Week 5 Waiver Watch: Thing 1 and Thing 2

I am a dog person. I love the way they are happy to see you when you get home despite the fact that you left them alone all day. I love that they go from sleeping lazily on the couch to hyper-play mode in 1.3 seconds at the site of a ball. I love that they always seem to occupy a much larger portion of the bed when you wake up in the morning than they did when you fell asleep last night. I love dogs because of their unyielding loyalty and need to carve out a role in the pack that is your family.  In short, I love dogs because of their strong sense of self: they know what they are, and they know what they aren’t.

However, this general rule does have it’s exceptions.  On some occasions I will take my dog (3-year-old Australian Shepherd) to the “dog park”.  For those of you that are cat people (communists), this is a gathering place for K9s and owners alike.  It is basically a cluster-bomb of crazy dogs, prissy dogs, horny dogs, playful dogs and mean dogs.  It’s a lot like college in that way.  The exception to my dog loving rule comes in the form of the prissy dog.  These overgrown rats with the bulging eyes, twig-like legs and quivering disposition seem to have problems identifying their natural place in the pecking order.  These are the animals which nature is trying it’s best to “select” for removal from the face of the Earth but we humans, we love our genetic mutants.

On several occasions one of these yappers has managed to free themselves from their Frankensteinian owners and has run up to my pup in what can only be described as an attempt to pick a fight.  They will bark at her, growl at her and even try nipping at her in what is a clear fit of envious genetic rage.  Me being a scientific observer, I generally let the drama play out to it’s predictable conclusion before intervening.  Typically my pup will entertain their vocal protests but when that first attempted nip takes place she will take the instigating creature between her jaws and either pin them firmly to the ground or rag-doll them like her favorite chew toy.  She never hurts more than their pride but I can’t help but thinking as I look down at the pint-sized pooch now lathered in my dog’s drool, “what the hell did you think was going to happen?”

That’s why when I heard that NFL wide receiver Braylon Edwards had thrown a punch at LeBron James’ 130-pound buddy outside of a Cleveland night club, my reaction was quite similar … “what the hell did you think was going to happen?”  I have crossed paths with enough prissy dogs and 130-pound yappers in my time to know exactly where Edwards was coming from when he decided enough was enough.  The fact that the featherweight filed a complaint which now looks like it was a false accusation lends further support to my yap-dog theory.  Whatever the case, I applaud Braylon for his willingness to let nature take it’s course and congratulate him on his recent escape from the fantasy hell that is Cleveland, Ohio.  I give you my week 5 waiver tips … because we are all Witnesses.

Thing 1: This WR has totalled 11 catches for 214 yards and 1 TD so far in 2009.  He has disappointed early in the year and now may miss a game or two with an injury.  He is currently owned in 100% of ESPN leagues.

Thing 2: This WR has totalled 17 catches for 271 yards and 0 TDs so far in 2009.  He has come on strong and may be the new favorite target for his respective team.  He is currently owned in 9% of ESPN leagues.

Reality Check: Thing 1 is Roy Williams and Thing 2 is Kenny Britt.  I gave Britt’s teammate Justin Gage some love in an earlier column but the rookie out of Rutgers may have overtaken his fellow wideout for targets.  At 6’3″ and 218 lbs. Britt has the ideal frame of a red zone target despite his lack of scores so far this season.  Nate Washington will make the occasional big play and Gage is still in the mix, but going forward I like Britt a lot if you are looking for consistent weekly production with considerable upside as well.

Thing 1: This TE is off to a slow start this season but has still caught 23 passes for 212 yards and 1 TD.  He is one of the most reliable receiving targets on his team and is currently owned in 100% of ESPN leagues

Thing 2: This TE is off to a nice start this season and has caught 24 passes for 181 yards and 2 TDs.  He is also one of the most reliable receiving targets on his team but is owned in just 18% of ESPN leagues.

Reality Check: Thing 1 is Jason Witten and Thing 2 is Heath Miller.  Miller probably won’t be near Witten in terms of yardage or receptions at season’s end, but he is one of Ben Roethlisberger’s favorite red zone targets and he may be able to haul in 7-8 TDs before all is said and done.  Miller has some of the softest hands in the league and his ability to block means he stays on the field for the majority of Pittsburgh’s plays.  I like for him to finish as a top-10 fantasy TE and he can be had in many leagues for the price of a waiver claim.

Thing 1:  This QB has completed 59.6% of his passes for a bad team.  His sample size is still relatively small but for the most part you know what you are getting here.  He is owned in 83% of ESPN leagues.

Thing 2:  This QB has completed 53.1% of his passes for a bad team.  He recently took over the reigns of this offense and the jury is still out on him.  He is owned in 1% of ESPN leagues.

Reality Check:  Thing 1 is Matt Cassel and Thing 2 is Josh Johnson.  Hear me out on this one.  Presumably you are not starting either of these guys on a regular basis but I am intrigued by Johnson’s upside and in my opinion he has better playmakers around him on offense.  In addition to being a very intelligent passer (among the highest ratings in the country while at USD), Johnson has tremendous athletic ability and can make plays with his legs when the pocket breaks down.  Top pick Josh Freeman is not ready so Johnson will get some leash to play with and has some nice matchups coming up if you are in need of a bye week fill-in.

Thing 1:  This RB has totalled 198 total yards and 1 TD on 54 touches (3.7 ypt).  He is banged up and could miss several weeks before returning to action.  Currently he is owned in 99% of ESPN leagues.

Thing 2: This RB has totalled 249 yards and 2 TDs on 39 touches (6.4 ypt).  He has taken the lead role while his injury-prone backfield mate is nursing an injury.  Currently he is owned in 37% of ESPN leagues.

Reality Check: Thing 1 is Darren McFadden and Thing 2 is Rashard Mendenhall.  Boy does it look like I was wrong on Mendenhall.  Most of his production in the NFL has come in one shining week but for the first time I saw the strong running and determination to hit the hole that made him a #1 pick out of Illinois.  I doubt he will sustain this level of production (especially when Willie Parker returns to share the load), but tasty matchups against the Lions and Browns in the next two weeks mean that Mendenhall should not be available in leagues of any size.  Go get him and enjoy the ride.

Fantasy Football: 10 Pre-Season Observations

You can look at the pre-season a couple of different ways. Pure numbers is one way, but that is probably the most misleading way you can view the exhibition season. Just because a 3rd string running back finishes the pre-season with 350 yards and a couple touchdowns doesn’t mean he’s a must have sleeper or even worth a pick. And just because Marc Bulger has a few interceptions doesn’t mean he should go undrafted. Watching one or two games a week is another way to fall in love with guys, but remember, going heads up against a 3rd string defense can make a lot of fantasy nones look like number ones. But, the pre-season shouldn’t be completely ignored. I don’t know what this all means, but here are some observations that could be helpful on draft day.

  1. Josh Morgan – usually you can’t trust rookie receivers, and usually I wouldn’t care about Morgan’s back to back games as the leading receiver in his pre-season games. However, Martz has done this before and I’m on board the Morgan bandwagon. Azahir Hakim. Mike Furrey. Shaun McDonald. Josh Morgan? Maybe. In fact, in my dynasty leagues I already have Morgan locked up. Seasonal formats should at least keep an eye on the young former Hokie.
  2. Brett Favre went 5-6 for about 50 yards and a touchdown against the Redskins. Yes, Brett has a cannon and more than enough weapons in Jet-land.
  3. Speaking of offenses that might flourish under a new leader, how about the Dolphins? Yes, Pennington. The Fins has an improved offensive line, two good running backs, and two young receivers that have great speed (Ted Ginn Jr.) and hands (Derek Hagan). Pennington is accurate and has the confidence of Miami’s brass – I guarantee nothing, but maybe.
  4. Speaking of Dolphins, Ricky Williams anyone? It’s the pre-season, but the bell cow in Miami looks to be and old ex-NFL-er, ex-CFL-er, and ex-Pro Bowl-er. Do you believe? He’s got 15 carries for 74 yards and a score so far this pre-season.
  5. DeAngelo Williams has back to back games with 4+ yards per carry and 2 touchdowns this pre-season. He also has skills.
  6. DeSean Jackson is just a rookie and he’s not a starter in Philly yet, but he is faster than lightning, has McNabb as a quarterback, looked good in pre-season games 1 and 2, and has no real dominant receiving threat in front of him. Could he be the guy?
  7. Brandon Coutu (rookie kicker) should get picked in fantasy leagues. He pumped 5 gield goals against the Bears in the teams’ 2nd pre-season game including 46 and 48 yarders, and an overtime winner. The Hawks can move the ball and play in the NFC West. Remember Mason Crosby?
  8. Kyle Orton and Rex Grossman both look brutal. Word on the street is the Bears might bring Daunte Culpepper or Randall Cunningham in for a tryout. Stay away from this danger – look at their terrible pre-season numbers.
  9. Chris Johnson, a poor man’s Reggie Bush or is Bush a poorman’s Chris Johnson? I’ll tell you this, the game may have gotten faster for Chris but Chris is still faster than the game.
  10. Darren McFadden is going to be good. You heard it, don’t let the “value makers” trick you by saying he’s no better than a 4th round pick. Don’t let them tell you he’s like Reggie Bush because he’s not big. Ha. He runs like a man and he’s going to be really good.