I’m No Superman: Fantasy Football Picks

To explain my title that strangely enough has absolutely nothing to do with my subject matter, I think a quick background message is required. I’ve been doing picks and projections (mainly on my Facebook page) for a year now, and fell into the habit of naming them after whatever song was stuck in my head at the time. My roommate has been watching Scrubs since I got back. So I’ve been singing along with the theme each episode.

 

Let’s start with my fantasy picks. The waiver wire crop this year was absolutely nothing left on the surface. I have seven fantasy teams in seven different leagues. The best player available in at least four of them is Darius Heyward-Bey. Not much room for confidence there when the best player available plays for the Oakland Raiders. But as Spongebob says in one of his episodes, “If you dig a little deeper, and believe a little harder, magic can happen!” (Yes, I just quoted the best cartoon of all-time.) Most of these names won’t be recognizable, but desperate times call for desperate measures.

[Cliche’ Counter: 2]

PLAYERS I LIKE

Quarterbacks

Matt Cassel, Kansas City

The New Orleans Saints have allowed almost3yards per catch more than the next worst team. They also rank 26th overall in pass defense, and let’s no forget whom Robert Griffin III got his hot debut against. Dwanye Bowe and Matt Cassel got on the same page for the first time this year last week, to the tune of 102 yards. Not only will Bowe have plenty of room to run and catch and then run some more, so to will Jonathan Baldwin and other Kansas City receivers, which only means success for the guy throwing them the ball.

 

Ryan Fitzpatrick, Buffalo

Keeping with the theme of decent pass offenses playing pitiful pass defenses, Buffalo has a buffet set for themselves in Week 3. Cleveland is even worse than the aforementioned Saints, ranking 28th in pass defense. Things could still be alright for them, however. Buffalo has only one proven pass catcher in Stevie Johnson. Cleveland has one of the best cover-corners in the league in Joe Haden. But wait, Joe Haden just got handed a four game suspension for violating the league’s drug policy. Cue Stevie Johnson to join the rest of his receivers in making underrated Fitzpatrick look very nice on Sunday.

 

Running Backs

Mikel Leshoure, Detroit

Take this pick with a pill of salt. Detroit is matched up with the league’s third worst rush defense this week, but Detroit hasn’t been known as a running team since Barry Sanders was suiting up each week. Matt Stafford has just been too good, and Detroit has the best receiver in the league poised for a huge game against a team without a cover corner. In short yardage situations though, Calvin Johnson will likely have three or four defenders literally draped over his body, and Detroit will turn to the short yardage game. I don’t predict Leshoure to break more than seventy yards, but I do predict a touchdown and maybe a catch or two. (Also keep in mind this is Leshoure’s first career NFL game.)

[Cliche’ Counter: 3]

 

Chris Johnson, Tennessee

As a disclaimer, I am in fact aware that he is owned in every fantasy league in the nation. But his value is collapsing faster than America’s tolerance for politicians, and you could probably swing a trade for Johnson in exchange for a player you’ll dump to free agency in two weeks after the regular starter from his team returns from injury. CJ2K won’t be at his two thousand yard pace (or even his 1,300 yard pace) this season, but he will break 1,000 yards, score a few touchdowns, and make his spot as a periodic starter worthwhile.

 

Trent Richardson, Cleveland

I did not think there was a snowball’s chance in Hell I would write either of Cleveland’s overrated rookies as a player I like this season. Richardson’s slapping me in the face (he scored directly after I benched him) changed my mind. Cleveland’s opponent, Buffalo, is in the middle of the league in rush defense. Richardson’s value comes in the fact that the rest of his offense can’t do anything. Brandon Weeden had a lucky game last week, and he has no competent receivers at the present moment to throw to. Richardson is Cleveland’s only reliable option week in and week out, so he will get his chances.

[Cliche Counter: 4]

 

Rashard Mendenhall & Jonathan Dwyer, Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh’s backfield is a mess. Issac Redman was supposed to be a feature back with a chance to make Mendenhall expendable. He blew his chance. Jonathan Dwyer stepped up and again made people think that perhaps Mendenhall wasn’t needed anymore. He blew his chance last week against New York. He didn’t blow it quite as badly though, and has one more opportunity this week to unseat Mendenhall, who is expected back after the bye week. Add Dwyer if you have a running back in a bad match-up and need eight or so guaranteed points. Add Mendenhall if you have some cohones and an open roster spot to kill. If Dwyer does well, don’t add Mendenhall. If Dwyer blows it again, scramble to get Mendenhall as quickly as humanly possible.

 

Wide Receivers

Brandon LaFell, Carolina

Steve Smith is owned in all leagues. Deangelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart are owned in all leagues. The connection between the three? They are all being outscored this season by Carolina’s second receiver, Brandon LaFell, who is also available in over half of fantasy leagues. If you think you are set at receiver, don’t worry about LaFell (or this entire section, for that matter). If you only have one or two bench options, or are starting someone playing for Cleveland or Miami, pick up LaFell. He won’t win you games, but he will provide a consistent 8 to 10 points until Williams and Stewart start playing like themselves again.

 

Danny Amendola, St. Louis

If you have read other fantasy articles so far, you’ve already read this, but Danny Amendola led the league in catches last week, and finished top five out of receivers in scoring. Currently tied for fourth out of fantasy receivers, Amendola is Sam Bradford’s reliable slot option on every other play when Bradford is being chased by three hundred pound behemoths let through by St. Louis’s miserable O-line. Add him regardless of how many receivers you have currently, startr him if you’re desperate this week, start him every week if his pace continues.

 

Mike Wallace & Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh; Miles Austin & Dez Bryant, Dallas

Same story, different pairs of teammates. Dallas plays the worst pass defense (by over 170 yards), so anyone who doesn’t start one of Dallas’s two star receivers should not be playing fantasy. Pittsburgh plays the eighth rated Raiders pass defense, but I don’t buy that rank. Oakland has no fully healthy option that can cover Brown, and no one period who can stay with one of Mike Wallace’s deep routes. Start Wallace in any league, start Brown if your two top receivers aren’t talked about in this paragraph.

 

Tight Ends

Heath Miller, Pittsburgh

Heath has a score in each game this year, due to his reliable hands and the fact that no one covers him in the Red Zone. Start him if you don’t have a guy like Celek, Gronk, Gonzalez, etc.

 

Tony Moeaki, Kansas City

Listen only if truly desperate, all waiver wire picks are gone, and/or your tight end before was Kevin Boss. Much like Cassel will have a good game because none of his receivers will be covered well, so to will KC’s startring tight end. New Orleans’ linebackers are absolutely ravaged from injuries and the oh so lovely NFL comissioner’s disciplinary miscues, so the tight ends will be open for KC.

 

Brandon Pettigrew, Detroit

Week one, both of New England’s starting tight ends scored a touchdown. Last week, unknown (unfortunately) Dante Rosario scored three touchdowns against them. Tennessee. Does. Not. Cover. Tight. Ends. START. BRANDON. PETTIGREW.

 

Rob Gronkowski, New England

Yes, it seems asanide to place the best tight end in the NFL on players I like this week, but Gronk’s competition for catches, Aaron Hernandez, went down last week, and will miss significant time. So I wonder where all of Hernandez’s touchdown targets will go…

 

Defenses

Pittsburgh

They play turnover-prone Oakland. Expect interceptions, Steelers fans.

 

Detroit

They play (my favorite) quarterback Jake Locker. Expect interceptions, Lions fans.

 

Chicago

They play St. Louis. Expect many sacks, Bears fans.

 

San Fransisco

They play Minnesota. Don’t expect anything specific, just the closest thing to murder that the FCC can legally show on television.

 

PLAYERS I DON’T LIKE

Carson Palmer, Oakland

He is playing a top-10 rated Pittsburgh pass D, has no reliable receivers, and plays for a team more focused on running and rebuilding than passing.

 

Mark Sanchez, New York Jets

The calls for Tebow started at the end of the Pittsburgh game, team officials leaked to ESPN that Tebow as a starter picked up steam again this week, and they play Miami, Tony Sporano’s old team. I guarantee Tony runs quite a few Wildcat (YES!) formations to show up the team that let him go.

 

Josh Freeman, Tampa Bay

The insane game from last week is more of an attribute to New York’s less than stellar secondary, not Freeman’s ability. The true test is this week with Dallas, who held arguably the best receiving tandem in the league (Nicks and Cruz) to less yards than anybody expected. I don’t predict Freeman to pass that test with mroe than a D+.

 

Running Backs

Ryan Matthews, San Diego

I can’t remember a time Matthews wasn’t on the injury report since his rookie season (told you so San Diego). Whenever he does manage to leave the hospital to play, he hasn’t impressed much. Atlanta forced fumbles and recovered fumbles against Denver last week. Chances are higher the defense scores a touchdown (and Matthews is concussed along the way) than that Matthews scores and finishes the game unhurt.

 

Michael Turner, Atlanta

Not often do I dislike both running backs in a game. It just happened here though. Turner used to be the premiere workhorse in the league. His production has almost completely halted with the development of Atlanta’s gunning pass attack (and back-up Jaquizz Rodgers). San Diego is the league’s best rush defense, and I don’t think that bodes very well for an underperforming Turner.

 

Issac Redman, Pittsburgh

Stats show that Redman (as of this morning) is owned in over eighty percent of leagues. Awfully high for a runnng back that will be third on the depth chart in three weeks. (Also: see Dwyer & Mendenhall article in the other section)

 

Jonathan Stewart & Deangelo Williams, Carolina

Stewart can’t stay healthy enough to play, and Williams is falling victim to just playing poorly and losing carries to Cam Newton. They have a few weeks before they’re relegated to fantasy disappointments this season.

 

Wide Recivers

Brian Hartline, Miami

I only recognize his name as fantasy relevant because Hartline is one of ESPN’s fantasy players to pick-up this week. Perhaps ESPN didn’t hear, but Hartline is now listed as Miami’s top receiver, which means he gets Revis Island against the Jets. Even a slowed Revis can shut down Hartline. Maybe vauable, but not at all this week.

 

Denarius Moore, Oakland

Moore is currently the best of an exceedingly horrible situation in Oakland. If he played a bad pass defense, he may be worth a risk on the bench. He plays Pittsburgh this week. Not so much.

 

Robert Meachem, San Diego

I’ll keep this short. Atlanta’s secondary = amazing (they destroyed Peyton Manning in under twelve minutes last week). San Diego’s receivers (by correlation) = bench players this week.

[Cliche’ counter: I think I’m up to 6?]

 

Tight Ends

Rob Gronkowski, New England

It seems even stupider that I’d have a tight end, let alone the league’s best, on nmy dislike board. Gronk plays Baltimore this week, and their linebackers can cover, especially without the distraction of Aaron Hernandez to open up the Gronk. Still worth a start, yes. Going to score twenty points again, no.

 

Fred Davis, Washington

How he was one of the top five preseason fantasy tight end picks is astounding. He didn’t do anything healthy. Now he’s hurt. Dump him off your team immediately.

 

Dustin Keller, New York Jets

See Davis, Fred (Above, Directly).

 

Defenses

Houston

Peyton Manning never gets humiliated two weeks in a row. I predict he torches Houston’s secondary for two touchdowns, minimum.

 

Seattle

Their secondary is good, but not good enough to handle Aaron Rodgers and his endless list of weapons.

 

New York Giants

They let Josh Freeman look like a Pro Bowl starter last week. They’ll overcompensate this week with secondary help. This leaves their rush defense open. Carolina is the best rushing team in the league. Not good.

 

 

Well, that’s all I got. Hope ya’ll like my picks (or don’t. I’ll prove you wrong), and maybe even listen to them! Good luck in your classes, sporting events, and have a Happy Sunday! God Bless!

– Dan