September 18, 2008

Tiering your players on a weekly basis not only is a good way to determine whom to draft in fantasy football, but also is great way to break ties for tough lineup decisions each week. Delving into the tiers this week, we've got a beleaguered stud QB making a return to fantasy prominence; a running back that's up to no good and all those tight ends that looked like breakouts in Week 1. Plus, I give you a little history lesson on why Santana Moss needs to be on your bench.

Ready ...

Jay Cutler vs. New OrleansPeyton Manning vs. JacksonvilleTony Romo @ Green BayDrew Brees @ DenverPhillip Rivers vs. New York JetsDonovan McNabb @ PittsburghAaron Rodgers vs. DallasJon Kitna @ San FranciscoEli Manning vs. CincinnatiKurt Warner @ WashingtonJ.T. O'Sullivan vs. DetroitMatt Hasselbeck vs. St. Louis

Set ...

Ben Roethlisberger vs. PhiladelphiaMatt Schaub @ TennesseeCarson Palmer @ New York GiantsJake Delhomme @ MinnesotaJason Campbell vs. ArizonaTrent Edwards vs. OaklandMatt Cassel vs. MiamiKerry Collins vs. HoustonBrett Favre @ San Diego

No!

Gus Frerotte vs. CarolinaDavid Garrard @ IndianapolisDerek Anderson @ BaltimoreMark Bulger @ SeattleJaMarcus Russell @ BuffaloMatt Ryan vs. Kansas CityChad Pennington vs. New EnglandJoe Flacco vs. ClevelandAnyone playing QB for Kansas City @ AtlantaBrian Griese @ ChicagoKyle Orton vs. Tampa Bay

OK, I know what you're thinking. Something along the lines of "Roethlisberger behind Kitna, O'Sullivan and oh lord, Hasselbeck? Seriously, have you been huffing glue?" Pretty close, right? Let me explain. First off, that Detroit/San Francisco matchup has aerial showdown written all over it. O'Sullivan and his receivers are really starting to resemble a well-oiled Martz machine, and Kitna and his duo of beastly WRs is as deadly as they come. Plus, there's the whole revenge factor to take into account for both sides. Oh, and did I mention that the defenses are giving up a combined average of 33 points a game? Good times are in store for nearly everyone involved in that game. The Hasselbeck call is a little harder to justify, but hear me out. For starters, the recently acquired Koren Robinson and Keary Colbert are a 150 percent upgrade from the trash pile of receivers that he was throwing to last week. Having reliable, veteran targets is all a guy like Hasselbeck needs to get the system clicking, especially against the Rams. And really, that's the main factor in my decision here. The Rams have been absolutely massacred in their first two games, their coach's seat is on fire and they're going into Seattle against a desperate team. Call it a hunch, a gut feeling, whatever. Hasselbeck throws for 300 yards and two scores this week. That brings me to Roethlisberger and that sore/separated shoulder of his. Chances are it's not even an issue. Chances are that if he can withstand a pile drive from the massively robust Shaun Rogers, the shoulder is stable. But there's also a chance that it acts up or tires out on him in what promises to be a shootout with Philadelphia. What then? Would you rather have three quarters of Roethlisberger or one of the twelve guys with the potential for excellence that I have listed above him? Just think about it, that's all I ask...

Other notables:

With the Browns coming to town in Week 4, and the imminent return of the infamous Chris Henry, get Palmer on the cheap while you still can. Just don't start him this week against the sack-tastic Giants defense ... Some may look at Collins' 128 passing yards against the Bengals last week and think that he's worthless. Don't forget, though, that game was played in winds so strong that players were stumbling around, and balls were wobbling so badly that I could have sworn I was watching a reenactment of my league's annual drunken flag football game. The numbers will be much better against the Texans ... The No's all speak for themselves right? Let's move on ...

Ready ...

LaDainian Tomlinson vs. New York JetsAdrian Peterson vs. CarolinaBrian Westbrook vs. PittsburghMarion Barber @ Green BayFrank Gore vs. DetroitBrandon Jacobs vs. CincinnatiClinton Portis vs. ArizonaSteven Jackson @ SeattleLarry Johnson @ AtlantaWillie Parker @ PhiladelphiaMichael Turner vs. Kansas CityReggie Bush @ DenverMatt Forte vs. TampaChris Johnson vs. HoustonLenDale White vs. HoustonMarshawn Lynch vs. OaklandThomas Jones @ San DiegoJulius Jones vs. St. Louis

Set ...

Joseph Addai @ JacksonvilleKevin Smith @ San FranciscoDarren Sproles vs. New York JetsFelix Jones @ Green BayMichael Pittman vs. New OrleansJerious Norwood vs. Kansas CityEdgerrin James @ WashingtonBrandon Jackson vs. DallasChris Perry @ New York GiantsMichael Bush @ BuffaloDarren McFadden @ BuffaloPierre Thomas @ DenverFred Taylor @ IndianapolisMaurice Jones-Drew @ IndianapolisFred Jackson vs. OaklandDerrick Ward vs. Cincinnati BengalsAhmad Bradshaw vs. Cincinnati Bengals

No!

Earnest Graham @ ChicagoWarrick Dunn @ ChicagoJamal Lewis @ BaltimoreDeAngelo Williams @ MinnesotaJonathan Stewart @ MinnesotaSelvin Young vs. New OrleansAndre Hall vs. New OrleansRyan Grant vs. DallasLaurence Maroney/Sammy Morris/Lamont Jordan vs. MiamiWillis McGahee/Ray Rice/Le'Ron McLain vs. ClevelandJustin Fargas @ BuffaloTim Hightower @ WashingtonDeuce McAllister @ DenverSteve Slaton/Ahman Green @ TennesseeRicky Williams/Ronnie Brown @ New England

Sometimes the stats can be deceiving. They can lull fantasy owners into a false sense of security and often lead to over-inflated expectations and misguided starts. The Buccaneers' Graham is a perfect example of a running back who's attempting to pull the wool over your eyes early this year. His overall numbers are great: 207 rushing yards, a touchdown and an otherworldly 8.3 yards per carry, but look a little closer and you'll see the deception in his lying eyes. He's actually accumulated 114 yards and his touchdown on just two carries (a 68 and 46 yarder), and he's in a virtual time share with the rejuvenated Dunn (29 touches for Graham, 25 for Dunn). When you consider that last year he didn't have a run of over 26 yards, it becomes even more apparent what an anomaly the first two weeks have been. If you start Graham against the Bears this week, you're essentially ignoring the truth and just hoping that he breaks another long run. I'm not willing to do that.

Other notables:

Don't let the return of Jeff Saturday fool you. The Colts line is still in shambles, and the Jaguars defense is still very good against the run. If you can get 50 yards and a touchdown out of Addai, consider yourself very lucky ... Grant averaged 1.3 yards per carry on 15 totes last week against the Lions. The LIONS! No matter what comes out of Green Bay this week, don't start him under any circumstances. He's not healthy ... I liked what I saw out of Stewart last week -- 76 yards on 13 carries and two scores in the second half -- but Minnesota is too tough to trust him to do it again ... On the running back by committee front, you can finally start Jones-Drew and Taylor comfortably against a Colts defense that they've both feasted on in the past ... The same can't be said for the three-headed monsters in New England and Baltimore. I could try and predict what's going to happen, and maybe I'd get lucky, but I can't in good conscience recommend any of them. Be safe and avoid everyone until things become clearer ... The Monday night matchup is a nightmare for Tomlinson owners. Unless the Chargers rule him out on Friday (which isn't going to happen), there's no way that you can sit him. You just can't. Of course, if Chris Mortensen reports 20 minutes before the start of the game that L.T. "tested out the toe in warm-ups and wasn't able to cut or plant ..." Well, then you're up the proverbial creek without a paddle. Hopefully you handcuffed Sproles.

Ready ...

Terrell Owens @ Green BayBrandon Marshall vs. New OrleansReggie Wayne vs. JacksonvilleLarry Fitzgerald @ WashingtonCalvin Johnson @ San FranciscoRandy Moss vs. MiamiAnquan Boldin @ WashingtonPlaxico Burress vs. CincinnatiAndre Johnson @ TennesseeSantonio Holmes @ PhiladelphiaHines Ward @ PhiladelphiaSteve Smith @ MinnesotaMarvin Harrison vs. JacksonvilleRoy Williams @ San FranciscoGreg Jennings vs. DallasTorry Holt @ SeattleDwayne Bowe @ AtlantaChris Chambers vs. New York JetsJerricho Cotchery @ San DiegoDeSean Jackson vs. Pittsburgh

Set ...

Anthony Gonzalez vs. JacksonvilleRoddy White vs. Kansas CityT.J. Houshmandzadeh/Chad Ocho Cinco @ New York GiantsWes Welker vs. MiamiBraylon Edwards @ BaltimoreLee Evans vs. OaklandVincent Jackson vs. New York JetsDonald Driver vs. DallasEddie Royal vs. New OrleansLaveranues Coles @ San DiegoPatrick Crayton @ Green BayBryant Johnson/Isaac Bruce vs. DetroitDerrick Mason vs. ClevelandJustin Gage vs. HoustonAmaniToomer vs. CincinnatiDavid Patten @ DenverAntwaan Randle El vs. ArizonaBrandon Lloyd vs. Tampa BayKoren Robinson vs. St. LouisBernard Berrian vs. Carolina

No!

Santana Moss vs. ArizonaJoey Galloway @ ChicagoKevin Walter @ TennesseeJavon Walker vs. BuffaloD.J. Hackett @ MinnesotaJames Jones vs. DallasMuhsin Muhammad @ MinnesotaRobert Meachem @ DenverMark Clayton vs. ClevelandIke Hilliard @ ChicagoMatt Jones @ IndianapolisChansi Stuckey @ San DiegoKeary Colbert vs. St. LouisBrandon Lloyd vs. Tampa Bay

As you can see, there's not much out of whack with the receivers this week. Although there is one guy that I'm advocating as a "bench" this week despite his sexy name, and extremely productive start to the season. Santana Moss. It's not the matchup that I'm worried about; The Cardinals have a decent secondary, but it's far from a shutdown unit. No, it's Moss' past that makes me cringe when I think about starting him, and as everyone knows, you can't run from your past (even if you are a speedy, undersized NFL receiver). The facts are that heading into Week 3, Moss is coming off consecutive games with a touchdown, and had a 164-yard performance last week. Did you know though, that outside of a three game stretch in '05, Moss has only had one back-to-back 100-yard outing during his seven-year career? Did you also know that only once has he ever had a touchdown streak of longer than two games? Is it possible that Moss goes against what his history indicates and nets another 100 yards and scores? Sure, it's possible, and it's also possible that I wake up tomorrow morning to find my dog cooking me breakfast in a cocktail dress, but it's certainly not probable. And for me, fantasy football is all about probability.

Other notables:

Edwards has been targeted 18 times in two games, yet has only come up with five receptions. Is the blame on Anderson or did Edwards' hands turn to stone in the offseason? Whatever the reason, I'm officially putting him on double secret probation ... Rivers to Chambers is quickly becoming one of the better QB/WR duos in the league. Since coming over to the Chargers in Week 8 last year, Chambers has seven touchdowns in 12 games, including five over the past four contests ... Not so fast on Gonzalez. Outside of Wayne, the other Colts receiving threats are going to be rotating big games depending on the matchups and injuries. This week it's Harrison's turn against a Jaguars team that he always thrashes ... I'm not sure when I'll be ready to fully trust Jones again. Probably never. Definitely not until he catches a touchdown ... Don't look now, but Lloyd is becoming the go-to-guy in Chicago. Unfortunately, it's still Chicago and it's still Orton, but maybe, just maybe, being reunited with his former college coach, Ron Turner, has Lloyd finally living up to his tremendous talents. Maybe a receiver is born in Chicago this season. That'd be ironic wouldn't it?

Ready ...

Jason Witten @ Green BayAntonio Gates vs. New York JetsKellen Winslow @ BaltimoreTony Gonzalez @ AtlantaTony Scheffler vs. New OrleansJohn Carlson vs. St. LouisJeremy Shockey @ DenverChris Cooley vs. Arizona

Set ...

Heath Miller @ PhiladelphiaTodd Heap vs. ClevelandOwen Daniels @ TennesseeBoScaife vs. HoustonVernon Davis vs. DetroitL.J. Smith vs. PittsburghZach Miller @ BuffaloDallas Clark vs. JacksonvilleDesmond Clark vs. Tampa BayRandy McMichael @ SeattleDavid Martin @ New England

No!

Alge Crumpler vs. HoustonRobert Royal vs. OaklandDante Rosario @ MinnesotaBenjamin Watson vs. MiamiGreg Olsen vs. Tampa BayMarcedes Lewis @ IndianapolisAnthony Fasano @ New EnglandDonald Lee vs. DallasDustin Keller/Chris Baker/Bubba Franks @ San Diego

If Week 2 taught us anything about tight ends, it's that they're an unreliable, untrustworthy breed. After outstanding openers, Rosario, Fasano, Royal and Shockey didn't manage a single fantasy point between them (Shockey had 22 yards, but fumbled). Neither did Davis or Scaife, and Olsen actually had negative points if your league scores lost fumbles. Only Carlson and Scheffler managed to out-produce their projected value. Look for those two to continue their great play, and for Davis and Scaife to take advantage of favorable matchups and put up viable numbers. Shockey's disappearance was a little disconcerting considering the Saints were without Colston, but don't be too concerned. Brees will look to him early and often with the Denver secondary blanketing the outside receivers. As for Fasano, Royal and Rosario ... Week 1 may have been as good as it gets.

Other notables:

I knew that Miller would be the leading receiver in Oakland; I just didn't think they'd be averaging a measly 11.5 completions a game ... Things aren't looking any better against the surging Bills ... Watch the reports out of Indy closely this week in regards to Clark. If he's limited in practice and considered a "game-time decision," don't risk starting him ... I fully expect someone to step up out of the Keller/Baker/Franks trio in New York at some point this season (my money's on Keller), but it won't happen this week...

You May Like