Quarterbacks | Running Backs | Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Backups Movin’ Up
Breakdown: These are guys who are likely on rosters, but are on the bench for the most part unless in deep leagues. Circumstances are favorable for them to move into the starting lineup for your fantasy team, at least for the coming week.
Justin Gage (TEN) – While he’s the number one receiver on the team, he wasn’t drafted until very late in most leagues and not at all in a few. However, if Thursday’s performance against the Steelers is any indication, the Titans are going to be airing it out deep to Gage quite a few times each game. Their commitment to this even against a very good Pittsburgh defense proves this. He was thrown to twelve times in regulation, a definite change of pace for Tennessee. The key though is Collins’ first look in the end zone seems always to be Gage. If they continue this throughout the season Gage will have some very nice games and, at least based on early returns, should be starting every week. If you, like me, had him resting on your bench…you realize your error, but at least you drafted him! Now start him!
Todd Heap (TBB) – Two things happened in Baltimore this weekend. The team opened up its passing game, as advertised, and Todd Heap looked more like the Todd Heap of old than he ever did last year. Targeted eight times, he grabbed five of them and put up over seventy yards with a touchdown, not bad for a team like Baltimore. Flacco is obviously much more comfortable this year and it showed in week one, as he attempted forty-six passes for over three hundred yards. The team is not very deep in its receiving corps, however, so these yards are going to have to come from somewhere, meaning Heap has every opportunity in the world to have his best season in a while, if not ever.
Percy Harvin (MIN) – It may have only been for one game, but two things became very clear for the Vikings this week. Bernard Berrian was non-existent, and Brett Favre was looking for Harvin all day long. Harvin appears to be Favre’s pet project, and he is well known for locking on to his favorite guy and staying locked on for the season. One game isn’t much to go on in that regard, but from all indications, Harvin is going to be busy this season as long as Favre stays under center. He would be a must start in leagues that require more than two receivers to be started, and a consideration even in two receiver leagues, depending on the strength of your other options.
Earl Bennett (CHI) – It wasn’t pretty, and was against a pretty good Packer defense, but the Bears did all they could to show that they’re going to pass the ball around more with Cutler behind center. The simple fact that Cutler threw thirty-six times for 277 yards, a TD and four INTs is testimony to this fact. Bennett, in his second season, looks to be the early candidate to be Cutler’s favorite receiver. Many thought it might be Greg Olsen, but that has some work yet to be done, so for now at least, Bennett is the guy. With two games against Detroit, there is no reason Bennett shouldn’t be on a fantasy roster and in a few starting lineups in deep leagues at least.
Waiver Wire Radar
Breakdown: These are guys who more than likely are not residing on many, if any, rosters. They are in situations that are favorable for possible fantasy impact in the not too distant future.
Antwaan Randle El (WAS) – Let’s get one thing straight first, in no way am I indicating that the Redskins have much of a passing game. They don’t. However, they do play St. Louis next week, meaning the receivers could have a decent week next week. Since only one receiver who wasn’t a tight end had more than one catch or ten yards, it goes without saying that the seven catches for ninety-eight yards that Randle El put up can’t go without notice. There are a lot of young guys trying to get the top receiving slots in Washington, but it doesn’t appear they’ve done it yet. Look for El to have a surprise few weeks at least, and it could help out a lot during bye weeks to have him on your bench.
Pierre Garcon (IND) – Third receivers in Indianapolis in the Manning era are usually somewhat valuable properties. With Anthony Gonzalez’ banged up Garcon stepped into the second role nicely. With Gonzalez out for a few weeks, Garcon becomes the number two guy with decent upside even when Gonzalez returns. While he isn’t going to be a top tier guy anytime soon, obviously, he is definitely a good bench depth option as bye weeks approach.
Robert Royal (CLE) – Not only did Brady Quinn look for Royal plenty against Minnesota, throwing in his direction nine times, on one series late in the game he threw his way three times in four plays out of the no huddle. This tells fantasy owners that the young quarterback is going to be looking to Royal as a safety valve plenty right out of the gate. I was high on Royal in Buffalo but he never seemed to be used to the fullest extent. With Winslow gone, there are big shoes to fill in Cleveland, and Royal is off to a great start. If you’re in a league that requires tight ends, Royal is a great pick up off the wire.
Andre Caldwell (CIN) – While Coles was supposed to be the next T.J. Houshmandzadeh in Cincinnati, it would appear he’s a bit late to the role. Caldwell was targeted eleven times by Palmer this week, one more than even Chad Ochocinco was targeted, and he pulled in six of them. Even though the yardage wasn’t what would have been hoped for, only fifty-four yards, all the signs are there that he could emerge as a great starter for teams in PPR or deep leagues. The odds are even better that he is still on the waiver wire, so get on it!
Mark Bradley (KCC) – Here are the things you should know. One – Mark Bradley has proved himself to be a gritty, hard working receiver, in the vein of Ed McCaffrey and the like. Two – the ‘star’ receiver on the team is not playing with the starters…even now that the season has started. Three – the coach says all receiver spots are open, and that the hard working guys will be starting. Four – Bradley had four catches for seventy-three yards on for a team that only had 177 passing yards. In other words, Bradley would appear to be the guy you want on your team, and who is in the lead to be the top receiver on the Chiefs this year. It is also worth remembering that the Chiefs were playing the Ravens today, so even with their quarterback troubles, they should do better most weeks.
Mario Manningham (NYG) – There was a lot of talk about the progress of Manningham as camp wore on last month, and it was given credence when Manning’s first throw of the day was to him. There are a lot of guys vying for time in the Giant offense, and none are likely to be season long studs. That being said, Manningham could very well be a rising star and it is obvious the team intends to make good use of his talents. In all the debate regarding Hixon, Nicks, and Smith, Manningham was the guy on the outside of the discussion, yet he was the one with three receptions, five targets and a touchdown. He’s valuable in keeper leagues and deep roster leagues primarily, but worthy of consideration.