By Jesse Carrajat
WFAN Disclaimer: The opinions and assertions contained herein are the private ones of the writer and are not to be construed as official or reflecting the views of WFAN.com. This being said, Mark Sanchez is horrifying.
It has happened to ALL of us , and if you claim that it hasn’t, you are a bold-faced-Roger Clemens. Every single fantasy football owner EVER has add/dropped or traded for a player whom they thought, based on early statistical success, would help carry their team to the imaginary promised-land that is a Fantasy Football League Championship. Then, for some inexplicable, mysterious, and murderously frustrating reason, your potential stud turns fantasy dud, seemingly overnight. I can’t think of a more disappointing scenario in life that takes a person from absolute joy and optimism to genuine pain and despair…Oh wait, yes I can.
If this sounds intimately familiar to you, than you have been victimized by a vicious pick-tease, and nobody likes a pick-tease. Following the first week of NFL action, there are a plethora of players who fit the modus operandi of the dreaded pick-tease, as well as a handful of potential fantasy-contributors who have made an early case for roster space. Worry not, my fellow fantasy aficionado, WFANtasy is here to separate fact from fiction, so that you can avoid the roster-wrecking rabble-rousers, while snatching up the serious fantasy sleepers. These are the fantasy players who made serious waves on the waiver wire in week 1.
Michael Vick-QB-PHI: Eagles quarterback Michael Vick has a very favorable matchup in week 2 as the Eagles travel to America’s Safest City to face the Detroit Lions. The Lions gave up 11,379 passing yards to the Bears last week, and if Vick can duplicate his week one performance, he will absolutely kill the Lions in week two (don’t worry, figuratively speaking, of course)…. However, this is a tricky scenario. In press conferences throughout the week, Eagles Coach Andy Reid has verbally stated that he has every intention of reinstating QB Kevin Kolb as the starter when healthy. Additionally, Eagles Coach Andy Reid has inadvertently stated that he has absolutely no intention of winning in 2010…..Right now, Vick gives the Eagles the best chance to win. However, team wins and losses mean nothing in Fantasy Football. Either way, you should only add Vick if A) you have no better alternatives at the QB position, B) you can afford to expense an add/drop for him, and C) if you have forgiven him.
Peyton Hillis-RB-CLE: Look, I get it, this guy is fun to root for. His straight-ahead, “I’m going this way, move!” approach to running the football is reminiscent of the NFL glory days. In those days, players like Washington running back John Riggins, who had the acceleration of Bowser from Mario Kart, found success by out-willing their opponent, not out running them. However, the oversized, tough, but terribly slow half back went out of style right around the time facemasks came into style, and Hillis is not the guy to turn back the hands of time. Although Hillis and fellow Browns RB Jerome Harrison both had 8 rushes last Sunday, Harrison out rushed Hillis by 11 yards. Plus, the Browns have the Chiefs this week. Last year against the Chiefs in December, Harrison only rushed for 285 yards, a club record, and something tells me he’ll get the chance to duplicate that performance. Bottom line is, the only person I would actually drop to acquire Hillis is Mark Sanchez.
Brandon Jackson-RB-GB: This is a no-brainer. Following the injury to starting RB Ryan Grant, Packers coach Mike McCarthy confirmed on Wednesday that he feels Jackson is more than ready to “carry the load” in Green Bay as a feature back. The 4th year back has been buried on the depth chart behind Grant for most of his career. When given the chance to contribute, he has been spotty at best (career 3.9 yard avg.), and has not played in more than 13 games in any of his 3 seasons in the NFL. He does not have the skill-set or talent of a feature back like Grant but, because of his current situation as a feature back, he will see a ton of touches. For this reason alone, he is worth adding in all formats.
Marshawn Lynch-RB-BUF: “Beast Mode” entered the NFL a highly regarded, highly productive, and highly skilled interviewee. Lynch rushed for 1,115 yards and 7 TDs in his rookie season in 2007, second amongst rookies only to Minnesota’s Adrian Peterson. In his sophomore campaign, Lynch raised his rushing average slightly, but began to lose carries to RB Fred Jackson. In 2009, Lynch’s numerous injuries opened the door for Jackson, four years Lynch’s senior, to emerge as a surprisingly effective option in Buffalo, rushing for 1,062 yards while catching another 46 passes for 376 yards. With the drafting of highly touted rookie CJ Spiller in 2010, the Bills have made it abundantly clear that Lynch will not be the feature back in Buffalo. The injury of Ryan Grant in Green Bay has left the Packers with just one unproven halfback (Jackson, see above) and one full-back on their roster. Packers QB Aaron Rodgers, who was Lynch’s teammate at the University of California, has publicly stated that he hopes to be reunited with Lynch this season and the Bills can greatly improve next year’s draft by unloading Lynch to the Packers. The Wire predicts: snag Lynch NOW and ride out the media storm. By week 5, you will have a starting running back at your disposal.
TE-Zach Miller-Oak: Fact: Raiders QB Jason Campbell loooooovvvees him some tight-end…. and I’m not talking about the Oakland Raider cheerleaders. Despite playing for three different offensive coordinators, for three of the four seasons Campbell spent as the Redskins starting quarterback, his leading receiver in receptions was tight-end Chris Cooley. Despite playing for the leagues 29th ranked passing offense in 2009, Miller still managed to snag 66 receptions for 805 yards, good for 3rd in the AFC. In the past two seasons, Miller has caught 122 passes for 1,583 yards, all from future Hall-of-Shame quarterbacks ranging from Andrew Walter to JaMarcus “sip-sip” Russell. Although Miller posted a pedestrian 4 catches for 44yds on Sunday, he was targeted 8 times by Campbell, good for 6th most in the NFL amongst tight-ends. You can expect Miller’s production to increase steadily as his chemistry with Campbell grows throughout the season. If you have a questionable tight-end and Miller is available, be sure to snatch him up and insert him into your starting lineup immediately.
On another note, it sure must suck to be this “other guy.”
Brandon Lloyd-WR-DEN: If this is your first Fantasy Football rodeo, then sure, after leading the Broncos in receiving week 1 with 5 catches for 117 yards, Lloyd looks like a sure-fire pickup for week 2. However, those of us who have been around the fantasy block know that Brandon Lloyd is far from reliable. Although yards are very important in analyzing a fantasy player’s potential, targets ultimately tell the tale. Targets, or the number of times a quarterback attempts a pass to a given receiver, indicate several important factors about a wide-receiver:
1. The receiver’s role, from small to significant, in the offense
2. The offensive coordinator’s likelihood to call the receiver’s number
3. Perhaps most supreme, the quarterback’s natural inclination and instinctive reaction to target that receiver.
Whether or not a target is converted into a reception is based on numerous factors, including the defensive player’s reaction, the accuracy of the quarterback’s throw, the receiver’s catching ability, etc. Using targets as a parameter, in week 1, Denver WR Eddie Royal was targeted 10 times, while Lloyd and WR Jabar Gaffney were targeted 8 and 7 times, respectively. Without a premier WR in Denver, Kyle Orton, who has quietly averaged 241 passing yards per game since Week 1 last season, will continue to spread the ball around. Adding Lloyd, a player who has produced 860 yards and 2 TDs in the past FOUR seasons, is a waste of roster space, unless, of course, that space belongs to Mark Sanchez.
Mike Williams-WR-SEA: “I just love the guy….I can look his way and give a head-nod, and just throw it up there to him and he’ll go get it.” This is what Seattle starting quarterback Matt Hassellbeck has to say about recently resurrected Williams. Predict what you will about inexperience, reliability, etc, but after leading all Seattle receivers in both receptions and yards in week 1, Williams is the clear-cut number 1 receiver in Seattle, but is currently riding-pine in 52% of CBSSports.com leagues. Last year, 32 year old TJ Houshmadzadeh was Seattle’s #1 wide receiver, posting 79 catches, 911 yards, and 3 TDs. Although the Fantasy World considered this to be an off year for Housh, he finished the season tied for 12th in receptions, and was the 24th rated fantasy wide receiver in 2009. In 2010, 26 year-old Williams has the opportunity to not only inherit the 135 targets that went to Housh, he has the chance to eclipse them. Rusty or not, in Williams first game as a Seahawk and first game in the NFL in over two years, the 6’5 WR posted 4 catches for 64 yards, registering ten total fantasy points: the exact same amount that Housh had in his Seattle debut. As the season progresses, Williams will emerge as a #1 fantasy wide receiver. Add Williams NOW, but be sure to monitor the Vincent Jackson standoff in San Diego, a player that if acquired would seriously sabotage Williams’s fantasy value in 2010.
Legedu Naanee-WR-SD: Last week against Kansas City, Naanee totaled 22 fantasy points. In sixteen games in 2009, Naanee produced all of 60 points. The fact is, Naanee is NOT a physically gifted stud receiver that has been waiting in the ranks for four seasons to emerge as a fantasy star. Rather, his success in week one was a result of opportunity, and on one particular 59 yard touchdown catch, a completely blown coverage. With Malcolm Floyd, Antonio Gates, and now Patrick Crayton competing for targets in the absence of V-Jax, only Gates will be a consistent fantasy contributor. Does he have the chance to put up a good game here and there? Yes. Am I getting annoyed that spell check keeps highlighting player’s names. Kind of. Would I add him on my team? No, not unless my receiver options were absolutely vile.
Mark Clayton-WR-STL: Clayton has a clear rapport with rookie Sam Bradford, who targeted Clayton a ridiculous 16 times last week. Both former OU Sooners, the two have spent numerous off-seasons working out, long before Bradford was drafted to the Rams with the first overall pick. Clayton has dramatically under-produced the past several seasons, but in an injury riddled St. Louis receiver group, Clayton may emerge as a sure-fire sleeper. For now, consider Clayton a reliable Flex option with plenty of upside.
Funny Caption of the Week
“Ok, for the last time, that’ll be three orders of Kung Pao Chicken, two orders of…”
We here at The Wire know that it’s an absolute waste of time to ask a trivia question on-line. We know you’ll do exactly what we would: Google it. That’s why we’re introducing the weekly “Un-Googleable Trivia” contest. Each week we will post a NY sports-related question that we here at WFAN have deemed “Un-Googleable.” If you think you know the Un-Googleable answer, email it to JCarrajat@wfan.com. The first respondent to answer correctly will receive a mention in next week’s article.
Week 2 Un-Googleable Trivia Question:
Which former New York Giant married the daughter of his head collegiate football coach?