September 14, 2010

Well everyone, we made it. We survived another awful summer season and now our beloved football is back. Can you imagine this time next year if there is no NFL season? My God, the horror. I don't even want to think about a world without fantasy football.

I actually had one of my best calls ever this week. On Sirius, Facebook and Twitter I implored everyone to start the Lions defense against the Bears and was basically laughed off the face of the earth. My thinking was the Lions' front seven is vastly improved and the Bears offensive line is garbage.

I called for five sacks and three turnovers from the Lions. Well, they did me proud by registering four sacks and taking the ball away four times. It's that kind of call that makes writing this column worthwhile. So many people are afraid to take a shot because they might be wrong. Oh no. If you feel something, go with it. If you are wrong, who cares? At least you took a shot and didn't rehash the same thing everyone else is saying. Just stop telling me that LeSean McCoy is a "sleeper."

Just so you know, I can be found all over the place now. In case you haven't heard, the Sports Grumblings Live radio show is now on Sirius/XM every Saturday night from 8-11PM ET. I'm featured in the first and third hour. You can catch the show on Sirius channel 211 and XM channel 147. Check it out.

You can catch my comical musings on Twitter. If you want to follow my opinions daily during the season, this is a great place to get solid fantasy advice, not to mention a chance to get inside the cockeyed mind of Thomas Casale.

If you need The Bottom Line a little more in-depth and want to argue sports and life with me, then Facebook is a good option.

Now that I'm done with all of my shameless self-promotion, on with the Fire Sale:

Greg Camarillo, WR Vikings -- Thank goodness the Vikings begged Brett Favre to come back. Not any quarterback can lead his team to a whopping nine points against the Saints.

All kidding aside, I saw two things watching the Vikings. Favre isn't completely healthy and the Minnesota receivers are atrocious without Sidney Rice. I saw last month that one prominent fantasy "expert" said the loss of Rice wouldn't affect Favre. Really? Dynamite drop-in buddy. I suppose Tony Romo would be fine is he lost Miles Austin, too.

Anyway, I like Camarillo in PPR leagues moving forward. Some people were all excited about Bernard Berrian when Rice went down. Apparently those people never saw Berrian play football. He's terrible. And how can Greg Lewis still have a job in the NFL? This guy did nothing for years in Philly and now another team is allowing him to cash a paycheck for reasons I still don't understand. Lewis' longevity in the NFL is dumbfounding to me.

I expect Camarillo to slowly become Favre's favorite target. He may not score a ton of touchdowns but look for Camarillo to catch a lot of short passes from Favre in the coming weeks. I would jump on him now before Camarillo becomes a hot commodity in fantasy leagues.

It's a sad state of affairs when your receivers are so bad that Camarillo has the most upside but that's the situation the Vikings find themselves in. Good luck on that Super Bowl appearance boys.

By the way, have you noticed that Wes Welker is the new Ed McCaffery? Any white receiver is now compared to Welker, an honor McCaffery held for years. Al Michaels stated that Camarillo was a "Wes Welker-type" of receiver. He is? Camarillo isn't as fast as Welker. He isn't as quick as Welker. He isn't as explosive as Welker. So, in reality, the only thing the two have in common is that they're both white receivers. Just something to think about.

Mike Williams, WR Seahawks -- One of my "Sneaky Starts" from Week 1, Williams delivered for me by catching four balls for 64 yards. I actually thought he scored a touchdown as well but he was called down at the 1-yard line, and Seattle never challenged the play.

What a story this is becoming. I LOVED Williams in college and then he got jobbed by the NCAA. Williams never really recovered from being forced to sit out a year. He got depressed, gained a ton of weight and looked as if he would go down as a monumental bust.

Then something amazing happened. Williams re-surfaced with Pete Carroll in Seattle and he looked great this preseason. Now he's the Seahawks' No. 1 receiver. Talk about a possibility for "Comeback Player of the Year." Williams has a chance to be the "Comeback Player of the Decade."

This just goes to show one thing: even when I'm wrong, I'm right. Sometimes you just have to wait five years for it to pay off. I picked up Williams a few weeks ago in my league and I couldn't be happier. I think, at worst, Williams will be a solid spot starter this year, and depending on how much Matt Hasselbeck has left in the tank, he could emerge as an even bigger fantasy contributor.

If Williams is still available in your league, I would jump on him right now before it's too late.

Jordan Shipley, WR Bengals -- I really thought Shipley was the most NFL-ready receiver coming out of college this year. What I mean by that is I believed Shipley was ready to step into almost any situation and help an NFL offense right away as a slot receiver.

Now here's the thing: The Bengals have a lot of options in the passing game, and Shipley won't catch five passes for 82 yards every week. However, Shipley is a tremendous route runner and he can eat defenses up over the middle if they don't pay him enough attention.

The Bengals fell behind early against the Patriots and had to pass a lot. Virtually every Cincy pass catcher had a strong fantasy outing on Sunday, and Shipley was one of those people. I'm not suggesting Shipley is an every-week starter but I think he has enough upside to be on your roster. I just picked him up in my league for receiver depth and I suggest you do the same if you have an open roster spot.

Austin Collie, WR Colts -- I have a phrase I like to use a lot: "People who follow the Fire Sale win fantasy titles." Collie is a great example of why I use this phrase.

All summer I backed Collie, while other people were concerned about the return of Anthony Gonzalez. Collie was actually one of my top sleeper picks this year. Now, if you listened to me, I pointed out a few things about Gonzalez coming back.

First, Gonzalez is an average player. Collie is actually a much more talented overall receiver than Gonzalez. Second, Collie has earned the trust of Peyton Manning, which can be kind of a big deal if you play in the Colts offense. Finally, Collie is a much better route-runner out of the slot. With Reggie Wayne and Pierre Garcon "manning" the outside, it's only logical Collie would get more playing time as the slot receiver over Gonzalez.

Now here is one last reason to like Collie even more moving forward: Garcon dropped three easy balls against Houston. It may not be a huge deal but you know that it is in the back of Manning's mind. Manning goes to people he can trust and the bottom line is he trusts Collie.

I drafted Collie a couple of rounds too high in all my drafts and almost got laughed out of the league. Anyone still concerned about Gonzo after Collie's 10 catches, 131 yards and a score on Sunday? I'll take a nice 30-point fantasy week any day.

If you play in a PPR league, Collie will catch 80 balls this year for fun. That's the bottom line. Collie may even surpass those numbers to be honest. I think he's only going to continue to get better.

And if you are keeping score at home, Collie is the third white receiver going up this week. That has to be a record.

Darren McFadden, RB Raiders -- One thing about me is I will tell you when I'm right and I will face the music when I'm wrong. I hate writers that don't revisit their misses. I have been harder on McFadden than almost anyone, and while I'm not ready to put him in the Hall of Fame quite yet, he did show signs of life on Sunday with a strong performance.

Again, one good game doesn't erase two bad seasons, but I saw something in McFadden Sunday that may be cause for a little optimism. McFadden has always run tentatively since coming into the NFL, but on Sunday I saw a player that was thinking less and just playing. And for anyone that has ever met McFadden, you know him thinking less is saying quite a bit.

I'm a Michael Bush guy. He was one of my top sleepers but I don't run the Raiders, Al Davis does (unfortunately for Oakland fans). We all know the Raiders used a high draft pick on McFadden and they want him to succeed.

If McFadden continues to put up numbers like he did on Sunday you can expect to see a lot more of him in Oakland's backfield as the year goes on, even when Bush returns. McFadden has another good match-up this week when the Raiders take on the Rams, so get him in your starting lineup for now.

Arian Foster, RB Texans -- If you drafted Steve Slaton you can probably cut ties with that bad decision. I think the Texans found their running back. Just a hunch.

Kevin Kolb, QB Eagles -- Wow, what a disaster. Kolb was my top sleeper pick way back in July and it looks like this could be my worst call since I said Cade McNown would become the next Joe Montana.

I should have known when everyone started falling in love with Kolb that I was wrong about him. I know he suffered a concussion but odds were he was going to get benched soon anyway with the way he was playing. I really thought Kolb's strengths would fit in perfectly with what the Eagles do on offense, but after one game, it doesn't look good.

If there is one bright spot, we can look to last year. I was very high on Matt Schaub heading into last season and after a miserable Week 1 performance against the Jets, Schaub went on to throw for the sixth-most yards in NFL history. I know it's reaching but that's basically all we have to hold onto at this point.

If you drafted Kolb to be your quarterback I would pick up Mike Vick. With the state of the Eagles' line right now, Andy Reid may decide to go with the more mobile Vick even if Kolb is healthy, despite what Reid is saying in the media right now just to look good.

After one week, the Kolb call looks like one of my worst. I apologize to those who listened to me and drafted that stiff to be your fantasy quarterback. If it makes you feel any better, I punched myself in the face for all of you.

Devin Hester, WR Bears -- When are people going to try and stop passing this guy off as a No. 1 receiver? He will never be a great NFL or fantasy receiver. I can't give you a more definitive bottom line than that right there.

You know it would be one thing if Jay Cutler threw for 150 yards, but he almost went over 400 and Hester still didn't do anything. I go by Bill Belichick's assessment of what a good receiver is: "They need to get open and catch the football." Simple, I know, but when Belichick actually says something I listen.

The problem with Hester is he doesn't do the first part of the formula all that well. He isn't a great route runner and if you don't run routes well in Mike Martz's offense you don't get the ball. It's that simple.

Hester will have a big game here and there but if you are depending on him as a starter, it's time to make a change. Hester is never going to be consistent enough to be an every-week fantasy starter. Stop wasting your time.

Larry Fitzgerald, WR Cardinals -- Well, if you drafted Fitzgerald high this year, you are pretty much in a pickle. There is no other way to put it.

Fitzgerald had a lot of question marks surrounding his elite fantasy status once Kurt Warner retired. However, after Matt Leinart flamed out, Fitzgerald's fantasy value went from shaky to on life support.

Fitzgerald did score late on Sunday to save fantasy owners from complete disaster but he still only managed three catches overall, a cause for concern in the future. Take 20 minutes and think about how big the following statement is: last year the Cardinals quarterback was likely future Hall of Famer Kurt Warner. This year it's Browns reject Derek Anderson. Take that in for a while.

Now there are reports that Fitzgerald's knee was acting up following the Rams game, as if things couldn't get any worse for the people that own him.

Like I said, you are basically stuck if you own Fitzgerald. After his poor performance in Week 1, few people will want to give up anything to get him. You basically just have to ride it out and hope things turn around somehow.

Here is my advice: Wait for Fitzgerald to have a big game and then try like heck to get rid of him. If you don't, he will just end up being a headache all season.

Shonn Greene, RB Jets -- After one week, Greene looks like the early leader for fantasy bust of the year. I grabbed Greene when he came back to me in the second round of the Fire Sale Fantasy League draft and now I would trade him for a handful of beans.

I know it's a long year, and with the way the Jets run the ball Greene is sure to still get his carries. However, the major problem I have with Greene is that it appeared like the big stage was too much for him. You could see the look in his eyes after that first fumble. He didn't want to be on the field.

Well, if Greene doesn't want to be on the field, one way to accomplish that goal is by constantly putting the ball on the ground in a tight game. I was in love with Greene and it goes back to his days at Iowa. Wen he was in college, Greene always rose to the occasion and played his best in big games. Yet, it looked like he flat out choked on Monday night.

If you own Greene, it's the same situation Fitzgerald owners are in. Right now, you just have to sit on him and hope things turn around. Until then, I would leave Greene on your bench. I didn't start him in Week 1 and I wouldn't even consider having Greene in your lineup this Sunday against the Patriots.

Alex Smith, QB 49ers -- I predicted David Carr would be the 49ers quarterback by October. I may have overshot by a couple of weeks.

I have never liked Smith as an NFL quarterback and that goes all the way back to his days at Utah. People will point out that Smith had a strong late-season run last year. Sure, he didn't have any pressure on him. This guy is weak between the ears. The second Smith has pressure on him he crumbles.

I know a lot of people who e-mail me have Smith as a backup quarterback. That's a waste of a roster spot. Either Carr or Nate Davis will be under center in San Fran before long. Considering the high expectations the Niners have this season, I assume the veteran Carr will get first crack at leading the offense. Regardless, Smith has no business being on a fantasy team unless your league gives out points for being a major disappointment.

Start up the bus; Smith's days as a starter in the NFL are close to being over for good.

Dallas Cowboys -- I know you are all probably expecting me to go crazy after that pitiful performance by the Cowboys on Sunday night but I don't even want to get into it. I only have one question: don't the Cowboys pay a guy good money to coach the offensive line? They do, right? If that's the case, how come none of the backups can play? When the Steelers or Patriots lose offensive linemen, others step right in and get the job done. Dallas loses Marc Colombo and their season is over.

This stands as another great move by Jerry Jones. He trades for the worst offensive lineman in the NFL. This coming two years after he traded for a receiver that can't catch. How's hosting the Super Bowl looking Jerry?

Camarillo -- I told you to pick up Camarillo for a reason. He should play a lot more this week against Miami. Actually, I would be surprised if Camarillo didn't catch five balls on Sunday. If you are light at receiver and need a guy to stick in there this week, give Camarillo a look.

Aaron Hernandez, TE Patriots -- One of the ways to attack the Jets defense is down the seam with the tight end. Hernandez causes match-up problems because of his downfield speed. With Darrelle Revis locking down Randy Moss, Tom Brady will need to look elsewhere with the ball. Hernandez could be in store for a breakout game this week.

Jason Avant, WR Eagles -- I have a theory that goes back to the Aaron Brooks/Willie Jackson days in New Orleans. When Brooks took over for Jeff Blake, I noticed he always looked for Willie Jackson early in his career, over more established players like Joe Horn. This observation was the basis for me having Jackson as a sleeper in his breakout season.

So why did Brooks trust Jackson? The same reason Carson Palmer trusted T.J. Houshmandzadeh when he first became a starter; because they practiced together on the second team offense and built chemistry. Think about it. Vick throws to Avant in practice much more than he does DeSean Jackson. Now, I'm not saying Avant is a better fantasy play than Jackson, but if Vick gets the start this week against a poor Lions secondary, Avant could be a nice start in deeper PPR leagues.

Brandon Jackson, RB Packers -- It doesn't look like Ryan Grant will play against Buffalo. If he can't go, Jackson makes for a nice play in PPR leagues. Jackson has a good match-up going up against a suspect Bills defense. At the very least Jackson will catch some passes and he has a chance to find the end zone playing in the high-powered Packers offense.

Tom "The Bottom Line" Casale is a featured NFL writer at Sports Grumblings and a featured guest on the "Sports Grumblings Live!" radio show on Sirius Ch. 211 | XM Ch. 147 every Saturday night from 8-11PM ET. You can reach Tom with your question, comments and suggestions at

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