FOOL ME TWICE
Last season Beanie Wells was my officially stated “Bust of the Year” candidate, and he did me proud: 397 rushing yards, a paltry 3.4 yards per carry average, and a meager two touchdowns.
When it came time to make this year’s BotY call, I very nearly went with Wells again. It would have been a dubious distinction, almost the polar opposite of my sister-in-law being twice named Most Improved Player in basketball (man, is that fun to bring up at family gatherings!). Instead, I went with Marshawn Lynch, who is well on his way to matching or perhaps even besting Beanie’s bustitude.
Wells, meanwhile, has put together back-to-back quality outings with 90 or more yards and a touchdown in each game thus far this season. He’s not doing this on any one of my fantasy teams, mind you, and there’s zero chance he’ll join my squad at any point this season. In fact, this is the portion of the program where I implore you to sell high on Wells while you can.
Beanie has exactly one more favorable fantasy matchup on his schedule: this week in Seattle (the rematch in Arizona takes place in Week 17, a meaningless week for most fantasy leagues). After that, here’s a sample of what Wells is up against: the Giants, at Minnesota (with Kevin Williams back in the mix), bye, Pittsburgh, at Baltimore. I put the odds of Chester Taylor having garnered a significant share of the workload by the time things lighten up a bit against the Rams in Week 9 at better than 50/50.
TIER ME A NEW ONE
Because some of you apparently have Tuesday waivers (in seven of my eight leagues, waiver day is Wednesday; the Sirius XM Experts League, which is a new one for me this year, is the first I’ve been in with Tuesday waivers), I’ve been efforting to get the Rest of Season Player Rankings up on the site ahead of schedule. The target is by dinner time on Tuesdays, giving you the evening to use the list in making your moves.
And while the cheat sheet generated by the ROS rankings doesn’t have tiers, it doesn’t mean they aren’t there. Here’s a look at one guy’s revised tiers, two weeks into the season.
QUARTERBACKS: Elite: Brady, Brees, Rodgers, Vick, Rivers; Next Tier: Stafford, Romo, Schaub, Ryan; Starters: Cutler, Roethlisberger, Freeman, Fitzpatrick(!); Roster-Worthy: Newton (but dang close to starter status), Bradford, Flacco, Kolb, Grossman; Just Guys: Henne, E. Manning, Hasselbeck, Campbell, Orton, Sanchez, McCoy.
RUNNING BACKS: Elite: Rice, Peterson, McFadden, McCoy; Next Tier: C. Johnson (show me something and you’re back with the elites), Forte, Turner, Jones-Drew, Mendenhall, Bradshaw, Best; Starters: Gore, Hillis, Blount, F. Jackson, Mathews, S. Jackson, Tolbert, Wells, Greene, Benson. Roster-Worthy: McGahee, Hightower, Starks, Foster, Tate, Green-Ellis, Sproles, Jacobs, Addai, F. Jones, Ingram, D. Williams, Woodhead; Just Guys: R. Bush, D. Thomas, McCluster, M. Bush, Tomlinson, Stewart, Helu.
WIDE RECEIVERS: Elite: A. Johnson, C. Johnson, V. Jackson, Fitzgerald, White, Wallace, Jennings, Nicks, Marshall; Next Tier: Wayne, Maclin, Holmes, Britt, Welker, D. Jackson, S. Johnson, M. Williams, S. Smith (CAR), Boldin, Lloyd; Starters: Moss, Meachem, Branch, Bryant, Austin, Bowe; Roster-Worthy: Nelson, Green, Harvin, Manningham, M. Thomas, Bess, Simpson; Just Guys: Ju. Jones, Henderson, Decker, Nelson, Burress, L. Moore, Sanders, Colston, Evans.
TIGHT ENDS: Elite: Witten, Finley, Gates, Gronkowski, Graham; Next Tier: Winslow, D. Clark, V. Davis, Daniels, Gonzalez, Olsen; Starters: Gresham, Hernandez, Keller, Dickson, E. Moore. Roster-Worthy: F. Davis, Watson, Pettigrew, M. Lewis; Just Guys: Shockey, Scheffler, Celek, Chandler, Fasano, Cooley (at least until the knees are better).
As the column is titled “Off Tackle” and I’m a firm believer in the axiom “It all starts up front,” it only makes sense to chronicle a few offensive line notes here.
- The Jets could ill afford another injury to their offensive line, but it appears they’ll be without center Nick Mangold for a couple weeks. The Pro Bowler suffered a high ankle sprain, and while he still thinks he might go against the Raiders this week the Jets are making alternate plans. Unfortunately for them, backup Rob Turner broke his leg in the preseason so at present they’re prepping undrafted rookie Colin Baxter, who’s been with the team for all of two weeks after being among the Chargers’ final preseason cuts. Looks like it may be another couple weeks before Shonn Greene gets going.
- The news is slightly better for Bears rookie Gabe Carimi, whose dislocated kneecap isn’t as bad as initially feared and may only cost him a month. Not that the Bears aren’t used to scrambling, as Carimi is the third offensive tackle Jerry Angelo has drafted in the first round and the third to go down with an injury as a rookie. Frank Omiyale, a former Bears starter, will fill in while Carimi is out. Looks like Mike Tice has more work to do.
- The Seahawks will be without Robert Gallery for the next four to six weeks as the ex-Raiders guard will undergo surgery on his injured groin (pause for every male reading this to wince). Gallery evidently played through the injury last week, earning both a tough guy medal and a shot at lead soprano in the Seattle Men’s Choir. There are no plans to put him on injured reserve, as Pete Carroll says it’s an injury he can return from. Paul McQuistan will replace Gallery in the interim.
- The Bills (107.6) and Titans (107.0) top this week’s New York Life Protection Index leaderboard, while the 49ers (0.7, and that’s not a typo) and Seahawks (11.5) bring up the rear. For the season the Lions (93.1) cling to their lead by virtue of not having allowed Matthew Stafford to be sacked yet this season. At the bottom end of the ladder are the Vikings (22.5), who at least are on the positive side of the ledger now. Those two teams will mix it up in Minnesota in Week 3, with the Lions favored at Metrodome for the first time in 30 years; thanks to ESPN’s Kevin Seifert for unearthing that stat.
We have to stop this column; apparently there’s a Giants player down on the field.
Okay, he’s up. Didn’t see what happened, but he must have been injured away from the play. Hope that didn’t disrupt the rhythm we had going…
With Ben Tate taking over, at least for the moment, for Arian Foster in Houston, it seemed like a good time to revisit which handcuffs are required and which are superfluous.
- While the Chiefs are taking the express lane to the cellar, there are touches to be had with Jamaal Charles done for the season. Your choices are Thomas Jones at about three yards a carry or the electric Dexter McCluster at about double that pace. You know Todd Haley will still give Jones carries, but McCluster was getting touches prior to Charles’ injury and should see a bump in his workload as well. As an added bonus, McCluster may be wide receiver-eligible in some league management systems.
- Roy Helu received a couple series of work in Washington’s win over the Cardinals; he’s usurped Ryan Torain as the guy most likely up next in Mike Shanahan’s blender approach to a backfield.
- Keiland Williams saw the most work in relief of Jahvid Best last week and has leapfrogged Jerome Harrison for the right to be handcuffed to the oft-injured Best. Did you ever think you’d see the day where a backup Lion had some fantasy significance?
- Isaac Redman is getting the occasional series in Pittsburgh and capitalized on that opportunity to find the end zone last week. It’s still Rashard Mendenhall’s gig, but Redman would be the guy to be holding if something went awry with Mendenhall.
- The Colts rank 29th in fantasy points by running backs, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore Delone Carter. He’s getting almost as many carries as Joseph Addai, and if and when the Colts near the goal line he’s expected to see plenty of work there as well. A bit surprising that Carter hasn’t been targeted in the passing game yet, but that’s a skill Addai possesses as well, so be patient.
I MISS THE BOOTS (or, THIS WEEK’S BAD BEATS)
Sunday nights are really starting to wear on me.
First, they changed the opening (again) to Sunday Night Football. If you’re going to trot Faith Hill out there, and believe you me I’m a big proponent of doing so, why put her in leggings? Go back to the thigh-high leather boots from a couple seasons back. Huge fan.
The return of the boots would make what happens the rest of the evening a whole lot easier to digest. It seems as if Sunday night is particularly designed to rip my heart out and undo all the good work my fantasy teams have cobbled together all afternoon. Two examples from this last week alone: LeSean McCoy singlehandedly turning an eight-point lead into a four point loss; and Tony Gonzalez helping to eat a 14-point advantage and leave me stewing in an 11-point loss.
And if Sunday night doesn’t get me, Monday night will. Again this past week, I fought off a team stacked with Michael Turner and Roddy White with my own one-two combo of McCoy and Michael Vick. Of course, Vick left the game prematurely on a fluke play in which he smacked his head against his own lineman. Nonetheless, I was still clinging to a seven-point lead with only the Monday night game to go. My opponent had Mario Manningham, who stuck around long enough to get exactly the eight points needed to crush my will to live before exiting with a concussion—too late to do my team any good.
So please, NBC, if you’re going to continue sticking it to me on Sunday nights, at least have the indecency to let Faith Hill do it in thigh high boots.
Speaking of which, I can’t help but notice that I’m facing Ben Roethlisberger in multiple leagues this week and the Steelers are slated for the Sunday night tilt. Go ahead right now and pencil Big Ben in for a rushing score and three touchdown tosses. I’ll just assume the position now.