Publish date:

The Fire Sale: Lions, Raiders add some intrigue in the backfield


I apologize to the 12 people who religiously follow this column and are wondering why it's late this week.

You see, I live in upstate New York. Normally, that means I'm insulated from any major weather problems. However, in the last week and a half my area has been hit by a hurricane and tornado. Now I could care less about all the flooding and damage to my home. My problem is I've been without power on and off for the past week.

To be honest, I don't want to live if I don't have DirecTV, Internet and cellphones. What's the point? You can't do anything. Do you realize I was forced to talk to my wife? I'm not talking about, "What do you want for dinner?" I'm talking about long conversations about our lives for hours. No man should have to endure that horror.

Luckily, just as I was about to pull my hair out, the clouds parted and the power came back on. Sure, there may be water in my basement but that's someone else's problem now. I'm certainly not going to do anything about it. I have a handful of people waiting for my average fantasy advice and I'm going to deliver it. Don't ever question my devotion. As long as I have power, you have to deal with me.

This Fire Sale isn't quite as in-depth as usual but I did what I could this week. Don't worry, I'll have plenty to get off my chest after Week 1, so I promise to make it up to you next Tuesday.

Now, on with the Fire Sale ...

Keiland Williams, RB Lions -- This is an interesting signing for the Lions. With Mikel Leshoure lost for the season, Detroit brought in Williams to kind of take over that bigger back role Leshoure was expected to handle.

Now, it's anyone's guess which running back in Detroit will get most of the carries once Jahvid Best gets hurt, but Williams is an intriguing candidate. At 230 pounds, Williams brings more power to the table than Jerome Harrison or Maurice Morris. He's also a solid receiver out of the backfield, meaning Williams could see significant touches when Best goes down.

I own Best and I'm expecting big numbers from him for the 8-10 games he actually plays. However, I don't have a handcuff at this point. I think the Lions' backup running back situation is still too much up in the air. Keep an eye on Williams, though. His skill set is a nice fit for the Lions offense and he could end up being a huge fantasy sleeper down the line.

Taiwan Jones, RB Raiders -- Jones doesn't have much fantasy appeal right now but that could change if Darren McFadden gets hurt.

There's no doubt that Michael Bush is the handcuff to McFadden and the guy who will get most of the carries if something happens to the Raiders starter. However, that doesn't mean Jones won't have a role in the offense.

Hue Jackson and offensive coordinator Al Saunders love to get their running backs out in space. Bush is more of a between-the-tackles runner, whereas Jones has a similar skill set to McFadden. I believe if McFadden goes down, Jones will have a large role in the Oakland offense, especially as a pass catcher.

Again, unless you are in a very deep league, Jones isn't worth a roster spot at this point. However, if McFadden gets hurt, I would strongly recommend putting in a waiver claim on Jones. He'll be a bigger part of the offense than most people think. If you own McFadden and you lost out on Bush, Jones isn't a bad consolation prize.

Deji Karim, RB Jaguars -- I've been getting a lot of e-mails from people asking if they should pick up Karim. That's an easy one to answer: If you thought Rashad Jennings had fantasy value then Karim has fantasy value too.

I actually think Maurice Jones-Drew is being a little undervalued heading into the season. Having said that, the guy is coming off a tricky injury and if you own him, you should own Karim as well.

Karim has played well in his limited opportunities and I saw him play in college a couple of times at Southern Illinois. The thing about Karim back then was when you watched him you could see that he was the best player on the field. That's important when a guy isn't playing against a lower level of competition.

Karim has already been scooped up in a lot of leagues but if he's still on the waiver wire I would strongly recommend picking him up. I would much rather have Karim over someone like Donald Brown. Karim has much more upside considering Brown's upside is zero.

By the way, just before I sent this in I saw that the Jaguars are releasing David Garrard and going with Luke McCown at quarterback. You probably don't need me to tell you that Luke McCown can't play in the NFL, so I won't. Instead, I'll just tell you not to expect much out of any Jaguars player in the foreseeable future outside of maybe the running back position.

Denarius Moore, WR Raiders -- You have to love the Raiders, don't you? The team is so stubborn that Darrius Heyward-Bey is still listed as a starter. I mean, how much more do we need to see from that guy? I know JaMarcus Russell was a huge bust but Heyward-Bey isn't far behind. The guy isn't even fast. He looks like me out there trying to get open.

Moore has been the talk of Raiders camp and it looks to me as if he's going to be the team's No. 1 receiver this season. I like Jacoby Ford, too, but he's not really built to be a top receiver, leaving the rookie Moore as the most likely option.

Moore is a rookie and we really don't know what to expect from him this year but at the very least he's worth a roster spot. I like to build the back end of my roster with guys that have upside and could emerge at some point over wastes like Derrick Mason.

If you look at the Oakland team, besides McFadden, who is going to catch passes in this offense? It looks like Moore will have a lot of opportunities to be the guy. If he can take advantage and play well early on, Moore has a shot to be the Raiders top fantasy wideout this season.

Eli Manning, QB Giants -- Manning is coming off a terrible preseason and now reports are he's struggled throughout most of training camp. This doesn't surprise me at all.

In my opinion the Giants could be in a lot of trouble this season. First, they're just having bad luck. Every time I look up someone on the Giants is lost for the season. I think half of their starting defense is out for Week 1.

SI Recommends

While the team can't do much about injuries, it can do something about its personnel and the Giants have failed on that end. In my opinion, losing Steve Smith will prove to be one of the biggest offseason losses in the league.

Smith was Manning's security blanket. He was the Giants version of Jason Witten. The other thing about Smith is he's one of the best route runners in the NFL. You know who isn't one of the best route runners in the NFL? Mario Manningham. Actually, he may be the worst.

How many times during a game do you see Manningham run a route out of bounds or not be where he's supposed to be? It feels like every other play Manning is yelling at Manningham about something.

I know a lot of fantasy people like Manningham and I think he'll put up decent numbers, but there's a big difference between fantasy football and real football. In fantasy terms, Manningham will benefit from Hakeem Nicks drawing 10 defenders every week. However, the seven times a game where Manningham runs the wrong route or drops an easy pass will hurt the Giants offense overall.

Besides Manningham, what exactly was the Giants plan at tight end? I'm not saying they needed to break the bank for Kevin Boss but what was their Plan B? Travis Beckum? The guy is like 5-foot-2. Have you seen him? He looks like my cousin Sal running around out there. Jake Ballard? He's more of a blocking tight end than a receiver.

So Manning lost one of the best possession receivers in the NFL and he has no viable options at tight end. I view Manningham as a modern day Joey Galloway. I see him being basically a deep threat that isn't always reliable. So other than Nicks, I just don't see a lot of dependable options for Manning to distribute the ball to. Is it any wonder why he's been struggling?

I think the Giants are an interesting team and I'm really looking forward to their opener against Washington. If Manning and the Giants offense struggles against the Redskins, watch out. It could be a long year in the Big Apple.

Speaking of Steve Smith, who's the Giants doctor? Dr. Nick from The Simpsons? Nice diagnosis there, buddy.

Kerry Collins, QB Colts -- Listen, I'm just going by what has been reported over the years. What have we always heard is Collins' biggest weakness?

It's not his arm strength. It's not that he isn't a good leader. Nope, his drawback has always been he's dumber than a box of rocks. Now I'm supposed to believe Collins is going to take over one of the most complex offenses in the NFL? I'm not buying it.

I don't think it will be long before Curtis Painter is under center in Indianapolis. I'm not saying that's a good thing, but Collins is a declining, old quarterback who has never been known for his intelligence. At least Painter knows the offense.

One other thing about the Colts; just because they may have to rely on the run more it doesn't mean Joseph Addai's value increases. The Colts can't run the football and that's when defenses have to worry about Peyton Manning.

This Colts' offensive line isn't made to run block. It's not like all of a sudden these huge holes are going to open for Indy's running backs. Listen, losing Manning doesn't help anyone on that team. The value of every single Colts player goes way down until Manning returns. I shouldn't have to tell you that but if you don't want to believe it, you'll find out soon enough.

Bernard Berrian, WR Vikings -- A friend of mine recently began a conversation with me by saying, "Can I make an argument for Bernard Berrian." My response was, "What argument? Is he still in the league?"

Berrian had a good game against Dallas' fifth string cornerbacks but he has no fantasy value at all. The guy is an absolute joke. Oh, and I have to apologize to Manningham. Berrian IS the worst route runner in the NFL. There's no question about that one.

Berrian is picking up a little steam in some circles as a possible sleeper. The only thing Berrian will put to sleep are your chances of winning anything if you add him to your fantasy roster.

Sidney Rice, WR Seahawks -- Berrian's former teammate in Minnesota, Rice, isn't off to a very good start with the Seahawks. Listen, receivers that are already hurt and play on teams with a bad offensive line and no quarterback don't have much of a chance.

Rice has huge bust written all over him this year. If you drafted him, pray he has one big game at some point and then trade him away as quickly as possible. Rice is going to be a headache for fantasy owners all season long.

Todd Haley -- It's hard to criticize a guy who took the Chiefs from the bottom of the AFC West to a playoff berth. That's why I'm around. I can criticize anyone.

We all know Haley refuses to give Jamaal Charles the ball more, instead opting to watch Thomas Jones run up the backs of his offensive linemen. Haley's defense is that the Chiefs led the NFL in rushing last year.

No, the Chiefs led the NFL in rushing because Charles is so good that despite only touching the ball 15 times a game, He personally led all runners in rushing yards. I don't think Jones' 3.0 yards per carry had much to do with it.

Then Haley decides to play his guys in the meaningless last preseason game. The result? His starting quarterback has a cracked rib and his starting tight end (Tony Moeaki) is out for the season. I hope it was worth it.

I think sometimes coaches have a little success but at the end they're still a joke. The classic case of this was the Giants Jim Fassel. Fassel led the Giants to a Super Bowl appearance but when it was all said and done he was an awful coach. I think Haley is in the same category.

Hey, you don't have to listen to me. You can go by current Chief and former Cardinal Steve Breaston. He called Haley a jerk a couple of years ago. Apparently Breaston was trying to warn us all of things to come.

If you want to see a team fall off the face of the earth this season, keep an eye on the Chiefs. Sooner or later a coach's true colors come through, and in my opinion, it's only a matter of time before Haley goes the way of Fassel. In other words he'll be coaching in the United Football League within three years.