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Week 3 Injury Update

September 28, 2009 1 comment

Here are some key injury updates…

QB Chad Pennington (MIA): Pennington (shoulder) could be done for the year. QB Chad Henne will likely take over, and could be a decent QB2 against favorable matchups. But I would wait and see what he does.

QB Marc Bulger (STL): Bulger (shoulder) could miss some time. If he is out, QB Kyle Boller will start in his place. Boller actually looked alright against GB.

RB Frank Gore (SF): Gore (ankle) could miss a couple weeks. Go get RB Glenn Coffee now.

RB Kevin Smith (DET): It sounds like Smith (shoulder) should be okay, but if you own him, consider adding RB Maurice Morris.

RB Brian Westbrook (PHI): Westbrook (ankle) missed this week’s game with an ankle injury, and it is not clear when he will be back. Go get RB LeSean McCoy now.

RB Marion Barber (DAL): Barber (thigh) is inactive for the game tonight against CAR. Watch to see how DAL uses RB Felix Jones and RB Tashard Choice tonight, because Barber could miss another game or two.’

RB Jamal Lewis (CLE): Lewis was out this week. RB James Harrison got most of the carries in his absence, with RB James Davis getting some touches, as well. But neither really did much. And I would probably avoid any CLE players for the time being, given their woes on offense.

RB Willie Parker (PIT): Parker (toe) is dealing with a minor case of turf toe, which is a notoriously annoying injury. If Parker misses any time, RB Rashard Mendenhall would get the start. Although he has not looked good and the PIT OL is marginal.

WR Wes Welker (NE): Welker missed his second game in a row. WR Julian Edelman played in his place but did not have another Welker-esque outing. Edelman could be worth a roster spot, though, if Welker misses any more time.

WR Laurent Robinson (STL): Robinson (ankle) is likely done for the year after breaking his lower leg. Which is too bad. He was having a great start to the season. I expect WR Keenan Burton to get some extra looks with Robinson out.

WR Chris Henry (CIN): Henry (thigh) has been battling a leg injury all year, which could explain why he has yet to explode onto the scene like I expected/predicted. Or maybe he is just not going to explode. Either way, while he is slowed by injury, WR Andre Caldwell seems to be getting some extra looks.

Yes… No… Maybe?

September 17, 2009 Leave a comment

“Yes… No… Maybe?” is my version of the start-sit post. For the most part, I avoided the obvious (i.e. “Start Adrian Peterson and Drew Brees!”) and tried to focus on the fringe players. Beginning next week, I will recap how I did the previous week. So, eventually, when it turns out I am wrong all the time, you can pull a Costanza and just do the opposite.

And, just in case you are confused by the obvious nature of the post, here is a key:

Yes = Start these players. They have a high likelihood of performing well.
No = Sit these players. The risk is too high that they will struggle.
Maybe = Start these guys if you do not have better options. They could do well. Or they could fail.

Yes

QB Trent Edwards (BUF) vs. TB: Last week, QB Tony Romo put up a career-high in passing yards against TB. I doubt Edwards will replicate that effort, but he should have a good game. He has the weapons and TB is vulnerable.

RB Ray Rice (BAL) @ SD: OAK was able to push the SD DL around last week and managed to put up some rushing yards. BAL is a better running team, so Rice should get plenty of work. RB Willis McGahee and RB LeRon McClain could steal his TDs, but that is no reason not to use him. He should have around 100 total yards again.

RB Fred Jackson (BUF) vs. TB: Jackson did very well last week in place of suspended RB Marshawn Lynch, and he should have another solid outing against TB, who is not nearly as strong on DEF as most people think.

RB Clinton Portis (WAS) vs. STL: Portis is probably a must-start guy each week, but there are rumors that hsi touches are going to be limited and RB Ladell Betts is going to get more work. But RB Julius Jones went nuts on STL last week, so Portis should have a big day.

WR Louis Murphy (OAK) vs. KC: Yes, I know he has the fat caveman throwing him the ball. But there are just not many other options in OAK outside of TE Zach Miller (here’s a free one: Start Miller, too). Murphy was inches away from scoring 2 TDs last week and should have another good day against a KC pass DEF that struggles.

NO

QB Jay Cutler (CHI) vs. PIT: I doubt Cutler wil blow up and have 4 INTs again — although it would be awesome if he did — but I would consider other options this week. PIT is very good on DEF and could give him troubles, just like GB did with their version of the 3-4.

QB Matt Schaub (HOU) @ TEN: Schaub struggled last week against NYJ, and TEN is just as good or better than NYJ against the pass. TEN does not have a shutdown CB like NYJ has in CB Darrelle Revis, but I think they will contain Schaub enough to make him bench-worthy. Plus, I think his ankle is still bothering him.

RB LaDainian Tomlinson (SD) vs. BAL: LT is banked up with an ankle injury and is expected to be a game-time decision. Even if he does play, I have very little confidence that he will have a good day against the BAL DEF.

RB Steve Slaton (HOU) @ TEN: This was a tough one. Partly becuase I have him in one of my leagues. But also because, last year, he was the only RB to put up over 100 yards rushing on TEN. And he did it twice. So he is a lock to have a good game again, right? I wish. I think he will struggle. He is a borderline “no/maybe” though. Start him if you are really desperate.

WR Devin Hester (CHI) vs. PIT: But for one blown coverage last week in the GB game, Hester did nothing. I do not think PIT will blow coverage and let him get behind them, even without SS Troy Polomalu.

MAYBE

RB Pierre Thomas (NO) @ PHI: Thomas claims to be healthy and ready to go. If this is true, he should get enough work against PHI to make him worthy of a start. I think RB Mike Bell will continue to get some reps as they ease Thomas back in, but Thomas will be the man once he is 100%.

RB Darren Sproles (SD) vs. BAL: I am not sure why I hate Sproles. I was not high on him coming into this year. And now, even with LT hurt, I am still not all that high on him. He is very involved in the passing game, which is great. But he simply is not an every-down RB. However, with LT out, he makes a good start if you do not have other options. But I think BAL will do a better job of containing him than OAK did.

RB Kevin Smith (DET) vs. MIN: Smith could have an okay day, because he is involved in the passing game. And that is the only reason he is a “maybe” and not a “no”. MIN is just too stout against the run. But this has “trap game” written all over it… MIN has all the hype, and DET has not won a game in a long time. Who knows a good bookie? I just got paid…

RB Willie Parker (PIT) @ CHI: I am not a fan of FWP this year. He looked very marginal in week 1. And the PIT OL is not great. But CHI is without MLB Brian Urlacher, which makes him slightly more attractive.

WR Laurent Robinson (STL) @ WAS: Robinson had a solid week 1 and led the team in targets. And he had a couple red zone looks. STL is gonna be losing so they will have to pass. Which makes him a sneaky WR3 play this week if you need help.

Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Or, if you have other start-sit dilemmas, leave a comment and I will respond.

[Pre]Week 1 Watch List

September 9, 2009 Leave a comment

Here are some guys to keep an eye on as the season starts:

QB Mark Sanchez (NYJ): Will he follow in the footsteps of QB Matt Ryan and post respectable numbers? Or will he struggle and sit on the waiver wire all year?

QB Matt Stafford (DET): Stafford was (not surprisingly) named the starter over QB Daunte Culpepper. Although the DET OL is not great, Stafford does have WR Calvin Johnson to throw the ball to. But I suspect he will also throw the ball to the other team quite a few times.

RB James Davis (CLE): Davis is available in many leagues, and could get a significant amount of touches in CLE. RB Jamal Lewis will likely start the season at RB, but I expect Davis to get some carries and eventually take over.

RB Willie Parker (PIT): Allegedly, he is the starter, the full-time RB, and the goal line back. Does any of this matter? It could. FWP is on the downside of his career, but he is not quite done yet. The PIT OL is suspect, but they do like to run the ball. If FWP can stay healthy, he is a great value.

RB Michael Bush (OAK): Bush is a very talented RB, but is stuck in a RBBC in OAK with RB Darren McFadden and RB Justin Fargas. If Bush could get more touches, he could be productive. But we will have to wait and see how they use him.

RB Jamaal Charles (KC): Many expect a (slight) resurgence of RB Larry Johnson this season. Which could happen. But given his past, I am not all that confident. Which means Charles could be in a position to get some extra touches. Especially if KC is losing and has to throw the ball often.

WR Chris Henry (CIN): He caught a TD in each preseason game. I know it is only preseason, but I am excited about Henry. Let’s see what he can do when it counts.

WR Marko Mitchell (WAS): I wrote about this super-duper-hella-deep sleeper a week or so ago. And he has not shaken that status yet. But he could end up being productive, if the other WRs in WAS cannot get the job done. Keep an eye on him as the season goes along.

TE Anthony Fasano (MIA): Fasano had a solid year in 2008, and now he is no longer sharing time with TE David Martin, who was placed on IR. He could increase his yardage totals, although I would be surprised if he matched or exceeded last year’s TD total.

TE Jermichael Finley (GB): Finley was a focal point of the GB offense in the preseason. But he is still listed as the backup behind TE Donald Lee. Either way, the guy is super-talented and creates mismatches when he is in the game. So I expect GB will find ways to get him involved.

RB Handcuffs

August 31, 2009 Leave a comment

As I have said before, you should not automatically grab the “handcuff” for the RBs you draft simply because they are their real life backup.

However, there are some “handcuffs” you should defnitely grab if you draft certain RBs. And here is a list of guys that, if you draft them, you should also draft their “handcuff”:

RB Adrian Peterson (MIN): Peterson has been a workhorse since he came into the league as a rookie. But he is not without injury concerns. And he may have one of the better backups in the league in RB Chester Taylor. If AP misses any time, Taylor should put up very good numbers in his stead.

RB Maurice Jones-Drew (JAX): MJD has had a very healthy career thus far. But he has also been limited in the amount of touches he’s had. This year JAX (finally) expects to use him as a fulltime ballcarrier. Although that increases his fantasy value, it also increases his chance to get injured. There has been no official word from JAX on his backup, but I expect RB Chauncey Washington would get the nod (initially) to take over the load. But also keep an eye on rookie RB Rashad Jennings, who could get some touches, too.

RB Michael Turner (ATL): Whether you believe “The Curse of 370” or not, you cannot argue with the fact that there is a body of statistical evidence out there that says it is very likely Turner will get injurd this year. So, even if you do not believe it, you should play the odds and pickup his backup. Unfortunately, his top backup, RB Jerious Norwood, suffered a knee injury recently. But he should be fine by the time Turner goes down. But you should also keep an eye on RB Jason Snelling and rookie RB Thomas Brown, who could get some work if Turner succumbs to “the curse”.

RB Frank Gore (SF): Gore is a highly-ranked RB this year, due to his skill level, the offense he is working in, and his history of being productive. However, he also has a history of being injury-prone. And rookie RB Glenn Cofffee is playing ver well. So add him if you have Gore, and look like a genius when Gore misses time and you casually insert Coffee into the lineup and pile up the points.

RB Brian Westbrook (PHI): If you gamble on Westbrook early, you need to make sure you get RB LeSean McCoy later in the draft. McCoy should put up very Westbrook-like numbers if/when Westbrook goes down.

RB Marion Barber (DAL): It is not entirely clear what role Barber will have in the DAL offense this year. But he should get enough touches to make him a very solid RB2. Either way, in the event that his brutish running-style causes him to miss any games, look for RB Tashard Choice to pick up his touches. RB Felix Jones should continue to get his own touches no matter what, although they would likely increase in the event that Barber goes down.

RB Pierre Thomas (NO): Thomas came into the year with high expectatoins, but an MCL injury has put his status for week 1 in doubt. If you have Thomas on your team, you should also add RB Mike Bell, who would benefit immensely if Thomas misses any time.

RB Clinton Porits (WAS): Those who had Portis on their team last year remember how much fun it was at the beginning of the season when he was killing it. And they also remember how miserable it was at the end of the year when he was getting killed. And now there are reports that he has a bruised rib. I love Portis and think he is about as tough as they come for NFL RBs. But as a result of his toughness, he often has nagging injuries. I think RB Ladell Betts will be involved more this year, and he should be on your roster if you own Portis.

RB Marshawn Lynch (BUF): We already know Lynch is going to miss the first 3 games of the year, which means RB Fred Jackson is going to get a majority of the touches during that time. Add him to your roster if you have Lynch, not only for those first three games, but also for later, just in case Lynch gets injured or cannot keep his nose clean.

RB Thomas Jones (NYJ): Thomas is getting older and has not looked good so far this year. But he did have a career-year in 2008, so it is hard to discount him completely. Either way, if he were to get hurt or become entirely ineffective, RB Shonn Greene would probably take over his role as the main ballcarrier. Although I think RB Leon Washington is the only NYJ RB worth owning, Greene will probbaly do alright in the event Jones goes down. But, like the situation in DAL, Washington would probably see his touches go up, as well.

RB Knowshon Moreno (DEN): Moreno has a ton of potential, unfortunately we have no idea whether he will ever meet said potential, because we have yet to see him play in the NFL for any legitimate amount of time due to a knee injury he suffered early on in his first preseason game (after a long holdout). I suspect he will be fine once he recovers, but if you took a flyer on him in your draft, you should also add RB Peyton Hillis, who seems (to me, anyway) as the best option DEN has if/when Moreno is out. RB Correll Buckhalter and RB LaMont Jordan are also in the mix, I suppose, but Hillis should be the most effective RB in the group.

RB Joseph Addai (IND): Addai has been fairly ineffective recently, and he has struggled to stay healthy. Enter rookie RB Donald Brown, who has looked sharp so far. It is hard to say what will happen with this RBBC, but it is safe to say that if Addai gets injured or cannot get the job done, Brown will step in and could do very well.

RB Jamal Lewis (CLE): Lewis has looked slow this preseason and is at that magical age (30) when RBs go down hill. So if you take him, you should also grab RB James Davis, who could supplant him as the starter by midseason.

RB Willie Parker (PIT): Parker has seen his YPC go down each year since becoming the starter. That is not a good sign of things to come. So if you take Fast Willie, make sure you also grab RB Rashard Mendenhall, who should see his role increase as the year goes along, especially if FWP cannot stay healthy.

Do Not Draft List

August 28, 2009 Leave a comment

So, I (finally) have my first draft this weekend. It is a live auction draft with a group of friends, so it should be fun. As I finalize my rankings and prepare for the draft, I like to make a “Do Not Draft List” with all the guys I am going to avoid at all costs. Most of these guys I want to avoid because I think they are too risky — i.e. they will either bust or get injured. Some of them, I simply do not like.

DO NOT DRAFT

QB Kurt Warner (ARI): Age, injury history, and, well, that’s pretty much it.

QB Eli Manning (NYG): Mouthbreather.

QB Brett Favre (MIN): Traitor.

QB Mike Vick (PHI): He will miss the first part of the season. And he is a backup QB. I still do not get whey people are drafting him.

QB Pat White (MIA): Again: Backup QB. 3rd string, even. Yes, I realize he will run the Wildcat. So, put him in at QB one week. And enjoy losing your game. You would be better off with QB Brady Quinn as your starting QB.

RB Brian Westbrook (PHI): Everyone is convinced that this is the year he falls apart. Which means he will probably blow up. So, I guess you can thank me.

RB Thomas Jones (NJY): Career year last year. Career-ending year this year?

RB Jamal Lewis (CLE): He’s had a nice run. But I think he is phased out this year in favor of RB James Davis.

RB Joseph Addai (IND): He could do well. Or he could get replaced by RB Donald Brown. I am not taking the risk.

RB Willie Parker (PIT): Oh, FWP, we’ve had some good times. But, seriously, now it’s time for you to leave.

RB Derrick Ward (TB): He is sharing the job with RB Earnest Graham and RB Cadillac Williams. And Ward will find that life is a lot tougher when not running behind the NYG OL.

RB Jonathan Stewart (CAR): He has to prove he can stay healthy before I add him to my roster.

WR Larry Fitzgerald (ARI): Call me silly or call me stupid, but I am a believer in the Madden Curse.

WR Terrell Owens (BUF): Toe injuries scare me. And so does the OL in BUF.

WR Michael Crabtree (SF): His hubris is unreal.

WR Brandon Marshall (DEN): Extremely talented. Extremely stupid.

WR Antonio Bryant (TB): No way he has back-to-back monster years. Especially not with those QBs.

WR Devin Hester (CHI): He is not a WR. I repeat: He is not a WR.

Training Camp Position Battles

August 11, 2009 Leave a comment

All 32 NFL teams are now in training camp. Which means there are plenty of position battles that you should be aware of as your fantasy draft approaches. I wrote about some NFC and AFC position battles a couple weeks ago, but I thought it would be worthwhile to update them now that camps are in full-swing. I did not include much (read: any) discussion of the battles. I just listed them so you can be aware. I did, however, list them in the order I expect the final depth charts to reflect. Check back as training camps progress to get updates on the key camp battles that will affect your fantasy draft.

AFC North
BAL RB: Ray Rice v. Willis McGahee v. Le’Ron McClain
CIN QB: Carson Palmer v. His Elbow
CLE RB: Jamal Lewis v. James Davis v. Jerome Harrison
PIT RB: Willie Parker v. Rashard Mendenhall v. Mewelde Moore

AFC South
IND RB:
Joseph Addai v. Donald Brown
IND WR3: Pierre Garcon v. Austin Collie
JAX RB2: Chauncey Washington v. Rashad Jennings v. Greg Jones
TEN WR: Nate Washington v. Justin Gage

AFC East
MIA WR2: Greg Camarillo v. Devon Bess
NE RB: Fred Taylor v. Sammy Morris v. Kevin Faulk v. Laurence Maroney
NYJ RB: Thomas Jones v. Shonn Green v. Leon Washington
NYJ QB: Mark Sanchez v. Kellen Clemens

AFC West
DEN RB: Knowshon Moreno v. Correll Buckhalter v. Peyton Hillis v. Ryan Torain
KC RB: Larry Johnson v. Jamaal Charles v. Kolby Smith
SD WR2: Chris Chambers v. Malcolm Floyd v. Buster Davis
OAK RB: Darren McFadden v. Michael Bush v. Justin Fargas

NFC North
CHI WR1: Devin Hester v. Earl Bennet v. Rashied Davis
DET QB: Dante Culpeper v. Matthew Stafford
GB WR3: James Jones v. Jordy Nelson
GB TE: Jermichael Finley v. Donald Lee
MIN QB: Sage Rosenfels v. Tavaris Jackson
MIN WR2: Sidney Rice v. Percey Harvin

NFC South
NO WR2: Lance Moore v. Robert Meachem
NO WR3: Robert Meachem v. Devery Henderson
TB QB: Byron Leftwich v. Josh Freeman v. Luke McCown
TB RB: Earnest Graham v. Derrick Ward
TB WR2: Michael Clayton v. Maurice Stovall

NFC East
NYG RB2:
Ahmad Bradshaw v. Andre Brown v. Danny Ware
DAL WR2: Patrick Crayton v. Austin Miles v. Sam Hurd
NYG WR: Dominic Hixon v. Steve Smith v. Mario Manningham v. Hakeem Nicks v. Ramses Barden
NYG WR2: Steve Smith v. Mario Manningham v. Hakeem Nicks v. Ramses Barden
PHI WR2: Kevin Curtis v. Jeremy Maclin
WAS WR2: Devin Thomas v. Antwaan Randle-El v. Malcolm Kelley

NFC West
AR RB: Tim Hightower v. Beanie Wells
SF QB: Shaun Hill v. Alex Smith
STL WR2: Laurent Robinson v. Keenan Burton

RB Handcuffs

August 10, 2009 Leave a comment

You have all heard the term “handcuff” before when referring to fantasy football players and their backups. Generally, I am not a huge fan of automatically drafting a “handcuff” for your starter, but there are situations when it can be valuable.

I would only recommend drafting a handcuff if you are drafting a RB with a high (e.g. first 3 or 4 rounds) who is (1) injury-prone and (2) plays in a high-powered offense. For example, I would recommend grabbing Westbrook’s backup, because he is injury prone and the Eagles’ offense is very good. Conversely, I would not recommend grabbing RB Steven Jackson‘s handcuff, because he will not perform at anywhere near the same level. My point is this: Do not waste a pick by automatically selecting a handcuff for each of your RBs. There are more valuable players out there in many situations.

For your 2009 fantasy football draft, I would recommend the following handcuffs if you draft any of these players:

RB Adrian Peterson (MIN): Peterson accounts for a large percentage of the Viking offense. And it is reasonable to assume that if AP goes down, RB Chester Taylor will assume a similar role. Grabbing Taylor as a handcuff for AP can be tough, though, since Taylor gets enough touches on his own to make him worth drafting late. But it is always worthwhile to protect your investment in a guy like AP, who gets a lot of touches and thus is more exposed to potential injuries.

RB Brian Westbrook (PHI): Westbrook is old and about to breakdown. Or so everyone (including me) says. He could very well prove us all wrong this year, and avoid any injuries. But he is a risk. Handcuff = RB LeSean McCoy.

RB Maurice Jones-Drew (JAX): I do not consider MJD to be injury-prone, but any time a guy increases his workload in a significant way, you have to also consider him an increased risk to get injured. And the Jags like to make their RBs the focal point of their offense, so his backup should still do fairly well.  The only problem is, right now we are not entirely sure who that is going to be. Keep an eye on this situation throughout camp. Potential Handcuff(s) = FB Greg Jones, RB Chauncey Washington, and RB Rashad Jennings.

RB Brandon Jacobs (NYG): Jacobs is a bruiser. And although he usually doles out more punishment than he receives, you can almost guarantee he will miss time in 09 with a nagging injury. However, much like the Jags, it is not clear yet who would be the primary ball carrier if Jacobs goes down. Keep an eye on the battle for his backup during camp. Potential Handcuff(s) = RB Ahmad Bradshaw, RB Danny Ware, and RB Andre Brown.

RB Marion Barber (DAL): Although Barber did miss some time last year due to injury, I do not consider him injury prone. However, due to his running style, it is always a possibility. Handcuff = RB Tashard Choice (Note: I do not consider RB Felix Jones to be a handcuff for Barber, because I think Jones will be used differently in the offense.)

RB LaDainian Tomlinson (SD): As we all know, LT is getting older. And last year showed us that he is, in fact, human. Although I do expect him to have a better year in 09, there is no reason to be foolish. Handcuff = RB Darren Sproles (Note: Due to the touches he will get regardless, Sproles will likely go pretty early. If you do not want to waste an early pick on a handcuff, then consider grabbing RB Gartrell Johnson later.)

RB Clinton Portis (WAS): The Skins want to reduce his workload already, but despite how tough Portis is, he has missed some time due to injury. Handcuff = RB Ladell Betts.

RB Darren McFadden (OAK): The Raiders love to run the ball. And they want to make McFadden a focal point on offense. But McFadden has a slight build, is an upright runner, and missed quite a few games in 08 due to injuries. Handcuff = RB Michael Bush (Note: RB Justin Fargas is in the mix, too, so watch how the Raiders use these guys in camp.)

RB Thomas Jones (NYG): Jones had a surprisingly good year in 08. But he is past the 30-year old mark and he is unhappy with his contract. Plus he has a shaky QB situation. And he has a rookie RB breathing down his neck. Handcuff = RB Shonn Green. (Note: RB Leon Washington, much like Sproles and Felix Jones, already has a role in the offense, but I do not expect him to become the full-time RB if Jones goes down.)

RB Marshawn Lynch (BUF): Lynch is already scheduled to miss the first 3 games of the year due to an NFL-imposed suspension. Which makes drafting him fairly risky to begin with. But he should do well later in the year to make him attractive in the middle rounds of the draft. If nothing else, you will want a replacement for the first 3 games. Handcuff = RB Fred Jackson.

RB Larry Johnson (KC): No one really knows what to expect out of the Chiefs this year. New Coach. New GM. New QB. And a happy LJ? It’s hard to say how it will all work out, but we do know that LJ has had his fair share of injury issues in the past. Handcuff = RB Jamaal Charles.

RB Jamal Lewis (CLE): I am still surprised Lewis has an NFL career, at this point. It seems like he has been around forever, and I expected him to fade away awhile ago. And this may be the year it finally happens. Handcuff = RB James Davis.

RB Joseph Addai (IND): We all know about the struggles Addai had last year. And then the Colts went out and drafted a talented rookie RB. So if you roll the dice with Addai, you better be willing to spend a mid-round pick on insurance. Handcuff = RB Donald Brown.

RB Willie Parker (PIT): Parker has been slowly declining for the past couple of seasons, and missed significant time last year due to injuries. He is getting older and there is youth behind him. Handcuff = RB Rashard Mendenhall.