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The Fire Sale: Helu, Robinson look to have firm grip on opportunities


I apologize to the seven people who care about not having a Fire Sale last week. I had a health issue and didn't get a chance to write anything. Unfortunately, it looks like I'm going to survive so I have to go on living this painful existence for a couple more years.

To be honest, you didn't miss much. I had basically mapped out the reasons why Jason Garrett has surpassed Dave Campo as the worst coach in the history of the Dallas Cowboys. It's nothing you haven't heard before.

One point before we get started. I see analysts have begun nitpicking Andrew Luck. This happens all the time. Whenever there's a clear-cut No. 1 choice people like Phil Simms start detailing all the negatives about the player.

Is Luck perfect? Of course he isn't. Does he need to work on certain aspects of his game? Of course he does. However, if you're talking about pocket presence and surveying the field, Luck is as good as any quarterback I've seen in a long time. Those are the things you can't teach.

To say Landry Jones is in Luck's class is comical. Say what you want about the Pac 12, but no conference plays worse overall pass defense than the Big 12. Receivers in that conference are running wide open on every single play. If someone is putting Jones in the same class with Luck right now they're Looney Tunes. I'm talking looney, looney, looney.

There's no guarantee Luck will be good but he's as safe as you get. A couple of years ago people tried to tell us Gerald McCoy was just as good as Ndamukong Suh, and I fell out of my chair laughing. The same thing will happen with Luck as the draft gets closer.

Jones and Matt Barkley may be good NFL quarterbacks, but coming out of college Luck is the better player. If anyone tells you different they're just trying to cause a stir. Trust me, even though I like the fact that he was named after the great Tom Landry, Jones can't carry Luck's jock right now.

Look for all the flaws you want but when I see guys like Tim Tebow and Tarvaris Jackson trying to play quarterback in the NFL I understand why teams are tripping over themselves to get Luck.

Now, on with the Fire Sale ...

Roy Helu, RB Redskins -- I had Helu going up a few weeks ago, and on Sunday the inevitable happened: he finally became the Redskins starting running back. This time, though, I don't think there will be a change.

Helu showed he's a good receiver by catching 14 passes in his first career start. While that won't happen every week the Redskins checkdown machines at quarterback make it a certainty that Helu will be valuable going forward in PPR leagues. I predict Helu will be the Redskins leading receiver for the rest of the season. Considering his competition, I feel pretty good about that one.

Even Mike Shanahan said Ryan Torain won't get on the field unless Helu needs a break. Helu will be the most sought after free agent this week, but if you follow the Fire Sale you should already own him. If you didn't listen to me, shame on you. It was pretty obvious I was due to be right about something.

Jacoby Ford, WR Raiders -- Carson Palmer had an up-and-down game in his first start with the Raiders, but to be fair, Palmer hasn't played much football in almost a year. The bottom line is Palmer was rusty.

The one thing we can take away from Sunday's performance is that Jacoby Ford has fantasy relevance again. Ford caught five balls for 105 yards and a touchdown. Ford actually started opposite Denarius Moore and he was clearly Palmer's favorite option out of the Raiders receivers.

Injuries and inconsistent quarterback play caused a lot of people to drop Ford. It's now time to get back on the bandwagon. Ford is arguably the fastest football player on the planet outside of Florida's Jeffery Demps.

When Palmer gets time in the pocket Ford is going to be on the receiving end of a lot of big plays. The key for Palmer is having time, because if we're talking mobility he looked like Kerry Collins when pressured Sunday. That's not a compliment, by the way.

Still, it was only Palmer's first start, so there will be better days ahead. That also means better days for Ford, who could become a real fantasy factor over the second half of the season.

Laurent Robinson, WR Cowboys -- With Miles Austin re-injuring his hamstring on Sunday, Robinson now becomes the starting wide receiver for the worst coached team in America.

One thing I always look at when assessing receivers is if their quarterback trusts them. Robinson hasn't played a lot for the Cowboys but when he's been on the field Tony Romo looks for him. That's a good sign for Robinson owners going forward.

I watched tape on Robinson coming out of college and liked him as a draft sleeper. It's taken quite a while but my sleeper is waking up. Robinson has 10 catches, 135 yards and two scores in his last two games.

Think about the Dallas passing game going forward without Austin. If you were a defensive coordinator, who would you try and take away? Dez Bryant is going to see a lot of double teams, and Jason Witten will get more attention now as well. That leaves Robinson with a lot of one-on-one coverage, and Romo likes to take shots down the field when he sees man coverage. He doesn't always see it but that's a different story.

As a disgruntled fan you know I'm usually pretty hard on the Cowboys, but I like what I've seen out of Robinson so far. Robinson has enough upside to start for your fantasy team with Austin expected to miss 2-4 weeks with his bad hamstring. He's not a given but Robinson makes for a decent flex play most weeks until Austin returns.

In many ways, Robinson is similar to Pittsburgh's Antonio Brown. Over the summer it was clear the unproven Brown looked like he was supposed to be on the field playing with Ben Roethlisberger. I get the same feeling from Robinson. He just doesn't come in and take up space, Robinson makes plays. By the way, Brown is a Top 15 receiver on my draft board heading into next season. I love that guy.

If you didn't get Robinson a month ago, do it now. He's in a great situation for a least a couple of weeks and probably longer.

Damian Williams, WR Titans -- Kenny Britt is out for the year, and Nate Washington and Lavelle Hawkins were both banged up against the Bengals. This opens the door for Williams to be the Titans top receiver going forward. To be honest, Washington hasn't been nearly as good without Britt. With defenses trying to take Washington out of the game, Williams is now the receiver to own in Tennessee.

The Titans are still a pass-first team even though Matt Hasselbeck has cooled off quite a bit after a hot start to the year. There will be opportunities for Williams in the coming weeks. At this point in the year I like to grab receivers with upside. I think Williams is one of those guys.

Jake Ballard, TE Giants -- This is the rerun Fire Sale. Just like Helu and Robinson, I already talked about Ballard a while ago, but after his nice week, he is worth another look.

First, if you want to know how delusional New England fans are, know that they think Patrick Chung is some kind of great player. Chung is awful. If there's a worse safety in the NFL I haven't seen him. Wait, Roy Williams isn't still playing, is he? If not, then Chung is the worst safety I've seen this season.

Keep trading down in the draft, Belichick, so the media can tell me how smart you are. Don't look now but the Patriots have a talent problem. The problem is they don't have a lot of it. Maybe this year the Patriots should actually draft a player that can help them instead of trading down to get future picks so they can select Chung and Devin McCourty.

Getting back to Ballard, he's starting to become a solid fantasy tight end. He won't get to feast on Chung's awful coverage skills every week, but I don't think anyone in New York is missing Kevin Boss right now.

I still wouldn't consider Ballard a starter in normal 12-team leagues, but if you have to use two tight ends for some crazy reason, Ballard is a great option. Right now, Ballard is a better play than someone like Dustin Keller, and his role in New York's offense continues to increase.

Bills defense -- Can anyone tell me why the Bills defense is only owned in 40 percent of leagues? This is the same defense that plays offensive juggernauts Denver and Miami during the fantasy playoffs.

Is it just that we can't believe the Bills have a good defense? Yes, the Bills are coming off a poor performance against the Jets, but overall they've been solid. The Bills defense will give you around 10 points most weeks and has the ability to blow up as well when they take on joke offenses like Washington.

Listen, I rarely put defenses or kickers in the Fire Sale but considering how good Buffalo has been at creating turnovers and the teams they play in Weeks 15 and 16, you need to grab them if they're still available. You can't ask for more than getting the Dolphins and Broncos when your fantasy life is on the line in December.

Colt McCoy, QB Browns -- McCoy is on the list because I don't know if he's getting a fair shake in Cleveland.

I didn't like McCoy coming out of Texas and I still don't like him. He was a great college quarterback who was destined to be a solid NFL backup. Even though McCoy has played better overall than expected, I still don't see him being a 16-game starter in the NFL.

Having said all that, the Browns' decision to use the rest of the season as a referendum on whether or not McCoy is Cleveland's quarterback going forward is questionable. How can you assess anything about a quarterback playing on that offense?

Let's take a look at the Browns offense for a second. The No. 1 receiver is a rookie and they really don't have another legitimate option after him. Cleveland is down to its third string running back and the starter doesn't even want to be there anymore. The offensive line can't pass protect, which usually leaves McCoy running for his life.

So if the Browns are waiting to come to a conclusion about any quarterback playing in that offense I can save them the time and trouble. He isn't going to be successful. Cleveland has arguably the worst group of offensive skill players in the NFL. Actually, I don't even think it's close. No team has less offensive talent than the Browns.