FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

The Pick-up Joint: Week 4
John Tuvey
September 25, 2012
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Top Adds For Week 3
From MyFantasyLeague.com
Andre Brown, RB, Giants 88%
Donnie Avery, WR, Colts 53%
Daryl Richardson, RB, Rams 52%
Justin Tucker, PK, Ravens 42%
Dennis Pitta, TE, Ravens 35%
Total Week 3 Touchdowns: 3  
Top Drops For Week 3
From MyFantasyLeague.com
Cincinnati Bengals D/ST 18%
Ronnie Brown, RB, Chargers 15%
Roy Helu, RB, Redskins 15%
James Jones, WR, Packers 14%
Fred Davis, TE, Redskins 14%
Total Week 3 Touchdowns: 0  

GROUNDS FOR DIVORCE

Alex Smith, QB, 49ers
Remember that solid start that had some believing Smith was not just a competent NFL caretaker quarterback but a bona fide fantasy helper? I’ll admit to being among that number, having labeled Smith my “Take A Chance On Me” quarterback for last week’s matchup against a hapless Vikings secondary. Thanks to Alex for the slap of reality across the face: that’s now 28 straight under 300 yards, eight of the last nine under 250. Quarterback is too deep a position to waste a fantasy roster spot on a guy whose upside is 250 and two.

Pierre Thomas, RB, Saints
Only once in his last 21 games has Pierre Thomas had double-digit carries—and in that game, he had 10. Yes, he’s in a job-share. Yes, he’s capable of the occasional big games; see his 110 yards in Week 2. But he has yet to score this season and quite simply cannot be relied upon for consistent fantasy contributions.

Mark Ingram, RB, Saints
What’s worse: Thomas, who isn’t getting consistent opportunities? Or Ingram, who has four games with double-digit carries in his last seven outings but simply fails to capitalize? Ingram has averaged 3.4 yards per carry or lower in each of his last four games and despite being the Saints’ presumed goal line guy has just one touchdown for a team that’s scored 83 points. I’m not saying Ingram won’t score touchdowns; I am saying that you can’t bank on him to do so and in most weeks are giving away a lineup spot by using him.

“IT’S NOT ME, IT’S YOU”

Beanie Wells, RB, Cardinals
Ah, Beanie; last year you got the best of me in a friendly wager with our beloved JUM. He took the over on you getting 1,000 yards, and thanks to you blowing up the Rams for nearly a quarter of that total you allowed JUM to escape with the win. But alas, JUM is not around to defend you; it’s been six games since your last touchdown, Ryan Williams is stealing your job, and you’re hurt yet again. Even JUM no longer has enough patience to keep you on his roster, and rumor has it Job is ready to cut you loose as well.

Randy Moss, WR, 49ers
It should have been a great story: Moss’s return to Minnesota, scoring against the only team he’s never scored against, grabbing a plate of Tinucci’s to go and running over a meter maid with his SUV on the way out of town. Instead, despite a season-high six targets Moss produced just 27 yards and spent most of the second half on the sidelines. His terse “no comment” to a postgame question about his playing time (or lack thereof) speaks volumes about his future in San Francisco. As noted above, I’m not enamored with Alex Smith’s fantasy prospects going forward so by extension there’s little to like about Moss. In fact, it wouldn’t at all surprise me if Moss is an ex-Niner before Halloween.

Titus Young, WR, Lions
After three games as the supposed up-and-coming target in the high-powered Detroit offense, 61.9% of Young’s fantasy points for the year came on one fluke Hail Mary touchdown. While Young was targeted a season-high seven times in the OT loss to Tennessee, he’s still a tertiary member of the Lions passing game. Oh, and it’s a passing attack that could be without Matthew Stafford due to an injury and will certainly lose some productivity to an emerging ground game as well. Nothing in that last sentence suggests Young will be living up to the preseason hype any time soon.

OPEN FOR SWAPPING

Matt Schaub, QB, Texans
Schaub comes off a four-touchdown game, the kind of performance that reminds us just how good he can be. It was also just his second multiple-touchdown performance since Week 7 of last year and his first appearance among the weekly top 10 quarterbacks in the last six games. Sure, Schaub is capable of these games; problem is, the Texans are a run-first team and it’s unlikely Schaub gets another opportunity to air it out like this any time soon. Sell high on the promise of Schaub’s talent; that way you don’t have to plug the reality of his caretaker role into your fantasy lineup.

Stevan Ridley, RB, Patriots
As I Ridley owner in multiple leagues, I welcomed the heavy workload of Danny Woodhead like an impacted wisdom tooth. Had I been Belichicked? Kind of, but there’s a light at the end of the tunnel—and a pretty good chance it’s not a train. With Aaron Hernandez out, the Patriots’ most common offensive formation is a three-wide receiver set. And in that set, Bill Belichick prefers Woodhead’s pass-catching ability. Once Hernandez returns—or Wes Welker is traded, as some Twitter rumors are whispering, or Kellen Winslow takes over the TE2 spot—the Patriots will go back to their two-tight end base set. And in that set Ridley gets the bulk of the work—21 and 23 touches, much more than the 13 he received last week. It’s a great opportunity to buy low on Ridley; it’s not without risk, but if the upside is the 15 fantasy points per game Ridley averaged over the first fortnight it’s a risk well worth taking.

PUT A RING ON THAT THING!

Jake Locker, QB, Titans
Locker posted his best fantasy day as a pro in Week 3, and here’s the biggest indicator it’s more trend than mirage: of the 44 points and 437 yards the Titans produced, Chris Johnson accounted for zero points and 29 yards. Sure, there were a couple special teams scores in there, but bottom line is that Tennessee’s offense no longer runs through CJ—in part because, well, CJ no longer runs. Locker, on the other hand, runs a pretty potent offense with four productive pass-catchers; he’s also outrushed Johnson in each of the last two games and for the season overall. Tennessee’s defense is going to put Locker in plenty of situations where he’ll need to throw, meaning Locker will have copious opportunities to put up big fantasy numbers.

Rod Streater, WR, Raiders
The Raiders are running out of healthy receivers; Jacoby Ford is already on IR, and last we saw Darrius Heyward-Bey he was strapped to a backboard following a vicious head shot against the Steelers. Thankfully all indications are DHB will be fine, but this is his second such cart-off in the last year so you have to wonder just how quickly he’ll be able to bounce back. While oft-injured Denarius Moore was sidelined, Streeter stepped into the lineup and produced a touchdown on 10 targets; if Heyward-Bey misses time as well, Streeter shapes up to be the prime beneficiary. Oakland’s defense looks as if it will put Carson Palmer and the passing game in more than a few catch-up opportunities, and Streater’s deep speed make him the ideal Raider to capitalize on those situations.

BEAT THE CLOSING-TIME RUSH

The bye weeks are here, with Pittsburgh and Indy taking Week 4 off. But let’s look ahead to Week 5, when you’ll be without the services of (among others) Tony Romo, Matthew Stafford, Miles Austin, Dez Bryant, Calvin Johnson, Vincent Jackson, Jason Witten, and Brandon Pettigrew.

Much like the old adage “go ugly early”, the suggestion here is to beat your leaguemates to the punch when it comes to insulating your roster against bye-week issues. If you’ll be missing one of the players listed above, consider grabbing one of those mentioned below now to help you with your Week 5 predicament.

Christian Ponder, QB, Vikings
Coming off a solid showing against the 49ers Ponder might actually be a hot waiver wire commodity. The Vikings offense still runs through Adrian Peterson so Ponder’s fantasy upside is a bit limited. However, in Week 5 he’ll be facing a Tennessee defense that has allowed the second-most fantasy points to the quarterback position. He’ll also have deep threat Jerome Simpson back in the mix after a three-game suspension. At this stage Ponder is a fantasy spot starter, and Week 5 is an ideal spot to plug him in.

Mario Manningham, WR, 49ers
Yes, in the same article where I rip his quarterback and dis his running mate, here I am saying Manningham can be a fantasy helper. It’s a one-week bit, as Mario’s 49ers face a fantasy-friendly Buffalo defense that’s allowed a league-high six wide receiver touchdowns. If Randy Moss keeps pouting, it can only help Manningham see more looks.

Scott Chandler, TE, Bills
Despite last week's pleas in this very spot, Mr. September is still available in 50 percent of MFL leagues; the expectation is that with a favorable matchup against a 49ers defense that’s allowed at least one TE TD in every game this season, Chandler can stretch his run of success into October, even if only for a week.


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