Monthly Archives: September 2013

2013: Picks For Week 4

While Ron was away in South Africa on safari (literally there’s no joke coming there) he had a little bit of a snafu with his pick submissions for week 3.  A very unpredictable Week 3 conveniently (I mean a large number of Vegas upsets).  So this competition has been forced  to switch from total # of games called correctly – to overall % of guessed games.  Last week Ron was able to get his Chiefs over Eagles pick in on time – so he went 1-0.   I took the brunt of the upset tide going 5-11, while Tim managed to make it to 8-8 thanks to a gutsy Colts over 49’ers call.    For the season Ron is now 24-10 (71%), Tim is 28-20(58%) , and Mike is 26-22 (54% and right pissed about it).

Ron’s Picks
49ers Over Rams
Ravens Over Bills
Bengals Over Browns
Bears Over Lions
Seahawks Over Texans
Colts Over Jaguars
Chiefs Over Giants
Steelers Over Vikings
Cardinals Over Buccaneers
Titans Over Jets
Broncos Over Eagles
Redskins Over Raiders
Chargers Over Cowboys
Falcons Over Patriots
Saints Over Dolphins

Mike’s Picks
49ers Over Rams
Ravens Over Bills
Bengals Over Browns
Bears Over Lions
Texans over Seahawks
Colts Over Jaguars
Chiefs Over Giants
Steelers Over Vikings
Cardinals Over Buccaneers
Jets over Titans
Broncos Over Eagles
Redskins Over Raiders
Cowboys over Chargers
Falcons Over Patriots
Saints Over Dolphins

Tim’s Picks

Rams over 49ers

Baltimore over Bills

Browns over Bengals

Bears over Lions

Seahawks over Texans
Colts over Jaguars
Chiefs over Giants
Steelers over Vikings
Bucs over Cardinals
Titans over Jets
Broncos over Eagles
Redskins over Raiders
Cowboys over Chargers
Patriots over Falcons
Dolphins over Saints

2013: Start ’em or Sit ’em Week 4

We’re nearly at the quarter mark of the NFL season.  Going by too fast, as usual.  Hopefully your fantasy team(s) is/are making you smile more than not.  However, even successful fantasy football teams face indecision – especially now during the start of the bye weeks.  So we’ve got some friendly advice for you on this week’s starts or sits – and we’ll try not to make it condescendingly obvious either.  If you need even more analysis on specific players not listed here, please leave us a message – we’d be happy to give you some insight.

49’ers at Rams (tonight!)

Start ’em RB Frank Gore: This one might be a little obvious, but I just wanted to take a moment here to comment about Gore’s baffling usage in week 3.   Gore had 11 carries for 82 yards, and added 2 catches for 21 yards….so why didn’t he get more than 13 touches?  Even he wants to know – and the story broke this week about him getting in an argument with Jim Harbaugh about it.  The Rams defense is tough to figure – they should be doing better with the talent they have, but they’re by no means invincible right now – even given their good history for playing the Niners hard.  On a short week the games tend to be a little sloppy and with Gore calling for the football, the smart plan for the Niners would be to lean on him for at least 25 carries.   Will that get done?  I don’t know…but I think so…

Sit ’em TE Jared Cook:  Maybe this is just me trying to reverse jinx Cook since I own him in a few leagues.  Or maybe this is just me watching the Rams’ offense regress with every quarter of football played.  The Rams smaller WR’s and RB’s are getting manhandled most weeks, and Cook is paying some of the price for that as Sam Bradford’s confidence and play decline.  The Niners defense has given up a surprising 24 points or more,  in 8 out of their last 9 games.   They are banged up and they aren’t what they once were right now.  So the Rams should score points in this one, but trying to predict who scores  those points is insanely difficult.  I mean can you start a guy like WR Austin Pettis, and hope he has one 2 yard catch for a TD? I don’t know…I wouldn’t.  On paper Cook is a safer option, but I can’t back him this week with any confidence until that offense shows me some consistency.

Ravens at Bills

Guys you want to Sit but probably can’t: RB Ray Rice & RB CJ Spiller: Both have disappointed owners so far in 2013 after being top 8 picks (or higher) in most redraft leagues this year.  Both are now nursing injuries, although both are thought at this point to be in for Week 4.   If you own them, you know the deal: you drafted these guys as the centerpiece of your team and if they play you’re not likely to have better options.   Spiller may be the healthier of the two this week, but the Ravens defense is ranked 4th against the run in 2013. Unless you have a player behind them almost assured to get you 10 or more points in your league’s scoring sitting behind them,  you will have to grin and bear it this week and hope they at least show you some kinds of life.

Start ’em WR Torrey Smith: Did you see what Geno Smith and Santonio Holmes did to Bills CB Justin Rodgers last week?  The Ravens saw it.  And Joe Flacco and Torrey Smith are better players, could be a long day for the Bills back 4.

Bengals at Browns

Start ’em Bengals Defense:  I know, I know – some of you tried the Minnesota D against Hoyer and the Browns last week and got semi-burned by it.  (Depends how your league scoring for defenses works).  But, let me be clear about this that was a matchup play rather than a talent play – meaning that we expected Hoyer and Rainey in their 1st games as starters,  and Josh Gordon in his 1st game back – to have their issues.  It was about the Browns in otherwords, not about the Vikings.  This week it’s more about the Bengals than the Browns themselves. The Bengals defense is much better than the Vikings – and let’s not forget Brian Hoyer is still learning the QB position.   The Bengals should be able to equal or better the 4 turnovers the Vikings got last weekend, plus hold the yards and scoring against them down much lower.

Sit ’em All Browns except for maybe TE Jordan Cameron:  Again Hoyer had a nice debut – but in addition to 300 yards and 3 TD’s..he also threw 3 INT’s.  WR Josh Gordon had 146 yards and a TD, but 47 of them and the TD came on a coverage blown so badly that no one was within 10 yards of him.  RB Willis McGahee, newly acquired to be the starter managed just 9 yards on 8 carries.   Let me reiterate: The Bengals Defense is much better than the Vikings – all of the positives the Browns had from last week can be minimized, and all of their stumbles amplified.   TE Jordan Cameron is a possible exception – I have doubted him all season as a “sleeper” TE, but he has proven me wrong.  I don’t think he manages a big game here, but he might have passable (6 for 65 and a TD or so) starter’s production if he is your TE starter.

Bears at Lions

Start ’em WR Ryan Broyles: You never know how long Broyles will play given his knee issues, but you do know that Nate Burleson got hurt reaching for a pizza box and broke his arm.   The absurdity of that statement does not in any way make it less of a fact.  Here’s another fact: for all the accolades the Bears’ defense gets annually for creating turnovers, they are actually usually a pedestrian defense in yards allowed – this year they are 24th in the league vs the pass.  Reggie Bush will be back and playing for the Lions,  so he will take some of that short passing game work – but Broyles can still have a role over the middle in the slot, and the best news of all is that the Lions have said they will finally let him play a full game.   “If healthy” is a question with Broyles you may have to ask as soon as next week – but right now he’s going out there full bore and could be a very nice Wr3 or flex play this week.

Sit ’em WR Alshon Jeffery:  Again this may be an attempt to reverse jinx because we have recommended him here before, but until I see the Bears even look Alshon’s way near the endzone I don’t think you can make him a weekly start.  Even against a potentially good matchup like this one you probably have better options.

Colts at Jaguars

Start ’em RB Ahmad Bradshaw: Turns out that lost in the hoopla over the Trent Richardson deal is that Bradshaw still intends to fight for his football life. 95 yards against San Francisco put that game away with tough running, and it’s clear for at least the next few games that Bradshaw will be out there to produce in some type of rotation with Richardson.   If you own Bradshaw and were ready to send him to the bench after the Richardson trade, it’s time to put him in against good matchups as a flex. (Edit: As of Friday – Bradshaw now appears to be sitting out this weekend due to injury, he may be a starter for you in the future…but not this week,)

Start ’em WR Cecil Shorts:  With Henne or Blaine Gabbert back there it really doesn’t matter.  Shorts may have disappointed owners in the 1st 2 weeks of the season, and last week his 143 yards were mostly during garbage time of a blowout…but Shorts is starting to find his groove this season and he has to be the main target in that offense by default.   It may not produce draw dropping numbers, but Shorts could be a legitimate WR2 this week against Indy.

Giants at Chiefs

Start ’em: WR Hakeem Nicks: I know, I know – The Giants and their offense were a tire fire last week.  And yes,  I usually use this spot to advise you to bench RB David Wilson (haven’t been wrong about that yet)…but the Giants passing offense is much better than they showed last week.  I know the Chiefs have a solid defense (fantasy owners will get it confused as a “great” defense because of last week), but the fact is there’s no reason the Giants shouldn’t turn in a better performance this week.  Nicks had some of his comments about not being able to “throw himself the ball” exaggerated this week in typical NY press style, but the fact remains he’s unhappy with his play and his role.  As you know from what I predicted about Mike Wallace after Week 1,  I love it when a WR is upset early in the season (the 1st time – after that the returns seem to lessen) – I think the Giants look to appease Nicks early and often in this one.

Sit ’em WR Dwayne Bowe:  You can’t completely give up on Bowe yet for 2013, but until he shows you something he can be left on your fantasy bench if you have options.  Bowe simply has had a hard time meshing with QB Alex Smith’s conservative short passing game – and while the team is winning, Bowe will not see his role change much.  The Giants are a great matchup for him on paper, but unless the Chiefs get behind by a bit I can’t see Bowe having a breakout or even serviceable game.

Steelers at Vikings

Sit ’em RB Le’Veon Bell: This is normally where I advise against starting any Pittsburgh RB, but since the hype is building for Bell’s potential return this week I feel like I have to single him out.  Let’s review why Bell is a hot name this week: 1.) Many of you are getting desperate to either turn around your team’s fortune, or to get some production from a guy you drafted in the middle of your fantasy football drafts.  2.) Others of you “cleverly” won Bell off of waivers in recent weeks when a frustrated owner dropped him.  3.) Everyone, even the media always has a a good ole case of “rookie fever”.  We love the potential of the unknown, we love a potential savior. 4.) And hell, as a flex what could it hurt right?  He’s playing Minnesota’s defense that got whopped by the lowly Browns.

But here’s the cold water reality: Pittsburgh’s offense is in shambles, they simply cannot move the ball on the ground – and it’s not all about the RB “talent”, it’s about the offensive line.  Ben Roethlisberger has been quoted this week to the affect that it’s clear he doesn’t expect Bell to walk right in and fix the situation.  He’s said he flat out “has no idea” if Bell can help…or even play.   And this great matchup?  The Vikings defense was beat (almost inexplicably) to death through the air last week, not on the ground – in fact on the ground they held the Browns to about 3 YPC.

So if you hear that Bell will play, or even start this weekend – and think “well, I have my flex player”…I’m advising against it.  Strongly.  Look it may be that Bell turns into a great flex play or even RB2 by the end of the season – but he’ll need time to find out how he fits in a very battered offense right now.  Try someone else while you can, if you owned him since your draft patience is key – don’t rush now.  Check back in a week or two….

Sit ’em The Vikings every single one of them except Adrian Peterson: Maybe I’m just mad the Vikings knocked me out of my survivor pool this weekend, maybe I just can’t imagine an injured Christian Ponder being any better than a non-injured Christian Ponder or a healthy *gulp* Matt Cassel, or maybe I just want this game to be so unwatchable that London promptly tells Goodell – thanks but no thanks to the future of American football in the U.K. In any case, think about it?  Who (other than AP) would you want to start in purple this week?

Redskins at Raiders

Start ’em RB Darren McFadden: This is the week McFadden goes from “flex” play or low end RB2 to bonafide stud potential.   It’s a combination of things: QB Terrel Pryor’s concussion may not be cleared by then, but even if it is – he’ll likely be more conservative with scrambling and pass attempts.  The Redskins defense is starting to collapse even up front against the run, which was one of their “strengths” last season and earlier this season (watch Joique Bell run through them this past weekend for example) – and in theory, this should be a close game for most it  meaning McFadden should get traditional hand-offs to compliment his short pass repertoire.   So, if you some weeks have McFadden and bench him for a close option – this is the week to give him the edge.

Sit ’em TE Fred Davis: After advising most fantasy teams that have even one semi-reliable option to drop Davis flat out this week, I promise this will be the last time I use him here.  I just want to use this space to get the message across one last time.   Davis cannot be trusted at all this year – good matchups, bad matchups – does not matter: he’s hurt, his starter’s job is in question, he’s on the last year of his deal in DC…the hopes of him being top 10 or even top 15 at the TE position seem dead.

Seahawks at Texans

Start ’em – Russell Wilson:  Houston’s strong defense will pose a problem for the Seahawks depleted offensive line, this will surely be a low scoring game, but I think Wilson will have the best game of the lot. He isn’t a high level start, but if you are facing a bye week I think he is a good play.

Start ’em – Seahawks Defense:  Seattle is #1 against the pass this season.  Andre Johnson is injured and may not play.  Seattle should contain the run game.  This will be a low scoring game where turnovers and field position will reign supreme. Seattle is turning the ball over this season on defense and Chris Clemons came back last week to bolster the pass rush.

Sit’ em – Matt Schaub: He hasn’t played particularly well lately, he is going against the #1 defense with the #1 pass defense in the league averaging 147 passing yards allowed a game. Does not compute to a start. A big game against the worst pass D in the league (Chargers) and decent second half agaisnt the Titans make his stats look pretty good, watch the games.  He was terrible last week and has trouble when he is moved off his spot in the pocket.

Cardinals at Buccaneers

Start ’em – Cardinals Defense:  I don’t love their defense, but also I don’t love Rookie QB’s making their first start with his two starting wideouts banged up.  I really like this play.

Start ’em – Doug Martin: He might get 30 carries with a Rookie QB and banged up WR’s…

Sit’ em – Cardinals Running Backs:  The commitment to the run isn’t really there and their O-line is  below average at best.  Tampa still has a very good run D regardless of what happened last week.   I would avoid them all unless you are in a bind.  Mendenhall is the only back to consider, but he is a RB3 at best.

Jets at Titans  

Start ’em – Santonio Holmes: Titans have a pretty good defense, but I think their secondary is a bit of a weakness.  Holmes is the Jets best route running WR and a clear #1 target.  Geno Smith seems to developing a report with Holmes as he works his way back to health.  A borderline WR2 play this week.

Sit’ em – Chris Johnson: The Jets defense is quietly having a very good year.  They have a strong front 7 and have been playing the run very well.  They are only giving up 79 yards a game.  Save for breaking a long run, I can’t see Johnson having big day. I wouldn’t count on him for any big numbers.

Eagles at Broncos  

 Start ’em – Broncos WR’s: Any 3 of them are a must start until further notice.  The biggest problem here would be if the Broncos got a huge lead and stopped throwing. It’s hard to imagine a scenario where, Welker, Thomas or Decker aren’t in your starting lineup regularly.  Feel confident starting any of the three.

Start ’em – LeSean McCoy:  He is playing the best of any RB in the league right now.  Not that you weren’t going to start him, but man, this guy is having a MVP type year through 3 games.

Sit’ em – Mike Vick: If you aren’t penalized for turnovers in your league, this isn’t a bad play, but I can see him turning the ball over several times in this game while playing catch up. Any numbers he puts up will be tempered by the turnovers.

Cowboys at Chargers  

 Start ’em – Dez Bryant and Tony Romo: Miles Austin and Terrence Williams are hurt and the Chargers have the worst pass defense in the league.

Sit’ em – Ryan Mathews :  Most people who own him can’t afford to not play him.  He just isn’t getting enough carries at this point in the season to justify his top 4 round draft status.  The Dallas defense is playing fast this year.   A good game for Mathews here, would seemingly give the team more confidence in his ability to carry the load moving forward.

 Patriots at Falcons

 Start ’em – Steven Ridley:  Don’t worry about Blount and Bolden getting touches.  I think he gets nearly 15 touches and is effective as the Pats try and grind down the Falcons and keep Matty Ice off the field.  He does the little things that Belichick likes and this will keep him on the field.

Sit’ em –Jacquiz Rodgers:  Yes, he might get some yards on draws, screens and in spread sets, but he just doesn’t score touchdowns. Jason Snelling is the TD vulture.   I would avoid him if you have a better option. Flex play at best.

Dolphins at Saints  

Start ’em – Mike Wallace: I think he has a break out game on Monday night.  This could be a shootout between two undefeated teams in Louisiana.  It wouldn’t surprise me to see him get deep against the Saints blitz heavy scheme.

Sit’ em – Lance Moore:  They just aren’t throwing to this guy thus far in the season.  Not to say he might break out at some point, but he is a very risky WR3 play this week.  I would look elsewhere.

-Ron and Mike

2013 Week 3: We Told You So

It’s that time of the week again, where before we release our Sit and Starts for Week 4, that we have to look back on our calls from Week 3.   From the Browns and Colts winning to the Giant collapse in Carolina,  Week 3 was the most unpredictable one we’ve had yet in 2013.  Reviewing our fantasy advice from last week reflects that difficulty, but as an owner you have to make the calls that make sense to you and let fate play it out.   Let’s check our some of our report card…

We Told you so…

Sit ’em: TE Brent Celek – 2 catches for 18 yards.   Celek is a solid TE in a great situation, but he’s not so talented that he’s an every week play.  The Chiefs continue to hold the TE position in check.

Sit ’em RB David Wilson: 11 carries for 39 yards.   I maintain Wilson will have some fantasy use ahead (he had a TD called back in this one), but the Giants are a mess right now so he’s tough to trust.   Why did he not catch a pass in this one?

Start ’em RB DeAngelo Williams: My slam dunk of the week.  120 yards for Williams, with the normal complaint that they just can’t find him the endzone.

Sit ’em RB James Starks:  14 carries for 55 yards, and then he got hurt.  Next up Jonathan Franklin. The Green Bay RB situation is a constant temptress that will break your heart again and again….unless you checked our advice 🙂

Sit ’em RB Steven Ridley: Ridley owners I think you should be more worried than David Wilson owners. 11 carries for just 35 yards.  Wilson is force fed the ball despite struggling, Ridley is being phased out right in front of our eyes.  It’s clear New England would rather roll with the Shane Vereen or Brandon Bolden pass catching type than the hard-nosed Ridley 3 YPC.  When Vereen comes back Ridley may well be a fantasy bench mainstay.

Sit ’em RB Mark Ingram: Mark Ingram missed Week 3 with a toe injury.  He had about the same production he usually has….boo-yah!

Sit ’em WR Eddie Royal – Royal had just 2 catches for 34 yards.  He was due to come back to earth, he still has potential as a fantasy reserve in most leagues.

Start ’em TE Antonio Gates: 5 catches for 55 yards and a 1 TD.  Gates will never be the #1 fantasy TE at this point in his career, but he is still very capable of getting it done with good matchups.

Start ’em RB Joique Bell: And I made this call when I thought Reggie Bush would play a little. 63 yards on the ground, 69 yards in the passing game, and a TD.  Bell is a viable flex starter when Bush is healthy, when he’s not like this past weekend Bell is a viable RB2.  There’s just too much production in the Lions’ offense right now.

Sit ’em TE Fred Davis: Davis was injured for this game and didn’t suit up.  No one really noticed, because he’s being phased out of the weekly gameplan in DC.  When healthy he’ll be a desperation TE play only.

Sit ’em RB Steelers whomever it is: RB Jonathan Dwyer and RB Felix Jones totaled 73 yards together and nearly split that down the middle.  Their receiving total was about 20 yards and they split that as well.  Isaac Redmon watched from the bench.  Let this be a warning to hopeful Le’Veon Bell owners – it’s going to be a tough road for the Steelers this year.

Oops we missed…

Start ’em WR Anquan Boldin: Boldin’s 5 catches for 67 is actually kind of impressive considering how bad the Niners’ offense looked.  He was hurt by the lack of a secondary option like TE Vernon Davis who was out with injury.

Start ’em: RB Ben Tate: I’m convinced Tate is put on this earth to confuse and frustrate me.  9 carries for 36 yards against a tough Ravens’ run d, Tate remains a tease – but it’s not like starter Arian Foster tore it up either.

Sit ’em: RB Bernard Pierce –67 yards and a score. It was just about a 3 yard average but Pierce was named the full starter for this one after I made the call to sit ’em (of course) and his 24 carry workload got him the production.  In his regular role we would’ve been correct.

Start ’em TE Tyler Eifert: It’s official Andy Dalton is having trouble connecting with the rookie.  1 catch for 7 yards? Eifert’s talent is currently being wasted.

Sit ’em RB Demarco Murray: My biggest miss of the week – 175 yards and a TD, plus 28 yards in the air?  I was right that the Rams have an overrated defense…I just did not think the Cowboys would use him that much. Wow.

Sit ’em WR Josh Gordon: 147 yards and a long TD.  In his 1st game back?  With Brian Hoyer chucking it?  Yeah this was completely unforeseeable.  Gordon did have an insane 19 targets, and his TD happened not with anything special he did, but rather a terribly blown coverage that had no defender within 10 yards of him.  So the stats don’t tell the whole story.  Still this is fantasy football so the stats are what matters.  It was an incredible 2013 debut.

Start ’em WR Andre Roberts:  For the 2nd week in a row, Roberts had a TD look robbed – in Week 2 it was pass interference against him, this week Carson Palmer overthrew him when he was wide open.  Instead he finished with just one catch for 6 yards.  Oh what could’ve been…

Start ’em RB Chris Ivory: Ivory had one carry, got hurt again…and then watched Bilal Powell run well with a real workload.   Ivory indicated after the game that his hamstring has been hindering him since training camp, and given his history the Jets may shut him down for many weeks.

Start ’em RB Knowshon Moreno: Coming off a big week it makes sense that Denver would give him only 12 carries.  God damn this is Green Bay but worse.  I’m not saying Moreno is a worldbeater (he managed a little over 3 YPC), but how can rookie Montee Ball get 11, and Hillman get 9…when both of them have proven to have fumble problems?  I mean Ball fumbled again in this one late…is it because they spent draft picks on these guys?  Any hope of Moreno putting the stranglehold on this job, just went out the window.

Some examples of our “pushes”…

Start ’em: QB Alex Smith – This one depends on your expectations and league scoring.  That Smith had no TD’s was disappointing, but he did finish with 273 yards, no turnovers, and kicked in 32 yards rushing.   That may not scream starter to you…but if say you had a guy like QB Eli Manning starting instead of him in week 3…wouldn’t you kill for this type of day?

Start ’em Minnesota Defense: Depends a lot on your league scoring, but they definitely disappointed allowing Brian Hoyer to pass for over 300 yards and 3 scores.  However, they did somewhat salvage their day with 4 turnovers and 3 sacks – so again depends on how much your league penalizes for points/yardage vs rewards turnovers/sacks.

Sit ’em WR Kendall Wright: 6 catches for 71 yards.  With a long of 19 yards, Wright beat my expectations by a little, but he’s still primarily a short possession guy.  This would’ve been about a 7 point fantasy production in standard leagues, would that have been good for you?  Depends on what you needed from him.

Sit ’em RB Jacquizz Rodgers: Inexplicably the Falcons gave their lighter scat back style RB 18 carries, and he only got one catch.  While they gave Jason Snelling (a real rb) 11 carries and 4 catches.  Rodgers produced 86 yards and no scores, and frankly without the 18 carries he wouldn’t have gotten much done.  8 standard fantasy points is yours to judge.

:by Mike

2013 Week 4 – Waiver Add/Drop

Well, if you’ve been following us and our advice on add drops – you’re going to know that 3 of this week’s higher waiver adds in standard leagues are guys we recommended either last week or the week before.  So if you’re looking for why you should pick up WR Josh Gordon or WR Santonio Holmes after their monster weeks – well, good luck competing with your entire league for them.   I tried to warn you last week 🙂  Similarly, albeit with less authority I am not going to bring up RB Brandon Bolden as a potential add this week – b/c I advocated him in deeper leagues during week 1.  He gets a bump to Level 2 type of guy this week.

As always what we’ll do here is make recommendations on 3 levels. Level 1 guys are so obvious that they were either drafted in your league on draft day already, or you will have to fight with other owners over them on the wire. Level 2 guys are decent risks that may not always pan out, but more of them may be available in your league to serve your purposes.  And finally level 3 guys are more of the longshot homerun guys – but if your need is great, or if you play in a deep league – these might be the only guys you have a chance at….

Level 1

RB Fred Jackson – I believed in CJ Spiller more than most, I bought the hype.  Fred Jackson just continues to hang around though and look like the better runner.  Spiller is flash and talent – Jackson is a plodding workhorse – but for the Bills after 3 weeks Jackson seems to be what they need.  Spiller is banged up a little right now (and I’m not advising Spiller owners to panic), but even when healthy Jackson gets meaningful work.  3 games is a large enough sample size for this guy to be owned – so if somehow he’s available in more shallow leagues…pick him up.

RB Bilal Powell – Powell was likely drafted in your league, but maybe some owner got frustrated with him and tossed him out.  This is the time to get him, because with Ivory hurt for the 1,000th time in his career,  Powell has job security and is producing.  Powell is a lot like Fred Jackson – he seems to be a plodder, but unlike the hype for his backfield mate,  Powell is producing quietly and fighting for every yard.  The Jets offense is not going to light teams up most weeks, but Powell could start for your team as an RB2 if you’re having issues at the position.

WR Kenbrell Thompkins – Thompkins appears to have beaten fellow rookie Aaron Dobson for playing time and for targets.  Most importantly he seems to have shaken off an erratic week 2 and will remain in the Patriots’ plans.  He needs to be owned in all leagues, and if someone else hasn’t done it – it should be you based off his future potential as a high end WR3.

TE Heath Miller – Quietly Heath Miller is returning to action for 2013.  His 3 catches for 35 yard debut may have also gone unnoticed in your leagues….just as I’m sure people forgot that in 2012 Miller had over 800 yards receiving and 8 Td’s.  I know Pittsburgh’s offense is bad, Miller is slower, he may have to block more etc…. but the fact remains Miller and Big Ben have a chemistry together over many years and the Steelers will be throwing the ball a lot this season.  Pick Miller up if you need TE help – put him on your bench for a week or two more and then in under a month you may have a top 5-6 TE  week to week.  That’s a good deal.

Level 2

RB Jason Snelling – I’m a buyer of this guy on the news that Steven Jackson may be out another 3 weeks or more.  Snelling is just a better RB than Jacquizz Rodgers and he may get more goalline work than him before long.  Rodgers may be owned in your league, or even higher on some’s waiver priorities – use that to your advantage and take Snelling as a potential flex play.  Then, you can laugh while Rodgers gets tackled for a -1 loss every 3rd time he touches it.  Snelling won’t light the fantasy world on fire, but with Jackson out and older – by year’s end Snelling could become a very viable flex or bench player for you.

RB Jonathan Franklin – Ugh, here we go again with Green Bay’s backfield.  Look here’s what we know – Ed Lacy will be back in the picture as early as this week.  James Starks was slated over Franklin, and Franklin had a late game fumble against the Bengals that pretty much cost Green Bay the game.   Now here’s what works in his favor: he’s healthy.  Starks has a knee sprain and may be out multiple weeks, Lacy will be back but coming off a concussion, so it’s tough to see him getting the lion’s share of the workload right away.   So for at least a few weeks Franklin will have an opportunity to work this thing into a full time split.   So the question you need to ask is do I need to ride this situation long term?  Do you believe Franklin will beat Lacy out for touches by the end of the year?  I don’t – but if you need a flex play for the next 2-3 weeks in a bad way….then you might as well try this lotto ticket.

WR Nate Washington – Washington had a big day in Week 3 with 8 catches for 131 yards, more importantly he seems to have taken the Wr1 role in Tennessee (from Kenny Britt – who we advised you last week to drop in standard size leagues).  The Titans are not going to light it up very often, and Kendell Wright and Justin Hunter are young players the team will want to take looks at (and targets toward) – but Washington clearly has a role and that means some measure of weekly production.  He’s worth an add if you’re currently unhappy with your WR3 or Wr4 situation and are willing to deal with some inconsistency.

WR Davone Bess – We’re big fans of Bess here at the artofscore, but it’s only really this week that he becomes worth consideration for a roster spot. For one thing, Brian Hoyer shocked us all this weekend – and looked a little competent (more on him below), and the bigger factor is that with the Browns supposedly shopping Greg Little and Josh Gordon, Bess could be a defacto WR1 by season’s end.  He has already beaten Little out for the Wr2 job.  Optimism for the real player is capped a little by Hoyer and the rest of the Browns offense which for now includes Josh Gordon and TE Jordan Cameron – who will probably account for 80% of the Browns’ passing scores going forward.  But in the end, Bess could be a very consistent Wr3 especially should Josh Gordon leave town.

Level 3

TE Jordan Reed – Reed may not have officially beaten out Fred Davis for the starting TE job in Washington, but the writing is on the wall.  Reed is currently banged up so check on his status before making the add, but this is more of a long term buy anyway.   Reed has looked much better in the offense than Davis, and while the 2 may oscillate looks for a few weeks – Davis is on the last year of his deal, and as the team falls out of contention Reed should take more and more of the work – as he already seems more dynamic.  He’s an add if you’re desperate for a 2nd TE, and a guy like Heath Miller isn’t available…maybe by the end of the year he’s more than that.

QB Brian Hoyer – Over 300 yards and 3 Td’s.  Shocking.  One of them was a game winner!  Lost in the celebration (rightfully) of Cleveland backers this week is 2 fold..1 Minnesota’s pass defense was awful, they may wind up being in the bottom 5 in the league this year.  And 2ndly, we need to see it again before we add him for fantasy.  Hoyer has no dependable history and despite the performance had some troubling signs – like the 3 Int’s he threw.   If he struggles against better defenses can he even keep the job?  Has he even won it?  Brandon Weeden is not in favor in Cleveland for sure, but will the Browns put him back in to showcase him for other teams, or to give him a last chance to advocate for his roster spot in 2014?  These are questions that are very legitimate and not to be swept under the rug of Hoyer-mania….if there is such a thing.  Anyway, in very deep leagues I suppose Hoyer is worth an add as a backup fantasy QB, especially with guys like Terrel Pryor getting hurt etc..but in most leagues we need to see it at least twice to make him worth a pickup.

WR Ryan Broyles – I love Broyles’ talent and his situation, I just hate his knees.  Broyles was finally used in a game this weekend and is working his way slowly back from injury.   He looked quick and strong, and remains my pick to easily out work Nate Burleson by the time the season ends.  In average leagues you may not need to grab him this week – just monitor him….but in deep leagues the time to grab him is before he’s played too many games and shown too much of his comeback. (Edited on the news that Nate Burleson has broken his arm – Broyles is now a high level 2, or low level 1 add for this week – b/c he will be the 2 WR almost immediately in the wake of this news)

WR Terrance Williams – I don’t particularly like Williams as a talent, but very quickly he could be in a very good situation.  WR Miles Austin is battling again with his hamstring…and even though right now he’s not scheduled to miss time, with his history that’s not a good sign for him.  For Williams if Austin were limited or out that would be pretty fantastic considering Dallas’ upcoming opponents are horrific against the pass:  Chargers, Broncos (the one tough matchup), Redskins, Eagles, Vikings, Saints, Giants, and Raiders.   I mean look at that schedule! You’d start anyone starting against those teams right?  Well Williams may be a starter for some or all of them and this will be a chance to buy low on that speculation.

RB Bryce Brown – McCoy got dinged up on Thursday night, and he came back fine….but the lesson should not be lost.  Bryce Brown is talented and would step into a fantastic situation should McCoy have to miss time.   If he’s not owned in your league based off this speculation, it may be time to add him.  I just don’t know how Chip Kelly’s high volume offense is going to affect his players after say the season mid-point. Will he burn guys out, or expose them to injury risk?  I’m not selling the Eagles short here, I’ve been impressed…but the questions about health will begin to creep in.   Brown could be your insurance or your lottery ticket.

Players to Drop

TE Fred Davis – Jordan Reed has cut into his passing looks, and even Logan Paulsen saw time Sunday as the inline blocker TE over Fred, while Fred was “hurt”.   Davis may be hurt, but I’d say it’s not only due to injury that he’s sliding down in playing time.  Those who drafted him thinking he had top 10 position potential – I agreed with that.  I no longer agree, even if Fred holds his starting job I have a tough time imaging Washington will use him if they continue to lose b/c Davis is on the last year of his deal (something that at the start of the season could’ve been very helpful to him) and they will want to see more of Reed in the attack.   Davis’ shot at even being a top 15 TE this year look bleak and there are likely better options on your waiver.

RB James Starks – From add one week to potential drop the next – these are the days of our Greenbay Fantasy Football Lives.  If you are desperate at RB in a deep league keep him, otherwise it’s time to move on.  Starks is injured (again) and now with Jonathan Franklin emerging and Lacy returning it’s tough to think of him as any more than RB3 on his own team.

TE Brandon Pettigrew – Much like Fred Davis, Pettigrew looks lost and unused in this offense.  Hell, he played this week against Washington and had the same # of catches as Fred Davis who didn’t play.  Think about that.

:by Mike

 

2013: Picks for Week 3

Well after 2 full weeks our leader Ron (Week 2: 12-4) increased his overall record to 23-9, but we all had good weeks in week 2 as I went 13-3, and Tim went 11-5.  So it’s Ron at 23-9, Mike at 21-11, and Tim at 20-12 in the race for the year end taco.  Ron is on safari in Africa so his full picks will be up before Sunday’s kickoff.  But he did pick the Thursday game on time…

Ron’s Picks
Chiefs over Eagles

Mike’s Picks
Eagles over Chiefs
Texans over Ravens
Giants over Panthers
Packers over Bengals
Rams over Cowboys
Vikings over Browns
Patriots over Buccaneers
Saints over Cardinals
Redskins over Lions
Falcons over Dolphins
Bills over Jets
Seahawks over Jaguars
49’ers over Colts
Bears over Steelers
Broncos over Raiders

Tim’s Picks
Chiefs over Eagles
Texans over Ravens
Giants over Pathers
Packers over Bengals
Cowboys over Rams
Vikings over Browns
Patriots over Bucs
Saints over Cardnials
Chargers over Titans
Lions over Redskins
Falcons over Dolphins
Bills over Jets
Seahawks over Jags
Colts over 49ers
Bears over Steelers
Broncos over Raiders

2013: Start ’em or Sit ’em Week 3

Well it’s week 3 and love it or leave it – you probably have a good idea about your own team’s strengths and weaknesses at this point.  So for this week’s Sit or Start Advice I’m going to try not to list all of the obvious options (unless it’s to bench a supposedly obvious option) because let’s face it:  If you have to be told to start WR Calvin Johnson vs Washington’s secondary – you’re probably not gonna get very far in FFL this season anyway.

Chiefs at Eagles

Sit ’em: TE Brent Celek – I know it’s tempting to start everyone in the Eagles offense every weekAnd while Celek has been on the field for about 69% of the Eagles plays this season – he isn’t always in the gameplan – or at least in Michael Vick’s gameplan. Last weekend Celek went out on 34 pass routes and he was targeted just once.  He didn’t even make the catch.  The Chiefs held TE Jason Witten under 20 yards last week, and I can see the Eagles having a little more difficulty moving the ball against KC than they did against the Chargers.   Celek may pull in something like 5 for 40 tonight, but if he doesn’t get a score he’ll be a bad start.

Start ’em: QB Alex Smith – Ha, bet you didn’t think I’d say that.  Well look to many of you Smith is on your roster as a backup QB for injury or bye week purposes, and that’s understandable and rational.  And I’m not suggesting you start Smith here over Aaron Rodgers or Drew Brees, or his opponent Michael Vick….but if you have a starting QB that’s not panning out or is inconsistent ala QB Big Ben or Andy Dalton it’s def a week to consider making the switch to see what Smith has….in standard scoring 6 pt per TD leagues Smith is actually currently ahead of signal callers like Russel Wilson,  Cam Newton, and yes even a guy like Drew Brees.   So there’s your perspective for you, I’m not saying Smith will finish the year in the company of those elite type of players, but I am saying that in a matchup with Philly (who made Philip Rivers relevant again last week) Smith is worth a look if you’re uncertain about your starter.  I know Thursday night football brings out the worst in team play and usually lowers fantasy scores,  but I think there’s also something to be said for Andy Reid’s return and his gameplan to throw a thousand times.

Colts at 49’ers

Sit ’em RB Trent Richardson – I know, I know Richardson’s awesome, an elite talent etc…and the Colts are a Superbowl team with him and Andrew Luck united…but I’d be advising you to sit the guy if you can even if he weren’t playing the 49’ers defense.  Look, he’ll have less than a week in the offense by kickoff -the coaches say he’ll play a lot, but you have to wonder especially if the Colts get behind and need to pass as Richardson may not be ready for the pass protection schemes.  I know his time will come this season, and I know you may not have the depth behind him to bench him on your squad….but I would consider starting even a guy like Joique Bell over Richardson this week if you can – because outside of Trent being force fed the ball at the goaline to showcase their new toy… I can’t imagine Richardson gets much done.  Oh, and did I mention they’re playing the 49’ers defense on the road?

Start ’em WR Anquan Boldin:  Here at the Art of Score we like to preach patience and the ebb and flow of situational opportunity.  After week 1’s 200 yard effort Boldin looked like his 25 year old self, then just last week in Seattle he looked like he was 85 with zero separation in his routes.   However, Boldin is somewhere in between these extremes and the Colts passing defense is below average.  Kapernick will be determined to work Bolidn back into the game plan, and after last week when we correctly warned you to bench Boldin…it’s a new day, and a new week…and we think it’s time to start him again.

Texans at Ravens

Start ’em: RB Ben Tate in our weekly flopping on what to do about the Texans’ backup RB, I’m hesitantly pushing him forward this week because it looks like WR Andre Johnson may be slowed by a concussion.  Johnson looks like he’ll play, but I think the Texans will run even more than usual in this one- and Tate may finally even get that elusive TD, that starter Arian Foster usually grabs.  And that’s a key piece here, do not forget Foster is the starter here….Tate gets some hype, but he’s also on the last year of his rookie deal. It’s tough for me to imagine the Texans upsetting Foster with Tate essentially in his last year with the club.  Tate is always a risky play, but this week as a flex he may be worth it.

Sit ’em: RB Bernard Pierce – I just love talking about backup running backs I guess.  I love Pierce’s talent, I even think by season’s end he works his way into a full 50/50 split with aging starter Ray Rice (aging more in miles than in years).  People are going gaga over Pierce this week b/c of Rice’s hip injury, but I bet Ray Rice starts anyway on Sunday.  His injury looks less severe than initially thought and either Rice or Pierce is slated to face a very good Texans run defense.  Pierce will have his days before the end of 2013….but this won’t be one of them.

Giants at Panthers

Sit ’em RB David Wilson: It’s not time for full out panic on Wilson, but it’s getting close.  I personally think he’ll be a better player in the 2nd half of 2013 than he will be over the next few weeks.  As an owner if you drafted him in rounds 3-5 of your drafts this year that is not what you want to hear, but let’s face reality – Wilson has back to back performances of 7 carries for around 20 yards with no TD’s.   He will probably get better as the season goes on because the Giants will make an effort to run more, he will hopefully be less conscious of fumbling and more conscious of getting the tough yards, and at some point he should get goalline work again.  Only here’s what’s happening currently: he is running like he’s terrified of fumbling (which he should be), he is on a team that can’t run block at all,  and they are playing a very good Carolina front 7 defense this week.   To top off this poop Sundae for some reason the Giants are giving Bradon Jacobs (a tall pile of poop in his own right) meaningful carries – including around the endzone.  I would consider starting one week guys like Jason Snelling and Bobby Rainey over David Wilson this weekend – don’t cut him, or sell him low…but if you can, avoid making Wilson a big part of your plan the next few games.

Start ’em RB DeAngelo Williams: Did you see what RB Knowshon Moreno did to the Giants last weekend? Dengelo has opened the season running with a pair of 80 yard efforts, if he gets a score with that he’s clearly RB2 material.  Give him another look this weekend.

Packers at Bengals

Sit ’em RB James Starks: I know Ed Lacy is likely out, and I know you may have spent a waiver move on this guy recently.  But let’s face it, Starks’ good game last week came when the game was already in garbage time against a battered and defeated Redskins defense.  The Bengals run defense is stout, and the Packers are never really committed to the run when the game is in doubt – so if it stays close which it should – Starks will finish with something like 50 total yards and no scores.  If you picked up Starks because you’re desperate at RB than ok, you can give it a shot….but if you picked him up to play matchups, this is not a time to play it cute.  Put him on the bench, where he’ll probably be in real life as early as next week.

Start ’em TE Tyler Eifert: It depends on whether the Red Rocket Mr Andy Dalton can look anywhere else on the field other than at AJ Green.  Eifert has been getting open, and while fellow TE Jermaine Gresham has also been playing solid, the big play ability especially in the redzone is Eifert’s.  His 1st Td is coming and it very well could be this weekend.

Rams at Cowboys

Start ’em TE Jared Cook: Just like with Bolidn, Cook is not the dominate 2 TD 140 yard monster of week 1, nor is he the invisible one catch wonder from Week 2.   I happen to be a believer that Cook is closer to Week 1 than week 2 and he should prove it with a solid effort this week.

Sit ’em RB Demarco Murray: The Cowboys simply aren’t committed to the run.  And it’s this fact more than the (IMO overrated) Rams’ defense that would cause me to try to find a better Rb2 this week than Murray.  As a pass catcher Murray may salvage you a day here or there, but it’s so tough to count on that happening.  Look for other options, and use him more as a flex play if you must use him.

Browns at Vikings

Start ’em Minnesota Defense:  QB Brian Hoyer – off the bench, RB Bobby Rainey- off the bench, and WR Josh Gordon fresh off suspension.  Those are your Browns’ offensive weapons this week.  Now, as I wrote yesterday I love Bobby Rainey, and I have some love for Josh Gordon too – but neither of these guys is ready for the full workload just yet, and nobody in history is ready to work with Brian Hoyer.   This could be cover your eyes type of bad for Cleveland’s offense on Sunday.

Sit ’em WR Josh Gordon: Gordon’s owners drafted him despite his 2 week suspension.  And I recommended picking him up if he was somehow still on your waiver wire.  But not for this week, not in his 1st game back….and not with Hoyer.

Buccaneers at Patriots

Sit ’em RB Steven Ridley: Let’s face it this guy’s been a massive disappointment so far for owners that probably spent a top 20 draft pick on him. He keeps getting touches because Shane Vereen went down,  but it wouldn’t surprise me if this was his last week to show something before LaGarrette Blount and Brandon Bolden get more involved.  The problem is, it’ll be difficult to do this with Tampa’s good defense and the Pats overall struggles with young players to move the football.   I look at Ridley like a low end flex play at best this week and your team just might have better options there.

Start ’em WR Vincent Jackson: Maybe this one is a little obvious to you, but if you watched the game last weekend…Jackson actually had a 73 yard TD called back on a tick tacky illegal formation penalty.  So while he finished with 77 yards, Jackson could’ve finished with 150 and a TD.  He may be the most underrated fantasy #1 WR in the game right now so don’t start to sleep on him.

Cardinals at Saints

Sit ’em RB Mark Ingram: I’m talking not even in the flex spot with this guy.  I had some hope for Ingram in the preseason, because it looked like he was running hard, was healthy, and because the Saints said they were committed to him.  What’s played out over the 1st two games however is completely different – Ingram seems to have no vision as a runner, and the Saints will not stick with a guy that can’t move the ball.  Pierre Thomas is only a matter of weeks away from snagging Ingram’s work (at least Saints’ fans have to be hoping).   Ingram is not only worth benching, but potentially depending on what’s on your waiver wire he may be worth dropping even this early into the season.

Start ’em WR Andre Roberts: Quick, who leads the Cardinals in receptions and yards?  Not so fast Larry F…it’s Andre Roberts.  Some may feel that Roberts had an underwhelming game last week, since he followed up his 97 yard week 1 effort with just 36 yards against the Lions.   But if you watched the game you saw the Lions commit pass interference on him to stop him from getting a TD late in the game.  It was a big moment, a redzone look, and an indication that he’s always clearly part of the Cardinals’ plans.   He’s a little banged up, but he’s ready to go this week against a below average pass defense….making him a perfect flex or WR3 play.

Chargers at Titans

Sit ’em WR Eddie Royal – I know I suggested him as a waiver add, and I know he’s red hot right now…but I just have this feeling that he’s due for a letdown.  Royal’s been a supremely streaky player throughout his career – so while he adds depth and potential flex play to your fantasy bench, this early in the season it’s too soon to insert him for a more stable option if you have one.  I think Eddie regresses a little this week- which isn’t so terrible for him, or terribly unexpected.

Start ’em TE Antonio Gates: Gates has been playing well to start the season and I think in the vacuum created by all the Charger WR injuries he’s been crucial.  I think he gets his 1st TD of the year this weekend (stealing one of the many that have been going to Royal lately) and he should give you could TE1 production this week.

Sit ’em WR Kendall Wright: Don’t be suckered in by last weekend’s TD.  Wright is still an inconsistent player on a bad offense.   There about 60 guys I would start over him even as a flex play.

Lions at Redskins

Start ’em RB Joique Bell: I think RB Reggie Bush plays this week, but I also think Bell will get an even bigger share of the workload to ease Bush back.  The Redskins run defense is average to good, but they get worn down by giving up massive passing yardage early, which opens up the run late (ask James Starks).  If the game is a blowout lead (for either team really) Bell will get work as they rest Reggie, if the game is close – Bell will get meaningful short yardage work.  Bell has legitimate RB2 potential this week.

Sit ’em TE Fred Davis:  Davis is in a contract year and slowly but surely losing snaps to rookie TE Jordan Reed.  If the Redskins offense really fixes itself soon Davis will have a few weeks with TD’s, but he’s no longer likely to be a top 10 TE in fantasy, and is not worth a start until he shows something.

Falcons at Dolphins

Sit ’em RB Jacquizz Rodgers: I see you, slowly inching your way toward putting Rodgers in your lineup as a “clever” play in starter Steven Jackson’s absence.  Consider this me hitting you on the head with a rolled up newspaper, and telling you “no” very deliberately.   Rodgers is a bad NFL RB, he’s a scat back without a lot of moves or special ability, in fact fellow backfield mate RB Jason Snelling has a better chance to produce in Jackson’s absence.   Snelling is the harder runner and will get the redzone carries, Jacquizz will be busy catching 3 screens for 28 yards.  Seriously. No.

Start ’em TE Charles Clay: In a world of inconsistent TE play I’m riding this guy while he’s hot.  The Dolphins will need to throw a lot in this one to keep pace, and Clay is a valuable redzone option.

Bills at Jets

Sit ’em RB Fred Jackson – Seems odd to have to write this about a backup RB, but the Bills through 2 games have insisted on giving Jackson redzone looks (to the chagrin of Spiller owners) and Jackson in standard leagues has been worth anywhere from 11-14 points per week.  Though it makes him tempting to start, I think that stops this week as the Jets have a stout run defense and it’s too much to expect Jackson to get quality points.

Start ’em RB Chris Ivory:  This is a risk start based on little more than my hunch that to move the ball against Buffalo the Jets will need Ivory’s power as opposed to Billal Powell’s “moves”.  I’m not expected a huge day from Ivory, but as a flex play if you are in need he’s worth starting over guys like Mark Ingram or Jacquizz Rodgers.  Maybe not a ringing enough endorsement for you, but I’m hopeful that this is the week Ivory begins to turn the corner towards the starting Jets gig.

Jaguars at Seahawks

Sit ’em RB Maurice Jones-Drew:  I know you spent a top 3rd or 4th or even higher pick on this dude and we’re only 2 weeks into the season.   But MJD had 27 yards last week vs Oakland.  Now he has a banged up foot going against Seattle in Seattle?  Yeah no thanks.  MJD is benchable for all sorts of guys this week like Joique Bell, Knowshon Moreno, Chris Ivory, and Jason Snelling – I would take chances with all those guys over MJD.   You hold MJD, you hope he shows you something in a tough spot moving forward – and if he does you smile about it, even when you don’t have him in the lineup…but you can’t start him this week, you just can’t.

Start ’em WR Doug Baldwin: I like Baldwin as a sneaky WR3 play this week.  It’s true Seattle has yet to really get it’s passing attack together but I have a feeling at home against a defense nowhere near as good as the 49’ers that this is the week Seattle lets it rip.  Baldwin led the team in targets in week 1 and could finish with something like 70 yards and a possible TD.

Bears at Steelers

Sit ’em RB Steelers whomever it is: The Steelers can’t run the football so if it’s Felix Jones, Jonathan Dwyer, or Isaac Redmon, what can you expect from them other than an occasional screen pass, a lot of shots of him staring into space, and 2 plays before he breaks his shoulder in that respective order?  Stay far away, far, far away.

Start ’em WR Alshon Jeffery:  I think we were a week too early on this last week.  The Steelers may be in disarray, but they have enough talent to not let WR Brandon Marshall and TE Martellus Bennett catch every single pass.  Cutler will have to look to a 3rd option and Jeffery can finally break out a little. A WR3 play here would be good.

Raiders at Broncos

Sit ’em QB Terrell Pryor: So you know he’s going to go off now don’t you?  As we predicted Pryor will be unpredictable this season, a bad real life QB can occasionally be very useful in fantasy.  But this is a bad matchup for him – the defense he’ll be playing is quick, he’ll be playing from behind, and Denver’s home field may make it hard for him to call plays.  If you have a questionable starter matchup this week it’d be far better to turn to someone like Alex Smith than Pryor this weekend.

Start ’em RB Knowshon Moreno: It’s now or never for Moreno.  We said it in the preseason that he clearly looked like the best Denver RB.  And while he may never be the fantasy (or real life)  #1 RB we all envisioned when he came out of college you have to think he’s passionate and desperate about keeping the momentum he started last week in NY.  I don’t know how long he can keep it up, but I’m rooting for him, and I think he could turn in another good day particularly when Denver is sitting on a lead.

Agree? Disagree?  Did I miss anything?

Let me know.

:by Mike

Thoughts on Trent Richardson to the Colts

Wow.

You don’t often get a trade just 2 weeks into a NFL season involving someone who was a real life 1st round draft choice and potentially also a 1st round fantasy draft choice.

For Indy they add a potentially elite talent at RB to go with an elite talent at QB.  And for Cleveland, well they get another 1st round pick for next season, but they open up another hole on their team to do it.

So for fantasy purposes you have the 2 teams affected, and then actually several players impacted by this move.

The Move For the Colts

RB Trent Richardson – Richardson is of course the main fantasy talent affected here (though far from the only one).  Initially this could be less than the win/win it appears for owners especially in redraft leagues.  Yes Trent is going to a better offensive team, and yes because they spent a 1st round pick to get him – he will slot right in as the starter ahead of Ahmad Bradshaw.   The questions here are twofold: 1.) Is Trent really an elite talent? His YPC average in Cleveland was 3.4 and he was heard questioning his role.   2.) He was to be the focal point of the Browns offense when drafted. In Indianapolis will he be behind Luck in priority? How much will he come off the field on 3rd downs with Bradshaw already in the mix?

I don’t doubt Richardson’s talent and in the long term I think this deal benefits him, but only because the Browns were so bad.  The reality is, I think this does both increase his output longterm, but also lower his ceiling.  It’s confusing, but the best way I can make sense of it is this: Richardson will score more, and may even have more yards in Indy than he would in Cleveland – but some of his appeal has worn off because his overall workload/opportunity will be reduced.  So we all maybe wanted to see him run for 330 times for the 1st 4-5 years of his career, but we’re not likely to get that now.

In redraft leagues, I suspect a few weeks of transition – where Richardson learns the offense – and the offense learns when to use Richardson – how many 3rd downs he gets, how many goalline runs they make (as opposed to Luck on the bootleg), and how quickly can Trent pick up the passing protection aspects of the offense.  But when you compare it to how badly Cleveland blocked for him, and how poorly the Cleveland offense performed – getting a few more subpar weeks from Richardson in the hopes of 2nd half success is probably a welcome tradeoff for Richardson owners.

In dynasty/keeper leagues – I would guess the reaction is even more positive.  His anticipated reduction in workload is balanced out by the years of potential goalline work with an elite QB and an offense on the up and up.  Plus, Bradshaw’s contract is up this year, and RB Vic Ballard is an underwhelming talent option who will be coming off a major knee injury in 2014 – so Richardson should be the unquestioned starter for many years with the Colts.

RB Ahmad Bradshaw – Bradshaw owners hoping to get Rb2 production out of him this season with Ballard’s injury are now out of luck.  Bradshaw is on a 1 year deal with Indy, and after a few transition weeks will probably be regulated to mostly 3rd down work.  Still Bradshaw can run hard at times, and sharing much of his workload may guarantee he plays 16 games this year – but he goes from being a weekly starter on your team to a bench guy, or a potential flex guy on bye weeks.

QB Andrew Luck – Luck should benefit from Richardson in real life, but what does it mean in fantasy?  I don’t think Richardson will steal much, if any, of Luck’s fantasy value – true the Colts may run a bit more with Richardson – and be more successful doing it, but I can’t see them becoming a run 1st team.  The league is moving away from that for one thing, and for another having a credible run threat may open things up even more for Luck and actually reduce his turnover rate and sacks against totals, both of which were way higher than normal in 2012.  So when you see Richardson score, try not to think – damn it Luck could’ve had that….think well, that could’ve been Bradshaw or Ballard, or anyone really. Luck will get his and still be a guy who flirts with 30 Td’s yearly.

RB Donald Brown – This is a real bummer for him.   And for me, a little.  I like Brown’s talent, but as I wrote just yesterday the Colts don’t.  He’s an Rb3 now, and even if Bradshaw is gone next season, he will probably be a RB3 next season behind a returning Vic Ballard – if he even makes the team at all.   In very deep, deep league’s you can hold him if you think Bradshaw gets hurt this season, and they’ll make a little room for Brown – but in 99% of leagues this guy is now a drop.  And I know that’s after some of you added him just this week!!

RB Vic Ballard – Ballard is out for the rest of 2013 so this is more a note to dynasty owners.  I would guess you have to hold Ballard through next offseason to see how his rehab goes and who Indy brings in at the backup RB competition.  The Colts will likely keep Ballard over Bradshaw for money reasons, and Brown for god knows what reason, but that’s not to say that they won’t bring in someone who’s a more traditional 3rd back player or give rookie (this season) RB Kerwynn Williams a chance to beat him out for a roster spot.  Needless to say Ballard’s future went from potential Rb2 in late 2012 to barely rosterable in 2014.

The Move For the Browns

QB Brandon Weeden – This is a signal plain as day to me that Browns are getting ready to move on from Weeden.  Yes, the same organization that battered and perplexingly shit on Colt McCoy after about 2 weeks – has had the hots to move on from Weeden for some time.  GM Michael Lombardi has been quoted as doubting Weeden as a player (was not his draft choice) and it seems pretty clear the Browns are acquiring draft picks and cap space to be able to maneuver themselves for a 1st round QB in 2014’s NFL draft.  Remember they lost out on a package deal to move up for RG3 last year, and I doubt they will let history repeat itself – Teddy Bridgewater, Johnny Manziel or someone similar will be donning the “orange” of the Browns next season.

RB Willis McGahee – So now with a hole at RB, the news is the Browns are bringing in 32 year old Willis McGahee for a look.  If he passes his physical he will be a Brown soon.  That’s a big “if” really – he’s coming off a late 2012 season knee injury and while he’s been brought in for tryouts by several teams – including the NY Giants recently – he remains unsigned.   I think something gets done, and I like McGahee – but the reality is he can’t be 100% healthy even if he passes the physical, he can’t be 100% in game shape, he can’t know 100% of the offense he’s coming into, and oh yeah….Cleveland’s offense is a mess at QB and OL right now.

I think if you make a move to acquire McGahee you are looking at – at best a flex player this season.  Yes, it’s nice that he runs hard and is a veteran – it’s nice that on paper he has little competition for the starting job, and it’s nice that he’ll be paired with Norv Turner – who was supposed to work wonders with Trent to take him to the rushing title.

But even if McGahee can overcome his injury, then get into game shape, then stay injury free – that offense will limit him to a few good weeks of Rb2 production, but mostly well under that.

The one positive thing I could say is that, if Cleveland gave up on Trent after just 2 weeks it must’ve looking at replacing Richardson all along.   This would theoretically mean preparation and thought went into this move – meaning that either the Browns really believe McGahee can shoulder the load for the season (by possibly monitoring his rehab progress) or that they can live with already in house answers (which we’ll get to).

I mean surely Lombardi wouldn’t just give up on a season in week 2, with no idea how to plug a starter’s spot on his offense…right?  hahahaha…right?  *gulp* right??

RB Bobby Rainey – I like Rainey a lot.  A lot.  So I’m hoping McGahee has a hitch in his giddy-up because I want to see him do more than just kick returns for the Browns.  Rainey was stuck as the RB3 in Baltimore last season behind Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce and then Cleveland snagged him as soon as they could off of waivers. Rainey has talent to be at minimum a great change of pace back – good speed and great strength for a guy his size.  He has about the same flex upside that McGahee has should he win the job, so if you make a move on him in redraft consider cutting him if he doesn’t start right away- I mean the Browns backup RB is just not valuable, unless you play in a huge league.  In dynasty/keeper leagues he’s a must add in my mind based  on potential.  Sure next season, Mcgahee (if he’s signed in the 1st place) will be gone  – but it’s tough to envision the Browns not drafting or trading for more RB competition for 2014.  So Rainey is sort of a long shot lottery ticket – the odds of him winning the job and doing well enough to make him a long term asset are slim.  But sometimes you gotta try, and heck like I said….maybe Bobby Rainey is the reason this deal happened.  Maybe he is the Browns plan behind being able to trade Richardson.

RB Chris Ogbonnya – Nope. Just nope.  I know he’s the other Browns RB – technically a starting FB.  And I know he’s been with the Browns longer than Rainey – I know he’s even started games for them in the past.  But we’ve seen him before – he’s best in very small doses – like so small they are no doses. Plus, he’s the team’s FB he has a roll already and you generally don’t move players to FB that you thing can be a main carry RB.  If the Browns end up rolling with Ogbonnya that means they have either been decimated by injuries, or they are insane neither of which means fantasy goodness.  You can take a lotto ticket on Rainey in medium size leagues…but your league would have to be about 32 deep before I’d consider Ogbonnya.

CONCLUSIONS
Like any trade, the full impact of Trent Richardson to the Colts won’t be felt for weeks or even seasons.  In fantasy you may have to wait and see on some of these players – but I certainly wouldn’t be selling Richardson like the Browns just did….and if I was interested in buying him I would wait a week or two and hope his transition is a little slow (as I anticipate) and that you can then lowball a disappointed Richardson owner.  Conversely if I owned Ahmad Bradshaw I would wait to sell him, if Richardson does transition slow and there is a roll for Bradshaw than you may get a few more weeks of passable production before selling him somewhere (maybe to the Richardson owner).
So patience with the established guys.
Lottery style waiver or Free Agent claims on RB Willis McGahee or RB Bobby Rainey are worth trying – but don’t drop quality depth for them in redraft leagues – because their 2013 value is likely “flex” player status at best.
It will be well wroth watching this trade and all its future ramifications – and the fantasy implications make it even more enjoyable.  Shocking, but fun – that’s all I can really say in the moment about the big deal.
:by Mike