Reporting Rob Hamilton
Hopefully the first two weeks of fantasy have treated you well, and even if they haven’t, here’s a few words on all 32 teams trying to help you going forward.
PITTSBURGH STEELERS – The running game is still a mess. In fact, the entire offense is a mess. They scored one TD Monday night and that was in the hurry up offense. Stay away from all skill players except for Antonio Brown and in a pinch, Emmanuel Sanders.
CINCINATTI BENGALS – Yes, Benjarvus Green Ellis had 75 yards Monday night, but the elusive Giovani Bernard to me stole the show. He certainly made his case for more playing time, catching a 27 yard TD out of the backfield and running it in from six yards out. Two touchdowns and many more where that came from. He can be easily plugged in as a #2 back now and for the rest of the year. They have to get him on the field more.
SAN FRANCISCO 49ers – Now that the road disaster in Seattle is out of the way, the Niners can get back to dominating opponents. Going to Seattle is going to be a nightmare for any team, as it was for their four logical fantasy starters. Kaepernick had 87 rushing yards but threw three interceptions and only 127 yards, while Vernon Davis and Anquan Boldin had four catches for 27 yards combined. These three, along with Frank Gore, will be fine going forward.
SEATTLE SEAHAWKS – Again, until it sorts itself out, I would stay away from any members of the Seattle passing game, and that includes Russell Wilson. For those that read my preseason columns, I noted Seattle ran the ball more than any team in 2012. People still undoubtedly drafted Wilson as a fantasy starter, but he’s another in a long line of better real life QB’s than ones in fantasy.
JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS – Maurice Jones Drew was touted by me as a comeback player of the year candidate. Through two weeks, MJD is MIA, 10 carries for just 25 yards last week against a Raiders run defense that was bottom five in the league a year ago. This is very alarming for MJD owners, but at this point, he has little value in relation to where you probably drafted him, so you’ll have to just hope that his latest injury isn’t serious and he’ll surprise with a big game or two along the way.
OAKLAND RAIDERS – Nice of Darren McFadden to average almost seven yards a clip on his way to a 100 yard game, reaching the end zone as well. The Raiders, as I said last week, are not going to put up many points, but they’ll continue to feed their workhorse. Start McFadden each week, but I’d steer away from any members of that Raiders passing game.
DENVER BRONCOS – As predicted last week, the Broncos would have a fantasy bonanza against that Giants defense. Everyone got in the act, but the main thing to take from this game is that Knowshon Moreno and Montee Ball seem to be in a timeshare. Ball fumbled early but still amassed 12 carries, even though he totaled 16 yards. Someone will emerge soon enough, and my money is on Ball even though Moreno was very effective Sunday rushing for almost 100 yards and two scores. Buy low on Ball. Try “lowballing” the guy in your league who has him. Couldn’t resist.
NEW YORK GIANTS – This team has had more turnovers in two weeks than Ferrara’s bakery in NYC puts out in a day. Seriously though, four interceptions from Eli Manning makes for 10 turnovers in two weeks and a 0-2 start for the men in blue. We know the Giants have no running game at this point, but if you have David Wilson, you have to ride him until he gets benched. He has too much talent to sit on your bench in an offense that will put up three or more TD’s on average weekly. He’ll get it going soon enough, and you don’t want him on your bench when he does. Oh, and if you’re ever in NYC, stop by Ferrara’s. Try the cannolis. They’re lifechanging.
DETROIT LIONS – Reggie Bush was hurt but should be able to go in week three after having a mediocre week two against a underrated Arizona defense. Calvin Johnson had a monster game with two TD’s and 116 yards after not scoring in week one. Joique Bell was an interesting name for fantasy owners, but he stole two TD’s from Reggie Bush in week one and is no more than a flex option at best for me after totaling 72 yards in week two.
ARIZONA CARDINALS – Michael Floyd and Andre Roberts received the most targets after Larry Fitzgerald reaggravated his injury forcing him from the game. 10 players, including those three, caught passes in the Cardinals victory, but going forward, aside from Fitzgerald, I’d trust Floyd and Roberts and discard the rest for now. The running game competition seems to have a winner in Rashard Mendenhall. Boy, could the Steelers use him back or what?
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS – Jimmy Graham reasserted himself as the #1 TE in fantasy with 10 catches for 176 yards and a touchdown. In a tight game from start to finish, Graham was targeted 17 times in the game. Lightning delayed the game for an hour or so which took the Saints out of their rhythm early. Darren Sproles, again, is the only week to week starter in the running game for New Orleans. Mark Ingram and Pierre Thomas are nothing more than bye week options.
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS – Vincent Jackson had a five catch, 77 yard day but did have a long 70 yard TD wiped out by a needless illegal formation penalty. Mike Williams had a poor game but so did Josh Freeman who completed a whopping nine passes the entire game. Williams will be fine going forward. Freeman? Bench him until he shows he can consistently get the ball down the field
ST. LOUIS RAMS – Jared Cook was basically double teamed on every play and was beat up at the line of scrimmage. So which Cook is the real one? My gut tells me it’s closer to week one when he exploded for over 100 yards and a pair of scores. Daryl Richardson had 80 yards combined but again is no more than a flex option. A few Rams receivers had nice days including Chris Givens and Austin Pettis but Sam Bradford threw the ball an unexpected 55 times in a comeback attempt against the Falcons. Those two should still be monitored and not started just yet.
ATLANTA FALCONS – Seemed like every other play a Falcon was going down with an injury, and the most significant for fantasy purposes is Steven Jackson, who seems questionable at best for next week’s game in Miami. Watch this one all week for updates. Speaking of updates, Roddy White still is dealing with the high ankle sprain, and it may be worse than him or the team is letting on. As I said Friday night appearing on OT w/ Jim Murray, you should bench him until further notice.
CAROLINA PANTHERS – If DeAngelo Williams is going to continue to get 20+ carries, he needs to be a flex option at worst. The one player here that warning signs have to go up on is Cam Newton. It seems as if the coaching staff refuses to let Newton do what he does best, run and throw on the run. He registered just four carries on the stat sheet for 15 yards, threw for 229 and a pair of scores but his potential is for so much greater than that. Still, you have to start him, especially this week against a Giants defense that can’t stop anyone right now.
BUFFALO BILLS – See folks, I told you to not panic on CJ Spiller, totaling over 100 yards in week two and his stock obviously trending upward going forward. Robert Woods is a guy I’d pluck off the waiver wire. The rookie from USC was targeted six times, caught four of them and had 68 yards in the last second win over the Panthers. Add him as he could be a viable bye week fill in.
MINNESOTA VIKINGS – For as bad as Christian Ponder looked in the first half, he did look much better in the second half throwing darts to Greg Jennings and Kyle Rudolph among others, with the latter grabbing a nice 20 yard TD in the corner of the end zone. Not much else to say about the 0-2 Vikings, other than this week against the Browns their passing game should open up even more with the way the Browns have been stopping the run.
CHICAGO BEARS – Even Stevie Wonder saw Matt Forte having a monster day against the Vikings Sunday. With 11 catches out of the backfield reaching 161 yards on the ground as well as through the air, the Bears tailback seems to be right at home in this new offense implemented by coach Marc Trestman. Maybe there is a “ribbon in the sky” for Jay Cutler after all. He threw for almost 300 yards and a hat trick of TD’s in the comeback victory over Minnesota. Continue to view him as a fantasy backup with the capability to step in as needed.
WASHINGTON REDSKINS – Someone call the Redskins and tell them the season started. After a home opening shocking defeat to the Eagles, they went on the road and got their behinds handed to them by Aaron Rodgers and that Packers offense. RGIII, Pierre Garcon and Alfred Morris ended up having nice fantasy days but only because they got behind so early. Don’t expect RGIII to throw for 320 yards on a weekly basis. I thought the Redskins was struggle out of the gate and they have. Ignore everyone but the three guys I mentioned above going forward.
GREEN BAY PACKERS – Rodgers threw for almost 500 yards and proved he is still the best fantasy QB in the league. Everyone had big days – Jermichael Finley, Randall Cobb, Jordy Nelson and James Jones. Start all of them going forward in the most effective passing offense in the league. Eddie Lacy has a concussion, so James Starks stepped in admirably with 168 total yards and a TD. He’ll be the hottest name on the waiver wire this week and should be picked up immediately.
MIAMI DOLPHINS – Mike Wallace had a nice game after catching just one ball in week one, hauling in nine receptions for 115 yards as a TD. He was the most targeted guy in the passing game this past week and should continue to be going forward. Entrench him as a solid #2 wideout for your team if you somehow decided after week one to bench him inexplicably. Remember, he was matched up against Joe Haden in week one, who is the best player you’ve probably never heard of at cornerback. Lamar Miller had 14 carries for just under 70 yards and a TD, and is nothing more than a run of the mill #2 back for me at this point.
INDIANAPOLIS COLTS – As Reggie Wayne was somewhat limited by bracketed coverage, TY Hilton had himself quite a day. Six catches for 124 yards on 12 targets, a team high. He was a hot player coming into the season and rewarded owners who stuck him in there this week. He can be started with confidence going forward, as can Ahmad Bradshaw who reached the end zone this week. Vick Ballard is out for the year which means Bradshaw, who is made of glass himself, will continue to get the bulk of the carries until he eventually goes down with an injury. If backup RB Donald Brown isn’t owned, grab him before someone else does.
DALLAS COWBOYS – Not really much to take from their tough loss in Kansas City other than the usual – Dez Bryant had a monster game, Tony Romo had a nice fantasy day but blew it for his team in the fourth quarter and DeMarco Murray got most of the carries but failed to make an impact. He totaled just 25 yards on the ground but did catch five balls for 49 yards saving his day from being a total disaster. Keep starting Murray.
KANSAS CITY CHIEFS – Playing the Eagles this week, you should expect Jamaal Charles and Dwayne Bowe to build on solid week two performances. Charles had over 100 total yards and a TD while Bowe had four catches on eight targets with a TD to boot. Everyone else can be ignored for now on the fantasy radar in terms of Chiefs.
SAN DIEGO CHARGERS – Philip Rivers won’t throw for 400 yards and three TD each week, but he did just that in a wild win in Philadelphia. I’m pretty sure a lot of quarterbacks will do just that against the Eagles defense this year, especially the three others in their division who can sling it. Antonio Gates looked like his 2008 self, catching eight balls for over 100 yards and reasserting himself as a must start fantasy option. Malcom Floyd had five catches for 102 yards before injuring his neck and being stretchered off. Watch his injury going forward as he was the top deep threat before going down. If you started Eddie Royal, you’re a better man than me, because I know several who left him on their bench and paid for it with a seven catch, 90 yard, three TD performance going to waste. I guess off that performance he deserves to start for you this week, and if he’s still available, pick him up.
PHILADELPHIA EAGLES – I waited 12 rounds in my main league to select a QB having all the faith in the world Michael Vick would be there for me and he was. Two huge fantasy weeks in a row and I’m the one smiling. Even though the Eagles lost the game, Vick put up 428 yards, two touchdowns and ran for one as well. He is a must start QB each and every week and was a bargain wherever you got him in the draft. DeSean Jackson was doubted by many but he is getting so much one on one coverage in this well designed offense he cannot be stopped. Nine catches, 193 yards and a touchdown turn him from a preseason #3 into a bonafide #1 fantasy WR. If you drafted him, congrats. You have an absolute monster.
CLEVELAND BROWNS – Josh Gordon returns this week for the Browns, and if he is still available on your waiver wire, he should be a plug and play starter immediately. They take on the Vikings who gave up a ton of yards to the Bears last week and should do the same this week. Trent Richardson is another buy low candidate. If an owner in your league is frustrated with his production, feel free to take him off their hands. He’ll still be a top 10 fantasy RB the rest of the way.
BALTIMORE RAVENS – The biggest thing to take from this game is that Ray Rice seemed to pickup a hip injury which may sideline him for week three. Bernard Pierce, a second year running back from Temple, picked up the slack rushing for 57 yards against a stout Browns front seven. Pierce is definitely worth an add if he isn’t on someone’s team, and watch Rice’s status all week long. If he’s out, Pierce should be started even though it’s the Texans coming into Baltimore this week.
HOUSTON TEXANS – Speaking of the Texans, they pulled one out of the fire against Tennessee this past Sunday, with my preseason sleeper of the year at wideout DeAndre Hopkins catching a TD to win it in OT. Seven catches, 117 yards and a TD are making me look pretty good right now. He should be started in all leagues going forward. Arian Foster did have a TD in week two but seems to not be all the way back from his injuries that plagued him during training camp and the preseason. He still has to be started, but I would not expect top five RB numbers from a guy you probably drafted very high until he is fully healthy.
TENNESSEE TITANS – The one thing to take from this game is Kendall Wright became relevant again after a poor week one showing. Seven catches, 54 yards and a touchdown make him the most startable receiver in this Titans offense. People ask me about Kenny Britt all the time, but until he finds a way to get open, he won’t be receiving many more targets. He had just four catches on nine targets. Bench him until further notice.
NEW YORK JETS – Chris Ivory and Bilal Powell received almost equal carries in week two, totaled almost the same amount of yards but Powell was the only one of the two to reach the end zone. They both can be started as flex options going forward as the Jets realize they can’t have Geno Smith throw the ball 35 times and win. Forget all the Jet receivers for now, as the QB is just too inconsistent with the ball.
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS – People are freaking out over Tom Brady, but relax. He’ll be fine. That Jets defense is absolutely legit, holding the Pats to under 250 yards of total offense for the entire game. Stevan Ridley will be fine too, folks, I get more questions on Ridley than anyone else. Drafted as a #1 running back, he fumbled away his playing time in week one then handed more responsibility in week two with the injury to Shane Vereen only amassed 40 yards on the ground. I’m telling you, he is another buy low candidate. He will break out as the Patriots offense gets Danny Amendola and Rob Gronkowski back. Don’t let me say “I told you so” a month from now when Ridley is having those 80-100 yard, two TD games. Ignore Aaron Dobson and Kenbrell Thompkins this week against the Bucs stellar secondary, even after productive week twos. Keep them in mind if they are available on the waiver wire though.
Till next time,