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Bush League
Joe Levit
September 12, 2007

Every year there are a few surprising players who start the fantasy season hot and a couple of studs who end up duds on opening weekend. The sheer number of stars and even superstars who stumbled out of the gate last weekend however was remarkable. It puts a number of owners in the unique position to prey upon a bunch of other beleaguered owners, the ones whose fantasy teams lost to start the season.

After all, a truly pathetic performance can lead to disgust and despair even at this early juncture. Witness the performance of Bills receiver Lee Evans against the Broncos on Sunday. He finished with two receptions for five yards. This from a guy many owners pegged to patrol the top wide receiver slot on their fantasy teams. It is worth tempting Evans owners with guys like the Lions’ Shaun McDonald (90 yards and a touchdown) or Antwaan Randle El of the Redskins (162 yards), guys who likely just posted their best fantasy performance of the entire year. Not everyone will think through Evan’s performance, and remember that he spent the day against the top cornerback tandem in the league, and had to face shutdown corner Champ Bailey most of the game.

Pillage when and where you can. Here are the guys you should be targeting immediately in trade talks, before the games commence again this weekend. You won’t find any waiver-wire talent on this list, just known fantasy names you may be able to pick up on the cheap if you are creative and persistent enough.


Drew Brees – Sure, it was on the road against the defending champions, but come on! Brees threw for fewer than 200 yards, had no touchdowns and handed over two interceptions. This was for certain his worst game of the year.

Matt Hasselbeck – The Seahawks got good production from Shaun Alexander and a terrific performance from their defense. The passing attack? Not so much. The team’s new top wideout Deion Branch caught not one pass. Hasselbeck will get the guys in gear with some more time together under game conditions.

Philip Rivers – The Chargers ran into a difficult Bears defense to start the season. The only thing possible in the air was plays to Antonio Gates. Rivers threw a pick and didn’t complete a pass to the end zone. None of the wide receivers got involved, which won’t happen often. Once LaDainian Tomlinson gets more going on the ground, the air game will open up for Rivers

Running Backs

LaDainian Tomlinson – The undisputed number one fantasy pick had a tough time against a talented set of linebackers from Chicago. Though he did run one touchdown in and pass for another, he totaled only 25 yards rushing. Tell prospective trading partners that even Tomlinson’s backup Michael Turner ran for more yards than their supposed stud last weekend.

Steven Jackson – Jackson didn’t get the quick start off the blocks this season, finishing with no touchdowns and only 58 yards rushing on 18 carries. Maybe you can pry him away from someone else right now. Without Orlando Pace protecting Marc Bulger and Torry Holt still hobbling, the team will want to run more anyway.

Larry Johnson – Johnson ran for only 43 yards but did catch seven passes for another 44 yards. Another top fantasy back that failed to cross the goal line though. Strike quickly with a trade offer.

Reggie Bush – There was no trip to the Promised Land for this Saint. He tied running back mate Deuce McAllister for the team ‘lead’ in rushing yards with 38, and his four pass receptions went for just seven yards. Bush is too talented to have nothing happen for him two weeks in a row, even if it is just good yardage from passes in the flat.

Rudi Johnson – Johnson was one of the most consistent fantasy running backs last year, scoring either 100 yards rushing and/or scoring a touchdown in 75% of his contests. Neither happened in week one (50 rushing yards) against the Ravens, but expect that to change at Cleveland next week.

Maurice Jones-Drew – What to make of just 32 yards rushing? Maybe the Titans defense is underrated this year. Jones-Drew should still be a solid second or third fantasy back for owners.

Deuce McAllister – McAllister was a part of the Saints’ poor effort against the Colts. He had only 38 yards rushing and seven receiving yards. With serious power at his disposal, McAllister could get a touchdown anytime that the Saints get into the red zone against the Buccaneers as soon as this weekend.

Cedric Benson – If you happen to believe in Benson (I don’t) now would be the time to go get him, after his 42 yards with no scores against the Chargers. In his favor is that backup Adrian Peterson also fumbled during the game.

Wide Receivers

Larry Fitzgerald – Anquan Boldin caught the touchdown and Fitzgerald ended up with the scraps. His three receptions for 20 yards make him a prime player to offer a deal to acquire.

Lee Evans – The aforementioned Evans will have better days. He and Losman couldn’t quite connect on a long pass in the fourth quarter. That miss can be a long make at any time.

Marques Colston – Colston caught six passes, but for only 47 yards. The entire Saints offense failed against the quick Colts defense in the opener. Get him while he’s cold.

Donald Driver – Driver has been a fairly boring but very consistent fantasy producer for a number of years now. He grabbed six balls for 66 yards in the opener, but can accomplish more in New York against the Giants this week, which recently gave up 45 points to the Cowboys.

Darrell Jackson – Both young quarterbacks struggled in this match up between the 49ers and Cardinals. Jackson can put together bigger games than his four catches for 36 yards. Get him before he and Alex Smith get in a rhythm.

Vincent Jackson – I guess its not surprising that Jackson also was stifled in the game against Chicago. He has developed timing with Rivers, and will soon greatly outperform his three catches for 28 yards.

Tight Ends

Todd Heap – The Ravens could not create enough on offense. Heap didn’t really help the cause, catching four passes for a lame 29 yards.

Vernon Davis – Nothing doing for Davis yet this year. He caught two passes for a grand total of four yards against Arizona. Despite the early poor showing, Davis still has the inherent speed to make a lot of big plays this season.

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