This is my favorite time of year to write The Fire Sale. It's fun in the summer talking about guys like Stevan Ridley, who end up having no fantasy value at all, but now that we're a couple of weeks into the season, I've been able to watch things and really put my expertise to work.
But before we get going this week I want to voice what I know won't be a popular opinion. I was watching the movie Rudy the other night and it reminded me of how much I hate it. I know I'm in the vast minority here but that little $#@%*! rubs me the wrong way. This isn't to say the movie itself is bad, I just hate the story in general and how society considers it a big deal.
Think about it. Rudy is the kid in gym class who always tried hard when the rest of us just wanted to kill time for 30 minutes. You know the kid I'm talking about. The one who, when you played basketball, was all up in your grill covering you like it was the Final Four. I thought we hated those annoying little gnats?
So basically Rudy just annoyed everyone until they couldn't take it anymore and finally admitted him to Notre Dame just so he would shut up. Then he annoyed the football coach until he couldn't stand it anymore and let Rudy on the team, even though he had no business being there in the first place. Finally, after Rudy's nonstop yammering and complaining, the coach finally puts Rudy in the end of a game. Then, by pure dumb luck, he gets a sack because no one laid a hand on him and he had a free run at the quarterback.
For the rest of his life Rudy has been living off that one sack. He's made an entire career off getting into a meaningless game and recording a sack because he was unblocked. He's a motivational speaker? What does he speak about? That if you're annoying enough you can live your dream of being on the Notre Dame scout team and then do nothing for the next 50 years? Boy, aim for the stars, huh?
So my question is: what's so special about the story? I'm annoying; couldn't I do the same thing? Is it just because he played at Notre Dame? I mean if Rudy played at Iowa would anyone even know his name?
I guess I just don't get it. Every time I see the movie all I take away from it is I really would have liked to give that annoying suckup a wedgie and then kicked his butt all over campus to what I'm sure would have been a raucous ovation.
Again, I know I'm in the minority but I don't even understand why the movie was made. Next time someone wants to make a movie, don't make it about the geek in gym class who tried real hard. Then, maybe, I'll care about it.
Now, on with the Fire Sale ...
Dexter McCluster, RB/WR Chiefs -- Boy, it certainly looks like this isn't the Chiefs year. My first clue was when they got blasted at home by the Bills. My second was when their best player tore up his knee by slipping on a yard marker and crashing into a mascot.
Now Jamaal Charles is out for the year and Kansas City is sinking fast. The good news for fantasy owners is McCluster's value will be at an all-time high. I like McCluster a lot more than Thomas Jones going forward for a couple of reasons. First of all, the Chiefs will be playing from behind often, so McCluster will catch a lot of passes. Second, I don't think Jones has much juice left. Jones' 20 carries for 64 yards only works when the Chiefs are ahead, which may not happen all year long.
I said a couple of weeks ago that Todd Haley was a jerk and apparently every coach in the NFL agrees with me. Whenever a coach has a chance to run it up on Haley, they do it. Josh McDaniels did it. Chan Gailey did it. Jim Schwartz did it. I have news for Haley; we're going to be adding a lot more names to that list by the end of the season.
I heard all last week that the Chiefs weren't as bad as they looked against Buffalo. Those people were right. The Chiefs are worse. Amazingly, McCluster probably now has the most fantasy value of any player on that team. What a difference two weeks makes.
Fred Jackson, RB Bills -- When is it time to consider Jackson one of the better backs in the NFL? I had Jackson last year and he was great. I have him in my auction league this year and so far he's been great. Maybe Jackson is just great.
The problem with Jackson is he's the guy that's always going to get replaced. How can we draft Jackson high? Isn't C.J. Spiller going to take over in Buffalo? Listen, I've been high on Spiller since he was drafted but right now he's not in Jackson's league.
Let's take a look at Jackson. He gets almost all the carries, he a good receiver and he's by far the guy near the goal line. In all honesty, what else are we looking for out of a running back? If we drafted again, I would take Jackson in the second round, instead of the fifth or sixth round area where he was going just a month ago. The guy is fantasy gold.
Roy Helu, RB Redskins -- Here we go.
OK, Tim Hightower had a nice game against Arizona and he's still the starting back in Washington, but Mike Shanahan is planting the seeds for future headaches. Helu only carried the ball 10 times compared to Hightower's 20 but Helu looked good, gaining 74 yards. Helu averaged 7.4 yards per carry and caught three passes for 38 yards. Like I said, here we go.
It's not time to jump off a bridge if you own Hightower but know the timeshare is coming soon. Helu is a perfect fit for the Redskins offense, so don't be surprised if the 10 carries he got on Sunday doesn't become the norm for now and increase soon.
If I were you I would try and deal Hightower now to avoid all the pain and heartache Shanahan has planned for fantasy owners in the near future.
Jonathan Stewart, RB Panthers -- Last week after I had DeAngelo Williams going down I got some e-mails from nerds who don't watch football. I hate nerds. I hate anyone who thinks The Big Bang Theory is funny. If that's you then you're a nerd and I don't like you.
Last week I pointed out that Stewart got more important reps late in the game against Arizona, and that moving forward Williams would lose touches. So people who don't watch football and just look at stat lines asked me how I could say that because Williams got more touches than Stewart.
Right, but many of Williams' touches came earlier in the game. It appeared to me that when Carolina went to the passing game, they preferred Stewart to Williams. So what happens last week? Stewart catches eight balls for 100 yards and Williams bombs yet again. That's the difference between actually watching the games and watching highlights on SportsCenter. That's why I do the writing and you do the reading.
I said it last week and I'll say it again; Stewart is the Carolina running back you want to own moving forward. I know Williams got the big contract, but Stewart is the better player. I don't know what else to tell you. You're wasting your time starting Williams at this point.
Denarius Moore, WR Raiders -- I just can't catch a break this fantasy season. My team has been scoring like crazy but I keep coming up against a guy who has monster weeks thanks to ridiculous performances. This time Moore got me.
A guy in my league picked up and dropped what must have been 10 different players to use as a WR3. Players like Donald Driver, Eddie Royal and the stiff receiver on the Browns whose name I can't spell. Unfortunately for me he settled on Moore, who scored more fantasy points than those other three receivers combined. For me it was the difference between winning and losing last week.
While I hated watching it at the time, Moore tore the Bills defense apart. This kid looked like the real deal on a team desperately in need of a go-to receiver. I don't think Moore is going to get 30 fantasy points every week unless he's playing against me but I do think you're looking at Oakland's new No. 1 receiver.
The again, with Al Davis making the decisions who knows what's going to happen? Hey Al, Darrius Heyward-Bey can't play. Even a senile old man should be able to see that much.
Go get Moore if he's still on the waiver wire. Just keep in mind that he'll be stuck on Revis Island Sunday, so keep Moore on the bench until next week.
David Nelson, WR Bills -- I'm going to be honest, I don't know a heck of a lot about Nelson other than that he played at Florida, but any receiver who catches 14 balls through two games deserves some consideration.
This Bills offense is really coming together nicely. They have Jackson and Spiller in the backfield and the explosive Steve Johnson on the outside. Nelson appears to be the underneath slot guy who's going to end up catching a bunch of short passes all year long. When you think Nelson think Danny Amendola last year in St. Louis. He'll rack up receptions but not a lot of yards after the catch.
I don't know if Nelson will pay dividends in standard scoring formats but he's worth a shot in a PPR league if you're looking to add another receiver to the back end of your roster. At this point last year we were all kind of skeptical about Amendola and he ended up catching almost 100 balls, so you never know.
Deion Branch, WR Patriots -- Last week I debated whether to start Branch or Santonio Holmes. I obviously made the wrong choice because I'm a dolt and went with Holmes.
My thinking at the time was Branch is worthy of at least an every-week start from the flex spot playing in the Patriots offense. Now I think he's worth a start every week period. Listen, I keep hearing from fantasy sites how Chad Ochocinco will eventually pass Branch on the depth chart. Really? Do you watch football at all?
As I pointed out this preseason, Ochocinco is getting old overnight. Tom Brady has thrown for 1,000 yards in two games and Ochocinco hasn't even made a blip on the fantasy radar. In all honesty, I wouldn't be surprised if the Patriots cut Ochocinco in the coming weeks if things don't turn around soon.
Brady trusts Branch and that's the most important factor here. Branch would be an afterthought on virtually every other team in the NFL but because he has chemistry with Brady, Branch has a big role in New England's offense.
I had Brady rated as my No. 1 overall player heading into the season for one reason: I know Bill Belichick is a realist. Maybe his defense will get better over time but right now Belichick knows he needs to rely on Brady and the offense to win games. I don't see that changing any time soon. Brady will continue to throw for a ton of yards and Branch will be a solid fantasy start virtually every week.
Eric Decker, WR Broncos -- You have to give credit where credit is due. Every now and then I border on genius.
Rob Gronkowski, TE Patriots -- When did the Patriots trade for Antonio Gates?
Tony Romo, QB Cowboys -- Yep, he's still coming down. I hate the stupidity of the media. Now Romo has gone from "goat" to "hero?" Hero? Because he played well and beat a 4-12 team? That makes you a hero? I guess people have low standards for heroes these days. What's next? We're going to throw a parade if Romo plays well against the Seahawks?
Listen, I've never questioned Romo's heart, toughness or dedication. That's not the issue. The issue is he constantly chokes in meaningful games and makes dumb mistakes. Now all that changes because he beat the mighty 49ers? Is it 1992? Romo always plays well against bad teams. He's beaten a lot of them late in games. One game against the Lions in Detroit a few years back comes to mind where Romo led an improbable late rally. This is nothing new.
What Romo did on Sunday doesn't change a darn thing. Call me when he plays well and doesn't make stupid mistakes in a game that has meaning and then I'll care. I'm sorry but I don't live my life with selective amnesia. Anyone who thinks Romo silenced his critics because he beat an awful team in Week 2 needs to get locked in a room with me for 10 minutes so I can beat some sense into them.
Reggie Bush, RB Dolphins -- I don't know what to tell you here. I just don't have a clue.
A week after Chad Henne and the Miami offense looked great playing a wide-open style, Tony Sparano goes back to being conservative. This is why Sparano won't have a job come January. We're talking about a coach who tried to ice a kicker before a routine 36-yard field goal attempt and then tried to draw the Houston defense offsides on fourth down late in the game trailing by 10 points. Of course, it didn't work and Sparano had to burn one of his three timeouts.
I know the argument will be that Daniel Thomas had a big game. I don't mind the rookie getting his touches. However, Larry Johnson was in the game over Bush at times in the first half. Now that I can't explain.
I have no idea what's going on in Miami other than I believe Sparano has proved to be, pound-for-pound, the worst coach in the NFL. If you have Bush or Thomas and want to try to figure out what's going through Sparano's head during a particular week, then go ahead and start them. I really don't know what advice to give because I can't comprehend Sparano's logic.
It also amuses that Sparano got short with the media, too. Don't blame them because you can't coach. Look in the mirror. Sparano is strongly making a case to break into my Top 5 Worst Coaches in NFL History list. Don't worry, Ray Handley. Your spot atop the list is still safe for the time being.
Marshawn Lynch, RB Seahawks -- Wow, what a disaster. I mean what an absolute catastrophic disaster. There hasn't been a mess this big in Seattle since the team drafted Rick Mirer.
The Seahawks offense is so bad I'm not sure they could score 10 points against LSU or Alabama. I actually liked Lynch quite a bit this summer. That just goes to show how much I know. This team is a pile of hot garbage right now. Not only should you bench Lynch for the foreseeable future, you should avoid any Seattle offensive player like the plague.
In two games so far Lynch has run for 44 yards. I have to be honest, I'm shocked the total is that high. If you're still starting Lynch or any other Seahawk for that matter, it's time to stop. There won't be any fantasy value coming out of Seattle until Andrew Luck arrives in April.
Percy Harvin, WR Vikings -- So Leslie Frazier's first order of business as Vikings Head Coach was to take Harvin out of the offense. That makes sense.
Last week against Tampa Bay Harvin was on the field for less than 50 percent of the offensive plays. I suppose Frazier wanted to give Bernard Berrian and Michael Jenkins more reps. You know, because those two guys have been utter disappointments throughout their careers.
On a team with no playmakers besides Adrian Peterson, it's unfathomable to have Harvin standing on the sidelines. When healthy, Harvin is one of the most dangerous offensive weapons in the NFL. I can't comprehend any scenario where a coach wouldn't use one of his best players.
I have to believe someone on the Vikings coaching staff is going to slap Frazier upside the head soon and tell him the team needs to get the ball in Harvin's hands. Then again, I see things every single week from coaches that leaves me baffled, so who knows?
If you own Harvin I'm going to stick with my gut and say he'll have better days ahead. Still, it's absolutely amazing that a head coach in the NFL has to be told that Harvin is a better receiver than Jenkins and Berrian isn't it? Where do they find these guys?
Plaxico Burress, WR Jets -- I'm a little surprised by how many people are starting Burress every week with confidence. I know he had a nice game in Week 1 but that was against the Dallas scout team corners.
Last week against an awful Jacksonville secondary Burress got blanked. I think these first two games will be a microcosm of Burress' season. He'll have a big game every now and then but if you like consistency on a weekly basis, Burress isn't your guy.
Dustin Keller is having another strong September and Santonio Holmes is the clear No. 1 receiver for Gang Green. Throw in LaDainian Tomlinson out of the backfield and in games where Burress doesn't score I don't see him putting up big fantasy numbers. In other words, Burress isn't going to catch a ton of balls, he's going to be more of a big-play guy for the Jets.
I don't think Burress should be a guarantee start every week. He did just get of prison recently. Play the matchups but if you think you have a better option than Burress on a given week, don't be afraid to go with it.
Malcom Floyd, WR Chargers -- I can't stand players like Floyd. When he plays, Floyd puts up solid fantasy numbers but it's always something with this guy -- a hamstring, a groin a toe, something. It never ends.
Owning a guy like Floyd is worse than having someone who stinks. At least if you know a guy isn't going to produce you can move on. Floyd is like Beanie Wells. When he's on the field Floyd produces but the question is when will he play?
Floyd looked good early on against New England but, almost on cue, left with a groin injury. Now what? Will Floyd play next week? Will he be out for a month? That's what I hate the most. I already have too much to worry about in my life. I don't need a headache like Floyd on my fantasy team adding to my problems.
In my fantasy career I've tried to avoid players that somehow always seem to get nagging injuries. It just makes things easier throughout the season. Next year remember that and take a pass on Floyd before he pulls his groin again.
Owen Daniels, TE Texans -- I drafted Daniels in the seventh round, which is high for me to select a tight end. I did it because I thought with the Texans' lack of receivers Daniels was in line for a huge year. So far it's just not happening.
While Daniels did score a touchdown on Sunday he only has four receptions in two games. The big problem for those of us who own Daniels is he's been used primarily as a blocker in Houston's first two games.
The Texans have jumped out to early leads on both Indianapolis and Miami, and when Houston gets a lead they run the football. Daniels gets most of his production when the Texans are either playing from behind or in a wild shootout. So far he hasn't gotten that opportunity.
Daniels' production will likely increase as the year goes on but he seemed someone who could put up Jason Witten-type numbers if healthy. That simply isn't going to happen. Until things change Daniels is a low end fantasy starter at tight end. Now I'm sure I'll have a lot of luck trying to trade him away this week once everyone in my league reads these comments.
Cam Newton, QB Panthers -- The guy is throwing for 400 yards per game and this week he gets to feast on the Jacksonville secondary. Unless you have an elite fantasy quarterback, get Newton in your starting lineup.
Ben Tate, RB Texans -- If you own Tate and aren't starting him I'm not sure why. Despite his dumb preseason tweet, Arian Foster is still struggling with his hamstring, which means Tate will take center stage once again this week. The bulldozing Tate should run over the Saints defense and eclipse 100 yards for the third time this season.
Mike Thomas, WR Jaguars -- Whoever the quarterback is in Jacksonville he'll have to throw the ball to someone. Thomas has a nice matchup against a poor Carolina pass defense. He should put up good numbers in PPR leagues this week.
Devery Henderson, WR Saints -- The Houston defense has played the Colts and Dolphins so far. Needless to say they'll be stepping up in class on Sunday. I need to see that secondary play well against a legit passing team first before I believe the hype.
Fred Davis, TE Redskins -- Davis has had two strong games so far and the Cowboys safeties can be exploited in coverage, as Dustin Keller showed in Week 1. There's a good chance Davis finds the end zone once again on Monday night.
Arizona defense -- I mean they're playing the Seahawks. Is that reason enough for you?
For more average fantasy advice you can follow Thomas Casale on Twitter and Facebook or e-mail him at email@example.com.