While we know you love the fantasy news and advice you get here at Sports Illustrated and we're sure that we're the first site you check in the morning and the last one you check before you go to sleep (right?), we're not vain enough to think you don't consult our counterparts at Yahoo!, ESPN, NFL.com, or any of the other roughly 7,263 fantasy sites on the web. We fantasy experts may think alike in many ways (don't pay for saves!), but if you're checking out multiple sites, you're undoubtedly exposed to plenty differences of opinion. And that brings us to the point.
Every week in this space, we'll take an audit on the opinions offered by fantasy experts around the Internet. We'll cosign on some ideas while pointing out the holes in others, all in the name of helping you decide which opinions you want to follow and which you'll wish you never read. Think of me as the inspector general of fantasy sports writer.
One important note: Agree or disagree, I have the utmost respect for all the fantasy writers on the web. It isn't an easy job to produce quality fantasy content every single day of the week, especially given the level of competition, and everyone mentioned in this column and those to come does a great job.
Now it's time to rip a few of them.
At NFL.com, Michael Fabiano has Matt Hasselbeck at the top of his waiver wire wish list. As someone who started Hasselbeck in one league last week due to the uncertainty surrounding Tony Romo, I would have been strongly in Fabiano's corner a week ago at this time. Unfortunately, Kenny Britt tore his ACL and MCL, ending what was quickly becoming a breakout season for the third-year receiver from Rutgers. Without Britt, I'm not sure I can endorse Hasselbeck as a reliable fantasy option. Depending on the depth of your league, he could be suitable as a bye-week plug-and-play, but I'd stay away from him as a weekly starter. To be fair, Fabiano isn't the only person on the Hasselbeck bandwagon this week. His column just happened to be the first one I read.
Maybe I'm being stubborn, but I don't see how you can give up on Chris Johnson, especially with the Titans winning and with them having just lost their No. 1 receiver. However, that's exactly what ESPN's KC Joyner is recommending behind the Insider pay wall. Yes, Johnson has been phenomenally frustrating in the season's first three weeks, running for 98 yards and failing to find the end zone. He appears to be in condition, but count me among the people who blame his holdout for his slow start. With three games under his belt, I think the time to make a move for Johnson is now. Don't forget, he has 13 receptions this year, and with Britt out for the season, the Titans are likely to lean on Johnson as their primary playmaker. They also have a whiff of playoff potential, and more wins equals more opportunities to pound the ball on the ground. Do not give up on Johnson.
And in happier news ...
Remember last year, when, in all of our wisdom, we unanimously tapped Ryan Mathews as a breakout candidate before he ever stepped foot on an NFL field? Remember how we told you to stick with him? Yeah, we meant stick with him for 2011. One year after making a splash and a thud in the same season, Mathews is fulfilling the hype that surrounded him as a rookie. Over at RotoWire, Chris Liss says Mathews is already a top-five back, and I couldn't agree more. He has all the tools of a top-five back. Decisive runner with good vision? Check. Speed to turn the corner and pull away from defenders? Check. Pass-catching ability? Check. Tied to an elite offense? Check. And, finally, goal-line carries? Yep, that's a check too. Like Liss, I think the only backs you can rank ahead of Mathews are Adrian Peterson, Ray Rice, LeSean McCoy and Darren McFadden. In fact, that's my top five, in order. If you're a Mathews owner, do not consider trading him unless you're getting one of those four backs in return. And this will likely be your last week to make a move for Mathews with him likely to tear the Dolphins apart on Sunday.
Speaking of the Dolphins, they, too, have had interesting developments with their running backs. Namely, Daniel Thomas is who we thought he was back in July, not who we were scared he might be in August. Oh, and Reggie Bush is still a terrible NFL back. Bush has never been capable of running between the tackles in the NFL, and now that Thomas has proved himself over the last two weeks, Bush returns to the dustbin of the waiver wire. Thomas even caught three passes for 27 yards and a touchdown last week, giving him 239 yards from scrimmage in his first two games in the league. Bush's short run of fantasy relevance is over.
In 2011, it's just as hard to find someone who isn't in love with the Lions offense as it was to find someone who could name five players on the Lions offense just a few years ago. Having said that, rookie receiver Titus Young, a Boise State product, has yet to garner a ton of attention or register gaudy stats. Still, Yahoo!'s Andy Behrens has been building him up for quite some time now, and I think he's onto something. In the last two weeks, Young has nine catches for 140 yards, and with Calvin Johnson and Jahvid Best hogging a ton of attention, Young should find plenty of room to roam in opposing secondaries. Despite Megatron's six touchdowns, he hasn't put up huge yardage totals, suggesting teams are, smartly, trying to take him away at all costs. Big numbers are on the horizon for Young. And if you click on the link to Behrens' column, make sure you check out the quote from Detroit head coach Jim Schwartz about Young.
Chat with me 140 characters at a time on Twitter, @MBeller.