Over the last few weeks, we've focused on players that you either needed to get into your lineup, or guys that were possible sneaky good plays. This week let's switch it up a bit, and turn our attention to those who could be out to destroy your last gasp at a playoff chance, or could cost you important playoff seeding position. Remember, sometimes a smart benching can be just as effective as a great play.
Cassel: I get a perverse sense of giddiness out of watching professional sports teams make obviously horrible decisions, so consider me especially enthused for the impending Cassel sweepstakes this offseason. As for the more immediate future, his 400-yard, three-touchdown performance against the Jets was pretty impressive, but he's still "Backup Matt," and I still don't trust him.
He's thrown six touchdown passes in two games, and just four in his other eight. Take away those two stellar outings -- against the Broncos and the Jets by the way, two of the worst pass defenses in the league -- and he's averaging right around 10 fantasy points a game. It's easy to be seduced by the logo on the helmet, the excellent receivers and Cassel's pedigree. But it's all just a smokescreen designed to distract us from the fact that we're dealing with a very mediocre quarterback here.
Manning: Eli Manning is doing exactly what
And New York is 9-1 because of it.
So what has his newfound maturity and prudence brought to fantasy owners? The proverbial flaming bag of poo on the doorstep, that's what. Manning has thrown for under 200 yards in six consecutive games, and he's averaging just 12.8 fantasy points over that span. On paper, the matchup against Arizona seems to be a fruitful one for Manning as the Cardinals have given up a league leading 19 TD passes. Considering though, that the only way to stop the unfathomably brilliant
Since the start of the season, I've told you that Campbell would be nothing more than the occasional matchup play. Some games he airs it out with great results, and other times, he soils his drawers. If you keep an even keel when dealing with him, and use Campbell at the appropriate times, he can be a great asset to your team. This week against the Seahawks 31st-ranked pass defense would appear to be one of those appropriate times ... Remember the ground swell of support for Edwards as a blossoming fantasy stud when he went 25-of-30 for 261 yards against the Chargers in Week 7? Well, since then he's thrown only three touchdowns against eight interceptions, and is averaging less than 200 yards passing. I don't care if he is playing the Chiefs -- no way should he be your starter this week ... You think the Bears will be teeing off with
Smith: Everyone's hopping on the Kevin Smith bandwagon after he reeled off 96 and 112 yards in consecutive weeks, and I can't blame them ... I'm just not hopping on. In fact, I'm running away so quickly that I'm pretty sure I just pulled my glute.
This week he's got Tampa Bay, who's allowed just one rushing touchdown and one 100-yard rusher on the season. Look at that stat again: one rushing touchdown and one 100-yard rusher in 10 games. That's ridiculous. Ravens-esque if you will. And also a pretty good indication that a double-digit fantasy day probably isn't in the cards for Smith.
Plus, the Lions stink worse than an unwashed pirate hooker, so like I said ... run away. Quickly. Oh, and in case you were wondering, Detroit plays Tennessee and Minnesota in the next two weeks. If I had Smith, I'd be frantically harassing everyone in my league to try and pawn him off before the trade deadline. I suggest you do the same.
Turner: For starters, I'm a little worried about Turner's workload. He'd never registered more than 80 rushes in a season coming into this year, but is currently leading the league in rushing attempts, and on pace for a healthy 363 tries. Over the past month, as his rushing opportunities have increased, the amount of yardage he's picking up per carry has dipped well below four.
To make matters worse, "Mini-Fridge" has been held under 60 yards by every tough defense that he's faced (Tampa Bay, Carolina, Chicago and Philadelphia) and hasn't scored in any of those games. He once again finds himself facing the Panthers, and there's nothing in the numbers to suggest that Turner will fare any better than his 56-yard effort the first time around.
Gore has at least 18 carries and over 90 yards in the three games since
Burress: 2.8 catches and 34 yards. That's what Burress is averaging since the third week of the season. He's not dealing with injuries, there's been no quarterback switch, and he's not on a losing team. So what's the deal? If I were to throw a guess out there, I'd say that his reputation has surpassed his actual skill level.
Think about it for a minute.
After catching a career-high 12 touchdowns during the regular season, followed up by his huge 11-catch, 151-yard effort in the NFC Championship, and his game-winning scoring grab in the Super Bowl, Burress entered the season with a whole new level of respect around the league. He caught 10 balls for 133 yards in the primetime kickoff to the NFL season, and almost immediately ramped up his prima donna wide receiver act. He started behaving like he was one of the NFL's elite at the position, like he was the second coming of Randy Moss or T.O. Unfortunately for Plax, defensive coordinators started treating him like he was on par with those guys -- rolling coverage over to his side and double-teaming him all game long, and guess what?
2.8 catches and 34 yards.
You see, the truth is Burress isn't on the same level as those guys, never has been. This is his eighth year in the league, and he's yet to record an 80 catch season; only posted back-to-back 1,000-yard years once; and has reached double-digit touchdowns just twice. Don't get me wrong, he's a good receiver, but he's not great. And right now he's getting the "great" treatment, which he's simply not capable of consistently beating. I don't know about you, but as a rule, I tend to shy away from starting players that are really just glorified decoys. That's just me, though.
Harrison: Accounts of Marvin Harrison's demise have been greatly exaggerated over the past month, so have claims by the Colts that he's the same old Harrison. As is almost always the case, the truth lies somewhere in the middle. Is he finished, washed-up, as many "experts" have been saying? His nine catches this past Sunday should answer that question. Is it simply a timing issue between him and Manning that will work itself out, as the Colts would lead you to believe? Not by a long shot.
No, the fact is that Harrison has lost a step, and that's led to a slew of near misses, but he can still take advantage of defenses when the opportunity arises. The opportunity presented itself last week against Houston, and we saw the results. But that doesn't mean he's back, or that you can expect numbers like that from here on out. Actually, what's tended to happen after the occasional Harrison breakout is a renewed focus from defenses to shut him down, leading Manning to look Gonzalez's way more often. Don't be surprised if Harrison ends up as the Colts fifth-leading receiver this week behind Wayne, Gonzalez, Clark and Addai.
Mark my words, against San Francisco -- his former team remember -- Owens will not only catch a touchdown, but he'll set a season-high in receiving yards (not that 89 will be that hard to top) ... I want to believe in Edwards, I really do. But when I look at his 13 catches for 258 yards on Monday Night Football, and his paltry 22 receptions for 318 yards in his other eight games, the doubt does start to creep in ... I don't want to hear any complaining from the Evans owners out there. You knew what you were getting into when you acquired him, or at least you should have if you did your homework. If it makes you feel any better, I think he has a couple long catches this weekend ... In seven career games with Kerry Collins as his quarterback, Gage is averaging five catches, 82 yards and has scored four touchdowns. I'm thinking last week was more than just a fluke ...
Favre hasn't had a tight end like Keller since