Welcome to week two of "Line of Scrimmage," where we debate both sides of the key fantasy football issues of the week and explain why your future looks so bright for the coming NFL season.
Dave, that kind of optimism is exactly why you're here: to give our readers a good perspective on early panics and their solutions.
Actually, Jon, I was holding my tongue from saying that when we face off I'm going to maul your little team into the useless little parts of which it's comprised.
I love that you're introducing the fans to smack talk, another key element of any fantasy league.
Don't think I'll take it easy on you. So what if I've lost Beanie Wells, Ryan Grant, Ryan Mathews and Michael Turner? Drafting isn't everything.
Without question, Dave, the waiver wire can keep many teams afloat if you land a one-week gem like Jason Snelling. There are plenty of guys to mine if you check the waiver wire (aka "Dave's weekend home"). For example, in San Diego, there's a beast of a gentleman making some noise in the Chargers' backfield.
I will crush your tiny skull between my toes ...
Topic No. 1: Does Mike Tolbert's emergence hurt Ryan Mathews' value?
Block: On our podcast we ran out of time before we could discuss the Chiefs' punch to San Diego's torso in Week 1. And FB Mike Tolbert was the only San Diego rusher to cause me to sit up and say, "Someone get me another beer and a slice of pizza. I'm staying right here!" OK, I said that all day Sunday, but Tolbert gained 26 yards on only two touches and plowed over defenders a la William "Refrigerator" Perry (but with actual speed). This week, when Mathews went down with an ankle injury, it didn't take long for Norv Turner to turn Tolbert loose (82 yards on 16 carries and two TDs). He reminds me of another San Diego runner who recently found a home in Atlanta -- Michael Turner. Mathews has lost two fumbles already, and after his injury, expect to see more of Tolbert, particularly around the goal line.
Counter-block:I will make you eat ...Wait, we're debating now? First of all, Jon, you know my love for Mathews has a name that shall not be spoken. Second, like Mathews, Turner could only watch as he was "Wally Pipped" on national TV (by Snelling, mentioned above). Third, I love to enumerate. Fourth, Tolbert has talent, but he's only making $470,000 this year (I just threw up in my mouth typing the word "only") while Mathews signed a $20.5 million contract. Of course, if Mathews' injury keeps him out of a game or two, I like Tolbert to score more yards by actually being on the field. But if not, they'll hand Mathews the ball, and pass Mathews the ball, and roll him the ball and ... you get the idea.
Piling on: Early reports are Mathews' will be active for Week 3, and regardless, he's in no danger of losing his job. But Tolbert should be picked up in all 12-team leagues or deeper.
Topic No. 2: Should we sell high on Jahvid Best and buy low on Brett Favre?
Block:Favre has bone chips in his elbow older than Best, but Favre's ADP (78) was twice as low as Best's (39). That's a lot of respect for a rookie RB, and so far he's delivered. Best has four rushing TDs against two good defenses, and caught nine passes (1 TD) against Philly. Don't sell high. As for Favre, there is no way he's going to get back that loving feeling from last year. Sure, he'll improve on his 1 TD vs. 4 INT, but there's just too much young QB talent out there I'd rather take a chance on without giving up someone from my roster (Kyle Orton ... Chad Henne ... 20 other guys besides Mark Sanchez ...). You can't undraft Favre, but perhaps there's a Purple People Eater in your league who will trade you for what he dreams Favre's value is.
Counter-block: Best's college injury history is longer than Favre's for his entire career. He's had hip problems, an arm injury and then a severe concussion. Only Lindsay Lohan has fared worse. Best is only two games into his NFL career, and behind a questionable offensive line that aided him for a hefty 1.4 YPC in his debut. Selling high for a veteran running back stud may be the road to take. Favre, on the other hand, has shown that last year's success wasn't just about him. He lost his favorite target, Sidney Rice, while Percy Harvin missed camp with migraines and now has a hip injury of his own. Minnesota is as depleted in the receivers department as Brandon Jacobs is in the helmet department. In fantasy football, it's not how you start, but how you finish, and should Rice return around Week 8, Favre's value skyrockets. Stashing him away now while he costs little is a prudent move.
Piling on: Both columnists have thrown their red flags, asking for a review of the topic. Upon further review, half of the decision in each column stands: shop Best for good value before he breaks something, and unless you can low-ball for Favre, check the waiver wire to see what young QB you could get for free. Only Jon will be charged with a timeout (just because).
Topic No. 3: What should you do if you own a Dallas running back?
Block:Buy him an iPad loaded with Will Ferrell movies, as he has nothing else to do during games. Dallas is your typical three-headed RBBC with Felix Jones, Marion Barber and Tashard Choice fighting for the ball. But they're also an air-it-out team. In their first game, the 'Boys had 48 passes against 22 rushes. In their second game, they had 51 passes against 20 rushes. The numbers are going the wrong way for the ground game. No Dallas back has rushed for 40 yards this season and they are yet to have a rushing TD (Choice came closest by fumbling to the Redskins who ran the ball back for a score). Things will get better, but not too much. The good news is every league has a Cowboys fan (science is yet to find a cure), and you can likely trade him/her Jones, Barber or Choice.
Counter-block: Stop panicking, Dave. Fear will reign no more. I'm bringing back the sanity. While the team has claimed a strong defensive identity with its front line, the offense has not. There is no clear-cut starting back, but that's the coaching staff's fault. Great depth at RB has caused great indecision, and Jason Garrett must decide who his starter is, who his third down/change of pace guy is, and who rides the pine. There's no sense in dumping any Dallas back or attempting a trade because you'll get low-balled. We're two weeks in, and panic leads to bad decisions. Bad decisions lead you to get drunk and do stupid things. And that combination makes you Matt Jones. In 2009, Dallas was balanced with 436 rushing attempts vs. 550 pass attempts. Expect the same this year, with Barber and Felix Jones delivering for your team.
Piling on: Hold onto your Cowboys RBs for now, but you may want to sit them when they match up against a tough running defense.
Jon Phillips is the 2008 Champion of the Columbus Dispatch National Fantasy Football Contest "Rate the Experts" and has written for Talented Mr. Roto, Rotoexperts.com and SI.com. He also hosted Rotoexperts flagship radio show "Xperts Edge" as well as "The Think Tank" with Scott Engel. Dave Young has written weekly fantasy sports columns for Sports Illustrated, ESPN, Talented Mr. Roto, and other sites he can't remember. Catch them both on "Just A Bit Outside" on Blogtalkradio.com, Sundays, noon Eastern (9 am PST), drop them a line, and read their column, "Line of Scrimmage" weekly on SI.com.