October 17, 2019

Fantasy Football: Week 6 Waiver Wire Advice

No small talk this week. It’s straight to the waiver wire for all of us. There are some pretty terrible teams on bye this week.

Bye week: Carolina Panthers, Chicago Bears, Jacksonville Jaguars, New Orleans Saints

Quarterback                               

Brandon Weeden – It looks like Weeden is going to be a viable bye week replacement in many leagues. The Browns aren’t very good and will likely need to throw a great deal. He certainly should be owned in 2-QB leagues as it looks like the Browns are finally phasing Greg Little out of the offense which can only help Weeden.

Kirk Cousins and Rex Grossman Robert Griffin III was concussed in Week five and it is unclear if Griffin will play in week six. Cousins came on in relief of Griffin and was uneven which is to be expected. However, Mike Shanahan hasn’t said whether he will go with the veteran Grossman or Cousins should Griffin miss this week.

Brady Quinn – No. I mean really no. Only in the deepest of leagues and I assume that would be a two QB league. I don’t see Quinn being successful as the starting QB this week (I’m assuming Matt Cassel does not play after his concussion). The Chiefs are going to ride Jamaal Charles as long as they can and attempt to minimize Quinn’s involvement in the game.

Tim Tebow – I think we saw how the New York Jets will use Tim Tebow for the foreseeable future. This usage pattern leaves Tebow as useless in all leagues.

Matt Flynn – Pete Carroll said that Matt Flynn is not 100% healthy so it looks like Russell Wilson will continue to manage the Seahawks offense until Flynn gets healthy.

Rusty Smith – Who? Exactly. Leave him on the waiver wire. The Titans will continue to roll with Matt Hasselbeck until Jake Locker returns. Note – Locker is already out for week six.

Running back

Arizona Cardinal running backs Ryan Williams is out for the season with shoulder surgery. Beanie Wells is out until week 12 at least with his own toe injury. That leaves William Powell, Alfonso Smith and LaRod Stephens-Howling to pick up the slack. Kent Somers covers the situation better than I could here. In short, for fantasy purposes none of these players is worthy of an addition. There won’t be enough of an opportunity for one to shine and the Cardinals offense has not been conducive to a successful RB this year as they have an awful offensive line.

Somers also speculates on free agent RBs that the Cardinals could target – Joseph Addai, Tim Hightower, Steve Slaton, Cadillac Williams and Maurice Morris. I have to imagine that Hightower is the only viable option out of that group and the Redskins signed Ryan Grant instead of Hightower earlier this year because Hightower needed another knee surgery.

Finally, I saw (and I can’t recall the source) a note suggesting the Cardinals should explore a trade for Chris Ivory. Ivory could be intriguing as he’s always run hard, but he’s buried on the Saints depth chart and will likely not get into a game in the near future without a trade.

Green Bay Packers running backs – Cedric Benson is done for at least the next eight weeks and potentially the entire regular season with a foot injury. To fill in for Benson will be Alex Green, John Kuhn and James Starks. Green is the most intriguing of the three as he has the highest ceiling and could be a three down back. He’s got a ceiling higher than Benson’s and could end up being a high end RB2. His chances of hitting that ceiling are certainly low.

Kuhn is a short yardage/third down specialist who is best left on the waiver wire in all leagues. Starks has been inactive for the last few weeks so he’s certainly low on the depth chart, but if Green is injured or underperforms, Starks is the next man up.

David WilsonWilson has begun to climb out of Tom Coughlin’s doghouse and with Andre Brown’s injury this past weekend Wilson is back to being the Bradshaw handcuff. Bradshaw had a phenomenal week last week, but he’s never been the picture of health. Wilson has that home run hitter’s ability and should be owned in deeper leagues as a lottery ticket.

Rashard Mendenhall – He looked great and had no issues with his knee. Jonathan Dwyer was inactive for the game and can be cut in all leagues. Mendenhall has a great matchup this week against the Titans.

Darius Reynaud – In return leagues, Reynaud is likely on your radar. However, with Javon Ringer heading out for the next four to six weeks due to another injury, Reynaud is likely the backup to the awful Chris Johnson. Johnson turned back into a pumpkin last week and will likely struggle for the rest of the season.

Bernard Scott – He is done for the year with a torn ACL which elevates Brian Leonard to the backup for BenJarvus Green-Ellis.

Wide Receiver

James Jones – If Jones is on the waiver wire in your league, he should probably be your first priority pick among WRs. He scored another two TDs and he should continue to perform as a WR2/flex play in most leagues.

Devery Henderson – Henderson’s breakout game was due to Lance Moore’s injury. Henderson will likely slide back to the third WR for the Saints and that has value, but don’t expect this past week’s performance to be replicated.

Robert Meachem – Meacham performed well in the Superdome. I think we’ve seen this before. He’s best left on the waiver wire. And don’t forget, Vincent Brown is due back at some point this season.

Cleveland Browns WRs – It looks like the Greg Little experiment may be coming to an end. This week we saw two solid performances from WRs who were off the radar in nearly all leagues. Jordan Norwood had nine targets and caught them all. As I noted above, the Browns will have to throw a lot. Norwood looks like a potential PPR darling (who could replace the injured Danny Amendola on your squad).

Josh Gordon exploded for a huge performance last week catching two passes for 82 yards and 2 TDs. Gordon’s performance (should he keep starting) will be more volatile. It’s not clear what the Browns will do with Mohamed Massaquoi set to return and Josh Cribbs and Travis Benjamin also in the mix. There is value to be had (especially in PPR leagues), but it’s not certain yet where it will come from.

Devin Hester and Earl Bennett Alshon Jeffery is out for the next four to six weeks with a broken hand. Jeffrey will be replaced by Hester and Bennett in some fashion. Jeffrey wasn’t valuable except in deep leagues and I believe Hester and Bennett will have little value going forward.

Kyle Williams and Mario ManninghamBoth had solid games, but this was due to the matchup with the Bills. Leave both on the waiver wire except in the deepest of leagues.

Danny Amendola – Amendola is out for the next six weeks and his replacement is going to be Chris Givens who looks to be a boom or boost play. Austin Pettis and the generally invisible Steve Smith are other options who hold more hope for PPR leagues.

Tight End

Joel Dreessen – Dreesen has caught TDs in three straight games. He’s nothing more than a bye week option in deeper leagues as the the Broncos also have Jacob Tamme at TE. However, it looks like Dreessen may have passed Tamme in the pecking order.

Kyle Rudolph – Rudolph has another good matchup against the Redskins who are in the top five in points allowed to TEs.

Fred Davis – In the same game, Davis also has a favorable matchup, but it’s unclear who will be quarterbacking. You should be able to wait until later in the week to see who is the QB.

TE playing the Titans – Last week, we saw the Titans not give up tons of points to a TE. It’s unclear if it was a choice by the Vikings or if the return of Colin McCarthy to the linebacking corps for the Titans has improved the defense enough. That said, your TE of the week is Heath Miller. I like him as a low end TE1 in the matchup.

Jermichael Finley –Also, your weekly reminder to trade or cut Finley. He left last week’s game with a shoulder injury. He’s not as good as you thought and he’s not as healthy as you hoped.

David ThomasJimmy Graham did not contribute at all in the Saints come from behind victory due to an ankle injury. Should Graham miss time, David Thomas will likely elevate to the TE1 role in the Saints offense which offers TE2 upside for fantasy purposes.

Kicker

Greg Zuerlein – He is still available in 33% of Yahoo! leagues. Get him and cut Mason Crosby or Sebastien Janikowski, Garrett Hartley, or any other number of players.

Billy Cundiff – As I noted last week, the Redskins get a fair number of FG opportunities and I can’t see Cundiff lasting on the roster past Tuesday. Monitor the new FG kicker and add for a bye week replacement.

Defense

Miami Dolphins – The Dolphins face the Rams, bye week, Jets, Colts, Titans, and Bills over the next six weeks. That’s quite a nice run. And look who they face in weeks 15 and 16 when playoffs are played in most normal leagues – Jacksonville and Buffalo. Grab them now.

Pittsburgh Steelers – The Steelers defense has not played up to its lofty history, but this is the week to play them as they face the Tennessee Titans off a short week. Yes, the Steelers will be without Troy Polamalu, but this is the week to play the Steelers.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Detroit Lions – A couple of deep league options here. The Bucs are coming off a bye and should be well prepared to take on the Brady Quinn All-Stars. The Lions face turnover machine Michael Vick and the Philadelphia Eagles. They are a risky play as the Eagles are a better team at home than on the road, but if you are desperate the Lions are an option.

St. Louis Rams – The Rams are no more than a bye week fill-in going forward even though they’ve been quite successful so far. They face the Packers, Patriots and 49ers twice over the next seven games, but they do have the Bills, Jets and Cardinals during that same stretch.

Chris Garosi is a contributor for District Sports Page. One of his favorite sports memories is witnessing Wilson Alvarez’s no-hitter at Memorial Stadium in 1991. Chris has played fantasy sports since the pre-Internet days and participates in any league for any sport to which he’s invited. He even won an XFL fantasy league. Really. You can follow him on Twitter at @chrisgarosi.

 

Fantasy Football: Week 5 Notes and Survivor Pool; Start ‘em and Sit ‘em

Week 5 started with one of the last unbeaten teams falling as the St. Louis Rams defeated the Arizona Cardinals. Kevin Kolb is likely in witness protection as I type this – it was a brutal night for him and the Cardinals will not be able to succeed if they cannot fix their offensive line problems.

Let’s take a look at who to start and sit this week. Also, there is a bit of a change to my Survivor Pool rankings as well.

Remember, I usually like to use Rotoworld’s rankings as a quick guide and then see where I can take advantage of lower or higher rankings. Follow along, as I read aloud. If you have questions, just leave a comment or send me a note on Twitter.

On bye this week: Dallas Cowboys, Detroit Lions, Oakland Raiders, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Quarterback                               

Up: Christian Ponder has been nicked up a bit this week, but his matchup is too juicy to sit him. He is a perfect bye week replacement for owners of Tony Romo or Matthew Stafford. Expect top 10 production out of Ponder against the lowly Tennessee Titans defense.

Andy Dalton also has an intriguing matchup against a Dolphins defense which has given up a ton of yards through the air, but has not allowed TDs. I think this is the week that the Dolphins defense breaks.

I expect Matt Ryan to be the highest scoring QB this week as the Redskins can’t stop anyone. That game should be a shootout.

Further down the list, I’d take a look at Alex Smith this week against a soft Buffalo Bills defense.  The Bills won’t be as porous as they were against the Patriots last week, but expect a top 12 performance for Smith this week.

Down: The Pittsburgh Steelers are due to get Troy Polamalu and James Harrison back in the lineup this week. That’s bad news for Michael Vick. I think the Steelers (coming off a bye) should be able to harass Vick into a performance which will be outside of the top 15.

Matt Schaub was solid last week in a great matchup. This week he walks into a matchup on Monday night against a Jets team which needs to win. Yes, Darrelle Revis is no longer out there, but the Jets are another week removed from his departure and should be adjusted. I see Schaub finishing outside the top 15 and would start Christian Ponder and Alex Smith over him.

I don’t see Cam Newton as a top 10 QB this week, but I’m not sure you bench him unless you have a great second option. I’d still start him over Ponder, but it’s going to be close between the two. However, the risk is likely not there to take Newton out of your lineup. The Seahawks defense will likely terrorize the Panthers offensive line, but I think Newton has the skills to turn some of that terror to joy.

Running back

Up: Push Reggie Bush into the top 5 in PPR leagues as the Cincinnati Bengals like to give receptions to RBs (as well as a healthy amount of rushing yards).

Willis McGahee faces a Patriots defense which has been very good against the run. Or have they? They have faced Chris Johnson, Ryan Williams, Ray Rice and Fred Jackson/C.J. Spiller (both coming off of injuries) in the first four weeks. Not exactly the 1927 Yankees of running backs with the exception of Ray Rice). And how did Ray Rice do? He ran for 101 yards, scored a TD and picked up five catches for 49 yards. Expect a top 10 performance from McGahee and if you are considering benching him in a two RB league where you can flex a RB/WR, don’t do it. Keep Willis in the lineup.

Trent Richardson moves into the top 8 for me this week with the news that Rocky Bernard is out for the New York Giants. Richardson is a true three down back and I like his matchup this week. The Giants line is great as a pass rushers, not as great against the run.

I’d start Alfred Morris as a top 5 option again this week. He’s for real. If I had the choice between him and Jamaal Charles this week, I’d go with Morris.

Down: Rashard Mendenhall is back this week for the Pittsburgh Steelers, but I’d wait a week to start him unless your team is decimated by injuries or bye week issues. I see his production as a low end flex for this week, but a low-end RB2 for the rest of the season.

The Chargers backfield is a mess right now. I’m not sure what Norv Turner is doing, but he clearly doesn’t play fantasy football. I’m not sure what you can count on from either Ryan Mathews or Jackie Battle this week. Kevin Acee said as much here on Twitter. The matchup is great, but I’d expect around top 20 production from both of them. For the rest of the season, I still see Mathews as a solid RB1 who makes a good trade target.

Chris Johnson was great last week against the vaunted Texans’ defense. He won’t be great this week against the Vikings defense. He just doesn’t seem to be the same player he was when he earned the moniker CJ2K. I see Johnson falling outside of the top 20 in production this week. If you can deal him I’d also look at doing that if someone believes he’s back.

In other backfield messes, I’d avoid Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller as it’s not clear where the touches will go and the 49ers will likely bottle up both of them.

No one should be starting Shonn Greene except in the deepest of leagues. Indeed, he should probably be on the waiver wire in most leagues. I even traded for him this week just so I could cut him. His matchup is awful against the Texans and I can’t see the Jets making any headway on the ground at all. I’d start Mendehnall, Jacquizz Rodgers, Kendall Hunter and maybe even Andre Brown (if you think the Giants go back towards more of a time share) over Greene.

This is not a note to take LeSean McCoy out of any lineup, but know that McCoy has a bit of a knee injury and the Steelers are getting healthier. I’d see McCoy’s production closer to ten than five this week. Also look for Bryce Brown to get a few more touches than normal and snag Brown as a handcuff if you have McCoy.

Wide Receiver

Up: I was wrong about Marques Colston so I will overreact and put him in in my top 10 this week. The Saints are back at home and they have to win at some point. Moreover, Lance Moore is out this week. The Saints aren’t going to win by running the ball, so Colston is the top option in New Orleans.

Brian Hartline will not duplicate his effort from last week, but he is a legitimate threat each and every week. The Cincinnati Bengals secondary still isn’t healthy. Start Hartline and expect a solid WR2 value.

James Jones has a fantastic matchup against the Colts this week. He played extensively when Greg Jennings went out with an injury. It also doesn’t look like Randall Cobb is a threat in two receiver sets so expect a full complement of snaps for Jones in a high-powered offense. I like Jones as a top 15 play this week.

Pierre Garcon is going to struggle all year with a foot injury, but he has a chance to have a good matchup. This recommendation is based on a potential injury in the Falcons secondary. If William Moore is listed as out, I’d bump Garcon up in to the top 20 for the week. If not, play him as a flex option only.

Greg Little has a great matchup. Greg Little has hands of stone. Brandon Weeden has averaged 42 pass attempts per game this year. Both Travis Benjamin and Mohamed Massaquoi are out this week. Weeden has to throw to someone and that someone is Little. It will also be interesting to see how the Browns use Josh Gordon this week. I think Little is a top 30 option and I’d start him over Kenny Britt (I know he’ll likely be out, but he has a late game and I’d put Little in for the early game).

In deeper leagues, I’d look at Jonathan Baldwin as the Ravens haven’t been the best at stopping WRs. I’d look at him as a flex option in 14 to 16 team leagues.

Another deep league play is Mario Manningham against the Buffalo Bills. The Bills have been very poor against non-WR1s according to the Football Outsiders and he and Alex Smith look to be getting into a rhythm.

Down:  Demaryius Thomas has a very good matchup, the Patriots have been really good against number one WRs (Torrey Smith excluded). Peyton Manning isn’t going to make downfield throws like the Ravens did with Flacco so I’d move Thomas out of the top 20 this week.

In the same game, I’d nudge Brandon Lloyd down to about 20th in the rankings as well as the Broncos have also succeeded against number WRs this year.

I would push Brandon Marshall out of the top 15 (but just barely). The Jaguars are not a good team, but they have been able to control WRs to some degree. I still think Marshall is a start in most leagues, just don’t expect top 10 scoring.

Drop Steve Smith out of the top 20 as well as Seattle can shut down top WRs with their big cornerbacks. Smith isn’t exactly Lew Alcindor and the Panthers won last week with Cam Newton’s legs, not Steve Smith’s. Expect the Panthers to continue with that game plan until Smith pipes up and complains.

Hakeem Nicks is out again this week.

Tight End

Up: Our weekly “Who are Tennessee Titans facing?” update brings Kyle Rudolph into the picture. The Vikings’ TE disappointed last week so he could be on the waiver wire in your league. If he is, grab him and start him.

Scott Chandler had a head injury last week, but he seems to be over it. The 49ers have given up four TDs in the first four weeks. I expect to see 60 yards and a TD from Chandler and put him in the top 10.

Jared Cook will be the safety blanket this week for Matt Hasselbeck. The Vikings are OK against the TE, but I can see the Titans having to throw a great deal this week.

Down: Sorry to pick on Jermichael Finley again this week, but the Colts have been good against TEs this year. They haven’t played great TEs, but sit Finley as I expect production outside of the top 12 this week.

Fred Davis is not an option this week. The Falcons can control the TE and there are a number of options out on the waiver wire better than Davis.

Kicker

Up: Shaun Suisham is going up against and Eagles defense which has been relatively friendly to kickers. And with the Steelers offense still assumed to struggle a bit on the ground, field goal opportunities to be there. I put Suishamin the top 12 for kickers this week.

Down: On the other side of the field has been disappointing Alex Henery. The Steelers have been tough so far on FG kickers so push Henery outside of your top 12 this week.

Defense

Up: The Minnesota Vikings face the Tennesse Titans and new starting QB Matt Hasselbeck. I believe the Titans will score a bit, but Hasselbeck can be a turnover machine at times. I expect top 10 defensive performance out of the Vikings this week.

A deeper league play might be the Cleveland Browns owned in only 11% of Yahoo! leagues. The Browns are coming off a 10 day rest and face a Giants team which will be missing one of its top WR targets in Hakeem Nicks.

Down: I believe many players will be on the Atlanta Falcons this week as they face the Washington Redskins. The Redskins have not turned the ball over a great deal and they are at the top of the league in per game scoring. The Falcons don’t have the weapons to take advantage of the Redskins’ struggles on special teams. I can see the Falcons being right around the number 20 defense for the week.

Survivor

Updates since my column earlier in the week are in bold. In week four, I saw all 117 entries in one pool I’m in make it through to week five. So, I assume that if you were still alive in week four, then you’re still alive now.  Not that week four was without drama as my number three and four picks barely squeaked by with late game heroics. And my team to avoid won in a laugher.

Let’s take an early look at Week 5 options. At first glance, this looks like a tough week with a few land mines among the big favorites.

On bye this week: Dallas Cowboys, Detroit Lions, Oakland Raiders, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Survivor Pool – Week 5 selections

Here is what we have for a top 10 from Office Football Pool and ESPN as of early Sunday morning:

Office Football Pool

ESPN Eliminator Challenge

Team

Picks

Team

Picks

1

New York Giants

35.30%

1

New York Giants

36.20%

2

San Francisco 49ers

29.10%

2

Green Bay Packers

18.60%

3

Green Bay Packers

9.80%

3

San Francisco 49ers

9.90%

4

Minnesota Vikings

7.30%

4

Chicago Bears

6.50%

5

Houston Texans

4.30%

5

Arizona Cardinals

5.70%

6

Chicago Bears

3.40%

6

Cincinnati Bengals

5.10%

7

Cincinnati Bengals

3.30%

7

Baltimore Ravens

3.70%

8

Baltimore Ravens

2.40%

8

Minnesota Vikings

3.60%

9

New England Patriots

1.50%

9

Houston Texans

3.40%

10

New Orleans Saints

0.90%

10

Atlanta Falcons

1.30%

The Giants are the clear favorite of the masses at this point. My early top 3 picks for the week are listed below (final column up Sunday):

  1. San Francisco 49ers – The 49ers struggled on the road at Minnesota, but they move back home to face a Buffalo Bills team that was embarrassed last week against the New England Patriots. The 49ers have the defense to stop the Bills and the Bills showed last week they cannot stop the run. I give the 49ers a 83% chance to win.
  2. Minnesota Vikings – I may be going off the board a bit here, but I like this matchup for the Vikings. Chris Johnson looked good last week, but a lot of those yards were in the second half when the game was out of hand. And the Vikings can stop the run with the best of them. The Vikings got Jerome Simpson back and look like a complete offense. Their defense does struggle against the pass a bit, but it shouldn’t be a problem for them to win. I give the Vikings a 74% chance to win.
  3. Green Bay Packers – I’d bump the Packers up to number three now with the news that Vontae Davis is out and Dwight Freeney is questionable (game-time decision) for the Colts defense. I think we’ll see a high scoring affair and the Colts will keep it close coming off of their bye, but the Packers offense should overwhelm. I give the Packers a 71% chance of winning.

  4. Pittsburgh Steelers – Hopefully, we’ve learned from last week’s Falcons game that teams with a 10 day break do have an advantage. The Steelers are coming off a bye so they have an even longer break than the Panthers did and look to get the services of Rashard Mendehnall back in their backfield. The Steelers defense is also looking to get back James Harrison and Troy Polamalu. The Eagles are 3-1, but have not looked like a 3-1 team for long stretches of games. I believe the bye week helps the Steelers immensely Finally, Mike Tomlin is 4-1 in his short coaching career coming off a bye and has won four straight. I give the Steelers a 70% chance of winning the game.

Other teams I like this week:  Houston Texans (the Texans should take care of the lowly New York Jets, but the Jets are a desperate team so tread with caution); Chicago Bears (I can’t see the Jaguars overcoming the swarming Chicago defense in a what should be a low scoring affair).

As for the avoid list, I’d lean away from the New York Giants until I know what Hakeem Nicks’ injury status is. The Browns looked like a passable NFL team last week against the Ravens and they have a 10 day break coming into this matchup. And if Greg Little had marginal hands, they might have beaten the Ravens. The Giants are getting healthier on defense, but their offense is a bit nicked up. I’m sticking with this even though the Giants are number one on many lists as I think the Browns will keep it close.

If you get bonus points for picking an underdog, I’d look at the San Diego Chargers on the road in New Orleans. The Saints looked much better last week against the Packers, but still lost. The Saints are looking more and more like the “Aints” of old. I assume there will be a run on paper bags soon.

Just a reminder, if you ever wanted to see what Vegas thinks each team’s “chances of winning” are, use this handy little converter to transform money lines into win percentages. You can also create a spreadsheet if you’d like (or use this one – scroll to the bottom) to do it for fun at home. This percentage chance to win is another quick way to gauge win expectations for each team each week. You can get a variety of money lines here or here.


Chris Garosi is a contributor for District Sports Page. One of his favorite sports memories is witnessing Wilson Alvarez’s no-hitter at Memorial Stadium in 1991. Chris has played fantasy sports since the pre-Internet days and participates in any league for any sport to which he’s invited. He even won an XFL fantasy league. Really. You can follow him on Twitter at @chrisgarosi.

 

Fantasy Football: Week 5 Waiver Wire Advice

The official officials made their return and it didn’t take long for the booing to commence. It was another exciting weekend around the NFL. There were a few key injuries this week, but not too many so our list of targets grows smaller as our need (due to bye weeks) grows larger. As always, the Survivor column will be out on Wednesday and Sunday morning we’ll have a final look at the start/sit options.

Bye week: Dallas Cowboys, Detroit Lions, Oakland Raiders, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Quarterback                               

Matt Hasselbeck – I was excited by Jake Locker’s performance from week 3. Unfortunately, he didn’t get long to build on it as he was sacked and knocked out of the game early in the first quarter against the Texans. On to the field trotted Matt Hasselbeck. At this time it is unclear how much time Locker will miss, but the Titans offense has some weapons which make Hasselbeck an intriguing bye week replacement. Locker will likely be out for multiple weeks so Hasselbeck is viable in 2 QB leagues and other deep leagues.

Ryan Tannehill Tannehill put up one of the more surprising performances in Week 4. He threw for over 400 yards against what had been a stout Arizona defense. I feel safe in saying that he won’t throw for 400 yards again this season. I wouldn’t change my evaluation of him – he’s still a low end QB2 best left on the waiver wire.

Kevin Kolb The Cardinals keep winning and Kolb keeps starting at QB. At this point, I can’t see John Skelton getting the starting gig back soon. Kolb also has the advantage of Beanie Wells not being the in backfield mix anymore. He’s a solid QB2 so far this year and certainly is a viable bye week QB. Grab him if your backup has underperformed this year.

Tim Tebow Oh, I don’t know if it’s “Tebow Time”, but Mark Sanchez’s performance last week puts Tebow to the forefront of discussions in New York. I can’t see the Jets making a change this week as Tebow would be set up to fail against the Houston Texans marauding defense. The Jets don’t have a bye until week 9 so I’m not sure they will wait that long to make the change, but that would be the most opportune time.

Matt Flynn Russell Wilson has been underwhelming and it’s not clear that the Seahawks trust him to do any more than “manage” the game. Flynn was the big free agent signing in the offseason, but the notes today say that Flynn isn’t “full speed.” That said, I can’t believe the Seahawks paid Flynn all that money to sit on the bench all year. I’d look to drop Wilson in all leagues and monitor Flynn. He could be behind center in a couple of weeks giving a boost to all Seattle WRs.

Running back

New England running backs – I was wrong about the Buffalo Bills defense. The Patriots had no problem carving them up by land, air and sea. However, the win muddled the running back picture in New England a bit. Brandon Bolden emerged as the handcuff to Stevan Ridley who I believe remains the starter. Danny Woodhead remains valuable in deeper PPR leagues, but is too volatile to roster and can be used as a bye week fill-in Shane Vereen is the odd man out and it’s possible that Ben Vereen will have more value than poor old Shane. The tough part with the New England running game is the Patriots seem to tailor (more than any other team) their weekly offensive plan to the opponent. So, it’s possible that the coaching staff may emphasize one back over another due to perceived matchups. I’d roster Ridley in all leagues and have Bolden on speed dial as a hand cuff.

Rashard Mendenhall – Coming off a bye, it looks like the Steelers are ready to insert Mendenhall back into the lineup. I imagine the Pittsburgh staff will ease him back into the starting role (as no one in that backfield has grabbed the job). This seems to be the year of super human recoveries from ACL surgeries so it’s possible Mendenhall has more value than I assumed in the preseason. At this point, I’d count on him as a low end RB2 for the rest of the season, but would only use him as a bye week fill-in this week should you be without DeMarco Murray or Darren McFadden.

Jackie Battle – Battle got the start for the Chargers this week and performed well from a fantasy perspective. He picked up two TDs, had four receptions, but only garnered a 2.6 average per carry on 15 rushing attempts. It is possible that the Chargers backfield is moving more towards a committee than Ryan Matthews dominating the carries. I’m relatively sure that Battle will steal the goal line carries for the near future. Battle is an option in deeper leagues or touch down heavy leagues. I’m not sure he’ll four more passes for the season, but Curtis Brinkley was inactive so anything is possible.

Alfred Morris – Morris isn’t out there on the waiver wire (or if he is go grab him immediately), but this is more about him solidifying himself as an every week play. He was a horse for Washington against Tampa Bay. Count on him as an RB1 for the rest of the season (barring injury) and if someone wants to sell high on him take advantage of it.

Saints Running backs – I will leave this in there from last week because it is still viable. Cut them all except Darren Sproles. One of the reasons I don’t like to back the Saints in Survivor pools is because they can’t salt a lead away by running the ball. They seem unable to do so even though they have some talent in the backfield. However, there is no reason for you to waste a roster spot on Mark Ingram, Pierre Thomas or Chris Ivory.

Jorvorskie Lane – Lane looks like he might be the goal line back for the Miami Dolphins and could drop the value of Reggie Bush as a result. Bush owners should monitor.

Wide Receiver

Brian Hartline – No one saw that coming. Hartline had 21! Targets on the day a number he won’t likely match. Hartline is a fine WR, but he won’t end up as a top 5 WR (which is where he is now in many of my leagues). I’d grab Hartline for WR depth, but don’t go crazy over him. I see him more likely to have more days where he catches five balls for 70 yards than eight for 125 and a TD. He’s a flex play/bye week replacement in my eyes.

Leonard Hankerson – I’ll put Hankerson here again as I think some folks missed that he’s going to start regardless of whether Pierre Garcon plays or not. Josh Morgan has been relegated to the bench. Hankerson is still a work in progress as a WR, but I like him as a match up play for the rest of the season.

New York Jets WRs Santonio Holmes went down in a heap without being contacted, fumbled the ball away and had it returned for a TD. There is not diagnosis for Holmes’ injury, but reports are that it is a multi-week injury (perhaps season ending). That leaves Chaz Schilens, Jeremy Kerley , Clyde Gates and Patrick Turner as healthy WRs on the Jets’ roster and Stephen Hill still nursing an injury. I won’t spend a lot of time as the Jets offense is horrible. Stephen Hill has loads of potential, but is still raw as a talent. Schilens had shown flashes in Oakland and could still be useful. The remaining players are no more than waiver wire fodder. Hill and Schilens are deep league plays only. I don’t see anyone really worth owning on the entire Jets offense.

Ramses Barden – I know he’s been covered before, but reports are that Hakeem Nicks’ knee injury is not improving. If Nicks has to miss considerable time, Barden stands to benefit as does Domenik Hixon. It’s unclear how the Giants might play it with Hixon and Barden if Nicks is out. Barden is a flex option in most leagues as is Hixon if Nicks is out for a long period of time.

James JonesGreg Jennings injury means James Jones will likely start this week. Jones is a solid addition as Jennings has not shown he can stay healthy. The Packers offense is not the same as prior seasons

Donnie Avery – If he was waived while on bye, go and get him (especially in PPR leagues). He’s a worthy WR2/3.

Tight End

Scott Chandler – Chandler has been a top 5 TE in most leagues. He did suffer a potential concussion this past week. It looks like he will be OK, but monitor the situation. Chandler has shown uncanny athleticism and Ryan Fitzpatrick is certainly looking for him. I’d certainly rather have him on my roster for the rest of the season than Jason Witten, Jermaine Gresham, Fred Davis Jermichael Finley and Jacob Tamme (or for a bye week fill in for Brandon Pettigrew).

TE playing the Titans – Your weekly reminder on the Titans sieve-like defense with regards to TEs. This week’s contestant is Kyle Rudolph. Rudolph had a poor week four so perhaps he is dropped by his owner. If so, scoop him up and expect top 5 production for your fantasy squad this week.

Niles Paul – In return yardage leagues, Paul makes an intriguing deep league play. He picked up two kickoff returns this week against the Bucs. It’s unclear if this is a shift away from Brandon Banks, but Paul is likely eligible as a TE (remember he’s a converted WR) and has the skillset to succeed as a returner.

Kicker

Greg Zuerlein – He is best offensive player on the St. Louis Rams. And Jeff Fisher has shown that he will let Zuerlein kick from anywhere on the field. He’s a top 5 kicker the rest of the way especially in those leagues with bonuses for 50+ yard FGs.

Billy Cundiff – This isn’t so much about Cundiff as it is about the Redskins offense. The offense has attempted 10 FGs in four games so if Washington decides to replace Cundiff, pay attention to who they sign as he will have chances to score. I don’t see Washington dropping him after hitting the game winning FG, but it’s still a possibility.

Defense

Minnesota Vikings – The Vikings are up against the Tennessee Titans who will likely have Matt Hasselbeck under center. The Vikings also have Percy Harvin on returns making them an even better option this week.

Cincinnati Bengals – Watch the injury report this week to see if the Bengals get any of their injured defensive backs back. They put up points last week and could be in for a good week against the Miami Dolphins.

Chris Garosi is a contributor for District Sports Page. One of his favorite sports memories is witnessing Wilson Alvarez’s no-hitter at Memorial Stadium in 1991. Chris has played fantasy sports since the pre-Internet days and participates in any league for any sport to which he’s invited. He even won an XFL fantasy league. Really. You can follow him on Twitter at @chrisgarosi.

 

Fantasy Football: Week 4 Notes and Survivor Pool; Start ‘em and Sit ‘em

Week 4 is upon us and it started with a less than scintillating performance from the Baltimore Ravens on Thursday night. They won (but didn’t cover) and led us to believe that Brandon Weeden could indeed by a successful NFL QB. No matter. What does the rest of the weekend hold? Are there matchups which you can exploit to win in week 4? Who might you think twice about staring this week? I’m here to help. I’ll wrap up with the final Survivor Pool picks for the week. The big choice (the Ravens made it through on Thursday night).

Remember, I usually like to use Rotoworld’s rankings as a quick guide and then see where I can take advantage of lower or higher rankings. Follow along, as I read aloud. If you have questions, just leave a comment or send me a note on Twitter.

Bye week: Indianapolis Colts, Pittsburgh Steelers

Quarterback                               

Up: Matt Schaub is matched up with the worst defense against QBs in the NFL – the Tennessee Titans. However, the Texans offense is predicated on running the ball and the Texans have two running backs that have succeeded in the past in Arian Foster and Ben Tate. It will be interesting to see how the Texans play this game offensively. I say that Schaub finishes as a top 8 QB this week. If you own him and you don’t start him this week, I’m not sure when you would.

Philip Rivers is another must start this week. He goes on the road against a Chiefs team coming off an emotional win. These division games always seem to be high scoring affairs. The Chiefs defense has also been one of the worst against QBs this year. They’ve gotten some defensive help back, but I see Rivers being able to take advantage of the team. Moreover, it doesn’t look like Ryan Matthews is quite back up to speed after his latest injury layoff.

If you want to go deep, I’ve got two options (especially for those in 2 QB leagues). The first choice is somewhat obvious as it is Josh Freeman going against what looks to be the worst secondary in the league. They should get safety Brandon Meriweather back this week, but I’m not sure how much that will really help. Meriweather is a talent, but a bit of a knuckle head. I like Freeman as a top 15 option this week.

Way down the list is Kevin Kolb. The Cardinals look to be a fierce defensive team this year. And, without Beanie Wells, their backfield is much more settled (and talented). The Cardinals as a whole look to be a good team. They face the Miami Dolphins at home and the Dolphins may not have Reggie Bush (though even if they do he won’t be 100%). Moreover, star CB Richard Marshall missed practice time this week and if he’s out (or less than fully healthy), the Cardinals are at even more of an advantage. He’s a top 20 QB this week.

Down: Tom Brady’s offensive line has been suspect all year and they will be without Logan Mankins in week four. The Patriots face the Bills who have been average against QBs this year. I do not see Brady as a top 10 QB this week as I think the Patriots will try to establish the run a bit more to protect him.

Tony Romo faces the Chicago Bears on Monday night. The Bears are the stingiest defense with respect to QB scoring so far I’d start Schaub, Phillip Rivers, Christian Ponder and Andy Dalton over Romo this week. I had this discussion over Twitter with the folks at Fantasy Fix (a good follow I might add) this past week. They rank Romo a bit higher than I would because they believe the Bears have put up their numbers against inferior opponents. I cede that point, but I don’t think it matters as much as they do. The Bears defense is good (Aaron Rodgers and company struggled against it) and Romo will on Monday night as well. Oh, one last thing – Romo is historically poor on Monday nights for what it is worth.

Running back

Up: Ryan Williams is the starter for the Arizona Cardinals this week with the news that Beanie Wells will be out for at least two months. Williams has talent, but his offensive line is suspect at best. He gets a good matchup in his first week and should be a top 15 RB this week in all formats.

Jacquizz Rodgers should be a monster in PPR leagues this week as the Panthers average almost 11 receptions given up to RBs. He’s a top 20 back in PPR leagues and could score.

Look for Jamaal Charles to pick up where he left off last week. The Chargers aren’t the best matchup, but are certainly friendly. And if Charles is stopped on the ground, the Chargers give up receptions to RBs. Also look for Dexter McCluster (who is likely listed as a WR and may not be healthy) to be an option in deeper PPR leagues.

Frank Gore has a great matchup and I see top 5 production this week. I’d start him over Ryan Matthews and Darren McFadden (in non-PPR leagues). Feel confident in Gore’s production this week.

Down: Cedric Benson has a fantastic matchup against the New Orleans Saints, but I’m going to take the risk and say the Mike McCarthy uses this week to try to get his passing attack going against the poor Saints defense. Don’t expect much more than what we’ve seen from Benson in the first three weeks even with this great matchup.

More matchup downgrades with Willis McGahee. He’s going to play, but it’s going to be about pain tolerance for him and I think they will mix in Lance Ball a bit more than usual. I see McGahee to fall around the top 25 this week again even with the good matchup.

Check Reggie Bush’s status as he’s going to be a game time decision. If Bush is out, I think there will be a split between Daniel Thomas and Lamar Miller. I don’t like any of the three backs at all this week based on health and matchup.

Marshawn Lynch is a start, but I don’t see him as a top 10 back this week as it looks like the St. Louis Rams will get Michael Brockers back this week and their run defense should improve dramatically. So, watch the inactives and if Brockers is in, expect a top 15 performance from Lynch. If not, then top 8 is in the cards for Lynch.

Don’t think that Chris Johnson will break out this week (or really any week in the future). He’s nothing more than a bye week fill in and I might think about starting Ben Tate over Johnson.

Avoid both Michael Bush and Matt Forte in this matchup this week. It looks like it could be a timeshare and the Monday night start doesn’t lend itself to waiting.

Wide Receiver

Up: Vincent Jackson will be a top 3 WR this week against the Redskins. I can see 6+ catches for 120+ yards and 2 TDs. It should be a shootout.

Leonard Hankerson will get the most snaps at WR this week in my opinion and as a result he has the best chance to put up big numbers for the Redskins. Tampa Bay is terrible against WRs and I’d rather start Hankerson than Kenny Britt, any of the Cowboys WRs (Dez Bryant, Miles Austin or Kevin Ogletree) or Sidney Rice. He’s a top 25 option for me this week.

I’d move Wes Welker up to a top 6 WR this week in PPR leagues with Julian Edelman’s injury and the other injures that the Patriots offense have suffered.

Greg Jennings still isn’t 100%, but shouldn’t need to be against the New Orleans Saints. I think his numbers will actually look more like a possession WR as he doesn’t seem to have that burst so expect more catches for fewer yard (he may struggle to get 100 yards), but he should score (as almost everyone on offense should for the Packers). I like Jennings as a top 10 in PPR, top 15 in non-PPR.

I like Eric Decker better than Demayrius Thomas for this week (and the rest of the season). The reports that Peyton Manning can’t throw down field as well as he used to mute Thomas’ big play value. Decker can work more of the intermediate and shorter routes than Thomas can. I see Decker as top 10 this week (top 7 in PPR) and Thomas in the top 15 this week against a porous Raiders defense.

Michael Crabtree looks like he has a tough assignment against the New York Jets defense. However, Darelle Revis is out for the year, so the matchup isn’t quite as hard as it seems. Also, note that the 49ers are not coming west to east again – they stayed in Youngstown for the week to practice so there shouldn’t be any “jet lag” issues for the 49ers. Start Crabtree as a solid WR2 in most leagues, borderline WR1 in PPR.

Jerome Simpson is back off of suspension and the talk is that he will be heavily involved. I’d take a wait and see approach to Simpson, but if you can grab him and stash him on your bench, I’d do it this week.

Down:  Hakeem Nicks is out. Just in case you missed it. Get him out of your lineup.

Pierre Garcon is likely to play this week, but he will be on a pitch count according to Adam Schefter. The Redskins play the late game, but the Buccaneers have been extremely friendly to WRs this year. I still think he’s too big a risk even with the great matchup.

Do not start Dez Bryant or Miles Austin unless you are desperate. The Bears can shut these players down. I like Austin a bit more than Bryant, but both are no better than low end WR3/Flex plays this week. Whether you start them or not depends on the depth of your league and your other WRs.

I’m not sure if you’d start any other Bears WR, but Brandon Marshall, but if you are, don’t. As for Marshall, I see him in the same realm as Bryant and Austin. He’s a risky start this week.

Kenny Britt isn’t 100% and even if he is on the field, I don’t think he’ll have the health to beat a tough Texans defense. Leave him on the bench this week.

I’m not sure why I continue to see Marques Colston ranked as a top 20 WR. He’s not the same WR he was a few years ago and the Saints offense isn’t the same. He’s a low end WR3/Flex for me this week and beyond. He’s not 100% healthy and won’t be all year. He won’t have that burst he needs.

I like Golden Tate for the remainder of the season, but not this week. He’s going to face Cortland Finnegan all day and I assume he’ll struggle to reach 50 yards receiving.

Tight End

Up: Our weekly Tennessee Titans update brings Owen Daniels to the stage as the Texans face the Titans. Daniels instantly becomes a top 10 TE consideration. I might be crazy, but I could see him scoring more than Rob Gronkowski this weekend.

If Tennessee is going to throw against the Houston Texans (and they will likely have to since Chris Johnson looks more like present-day Larry Johnson), they won’t be able to throw to their WRs as often as they might like. For that reason, I like Jared Cook to put up top 12 TE numbers this week. The Texans struggle against the TE and Cook has the skills to take advantage of those struggles if Jake Locker gets the time to throw.

If you are desperate (two TEs leagues, only New York-based players league) Dustin Keller has a tasty matchup with the 49ers who continue to struggle against the TE. The problem is Keller isn’t healthy and Mark Sanchez isn’t good.

Down: For all of the struggles the Saints defense has had this year, they’ve done very well against TEs. As a result, I’m downgrading Jermichael Finley to outside the top 10 this week. He’s got completion at the TE spot and he hasn’t shown enough this year to make me recommend him.

You aren’t going to sit him, but Rob Gronkowski won’t be a top 10 TE this week. The Bills can control the TE game with their strong safety play and Gronk isn’t fully healthy.

Kicker

Up: Nate Kaeding is out so Nick Novak (clearly on Norv Turner’s speed dial) is the choice to replace him yet again. Novak is a solid bye week option should you need him. He should finish in the top 12 in points this week.

Down: Ryan Succop had the winning kick last week and had a huge week overall. He’s going up against the second toughest defense for kickers to score upon this year so do not expect a top 12 performance this week.

Defense

Up: The Buffalo Bills are sneaky play against a Patriots offense without Logan Mankins or Julian Edelman or Aaron Hernandez and with Rob Gronkowski banged up. I’d like for two or more turnovers and at least three sacks on the day with the potential for a TD of some sort (ether turnover or return).

Down: I don’t like the Philadelphia Eagles as a top 10 defense this week. The Giants have shown a propensity to score in bunches and they have an extremely balanced offense. I know that Hakeem Nicks is out for the Giants, but Eli Manning has too many other weapons.

A bit further down the list, I’d drop the Patriots out of the top 15 as the Bills are getting Fred Jackson back (even on a limited basis) which makes the Bills offense a bit more dangerous.

Survivor Pool – Week 4 selections – Updated

Updates are in bold from my mid-week column. And, you’ll see – no changes from me. I stand by what I wrote earlier with a little bump up for the Cardinals.

Last week the Saints and 49ers took out a good chunk of remaining pool entrants. So, for most of us, the pools are starting to get interesting.

Here is what we have for a top 10 from Office Football Pool and ESPN as of early on Sunday morning:

Office Football Pool

 

ESPN Eliminator Challenge

Team

Picks

Team

Picks

1 Baltimore Ravens (W) 45.20%

1

Baltimore Ravens

55.40%

2 Houston Texans 17.80%

2

Arizona Cardinals

7.80%

3 Atlanta Falcons 11.30%

3

Houston Texans

7.80%

4 Arizona Cardinals 10.00%

4

Atlanta Falcons

5.60%

5 Denver Broncos 5.00%

5

Detroit Lions

3.80%

6 Green Bay Packers 4.30%

6

Denver Broncos

3.60%

7 New England Patriots 1.80%

7

Cincinnati Bengals

3.40%

8 San Francisco 49ers 1.10%

8

New England Patriots

0.30%

9 Detroit Lions 0.80%

9

Seattle Seahawks

2.90%

10 Cincinnati Bengals 0.60%

10

San Francisco 49ers

2.40%

A clear cut favorite is out there. Does it make sense to take them? Is there really that much of a difference between the top pick and the rest of the field? My early top 3 picks for the week (final column up Sunday):

  1. Baltimore Ravens – This is not the same case as the Patriots versus the Cardinals from earlier this season. The Ravens are a far superior team to the Browns. The Browns have shown very little this season to make me think they can keep up with the Ravens. I give Baltimore an 82% chance of winning this divisional matchup at home. Take the Ravens if you believe in “survive and advance.”
  2. Houston Texans – Now, we get into pot odds and does it make sense to take a lesser team in the off chance that the Ravens lose? If you have the Texans still available, this is the time to use them especially if you are in a pool where the picks look more like ESPN than Office Football Pool above. The Titans are a one dimensional offensive team and the Texans have a defender (in Jonathan Joseph) who can take away a portion of that dimension. I give the Texans a 78% chance of winning.
  3. Atlanta Falcons – The only reason I have them third is because Carolina will have had 10 days off to prepare for the Falcons. That said, the Falcons are very good at home and their passing attack looks unstoppable. The Panthers don’t have the weapons in the defensive backfield to matchup. I give the Falcons a 75% chance of winning.

I’d also watch the Cardinals this week to see if the Dolphins are without the services of Reggie Bush. If Bush is out, I could see pushing the Cardinals into the top three. I think they are a viable choice this week as well equal with the Falcons.

As for the avoid list, I’d lean away from the Denver Broncos. They are home against a Raiders team coming off of a big win. The Broncos may be without Willis McGahee which would be a big blow to Peyton Manning and put too much on his shoulders in my opinion.

If you get bonus points for picking an underdog, I’d look at the New York Giants on the road at Philadelphia. I know, I’m beating a dead horse picking against the Eagles and Michel Vick again, but I just don’t know how much longer Andy Reid can stay with Vick.

Just a reminder from last week, if you ever wanted to see what Vegas thinks each team’s “chances of winning” are, use this handy little converter to transform money lines into win percentages. You can also create a spreadsheet if you’d like (or use this one – scroll to the bottom) to do it for fun at home. This percentage chance to win is another quick way to gauge win expectations for each team each week. You can get a variety of money lines here or here.


Chris Garosi is a contributor for District Sports Page. One of his favorite sports memories is witnessing Wilson Alvarez’s no-hitter at Memorial Stadium in 1991. Chris has played fantasy sports since the pre-Internet days and participates in any league for any sport to which he’s invited. He even won an XFL fantasy league. Really. You can follow him on Twitter at @chrisgarosi.

 

Fantasy Football: Week 4 Notes and Survivor Pool; Start ‘em and Sit ‘em

Week four of the NFL schedule welcomes the first byes of the season and the official officials. I was correct to go with Chicago and Dallas as my top two choices, but my third and fourth options (49ers and Saints) went out. Also, my team to avoid (Green Bay) came through even if they got a good bit of help in the loss from our unofficial officials.

In one pool, I’m in week three saw the end of the pool. We were down to two entries and they decided to chop the pot. In another pool, after three weeks we are down to just 15% of the original entries. It has been quite a season so far.

On bye this week: Indianapolis Colts, Pittsburgh Steelers

Survivor Pool – Week 4 selections

Last week the Saints and 49ers took out a good chunk of remaining pool entrants. So, for most of us, the pools are starting to get interesting.

Here is what we have for a top 10 from Office Football Pool and ESPN as of early Thursday:

Office Football Pool

ESPN Eliminator Challenge

Team

Picks

Team

Picks

1

Baltimore Ravens

56.80%

1

Baltimore Ravens

60.00%

2

Houston Texans

14.20%

2

Arizona Cardinals

6.10%

3

Arizona Cardinals

8.90%

3

Houston Texans

4.80%

4

Atlanta Falcons

8.20%

4

Detroit Lions

4.70%

5

Denver Broncos

3.80%

5

Atlanta Falcons

4.10%

6

Green  Bay Packers

2.80%

6

Denver Broncos

3.60%

7

New England Patriots

1.30%

7

Cincinnati Bengals

3.40%

8

Detroit Lions

0.80%

8

New England Patriots

0.30%

9

San Francisco 49ers

0.70%

9

Seattle Seahawks

2.70%

10

Cincinnati Bengals

0.50%

10

San Francisco 49ers

2.20%

A clear cut favorite is out there. Does it make sense to take them? Is there really that much of a difference between the top pick and the rest of the field? My early top 3 picks for the week (final column up Sunday):

  1. Baltimore Ravens – This is not the same case as the Patriots versus the Cardinals from earlier this season. The Ravens are a far superior team to the Browns. The Browns have shown very little this season to make me think they can keep up with the Ravens. I give Baltimore an 82% chance of winning this divisional match-up at home. Take the Ravens if you believe in “survive and advance.”
  2. Houston Texans – Now, we get into pot odds and does it make sense to take a lesser team in the off chance that the Ravens lose? If you have the Texans still available, this is the time to use them especially if you are in a pool where the picks look more like ESPN than Office Football Pool above. The Titans are a one dimensional offensive team and the Texans have a defender (in Jonathan Joseph) who can take away a portion of that dimension. I give the Texans a 78% chance of winning.
  3. Atlanta Falcons – The only reason I have them third is because Carolina will have had 10 days off to prepare for the Falcons. That said, the Falcons are very good at home and their passing attack looks unstoppable. The Panthers don’t have the weapons in the defensive backfield to match-up. I give the Falcons a 75% chance of winning.

I’d also watch the Cardinals this week to see if the Dolphins are without the services of Reggie Bush. If Bush is out, I could see pushing the Cardinals into the top three.

As for the avoid list, I’d lean away from the Denver Broncos. They are home against a Raiders team coming off of a big win. The Broncos may be without Willis McGahee which would be a big blow to Peyton Manning and put too much on his shoulders in my opinion.

If you get bonus points for picking an underdog, I’d look at the New York Giants on the road at Philadelphia. I know, I’m beating a dead horse picking against the Eagles and Michel Vick again, but I just don’t know how much longer Andy Reid can stay with Vick.

Just a reminder from last week, if you ever wanted to see what Vegas thinks each team’s “chances of winning” are, use this handy little converter to transform money lines into win percentages. You can also create a spreadsheet if you’d like (or use this one – scroll to the bottom) to do it for fun at home. This percentage chance to win is another quick way to gauge win expectations for each team each week. You can get a variety of money lines here or here.

Thursday night game injury update – Baltimore Ravens vs. Cleveland Browns

Just a couple of quick highlights:

Baltimore

The Ravens are surprisingly healthy with only three players even listed on their injury report and only one at questionable or worse. The Ravens defense is not what it has been in years past as they have struggled to put the same pressure on the QB as in years previously. However, the Browns have not shown any particular aptitude on offense this season.

The Ravens defense is ranked  27th in total yards allowed at just over 400 yards per game. But a deeper look shows that they are fourth in per play rushing average (3.3 yards per attempt). The Ravens are just getting a lot of rushing attempts against them.

Cleveland Browns

Trent Richardson looks to be fully healed from his earlier knee surgery.

Mohamed Massaquoi is out for the Browns with a hamstring injury. It looks like Josh Gordon could see some more playing time, but isn’t a useful option in most leagues.

Chris Garosi is a contributor for District Sports Page. One of his favorite sports memories is witnessing Wilson Alvarez’s no-hitter at Memorial Stadium in 1991. Chris has played fantasy sports since the pre-Internet days and participates in any league for any sport to which he’s invited. He even won an XFL fantasy league. Really. You can follow him on Twitter at @chrisgarosi.

Fantasy Football: Week 4 Waiver Wire Advice

So, anything interesting happen this weekend? No? How about Monday night? Did you see anything which made you go hmmmmmm? No, well maybe this week’s installment of waiver wire targets will have you talking. I’ll get to Survivor picks on Wednesday. Remember, bye weeks start this week!

Quarterback                               

Christian PonderWow, has Ponder looked great over the first three weeks. I’d drop a player like Russell Wilson (as I did today) for Ponder. Ponder has great match-ups over the next three weeks and then alternates bad and good match-ups over the next four. He’s got a chance to remain a top 10 QB this season.

Jake Locker Locker had a great match-up this week and exploited it to the fullest. I like Locker and Ponder almost the same and a lot depends on your roster makeup and your QB1 if you choose to use Ponder or Locker as bye week replacements.  Ponder should probably be avoided in weeks seven and nine while Locker should be avoided this week and in week nine.

Shaun HillHill brought the Lions back in the fourth quarter last week after Matthew Stafford’s injury only to be foiled by Jim Schwartz’s incompetence as a coach. Hill is a must add if Stafford’s injury keeps him out this week. Hill has always put up numbers in the Lions offense.

Nick Foles  - Has the Michael Vick death watch begun? Andy Reid’s tepid endorsement of Vick this week makes me think that if Reid wants to save his job, he’s going to need to get production out of the QB position (and perhaps rely on LeSean McCoy a bit more – he’s pretty good from what I hear). Foles is the backup to Vick and could be a nice addition if you have a deep bench.

Running back

Mikel Leshoure  – I mentioned Leshoure last week and told everyone to temper their excitement a bit. However, Leshoure’s performance last week (and the Houdini act that Kevin Smith put on) move Leshoure to the top of the list. He should be your first waiver claim unless you are stacked at RB. He’s going to start for the remainder of the season and it looks like the Lions might actually incorporate the run a bit (unlike say the Saints).

Saints Running backs – Cut them all except Darren Sproles. One of the reasons I don’t like to back the Saints in Survivor pools is because they can’t salt a lead away by running the ball. They seem unable to do so even though they have some talent in the backfield. However, there is no reason for you to waste a roster spot on Mark Ingram, Pierre Thomas or Chris Ivory.

Ryan Williams – It looks like Beanie Wells cannot stay healthy and even when he is he is not an effective runner. Williams looks to be the main RB in Arizona, but he hasn’t shown the ability yet to overcome a poor offensive line. I lIke Williams a bit better than a low end RB like Cedric Benson, but I don’t expect top 15 RB stats from him this year.

Jacquizz Rodgers – Rodgers was on the field for two more snaps than Michael Turner last week. Could we be witnessing the changing of the guard or at least a time share? I think so. Rodgers is far more explosive and versatile and in PPR leagues could potentially be a RB2.

Tashard Choice – I think he’s a one or two week pickup at best. He’s never shown consistency and Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller should both be back within the next two weeks. However, if you need someone for this week you could do worse.

Ryan Grant – That thud you heard was Alfred Morris owners banging their collective heads on their collective desks. I can’t see Grant holding any value this year unless there are injuries which take out all three running backs ahead of him. Stranger things have happened, but leave him on the waiver wire unless you are in the deepest of leagues.

Bilal PowellShonn Greene isn’t very good. Or at least it doesn’t seem that way. At some point the Jets will need to make a change. Powell is the next man up and has looked solid if unspectacular over the first three weeks. The Jets have tough match-ups the next two weeks against San Francisco and Houston so temper any expectations.

Jonathan Grimes – I don’t know who this guy is, but the New York Jets just signed him off of the Houston Texans practice squad. Monitor him in all leagues as Shonn Greene can’t hold on to the starting RB spot all season. And Bilal Powell isn’t Walter Payton.

Daniel Thomas – Thomas subbed in for Reggie Bush after Bush’s injury for the Miami Dolphins. Thomas ran well and picked up a TD along the way. However, he also turned the ball over. The extent of Bush’s injury is unclear, but if he’s out this week I see a time share between Thomas and…

Lamar Miller – Miller came on for Thomas after his fumble in week three. Miller is a bit more explosive and will likely share any carries with Thomas if Bush is hurt rendering both useless in most leagues.

Rashad Jennings – You can probably cut bait on him unless you own Maurice Jones-Drew. I do not believe this lottery ticket will be a winner.

Wide Receiver

Leonard HankersonHankerson did not do much until the end of the game in week three. However, after the game, Coach Mike Shanahan said that Hankerson had earned a starting role. Hankerson will start for Pierre Garcon until Garcon is healthy. Then, Hankerson will slide over and take Josh Morgan’s place in the starting lineup.  The Redskins offense has been prolific, but production from the WR has been uneven so far. I’d expect a WR3 type player from Hankerson going forward.

Donnie AveryAustin Collie’s season ending knee injury solidifies Donnie Avery as the number two WR in Indianapolis and a PPR gem.

Ramses BardenBarden was spectacular against the Carolina Panthers last Thursday. However, when Hakeem Nicks returns to the lineup, it is likely Barden heads back to the bench (though he may now be third on the depth chart in front of Domenik Hixon). I don’t think Barden gets a ton of looks without an injury to either Victor Cruz or Nicks, but he’s shown he can perform if given the chance.

Jerome Simpson – Simpson returns from suspension this week and will likely slot right into the starting lineup for the Minnesota Vikings. He’s got a million dollar body, but a ten cent head so we’ll see how long he stays out of trouble. That said, the Vikings have some nice match-ups over the next three weeks though Simpson will likely be no better than fourth in the offensive pecking order behind Peterson, Harvin and Rudolph.

Tight End

Jordan CameronThis Cleveland Browns player had five receptions in week three.  He’s still listed as the number two tight end in Cleveland, but he’s only behind Ben Watson. Young QBs (well young to the NFL) often look to their TEs in times of need. Brandon Weeden will have a lot of times of need over the rest of the season. Cameron is to be monitored in deeper leagues.

Heath MillerI was wrong to avoid Miller last week as he picked up another couple of TDs. The Steelers defense isn’t very good and their running game is missing in action so Miller may well continue to get looks at least until Rashard Mendenhall returns (or someone picks up the slack in the Steelers backfield). I still do not see Miller as a long term solution.

TE playing the Titans – Just a friendly reminder that the Titans still stink against TEs. They play the Houston Texans this week so see if Owen Daniels is around.

Kicker

Blair Walsh, Justin Tucker, Greg Zuerlein – Same as last week. Go get these guys.

Defense

Arizona Cardinals – I hope you took my advice on the Cardinals and if not you are now convinced they have a chance to be match-up proof all year long. If they are still on your waiver wire, I’d be tempted to make them the number one priority over any other player this week.

Baltimore Ravens – The Ravens face the Cleveland Browns on Thursday night at home. They should terrorize Brandon Weeden.

Cincinnati Bengals – They could be a sneaky play on the road against the Jacksonville Jaguars, but I would only add them if I’m desperate. They haven’t looked good and the Jags do have MJD in the backfield.

Chris Garosi is a contributor for District Sports Page. One of his favorite sports memories is witnessing Wilson Alvarez’s no-hitter at Memorial Stadium in 1991. Chris has played fantasy sports since the pre-Internet days and participates in any league for any sport to which he’s invited. He even won an XFL fantasy league. Really. You can follow him on Twitter at @chrisgarosi.

Fantasy Football: Week 3 Notes and Survivor Pool; Start ‘em and Sit ‘em

On to Week 3, the last week before bye weeks begin to alter the fantasy and Survivor landscapes. We still only have two weeks’ worth of data to utilize, but trends are beginning to emerge. I will attempt to recover from the Survivor disaster that was the Patriots last week. I usually like to use Rotoworld’s rankings as a quick guide and then see where I can take advantage of lower or higher rankings. Follow along, as I read aloud. As always, if you have questions, just leave a comment or send me a note on Twitter.

Quarterback                               

Up: Tony Romo should see lot of opportunities to throw the ball downfield at home against a hapless Tampa Bay Buccaneers secondary. Look for Romo to be a top 5 QB this week. I’d even start him over Aaron Rodgers who has a tough matchup on the road in the Seattle.

Outside of the top 20, I like Andy Dalton against the Washington Redskins even though the Bengals will be on the road. The Redskins haven’t shown the ability to stop the pass and with the recent injuries to Brian Orakpo and Adam Carriker, I don’t see that improving this week. The potential return of Brandon Meriweather doesn’t offer a lot of help in my opinion. I see Dalton with top 12 potential this week.

Look for Ryan Fitzpatrick to sneak into the top 15 this week against a suspect Cleveland Browns pass defense that remains without stud CB Joe Haden.

Down: Peyton Manning is not in my top 20 QBs for this week. The Texans defense has been stingy versus the pass and with shut down corner Jonathan Joseph basically taking out any receiver in his sights, I think there are far better options than Manning this week.

Michael Vick faces another tough matchup. He’s not a top 15 QB for me this week as he goes on the road to face a much improved Arizona defense. And, Jeremy Maclin is out this week as well.

Running back

Up: Donald Brown it is your time to shine. If Brown is going to be valuable to your fantasy team, this is the week he will do so. He’s up against the Jacksonville Jaguars who struggle on both sides of the ball. He’s a top 18 back in my mind this week and I’d give serious thought to starting him over Adrian Peterson (see below), Steven Jackson and Darren McFadden.

The Kansas City Chiefs and Detroit Lions both have very good matchups this week against the New Orleans Saints and Tennessee Titans respectively. The problem is both backfields look to be timeshares. Jamaal Charles is coming of an injury and Kevin Smith is an injury waiting to happen. Peyton Hillis is coming off a good performance and Mikel Leshoure is coming off of suspension. And don’t forget Shaun Draughn in the Chiefs backfield now or Joique Bell in Detroit. All of that said, I think Charles of the Chiefs and Leshoure of the Lions are the two highest scoring backs in their respective backfields this week.

For PPR players, Jacquizz Rodgers has an interesting matchup with the San Diego Chargers.  The Chargers have been fantastic against the run, but gave up 15 receptions in week one to Oakland Raiders RBs.

In deep leagues, monitor Javon Ringer of the Tenneseee Titans. He is back from injury and there is speculation that he will cut into Chris Johnson’s time this week starting with third down duties. Ringer has a chance to take over the lead gig at some point this season as Chris Johnson doesn’t seem to have the ability to overcome the Titans poor offensive line play.

In very deep leagues, preseason darling Travaris Cadet of the New Orleans Saints is getting repetitions at WR. Anyone in that Saints offense is intriguing so keep an eye on him.

Down: Adrian Peterson is still recovering from last year’s knee surgery. The 49ers run defense is not a place to succeed. You likely don’t have a better option to start over him (unless you drafted C.J. Spiller late), but do not expect top 20 RB scoring from Peterson this week.

Steven Jackson was “hurt” last week against the Redskins which gave Daryl Richardson the chance to shine. Jackson has missed practice time this week and now has Richardson in his rearview mirror. Jackson falls out of the top 25 RBs this week as he runs up against a tough Bears D and father time.

This is for next week of course, but it seems time to release lottery ticket David Wilson of the New York Giants. Perhaps, grab Javon Ringer and see what happens in Tennessee.

Oh, you can cut Michael Turner at your earliest convenience. He is D-U-N done.

Wide Receiver

Up: Miles Austin is a top 10 WR this week against the Bucs. I see him scoring more than his counterpart Dez Bryant (who has been up and down for his entire career) and I’d start Austin over Larry Fitzgerald as well.

No Joe Haden means Steve Johnson of the Buffalo Bills should have a field day against the Cleveland Browns. Johnson is a top 15 WR this week and I’d start him over the slightly injured Marques Colston, Greg Jennings and Dez Bryant.

The WR2 roulette in Cincinnati takes on a bit more importance as they face the Redskins this week. I’d say that Andrew Hawkins is a WR3 this week (a solid flex play) and Armon Binns is a play in deeper leagues.

Don’t be scared off by Percy Harvin’s matchup with the San Francisco 49ers. The 49ers haven’t been great against WRs and the Vikings will make every effort to get the ball into Harvin’s hands in any way possible.

In deeper leagues, Leonard Hankerson is a solid play and could pick up 75 yards and a TD as he likely will sub in for Pierre Garcon. In the Redskins offense, the Garcon (now Hankerson) position is the most important WR spot on the field and Robert Griffin III will look early and often for Hankerson.

Last, but not least, Greg Little should have room against the Buffalo Bills. He’s been targeted 11 times in the first two weeks. I can see a top 30 WR this week and he’s a flex option in many leagues.

Down: Brandon Marshall goes up against the St. Louis Rams and more specifically Cortland Finnegan. Marshall is ranked highly and the Rams have been average against WRs, but Finnegan can still shut down WRs. I see Marshall around the top 20 of WRs this week.

Greg Jennings…ugh.

Demaryius Thomas will likely face off against the Houston Texans’ Jonathan Joseph . Joseph is paid to shut WRs down. I’d drop Thomas out of the top 30 this week against this defense.

Austin Collie looks to be back for the Colts this week, but the Colts face a tough Jags passing defense. And with Donnie Avery around, neither Avery nor Collie are likely worthwhile starts in anything, but the deepest of leagues. I think Avery still has more long term value based on Collie’s lengthy injury history and Andrew Luck’s reliance on Donnie Avery.

Tight End

Up: Brandon Pettigrew. Playing the Tennessee Titans? Check. In your lineup? Should be. He’ll be a top 5 TE this week.

For as stingy as the San Francisco 49ers defense has been this year (and last), they have struggled against the TE this year. The 49ers have given up TDs to TEs in each of the first two weeks. Kyle Rudolph is certainly a matchup play in deeper leagues and I like him over Tony Gonzalez, Jermichael Finley and Jason Witten.

I’m not a huge Jermaine Gresham fan, but if you are going to start him, this is the week to do so. He may be freed up a bit from blocking with the injuries along the defensive line for the Redskins and the Redskins have been relatively friendly to TEs.

Down: If you’ve been excited by Heath Miller’s TD explosion so far, temper those feelings. He’s going up against a Raiders team that has allowed a total of 64 yards in two games to TEs.

Dustin Keller is out for the New York Jets this week. None of his potential replacements intrigue me in the slightest.

Kicker

Up: If Alex Henery doesn’t perform this week for the Eagles it’s time to drop him. The Cardinals have given up the seven FGs in two games.

Down: Both Sebastian Janikowski and Matt Prater have tough matchups this week and if you have other options, I’d look for them thought I don’t advocate backup kickers. Just know that you can’t expect a great deal from either one this week and may want to take a risk in other places on your roster.

Defense

Up: The Arizona Cardinals this week and beyond. Take a look at their schedule after the turnover prone Philadelphia Eagles – Miami, St. Louis, Buffalo and Minnesota. Not too shabby at all. They are a top eight defense this week and beyond.

Down: The Pittsburgh Steelers may be living on reputation this week as they travel to Oakland to face the Raiders. I don’t see them as a top 10 defense this week as the Raiders have enough weapons to pierce the Steelers curtain.

IDP

I won’t cover a lot of IDPers every week as the player pool is too vast, but I will try to give a couple of ideas for everyone.

DL – Get Cameron Jordan of the New Orleans Saints in your lineup this week and expect at least one sack against the porous Kansas City Chiefs offensive line.

Does Henry Melton have one more week of magic left for the Chicago Bears? I’d say give him a start as well against the Rams. The Rams are still struggling to piece an offensive line together from the pieces left over after the injury bug struck them.

LB – Wesley Woodyard continues to play well for the Denver Broncos and should be an IDP factor until D.J. Williams returns from suspension in Week 6. There is always the possibility that Woodyard keeps the starting job, but that is unlikely. Ride Woodyard while he is hot.

Look for Stephen Nicholas to have a big game for the Atlanta Falcons against the Chargers as San Diego will likely try to establish the run to keep Atlanta’s offense off the field and get Ryan Matthews back up to speed.

Erin Henderson is out for the Minnesota Vikings which opens up playing time for Marvin Mitchell. I’d stay away from Mitchell as there are other viable options.

DB – Michael Griffin and Alterraun Verner have a great matchup this week against the Detroit Lions who don’t like to run the ball a great deal. Griffin has 18 solo tackles through two games. Verner is more of an interception/turnover play for those looking for upside.

Patrick Peterson of the Arizona Cardinals should pick up a turnover this weekend against Michael Vick.

Survivor Pool – Week 3 selections – Updated

Last week was a bloodbath as around 40% of all survivor entrants were wiped out with the New England loss at home to Arizona. This week as not shaping up as an easy one as the largest favorite on the board is the 0-2 New Orleans Saints at home. Updates are in bold.

Here is what we have for a top 10 from Office Football Pool and ESPN as of late on Friday night:

Office Football Pool

 

ESPN Eliminator Challenge

Team

Picks

Team

Picks

1 New Orleans Saints 34.90% 1 Chicago Bears

21.20%

2 San Francisco 49ers 17.10% 2 San Francisco 49ers

20.00%

3 Chicago Bears 16.50% 3 New Orleans Saints

18.30%

4 Dallas Cowboys 12.60% 4 Pittsburgh Steelers

6.00%

5 Pittsburgh Steelers 5.60% 5 Dallas Cowboys

5.60%

6 Indianapolis Colts 2.90% 6 Green Bay Packers

5.00%

7 Detroit Lions 2.80% 7 Detroit Lions

4.50%

8 Washington Redskins 1.50% 8 Buffalo Bills

4.30%

9 Green Bay Packers 1.30% 9 Indianapolis Colts

2.90%

10 Buffalo Bills 1.30% 10 New York Jets

2.60%

The Saints are moving up in both pools and I’m taking them out of my top three selections. I just cannot trust them at this point in the season. They have to outscore ever opponent and Kansas City is getting healthier on defense.

The top 3 are the same, but in a much different order which represents the concerns over the Saints as a heavy favorite even though they haven’t shown much in the first two weeks. My initial thoughts on my top 3 picks for the week:

  1. Chicago Bears – The Bears have had a nice long layoff from their last game and enough time to incorporate Michael Bush as the starting RB in the lineup.  St. Louis is coming off a hard fought win at home against the Redskins and has questions in their own backfield.  I give the Bears a 71% chance of winning.
  2. Dallas Cowboys – I noted in my earlier column that you might see Dallas bump the Saints out of the top three. They do and they move the 49ers down a notch as well. This is the Cowboys home opener. They played poorly at Seattle, but looked good against the Giants on the road. I think the Cowboys get up for the game and can take advantage of a porous Tampa Bay pass defense. I give the Cowboys a 70% chance of winning. They are my pick this week as I’ve already used the Bears.
  3. San Francisco 49ers – The 49ers have been the best team over the first two weeks of the season. They go on the road to a Minnesota Vikings team coming off of a tough loss to the Colts. The 49ers are clearly the better team and have the defense to handle Adrian Peterson and Percy Harvin as well as confuse young Christian Ponder.  I give the 49ers a 68% chance of winning.
  4. New Orleans Saints – I’ll grudgingly go with the Saints as the fourth choice. They have not looked good on defense over the first two weeks. They are likely still adjusting to their third string head coach and the continued “Bounty Gate” news has to be a distraction. I’ll give the Saints a 60% chance of winning. But, when the final column comes out don’t be surprised to see the Dallas Cowboys sneak into this spot.

If you ever wanted to see what Vegas thinks each teams “chances of winning” are, use this handy little converter to transform money lines into win percentages. You can also create a spreadsheet if you’d like (or use this one – scroll to the bottom) to do it for fun at home. This percentage chance to win is another quick way to gauge win expectations for each team each week. You can get a variety of money lines here or here.

This is a tough week and the bye weeks are on the horizon which means it will only get tougher.

As for the avoid list, I’d lean away the Green Bay Packers. Seattle is a tough place to play and the Packers certainly haven’t looked in sync on offense. The Packers defense will likely cause enough havoc to rattle Russell Wilson and the lead the Pack to the victory.

If you get bonus points for picking an underdog, I’d look no further than last week’s surprise winner the Arizona Cardinals. The Cardinals defense is legitimate and Michael Vick gets confused easily. The Cardinals have a great shot to cover and a decent shot to win.

Chris Garosi is a contributor for District Sports Page. One of his favorite sports memories is witnessing Wilson Alvarez’s no-hitter at Memorial Stadium in 1991. Chris has played fantasy sports since the pre-Internet days and participates in any league for any sport to which he’s invited. He even won an XFL fantasy league. Really. You can follow him on Twitter at @chrisgarosi.

 

Fantasy Football: Week 3 Waiver Wire Advice

I won’t cover Survivor here (new article should be out Wednesday), but I offer an apology for all of you who went down with the Patriots. It was an unbelievable victory for the Cardinals, but the Patriots still had a chance to win with a 42-yard field goal that was completely blown.  I lost seven of nine entries in various pools because of New England so I certainly went down with the ship.

This column will take a quick look at under owned or newly valuable players for this week’s waiver period.

Quarterback                               

Tom BradyIs it time to worry about Tom Terrific? His first pass of the game this Sunday went for an interception. His favorite WR, Wes Welker, seems to be a bench player though with Aaron Hernandez’s injury Welker will likely get onto the field a bit more. My advice on Brady – wait it out a bit longer. Arizona’s defense is much better than it was given credit so give Brady another week or two. However, if it looks like the Patriots are going to run the ball more and more, Brady’s value is diminished.

Robert Griffin IIIYep, he looks like the real deal .And with the injuries (and lackluster play) on defense, he will likely have many chances this season to rack up yards. I would treat him as a top five to eight rated QB for the remainder of the season.

Carson PalmerDarren McFadden’s struggles with the new zone blocking scheme for the Oakland Raiders has led to more opportunities to throw the ball for the Raiders. Palmer has taken advantage of it. McFadden will get better, but the Raiders defense likely won’t so Palmer will likely continue to have top 12 value for the year.

Running back

Michael BushDon’t go too crazy after Michael Bush as it looks like Matt Forte’s injury may not be quite as serious as assumed. Forte may only miss a week or two. If you own Forte, bid aggressively for Bush. If not, only grab him if you have needs for the next couple of weeks.

Andre BrownMr. Brown can do it. How about you? Last week shows that David Wilson is buried in a doghouse beneath the end zone of Giants’ Stadium (or whatever it’s called now). The current reporting on Ahmad Bradshaw’s injury is that it is a sprain, but the Giants have used two backs in the past so Brown is worth an add in deeper leagues.

Daryl Richardson More handcuffs here, but Jeff Fisher showed last week that he isn’t afraid to rock the boat. Richardson showed good speed and elusiveness and I could see him supplanting Jackson in the second half of this season. I’d rather have Richardson for the long term than Andre Brown.

Mikel LeshoureThere is a great deal of excitement around Leshoure, but I’m not sure how excited we should get. The Detroit Lions haven’t incorporated the RB into their offense in many seasons. Leshourse’s skills seem to point towards a two down back with his inability to catch and trouble with pass blocking. Tread carefully here as I’m not sure Leshoure becomes a major contributor (even with the inevitable Kevin Smith injury).

Wide Receiver

Danny AmendolaPPR stud. Bradford safety blanket. He’ll never have another performance like he did last week, but he’s clearly number one in the WR pecking order for the St. Louis Rams

Brandon LaFell – This early season breakout looks to be for real. With Jonathan Stewart back for the Panthers last week, Cam Newton had his full complement of offensive weapons. LaFell continued to perform. And with Steve Smith drawing loads of attention on the other side, LaFell will likely have single coverage all season long.

Donnie Avery – See Amendola, Danny. Avery is Andrew Luck’s safety blanket in the early going. As long as Avery stays healthy (a big question) he is a WR2/3 in PPR leagues.

Second WR in Cincinnati – There is value to be had here, but it’s not clear on a week to week basis who that player will be. I still think Andrew Hawkins is a wild card who isn’t worth owning – you just won’t know when lightning will strike with him. I like Armon Binns as the leader for this job, with Hawkins just behind him and Brandon Tate fourth. Mohamed Sanu has yet to play and can be ignored at this point.

Tight End

Martellus BennettYes, let’s add him in 10 team leagues now. He’s always had the athletic ability to succeed, but many of his failings have been mental (and also being stuck behind Jason Witten). If you lost Aaron Hernandez this week, Bennett is a nice second prize. I’d also drop Jacob Tamme, Fred Davis (concussion), Owen Daniels, Jermaine Gresham and Dustin Keller for Bennett or my next entrant.

Kyle Rudolph – He is still criminally under owned at just 35% of Yahoo! leagues. He’s the only TE on that roster worth anything and he’s playing every snap. His chances will come as the season progresses.

Scott ChandlerThe Buffalo Bills had their way with the Chiefs this week and Chandler picked up another TD. The Bills will likely be in their share of shootouts over the course of the season.

Dante Rosario – No. He had three TDs this week on four targets against the Tennessee Titans (hold that thought). He had 5 career TDs in 79 prior games.

TE playing the Titans – Through two weeks, it has become quite clear that the Tennessee Titans cannot cover TEs especially with middle linebacker Colin McCarthy likely out for a few more weeks. That bodes well for Brandon Pettigrew this week. If you need a matchup play (especially when bye weeks appear), note who the Titans are playing.

Kicker

Stephen GostkowskiIt will be interesting to see how he handles the miss which cost the New England Patriots on Sunday. Monitor him over the next couple of weeks and be ready to cut bait if he struggles.

Blair Walsh, Justin Tucker, Greg Zuerlein – Three reasons why you do not draft kickers early. These three rookie kickers are likely in your top 10 for kickers this season. Tucker plays for an offense that has consistently provided FG opportunities. The other two play in domes which is generally a good

Defense

Arizona Cardinals – As I mentioned earlier, I think we were wrong about the Cardinals defense. The Cardinals ended 2011 on a hot streak and seem to have continued on in to 2012. Their offense still looks like it is a wreck, but their defense may be matchup proof.

Buffalo Bills – A good one week add as they face the Cleveland Browns. I’d even think about picking up the Browns against the Bills. I will have more on this matchup in my start/sit column.

Oakland Raiders – They failed me last week in a number of leagues. And they’ve been hit by injury again in the secondary I’m not sure if they can be trusted in any leagues at the moment.

Washington Redskins – With the injuries to Brian Orakpo and Adam Carriker, the Redskins should be avoided until it is clear what impact this will have on the defense and how their replacements perform.

Chris Garosi is a contributor for District Sports Page. One of his favorite sports memories is witnessing Wilson Alvarez’s no-hitter at Memorial Stadium in 1991. Chris has played fantasy sports since the pre-Internet days and participates in any league for any sport to which he’s invited. He even won an XFL fantasy league. Really. You can follow him on Twitter at @chrisgarosi.

Fantasy Football: Week 2 Notes and Survivor Pool; Start ‘em and Sit ‘em

Week one held a series of surprises none bigger than Robert Griffin III and his Washington Redskins taking down the New Orleans Saints. Hopefully, you took my Survivor Pool advice from last week and stayed away from the Saints. Remember, along with a bad defense, the Saints are on their third-string head coach at the moment. This week, it looks like we have a no brainer to take in Survivor, but we’ll check some other options out as well. We’ll also walk through some start/sit decisions. As always, if you have questions, just leave a comment or send me a note on Twitter.

Quarterback                               

Up: Cam Newton is due for a big day against a Saints defense that gave up 40 points at home to a rookie QB making his debut. I can’t see the Saints getting appreciably better (especially without those bounties) in one week. He should be the highest scoring QB this week. [Read more…]

Fantasy Football: Week 1 Notes and Survivor Pool

The first game of the new season is in the books, but there is still a lot to be done before week one. I’ll take a quick look at players whose stock has risen or fallen since my last column. The big takeaway from the last week is that more and more backfields seem to be a muddled mix of middling mudders. We’ll see if there is any value to be had. Finally, we’ll review the Survivor Pool picks for the weekend.

Let’s look at some players who are up or down in the most recent trend reports from MockDraftCentral.com (I’ll shorten to MDC for the remainder of the column). I’m looking at absolute movement up or down and not percentage change.

Quarterback

Up: Russell Wilson is being anointed as Cam Newton 2.0. I like him as a QB2 in most leagues (he could be a starter in 14 team leagues), but he’s not going to be Cam Newton. Newton looks to be a once in a decade mix of athleticism, strength and skill. Don’t go overboard with your affection for Wilson, but he’s certainly worth a bench spot.

As an aside, I was thinking about last year’s draft and I remember how many questions there were surrounding the 49ers Alex Smith. Now, just one year later, we hear no rumblings. Has Smith really solidified his job? If not, Colin Kaepernick is an intriguing player to keep on your watch list for the second half of the season.

Down: Mark Sanchez is the biggest faller on the QB side of the ledger. I can only assume this is related to his inability to lead the Jets to a TD in the preseason. Or that he’s not very good at quarterbacking in the NFL. Or both. He does not need to be drafted in anything more than two QB leagues.

Carson Palmer has also dropped from the ninth round (in 10 team leagues) to the twelfth round. I think he has value this year as I imagine they Raiders should be a relatively high powered offense. This drop may have more to do with a combination of confidence in Darren McFadden and concern over the health of his receivers.

Running back

Up: For reasons that escape me, the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Rashard Mendenhall has moved up 37 spots in the last week. Sure, he’s “healthy”, but the Steelers backfield situation is starting to resemble the Washington Redskins. Isaac Redman can’t seem to stay healthy and I don’t think he’s worth a roster spot. Mendehnall came back earlier than expected from an ACL tear, but he won’t play week one. Moreover, when he is back he’ll be behind a suspect line and I doubt he makes an impact before week six.

Their backfield mate Jonathan Dwyer has also moved up at MDC and I think he has a better shot at long term value in standard leagues than either Redman or Mendenhall.  Dwyer is more similar in size to Mendenhall and has that power back look that the Steelers value.

The potential PPR sleeper in that backfield is Chris Rainey. He’s a jitterbug out of Florida who could be a gold mine in leagues which value return yardage as he is now slated to return both punts and kickoffs.

The other back moving up draft boards is rookie Robert Turbin for the Seattle Seahawks. This move is due mostly to starter Marshawn Lynch’s back injury. Lynch is questionable for week one and Turbin is a necessary handcuff at this point for Lynch owners.

Down: Most of the RBs dropping in the ADP at MDC are those who have been release (Tim Hightower, James Starks) or those who are hurt (Isaac Redman and Jahvid Best). Perhaps the most interesting RB name is Ronnie Hillman of the Denver Broncos. Hillman was thought to be the backup for Willis McGahee. However, it seems the Broncos have other ideas and Knowshown Moreno was elevated to the number two role this week. I still think Hillman has value this year, but it looks like it will be a longer road to climb. He’s safe to drop in shallower leagues.

Wide Receiver

Up: Danny Amendola of the St. Louis Rams has jumped 36 spots on average in the last week according to MDC. Amendola has a chance to be a PPR star as the go-to target in the Rams’ offense. The rest of the receiving corps did not show much in the preseason so Amendola may be the one to carry the load.

Brandon LaFell of the Carolina Panthers also flew up draft boards last week. Cam Newton has been talking him up all preseason. LaFell could benefit early with single coverage as teams roll coverage to Steve Smith. If LaFell succeeds, the league will adjust and it will be interesting to see how LaFell adjusts back. LaFell should enjoy early success, but long term growth will be determined by the adjustments he makes.

Our old friend Randy Moss also saw a big jump last week. The 49ers have him listed as the number two WR on the current depth chart. I think if he stays mentally focused he has a chance to contribute and be a WR3/Flex option for the season. The problem will be if he can stay focused while not being the focal point of the offense. My guess is he won’t, but he’s a great flier in the end game of a draft.

Down: Not a lot of interesting names on the down list. However, at the top of the list is Vincent Brown of the San Diego Chargers. It’s odd to see him drop so much in a week since nothing changed for him other than he’s been placed on injured reserve. But, remember there is a new rule this year where a team can designate that a player may return from the IR any time after six weeks on it. Brown is that player for the Chargers. If you can stash him, I would and plan on reaping a big reward in the second half of the season.

Tight End

Up: No TEs showed a gain in draft position this week.

Short: One of the biggest drops is from the Buffalo Bills’ Scott Chandler.  This report paints a much different picture of Chandler. I saw Chandler play a bit this preseason against the Washington Redskins and he is much more athletic than I remember. He made a great catch in traffic over the middle. I think he has a shot to be a good bye week fill-in or maybe sneak into the top ten of TEs if the Bills offense clicks.

Kicker

Long: No kicker had a gain in the MDC draft rankings this week.

Short: Alex Henery took a huge tumble this week and I do not see any reason he should. If he’s still available late grab him as the Eagles offense should be a top 10 offense and offer Henery plenty of chances to score.

Also, in case you missed it, Garrett Hartley won the starting kicker job for the New Orleans Saints with the release of John Kasay. Hartley has a big leg, but struggles with consistency. However, he’s tough to pass up with the potency of the Saints offense.

Defense

Long: The Chicago Bears and Houston Texans have made big jumps this week most likely due to the weak opponents each faces in Week one. Both defenses should be drafted in all leagues as each has the playmaking ability to succeed long term.

Short: Oddly, the Detroit Lions defense has plummeted down the rankings even though they play a poor St. Louis Rams team in the first week. The only issue I see with the Lions is injuries in the secondary. There may be concern over how the team will hold up with the poor secondary play and that the game could turn into a shootout. The Lions are at home and should win, but there is a chance that they give up enough points that their defense isn’t playable in fantasy.

Survivor – Week 1 Update

Below you will see the current top 10 selections from Office Football Pool and ESPN. Not a lot of difference here and that’s to be expected as most are playing it safe this first week. As you can see, some folks are already out and we haven’t hit Sunday of the first week!

Office FootballPool

ESPN Eliminator Challenge

Team

Picks

% of all pools

 

Team

Picks

% of all pools

1 Texans 34.60% 1 Houston Texans

25.3

2 Lions 17.50% 2 Detroit Lions

24.4

3 Bears 16.90% 3 Chicago Bears

14.5

4 Eagles 9.00% 4 Philadelphia Eagles

13.5

5 Saints 8.20% 5 New Orleans Saints

3.3

6 Ravens 3.50% 6 New England Patriots

3.1

7 Patriots 2.50% 7 Minnesota Vikings

2.3

8 Vikings 1.40% 8 New York Giants

2.3

9 Giants (L) 1.40% 9 Seattle Seahawks

2.2

10 Falcons 0.80% 10 Baltimore Ravens

1.9

 

Week 1 selections

No changes from my last column. I will stick with these three in the order provided and I’ll stay away from the Saints. There is some concern that Arian Foster won’t play in Week one, but I’ll stick with the Texans even if it is Ben Tate starting.

Week 1 is the toughest of all weeks. We are coming off of preseason where the information is poor. In general, we have an idea of who the best and worst teams are, but we have no on-field evidence to prove it. So, for Week 1, I go with the biggest favorites entering the week with preference to big home favorites. My three choices for Week 1 are:

  1. Houston Texans – The Texans welcome the woeful (on paper) Miami Dolphins for week one. The Dolphins have a huge talent deficit and I do not believe they have an offense that can overcome the Texans swarming defense. It is a tough spot for Ryan Tannehill to debut. I give the Texans a 75% chance to win. The Texans are my choice for this week.
  2. Detroit Lions – The Lions still don’t seem to have a running game which always makes the Lions a dicey selection for survivor pools. They are prone to comebacks as they cannot salt away early big leads. That said their opponent, the St. Louis Rams were awful last year.  Their defense is improved, but I don’t think they have enough offensive fire power to keep up with the Lions. I give the Lions a 70% chance of winning.
  3. Chicago Bears – The Bears are a big favorite in Andrew Luck’s NFL debut for the Indianapolis Colts. And Luck is what gives me pause over putting the Bears at the top spot. He looks to be someone who could lead a team to victory on an given Sunday. I give the Bears a 65% chance of winning.

If you get some sort of bonus for choosing a road team, I might take a look at the Atlanta Falcons in Kansas City. Kansas City is tough place to play and the Falcons are a poorer team away from the dome. However, the Chiefs look like they will be banged up on defense and could be susceptible to the high powered attack of the Falcons. I give the Falcons a 60% chance of winning.

I would also stay away from the New Orleans Saints as a big favorite against the Washington Redskins. I’d like to see one week of the Saints without Sean Payton on the sidelines before I put my neck on the line for them.

Thanks for reading and let me know if you have any questions you need answer.

- Chris (@chrisgarosi)

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