There’s nothing worse than eating a handful of sunflower seeds when the last one you happen to crack open has a seed inside it that tastes so bitter your face crinkles up like Jon Gruden reacting to a costly penalty. You know that seed somehow got wedged in the sorter at some production plant in Des Moines, Iowa and waited there patiently until it wiggled itself free just in time to find it’s way into the bag destined for your purchase. A ticking timebomb of rotten filth, it disguised itself among similar-looking peers waiting for that one opportunity to spoil your snacking enjoyment at the last minute. If you know this feeling then you know exactly how I felt this past Sunday watching Byron Leftwich as he coughed up his hold on the Tampa Bay starting QB position mere days after I had touted him as a potential value play for the rest of the season. Ugh.
On the plus side, Correll Buckhalter and Johnny Knox continued to contribute (100+ yards rushing for C-Buck and a TD grab for Knox) and I have faith that Chansi Stuckey will continue to offer value, though it may be a bit sporadic. Unfortunately, two of those ships may have already set sail as Buckhalter’s ownership percentage jumped 30 points this week and Knox’s shot up 35 (most likely due to my devoted readers). As we near the quarter poll of the young NFL season and bye weeks descend upon us, be sure to keep close tabs on your league’s comings and goings and be ready to pounce on PWPs (players with potential) as they get dropped by impatient owners looking for a quick fix. I give you my week 4 version of Thing 1 and Thing 2 … because the only way to get that taste out of your mouth is with another handful of seeds.
Thing 1: This QB has completed 61.3% of his passes for 871 yards (290 ypg) and 3 TDs to go along with 2 INTs. He currently is sporting a 79.9 QB rating and is owned in 100% of ESPN leagues.
Thing 2: This QB has completed 67.6% of his passes for 793 yards (264 ypg) and 3 TDs to go along with 2 INTs. He currently is sporting a 92.5 QB rating and is owned in 32% of ESPN leagues.
Reality Check: Thing 1 is Tom Brady and Thing 2 is Jason Campbell. Obviously I am not claiming Jason Campbell is a better fantasy option than Tommy Terrific but he may get you more bang for your buck in a nice week 4 matchup with the staggering Buccaneers (Brady and the Pats play the Ravens). For all his shortcomings as an NFL head coach, Jim Zorn is not an idiot. He knows he needs to take the training wheels off Campbell if he wants to keep his job for the rest of the 2009 season and beyond. That could translate into a very good QB2 in Campbell at a very affordable rate.
Thing 1: This RB has played in two of his team’s three games this season and in that time has accumulated 150 total yards on 29 touches (5.2 ypt) with no TDs. He is currently owned in 83% of ESPN leagues.
Thing 2: This RB has played in two of his team’s three games this season and in that time has accumulated 117 total yards on 28 touches (4.2 ypt) with no TDs. He is currently owned in 2% of ESPN leagues.
Reality Check: Thing 1 is Jamal Lewis and Thing 2 is Jerome Harrison. I may be getting the black lung pop (cough, cough) mining this deep but I think Harrison has some real potential going forward. The Browns are a mess and the Mangina running the show in is desperate need of playmakers. Harrison should start in week 4 and likely will find the sledding a bit easier at home against Cincy than he did last week in Baltimore. If Derek Anderson can get on the same page with deep threat Braylon Edwards early, the running lanes could be there for the 4th year man from WSU.
Thing 1: This RB is the workhorse for his team but despite averaging nearly 20 touches per game over the first three weeks he has yet to score a TD. He is currently averaging 2.5 ypc and is owned in 96% of ESPN leagues.
Thing 2: This RB is the 3rd down back and speed option for his team. In the two games he has appeared in he has totaled 107 total yards on 17 touches. He is currently averaging 4.4 ypc and is owned in 6% of ESPN leagues.
Reality Check: Thing 1 is Larry Johnson and Thing 2 is Jamaal Charles. I am not a huge fan of Charles but there are times watching him when he reminds me of a poor man’s Chris Johnson. The explosion and burst is there but the vision appears to be lacking at times. Nevertheless, the speedster out of Texas will force the Chiefs hand if he continues to flash his playmaking ability, especially contrasted against Johnson’s early ineffectiveness. Better to take a shot too early on Charles than wait a week to long and watch as another owner scoops him up.
Thing 1: One of the most freakish talents in the game today, this WR has totaled 17 receptions for 181 yards and 2 TDs so far this season. He is currently owned in 100% of ESPN leagues.
Thing 2: One of the most overlooked talents in the game today, this WR has totaled 20 receptions for 229 yards and 1 TD so far this season. He is currently owned in 42% of ESPN leagues.
Reality Check: Thing 1 is Larry Fitzgerald and Thing 2 is Nate Burleson. I don’t usually like to double-dip and I gave Nasty Nate some love in my first Waiver Watch of the year (as a footnote to Justin Gage’s potential). That said, Burleson’s ownership percentage has not increased in relation to his early production and I wouldn’t be doing my job if I wasn’t urging you to go and get him before it’s too late. Some may have thought Seneca Wallace at QB would hurt Burleson’s production but he was targeted 12 times last week and is on pace for 107 grabs and 1221 yards. Go. Now.
Thing 1: This D/ST unit is a solid group but they are missing a key playmaker in the secondary. They have played average offensive clubs thus far and have performed decently. They are owned in 100% of ESPN leagues.
Thing 2: This D/ST is a young group that swarms to the ball and plays with a competitive fire. They have been tested early against three strong offensive clubs and have risen to the challenge. They are owned in 30% of ESPN leagues.
Reality Check: Thing 1 is the Steelers D/ST and Thing 2 is the 49ers D/ST. The loss of Troy Polamalu has robbed the Steelers of their big play potential and a lack of consistent pass rush has left their secondary exposed. Conversely, the 49ers are an up-and-coming unit that have gotten healthy production from Manny Lawson and a much improved secondary. This hard-nosed group takes it’s cues from 3rd year assassin Patrick Willis and will be kept fresh by a running game that chews up the game clock. Add to that a week 4 matchup with the woeful Rams and there’s a lot to like here.