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FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Off Tackle: Week 8
John Tuvey
October 28, 2011
 

One of the articles astute Huddlers may have noticed missing from the weekly lineup is the Fantasy Chop Shop. Sorry to say the Chop Shop was caught up in an undercover FBI sting after some of the stripped parts showed up in one of the cars on the set of the latest Fast and Furious sequel.

But your pleas for roster management help have not fallen upon deaf ears. While I’m not turning Off Tackle into a full-on reprise of the Chop Shop I will make a couple trips down the same path that article covered—this week being one of them—with the intent of bringing back a similar type of regular feature next season.

So, I’d love to hear your feedback on this iteration. Are enough players covered? Are they too obvious or, conversely, too deep for your league? Is the information delivered in a timely enough fashion?

And perhaps most importantly, does the new theme work for you? For now I’m running with a meat market theme because it lends itself well to the topics covered and as an homage to the butcher shop my uncle and late grandfather used to run. But hey, you don’t want to know how the sausage is made; you just want the finished product.

In any event, all suggestions welcome. And now, on with the countdown…

PAST THEIR EXPIRATION DATE

Players who should no longer take up space on your fantasy roster.

Curtis Painter, QB, Colts
Maybe you squeezed a couple bye week spot starts out of him, but the egg he laid in New Orleans still resonates. There isn’t an overtly favorable matchup left on his schedule as Indy appears headed full-on into “Suck for Luck” mode.

Colt McCoy, QB, Browns
A familiar refrain in Cleveland: lack of playmakers. You could make a case for Greg Little defibrillating McCoy’s fantasy value, but their only favorable matchup over the next six weeks comes in Week 10—which, oddly enough, is not a bye week.

Bernard Scott, RB, Bengals
You snapped up Scott when Cedric Benson’s suspension was announced, and you hung on to him until the wheels of justice spun. Congratulations! You get Scott on the road against an underrated Seattle defense that’s allowing 3.1 yards per carry to running backs. And after that, it’s back to Benson.

Ryan Grant, RB, Packers
Grant hasn’t scored since the final week of 2009, and in six games this season he’s ranked 49, 30, 47, 22, 48, and 43 in fantasy points scored amongst running backs. He’s had double-digit carries only once, more than a month ago. Oh, and any goal line looks he might get are going to John Kuhn. Barring a James Starks injury there’s simply no way you can start Grant with any degree of confidence.

Steve Smith, WR, Eagles
This was supposed to work the other way: a slow start as Smith recovered from offseason knee surgery, followed by the former Giant working his way into a slot role and fantasy value with Jeremy Maclin and DeSean Jackson attracting all the attention. Instead, Smith has one catch and one target in the last three games combined and is battling Riley Cooper for the right to squat behind Jason Avant on the depth chart.

Mohamed Massaquoi, WR, Browns
You may be getting the impression I’m not overly enamored with the fantasy prospects of the Browns’ passing game, but that belief is supported by stats: Cleveland’s wideouts rank 30th in fantasy points. Massaquoi took another shot to the head last week, his second concussion in as many years, and while he’s officially day-to-day I’m betting that’s a tad on the aggressive side. He’s already lost WR1 status to Greg Little, siphoning off what little fantasy value was left.

Hines Ward, WR, Steelers
Pittsburgh wide receivers rank third in the league in fantasy points—no thanks to Ward, who has been shut out in six of seven games and topped 50 yards just once in the past six. Now he’s nursing an ankle injury, which not only hinders his football ability but might also cut into his cha-cha-cha on the dance floor. Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders are more than capable of picking up the slack and are better fantasy roster candidates.

Marcedes Lewis, TE, Jaguars
Lewis got paid in the offseason, and the expectation was that he’d be David Garrard’s favorite receiver… and when that didn’t work out, a security blanket for rookie quarterback Blaine Gabbert. A couple of end zone drops early in Gabbert’s tenure didn’t endear Lewis to his new QB, and there’s no reason to wait for them to kiss and make up.

THE DISPLAY CASE

SPECIAL PURCHASES
Players who you should look into trading for at current market rates.

Chris Johnson, RB, Titans
It’s difficult to imagine CJ’s fantasy value sinking any lower. Not only did he struggle mightily against the Texans coming out of the bye week, he pointed the finger of blame at his offensive line. Worse, members of the Houston defense weighed in on how sluggish and soft he played, and that Javon Ringer was the better back. For starters, Johnson is getting too much guaranteed money to not get a chance to play through his issues. He’ll also get the soft Indy run defense at home this week, so your deal will pay immediate dividends. CJ’s schedule the rest of the way is fantasy friendly as well, so if he regains anything close to vintage form you’ll be a leg up on the competition.

Miles Austin, WR, Cowboys
Right now all the big money will be chasing Dez Bryant, reducing Austin’s price tag. And while Bryant did have a nice game and is showing flashes of the talent that made him a first-round pick, he’s still enigmatic—as in he could nurse another injury for a while or bump into another off-the-field distraction. Even if Austin runs a 1A to Bryant’s WR1, the Cowboys’ schedule is more than friendly enough for a second wideout to have success. In fact, the only “tough” matchup left on Dallas’ schedule is Philly (twice), and if Bryant’s the WR1 that means he gets Nnamdi Asomugha. Get a fantasy WR1 at something much closer to WR2 prices? Too good to pass up.

Santonio Holmes, WR, Jets
Like Austin, Holmes is currently lurking in the shadow of his running mate, Plaxico Burress, fresh off a hat trick against the Chargers. Holmes, meanwhile, had a fantastic diving catch in the end zone—only to see his touchdown wiped out by a holding penalty. Plaxico’s resurgence and the Jets’ recommitment to “ground and pound” pull coverage away from Holmes on a schedule that after this week’s bye is extremely wide receiver friendy. Like Austin, the only tough matchup on Gang Green’s slate is the Eagles, with Asomugha just as likely to target Plax as Holmes.

ON SALE NOW
Players you should seek to trade away based on their current value.

DeMarco Murray, RB, Cowboys
Murray’s value will never be higher coming off a franchise-record 253 yards, but let’s not crown him just yet. To begin with, the Cowboys haven’t committed to him as the starter—though it seems obvious to everyone involved he’s the most talented back in the Dallas stable. But Jerry Jones has had talented backs before, and not since Marion Barber in Week 8 of 2008 have any of them seen the 25 carries Murray got last week. In fact, Murray’s workload was only the third time in the past 41 games Dallas has given 20 carries to any back. With Felix Jones getting healthy, Tashard Choice still on the roster and Phillip Tanner proving his worth at the end of the same game Murray excelled in it’s tough to see DeMarco getting another 20 carries any time soon. Don’t give him away, of course, but selling high is always a prudent maneuver.

Ryan Torain, RB, Redskins
Torain already has a solid game on his resume, and with Tim Hightower done for the season it sure looks like he’ll get all—or at least most—of the carries in Washington. Right now that potential is glistening, making Torain look like an elite fantasy back in the minds of many; better still, the matchup with Buffalo this week is—on paper, at least—a favorable one. But would it shock anyone who’s been Shanahanned in the past if Roy Helu or Evan Royster or some guy the Redskins sign off the street takes a bite out of Torain’s workload this week? Would yet another injury to Torain stun those who have been disappointed by his durability before? Does a schedule that, after the Buffalo “layup”, presents three tough matchups over the next month hint that whomever is Shanahan’s incumbent back now could very easily cough up those duties by the time the fantasy playoffs roll around? How confident are you in Torain now? Of course, don’t mention any of that other stuff when you’re trying to unload him.

Antonio Gates, TE, Chargers
Gates looked great in his first game back, and the consensus is that if he’s active he belongs in your fantasy lineup. But it’s as simple as this: I don’t trust his foot to hold up. He’s played in five of the last 12 games. He had the entire offseason to rest and recover and lasted two games; he took another five weeks off before playing last week. Why settle for maybe three or four games from an elite tight end when you can sell the illusion that he’s all the way back and get elite tight end pricing for him instead?

STORAGE FREEZER
Players whom you should “chill” on for the time being.

Carson Palmer, QB, Raiders
The plan was likely for Palmer to get a series or two at garbage time—after the Darren McFadden-led Raiders had rolled up a big lead at home against the Chiefs. But after Kyle Boller was picked three times in the first half, Hue Jackson decided it couldn’t be any worse with Palmer at the helm—even though Palmer knew about 10 percent of the playbook and wouldn’t have the injured McFadden at his disposal. The results were to be expected, though you could see a hint of chemistry developing between Palmer and Darrius Heyward-Bey. Give that duo two weeks and it’ll be Palmer to T.O., younger version.

Roddy White, WR, Falcons
The Falcons are back to a ground-heavy attack which has dampened White’s numbers to the point he’s on pace for about 25 fewer catches—and rookie Julio Jones hasn’t even been in the lineup the past two games. But White’s gorgeous touchdown grab against the Lions underscores why you shouldn’t bail on him yet: he’s still Matt Ryan’s money receiver, and just because the Falcons didn’t become the 1998 Vikings doesn’t mean he isn’t still an elite fantasy wideout.

TWEET MARKET

My Twitter education continues. Last week I mentioned a couple Twitter brushes with fame, and this week brought a couple more. First, Josh Charles retweeted my link to his mention in last week’s Off Tackle; it was like Dan Rydell announced my own personal highlight on Sports Night.

Then, leading up to the show David Dorey and I co-host on Sirius XM, The Huddle’s own Johnny U. Miller of JUMbotron fame landed another famous follower: Josh Saviano, perhaps best known as Paul Pfeiffer from "The Wonder Years". Josh is a noted fantasy football player, and after he signed on to follow me as well we celebrated during JUM’s appearance on Cowbell Thursday on Sirius XM with a rare cowbell-infused version of "The Wonder Years" theme, Joe Cocker’s take on the Beatles’ “With A Little Help From My Friends”.

Charles, Saviano... Next year’s Huddle celebrity league seems to be filling up nicely.

Meanwhile, my Twitter following slowly but steadily increases. Those of you on board last week were tipped off to my hunch on Chris Ogbonnaya, the Browns running back who’ll be handling their third down duties going forward. Now, as an added incentive for those Huddlers not yet following me at @jtuvey—as if notification of Rest of Season rankings, interesting stats and trends unearthed during research, early release of my Take A Chance On Me players, and answers to whatever fantasy questions you send my way isn’t enough—if and when I crack the 500-follower barrier I’ll pick at random one of my Huddler followers for a special Huddle gift to be determined.

And if that goes well, maybe there’ll be an even bigger and better Huddle gift at 1,000 followers. I think I know where DMD keeps the tube socks.

 
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