Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Week 4 Fantasy Focus

Thanks for checking out the Fantasy Focus! Each week you will find several articles related to fantasy football including opinions and analysis.  If you have any input or fantasy questions, feel free to comment at the bottom of each post.

Who to start, who to sit: 

Start: Matt Shaub QB - HOU
The Texans are licking their chops with Oakland coming to Houston in week 4. While the Raiders' defense is not that bad, they are on the field way too often. You have heard of the term 'thee-and-out', but with Jamarcus Russell at the helm, the Raiders will be lucky to have that many opportunities per offensive series. Schaub will shred the Raiders for huge chunks of offense, primarily targeting WR Andre Johnson and TE Owen Daniels in the passing game.
Projections: 21/34, 339 yards, 3 TD's

Sit: Steven Jackson RB - STL
Three of the four top offensive players for the Rams will be out with injury in week 4 as they travel to San Fransisco: QB Marc Bulger, WR Donnie Avery and WR Laurent Robinson. Sure, this could mean Jackson seeing additional carries as the one weapon St. Louis has left, but the 49ers know this and will make due adjustments. San Fransisco already boasts a stingy defense with coach Mike Singletary on the sidelines, so be sure to look elsewhere in your fantasy line-up if you own Jackson. If the injuries on offense linger, the Rams will be in jeopardy of pulling an '2008 Detroit Lions'. It might be too early to make a claim such as this, but you heard it here first.
Projections: 22 carries, 42 yards 0 TD's

Week 4 sleepers:

Mike Sims-Walker WR - JAC
Jacksonville is hosting Tennessee this week. With Gerrard and Sims-Walker becoming more comfortable with each other on offense and additional accommodations being made on defense to stifle Maurice Jones-Drew, a date with the underachieving Titans (ranked 29 in pass defense) makes this more than just a 'safe' bet. Look for Sims-Walker to have a break-out game and continue to be a huge 2009 fantasy sleeper.
Projections: 7 receptions, 126 yards, 1 TD.

Cedric Benson RB - CIN
This might not come as a huge surprise, but most of us thought Benson's career was over prior to this season. So far he is averaging 97.7 rushing yards per game and has two TD's. Look for that production to increase this Sunday against a struggling Browns defense.
Projections: 19 carries, 124 rushing yards, 1 TD, 2 receptions, 12 receiving yards.

Tashard Choice RB - DAL
With injuries to both Marion Barber and Felix Jones, Tashard Choice has an excellent opportunity to prove himself as a legitimate weapon in the Cowboy backfield. Last week vs. Carolina, Choice had a monopoly on his team's run game in the fourth quarter with Barber already out and Jones leaving with a sprained knee. He finished with 84 rushing yards and a TD. He also added four receptions, 36 receiving yards and a two point conversion to top it all off. If Barber and Jones are out for week 4 at Denver, Choice is a solid number 2 RB option.
Projections: 21 carries, 116 rushing yards, 1 TD, 4 receptions, 32 receiving yards.

Best waiver-wire pick-up: Glen Coffee RB - SF

Here is a call to action for all Frank Gore owners: Pick up Glen Coffee before any other owners in your league beat you to it. Gore will be sidelined for the next two games (which are both at home) vs. St. Louis and Atlanta who provide ample opportunities for opposing running backs. This is a great short-term solution as well for those of you who need a flex option or have RB's faced with injuries or bye weeks. Coffee rushed for 55 yards on 25 carries against the Vikings, who are among the league's best in run defense. That will likely double against the Rams this week.
Projections: 23 carries, 119 yards, 4 receptions, 28 yards, 2 total TD's.

Question of the week: Will Brett Favre continue to show improvement and become a number one, fantasy QB?

So far this season, Favre has improved statistically in each game through the first three weeks of the season: 110 yards with 1 TD, 155 yards with 2 TD's, and 301 yards with 2 TD's. Look for this trend to level out Monday night vs. Green Bay. Favre seems to play out of his mind when he is in a big game in prime-time so he still may hover around the 300 yard mark, but if any team in the league can get to him it will be the Packers... and the schedule does not get any easier from here on out: Baltimore, at Pittsburg and at Green Bay. The schedule softens after their week 9 bye, but Favre will likely be battling bumps and bruises at this point. At the tender age of 40, the iron-man may be facing his ugliest, fiercest opponent yet: old age. Favre will be a solid number 2 fantasy QB for the better part of the season, but his value will drop as the season goes on.

As always, leave your fantasy comments and questions in the comment link below.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Week 3 Fantasy Focus

Thanks for checking out the Fantasy Focus! Each week you will find several articles related to fantasy football including opinions and analysis.  If you have any input or fantasy questions, feel free to comment at the bottom of each post.

Kevin Smith DET vs. Darren Sproles SD as a 3rd RB or flex option:

I'm taking Kevin Smith in this debate for two main reasons: Firstly, Miami boasts one of the best run defenses in the league so far this year (about 55 yards per game). Secondly, even though Sproles will likely see a bulk of the carries with L.T. banged up again this week, Miami's time of possession margin will hold Sproles to no more than 10 touches. Not to mention Smith saw his most productive receiving game last season against Washington (7 catches for 50+ yards) and the Redskins are ripe for the picking this week having struggled out of the gates the first two games of the season. Look for Detroit's offense continued improvement this Sunday with the work-load resting square on the shoulders of Kevin Smith.

Best waiver-wire pick-up: Mario Manningham WR-NYG vs. Steve Smith WR-NYG

To me this is a wash. With injuries to both Dominik Hixon and Hakeem Nicks, Eli Manning will target both receivers consistently for different reasons:  Smith being primarily a possession receiver and Manningham a big-play target. I personally picked up Mario Manningham because I like his strength vs. physical defensive backs and his downfield threat. This will produce more TD's than Smith will likely generate, but what Manningham gets for total yards and TD's, Smith will make up with total receptions.

QB controversy: Kurt Warner ARI vs. Matt Ryan ATL

Matt Ryan is on the verge of being a fantasy stud. It is a matter of time before he is an elite, number one fantasy QB. But this week I'm choosing Warner, the beat-up veteran. Don't flip a coin on this one because here is the nitty gritty: HEADS: The Falcons are on the road at New England this week. Sure, New England struggled last week against an improving Jets team, but that rivalry seems to go either way from year to year. While New England's defense is not what it has been earlier this decade, with the cut-off hoodie on the sideline the Pat's will always at the very least have a good defense. TAILS: Arizona is at home against Indy on prime-time Sunday night. This one is likely to be a barn-burner with each team looking to eclipse 40+ points. Indianapolis is coming off a short week with last weeks Monday night game vs. Miami where  the defense was on the field for more than 3/4 of the game. Sure, Ryan may put up 250 yards with 2 TD's, but Warner will put up 350 yards with 3 TD's.

Question of the week: With Jay Cutler in Chicago, will any of his wide receivers make a fantasy impact this year?

Last year Devin Hester, Matt Forte and Greg Olsen rounded out the list for most receptions for the Bears offense. That's right, a defensive back, a running back and a tight end. Before this season began, if you were to ask a Bears fan who their starting wide receivers are they probably would not have an answer for you. This whole line of questioning is not looking favorable. So far through two weeks, Earl Bennett and Johnny Knox have looked average at best. In week 1, when Cutler threw four interceptions, two of them were arguably Bennett's fault for not finishing his routes. I am not saying that the Bears receivers will never have a respectful fantasy outing this season (with Cutler, they are bound to get several looks), but do not look for any break-through sleepers coming out of the Chicago receiving core.


So, you used your first-round draft choice on Ladanian Tomlinson, Matt Forte, Brandon Jacobs or Clinton Portis? Don't kick yourself too soon. We are only two weeks into the season. Allow me to break down each player.

Ladanian Tomlinson RB-SD: With the last couple of seasons you have had to see this coming. A marginal performance in week one and injured for week 2. Is this the end of the road for L.T's fantasy dominance? That remains to be seen, but if you are an L.T. owner, get your hands on Darren Sproles as quickly as you can say 'lightning bug' or your season could be on the fence. Look for Sproles to get 75% of the carries when Tomlinson is out and close to 50% even with a healthy L.T.

Matt Fore RB-CHI: This guy accounted for nearly half of the Bears offense a year ago. In 2 games this season he's carried the ball for 84 total yards and 2.2 per carry. Adjusting to a new QB in Jay Cutler and playing two of the leagues top defenses in Green Bay and Pittsburgh has squelched Forte's efforts. The good news for Forte owners is the schedule gets really soft, really quick. If you do not own Forte, go after him now while his value has slumped.

Brandon Jacobs RB-NYG: Jacobs is an interesting study. Historically, runners that take punishment like B.J. does throughout a season do not last long and are prone to injuries. We have already seen Jacobs struggle to stay healthy in seasons past since Tiki Barber bolted in 2006. Expect Jacobs to awaken from his early-season slumber soon, but be wary of the beating he takes. The more carries he gets, the more likely we'll be seeing him on the Giants' injury report. Pick up Ahmad Bradshaw as insurance.

Clinton Portis RB-WAS: From the day he was traded from Denver for Champ Bailey, Portis has been a fantasy tease. So far this season he has not disappointed that stigma. He's managed just 62 yards and 79 yards in the first two games, the offensive line is more depleted every week and he is arguably the only offensive weapon the Redskins have. Look for opponents to start stacking the box to stop the run. Washington plays Detroit this week, but don't let the Lions run defense fool you. They held Adrian Peterson to a pedestrian 92 yards last week (well, pedestrian for A.P. that is) and rank 8th on the list for points scored for fantasy defenses. Portis will show flashes, but will be a huge disappointment again this year.

As always, leave your questions and comments in the link below.