Chad Pennington is out for the season and in comes the youngster Chad Henne to show everyone he’s better than he played in relief last week. Henne has a better arm and can throw the deep ball better than Chad, but will he play mistake free enough to keep the starting gig? Tyler Thigpen was sent to Miami to be Henne’s back-up, and I truly think that was the Dolphins’ intentions. I think Henne keeps the job and ends up helping out a guy like Ted Ginn Jr…. Darren McFadden fumbled the ball three times, doesn’t see the hole that well, and has 11 guys focused on trying to tackle him as soon as he gets the ball. I’m not saying dump McFadden, in fact, I think you could get the guy for next to nothing and he’s worth the risk, but I don’t think I’d start him unless you are desperate or he does some actual damage (though this week he has a pretty decent match-up if you want to gamble)…. Speaking of JaMarcus Russell, can a guy be any less confident throwing a football than he is? He can’t even seem to connect with Zach Miller anymore. After ending the season on a very high note, winning a couple games, completing a respectable percentage, and throwing 6-2 TD to INT, many thought Russell would take the next step. If the next step was all rotten and dropped off into a hot lava pit, that was right on the button….. Eli Manning has been very good. That’s hard for me to write down, but what more can I say? I thought teams would be able to stack up against the run, but you just can’t do that to Eli anymore. His receivers are better than anyone thought, and maybe he’s worth all that money the Giants invested into him after all. That makes me sick to my stomach, or maybe that’s just the burgers…… Jake Delhomme may be just about done, but I have to blame the play calling for the Panthers’ complete demise. DeAngelo Williams had 11 carries for the love of god. 11. And the Panthers were on top and or tied for quite some time. Not only did he not get the ball enough, but in 11 carries he totaled over 60 yards. That looks good to me. Seems like if you did a lot more of handing him the ball you’d win a game or two….. Aaron Rodgers has not looked good through the first three games. He still has decent fantasy numbers, but for the majority of game time he’s been overthrowing receivers, picking the wrong guy, and just flat out looking rusty. He’ll be fine, don’t worry, but how often does this kind of thing happen? A guy walks through the pre-season completing every pass he throws only to struggle out of the gates. It’s weird….. Game smarts: where have you gone? Seneca Wallace, special teams players, NFL coaches – I feel like the first three games have been an interview for new reality show titled “Dumb is the new Fun”. How can quarterbacks run out of bounds 6 yards behind the line of scrimmage when all you have to do is throw the ball into the freaking stands? How can a kick return guy run out of bounds only to sprint in front of his teammates on a rolling punt and be the first to touch it? How can Jim Mora call a 2 yard out to Julius Jones on 4th and 3 with 29 seconds to go? How can Chad Pennington run a QB sneak for a first down on 3rd and 1 with a minute left in the game when he needs a touchdown to score? These first few weeks have been crazy, but somebody needs to teach these guys some rules. Good lord!….. Matt Forte, ugh. 21 carries for 66 yards, against the Hawks? At least Jay Cutler checked it down to him a couple times, but this was supposed to be the game that Forte stepped up his production. Needless to say, that wasn’t really the case….. LenDale White might not be getting enough carries to be fantasy worthy, but Chris Johnson won’t hold up with 25 touches a game all season. As much as I love Chris’s game, White is going to get an opportunity, and he’s going to run with it. He’s run well despite limited looks. Keep your eye on the big guy….. How does Tampa bench Byron Leftwich? I know they are struggling and 0-3 and young and maybe want to see what one of their young guys can do, but Byron was only good through the first two weeks. The Giants were in his face every snap last Sunday, but Byron’s numbers were goo prior to that. I don’t think Josh Johnson will be as good as Lefty, and Josh Freeman is not ready either. Interesting move, not a good sign if you own Kellen Winslow, Antonio Bryant, or even a running back. Not good if you own Byron either.
Welcome back for my next installment of Thing 1 and Thing 2. If you followed my advice last week you got comparable (and in some cases better) production from your lesser-owned fantasy players. The lone exception was due to Kellen Winslow’s breakout game and Robert Royal’s disappearing act. You can’t win them all I guess but four out of five ain’t bad. As the weeks go on it will get tougher and tougher to uncover those hidden gems so staying active on your league’s waiver wire early can really pay off as the season wears on. Who should you be paying attention to as week 3 approaches? … Let’s get after it.
Thing 1: A much-hyped rookie coming out of college, this kid has loads of talent but hasn’t looked ready for the NFL early in his career. He is currently the sexier pick in a RBBC offensive scheme but his production has yet to match his 95% ownership in ESPN leagues.
Thing 2: A career backup that has had some injury troubles but has always done the most with the chances that have been given to him. He is currently being overlooked as a fantasy contributor but his production on the field warrants much more consideration than his 38% ownership suggests.
Reality Check: Thing 1 is Knowshon Moreno and Thing 2 is Correll Buckhalter. The running back situation in Denver will likely be fluid all season long, but don’t miss out on the cheap production you can get from a guy like Buckhalter, especially early in the season. Moreno will finish the season with more touches, but I think Buckhalter will score more TDs for the Broncos due to his big play ability and slightly larger build.
Thing 1: This QBs upside is marginal but he does have a talented group of wide receivers and young, imaginative offensive mind calling the shots. That said, his decision-making has always been a huge question mark and I am amazed that he is currently owned in 78% of ESPN leagues.
Thing 2: This QB came into the season undrafted in all but the deepest of leagues but is steadily making strides toward fantasy consideration. He does turn the ball over more than he should but early in the season his yardage and TDs are more than making up for it. He is currently owned in just 12% of leagues.
Reality Check: Thing 1 is Kyle Orton and Thing 2 is Byron Leftwich. Orton is the prototypical “game manager” and has the potential to post more consistent stat-lines than Leftwich, but the upside of the sluggish-armed Tampa QB is intriguing. He has shown a good rapport with TE Kellen Winslow early in the year and a defense on the decline could have him playing a lot of catchup. Ask Jay Cutler how that worked out for his fantasy stats last year.
Thing 1: This WR is an extremely gifted route-runner and has some of surest hands in the NFL. Due to some off-season changes to his supporting cast, his early-season production has taken a major hit. I still like the kid a lot, and he is becoming a good buy-low candidate, but he is currently owned in 90% of ESPN leagues.
Thing 2: This young WR has blazing speed and his big-play potential has caused his team to try and find more opportunities to get the ball in his hands. A big jump in his ownership percentage this past week means owners are starting to take notice so this may be your last chance to go get him. He is currently owned in 20% of leagues.
Reality Check: Thing 1 is Eddie Royal and Thing 2 is Johnny Knox. Royal’s loss this past off-season has been Knox’s gain in the form of Jay Cutler. A strong-armed QB with decent accuracy, Cutler is able to fit the ball into tight spots for Knox to work those shallow crosses and sideline routes that made Royal a household name last year. As their chemistry grows expect to see more of the speed merchant from Abilene Christian.
Thing 1: This physical WR uses his body extremely well to make tough catches in traffic. He has a rookie signal-caller tossing him the rock and over the first two weeks of the season they have shown decent chemistry. He has yet to get into the end zone, but this productive wideout is currently owned in 96% of ESPN leagues.
Thing 2: This second-year WR won a preseason battle for the #2 role on his team. Although his play was inconsistent in his rookie season, he has shown flashes of big-play potential and has developed into a good route-runner. He won’t produce as a fantasy starter every week, but there is value here and he is owned in just 12% of leagues.
Reality Check: Thing 1 is Jerricho Cotchery and Thing 2 is Chansi Stuckey. I like what I have seen from Stuckey and his rookie QB thus far. Mark Sanchez’s lightning-quick feet and superb vision mean he will be able to keep plays alive longer than his aging predecessor, allowing his receivers to work toward open space. I think Stuckey has big-time sleeper potential in an offense that looks to be much more balanced than anyone thought heading into the season.