For a deeper review of players that are either new to the scene or playing differently than expected, Upon Further Review will give the respective views of John Tuvey (Start Bench List) and David Dorey (Game Predictions and Player Projections). We'll bring 47 years of combined fantasy football experience to bear and hopefully a few things to think about as you manage your fantasy team.
RB Alfred Morris (WAS)
DOREY: Wow, a Redskins running back. The reality here is that you are never going to be comfortable starting him and if you are, you will soon find out why that was wrong. I write a wildly informative article every summer called "The Ultimate RBBC Report". It shows how many times a player is the primary back for a team for each game. In the last two years, that has merely included Ryan Torain, Keiland Williams, James Davis, Clinton Portis, Roy Helu, Tim Hightower and Evan Royster. Each had at least two games where they had the most carries as the running back. Only Torain played in both years. Now then, while there is a chance that they have been waiting for an undrafted running back out of Florida Atlantic to show up and gain 3.4 yards per carry. But I am not banking on it. Morris is the new Evan Royster. I still contend Roy Helu is the best back of them all, but Shanahan won't answer my calls. If I had no other choices, sure - I might play Morris this week. But I have 11 fantasy teams and not one has a WAS back on it. That was not an accident. To me, owning a Redskins tailback is like eating at Der Wienerschnitzel. About once every three years, I think it is a good idea to go to Der Dog. And about five minutes into the meal, I think "okay, I remember now."
TUVEY: I could throw stats and trends and matchup info at you until the Nationals shut me down early, but the bottom line is this: are you comfortable with a Mike Shanahan running back on your roster? True story: I could not pull the trigger on playing Evan Royster in Week 16 last season and it cost me the title in the Sirius XM hosts league. And you know what? I’d make the same decision every day of the week and three times on Sunday because I know for a fact if I had played Royster that fateful day he would have touched the ball three times because Shanny picked that particular afternoon to activate Smash Williams off the practice squad and give him a 20-carry test drive. So if Morris is on my roster and I have another competent back I feel reasonably comfortable with, I’m not starting Alf. And I hope he has a big day so I can sell high and avoid the perpetual migraines that accompany owning a member of Shanahan’s stable.
wr wes welker (ne)
DOREY: This is what I think - the Patriots are probably the most "this is business" employers in the league. Call it cruel, call it disloyal, call it a perennial playoff contender. But there is not a ton of players hanging around the Patriots because they just like them as a person. Welker is in his final contract year but many do not expect the 31-year old receiver to be back. Here is another problem - the new offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels likes his old buddy Brandon Lloyd. And Brady threw eight passes to Lloyd but only five to Welker who caught three for just 14 yards? I do expect that Welker will see better numbers to be sure. But another 110 catch season? Not looking like that is possible and Welker is stepping back. We need a few more games to better assess what the new direction that McDaniels wants to pursue, but right now - not really that high on Welker bouncing back. We've probably seen the best from Welker already and if he goes anywhere else next year - all bets are off.
TUVEY: It’s happened before, this light targeting of Welker. Last year in Week 11 Wes was targeted just three times, producing 22 yards on two catches. The following week Tom Brady looked his way 12 times, connecting on eight for 115 yards and two touchdowns. So in short, I’m not panicking. That said, Welker’s final numbers are going to look a whole lot more like 2010 (86-848-7) than his other four seasons in New England—all of which featured triple-digit receptions and over 1,000 yards. The New England offense is shifting, and the fact that the Pats didn’t ink Welker to a long-term deal in the offseason suggests that evolution is moving away from him. If there are three 1,000-yard receivers in New England this season I’m betting they’re Gronk, Hernandez, and Lloyd. Doesn’t mean Wes won’t contribute, just means if you were banking on triple-digit catches you probably overpaid. You can still sell high; you just have to keep a sharp eye out for the right buyer.
wr Kevin Ogletree (dal)
DOREY: Now I live in the Dallas area and get plenty of Cowboys news. The funny thing is that the media and average Cowboys fan is no where near as enthusiastic about Ogletree as half the owners in your league. Yes, Laurent Robinson turned in 54-858-11 in 2011 and it was really great for fantasy owners. By the way, Ogletree was there then as well. Robinson was the 3.11 draft pick by the Falcons who had Vick not passing to the wide receivers, then went to St. Louis where he played for three games before breaking his leg and missing the rest of the season. He played in 2012 along with six different wideouts in Bradford's rookie season. Then he went to Dallas. The point is that Robinson was talented coming out of college, drafted third round and later traded to the Rams. The only time he was truly healthy and paired with a good quarterback was in Dallas. Most of his scores and yardage came when he was replacing Miles Austin who missed six games. Ogletree enters his fourth season with the Cowboys and last week caught his first ever touchdowns. His first three years only averaged 102 yards per season so gaining 114 on eight catches was basically having a full season in one game for him. He looked very good but it is still a stretch to me to think he is breaking out in his fourth season with the same team after doing nearly nothing in the past. Worth owning to see what happens but if he has the consistency to merit starting I would still be surprised.
TUVEY: Haven’t we analyzed Ogletree to death already? In leagues where you couldn’t snap him off the waiver wire immediately after his Kickoff Weekend performance he wasn’t even the top claim; such is the short-term memory of the reactionary fantasy owner. I do see upside to Ogletree as a proven WR3 who Tony Romo trusts and who is capable of exploiting a matchup with the opponent’s nickel or dime (or, in the case of the Giants, half-penny) corner. And should Miles Austin’s hammy act up or Dez Bryant celebrate his own special version of Mother’s Day a few months early, Ogletree’s value climbs as a more prominent member of Tony Romo’s receiver rotation. However, I draw the line at paying for Ogletree like he’s the next Austin or Laurent Robinson. Sure, it’s plausible but I’d rather miss out than overpay for what is most likely a solid season as the Cowboys’ WR3 rather than a Victor Cruz-like explosion.
wr stephen hill (nyj)
DOREY: This won't take too long. Stephen Hill was the 2.11 pick of the Jets and he has the size (6-4, 215) and background to suggest that he is going to be a very good receiver in the NFL... at some point. He started his career with five catches for 89 yards and two scores which is undeniably impressive. But I have no real interest in him this season because I cannot imagine that he can possibly sustain enough weekly production as a Jet playing with Mark Sanchez to merit ever starting him. Dynasty or keeper league? Sure. But on average, 1 in every 16 players just had their best game of the year and chances are that is true for Hill (and maybe Sanchez as well). Santonio Holmes had the most targets last week and remains the receiver to own there. Such as it is. One game does not erase last year or this summer.
TUVEY: Mark Sanchez isn’t a great quarterback, but he’s also not as bad as the New York media makes him out to be. So I’m reluctant to write off Hill as a fluke because he has bad quarterbacking when in fact he’s got at least average quarterbacking—for the time being, at least. Actually, a guy with Hill’s size/speed combo might benefit should Tim Tebow take over; think Demaryius Thomas in Denver last year. I’ll stash Hill for the bye weeks and in case the two-TD opener was more substance than flash, but the production I get from him will largely be gravy as I’m not banking on him to be an every-week starter for me.
RB/WR dexter mccluster (kc)
DOREY: I openly laughed at people who drafted McCluster the last two years because to me he was just another Tweener that does not fit anywhere and therefore belongs nowhere. And he has lived his life on the waiver wire pretty much the entire time. At 5-8, 170 pounds you might as well tattoo "punt returner" on your forehead. And then last week the Chiefs lined up McCluster in the backfield and ended up throwing him ten passes for six catches and 82 yards. Easily one of his best games. The same sort of thing was happening with Randall Cobb in Green Bay. This has potential. I picked up McCluster in a league or two just to see where this goes. He has speed and talent and operating out of the backfield as a receiver negates the jam at the line as a receiver and gives him plenty of room to move around. This may really hurt the fantasy value of Jamaal Charles and Peyton Hillis potentially. I find it fascinating and I am not sure where it will go if anywhere. But it is legitimately new and has enough potential that I want to see where this goes with him on my roster. At least in a reception point league. He may be thrown back to the waiver wire for the third year but this time it does feel different.
TUVEY: McCluster, to me, has value in a very specific vein of leagues: larger, PPR leagues with a flex spot or a three-WR requirement. Dwayne Bowe remains the Chiefs’ WR1, but no one appears willing to step up and claim the WR2 job. I don’t know that McCluster is WR2 material, but so long as Jon Baldwin and Steve Breaston remain in the background he can turn slot duties into a contributing role on a PPR team. The NFL is a copycat league, and McCluster feels like the Chiefs’ attempt to create a Darren Sproles/Wes Welker hybrid. Not a bad gig for a PPR type, but with two solid backs and a proven red zone target in Bowe I don’t see McCluster bringing many touchdowns to the table.
RB Chris johnson (TEN)
DOREY: Shades of 2011. We knew that the Patriots had a very good rushing defense and that they basically had eight months to figure out how to stop Chris Johnson (Mission Accomplished). It is far too early to write off Johnson with only one horrible, terrible game to go on. The Pats thumped the Titans and Johnson only got 11 carries. He also added 47 yards on six carries so he salvaged a little value. It was four years ago that the Titans completely overused him when he broke 2000 yards in a season where he had 430 touches. That is over and will never happen again. He still has the ability to turn in a big game since the Pats made him the first priority of the defense. Starting slowly sucks and it means you cannot hope to trade him away and get value. Don't judge him off the one game but then again - don't judge him by what happened four years ago.
TUVEY: Over the course of my various preseason speaking engagements and media appearances, no single player inspired as much pure venom as CJ?K. I had one guy swear that after being stiffed by Johnson last season he wouldn’t even add him to his auction roster for a buck. So to me it’s understandable that everyone is ready to write him off following a pathetic Week 1 showing. It might be easier for me to say because I don’t own CJ in any of my leagues, but I’d consider him a decent buy-low guy. The true test will be this week against San Diego. The Chargers kept Darren McFadden in check on the ground, but Catch DMC turned 13 receptions into PPR gold. Johnson has turned a similar trick in the past, and if he’s able to either do what McFadden couldn’t and run the ball on the Bolts or replicate McFadden’s success as a checkdown receiver I’d be more positive about his prospects the rest of the season. A second straight bad week—with a nasty chunk of schedule on the horizon—and I’m on board with the aforementioned dude who would rather listen to political ads on a non-stop loop than deal with the CJ?K headache on a weekly basis.
wr aldrick robinson (was)
DOREY: The sixth round pick from 2011 never had a catch as a rookie but was good enough to remain on the active roster all of last season. He would still be someone you never heard of but Pierre Garcon was injured last week and Robinson came in to replace him. He was thrown six passes, caught four and scored once. All of those were for Garcon had he remained. No reason to me to have him on a fantasy roster. He's just a backup who got a moment in the sun with a rookie quarterback that was freaking out the defense because he was so good. Consider it more about RG3 than Robinson.
TUVEY: And here’s to you, Aldrick Robinson, our nation turns its lonely eyes to you… woo-woo-woo.
What’s that, you say, Aldrick Robinson, Pierre Garçon is hobbling away… hey-hey-hey… hey-hey-hey.
Alright, I’ll stop channeling my inner Garfunkel. Robinson took advantage of Pierre Garçon’s absence from the lineup to produce his first NFL numbers: four catches, 52 yards, and a touchdown. And with Pete Boy nursing a sore foot the Redskins—and fantasy owners—might get another week of production out of Robinson. If Garçon is healthy I don’t much like Robinson’s prospects; the offense RG3 is running doesn’t look like it lends itself to success for tertiary receivers. Robinson’s a short-term fix for an absent Garçon and a long-term insurance policy, but as a stand-alone fantasy entity when the Redskins are at full strength… I’m just not seeing it.