||Rock Star Free Agent
||Worth a Look
||1 Week Plug & Play
No Brainers: Eli Manning
Michael Vick, Eagles
Vick entered Sunday’s game against the Packers after Kevin Kolb suffered a concussion. To be quite honest, it was as if Vick had never been suspended from football. He looked spry, dodging defenders on his way to 103 yards rushing. His arm strength was also there. Vick connected on 16 receptions for 175 yards and a touchdown (almost all of it coming in the second half.) The NFL is taking a cautious approach with concussions so it seems almost a given that Kolb will sit and Vick will get the start this week against the Lions. He’s starter material in almost any fantasy league.
Availability: Owned in ~7% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Vick is the must-grab QB for Week 2.
Matt Hasselbeck, Seahawks
San Francisco was a trendy pick to win the NFC West but the Matt Hasselbeck-led Seahawks beat them handily. Hasselbeck put a forgettable 2009 season behind him, posting three total touchdowns (2 pass, 1 rush). It wasn’t all sunshine, his first pass was intercepted, but Hasselbeck came through with a solid stat line. At this point, I wouldn’t race to sign him unless you play in a deep league or need a QB and can’t get Vick. With limited talent around him, Hasselbeck will be hard pressed to emerge as anything more than a spot starter for fantasy purposes. On the bright side, his schedule is an asset with upcoming games against Denver, San Diego and St. Louis.
Availability: Owned in ~37% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Hasselbeck is worth a shot this week against the Broncos if you’re desperate for help but should’t be viewed as a long-term solution.
Derek Anderson, Cardinals
Last week’s plug-and-play recommendation came through with 297 yards and a touchdown for fantasy owners. I like Anderson’s potential to emerge as a relevant fantasy quarterback this season. He’s not the most accurate passer out there but he has athletic wide receivers who catch the ball in traffic. If you’re a Kolb owner and can’t get your hands on Vick, consider rolling with Anderson as a Plan B. The Falcons pass defense played well against the Steelers in Week 1 but the Cardinals and Anderson will pose more of a challenge.
Availability: Owned in ~49% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Anderson is a quality second QB who you can start when the matchup is right.
No Brainers: Arian Foster and Darren McFadden
Brandon Jackson, Packers
Packers starter Ryan Grant has been placed on injured reserve. Backup Brandon Jackson took the bulk of the carries, rushing for 63 yards on 18 carries and adding a couple receptions for 12 yards. Considering the scoring potential of Green Bay’s offense, Jackson has the potential to be a top RB while Grant is out although it was disappointing that a goal-line TD in the third-quarter went to John Kuhn. Keep your eye on Grant’s health status. With a weak Bills run defense on tap next, Jackson is the top RB “get” this week.
Availability: Owned in ~17% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: If you’re thin at RB or own Grant, you should be all over Jackson this week.
Peyton Hillis, Browns
Recommended last week as a sleeper pickup, Hillis made his presence known in in the opener. The former Denver Bronco, posted 65 all-purpose yards and a touchdown. Unfortunately, it wasn’t all positive news. Hillis also fumbled twice. Head coach Eric Mangini still apparently has some lingering trust issues with Jerome Harrison. Harrison had just nine carries and one reception, compared with nine carries and four receptions for Hillis. If the 50/50 split continues, Hillis could be a nice player to have on your bench, especially in PPR formats. Grab him this week and don’t be gun shy about using him against the Chiefs.
Availability: Owned in ~28% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Hillis is worth a roster spot in leagues with 10 or more owners.
Fred Taylor, Patriots
Fred Taylor led all Patriots RBs with 71 yards on 14 carries. Taylor, it seems, still has some petro left in the tank. Laurence Maroney (thigh) didn’t even suit up on Sunday. Maroney’s health questions along with his apparent residence in Bill Belichick’s doghouse make Taylor a savvy pickup. It’s true New England’s committee backfield can be a source of frustration but as long as he’s healthy, Taylor will get the most important touches. Consider him a low-end third RB. A matchup next week against the Jets leaves a lot to be desired but things soften up in Week 3 with a matchup against the Bills.
Availability: Owned in ~34% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Taylor should be owned in all leagues.
Chester Taylor, Bears
Bears backup RB Chester Taylor touched the ball 12 times on Sunday against the Lions, posting nine rushes for 29 yards and three receptions for 44 yards. If he continues to see double-digit touches each week, Taylor could be a viable spot starter by the time the bye weeks roll around. Consider adding him if you currently own Forte or have early RB byes.
Availability: Owned in ~72% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Chester is a worthwhile handcuff with Forte or can be used for roster depth.
Bernard Scott, Bengals
Scott presents an excellent grab-and-stash opportunity for owners in deep leagues. When he gets on the field, good things usually happen. On Sunday against the Patriots, Scott rushed the ball six times for 35 yards and added three catches for 15 yards. With production like that, the Bengals would be wise to continue working Scott into the offense. If starter Cedric Benson were to get injured or see his playing time cut, Scott would quickly climb into the ranks of every-week fantasy starters.
Availability: Owned in ~29% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Scott isn’t a viable starter but is definitely worth holding as a prospect with upside.
No Brainers: Steve Breaston, Dez Bryant and Mike Williams (TB)
Austin Collie, Colts
Throughout the fantasy draft season, many fantasy owners overlooked Austin Collie because he was supposed to be the fourth best option in the Colts passing offense. Collie shattered that viewpoint in Week 1, leading all Indianapolis receivers with 131 yards and a touchdown on 10 receptions. Collie figures to anchor the slot receiver position and get plenty of looks each game. At this point, I consider Anthony Gonzalez to be a nonfactor. He’s already on the injury report with an ankle injury. Collie is worth grabbing regardless of your league size and scoring system.
Availability: Owned in ~61% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Collie should be owned in all leagues.
Eddie Royal, Broncos
Denver’s receiving game was one of the biggest fantasy question marks entering the 2010 season. With Week 1 in the books, we know a little bit more about the Broncos. We know Eddie Royal is back to fantasy relevance. The team decided to move him back to his natural slot position and the results speak for themselves: eight receptions for 98 yards. Royal was targeted 10 times, mostly on short and intermediate passes. Royal has tremendous PPR upside. Fellow wideouts Jabar Gaffney (3-34-1) and Brandon Lloyd (5-117-0) are worth grabbing and stashing in deep leagues. Lloyd had some big games with QB Kyle Orton while the two were together in Chicago so consider him a sneaky sleeper pickup.
Availability: Owned in ~62% and of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Royal is a strong acquisition in all leagues.
Legedu Naanee, Chargers
I called Naanee “my favorite sleeper” in my Late Round Legends preseason article, predicting he’d make an impact sooner rather than later. Naanee came through on Monday night against the Chiefs, posting four receptions for 98 yards and a touchdown by the end of the third quarter. With Vincent Jackson out of the picture, Naanee has the potential to emerge as a huge fantasy surprise in 2010. Grab him this week and see if he can deliver a repeat performance against an average Jaguars pass defense.
Availability: Owned in ~23% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Naanee merits roster consideration in all leagues and he’s a decent upside play in Week 2.
Mark Clayton, Rams
Ravens castoff Mark Clayton may have been the biggest surprise in Week 1 action. The speedy Clayton had shown flashes of potential while in Baltimore but he was widely regarded as a disappointment. St. Louis may have been the perfect place to land. Clayton and rookie QB Sam Bradford seem to have a good rapport. The players are both products of Oklahoma and have worked out together while Bradford was still in school. Clayton led all Rams receivers with 10 receptions for 119 yards. He was targeted 16 times.
Availability: Owned in ~5% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Clayton is worth grabbing in all leagues but is a risky start until he puts up another good set of numbers.
Mike Thomas, Jaguars
Thomas didn’t have a spectacular performance on Sunday but that doesn’t mean he shouldn’t be near the top of your want list. The second-year WR caught six passes for 89 yards while presumed No. 1 wideout Mike Sims-Walker was held without a catch. Now granted, Sims-Walker was blanketed by shut-down cornerback Champ Bailey for much of the game but if the boxscore proved anything it proved that the Jaguars don’t have a clear #1 wideout. Yet. Grab Thomas in anticipation of him becoming that guy.
Availability: Owned in ~13% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Thomas is worth a look in all leagues.
Greg Camarillo, Vikings
Last week I stumped for Camarillo, recommending fantasy owners in PPR leagues add him as a sleeper. While he didn’t play a significant role in the Vikings game plan in Week 1, I’m not ready to let this ship sail. If you watched the Thursday night game, you saw that Bernard Berrian and Percy Harvin were lackadasical in their route running, cutting off their routes and not making crisp breaks. Don’t be surprised if the team gets Camarillo more involved in the offense going forward. When the Vikings finally put him in during the second half, Brett Favre promptly threw his way twice. It would seem like this is a good week for Minnesota to depoy Camarillo considering he will be going up against the Dolphins, his former team.
Availability: Owned in ~11% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Consider Camarillo a deep sleeper in PPR leagues.
No Brainers: Visanthe Shiancoe and Chris Cooley
Jermaine Gresham, Bengals
What’s this? A rookie TE making a fantasy impact. It doesn’t happen often but Jermaine Gresham looks like a legit option in the Bengals pass offense. He caught six passes for 25 yards and a touchdown against the Patriots. Plus he was tackled at the one yard line on one catch. Gresham could be one of QB Carson Palmer’s go-to guys in the redzone. The TE position is deep this year but if you have room on your roster for a TE project, Gresham is worth a look. Unfortunately, he has a poor Week 2 matchup against the Ravens.
Availability: Owned in ~55% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Gresham is worth a look in all leagues.
Marcedes Lewis, Jaguars
Lewis was a model of TE efficiency in Week 1, catching two passes . . . both for touchdowns. It was a good start for Lewis but I’d like to see him be a more active part of the game plan between the 20s rather than only contributing in the redzone. Lewis is worth grabbing in TD heavy leagues but I need to see more from him before recommending him as anything more than a spot play.
Availability: Owned in ~10% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Lewis is worth a look in deep leagues and TD-heavy formats.
No Brainers: David Akers and Rob Bironas
Neil Rackers, Texans
Rackers beat out incumbent Kris Brown for the Texans kicking job. Because of the uncertainty caused by the preseason position battle, Rackers is available in quite a few leagues. Considering how explosive Houston looked in Week 1, Rackers is looking like an every week fantasy kicker going forward. He connected on two field goals and four extra points in the opener. Start him with confidence this week against the Redskins.
Availability: Owned in ~65% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Rackers should be owned in all leagues and will be a top 10 kicker in 2010.
Matt Bryant, Falcons
Bryant booted three field goals Sunday against the Steelers, including one that was 49 yards. It was a good start for the Atlanta kicker and it came against one of the NFL’s tougest defenses. Looking ahead, I see Bryant emerging as a stable fantasy kicker. I especially like him at home this week against a Cardinals defnese that gave up 325 yards of offense to a poor Rams team. Grab Bryant and look for a double-digit stat line.
Availability: Owned in ~31% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: Bryant is worth a spot start and could emerge as a trustworthy weekly kicker.
DEFENSE / SPECIAL TEAMS
No Brainers: New York Giants and Philadelphia Eagles
The Redskins are coming off an impressive performance on Sunday night football in which they stymied one of the league’s best offenses. Washington held Dallas to just seven points. Although the turnovers and sacks weren’t big (one each respectively), the team did score a defensive touchdown on the final play of the first half. Mike Shanahan and defensive coordinator Jim Haslett have this team playing well. If they were left on your waiver wire and you aren’t satisfied with your current DST, make a play for Washington this week.
Availability: Owned in ~25% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: The Redskins are worth a look this week against the Texans.
New England Patriots
The Patriots defense and special teams got off to a fast start in 2010, recording two touchdows (interception return and kick return) to go along with one sack and one fumble recovery. New England’s defense may be younger than it’s been in recent years but don’t underestimate their potential as a weekly fantasy contributor. With a favorable schedule coming up against three QBs with questionable track records (Mark Sanchez, Trent Edwards and Chad Henne), the Patriots could be a fantasy force.
Availability: Owned in ~63% of leagues.
Forecast guidance: New England is worth considering in all formats.