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FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

The Pick-up Joint: Week 3
John Tuvey
September 17, 2013
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GROUNDS FOR DIVORCE

Randy Bullock, PK, Texans
With the bye weeks almost upon us, it’s time to play the kicker shuffle. That means some talented booters will make their way to the waiver wire—and if you’re currently banking on Bullock, it would behoove you to pick one up. There was much to like about Bullock coming into the season—climate controlled kicking in Houston, a solid offense to tack on points behind, and a decent college pedigree suggesting he was up to the NFL task. But he’s currently one-for-five as a pro, including oh-for-three in the overtime win over Tennessee that included him getting four swings at a game-winning kick. Who knows how his psyche will bounce back from that performance—and why wait around to find out when more reliable options will be bobbing in the free agent pool in the very near future?

Darrius Heyward-Bey, WR, Colts
Maybe you bought into the whole “DHB’s the starter” thing coming out of Indy, but you had to know he wasn’t in the lineup to usurp Reggie Wayne. Coaches complemented Heyward-Bey for his blocking, which unfortunately isn’t going to earn you many fantasy points. The Colts’ intent was to run more and use more two-TE sets, but injuries at both positions have scuttled those plans somewhat. So we’re seeing a little more three-WR, a little more throwing… and a lot more TY Hilton, who has had more targets than DHB in both of the first two games and outperformed him 9-144 to 5-30. No reason to cling to DHB and hope the snap counts tilt the targets in his favor.

Zach Sudfeld, TE, Patriots
It was easy to fall in love with Sudfeld in the preseason: he had production, he was going to have opportunity, he ran with the first team, and New England’s Week 1 opponent hadn’t been able to even come close to containing Rob Gronkowski in four previous meetings. However, Sudfeld turned his lone target into a tipped-ball interception, then at some point tweaked his hamstring. He may not play this week, and by Week 3 Gronk may be back in the mix. Tom Brady hasn’t demonstrated any regular-season faith in Sudfeld; at this point he’s looking like a total tease.

OPEN TO SWAPPING

BenJarvus Green-Ellis, RB, Bengals
So you’re working the crowd at your local watering hole, and there’s a solid 7 drawing a little bit of attention because the talent is thin. Suddenly, Kate Upton walks through the door and every head turns. While the stampede rushes to buy Kate drinks, you glide in and sweep the 7 off her feet. That’s the scenario in Cincinnati, where everyone will be falling all over Giovani Bernard following his two-TD showing on Monday Night Football. Yes, Bernard is far more electric than the plodding Law Firm. Yes, there’s the tangy zip of upside every time he touches the ball. And yes, he touched the ball nine times Monday night while BJGE saw 22 carries and a catch. Think Thomas Jones/Jamaal Charles or Fred Jackson/C.J. Spiller; Green-Ellis will continue to get carries, including much of the goal line work. The 65-75 yards and a possible touchdown he’ll give you on an every-week basis won’t look nearly as pretty as Gio’s highlight reel, but they’ll be a solid low-cost option to plug into your RB2 slot during the bye weeks. So… come here often?

MANAGE THOSE EXPECTATIONS

Eddie Royal, WR, Chargers
Royal has now matched his career high of five touchdowns, and it’s taken him all of 10 catches to do so. He’s this year’s James Jones, a secondary target who has capitalized when called upon and somehow manages to find the end zone an inordinate amount of times. What to do with him? Surely the run of good fortune can’t continue; aside from a Week 4 home date with Dallas the Chargers’ schedule isn’t favorable. And it’s tough to sell high on a guy who’s still available in more than two-thirds of leagues. If you can find one of P.T. Barnum’s favorite people willing to overpay for the flavor of last week, you know what to do; otherwise, may as well keep this rabbit’s foot in your pocket for the time being.

PUT A RING ON THAT THING!

Robert Woods, WR, Bills
E.J. Manuel is legit. Maybe not 2012 RG3 or Andrew Luck legit, but he’s taken the Buffalo quarterback gig and run with it. He’s still feeding Stevie Johnson (16 targets, 11-150-2), but his comfort level with Woods is clearly growing: a touchdown in Week 1, six targets for 4-68 plus a two-point conversion in Week 2. The rest of Buffalo’s wideouts combined have five targets, one catch, and eight yards, so there’s no threat to Wood as the Bills’ WR2. And there are plenty of ways the polished Woods could push Johnson for statistical supremacy: Stevie will consistently see the opposition’s top cover corner, he’s been known to come down with a nagging injury from time to time, and there’s no question Manuel to Woods is the future in Buffalo. He’s a no-brainer in dynasty leagues and should be locked down in far more than the 30% of redrafts he currently inhabits.

BEAT THE CLOSING TIME RUSH

Jordan Todman, RB, Jaguars
Maurice Jones-Drew is hurt again; now it’s a strained tendon in his left ankle—the same ankle he had surgery on last year. His status for this week’s trip to Seattle has yet to be determined, but you already know what the outlook is: even worse than the 2.8 yards per carry he averaged against KC and Oakland. Why, then, advocate picking up his backup? Call it a hunch that Jones-Drew is either on the shelf for a little while or comes out of the Seattle beating in need of a break. That sets Todman up for a home date with a soft Colts run defense just as they bye weeks arrive (hey, it’s called “beat the rush” for a reason). Not that Todman is anything special, but it looks like he’ll get the carries over Justin Forsett and through its first two games Indy has allowed 302 combo yards and three TDs to opposing backs. You’ll already be battling other teams for backs during the bye week

ONE NIGHT STAND TO AVOID

James Starks, RB, Packers
Starks stepped in last week and picked up the yardage and scores earmarked for Eddie Lacy after a helmet-to-helmet hit knocked the rookie out of the game. Early indications are that it’s more than just a little bell-ringing and Lacy could miss this week’s game in Cincinnati. Wouldn’t be a favorable matchup anyway, with even lower expectations for Starks. After that the Packers are on the bye, and if Lacy isn’t back by a date with the fierce Lions’ front four in Week 5 it’ll be Starks thrown to Ndamukong Suh and company. You need a favorable matchup to trust a Packers’ running back—especially the backup—with a fantasy start, and there aren’t any on the schedule over the next month. Let someone else chase Stark’s 100-yard game against the Redskins; he may not total 100 yards before Lacy is back in the mix.


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