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 or CBS at large…..This being said, Giants running back Brandon Jacobs should be listed as 6 foot 2, 264 pounds of Valentine’s Day Cards.”
Exhibit A: From 1967 to 1999, an NFL quarterback threw for 4,000 yards in one season just 38 times, while from 2000 to 2009, the feat was accomplished 46 times.
Exhibit B: Thus far in 2010, five of the top ten fantasy WRs are listed as second or third on their team’s depth chart, while only eight wide receivers led their team in Fantasy Points (FP) for consecutive weeks.
It has become glaringly obvious that an epidemic of pass-crazy play-callers have transformed the way NFL offenses do battle on Sundays. Some NFL teams possess an elite number one wide-receiver that automatically warrants a fantasy start each week, regardless of their defensive matchup. However, the occurrence of teams featuring a platoon of productive pass catchers has become all the rage. This poses a serious conundrum for fantasy football owners. If you haven’t snagged one of the Andre Johnsons or Brandon Marshalls of the league, you’re left to work with an abundance of second, third, and sometimes, fourth receivers whom all can bust out for a productive game, only to revert to fantasy obscurity the following week. How you traverse this tremendously tricky terrain can make-or-break not only your week, but your entire fantasy season. The following analysis will breakdown the teams with the most frustrating receiver platoons in 2010.
Denver Broncos: It’s time to face the facts: 1. Kyle Orton is a consistent fantasy/reality quarterback and 2. Nobody cares about the WNBA. Orton is averaging 260 yards and 1.5 TDs per game in his last 17 games started. SOMEONE has literally got to be on the receiving end of that production, but the question is: who? After losing former #1 WR Brandon Marshall to the Dolphins, the Broncos are left with four potential go-to guys, each with pros and cons. WR Jabar Gaffney was the pre-season favorite to step into the leading role, but through two weeks has posted just 5 catches for 49 yards and a TD. 2008 rookie sensation Eddie Royal prospered with then Denver QB Jay Cutler, but suffered a serious setback in 2009 when moved to slot receiver with Orton under center. He is averaging 17 FP, which is great, but it remains to be seen whether or not he and Orton can develop a consistent rapport. WR Brandon Lloyd caught five passes for 117 yards in week one, but as The Wire predicted, he returned to fantasy mediocrity in week two with just 8 points. So which of these receivers will emerge on top in Denver? None. After missing week one to injury, rookie WR Demaryius Thomas exploded onto the Denver scene with 8 catches for 97 yards and a TD, good for 23 FP. Although the 6’2, 230 lb receiver has had injury concerns throughout the pre-season, following the game, Denver head-coach Josh McDaniels suggested that Thomas’ week two break-out is only the beginning. Orton will continue to spread the ball around in Denver, but Thomas’ size and potential will make him an immediate impact player, and he will likely become Orton’s favorite target. Start/Sit/Drop: Start: Eddie Royal, Demaryius Thomas. Sit: Jabar Gaffney. Drop: Brandon Lloyd
Cleveland Browns: Firstly, if you have any Cleveland Brown WR in your starting fantasy roster, you either A) went to your fantasy draft immediately following an emergence from a twenty-year coma or B) are an immediate family member of that Brown. Seneca Wallace will be the Browns starting QB in week three against a Ravens defense that has let up just 120 passing yards per game, and 0 TDs. To make things worse, as of right now, three of the top five receivers in Cleveland are RBs and TEs. Frankly, I’d be more comfortable having my car washed at Marvin Harrison’s Soap and Suds then starting any WR on the Cleveland Brown’s roster. Start/Sit/Drop: Sit: Joshua Cribbs. Drop: everyone else.
Seattle Seahawks: After the departure of Touraj “Jeje” Houshmandzadeh, aka “The Pride of Scotland,” the Seahawks are left with a gaping void in their receiver corps. 31 year-old Deion Branch has not once caught more than 53 passes or 4 TDs in a season since joining the Seahawks in 2006, and is averaging 8.5 FP thus far in 2010. At 5’10, 190 lbs, second year WR Deon Butler, who is averaging 9 FP thus far, is pretty much the exact same receiver that Branch is, minus seven years of youth and the letter “i” in his first name. Coach Pete Carroll recently announced that rookie WR Golden Tate will remain the Seahawks punt returner, and with just one reception thus far, it’s clear that Tate will not be the go-to-guy, at least not in 2010. The intriguing option in the Seattle receiving group is former 2006 first-round draft pick WR Mike Williams. Williams has returned to the NFL following a two year hiatus to establish himself as the number one WR in Seattle. Carroll, who also coached Williams at USC, claims Williams is in “the best shape of his life.” After leading all Seahawk receivers in week one, Williams caught only one pass for 7 yards in week two, but had a nagging thigh injury and was blanketed by the ageless CB Champ Bailey for the entire game. Look for a rebound in a week three. Start/Sit/Drop: Start: Mike Williams. Sit: Deon Butler. Drop: Deion Branch, Golden Tate
San Diego Chargers: Thus far in 2010, QB Philip Rivers and the San Diego Chargers have the fourth most prolific passing attack in the NFL, with 632 yards and 5 TDs over the first two games. However, there is no guarantee that starting a San Diego WR will guarantee you FP; just ask owners of Malcom Floyd and Legedu Naanee. Floyd and Naanee flipped flopped production in weeks one and two: Floyd posted 7 FP in week one and 18 in week two, while Naanee posted 22 FP in week one, and as The Wire predicted, produced just 2 FP in week two. Meanwhile, tight end TD gobbler Antonio Gates flourished, stealing five of 13 red-zone targets, and all three red-zone touchdowns. Further complicating things is the eminent return of last years number one WR Vincent Jackson from suspension. In 2009, V-Jax caught 68 passes for 1167 yards and 9 TDs; more than Floyd and Naanee combined. Although it was rumored that V-Jax would be traded before Wednesday’s 4pm trade deadline, as of week three, Jackson will remain a San Diego Charger, and is set to return in week seven. This, coupled with the arrival of former Cowboys slot receiver Patrick Crayton, give the Chargers one of the more convoluted receiver corps in the NFL. Start/Sit/Drop: Without V-Jax: Start: Floyd. Sit: Naanee, Jackson. Drop: Crayton. With V-Jax: Start: V-Jax. Sit: Floyd. Drop: Naanee, Crayton
Chicago Bears: The Bears are currently the number three ranked passing offense in the NFL. Bears QB Jay Cutler has an arsenal of slightly above average weapons at his disposal, but few game-breakers. Last year, WR Devin Hester was Cutler’s number one receiver, and in week two showed flashes of excellence, posting 4 catches for 77 yards with one remarkable TD grab. However, fellow Bear WR Johnny Knox had more catches and yards in week 2, while speedster Devin Aromashodu and WR Earl Bennett each have five receptions in the first two games. Despite having four talented receivers and a pass-catching TE in Greg Olsen, the Bears’ leading receiver in every statistical category in 2010 is RB Matt Forte, with 12 catches, 188 yards, and 3 TDs. This platoon is as frustrating as it gets for a fantasy owner, especially because of the amount of production that will come from this high-powered offense. The Bears’ WR situation is as puzzling and disturbing as this video. Start/Sit/Drop: Start: Hester. Sit: Bennett, Aromashodu, Knox
New York Jets: Well this situation just got interesting, didn’t it? If it were Monday, September 20th, The Wire would advise you that following his 5 reception, 44 yard, 1 TD performance vs. the Patriots on Sunday, Braylon Edwards should be considered a reliable #3 fantasy WR going forward. Now, having been arrested early Tuesday morning for DWI, it is suggested that you bench Edwards until a disciplinary decision is made. His decline will immediately catapult fellow Jets WR Jerricho Cotchery into fantasy relevance, even if it’s just for two weeks. Newly acquired veteran WR Santonio Holmes, who was by FAR the Jets leading receiver this preseason, is set to make his first regular season start with the Jets in week five. After serving a four game suspension, it was expected that Holmes, Edwards, and Cotchery would all compete for targets in a Jets offense that attempted less passes than any other NFL team in 2009, seriously limiting each receiver’s fantasy value. Now that Edwards will likely face a suspension from NFL Commissioner/Disciplinarian Roger Goodell, the values of both Holmes AND Cotchery just got a serious boost. Start/Sit/Drop: Weeks 3 & 4: Start: Cotchery. Sit: Holmes, Edwards. Weeks 5 & on: Start: Holmes. Sit: Cotchery, Edwards
Buffalo Bills: Sit: Lee Evans. Drop: all other WRs.
Oakland Raiders: Start: Louis Murphy. Drop: Darius Heyward-Bey.
St. Louis Rams: Start: Mark Clayton. Sit: Danny Amendola, Laurent Robinson.
Tennessee Titans: Start: Nate Washington. Sit: Kenny Britt, Justin Gage.
Tampa Buccaneers: Start: Mike Williams. Drop: all other WRs
The Injury Impact
RB – Reggie Bush, NO: Out at least six weeks with a broken bone in lower right leg. Look for WR Lance Moore to benefit with an increase in short yardage targets much like he did in ‘08 with Bush sidelined.
RB – Kevin Faulk, NE: Out for season with torn ACL. 34 year-old Fred Taylor and 25 year-old BenJarvus Green-Ellis will both see role increases at the expense of Faulk’s injury.
RB – Ryan Mathews, SD: Probable with a minor high ankle sprain. Mathews himself claims to be ready to go, however coach Norv Turner is being cautious with the rookie back. It’s recommended to pick up reserve Mike Tolbert as either a hand-cuff to Mathews, or a one week start if Mathews doesn’t go.
QB – Luke McCown, JAX: Out for entire season with a torn nobody cares.
RB – Michael Turner, ATL: Probable with a sore knee. Turner himself urged Falcons coach Mike Smith to let him back in the game Sunday, but was held out because the Falcons were dominating. On Wednesday, Turner said he’ll be, “ready to go.” Unless you own Turner, avoid backup Jason Snelling.
WR – Sidney Rice, MIN: Out until at least week 7. This is an actual update that CBSports.com felt fantasy owners must know: “Player News: Rice’s rehab hits the pool.” In other news, due to sensitive gums, Rice recently purchased the new Crest Glide Pro-Health Floss.
WR – Percy Harvin, MIN: Doubtful with sore hip.
WR – Bernard Berrian, MIN: Questionable with a strained knee
QB – Brett Favre, MIN: Probably going to develop osteoporosis by week seven.
Mascot – Ragnar the Viking, MIN: Grim. Depression.
Here, Laugh at this Caption
“Yo coach, don’t worry bout’ tomorrow’s after party. It’s just gonna be a bunch of the boys sitting around playing Madden, for real. ”
Week Two “Un-Googleable Trivia” Question:
Which former NY Giant married the daughter of his collegiate head coach?
NOT the answer: Chris Snee
IS the answer: Former Giants QB Jeff Hostetler
Karen Napoli, currently of Tampa, Florida, was the week two winner of the Un-Googleable Trivia Challenge. Formerly of Secaucus and Jamesburg, NJ, she and her husband Frank Napoli are life-long Giants fans. Well done.
Week Three “Un-Googleable Trivia” Question:
While in college, which former New York Jet wrote for his alma mater’s school paper under a secret alias?
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.