Thursday, October 29, 2009

Sit 'Em: Week 8

- QB ELI MANNING at Philadelphia: Eli seems to be entering his usual second-half funk right on cue after two sub-par games. He's also been nothing special against the Eagles the past two seasons, accounting for 5 TDs and 5 INTs in his past five matchups against Philly, including last season's playoff loss.

- RB DARREN SPROLES vs. Oakland: You may be tempted to use the squirt just because the Raiders are so pathetic and were just gashed by the Jets' running game last week. But there's too much risk involved in starting a guy who has gotten just 11 total touches in his past three games combined.

- WR NATE WASHINGTON vs. Jacksonville: His string of three straight games with a TD seems like a distant memory after last week's stat line: 1 catch, -22 yards. That's right, NEGATIVE 22 YARDS. I can't in good conscious recommend starting Washington this week against Jacksonville after that gem, and the Titans' instability at the QB spot only further complicates the matter.


- Donovan McNabb was pretty average against Washington as I predicted: 156 yards, 1 TD.

- The Saints surprisingly put up 46 points on the Dolphins, but Pierre Thomas (8 carries for 30 yards) wasn't part of the fun.

- Percy Harvin registered just 3 catches for 42 yards at Pittsburgh, but he did return a kick for a TD, which is nice if your league credits you for individual special teams scores.

Photo by The Associated Press

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Start 'Em: Week 8

LT2's looked like a shell of his former self as many (including yours truly) predicted in the preseason. He can't seem to get the tough yards anymore and hasn't cracked 71 in a game yet. Some of that has to do with his offensive line, of course, but here's betting they can get things going against an imploding Raiders team and Tomlinson busts through for at least a TD and his best rushing output to date in 2009.

-TE JEREMY SHOCKEY vs. Atlanta: The Shockster has caught at least 4 passes in every game so far and is coming off his best game, yardage-wise (105) so far this year. Now he faces a Falcons D that's been victimized by Jason Witten (5 for 53), Greg Olsen (5 for 57, TD), Vernon Davis (5 for 51), Chris Baker (2 for 42, TD) and Dante Rosario (3 for 31, TD) this year.

-QB DAVID GARRARD at Tennessee: Garrard had his best game of the season in Week 4 against the Titans (323 yards, 3 TDs), and Jeff Fisher's defense has yet to show any ability to stop an aerial attack.


- Frank Gore ran for a pitiful 32 yards on 13 carries against the Texans in his first game back from injury. Huge disappointment.

- Donald Brown was on his way to a great day (2 carries for 58 yards) in a rout of the Rams before hurting his shoulder. Tough break.

- Steve Breaston was another huge letdown (1 catch for 23 yards). Anquan Boldin did end up suiting up against the Giants and hauled in 3 passes for 75 yards, which hurt Breaston's production a bit, but it's still no excuse.

Photo by The Associated Press

Hot Pickups: Week 8

FOUR STARS (Out of five)

- RB SHONN GREENE, Jets: Leon Washington
's loss is Greene's gain, and the Jets have smartly morphed into a power rushing team before our eyes with a rookie QB running the offense. The rejuvenated Thomas Jones isn't going anywhere, but I think there's enough room for the two of them to be productive down the stretch (probably after this week's tough matchup against Miami).

- RB BEANIE WELLS, Cardinals: It was a bit of a mixed bag for the rookie Sunday night - he scored his first NFL TD but also lost another fumble, his third in 49 pro carries. Still, he outperformed Tim Hightower and might officially pass him on Arizona's depth chart with another good outing against Carolina.


In case you hadn't heard, Larry Johnson is at it again. Charles, one of my preseason sleepers, has been the more effective back this year again (5 yards a carry to LJ's 2.7), albeit in limited duty, and Johnson's latest antics may have finally forced K.C. into starting him after Week 8's bye. The Chiefs' line is awful, of course, but I still want to see what the little guy can do.

WR MIKE WALLACE, Steelers: The rookie from Ole Miss has made his fair share of big plays this year (17.5 yards a catch) and is coming off a big game against the Vikings (3 catches, 72 yards, TD). He's been kind of hit-or-miss, but he could be worth a start after this week's bye if you're in a pinch and rolling the dice on a TD.

QB ALEX SMITH, 49ers: It only took five years, but Smith may finally be fantasy relevant. A three-TD game coming off the bench will do that, and it's not as if there isn't talent around him (Frank Gore, Michael Crabtree and Vernon Davis, who caught those three TDs). Grab him, watch how he fares against Indianapolis this week and then plug him in against Tennessee in Week 9 if you like what you see.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Week 7 recap

- Wow, nice game, Frank Gore (13 carries, 32 yards) - welcome back, guy. Here's hoping the switch to Alex Smith at QB will help the 49ers' offense really get rolling.

- I'm not sure what a lung contusion feels like, but I'm hoping it's not bad enough to keep Andre Johnson out of a juicy matchup against the Bills this week. Dude was on quite a roll before getting hurt Sunday.

- Big-time effort from Ryan Grant (27 carries, 148 yards, TD), even if it was against the Browns. Unfortunately, up next he's got the Vikings, who held him to 51 yards a few weeks ago.

- Keep rolling, Philip Rivers (268 yards, 3 TDs vs. Kansas City). Oakland's up next.

- Steven Jackson keeps piling up the rushing yardage (134) but has yet to hit paydirt this season. That should end at Detroit this week.

- Vikings WR Sidney Rice posted another huge output (10 catches for 136 yards) and is putting up the numbers Bernard Berrian was supposed to this year. Could be in line for a third straight big game against Green Bay.

- Laurence Maroney did end up with the lion's share of the carries again for the Patriots (13) but his 43 rushing yards didn't quite live up to last week's 123 or 7.7 average. He did score a TD, but then again, who hasn't against the Bucs?

- The season-ending broken leg suffered by Leon Washington is a shame, but it's actually good news for Thomas Jones (26 carries, 121 yards, TD) and Shonn Greene (19 carries, 144 yards, TD). And just when the Jets are morphing into a running machine, they slam headfirst into the Dolphins' run defense.

- Finally, a respectable game for the Panthers' Steve Smith (6 catches, 99 yards) - this despite Jake Delhomme's 3 INTs and 56.5 passer rating. Is a QB change in Carolina's future? And will it make a difference?

- It's official: Miles Austin (6 catches, 171 yards, 2 TDs) is everything Roy Williams was supposed to be for the Cowboys, and then some. Unfortunately if you still own Roy it's probably too late to make that roster move. If it's not - you should.

- Thanks for nothing, Matt Forte (49 total yards). Do something against Cleveland this week or consider yourself dropped.

- Ricky Williams, dependable fantasy starter? Sunday's stats (9 carries, 80 yards, 3 TDs) and his season totals say yes.

- Beanie Wells had his best outing of his rookie season against the Giants (14 carries, 67 yards, TD) and appears to have supplanted Tim Hightower (4 carries, 9 yards). But be careful here - he did fumble, too, and that's the reason the Cardinals have been reluctant to use him too much.

- Could Brian Westbrook's concussion be the opening LeSean McCoy needed for fantasy stardom? Possibly, but don't get too pumped if you've had Shady sitting on your bench. McCoy's averaging only 3.6 yards a carry so far, and it wouldn't shock me to see Westbrook facing the Giants this week.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Sit 'Em: Week 7

- DONOVAN McNABB at Washington: Did you know Donovan has thrown 4 TDs in his past 4 games against the Redskins - and they all came in one game in 2007? He's also coming off a terrible game at Oakland (22 for 46, 269 yards, 0 TDs, 66.3 QB rating). May not be the best week to play him if you have a quality backup.

- PIERRE THOMAS at Miami: The Dolphins are allowing just 76 rushing yards a game, and Thomas, who's already stuck in a three-back rotation with Mike Bell and Reggie Bush, probably won't get enough touches to warrant a start this week.

- PERCY HARVIN at Pittsburgh: The rookie is questionable with a shoulder injury and is coming off a 2-catch, 10-yard game against Baltimore. I wouldn't expect much against the Steelers.


- LenDale White
had 6 carries for 15 yards and a fumble in Tennessee's debacle against New England last week before exiting in the first half with a knee injury. I think he's officially cemented his "bust" status for 2009, don't you?

- Speaking of busts, Terrell Owens caught 3 passes for 13 yards last Sunday, and his season is probably only going to get worse with Ryan Fitzpatrick under center for the Bills. In fact, it might even be time to drop him.

- OK, I was wrong about Hakeem Nicks, who had the best game of his young career (5 catches, 114 yards, TD). He's now scored in three straight games and could keep that streak alive this week vs. Arizona.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Matt Forte is killing me

Matt Forte is killing me.

I had this guy pegged as my No. 3 overall pick entering this season, right behind Adrian Peterson and Michael Turner. Ahead of Chris Johnson. Ahead of Maurice Jones-Drew. Ahead of Steven Jackson. Ahead of DeAngelo Williams.

How's that looking? Check this out:


Adrian Peterson, 618, 7
Chris Johnson, 596, 2
Steven Jackson, 501, 0
Maurice Jones-Drew, 468, 8
DeAngelo Williams, 372, 4
Matt Forte, 294, 1

In other words, Forte's sucked.

This is a guy who rushed for 1,238 yards last year and 8 TDs. He also caught 63 balls for 477 yards and 4 more scores.

This year, he's caught only 18 balls, none for TDs.

You figured with strong-armed Jay Cutler in town, the Bears might rely a little less on the running game this year. I'll buy that. But didn't you figure Forte might be even more involved in the passing game? And even when they've run the ball with him, he hasn't been very effective - see his two fumbles on the goal line Sunday night against Atlanta.

Blame some of Forte's struggles on the Bears' schedule, which isn't getting any easier in the coming weeks. Five of Chicago's next six opponents rank in the upper-half of the league in run defense. We can only hope the Bears make a sustained effort to run the ball and Forte keeps getting carries and can somehow regain last year's form.

Photo by The Associated Press

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Start 'Em: Week 7

- RB FRANK GORE at Houston: We've missed Frankie a lot - remember the 207 yards and 2 TDs he dropped on the Seahawks in Week 2? Well, he's now back from an ankle injury and ready to roll over the Texans. Don't hesitate to use him, espeically on this six-team bye week.

- RB DONALD BROWN at St. Louis:
The Colts rookie has averaged 10 total touches a game this season. That should be enough work to do some damage against the Rams' 30th-ranked defense.

- WR STEVE BREASTON at N.Y. Giants: Breaston's always a decent flex option because he gets at least 4-5 targets a game in the Cardinals' pass-first offense. This week he could be more than that with No. 2 wideout Anquan Boldin nursing a high ankle sprain and the Giants' secondary still reeling from last week's spanking by the Saints.


- Thomas Jones rumbled for 220 yards on 22 carries (a Jets single-season rushing record) and a TD against the Bills. Patting myself on the back for that one.

- Jonathan Stewart had his best game of the season (17 carries, 110 yards, TD) against the Bucs, and now he faces the aforementioned Bills D. Play on, playa.

- Jermichael Finley had an OK showing against Detroit (5 catches, 54 yards) and should be at least decent again this week vs. Cleveland.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Hot pickups: Week 7

FOUR STARS (Out of five)

- RB LAURENCE MARONEY, Patriots: People will look at his 133 yards and a TD in the snow last week against the Titans and sprint to the waiver wire to grab him. It's not a bad idea - he is playing the Bucs, who couldn't stop Laurence Olivier from running the ball down their throats at this point - but it wouldn't shock me if Benjarvus Green-Ellis or Kevin Faulk led the Pats in rushing this week, or they just threw the ball 70 times. It's what they do, so don't say I didn't warn you. But Maroney's still probably a smart play for at least one more week.

- WR SIDNEY RICE, Vikings: Rice is coming off his best game of his career (6 catches, 176 yards), and the Steelers defense has been somewhat susceptible to the pass this year (200 yards a game, 9 TDs), although a lot of that has to do with Troy Polamalu's absence. Still, it's worth gambling on a possible Brett Favre-to-Rice bomb or two this week.


- WR MICHAEL CRABTREE, 49ers: The rookie has already been elevated to starter status, replacing Josh Morgan in the Niners' lineup. There are almost always hiccups with rookie WRs, but it apprears Crabtree has been picking things up pretty quickly despite all the missed time, and he's ready to play a significant role in that offense. Temper your expectations, but he's definitely worth a look as a flex player this week against Houston.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Week 6 recap

Random thoughts from another week of gridiron goodness:

- Take a bow, Tom Brady (380 yards, 6 TDs). You've got to be licking your chops thinking about Sunday's game against the Bucs in London.

- Do Drew Brees' 4 TD passes make up for not him not throwing one in the two games before that? Probably. But it'd be nice to see a little more consistency.

- I knew Visanthe Shiancoe (5 TDs in 6 games) and Brett Favre would be a great team.

- Remember when Willis McGahee was a hot pickup? After three consecutive dreadful weeks (5 carries, 11 yards; 1 carry, -2 yards; 7 carries, 3 yards), I'm extremely glad I didn't jump on that bandwagon and stuck with Ray Rice (194 total yards, 2 TDs) as the Raven runner to own.

- I'm surprised Ben Roethlisberger has thrown the ball so much this year - at least 30 attempts in every game this season - but the results have been great the past few weeks. I'm afraid they might not be the next two weeks (vs. Minnesota, at Denver), however.

- Jake Delhomme (9-for-17, 65 yards) is killing Steve Smith's value. So is the Panthers' rejuvenated running game. But I still don't think I can resist starting Smith this week against Buffalo.

- Clinton Portis registered his first 100-yard rushing game of the year Sunday. Too bad his upcoming schedule (Philly, at Atlanta, Denver, at Dallas, at Philly, New Orleans) and the Redskins' offensive turmoil (in other words, they suck) will make it hard for him to repeat it any time soon.

- Good to see the Jaguars' coaching staff took Maurice Jones-Drew's (33 carries, 133 yards, 3 TDs, plus 45 receiving yards) complaints to heart. Now let's see the same thing against Tennessee and Kansas City, OK?

- Matt Schaub now has 4 outstanding fantasy performances and two busts. Hopefully the Texans will keep airing it out and Schaub can be penciled in as a no-doubt, every-week starter.

- Aaron Rodgers still put together a good day (358 yards, 2 TDs) despite getting sacked 5 times. You can do that against Detroit (and Cleveland next week), but the Packers' protection problems have me very nervous about Rodgers in some of the tougher matchups he'll face later on.

- So much for Matt Hasselback (10-for-29, 112 yards, 0 TDs, 1 INT) being back to fantasy starter status. That was painful.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Sit 'Em: Week 6

-RB LENDALE WHITE at New England: Encouraged by big bad LenDale's 10 carries for 51 yards last week, his best output of the year? Don't be. A lot of those touches came late in the game after the Titans were already getting blown out. Tennessee's offense is very out of synch this year, and it appears even if things are going right they plan to give Chris Johnson the majority of the work. I'm not buying it.

- WR TERRELL OWENS at New York Jets: Sit the great T.O.? Ever think it'd come to this? Fact is, Owens has pretty much been a non-factor this year (no more than 4 catches or 60 yards receiving in any game; 1 TD), the Jets are stingy against the pass (fewer than 200 receiving yards a game and only 3 TDs allowed through the air), and T.O. will probably be blanketed by future All-Pro Darrelle Revis, who's already neutralized Randy Moss, Andre Johnson and Marques Colston this year. Bench him.

- WR HAKEEM NICKS at New Orleans: His two TDs in successive weeks make him awfully attractive this week, but remember the Saints' D is better than it used to be - only 3 passing TDs allowed - and Nicks is still behind Steve Smith and Mario Manningham on the Giants' depth chart. Nicks is defnitely a prospect to hold onto if you have room on your bench, but I'm not sure he's earned fantasy starter status yet.


- Eddie Royal (10 catches, 90 yards) finally broke out of his funk. My bad.

- Neither Justin Fargas (11 carries, 18 yards) nor Michael Bush (12 carries, 37 yards) were particularly effective against the Giants, although Bush did score on a 5-yard run after New York turned it over deep inside their own territory.

- Mark Sanchez was just 12-for-24 for 172 yards and a TD at Miami.

Start 'Em: Week 6

-RB THOMAS JONES vs. Buffalo: Sure, TJ hasn't cracked 100 yards rushing since Week 1, and he's averaging 3.7 yards a carry. However, he's got 3 TDs in the past two weeks, and Buffalo's defense is ranked 29th against the run.

-RB JONATHAN STEWART at Tampa Bay: Stewart finally came to life last week - his 10 carries were his most since Week 1, and he scored his first TD of the season. Maybe he's finally healthy and ready to make a serious contribution. The Bucs should help him in that cause.

-TE JERMICHAEL FINLEY vs. Detroit: We knew Finley had the size and the talent to be a fantasy force, but last Sunday's 6-catch, 128-yard, 1-TD showing against Minnesota officially signaled his breakout. Hopefully he'll have some more balls coming his way in the next four weeks against the Lions, Browns, Vikings (again) and Bucs.


-Tony Romo threw for 351 yards and two late TDs, including the OT game-winner to Miles Austin, against the Chiefs.

-Tim Hightower saw only 6 carries for 17 yards, but one of them was a 1-yard TD run. He also caught 5 passes for 30 yards, if that excites you.

-Seven catches, 85 yards and a TD for Hines Ward against Detroit. Money.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Hot Pickups: Week 6

FIVE STARS (Out of five)

QB MATT HASSELBECK, Seahawks: Just in case someone in your league got impatient and dropped him, Hasselbeck reminded owners he can be a fantasy force when healthy with his 241-yard, four-TD effort Sunday against Jacksonville. He's definitely usable when he's got a favorable matchup, and there will be a bunch of those this year, including against Arizona this week and later in the year against St. Louis, Detroit, Houston and Arizona again.

WR MILES AUSTIN, Cowboys: Could Austin be that big-play, Terrell Owens-like receiver Tony Romo has missed all year? His monstrous 10-catch, 250-yard, 2-TD performance should be a resounding yes. There are a number of reasons to be pessimistic - Roy Williams was out; Austin had just 4 catches entering Week 5; the bulk of his yards came after the catch; and the Chiefs are god-awful. But if Wade Phillips has any interest in keeping his job (sometimes I'm not so sure), he'll find ways to keep getting Austin the ball following Week 6's bye. There's a lot of upside here.


WR JEREMY MACLIN, Eagles: If it weren't for Austin's outburst, we'd all be talking about Maclin's 6-catch, 142-yard, 2-TD day. He'd had a pretty quiet rookie campaign before Sunday, but let's just say the Bucs defense has been susceptible to the kind of long bombs Maclin was born to catch. I'm not sure how consistently Maclin will be targeted from here on out - Kevin Curtis (knee) had been ahead of Maclin on the depth chart, and teammate DeSean Jackson was coming off two huge games before catching just 1 pass Sunday - but the rookie could break off a big play or two against Oakland or Washington in the next two weeks.


TE BENJAMIN WATSON, Patriots: You know tight ends aren't consistently targeted in the Pats' offense, and Watson is no exception. However, he caught his third TD pass of the season Sunday (he had 2 in Week 1 against Buffalo), and he's going against the awful Titans and Bucs defenses in successive weeks. As long as the head injury he suffered Sunday doesn't turn out to be too serious, Watson could be worth the gamble if you're fishing for a TD.
Photo by The Associated Press

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Week 5 recap

- Turns out Hot Pickup Jerome Harrison (8 rushes for 21 yards) was just a mirage. Jamal Lewis carried the rock 31 times for 117 yards for the Browns and apparently is their No. 1 option. And hold off on Mohamed Massaquoi's coronation as a fantasy starter after his 1-catch effort in Cleveland's field goal-fest with the Bills.

- Rashard Mendenhall (15 carries, 77 yards, TD) continues to make his case for a big chunk of the carries for the Steelers after Willie Parker returns from injury, which could happen next week.

- Tony Romo salvaged what could have been a disaster against K.C. thanks to a TD pass very late in the fourth quarter and another in overtime. Most of the credit goes to Miles Austin (10 catches, 250 yards, 2 TDs), who may have jumped up the Cowboys' depth chart while ineffective Roy Williams was on the shelf.

-Is Larry Johnson (21 carries, 37 yards, 1.8 average) anything more than a fantasy bench player at this point?

- Brandon Jacobs owners have to be steaming after watching Ahmad Bradshaw plow his way to two TDs against Oakland, when their guy has only one rushing TD on the year. But Jacobs had two cracks down near the goal-line before the Giants subbed in Bradshaw for his first TD. Regardless, they're both still looking like good week-to-week options.

- Jeremy Maclin's skills (6 catches, 142 yards, 2 TDs) were finally unleashed in Philly on a day when teammate DeSean Jackson managed just 1 catch for 1 yard. We might see a similar story next week if Oakland's Nnamdi Asomugha is blanketing Jackson and Maclin is free to roam.

- That's the Roddy White (8 catches, 210 yards, 2 TDs) we drafted.

- Thanks for nothing, Mike Sims-Walker (inactive - violation of teams rule).

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Sit 'Em: Week 5

- WR EDDIE ROYAL vs. New England: Your patience has got to be wearing thin with this guy (8 catches in 2009), and he's facing a top 10 passing defense. No thanks.

- RBs MICHAEL BUSH and JUSTIN FARGAS at N.Y. Giants: You may be tempted to use one of these guys in the wake of starter Darren McFadden's injury. Don't. Without any semblance of a Raiders passing game, odds are the Giants will be loading up against the run no matter who's in the backfield.

- QB MARK SANCHEZ at Miami: The Jets rookie had his "welcome to the NFL" game last week at New Orleans and will play in another hostile road environment against a good Dolphins D. There are safer bye-week fill-ins available.


- Fred Jackson had his lowest rushing total of the season (42 yards) and caught 3 passes for 26 yards.

- Matt Cassel tossed two TDs in garbage time ... but he passed for only 127 yards.

- TJ Houshmandzadeh had 8 catches for 103 yards against the Colts, his best game so far this year ... oops.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Start 'Em: Week 5

- TONY ROMO at Kansas City: If the dude can't get his act together against this sorry defense, there might not be much hope for him as a viable fantasy QB the rest of the year. I'm expecting a big game with his back to the wall.

- TIM HIGHTOWER vs. Houston: It was an up-and-down first three weeks of the season for Hightower as he alternated bad and good games on the ground. I'm willing to bet it's a good week this Sunday against the Texans, who are allowing 165 rushing yards a game and have allowed a league-high eight ballcarriers to run across the goal line.

- HINES WARD vs. Detroit: He's had more catches than teammate Santonio Holmes in each of the past few weeks and has a good chance to score his first TD of the season this week against a Lions secondary that's allowed the most scores through the air.


-Clinton Portis had his best game of the season (25 carries, 98 yards) against the Bucs.

- Brett Favre had his best game of the season (271 yards, 3 TDs, 0 INTs) against the Packers.

- Ahmad Bradshaw had his second-best game of the year (12 carries, 64 yards) against the Chiefs.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Two WRs get a huge bump in value

Today is a great day if you own Braylon Edwards or Michael Crabtree.

With the news of Edwards' trade to the Jets and Crabtree's signing with the 49ers, both disappointing WRs suddenly have much higher fantasy value, a welcome relief for anyone who's been holding onto them on their rosters.

Edwards, a hot-headed malcontent and LeBron hater with no viable quarterback and a case of the dropsies, suddenly becomes a No. 1 wideout with a promising young QB on a legit playoff contender. He immediately becomes the Jets' top big-play threat and relegates Jerricho Cotchery to the No. 2 spot, where he's probably better served. If Edwards can quickly find some chemistry with Mark Sanchez and stay out of trouble in New York, we could be looking at a top fantasy WR. Congratulations to those who've stuck with him.

The day's other big news is good for those who've held onto Crabtree as well, although on a smaller scale. The Niners' first-round draft pick will need a few weeks to get back into football shape and acclimate himself with San Francisco's offense, so don't expect any immediate help. But if you've held onto him all this time, what's a few more weeks? Crabtree could easily become the Niners' top receiving threat, although that's not saying much for a run-oriented offense directed by QB Shaun Hill. He's an intriguing prospect as your fourth fantasy WR and deserves a look (he should absolutely be picked up in long-term keeper leagues), but temper your expectations. Rookie WRs who put up great fantasy stats are often the exception to the rule.

Photos by The Associated Press

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Hot Pickups: Week 5

FIVE STARS (Out of five)

- RB RASHARD MENDENHALL, Steelers: Mendenhall ignited a running back controversy in Steel Town by outperforming starter Willie Parker in his absence on Sunday. Even if Parker (toe) returns to the lineup, the Steelers are facing the Lions and Browns in successive weeks, and Mendenhall would still likely warrant a start.


- RB JEROME HARRISON, Browns: Jamal Lewis (hamstring) is breaking down before our eyes. James Davis (shoulder) is out for the season. Harrison ran for 129 yards Sunday. This week he faces the Bills, who just gashed them for 250 yards on the ground. Need we say more?

- TE VERNON DAVIS, 49ers: The former malcontent and fantasy bust is now happy, healthy, more mature and scoring TDs left and right - two in the past three weeks. Get him while you still can.

- WR AUSTIN COLLIE, Colts: No, that's not a designer breed of dog, but rather an excellent WR option if your starter's on a bye. Collie (along with Pierre Garcon) is doing his best to replace Anthony Gonzalez, catching a season-high 6 passes, including one for a TD, against Seattle. This week he's up against the Tennessee secondary, which hasn't stopped anyone.


He's been alternating good and bad weeks, stat-wise, so far this season, and he's not a terrible option this week against a Seahawks secondary that just got lit up by Peyton Manning.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Week 4 recap

Some random thoughts ...

- Rashard Mendenhall (above) finally had that coming-out party I and many others predicted (29 carries, 165 yards, 2 TDs subbing for starter Willie Parker vs. San Diego). But did you have the patience to hold onto him through the first three weeks of the season? I'm guessing not, especially after Week 3's embarrassment, in which he got zero carries because he hasn't learned the playbook. The Steelers have a legit RB controversy on their hands entering Sunday's game against Detroit, and Mendenhall must be owned.

- Good to see Matt Forte (121 yards, TD) finally look like a first-round fantasy draft choice. The Lions will do that for you.

- No need to worry too much about using Kevin Smith on a weekly basis. Although he only managed 30 rushing yards against a tough Bears D, the Lions had enough confidence in him (despite a sore shoulder) to give him 19 carries, including goal-line touches, and he responded with two short TDs. That's enough to make him a borderline No. 2 this week even though he'll be running against the Steelers.

- You better believe Cleveland's Jerome Harrison will be on my Hot Pickups list this week after his 121 yards against Cincinnati, the season-ending injury to one of my big sleeper picks, James Davis, and Jamal Lewis' creakiness.

- Chances are if you drafted the Panthers' Steve Smith this summer, someone in your league probably made a dumb joke about how "you mean the GIANTS' Steve Smith, right?" and everyone had a big laugh. Well, they aren't laughing now, not after the New York WR caught his third and fourth TD passes of the season on Sunday and the Panthers star has yet to hit the end zone. Now, the original Steve Smith could still end up being more valuable for fantasy purposes, but he's already in the hole, and the Giants' Smith faces Oakland this week. Keep starting him.

- Continue to start Mike Sims-Walker (7 catches, 91 yards, 2 TDs), along with every receiver facing the Titans secondary. Reggie Wayne, Pierre Garcon, Austin Collie, Dallas Clark, you're on deck!

- Tony Romo (255 yards, 0 TDs, 1 INT) gets one more chance to show me something against the awful Chiefs this week before I come up with a Plan B for my starting QB.

- Steve Slaton (89 total yards, 1 rush TD, 1 receiving TD, 1 fumble lost) is trying to work his way back into fantasy owners' hearts. Have another productive game against Arizona this week, Steve, and maybe you'll win us back for good.

Photo by The Associated Press

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Sit 'Em: Week 4

- FRED JACKSON at Dolphins: Freddie J has been a fantasy revelation so far, but he's got two major strikes against him this week: Miami's defense is one of the league's toughest against the run (66 yards allowed per game), and Marshawn Lynch returns from suspension this week. Hold onto Jackson, but sit him this week and wait to see how the Bills' timeshare pans out.

- MATT CASSEL vs. Giants: Let's think about this: He's coming off a game where he threw for 90 yards, his top target (Dwayne Bowe) has a hamstring injury and might not even play, and he's facing the league's top pass defense. It all adds up to keeping Cassel on your bench, unless you're desperate.

- TJ HOUSHMANDZADEH at Colts: He's a borderline play in PPR leagues this week, but even that's troublesome with Seneca Wallace under center (without Walter Jones protecting him) for the Seahawks. TJ hasn't topped 62 yards or scored a TD yet this season.


- Carson Palmer led the Bengals to a big upset of the Steelers, but it wasn't helpful for fantasy purposes (183 yards, 1 TD), as I predicted.

- Joseph Addai got the job done (13 carries, 63 yards and a receiving TD) against Arizona. But Donald Brown (112 total yards) won't back down in his push for more playing time.

- Roy Williams had his highest reception total of the season (a whopping 4, for 75 yards) against Carolina but still hasn't justified his lofty draft status.

Start 'Em: Week 4

- CLINTON PORTIS vs. Bucs: There are plenty of reasons to be bummed about Portis' output so far - he hasn't surpassed 80 yards in a game or scored yet, despite playing some mediocre competition. But I wouldn't be shocked to see him do both of those against the Bucs' JV squad.

- AHMAD BRADSHAW at Chiefs: The Giants backup had his best game of the young season last Sunday against Tampa Bay (14 carries, 104 yards) and should do more damage against a KC D that's already surrendered five TDs on the ground. It doesn't sound like Bradshaw's recent ankle pain will keep him from playing, either.

- BRETT FAVRE vs. Packers: Something tells me Favre will be motivated to put on a show Monday night against his old team and coming off that Favrian (did I just coin that?) game-winner last week. Also in Brett's favor: The Pack have given up 6 passing TDs, third most in the league.


- Felix Jones was putting together a monster game against Carolina before exiting with a knee injury. Still, 94 yards on 8 carries is nothing to sniff at.

- Vincent Jackson caught 5 passes for 120 yards against Miami. He's become a fantasy (and real life) No. 1 receiver.

- Two outta three ain't bad. Tim Hightower (9 carries, 22 yards; 5 catches, 39 yards) stunk it up against the Colts. But at least I was right that Beanie Wells (2 carries, -2 yards) would do nothing to threaten his job security.