. Earnst Graham, TB: Turner faces a tough Chicago defense in week three. With the exception of his 68 yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter last week, Graham was held to 48 yards on 14 carries. Graham is a solid #1/#2 running back, but if you have better options on your roster in week three, don't hesitate to let them produce. Willie Parker, PIT: Parker is off to a great start in 2008 and there is no denying that. However, he failed to find the endzone last week against the Cleveland Browns and faces the number one rush defense in the league. Pittsburgh will have to win Sunday's game through the air, so Parker's touches may be limited. Parker will continue to succeed throughout the year, but this week will not see the same return as week one and week two.

Wide Receiver

Start Em

Torry Holt, STL: Take back the long touchdown catch in week two and Holt has been terrible in 2008. Going up against the 28th ranked pass defense should cure his delayed start in 2008. This game will be a scoring shootout, and without Bruce to steal the spotlight, Holt should put up some big numbers. Start him in all leagues and enjoy his contributions while the matchups are favorable. Steve Smith, CAR: Unless he headbutts his teammates during pregame, Smith is scheduled to play in week three after serving a two game suspension. Smith is a speedy receiver who works well with Delhomme, so expect the two to start off right where they left off. Minnesota is ranked 24th in pass defense and has allowed over 250 yards passing each week. This should allow Smith to rack up the yards and hopefully find the endzone in week three. Santonio Holmes, PIT: Hines Ward has been the leading receiver for the last two weeks, but this should change in week three. Holmes' speed should allow him to get behind Dawkins and company. Romo was able to torches the Eagles for 311 passing yards and 3 touchdowns on Monday night. Although Fat Burger will not pass for that many yards, he may be able to find the endzone. Eddie Royal, DEN: The first time I saw this kid's name was in the endzone while Marshall was serving his one game suspension. The speculation was that his success would end once Marshall returned, but that doesn't seem to be the case. He caught the game winning touchdown in week two, signifying the amount of confidence Cutler has in him. He will continue to succeed, and if anything, the return of Marshall will help him adjust in the NFL. Starting him against 27th ranked New Orleans is advised in week three.

Sit Em

Braylon Edwards, CLE: Enough is enough when it comes to dropped passes. Edwards has more dropped passes than completed passes this season. Edwards made a bet with Michael Phelps that he would catch two touchdowns for every gold medal Michael won. Too bad the bet wasn't for dropped passes because he would be halfway there. Edwards is still a number one receiver, but going against the number one pass defense in week three will not help his confidence. Wait until he proves he can catch the ball to start him again. T.J. Houshmandzadeh, CIN: In terms of receivers, the AFC north has four of top fifteen receivers in the league. Apparently nobody told them that because all of them have failed to find the endzone. Housh goes against the Giants, ranked sixth against the pass, and Palmer has failed to throw for over 140 yards and has zero touchdowns and three interceptions in the past two weeks. I cannot believe I am saying this but bench Housh until Palmer can find his rhythm. Greg Lewis, PHI: Lewis is one of many targets in Philly but will start to see his opportunities decline with the return of Brown and Curtis. DeSean Jackson will continue to succeed due to his speed and route running ability, so he will likely be the number three once the Eagles are healthy. Pittsburgh is ranked 10th and should prevent McNabb from tossing the ball like Romo in week three. Ike Hillard, TB: With Galloway sidelined due to an ankle injury, Hilliard becomes the number one receiver in Tampa. This will allow Chicago to target Hillard and prevent the only real receiving threat from having a big day. He is nothing more than a reserve receiver and should be treated as such in week three.

Tight End

Start Em

Tony Scheffler, DEN v. NO
Vernon Davis, SF v. DET
John Carlson, SEA v. STL
Heath Miller, PIT v. PHI

Sit Em

LJ Smith, PHI v. PIT
Robert Royal, BUF v. OAK
Bo Scaife, TEN v. HOU
Owen Daniels, HOU v. TEN

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Winning on the Waiver Wire: Week Two

Perhaps more important than drafting a good squad is picking up the right players throughout the season on the waiver wire. Fantasy teams lucky enough to snag Ryan Grant, Earnest Graham, or Kevin Walter in 2007 know exactly what I am talking about. In fact, it is so important that ESPN dedicated a series of commercials to the waiver wire aspect. For those of you who have not seen them, you probably still do not know who the aforementioned players are, so don't bother contending this season. For the rest of you, here is a list of some names to avoid and some names to consider.


Tony Scheffler, TE, DEN: At the start of the season, Denver declared Nate Jackson as the starting tight end. However, they also claimed that Selvin Young would be the starter and look how profitable he has been for fantasy owners. The true reality of it all is that Selvin Young is anything but a starter and Nate Jackson has eleven yards in two games. Like I told you in Sleeper v. Creeper, Tony Scheffler will be one of the best sleeper tight ends, if not one of the best all around tight ends, in the NFL. Scheffler has two touchdowns and 136 yards in the first two games of the season. In addition to those stats, he has been targeted four times in the endzone and fell short of another touchdown by four yards. Scheffler is anything but a back up tight end, so you better add him in all leagues.

John Carlson, TE, SEA: Carlson was a rookie at the start of the season, so most fantasy owners avoided him. Since then, Seattle's top four receivers on the depth chart are out and Carlson has been the favorite target in Seattle. He has 130 yards in two games. Despite failing to score a touchdown in the first two weeks, Carlson has been very impressive and will continue to improve in Seattle. If Scheffler is not available, add Carlson immediately.

Matt Jones, WR, JAC: Drugs and night life aside, the kid is a pretty good receiver. At 6'6/218, he has the size of a tight end and the speed of a receiver. He has led all receivers in Jacksonville with receptions and has 130 yards on the season. Garrard continues to target him near the end zone, failing to capitalize on one opportunity and falling two yards short on another. Also, he has been targeted more than any other receiver currently on the wire. As long as the looks are there, expect good things in the future. Add him as a solid number three receiver, and if he starts to find the end zone, consider starting him.

Tim Hightower, RB, ARI: Do not jump on the bandwagon with this one until you consider all the upsides and downsides. The upside is that the Cardinals are giving him the pigskin on goal line situations. Another upside is that Edge is old and his carries may decrease over the long, arduous season. The downside is that he is only averaging nine carries a week at a dismal 2.1 yards per carry. This would result in under twenty yards a week, so unless he gets in the endzone, he will not be worthy of a start. In leagues that award little points on yards and heavy points for touchdowns, you should probably add him. If you are in a yardage league, wait until Edge is on the injury report to take a flyer on Hightower.

Eddie Royal, WR, DEN: Royal should have been unavailable on the wire since last Tuesday, but if he is still available, stop reading and pick him up. The rookie has 14 catches for 183 yards and two touchdowns in two games this season. Despite the return of Brandon Marshall, Royal caught the game winning touchdown and two-point conversion on Sunday. He is a small, speedy receiver which means he will be difficult to cover. In the season opener, he made DeAngelo Hall look like a bad episode of dancing with the stars. Unless he gets pummeled across the middle and suffers a setback, Royal will continue to produce for fantasy owners.

Avoid Them

Justin Gage, WR, TEN: The good news is that he is the number one receiver in Tennessee. The bad news is that either Kerry Collins or Vince Young will be throwing to him. I will let you choose what is better, depression or alcohol. The fact of the matter is that I would rather start a strong number two receiver over a number one receiver in a confused, erratic offense. In addition to the quarterback confusion, LenDale White and Chris Johnson are performing as expected in the backfield.

Michael Pittman, RB, DEN: The same reason for avoiding Hightower in yardage leagues applies to Pittman in Denver. Denver has a three running back system where each running back's workload varies depending on the week. Predicting who will start in Denver is about as easy as predicting what drug Amy Whinehouse will do over the weekend. You know that there are a lot of options and each one will be considered, but that is about it. Once Ryan Torain returns, this will complicate the mess even more. Pittman is a touchdown machine, but justifying a starting role is difficult to do at this point. Monitor him over the next week or two and then make your decision.

LaMont Jordan, RB, NE: I take back all my predictions about Lawrence Maroney. The injury suffered to Tom Brady hurt the entire squad, including the potential of the running game. With Cassel steering the ship, defenses will force him to throw the ball and focus on the run. If Cassel is unable to do so, this will cause problems for the running game all year long. In addition to a inexperienced quarterback, the Patriots have three running backs and will continue to divide the workload throughout the year. Even though I told you Belichick liked him, he doesn't take that into consideration when determining who will get the majority of the carries. Stay away from Jordan until the Patriots make up their mind.

Brandon Stokley, WR, DEN: The emergence of Eddie Royal will significantly affect the role Stokley will have in Denver for the 2008 season. Royal is expected to play opposite of Brandon Marshall, limiting Stokley's playing time to three receiver sets. Denver is dedicated to the air game, dedicating 50 plays on offense to the passing game on Sunday against San Diego. Stokley may see some action on a weekly basis, but his limited role in the offense suggests that he is not worthy of a starting position in fantasy lineups.