Fantasy football mailbag: Practice patience with struggling Johnson
Week 3 generated lots to think about following a thrilling yet costly (for some) Sunday of football. The Titans appear to have lost Kenny Britt for the year, the Niners may be without Frank Gore next week and Michael Vick is a concern once again, this time with a bruised non-throwing hand. So the waiver wire will be hopping. Luckily, there are plenty of new candidates to pick up. Let's get right to your questions, sent this week to me on Twitter
Chris Johnson has been one of the most angst-inducing players in recent history, first with his protracted holdout, then with his ridiculously slow start to this season that after three games has him still trying to reach 100 total rushing yards. Owners have every right to be upset with their first selection.
Still, Johnson is healthy, the Titans have a good offensive line and they're going to need Johnson's playmaking abilities with the loss of Britt to a knee injury. What's missing are his tolerance of contact and timing with his offensive line. In time, those will develop. Owners should not panic and make terribly lopsided deals like the one your friend has proposed. If I'm you I take advantage of the generous offer (Vernon Davis isn't exactly tearing up the league this season) because it's only a matter of time before CJ2K breaks out and becomes untouchable. By the time the fantasy playoffs roll around, he'll be rolling, as will your team.
It's great to be able to neutralize the opposition's receiver with a quarterback who'll be throwing him the passes, so Grossman should be the call. Strategy aside, it's still the right move. Romo is still questionable with his broken ribs, but even if he were healthy, he's playing without Miles Austin and quite possibly Dez Bryant, which would leave Kevin Ogletree and reality show winner turned folk hero Jesse Holley as his wideouts. There's also the specter of Romo being knocked out of the game early by Brian Orapko, Ryan Kerrigan & Co.
Despite the close score, the Chargers stressed Week 3 as a confidence builder for Ryan Mathews. Norv Turner's crew needed to get their potential star runner in gear and what better way to do that than giving him a lot of carries against the down-and-out Chiefs? Although Tolbert only carried the ball four times (to Mathews' 21), he was dealing with a toe injury all week and he's still a tough runner. Despite the fumble in New England, Tolbert can still be a difference-maker near the goal-line. You may want to look for other starting alternatives for now, but don't cut him until Mathews truly establishes himself against a better team.
Right now, especially with Antonio Gates ailing with plantar fasciitis, Stafford's supporting cast is far superior than Rivers'. He has the league's best receiver (Calvin Johnson),an excellent pass-catching running back at his disposal (Jahvid Best), good complementary receivers (Nate Burleson and Titus Young) and a solid tight end duo (Brandon Pettigrew and Tony Scheffler). Plus, he's flat out playing better than the '10 fantasy MVP candidate. Use this to your advantage and send some trade feelers out to bolster the rest of your squad, using Rivers as the bait. I'm sure many Matt Ryan, Tony Romo and Ben Roethlisberger owners (not to mention Peyton Manning ex-owners) will listen.
Even if Manning does return this season, which becomes more unlikely with every Colts loss, there's no way that he'll be the Manning you thought you were getting in the draft. Newton has been a fantasy stud who, despite coming back to earth a little against the Jaguars, still should provide fine numbers for the rest of the season and be a capable backup. There's certainly a better use of the roster spot out there somewhere.
It all depends on what you can get in return. The Bills don't look like they're going to slow down soon, and Jackson is the only player suited to be a workhorse runner on the roster, so it would have to take an overwhelming deal to get him from me. Bradshaw is currently among the Top 12 runners in fantasy points, which is probably a little higher than where he's going to end up, especially with Brandon Jacobs playing well and likely to grab a bunch of goal-line looks in the next few games. So, depending on your depth at the position and needs elsewhere, he would be my sell-high guy.
Harvin was ill Sunday with a stomach bug, so I wouldn't take his three-catch, 47-yard showing as a sign of doom. Chances are he'll bounce back next week. He'll become an especially important cog in Minnesota's offense if and when they make the change from Donovan McNabb to Christian Ponder, giving the rookie a bunch of quick hit and screen options to move the ball when Adrian Peterson isn't carrying it. As for the still maturing Bradford, the loss of Danny Amendola and Steven Jackson and three tough opponents were devastating to the offense and left him among the ranks of Kerry Collins and McNabb in fantasy points. The Rams' schedule remains brutal until November, so it's probably OK to look for an alternative backup (one can only hope that he was your backup).
It's amazing how quickly the Dolphins staff abandoned Bush, who touched the ball just 12 times against the Browns. I think I'll keep my pizza but maybe you can find someone on the South Beach Diet to take him off your hands.
Brady has been the best fantasy player this season, but the addition of a Top 10 running back (Jones-Drew) and a Top 10 receiver (Jennings) is certainly enticing. Depending on how desperate at running back and receiver you are (Are you starting timeshare guys?) I would seriously consider it, especially after Fitzpatrick has solidified his place as a starting fantasy quarterback.
Tate is averaging more than 100 yards per game, so he's a lock. Johnson goes to Cleveland, which has allowed opponents -- and were talking Cedric Benson, Joseph Addai and Daniel Thomas, primarily, not Adrian Peterson -- an average of 128.7 yards rushing per game, so I'd use him and hope for the breakout game. The final spot comes down to how the Hightower/Helu split goes tonight. If Hightower dominates again then I'd go with him against the Rams. If not, then I give the nod to Forte at home versus Carolina instead of Mathews, also at home against Miami.