October 05, 2009
Fantasy Clicks
By Jeff Ritter
Week 4 Revelations
Peyton Manning: Andy Lyons/Getty Images
Greetings. It's my honor to pinch-hit this week for Revelations godfather Jay Clemons, who got hitched on Saturday and personalized his wedding reception with an open bar (thanks, man) and a Kellogg's Fruity Pebbles wedding cake that was both ridiculous and delicious. As you read this, Jay is blasting off for his Costa Rican honeymoon and -- presumably -- a lifetime of wedded bliss. For those of us hanging back here in the U.S., it was an interesting week around the league. So, with the remnants of far too many 7-and-7s and about 1000 mg of fresh, glorious Tylenol flowing through my veins, here's what I saw on Sunday.

Indianapolis 34, Seattle 17
  • Is it possible that after just four weeks, the race for league MVP is a two-man race? It sure feels like it, especially after watching Peyton Manning clinically dismantle the Seahawks on Sunday (Drew Brees is my other MVP candidate). Interesting that rookie running back Donald Brown got the Colts' first score. He appeared to be the teams' "closer" during the first few weeks, logging most of his carries late in games, but on Sunday he entered the game for three straight first-quarter carries inside the 'Hawks 10-yard line; the last resulted in a 1-yard TD. If Brown can somehow nudge his way into the role of goal-line back, he value would obviously take a huge leap. As for the rest of the Colts' offensive arsenal, keep plugging them into your lineup and enjoy the ride. On the other side, Seahawks' quarterback Seneca Wallace threw for 257 yards that were mostly of the garbage time variety. That offense is clearly going to struggle until Matt Hasselbeck gets back on the field.

  • New England 27, Baltimore 21
  • Tom Brady still doesn't look like his old, pre-surgery self, but 257 passing yards and one TD is an acceptable day against the Ravens D. The biggest surprise might have been Bill Belichick unleashing Sammy Morris, who looked pretty good while banging out 21 yards and a score on six carries. Of course, all this does is further muddy the Pats' backfield committee, and choosing a reliable fantasy play from Laurence Maroney, Fred Taylor and Morris looks dicey. Avoid it altogether if you can.

    For the Ravens, Ray Rice looked like the most explosive player on the field, and if his team wasn't playing from behind for most of the game he could have easily added to those 152 total yards (on just 19 touches). Willis McGahee scored his league-leading seventh touchdown, but Rice is the guy I'd want to own for the long haul. Joe Flacco (27-for-47, 264 yards, 2 TDs) still looks like a decent choice at QB if the matchup is right, and Derrick Mason (seven catches, 88 yards, 1 TD) is Flacco's unquestioned No. 1 receiver. Start Mason with confidence as a WR2.

  • Chicago 48, Detroit 24
  • Anxious Matt Forte owners who have been waiting for their top pick to get rolling had to love that 61-yard run in the first quarter. He finished with 121 yards and a score on just 12 carries. Yep, he's back. The Bears' yardage totals weren't that impressive for a 48-point effort because their special teams continually gashed the Lions' cover units. Johnny Knox broke the second-half opening kickoff for a TD and the Bears pretty much cruised home from there. For the Lions, Matthew Stafford left in the second half with a knee injury that wasn't initially thought to be serious. If he misses any time, Daunte Culpepper will be getting his roll on, and that would be bad news for Calvin Johnson, Kevin Smith and the rest of the Lions' offense.

  • Washington 16, Tampa Bay 13
  • Fantasy owners who dialed up the Jason Campbell Experience as a bye-week fill-in rode the wave on Sunday. First there were two turnovers and 62 passing yards through two mostly inept quarters. Then he went on to salvage his day with a pair of second-half touchdowns, with two more turnovers sprinkled in. The numbers were serviceable, but man, he was brutal. He can't be trusted as an every-week play in fantasy leagues. Clinton Portis' 98 yards were decent, and Chris Cooley snagged a touchdown and remains the only Redskin I'd want to start every week.

    For the Bucs, to paraphrase the immortal Dennis Green press conference: Josh Johnson was what we thought he were. Or, he was what he thought he was. Or, is. The moral here: I am never drinking again. Anyway, Johnson was mediocre, although he did run for 41 yards. I don't expect him to hold onto the starting job in Tampa for long. For those in IDP leagues, Bucs' corner Aqib Talib picked off three Campbell quackers and has the look of a star in the making.

  • N.Y. Giants 27, Kansas City 16
  • Eli Manning (292 yards, 3 TDs) continues to play his way into the role of a No. 1 fantasy quarterback -- in fact, I am now officially a believer. Steve Smith went off for 11 catches, 134 yards and two TDs, establishing himself as the Giants receiver you want and taking a major step toward turning the Panthers' WR Steve Smith into "The Other Steve Smith." I mean, that's a big week. With solid fantasy options at every position, including defense and kicker, the Giants look like the most complete team in the NFC. As for the Chiefs, I maintain that Larry Johnson has too many carries on the odometer, and a shift to Jamaal Charles is inevitable. Add Charles now if you're looking for a speculative RB pickup. Lastly, someone needs to say it, so I will: Matt Cassel, despite some garbage-time stats, continues to look like the 2009 version of former Lions' free-agent mega-bust Scott Mitchell. Chiefs fans, feel free to slam your faces on your keyboards. I'll wait right here.

  • Houston 29, Oakland 6
  • Things are starting to click for the Texans' offense, and Steve Slaton finally had his breakout game of 2009 while totaling 89 yards and two touchdowns. That's what playing the Raiders will do for you. By the way, unless you play in a 32-team fantasy league, feel free to drop any Raider not named Darren McFadden, and even D-Mac belongs on your bench. Finally, you know the old saying, If you can't write something nice, don't write anything at all? With this in mind, I decided to summarize the play of JaMarcus Russell like this: __________.

  • Cincinnati 23, Cleveland 20 (OT)
  • Four weeks, four down-to-the-wire games for the cardiac Bengals, who may not have any living members left in their fan base if this continues for 12 more games. Chad Ochocinco hauled in another TD from Carson Palmer, and Cedric Benson ran for 74 yards but may have let down his owners by failing to hit paydirt. Yes, it was another loss for the Browns, but suddenly there's reason for hope in Cleveland. Derek Anderson clearly gives the Browns their best chance to win a game, and his top target was the out-of-nowhere Mohamed Massaquoi, who grabbed eight passes for 148 yards. Incidentally, Braylon Edwards was shut out, but he was targeted five times and I believe his value will rise with Anderson in there. Good time to buy low. I'm still not ready to add Massaquoi to my team, but Jerome Harrison (29 carries, 121 yards) is an upgrade over Jamal Lewis in the Browns' backfield, and I'd pick him up this week.

  • Jacksonville 37, Tennessee 17
  • Are the Jags this good, or are the Titans this bad? Jack Del Rio's crew jumped out to a 27-3 halftime lead, which meant much less Maurice Jones-Drew, and much more Rashard Jennings in the final two quarters. The emergence of Mike Sims-Walker can no longer be ignored after he scored two more touchdowns and established himself as David Garrard's top target. Meanwhile, it's officially ugly in Tennessee, where Kerry Collins could soon be on the bench. Chris Johnson (94 total yards, no TDs) will continue to get his stats, and receivers Kenny Britt (seven catches, 105 yards) and Nate Washington (7-66-1) have talent, but are only as good as their signal-caller.

  • Part II: Quick Hits As The Tylenol Wears Off
    Rashard Mendenhall: AP
    Pittsburgh 38, San Diego 28
  • Welcome to the world of fantasy relevance, Rashard Mendenhall. No single player experienced a bigger spike in fantasy value this week, after the second-year tailback rumbled for 165 yards and two touchdowns. Willie Parker has turf toe, an injury that tends to linger, but I still wound't blame a Mendenhall owner for shopping for trades this week. Buy low, sell high, right? I'm not sure this isn't the peak of Mendenhall's value this season. Meanwhile, Philip Rivers and Antonio Gates got their numbers, most of it during a frantic second-half comeback that almost succeeded. And poor LaDainian Tomlinson ... it looks like he aged seven years in the offseason. If you drafted him, you're probably stuck with him, but he shouldn't be this irrelevant every week.

  • Miami 38, Buffalo 10
  • Chad Henne spent most of his debut handing off, Ronnie Brown ran wild, and T.O. caught three balls. If you're desperate for a quarterback, you could do worse than taking a flier on Henne. Overall, this game didn't do much more than exacerbate my hangover.

  • San Francisco 35, St. Louis 0
  • How about three touchdowns for the suddenly frisky Niners' defense? They're a solid matchup play from here out. Oh, and this just in: the Rams are awful. Next!

  • New Orleans 24, N.Y Jets 10
  • And so the Mark Sanchez magic carpet ride comes crashing down. Wait, would a magic carpet ride crash, or would it fold up? Or be hoovered away? My head hurts. Whatever the case, the Saints defense joins the Niners as a unit that now has my attention. Also worth noting, Pierre Thomas is back (132 total yards, 1 TD) and tearing it up. Feel free to drop backup RB Mike Bell in shallow leagues.

  • Denver 17, Dallas 10
  • A fun game to watch, but not many noteworthy fantasy performances. Brandon Marshall's late TD and postgame hug-it-out with coach Josh McDaniels might be a good omen for the receiver's prospects for the rest of the season, and rookie RB Knowshon Moreno looks like he's getting better every week. I still wouldn't trust Kyle Orton as my fantasy team's top QB, unless it's a league that awards points for goofy neck-beards. Orton's 243 passing yards and two TDs were a nice surprise in this one. Meanwhile, is it me, or does Tony Romo look shaky anytime he faces a better-than-average defense? Tashard Choice was a nice one-week plug-in for Felix Jones, and Marion Barber surprised me by toting it 11 times and scoring a touchdown.

    Jay -- thanks for having me here as your guest-writer, and for ensuring that I was overserved at the wedding festivites last night. Have fun on the honeymoon.

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