Thursday, September 22, 2011

Week 2 Lessons: Truths and Myths

With players like Arian Foster and Chris Johnson doing little, and others like Rob Gronkowski, Devery Henderson and Eric Decker (remember when I threw that name out there?) lighting up the scoreboard, this season has had its share of surprises. So far, this season has been about out of nowhere performances and early comeback candidates. In order to evaluate what has been going on, here are some truths and myths from the start of the season.

Truth: Matt Stafford is now a must-start quarterback. Stafford is living up to his hype as he has produced two monster games to start the season. While one of those games was against the tumultuous Chiefs defense, the Lions schedule remains favorable for the rest of the season. As long as Stafford stays healthy, start him in all leagues unless you have a guy by the name of Tom Brady or Aaron Rodgers. If he is a backup to your elite, look to trade Stafford while his value is high.

Myth: Beanie Wells is a bust and will lose his starting job. Beanie is another player that is finally losing his bust label after two straight 90 yard, 1 touchdown games. Because he looks explosive and Ryan Williams is out for the season, Wells' job appears to be safe. While Wells is not elite, he is a very solid option.

Truth: Arian Foster's value is sinking. Foster tweaked his hamstring again and will probably miss another game. Even if he does come back soon, the Texans will be extremely cautious with him. Oh, and that backup Ben Tate is looking quite solid as well. I expect that when Foster does come back, we will be in for another tough to figure out running back committee. Just dandy.

Myth: Darren Sproles is a viable starter. While Sproles is one the most elusive backs this year, he remains at most a solid PPR option. His touches will be inconsistent week to week and his value is minimal in most leagues.

Myth: Ryan Grant will return to his old form and take the starting spot. Grant hasn't done bad by any means this year, but James Starks looks much better. Grant is averaging 4.3 yards a carry, but only has 15 carries to date. He looks alright but isn't nearly the running back he was in 2009.

Truth: Kenny Britt is a stud. It's true. He is a stud. Hasselbeck trusts Britt and has helped him to be the 4th most targeted wide receiver this year. Last year Britt was actually a very consistent option, even though he found himself off the field because of his troubles. Now that he is healthy and out of trouble, expect Britt to continue his monstrous start.

Truth: Steve Smith is back for the most part. Smith's start is extremely encouraging to owners who took a chance on him. He has been targeted 2nd most in the NFL and is clearly Cam Newton's go-to man. While I don't expect Smith to keep up this torrid pace, especially if Newton slows down, Smith has officially returned to a viable option.

Truth: Rob Gronkowski is for real, and a top-5 tight end. With players like Jermichael Finley and Vernon Davis struggling, Gronkowski has stepped up his game in the typically weak tight end position. Because Brady is throwing so much, it doesn't matter how much he spreads the ball. Gronkowski will get the ball and put up great numbers. Take Aaron Hernandez out of the mix for a couple weeks, and you got a tight end with sky-high potential. He is a great sell-high candidate, but also one that can bolster any fantasy lineup.

Myth: Chris Johnson is no longer an elite running back. This is clearly a myth; Johnson has always had his share of mediocre games. While his holdout has certainly hurt him, I expect Johnson to find his groove and be the stud he was for the past three seasons. Johnson remains a must-start despite his early struggles.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Week 2 Grades

Start 'Em PlayersPerformaceGrade
Matt Stafford294 yds, 4 tds, 1 intA+
Rex Grossman291 yds, 2 tds, 2 intsB
Tim Hightower96 rush yds, 10 rec ydsC+
Cedric Benson59 rush yds, 17 rec ydsD+
Jahvid Best57 rush yds, 66 rec yds, 2 tdsA
Steve Smith6 rec, 156 yds, 1 fumB+
Anquan Boldin3 rec, 46 ydsD
Devery Henderson3 rec, 103 yds, 1 tdA
Greg Olsen1 rec, 34 ydsC-
Owen Daniels3 rec, 25 yds, 1 tdB-
Detroit Lions DST3 pts allowed, 3 fum, 3 intsA+
Sit 'Em PlayersPerformanceGrade
Josh Freeman243 yds, 1 td, 1 intC+
Sam Bradford331 yds, 1 td, 1 fumC-
LeGarrette Blount71 rush yds, 2 tds D-
Chris Johnson53 rush yds, 12 rec yds A
Dwayne Bowe5 rec, 101 yds, 12 rush ydsC
Dallas Clark4 rec, 32 yds, 1 tdC-
Chicago Bears DST30 pts allowed, 1 fumA+

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Start 'Em, Sit 'Em, Gut Starts Week 2

Start: Matt Stafford vs Kansas City
Ryan Fitzpatrick and company annihilated the Kansas City defense last week. Now Stafford and his talented Lions get their shot to put up great numbers. Look for a big week and number 1 quarterback production from Stafford.
Start: Rex Grossman vs Arizona
Any time Rex Grossman is being recommended to start, I get a knot in my stomach. While he certainly has big potential against the defense that rookie Cam Newton trounced, Grossman is still Grossman. But if you don't have an elite QB option, there is no reason not to go with Grossman. Be aware, many of his great weeks in Chicago were followed by some of the worst quarterback play ever seen.
Sit: Josh Freeman at Minnesota
Freeman is generally a safe 15 point option week in and week out. While he may come close this week, I have reservations with his slot receiver Sammie Stroughter not playing. There is a low ceiling for Freeman and it is advisable to start someone with more upside for this matchup.
Sit: Sam Bradford at New York Giants
The Rams offense had one of the worst injury weeks I have ever seen to start a season. Bradford's trusty option in Danny Amendola is gone and Steven Jackson is looking iffy. Bradford himself is still recovering and should not be trusted at this point. I'd rather start Chad Henne and Kyle Orton this week.
Running Backs
Start: Tim Hightower vs Arizona
Coach Shanahan worked Hightower last week and got solid production from the former Cardinal. Look for more success and 20 plus carries for Hightower against the pitiful Arizona defense. 
Start: Cedric Benson at Denver
Benson found success against Cleveland last week and should be able to do the same against Denver. Benson is a lock for 20 plus carries and will be looking to take the load of off Cincinnati quarterbacks. I am seeing another 100 yard game and at least one touchdown.
Start: Jahvid Best vs Kansas City
Best is still healthy. Thank God. Kansas City's defense may be set up for allowing big yards every week at this point. In PPR leagues, Best is especially valuable, but just as much so in standard leagues. His big play potential makes him a fairly low risk start this week with a great chance for a breakout game.
Sit: LeGarrette Blount at Minnesota
Minnesota's run defense is not as feared as in the past, but they still boast one of the better, more physical defensive lines. I think it will be tough for Blount to produce especially with the amount of carries he got last week. If his production doesn't change soon, I'd be very cautious with Blount for the rest of this year.
Bust Alert: Chris Johnson vs Baltimore
I would not advise anyone to actually sit their first round pick, but if you have that gut feeling that I do, I would be cautious. Johnson struggled mightily against the weak Jags defense and now faces the tough Ravens defense. Johnson is still an elite, but I suspect that missing camp time may hinder his season.
Wide Receivers
Start: Steve Smith vs Green Bay
Smith was revitalized with Newton throwing his way and will find success against the struggling Packers' defense. Whether or not struggling is the word for the Packers that faced the powerful Saints, I still believe that Smith will find some openings.
Start: Anquan Boldin at Tennessee
I expect Boldin to return to being an elite this year with the constantly improving Joe Flacco. With Lee Evans providing a needed speed threat, Boldin will be able to get open in the middle of the field. He had a solid week 1 and has a great matchup this week against the Titans.
Start: Devery Henderson vs Chicago
Henderson is one of the most inconsistent fantasy performers as his success depends on 80 yard bombs. But against a slow Chicago seconday, Henderson has big play potential for this week. With Colston out, expect more targets and a big week from Henderson.
Sit: Dwayne Bowe at Detroit
Matt Cassel simply is not that good. As a result, Bowe will suffer. Last year's numbers will be a far cry from this season as Kansas City appears to be in for a long season.
Tight Ends
Start: Greg Olsen vs Green Bay
Green Bay has struggled with big, athletic tight ends and Olsen fits that criteria. Jimmy Graham found modest success against the Pack and Olsen should too.
Start: Owen Daniels at Miami
A disappointing week 1 for Owen Daniels' owners may drop one's opinion of him. But now with Kevin Walter out, Daniels will become a much larger part of the offense. He got rave reviews this off-season and looks healthy and ready to go. He does have elite potential and after we saw what the New England tight ends do, you should be very, very excited.
Bust alert: Dallas Clark vs Cleveland
Kerry Collins' play did not affect Reggie Wayne nearly as much as Dallas Clark. Collins may eventually lean on his athletic tight end, but it will be a bumpy road. Despite a favorable matchup, I would be cautious with Clark. While he is still elite, I would not be against benching Clark from time to time this year.
Start: Detroit Lions vs Kansas City
When Buffalo shuts down a team, things look optimistic. Detroit's ferocious defensive line should feast in this matchup. Start 'em!
Sit: Chicago Bears at New Orleans Saints
This game is in New Orleans. Drew Brees is their quarterback. Nuff said. Don't start Chicago.

Grades for Week 1

An up and down week 1 included some great recommendations and well, some downright awful (see Ray Rice). Here are my grades for week 1. My GPA was 2.49.

Start 'Em PlayersPerformaceGrade
Josh Freeman259 yds, 26 yds, 1 td, 1 intB
Eli Manning268 yds, 1td, 1 intB-
Jahvid Best72 rush yds, 42 rec ydsB-
Peyton Hillis57 rush yds, 30 rec ydsC
Shonn Greene26 rush yds, 7 rec ydsF
Panthers RB's56 rush yds, 20 rec ydsF
Benjarvus Green-Ellis34 rush yds, 1 tdC+
Santana Moss6 rec, 76 ydsC+
Wes Welker8 rec, 160 yds, 2 tdsA+
Kenny Britt5 rec, 136 yds, 2tdsA+
Mario Manningham4 rec, 49 ydsC-
Jordy Nelson6 rec, 77 yds, 1 tdB+
Ben Watson3 rec, 45 yds, 1 tdB
Jimmy Graham4 rec, 56 yds, 1 tdB+
Kellen Winslow6 rec, 66 ydsC+
Lance Kendricks1 rec, 18 ydsD
Sit 'Em PlayersPerformanceGrade
Matt Cassel119 yds, 1 td, 1 intA+
Matt Ryan319 yds, 1 intA
Michael Turner100 rush yds, 40 rec yds, C
Felix Jones44 rush yds, 22 rec yds, 1 tdC+
Ray Rice107 rush yds, 42 rec yds, 2 tdsF
Ryan Mathews45 rush yds, 73 rec ydsC+
Chad Ochocinco1 rec, 14 ydsA+
Dez Bryant3 rec, 71 yds, 1 tdC-
Sidney RiceOutA+
Tony Gonzalez5 rec, 72 ydsB-

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Start 'Em, Sit 'Em, Gut Starts

       Every week from now on I will provide you with players who I think you would be wise to start, sit, and those who I just have a gut feeling about. I will not be telling you to start Aaron Rodgers or Adrian Peterson as those are obvious starts. Instead, I will give you players who have advantageous matchups and could shake up your weekly lineup.

Josh Freeman vs Detroit
       Despite Detroit's frightening defensive line, Freeman has a great chance to pick up where he left off last season. He was one of the most consistent quarterbacks last year, only scoring in single digits once. His mobility will help him avoid the dangerous pass rush of the Lions and allow him to pick apart their weak seconday.
Eli Manning at Washington
       Manning struggled last season against Washington and is looking to rebound this season. While he still may throw a couple picks, he will also pick apart a very weak defense that was 26th against quarterbacks last year.

Matt Cassel vs Buffalo
       Reports are that Cassel may in fact miss his first start this season after suffering a rib injury. Despite the good matchup, he is obviously a risky start. His inconsistencies will make it hard to trust him especially on the run first Chiefs. Start him only if he is your best option, and I dearly hope that he is not.
Matt Ryan at Chicago 
       If you have Matt Ryan, odds are you waited on a quarterback and you took him as well as a solid backup. Ryan won't be a terrible option this week, but he may struggle away from home against a solid Chicago defense. Don't sit him for someone like Alex Smith, but I would rather start someone like Matt Stafford or Eli Manning.

Jahvid Best at Tampa Bay
       Remember Best's first two games last season? He looked like a stud rookie only to have his fragile body give out. He still finished 20th among running backs in PPR leagues and has Jamaal Charles-like potential. Start him while he is healthy and reap the rewards.
Peyton Hillis vs Cincinnati
       Against the awful Cinci defense, look for a monster start to the season for Hillis. Cleveland will surely pound the ball and Hillis should look more like he did before the season-ending collapse. His legs are fresh and he shows all indications of starting out this season right.   
Shonn Greene vs. Dallas
       Greene's breakout campaign will begin here against Dallas. Look for the Jets to rely heavily on him and much less on LaDanian Tomlinson. I expect Greene to get 80 yards and a touchdown this week, making him a great option. And considering he should be your 2nd or 3rd running back, what more could you ask for?
Jonathan Stewart/DeAngelo Williams at Arizona
       Arizona's defense was simply awful last season ranking 31st in fantasy against opposing running backs. They have made no signifcant changes and may be even worse. Carolina's terrific offensive line will open holes for both these guys and take some pressure off Cam Newton. Look for a big day from both of these guys, as each has a chance to eclipse 100 yards.
GUT PICK: Benjarvus Green-Ellis vs Miami
       I think Benjarvus will find his way into the endzone and prove that he's not just a one year wonder. That said, don't start him over an elite running back, but know that he does have a favorable matchup. My gut tells me 100 yards and 2 touchdowns.

Felix Jones vs New York Jets
       A tough matchup in week one for Felix Jones. While I believe he will have a breakout season with an appropriate amount of carries, I think we will have to wait till after week 1. The Jets stingy defense will make it tough for Jones to get anywhere. However, he is still worth a start in PPR leagues as he may be the recipient of many short passes. 
Michael Turner at Chicago
       Turner continues to be a workhorse and saw another 330 carry season for Atlanta. Last time that happened he slowed down dramatically and had an off year. I don't expect that much of a dip, but a little drop off for the aging Turner may be in store. That and facing the run stopping Bears will make it a painful week 1 for Turner. 
Ray Rice vs Pittsburgh
       Ray Rice struggled mightily against Pittsburgh last season. He accumulated just 17 carries for 52 yards and no touchdowns in two games against Pittsburgh. I don't see much changing as he will still struggle. But if you don't have any better options, then you have to start your number one back. Just don't get your hopes up for this week. And also don't give up on him if he does fail to produce, he will bounce back.
Ryan Matthews vs Minnesota
       I mean really? He's been banged up all camp, will lose goalline carries to Mike Tolbert, and has failed to inspire anybody to start him. Don't start him, especially against the Williams' of Minnesota.

Santana Moss vs New York Giants
       Moss is the now the most reliable target in Washington. Even with Rex Grossman starting, Moss should get his share of catches and will find success against the depleted New York defense.
Wes Welker at Miami
       Welker is a must-start in PPR leagues and a solid, consistent option all around. He may not put up monstrous numbers, but is a great option against the unbalanced Miami defense.
Kenny Britt at Jacksonville
       He scored a touchdown in 7 of his 12 games last season and now has the veteran Matt Hasselbeck throwing to him. He has great potential for this season and a great matchup against Jacksonville.
Mario Manningham at Washington
       Washington's defense is downright awful this season and will be in trouble against the solid Giants. Look for Manningham to pick up where he left off last season with three consecutive 100 yard games. And with Steve Smith gone, he will be getting even more chances to shine.

Chad Ochocinco at Miami
       His first regular season game with the new offense doesn't bode well for Ochocinco. And with so many weapons in New England, Ocho may find it tough to get the ball. That and Miami's solid cornerback corps will make it a challenge. If anything, Ocho will mainly help out Wes Welker's value.
Dez Bryant vs New York Jets
       I believe that Dez is a great breakout candidate for this season, but it won't start in week 1. If you have better options, you are much safer benching Bryant.
Sidney Rice at San Francisco
       This will be a common sit 'em all season. Rice has done nothing in his career without Brett Favre throwing to him. And oh, he's got Tavaris Jackson back. Just dandy.
GUT PICK: Jordy Nelson vs Saints
       With so many options for the Saints to cover, Nelson will have a field day in the season opener. My gut says 120 yards and 1 touchdown.

Ben Watson vs Cincinnati 
Jimmy Graham at Green Bay
Kellen Winslow vs Detroit
GUT PICK: Lance Kendricks

Tony Gonzalez at Chicago

       I'm not going to tell you what kickers to start. I mean really? You have only one on your team right now so start him. Then once byes start begin to play your matchups and weather. Do what you have to do.

'EM: DST's
       You should for the most part only have one defense on your roster so start that. If you really are concerned with a defense for this week like the Packers or the Saints, look at the Browns, Chiefs, and Seahawks,