Scouting Report: Ten players to put on notice in fantasy this season
Ah, fantasy football:
The Titans are a mess, possibly because they are breaking in a young quarterback or because they just faced two buzz saws in Week 1 and 2. The point is the excuses are getting old for Johnson for a second-consecutive year.
Last year it was a holdout. Then his offensive line. Now he's making excuses for himself by blaming everyone but himself:
"Even when I went for 2,000, I didn't think I was perfect, but I wouldn't sit here and say I'm to blame," Johnson said Thursday. "I'm only going to be as good as my line is going to be. We've got to work together and get better.
"I'm the highest-paid guy on this team, so, of course, I get the criticism," Johnson said. "But it's something I don't let get me down."
But Johnson has us down, and if he doesn't find room against what is a potentially solid Lions run defense, this could be another long season. The Texans (twice), Steelers, Bears, Dolphins, Jets, Packers and a bye are on the schedule. That's eight of the final 13 weeks with very little out of your first-round pick.
"It's a team effort when things are not going well," coach Mike Munchak said. "If it was one thing, we'd make an adjustment to that one thing. We're just going to have to plow ahead this weekend, and hopefully we'll get a lot more opportunities than eight to hand the ball off."
What is this writer's thought? Well, it looks as if Johnson just doesn't know how to make one cut and go. Instead, it's step, nothing; step again, nothing; step thrice, get blown up. He should plant his cut foot in the ground once and shoot the little gaps that are there. Instead, he's dancing in place and is a non-moving target.
The hits have to be taking away his explosiveness, too.
"Has it affected his body? Sure," Munchak said. "But I don't think that's an excuse as to why we're not running the ball well."
In the end, we're sick of the excuses. CJNoK, we tired of you.
Declining talent is one thing. Lack of touches is something else. We still need to find out which is the case with the Chiefs' Jamaal Charles, who is struggling coming off knee surgery.
He ripped off a 46-yard run in Week 1 against the Falcons, looking somewhat like the back who came into the season with the highest per-carry rushing average (6.1) in NFL history (over Hall of Famer Jim Brown's 5.2) among ball-carriers with as many attempts. Then, against the Bills, he rushed just six times for three yards.
"I'm not 100 percent, but when I played a couple of years ago, I wasn't 100 percent," Charles told the
The Chiefs need to let him and put him in something less than a timeshare with Peyton Hillis.
"As last week's game] developed, the other players were doing decent, so we didn't feel a need to put him back in at that moment," coach Romeo Crennel told the
"... Will it be like it was before the reconstruction? I don't know that will be the case."
Charles says he isn't quite that incapable of carrying the load.
"I got banged up, but I went back in the game," he told the paper. "It was basically like a sting, and I felt it. I went on the (exercise) bike and I got my feeling back, so I went back in the game. It wasn't a big deal."
The Saints have given up almost 300 yards and a league-worst five touchdowns to running backs through two games, which ranks third-worst in fantasy.
"I feel real good," Charles told the paper after being a full participant in practice this week. "It was a disappointing game, but I feel I'm getting better and better every week, so hopefully I'll be able to turn it on this week."
We say, mixing metaphors and quoting
Darren McFadden, you're fired. How in the world can you lay an egg against the Dolphins? And do that a week before you have to face that Steelers run defense?
Yay, you're healthy for once! Then: Aw gawd, we wish you were hurt and not goose-egging our lineup.
The excuse thus far this year for McFadden is not,
"Let's keep things in perspective for a second here," offensive coordinator Greg Knapp told SFGate.com. "We've played two games in the regular season on offense. We've had two different centers and a right tackle who played half a game last week. We need some patience.
"You can't develop a scheme in two weeks in a regular season, especially when last week we faced the No. 3-ranked rush defense from 2011. ... The scheme will be fine. It just takes some time."
OK, now go get 'em against that shabby Steelers front.
"Going with the zone scheme is one of those situations where you're going to have to keep hitting it until you get going," McFadden told the web site. "It's going to be one yard here or two yards there, but eventually it's going to start popping."
One or two yards? That is about right against the Steelers for a back.
"McFadden, I don't care what offense you put him in, he's going to be fine," Knapp said. "He's a good running back in all schemes. We'll be fine."
He better be fine, because we can't sit this bum right now.
Fantasy football is a game of fits and starts. With Fitzgerald, we need the starts because we've already had enough of the fits.
After his one-catch outing in New England, Fitz returns to the desert, where quarterback Kevin Kolb has deserted him. Coach Ken Whisenhunt said the Fitzgerald's poor performance was related to the Pats taking him away with double coverage.
Double coverage is not something in the Eagles' vocabulary, not when you have corners like Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominque-Rodgers Cromartie. Giving help to those elite corners is a waste, because that's how they benefit a defense. You can single them up on anyone and save the added defender for stopping something else.
The Cardinals have nothing else reliable on offense. Kolb has to do a better job of getting the ball to the Cardinals' playmaker. Fitzgerald is good enough to beat single coverage whenever he gets it, against whomever gives it to him.
Fitz, we 're frustrated with you, but we won't desert you like Kolb.
Matthew Stafford is one of three quarterbacks to ever pass for 5,000 yards and 40-plus touchdowns, along with Hall of Famers Drew Brees and Dan Marino. This season Stafford is closer to a Hall of Shamer with his four picks, two touchdowns and a two-game passing total that amounts to around one Eli Manning Week 2 performance.
Chalk it up to a funk. Stafford is going to light up the Titans this weekend, making Calvin Johnson, Brandon Pettigrew and perhaps even Nate Burleson and Titus Young monsters like Victor Cruz, Hakeem Nicks, Martellus Bennett and now Ramses Barden has been for Eli.
We are still wondering if maybe Stafford's 2011 was a fluke. We don't think so, but we'll be unhappy you if it winds up being so.
Mr. Adrian Peterson, we sat you in Week 1 because we figured you would be too limited. You tore it up (and we're not talking about your reconstructed knee).
We trusted you in Week 2, and you blew ... it.
Now, like Run D-Mc vs. the Steelers D, what are we to do as the best run defense in the NFL (San Francisco 49ers) comes to town?
You're playing for us in fantasy, but like lineman Richie Incognito said to Ryan Tannehill on
Julio Jones was a world-beater in the preseason and Week 1. He was Hide-e-o Jones in Week 2.
Jones was considered by most as the breakthrough fantasy star of the year, the kind who won't let you down, no matter the matchup.
Nope. In Week 2 it was Roddy White's turn in the Matt Ryan air show.
Mr. Jones, don't do that again.
The Pats' slot machine, aka Wes Welker, has been inexplicably removed from our gaming room, or at least rigged. For some reason in the indecipherable mind of Bill Belichick, Welker had been getting phased out of a Pats offense that was once the best in football because Welker was gashing teams through the soft underbelly of opposing secondaries.
Sure, Aaron Hernandez warranted more targets. But Julian Edelman? Come on. You cannot fool us into thinking "Edelman is a better fit for those plays" than Welker.
With Hernandez injured, Welker may have a path back to fantasy stardom. Let's just hope Belichick doesn't keep playing his fantasy-killing mind games.
Many missed on Newton out of training camp a year ago, then watched him post the greatest rookie season for a quarterback in history. This year, many skipped on Robert Griffin III because Newton just had to be a once-a-generation phenomenon. Newton was the real deal and thus became a second-round pick for many teams.
Save for some rushing yards against the Saints, Newton has looked like a soft soph with two passing touchdowns and five interceptions through three games.
Most figured there was no matchup in which to sit a top-five quarterback pick. Now fantasy owners are left to surf the red zone channel this Sunday for a potential backup to start until Newton's sophomore growing pains stop.
Thanks for making us consider picking up Matt Cassel, Sam Bradford, Ryan Fitzpatrick and, gasp, Alex Smith, Cam.
It easy to rank the best defense in the NFL. The 49ers are a bunch of bad dudes. Eleven mean men swarming to the football and putting opposing players in the training room.
Then why in the world must fantasy owners look at the fantasy D/ST scoring totals and see the first defense off the board in many drafts in the bottom 10 in scoring through two weeks.
Some passed on Tony Romo, C.J. Spiller, Malcom Floyd and Tony Gonzalez in Round 7 to select the Gold Rush defense.
Those mistakes are making us look foolish. And we hate looking foolish.
So, fantasy football, this is what we hate
Eric Mack writes fantasy for SI.com. Track his weekly starts and sits every Wednesday, his Scouting Report on Friday and his Fantasy Fast Forward on Sunday nights. You find also him on Twitter, where you can mock him, rip him and (doubtful) praise him before asking him for fantasy advice or challenging him to a head-to-head fantasy game @EricMackFantasy. He reads all the messages there (guaranteed) and takes them very, very personally (not really).