LaDainian Tomlinson: Doug Pensinger/Getty Images
Thus, a summer of high expectations have quickly devolved into an autumn of discontent for Tomlinson owners. Yes, when healthy, LT likely possesses elite-tier talent in standard-scoring leagues; but what value does he hold when bothered by nagging chronic injuries, like the ankle sprain that kept him out of practice on Thursday?
The LT Options
Option #1 -- Hope he'll provide 8-10 healthy weeks in 2009: Twelve months ago, the thought of trading Tomlinson (minus a season-ending injury) would've been preposterous. After all, we're talking about someone with 11,815 rushing yards and 127 rushing TDs in eight-plus seasons, putting him on-pace to someday break Emmitt Smith's all-time record of 18,355 yards (as early as 2014). If ever there was a fantasyland Rock of Gibraltar (outside of ironman Brett Favre), it was Tomlinson. And now, the stubborn, oft-forgiving fantasy owner is confronted with the task of simply waiting out LT's M*A*S*H-like nature -- assuming they already have a stellar stable of rushers to absorb LT's partial loss.
Option #2 -- Make a trade for Darren Sproles: The quickest way to get over LT's newfound standing as a part-time tailback ... is to trade for Chargers wunderkind Darren Sproles, Tomlinson's partner-in-crime. Of course, you may have to move heaven and earth to land Sproles, via trade, after his 150-yard, 1-TD performance against Baltimore in Week 2. But when it comes to handcuffing, there is no more symbiotic pair in the NFL. Having LT and Sproles on the same roster offers greater peace of mind than owning DeAngelo Williams/Jonathan Stewart, Joseph Addai/Donald Brown or Fred Jackson/Marshawn Lynch.
Option #3 -- Sell reasonably high ... as a 1-for-1: What's the old saying ... There's one born every minute? Well, finding the proverbial sucker amongst your localized group of fantasy owners may not be easy. The obvious place to start lies with Sproles' owner. He/she would probably appreciate the notion of the handcuff. After that, though, it may be slim pickings, finding an owner who's willing to surrender Andre Johnson, Reggie Wayne, Randy Moss, Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Clinton Portis, Brian Westbrook, Brandon Jacobs or Steve Slaton in a straight-up swap. But keep the faith!
Option #4 -- Trade him as a 1-for-2 centerpiece: This particular move is all about upside, baby! Simply identify two young players with burgeoning potential -- ones that have yet to dominate or maybe even crack the starting lineup -- and deal away LT with the hopes he does well, but DOES NOT burn you come playoff time. At this point, how about getting any combination of Beanie Wells, Donald Brown or Felix Jones at RB and Laurent Robinson, Santonio Holmes, Eddie Royal or tight end John Carlson?
Option #5 -- Sell high in a blockbuster deal: If you're confident that Maurice Jones-Drew can be had at a reasonable price (read: less than astronomical), how about invoking the "1-4 vs. 2-3 Trade Method" to land him before Week 3 or 4? The 1-4/2-3 method simply involves getting the best-and-worst players of a 2-for-2 swap ... while Owner B gets the second- and third-ranked players in return. In MJD's case, he'd reprsent the No. 1 player ... and LT would be the No. 2 or No. 3. Hypothetically, one could pitch the following offer: Mo Jones-Drew/WR Mario Manningham for LT/T.J. Houshmandzadeh -- which appears to be a win-win for both parties.
Here's a list of prominent players who'll bounce back in Week 3 -- I promise:
1. WR Greg Jennings, Packers (out for vengeance after last week's humiliating "donut")
2. WR Randy Moss, Patriots (Chris Houston, this might hurt a little bit Sunday)
3. QB Matt Cassel, Chiefs (could see some major fantasy goodness at garbage time)
4. RB Matt Forte, Bears
5. WR Hines Ward, Steelers
6. WR Eddie Royal, Broncos
7. TE Zach Miller, Raiders (must show up every week ... absolutely no excuse for zero catches)
8. WR Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals
9. WR Santana Moss, Redskins (might be a lost cause, if he struggles against the Lions)
10. WR Bernard Berrian, Vikings
Stop me if you've heard this one before (thanks, Morrissey & The Smiths) ... but the Seahawks have been blasted by injuries. That's right. Last year's Unluckiest Team has grabbed the early lead here once again, disabling rock-solid performers like Matt Hasselbeck (cracked rib), LB Leroy Hill (groin), CB Marcus Trufant (back), LB Lofa Tatupu (hamstring), WR Deion Branch (hamstring), LT Walter Jones (knee), S Ken Lucas (groin), FB Justin Griffith and WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh (back spasms), among others. And here's the kicker: Of the 11 substantial injuries ... none are of the season-ending variety, meaning Seattle cannot stash anyone on Injured Reserve and fill the spots with temporary bodies.
Obviously, this spells trouble for the fantasy prospects of Seneca Wallace, Julius Jones, John Carlson, Nate Burleson, Justin Forsett and the aforementioned Branch and Houshmandzadeh -- both of whom will likely suit up against Chicago in Week 3. (We're assuming Hasselbeck doesn't take one snap.) If anyone benefits from the mass injuries, it'll be Carlson (ranked No. 3 amongst tight ends in fantasyland) and Julius Jones (when facing bad defenses at home -- unfortunately, the Bears don't meet that criteria).
Instead of scoffing at the above predictions ... take a gander at how I fared in this particular field last week:
1. RB Chris Johnson, Titans (284 yards, 3 TDs -- SUCCESS!)
2. RB Michael Turner, Falcons (110 total yards, 1 TD -- SUCCESS!)
3. WR DeSean Jackson, Eagles (4 catches, 101 yards, 1 TD -- SUCCESS!)
4. RB Matt Forte, Bears (62 total yards -- FAILURE)
5. TE Dallas Clark, Colts (7 catches, 183 yards, 1 TD -- SUCCESS!)
6. WR Roddy White, Falcons (6 catches, 53 yards, 1 TD -- SUCCESS!)
7. RB Reggie Bush, Saints (75 total yards, 1 TD -- SUCCESS!)
8. WR Brandon Marshall, Broncos (48 total yards -- FAILURE)
9. RB Larry Johnson, Chiefs (119 total yards -- SUCCESS!)
10. WR Terrell Owens, Bills (3 catches, 52 yards, 1 TD ... it's not a blowout, but SUCCESS!)
Back by popular demand, my up-to-the-minute rankings for the top 34 running backs:
1. Adrian Peterson, Vikings
2. Chris Johnson, Titans
3. DeAngelo Williams, Panthers
4. Michael Turner, Falcons
5. Frank Gore, 49ers
6. Maurice Jones-Drew, Jaguars
7. Matt Forte, Bears
8. Steven Jackson, Rams
9. Marion Barber, Cowboys
10. Brian Westbrook, Eagles
11. Brandon Jacobs, Giants
12. Fred Jackson, Bills
13. Steve Slaton, Texans
14. Clinton Portis, Redskins
15. Ryan Grant, Packers
16. Darren McFadden, Raiders
17. Ray Rice, Ravens
18. Willis McGahee, Ravens
19. Cedric Benson, Bengals
20. LaDainian Tomlinson, Chargers
21. Ronnie Brown, Dolphins
22. Joseph Addai, Colts
23. Thomas Jones, Jets
24. Darren Sproles, Chargers
25. Kevin Smith, Lions
26. Reggie Bush, Saints
27. Marshawn Lynch, Bills
28. Mike Bell, Saints
29. Tim Hightower, Cardinals
30. Leon Washington, Jets
31. Julius Jones, Seahawks
32. Pierre Thomas, Saints
33. Larry Johnson, Chiefs
34. Felix Jones, Cowboys (it's fun to dream about the kind of damage he'll do in Week 3 against Carolina, assuming Marion Barber doesn't play a lot and that Tashard Choice isn't the second coming of, uh, um, uh, Felix))
1. Indianapolis @ Arizona
2. New Orleans @ Buffalo
3. Atlanta @ New England
4. Carolina @ Dallas
5. Green Bay @ St. Louis
Aside from my upcoming wedding/honeymoon in October, ANY time is a perfect time to hit me on Twitter (@SI_JayClemons) for lineup-related questions within the fantasy realm. In fact, I see that some of my loyal followers have already peppered my Inbox with start/sit queries:
@jkincy asks: Any thoughts on a straight-up trade, giving up Aaron Rodgers for Steve Slaton? I have Donovan McNabb at QB and LaDainian Tomlinson and Marion Barber at running back?
Answer: As long you have a short-term replacement for McNabb in Weeks 3/4, I have no problem surrendering Rodgers for Slaton. Yes, it's a risky move, but we're taking a leap of faith that Slaton will return to his 1,200-yard form sooner than later. Make the plunge!
@sjo2009 wonders: I need a RB for my bench and was offered Donald Brown for Hines Ward. Should I do it?
Answer: I would only consider getting D-Brown for Ward -- IF i already had the Joseph Addai handcuff. Otherwise, you're likely staring at a losing proposition.
@JAZ212 wants to know: I need one of the three for my No. 2 RB: Felix Jones, Leon Washington or Knowshon Moreno. And would you start any of the remaining guys over Donald Driver as the flex in a PPR league?
Answer: I'd rank 'em 1)Felix 2)Driver 3)Leon 4)Knowshon for your Week 3-PPR team ... thx!
@osuadamr asks: Big fan! Who would you start this week -- Jay Cutler against Seattle or Carson Palmer against the Steelers?
Answer: Thanks for reading ... much appreicated! As for your query, I'd go Cutler over Palmer in Week 3 -- by a nose. The Seahawks' injury problems have been well-documented in today's Clicks, which can only boost Cutler's fantasy prospects.
@bamckenney wonders: I've had Fred Jackson benched because I have Ryan Grant, Chris Johnson and Matt Forte starting. Should I bench someone for F-Jax?
Answer: Chris Johnson (@ NYJ) probably has the worst matchup of Grant (@ STL), Forte (@ SEA) and F-Jax (vs. NO). But you cannot bench CJ or Forte -- go with Grant, if the mood should strike ya!
The 2009 Sports Illustrated/Citizen Sports Fantasy Football Game (presented by Pepsi Max). For those who haven't accessed this amazing application yet on Facebook ... what are you waiting for? (Week 2 has come and gone) And for those whose fantasy-football lives were compromised looooooooong before Michael Crabtree skipped his first regular season game, check out Jeffrey Ma's omnipresent fantasy blog on Citizen Sports.
Vincent Jackson: Jacob de Golish/Getty Images
As God Shammgod as my witness, it was never my intent to deal away Matt Forte on Thursday ... it just sort of happened that way. Yes, I'm sitting at a pathetic 0-2 in my Homeboys league -- one of only two winless clubs -- but with a six-pack of elite or potentially stellar running backs like Forte, Steve Slaton, Darren McFadden, Kevin Smith, Felix Jones and Beanie Wells and a strong corps of receivers (Roddy White, Braylon Edwards, Laurent Robinson, Jerricho Cotchery, Eddie Royal, Louis Murphy) ... I liked my chances of rebounding quickly and making a legitimate run at a fantasy title.
But the best laid plans went for naught ... after I was offered (and accepted) Reggie Wayne, Vincent Jackson, Reggie Bush, Matthew Stafford for Forte, Cotchery, Wells and Matt Hasselbeck, to whom I have officially washed my hands of (Pontius Pilate-style), after his most recent fractured-rib injury. Now, if I didn't already own Slaton, D-Mac, Smith and Felix, there's no way I'd part with Forte, my No. 3 overall player during the preseason drafts. But I now possess the league's most versatile roster and have the requisite depth to trade for Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Philip Rivers, Kurt Warner or Aaron Rodgers down the road -- if Matt Cassel doesn't thrive in Chiefs head coach Todd Haley's pass-first, pass-second offensive attack.
My Perfect Lineup -- Week 3
QB Matt Cassel -- one of my "locks" for 275 yards and/or 3 TDs vs. Philly
RB Reggie Bush -- should be gold against Buffalo with Mike Bell/Pierre Thomas battling injuries
RB Darren McFadden -- should run wild against the Broncos' Charmin-soft run defense
WR Reggie Wayne -- a "lock" for 110 yards and/or 1 TD vs. Arizona (maybe two)
WR Roddy White -- speaking of soft defenses, the very-young Pats might get pummeled all year
RB/WR Felix Jones -- a tough call over Slaton, Smith, Edwards, V-Jackson, Laurent Robinson
TE Dustin Keller -- among the tight end leaders in Targets (7)
PK Joe Nedney -- my in-season prediction to win the fantasy kicking title
D/ST Cardinals -- if you like teams that give up points, but get sacks, interceptions and rack up regular defensive or special-teams TDs ... here's your squad!
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 long, long, long fantasy season. To wit, SI.com presents a list of the 27 wideouts with 15 or more Targets (through Week 2):
1. Steve Smith, Panthers -- 28 Targets
2. Santonio Holmes, Steelers -- 25 Targers
3. Randy Moss, Patriots -- 24 Targets
4. Andre Johnson, Texans -- 23 Targets
5. Nate Burleson, Seahawks -- 21
6. Ted Ginn, Jr., Dolphins -- 21
7. Steve Smith, Giants -- 21
8. Calvin Johnson, Lions -- 20
9. Reggie Wayne, Colts -- 20
10. Roddy White, Falcons -- 20
11. Laurent Robinson, Rams -- 19
12. T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Seahawks -- 19
13. Mario Manningham, Giants -- 17
14. Hines Ward, Steelers -- 17
15. Isaac Bruce, 49ers -- 16
16. Donald Driver, Packers -- 16
17. Julian Edelman, Patriots -- 16 (this occurred in just one game ...)
18. Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals -- 16
19. Torry Holt, Jaguars -- 16
20. DeSean Jackson, Eagles -- 16
21. Muhsin Muhammad, Panthers -- 16
22. Wes Welker, Patriots -- 16 (... same goes for Welker)
23. Earl Bennett, Bears -- 15
24. Justin Gage, Titans -- 15
25. Louis Murphy, Raiders -- 15
26. Antwaan Randle El, Redskins -- 15
27. Chansi Stuckey, Jets -- 15
1. Randy Moss vs. Atlanta
2. Larry Fitzgerald vs. Indianapolis
3. Reggie Wayne @ Arizona
4. Greg Jennings @ St. Louis
5. Steve Smith @ Dallas
6. Santonio Holmes @ Cincinnati
7. Vincent Jackson vs. Miami
8. Derrick Mason vs. Cleveland
9. Marques Colston @ Buffalo
10. Anquan Boldin vs. Indianapolis
11. Andre Johnson vs. Jacksonville
Going back to Twitter for a moment ... here's an interesting Tweet from a regular follower (@thrasherrr):
What Would Jay Do?: Is he trading Donovan McNabb, DeSean Jackson, Larry Johnson for Kurt Warner/Brandon Marshall/Ray Rice?
Answer: Well, "Jay" sees this as a virtual dead-heat -- giving the slight edge to the LJ side, stemming from the McNabb-DJax handcuff come Week 5. And upon further review, the McNabb-Jackson-Johnson troika has the better chance for 4,000 passing yards, 1,100 receiving yards and 1,300 rushing yards, respectively. BOOM!
1. Clinton Portis @ Detroit
2. Steven Jackson vs. Green Bay
3. Ryan Grant @ St. Louis
4. Adrian Peterson vs. San Francisco
5. Michael Turner @ New England
6. Brian Westbrook vs. Kansas City
7. Brandon Jacobs @ Tampa Bay
8. Ray Rice vs. Cleveland
9. Maurice Jones-Drew @ Houston
10. Matt Forte @ Seattle
11. Darren McFadden vs. Denver
One good turn deserves another. Here are the 16 tailbacks with 5 or more Targets after two weeks:
1. Tim Hightower, Cardinals -- 17 (only had three targets last week)
2. Darren Sproles, Chargers -- 16
3. Fred Jackson, Bills -- 15
4. Maurice Jones-Drew, Jaguars -- 15
5. Chris Johnson, Titans -- 13
6. Kevin Smith, Lions -- 12
7. Reggie Bush, Saints -- 11
8. Steve Slaton, Texans -- 11
9. DeAngelo Williams, Panthers -- 11
10. Frank Gore, 49ers -- 10
11. Mewelde Moore, Steelers -- 10
12. Ray Rice, Ravens -- 10
13. Chester Taylor, Vikings -- 10
14. Kevin Faulk, Patriots -- 9
15. Darren McFadden, Raiders -- 9
16. Dantrell Savage, Chiefs -- 9
17. Leon Washington, Jets -- 9
18. Brian Westbrook, Eagles -- 9
19. Cadillac Williams, Buccaneers -- 9
20. Steven Jackson, Rams -- 8
21. LeSean McCoy, Eagles -- 8
1. WR Maurice Stovall (vs. N.Y. Giants)
2. RB Le'Ron McClain (vs. Browns)
3. WR Jarett Dillard (@ Texans)
4. TE Brad Cottam (@ Philadelphia)
5. WR Chaz Schilens (vs. Broncos)
Last but not least ... here are the 15 tight ends with at least seven targets to date. If your favorite guy isn't on the list (excluding Dallas Clark and his 183 yards from Week 2) ... perhaps it's time to pick someone who actually has balls thrown their way:
1. Antonio Gates, Chargers -- 9 Targets
2. Tony Gonzalez, Falcons -- 9
3. Robert Royal, Browns -- 9
4. Kellen Winslow, Jr., Buccaneers -- 9
5. John Carlson, Seahawks -- 8
6. Chris Cooley, Redskins -- 8
7. Owen Daniels, Texans -- 8
8. Todd Heap, Ravens -- 8
9. Heath Miller, Steelers -- 8
10. Brent Celek, Eagles -- 7
11. Vernon Davis, 49ers -- 7
12. Dustin Keller, Jets -- 7
13. Randy McMichael, Rams -- 7
14. Ben Watson, Patriots -- 7
15. Jason Witten, Cowboys -- 7
Noticeably Absent: Dallas Clark, Zach Miller, Visanthe Shiancoe, Jeremy Shockey, Kevin Boss, Derek Schouman, Brandon Pettigrew, Jermichael Finley, Shawn Nelson, Greg Olsen