Fantasy Clicks: Thursday Night Revelations
Ricky Williams: AP
1. Ricky Williams does one heckuva Chris Johnson impersonation: Chalk it up to method acting, or a porous Panthers defense. Either way, there's no doubting that Ricky's 138-yard, 3-TD night was one of the 10 best fantasy performances of the season. Yes, he bullrushed Carolina for 119 rushing yards and two TDs; but he was equally impressive on the two catches for 19 yards -- including a sideline-straddling, feet-dragging TD reception in the third quarter that would make Paul Warfield proud. Who knew that Williams, at the ripen age of 32, could be this versatile, this dominant?
2. Maybe Ricky really missed being The Man: As great as Williams was on Thursday night -- while overshadowing Carolina's DeAngelo Williams in the process -- fantasy owners are now left with a major quandary before the trade deadline: Was Ricky's three-TD explosion a sign of things to come, in the wake of Ronnie Brown's absence to injury? ... OR does he have the capacity for only 100 yards/1 TD from Weeks 12-16, making him the ultimate "sell-high guy" before next week's 11th-hour swap meet?
3. Poetic justice has been served (we think): Remember how the Dolphins dominated the Colts and Saints (at least early on) in Weeks 2 and 7, and yet came up painfully short on the final scoreboard? Well, for the second time in four weeks, a Miami player has singlehandedly carried his struggling club to a much-needed (and quite surprising) road victory -- Ted Ginn Jr. and his two kick-return TDs Week 8 against the Jets ... and Ricky's big night against the Panthers. Ain't karma grand?
4. Jake Delhomme and Chad Henne are exactly what we thought they'd be: At some point in the third quarter, a few of us at the Atlanta-based SI.com office humorously debated, Who's the NFL's worst starting QB when playing from behind? The three unanimous answers (in no particular order) were: Brady Quinn, JaMarcus Russell, Jake Delhomme ... and now that JaMarcus is riding the pine in Oakland, it's fair to wonder if Delhomme (227 passing yards, 1 TD, 1 INT) isn't the absolute worst when trying to mount a comeback. After all, there's a reason why Carolina needs to give DeAngelo and Jonathan Stewart (12 rushes, 43 yards) at least 30-35 combined touches to have any chance of victory. In fact, Delhomme was one amazing Steve Smith catch away from having another night of zero touchdowns.
5. DeAngelo owners should shoot for the moon in pre-deadline trade talks: Don't be frazzled by Williams getting upstaged by another Williams in one game. If anything, Thursday's home loss should serve as a good Scared Straight program for the Carolina coaches, who mistakenly thought they could win by using DeAngelo (131 total yards) as a simple decoy. Seriously, there is not a person on earth who believes the Panthers can win when Old Jake's pass attempts triple the number of DeAngelo touches -- including members of the Delhomme tribe.
1. Kurt Warner @ St. Louis
2. Philip Rivers @ Denver
3. Tom Brady vs. N.Y. Jets
4. Donovan McNabb @ Chicago
5. Drew Brees @ Tampa Bay
6. Eli Manning vs. Atlanta
7. Brett Favre vs. Seattle
8. Aaron Rodgers vs. San Francisco
9. Matthew Stafford vs. Cleveland
1. San Diego @ Denver
2. Philadelphia @ Chicago
3. Seattle @ Minnesota
4. Arizona @ St. Louis
5. Cleveland @ Detroit
Looking for a creative way to snag Roddy White (47 catches, 668 yards, 6 TDs) for your Points Per Reception league? Try offering a WR-light owner Mario Manningam, Austin Collie (ranked 26th and 28th, respectively) and Bills RB Fred Jackson (who always finishes seasons strong), as part of a bold 3-for-1 trade.
1. RB Darren McFadden, Raiders
2. QB Jay Cutler, Bears
3. WR Jerricho Cotchery, Jets
4. TE Dustin Keller, Jets
5. QB Jason Campbell, Redskins
6. TE Visanthe Shiancoe, Vikings
7. WR Hines Ward, Steelers
8. WR Derrick Mason, Ravens
9. RB Donald Brown, Colts
10. WR Lance Moore, Saints
Mainstream fantasy sites, like SI.com, are obviously a hit with fantasygoers. But there's always room for alternative media in the marketplace, especially when the authors are hilariously shouting from the rooftops about some semblance of reasoning behind Oakland's RB rotation of Michael Bush, Justin Fargas, Darren McFadden ... OR how Lions WR Bryant Johnson cannot catch more than two passes on the same day Matthew Stafford posts 51 attempts (without an interception).
The first must-see blog is PigskinAddiction.com; and the site's signature page involves Snake's Takes (running every Tuesday) -- comprising a collection of unfiltered thoughts so random, so emotional, so bitter, so twisted ... you'll wonder how the man even survives an NFL Sunday, let alone write about it come Monday.
Next up ... Fantasy Football Toolbox. If you're looking for updated depth charts, weekly cheat sheets, injury reports and even -- sacre bleu! -- an updated listing of the NFL's Top 10 punters (insert joke here) ... then welcome home!
There's even a weekly podcast during the season -- although the Clemons/Ritter podcast offers more hard-hitting fantasy analysis and abject mocking of one another's lineup decisions.
@fillbish wonders: I've beeb offered Pierre Thomas/Anquan Boldin/Steve Smith (NYG) for Brandon Jacobs/Wes Welker/Kevin Walter. Thoughts?
Answer: Even if we're talking about a Points Per Reception league -- where Welker is top-10 royalty amongst receivers -- I still prefer the potential greatness of Thomas, Boldin and New York's Smith. Not that I love Smith (719 receiving yards, 5 TDs) in standard-scoring leagues ... but he certainly has proven to be more reliable than Kevin Smith. And with Thomas and Boldin, you'd be getting the two players with the biggest short-term upsides, the two players who can literally carry a struggling team in the playoffs.
@arl314 poses this question: Who is the better start this week: Jay Cutler or Tony Romo? I'm thinking Romo, but Washington does have a good pass defense. Do you agree?
Answer: I prefer watching Cutler over Romo on any given Sunday; but I'm going to call an audible here -- even though I have Eagles-Bears as the highest-scoring game of Week 11. The Cowboys, for whatever reason, are lights-out at home against marginal teams. So, it's with a heavy heart that I choose Romo's fantasy week over Cutler's.
@JasonFingerman asks: Hey Jay! Jason Snelling or the resurgent Roy Williams as my PPR flex for Week 11?
Answer: What part of anything Roy could possibly be termed 'resurgent?' He's slower than ever, his hands are questionable ... and he's only getting a short-term bump in targets because Miles Austin is fighting through double-teams! (deep sigh) That aside, I need to see Snelling prove himself in one full game -- where the defense has time to prepare for his skill-set -- before making a commitment down the stretch. Begrudgingly, perhaps miserably ... I'm going to side with i>Roy, Roy, Roy.
@alpod22 asks: Who's a good start at the Flex for week 11 -- Marion Barber, Chris Chambers, Jerricho Cotchery?
Answer: Pay attention here: In a PPR, I'd start 1)Chambers 2)Cotchery 3)M-Barber ... in a standard league, I'd go 1)Barber 2)Chambers 3)Cotch.
@Moharvll wonders: I'm considering starting Beanie Wells AND Tim Hightower. My only other options are Fred Jackson/Steve Slaton. WWJD?
Answer: Ordinarily, I would recommend Slaton and Beanie/Hightower for Week 11. However, we cannot overlook that Arizona is a reasonable threat for 41 points against St. Louis. And even if Kurt Warner throws for 350 yards against his old team -- in his old home dome -- one would have to think Beanie and Hightower could easily register 80 yards and one goal-line TD. In other words, I cannot disagree with your rationale. Smart move.
Tom Brady and Randy Moss: AP
A receiver is only as good as his quarterback ... and the number of opportunities he gets to make a catch (known as Targets -- an absolutely critical stat for PPR leagues). This underrated category is the best way to safeguard against one-hit wonders during a looooong fantasy season. To wit, SI.com presents a list of the 27 wideouts with at least 31 Targets since Week 6:
1. Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals -- 61 Targets
2. Devin Hester, Bears -- 53 Targets
3. Reggie Wayne, Colts -- 50 Targets
4. Roddy White, Falcons -- 46 Targets
5. Randy Moss, Patriots -- 45
6. Greg Jennings, Packers -- 44
7. DeSean Jackson, Eagles -- 42
8. Wes Welker, Patriots -- 42
9. Andre Johnson, Texans -- 41
10. Dwayne Bowe, Chiefs -- 40 (out until Week 15 -- drug suspension)
11. T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Seahawks -- 40
12. Brandon Marshall, Broncos -- 39
13. Steve Smith, Giants -- 39
14. Vincent Jackson, Chargers -- 37
15. Donald Driver, Packers -- 36
16. Pierre Garcon, Colts -- 35
17. Santonio Holmes, Steelers -- 35
18. Steve Smith, Panthers -- 35 (excluding Week 11 stats)
19. Marques Colston, Saints -- 34
20. Jeremy Maclin, Eagles -- 34
21. Derrick Mason, Ravens -- 34
22. Chad Ochocinco, Bengals -- 34
23. Sidney Rice, Vikings -- 34
24. Hines Ward, Steelers -- 34
25. Davone Bess, Dolphins -- 32 (excluding Week 11 stats)
26. Steve Breaston, Cardinals -- 31
27. Nate Burleson, Seahawks -- 31
1. Andre Johnson vs. Tennessee
2. Randy Moss vs. N.Y. Jets
3. Jeremy Maclin @ Chicago
4. Wes Welker vs. N.Y. Jets
5. Vincent Jackson @ Denver
6. Larry Fitzgerald @ St. Louis
7. Calvin Johnson vs. Cleveland
8. Marques Colston @ Tampa Bay
9. Hines Ward @ Kansas City
10. Sidney Rice vs. Seattle
11. Santana Moss @ Dallas
12. Steve Breaston @ St. Louis
For what it's worth right now ... these are the QBs/RBs/WRs (in no particular order) you'll want to move mountains to acquire before Week 14 -- traditionally the first weekend of the fantasy playoffs:
QBs: Ben Roethlisberger, Drew Brees, Joe Flacco, Matt Schaub, Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Matt Cassel, Philip Rivers, Tony Romo, Kurt Warner
RBs: Rashard Mendenhall, Thomas Jones, Chris Johnson, Steven Jackson, Maurice Jones-Drew, Adrian Peterson, Ray Rice, Matt Forte, DeAngelo Williams, Jamaal Charles, Frank Gore
WRs: Marques Colston, Derrick Mason, Andre Johnson, Reggie Wayne, Randy Moss, Wes Welker, Larry Fitzgerald, Steve Breaston, Miles Austin, Vincent Jackson
1. Ray Rice vs. Indianapolis
2. Marion Barber vs. Washington
3. Frank Gore @ Green Bay
4. Maurice Jones-Drew vs. Buffalo
5. Adrian Peterson vs. Seattle
6. Pierre Thomas @ Tampa Bay
7. Beanie Wells @ St. Louis
8. Chris Johnson @ Houston
9. Matt Forte vs. Philadelphia
10. Rashard Mendenhall @ Kansas City
One good turn deserves another. Here are the 21 RBs with 13 or more Targets since Week 6:
1. Matt Forte, Bears -- 31
2. Steven Jackson, Rams -- 28
3. Tim Hightower, Cardinals -- 27
4. Ray Rice, Ravens -- 26
5. Reggie Bush, Saints -- 23
6. Frank Gore, 49ers -- 22
7. LeSean McCoy, Eagles -- 22
8. Justin Forsett, Seahawks -- 20
9. Kevin Faulk, Patriots -- 19
10. Chris Johnson, Texans -- 18
11. Maurice Jones-Drew, Jaguars -- 17
12. Steve Slaton, Texans -- 17
13. Joseph Addai, Colts -- 17
14. Marshawn Lynch, Bills -- 16
15. Adrian Peterson, Vikings -- 15
16. Kevin Smith, Lions -- 15
17. Darren Sproles, Chargers -- 15
18. Brian Westbrook, Eagles -- 14
19. DeAngelo Williams, Panthers -- 14 (excluding Week 11 stats)
20. Correll Buckhalter, Broncos -- 14
21. Jamaal Charles, Chiefs -- 13
Last but not least ... here are the 18 tight ends with at least 18 targets since Week 6. If your preferred guy isn't on the list, perhaps it's time to choose someone who actually sees 4-5 balls per game:
1. Tony Gonzalez, Falcons -- 41 Targets
2. Antonio Gates, Chargers -- 40
3. Dallas Clark, Colts -- 39
4. Dustin Keller, Jets -- 36
5. Greg Olsen, Bears -- 34
6. Brent Celek, Eagles -- 34
7. Vernon Davis, 49ers -- 32
8. Jason Witten, Cowboys -- 31
9. Jeremy Shockey, Saints -- 26
10. Kellen Winslow, Buccaneers -- 25
11. John Carlson, Seahawks -- 24
12. Heath Miller, Steelers -- 23
13. Zach Miller, Raiders -- 23
14. Fred Davis, Redskins -- 21
15. Brandon Pettigrew, Lions -- 21
16. Donald Lee, Packers -- 20
17. Kevin Boss, Giants -- 18
18. Desmond Clark, Bears -- 18
For owners in 16-team leagues who absolutely, positively need a backup running back this week, one with a serious chance of scoring double-digits through the magic of garbage time ... look no further than Detroit's Maurice Morris, who has the good fortune of facing Cleveland at Ford Field. Now, we must reiterate this pick is strictly an educated hunch -- but one proffered from Morris' 82 total yards against the Rams in Week 8 (the last time the Lions were favored to win a game -- they lost) AND our belief that -- hometown-bias aside -- Detroit will roll to a suprising 31-10 home win.