Fire Sale: Alexander excites Rams, Branch's happy return, Turner's fall

Publish date:

If any of you can pinpoint the exact year and let me know I would greatly appreciate it. Lately, I've seen things in the world of sports that have really disturbed me. It's not even that it made me angry; it kind of made me sad to see these things going on.

First, let's go to college football. Remember the days when one team would beat a highly ranked opponent at home and then the students would storm the field? It was one of the things I saw growing up that made college football my favorite sport. You may have noticed, you rarely see this ritual after a big win now.

Let me take you back to the South Carolina/Alabama game as the primary example of what I'm talking about. In the history of South Carolina football, they had NEVER beaten a No. 1-ranked team. So what happens when the Gamecocks finally accomplish this feat? Well, let me tell you what happened.

The school brought the goal posts down themselves so they couldn't be torn down. Then I saw something that still isn't sitting well with me. I saw armed guards all around the stadium pushing people back from getting on the field. Really? Armed guards? Are we now living in a police state? To me that sounds like something that crazy monster from North Korea would do but it's going on right here in the United States. If you try to rush the field after your school defeats a rival or the top ranked team, you will be met by armed guards. America the Beautiful, huh?

In a bit of irony when Kentucky upset South Carolina on Saturday, Wildcat fans were allowed to pour onto the field. Perhaps it was a bit of Karma brought down from the football Gods for South Carolina officials acting like dictators and not letting their students bask in such a big win.

Next, let's talk about the Cowboys/Titans game in Week 5 in which a player was penalized for falling and rolling over. First, let me say that I'm a Dallas fan and that call wasn't the reason why the Cowboys lost the game. Dallas lost because it is a bunch of heartless, poorly coached frauds. That's the bottom line.

Also, I worked in the NFL, so I get this whole thing of "It's a business." I have no problem with owners and players making as much money as they can. However, you tell me how an offensive linemen spiking the ball and falling negatively effects cash flow? I actually enjoy watching fat guys fall and roll over. What's wrong with that? I fell in love with football because the sport is so much fun and today players get flagged for looking at somebody wrong.

I don't want to hear this garbage about rules either. How can a bunch of guys sit in a room and say grown men making millions don't have the right to celebrate while playing a sport? That's not a rule, it borders on Communism if you ask me. Is this China? This isn't China, is it? I didn't think so.

I'm about to have a son and it saddens me that he won't get to grow up watching all the great things that made me fall in love with sports. Watching Michigan fans storm the field after they defeat Ohio State. Watching Butch Johnson do his "California Quake" or the Redskins do their "Fun Bunch" celebration. Those things are gone forever and are now just a part of football lore.

Now all the fun has been sucked out of sports. Rushing the field has been replaced by armed guards. Touchdown celebrations have been replaced by yellow flags. Rivalries and bad blood have been replaced by a politically correct society where no one wants to ruffle any feathers.

This is sports in 2010. This is America in 2010. What a shame.

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Now, on with the Fire Sale:

Buster Davis/Patrick Crayton, WR Chargers -- The Chargers are in some trouble right now. Not only do they have an awful coach but injuries are beginning to take their toll on Philip Rivers' targets.

Vincent Jackson still won't be back for a few weeks yet and on Sunday both Antonio Gates and Malcom Floyd left the game with injuries. Gates is hoping to play on Sunday but Floyd's game is predicated on speed, so a lingering hamstring problem could be cause for concern. Now the door is open for Davis and Crayton to step up.

Crayton had the bigger game on Sunday, catching six passes for 117 yards. I'm very familiar with Crayton from his time in Dallas, and while he has some physical skills, his problem is between the ears. Crayton has always been inconsistent and his sloppy route running led to Dallas parting ways with him. While Crayton will see more work in the slot, I wouldn't expect big numbers from him every week.

To me, Davis has more upside. While never reaching the expectations of being a first-round draft pick, Davis is now entering a good fantasy situation. Floyd and Legedu Naanee are both nursing hamstring injuries and Naanee was on his way out of the starting lineup anyway. Now Davis is almost assured a starting spot on one of the NFL's most prolific passing offenses. That doesn't mean he will be a superstar but it does mean Davis is going to have some opportunities to make plays.

Neither of these guys is a likely long-term answer at receiver but with all the injuries the Chargers are dealing with right now, both Davis and Crayton are worth picking up this week. In that offense you never know who will put up big fantasy numbers.

Danario Alexander, WR Rams -- Alexander was a man among boys in college. He took over as Missouri's top receiver once Jeremy Maclin left and had a big year in 2009, leading the nation in receiving yards. However, knee problems led to Alexander not being drafted.

The Rams took a chance on Alexander and he rewarded them Sunday by catching four passes for 72 yards and a touchdown. I thought Brandon Gibson may be the guy to replace Mark Clayton's big plays but last week it was Alexander.

Alexander is an intriguing guy. Anyone who watched him play at Missouri knows he has impressive physical tools. It's a little early to tell if Sunday was an aberration or if Alexander is going to become a big part of the Rams passing game. I do know the coaches in St. Louis love Alexander but I think even they were a little surprised of how quickly he made a splash in the NFL.

At this point in the season I like to pick up receivers I think have upside. Maybe not guys you are going to start right away but someone that has the possibility to be big later in the season. I think Alexander could be one of those players. He's certainly worth picking up this week if you are looking to add depth at receiver. However, like the Rams, you may just need to be a little patient before Alexander really starts paying off.

Deion Brach, WR Patriots -- What year is it? It's 2010, right? I'm only asking because I felt like I was in a time warp watching Tom Brady fire pass after to pass to Branch on Sunday.

Last week I said I had a hunch Julian Edelman would become more involved in the Patriots offense now that Randy Moss has been sent packing. That was before New England traded for Branch. To be completely honest, I wasn't even fazed when the Patriots acquired Branch because he did next to nothing in Seattle.

When I was watching the game on Sunday I remember what me and others with the Patriots thought back when Branch was holding out. We all liked Branch a lot but it was our opinion that some people are a perfect fit in certain places. None of us thought Branch was a true No. 1 receiver, but in New England's system, with Brady throwing him the ball, he excelled.

I really didn't believe Brady and Branch would rekindle that old magic and I certainly didn't think it would happen this fast. But the timing between Brady and Branch was perfect and Brady still trusted him enough to go Branch's way during key moments in the game.

If you picked up Branch after he was traded to New England, then good job. I didn't even consider it. There may be a chance Branch is still available in your league. If that's the case grab him quick because it looks like Wes Welker will now have to battle Branch for Brady's love.

Hey, remember David Givens? Talk about another example of sometimes you don't know what you've got until it's gone. I knew he was injured but everyone besides the Titans knew once Givens left the Patriots his career would be over. The funny thing to consider is that if Branch and Givens had stayed in New England there is a chance Moss and Welker would have never been Patriots. It's interesting how things work out sometimes.

Kellen Winslow, TE Buccaneers -- Someone in my league dropped Winslow a few weeks ago and I pounced on him. Now that Winslow is healthy, he's caught 13 passes for 118 yards the last two weeks. I expect this upward trend to continue.

I have to admit I may have been wrong about Josh Freeman. I think I saw him play two good games in college and yet announcers were always raving about him. Apparently they were seeing something I wasn't when he was going 11-for-33 and tossing all those interceptions. Freeman has already become a much better pro quarterback than I thought he would. Freeman had a tough game last Sunday but I like what I've seen from him overall so far.

When Winslow is right he's one of the most talented tight ends in the NFL. He still needs to find the end zone a little more but that comes with playing on an inexperienced offense like Tampa Bay. Winslow has some nice match-ups in the coming weeks and I think his fantasy production is only going to increase.

Winslow is probably already taken in your league, but if you are looking for a tight end with upside to trade for and one that won't cost you a lot in return, Winslow is your man. In my opinion, he has a chance to be one of the top fantasy tight ends over the second half of the season.

Mike Hart, RB Colts -- Hart is an interesting guy. I loved him in college but never expected much out of Hart in the NFL. But playing on the Colts can make any average running back look good. Just ask Joseph Addai.

The Colts are never going to replace Addai as long as he's breathing. Despite his 3.3 yards per carry average every season, Addai is probably the best pass protector at the running back position in the NFL. The bottom line is the Colts will tolerate an average runner as long as he is going to protect Peyton Manning.

I won't say anything about Addai's toughness. The guy is as tough as they come. Addai did look pretty hurt when he re-injured his shoulder against the Redskins, but the Colts are on a bye, so he gets an extra week to get healthy, as does original backup Donald Brown.

Here is why I took a chance and picked up Hart: it looks to me that when Hart is in the game he gives the Colts' offense a jolt. I think he's a bit quicker through the hole than Addai and that's a big deal because the Colts offensive line isn't the best when it comes to run blocking. Maybe it's just me but I think Hart looks better running the ball than the consistently average Addai.

Like I said, Addai will have to be half-dead before the Colts ever replace him but his shoulder injury is a concern. If you have the room, I would advise grabbing Hart and see what happens next week. If Hart gets the start he should put up good fantasy numbers. It's pretty obvious any running back with a heartbeat can excel in the Colts offense. Again, just ask Addai.

Fred Davis, TE Redskins -- As this goes to print I'm not sure how much time Chris Cooley will miss, if any. However, if Cooley is out for any extended period of time, Davis is more than a capable replacement.

I think Davis is one of the most talented backup tight ends in the league and we all know how much Donovan McNabb likes to throw to his tight ends. Last year when Cooley was injured Davis stepped in nicely and was a solid fantasy contributor.

If you are looking for a tight end, nab Davis off the waiver wire. My guess is Cooley will at least miss this week's game due to his concussion.

Michael Turner, RB Falcons -- I wrote a few weeks ago when Turner went down that Jason Snelling may actually be a better fantasy option in PPR leagues because he catches a lot more passes. Now I'm beginning to think Snelling is just the flat-out better player.

I've never really been a huge Turner fan. For instance, I had the ninth overall pick in my league this year and I didn't even have Turner on my draft board. I wanted nothing to do with him. People who did are now regretting it because he's killing fantasy owners right now.

Turner has scored just one touchdown this season and has three games with 50 yards rushing or less. That just isn't good enough for a guy taken at the end of the first round in most fantasy drafts. Predictably Turner has done next to nothing in the passing game either, catching just seven balls through six games.

Turner isn't in danger of losing his starting job yet, but I think we will start seeing more and more of Snelling as the year goes on. As for Turner, you can expect him to follow the trend of doing well against the Browns of the world and struggling against the better defenses the Falcons face.

Ronnie Brown/Ricky Williams, RB Dolphins -- Here's the problem in Miami. The Dolphins have two running backs that could be studs on their own but when on the same team they don't amount to much more than a decent flex play.

Last year when Brown was injured, Williams became a top-flight fantasy running back. I think either of these guys could be fantasy studs but with the way Miami likes to use them, it simply isn't going to happen unless Brown or Williams goes down with an injury.

I don't really agree with the way Tony Sparano is using his backs. Neither guy is on the field long enough to get into much of a groove. When Williams is out there I see him making some plays but then he's on the bench for the next two series. Williams showed last year what he can do if given the ball; the same can be said for Brown. Sparano doesn't even ride the hot hand. Both players get into the game regardless of how the other is running.

Again, this is just an unfortunate fantasy situation. It's unfortunate that we have to hope for an injury for either of these guys to be a major factor. Until then, I really wouldn't use Williams or Brown beyond a flex starter.

Jason Campbell, QB Raiders -- Is this guy awful or what? I will admit he's better than JaMarcus Russell. By the way, I consider Russell the worst starting quarterback in NFL history for what it's worth. The Raiders gave up a fourth round pick for Campbell -- they got robbed.

Think about this for 20 minutes: on Sunday Campbell completed a pass to Zach Miller midway through the fourth quarter. It was Campbell's first completion since the first quarter. He went two and a half quarters without a completion. Is that even possible? Am I wrong to say I could do better than that? Couldn't I just throw one of those bubble screens or a three-yard pass to Miller in two-and-a-half quarters? Maybe I couldn't, but I'm pretty sure an NFL quarterback should.

Raiders fans were happy when they traded for Campbell. That just goes to show how bad Russell really is. Campbell has been a disaster since he was drafted, and he appears to be regressing. Campbell is a turnover machine and he has the pocket presence of Ryan Leaf. The bottom line is the guy has no business being a starting quarterback in the NFL.

As a Miller owner I never thought I would ever write the following sentence: I can't wait for Bruce Gradkowski to get back in the lineup. When you aren't even close to Bruce Gradkowski in terms of talent-level, it's time to start thinking about a new career choice. This quarterbacking thing just isn't working out.

Chris Chambers, WR Chiefs -- I haven't checked but is this guy even in the league anymore? Remember when Chambers was first traded to the Chiefs last year and he became a late-season fantasy factor? That seems like 100 years ago. I doubt Chambers is on your fantasy roster but if he is you need to find a new hobby because you just aren't getting what fantasy football is all about.

Matt Cassel, QB Chiefs -- I'm going back to my good friend Cassel for the second week in a row. He delivered against Houston and now he takes on what might be an even worse pass defense in Jacksonville. Hey, did I ever tell you the time Cassel was delivered my iPod by mistake when I worked for the Patriots? Since we have similar last names, an iPod sent to me was mistakenly delivered to Cassel. When I finally found out what happened I went into the Patriots locker room and there was Cassel trying out "his" new iPod. I went up to Cassel and asked him about it and he said, "I thought there must have been a mistake," To which I replied, "What gave you that idea? The fact that the box says 'Tom Casale?'" We had fun with it. He told me he had to take whatever he gets because he didn't make any money carrying Tom Brady's towel. Cassel is a great guy.

Willis McGahee, RB Ravens -- Have you seen the Bills' rush defense? Well, let's just say the Jets had two 100-yard rushers against them. I see this game being very similar. I think the Ravens will build a big lead and at some point McGahee will come in for Ray Rice to finish things off. I think McGahee makes for an excellent bye-week flex starter on Sunday. I see close to 100 yards and a score for him this week.

Jason Avant, WR Eagles -- DeSean Jackson is out with a concussion and the Eagles are playing the Titans' weak pass defense. That's really all I have for you on this one.

Seahawks defense -- Like Cassel, I'm going back to the Seahawks defense this week. Seattle has quietly built one of the better fantasy defenses and this week they get Max Hall and the struggling Cardinals offense. I hit big with Seattle last week and I'm banking on Pete Carroll and Co. putting up big numbers once again on Sunday.

I am a very busy man but if you need some one-on-one fantasy help, I will try to fit you in. I have one rule: don't make your e-mails a book. As a freelance writer, I spend a large part of my day writing and responding to e-mails. So if you have a question, ask it. If you want to tell me how much you hate me, do it and do it quickly. If possible, try and make me laugh. If you can't tell me that you hate me in a couple of sentences, may a suggest seeking some professional help? This is a fantasy football column. If you hate me that much, I'm guessing you have some deep rooted issues that need to be addressed. Anyway, if you must get in touch with me, my e-mail address is