October 07, 2008
Fantasy Clicks
By Jeff Ritter
Vikings Pillage A Win On Monday Night
Reggie Bush: Derick Hingle/Icon SMI

We're five weeks into the season, and a clear pattern is developing: If it's Monday, it's going to be a wild game.

It seemed everyone was ready for a shootout in the Superdome. But who would've thought the special teams for both sides would provide most of the evening's fireworks?

Early on, it looked like the night was going to be a (wait for it) Brees for the Saints after an easy march for a TD on their opening drive. Their second possession ended in field goal range, but the Vikings blocked Martin Gramatica's kick right into the waiting arms of Antoine Winfield, who took it 59 yards for a touchdown. Just like that, from 10-0 Big Easy, to 7-7 Big Trouble.

The Saints offense piled up the yards throughout the game, but they constantly misfired in the red zone. In fact, without a couple of punt returns for touchdowns, they might've have been soundly beaten. Which reminds me:

That Reggie Bush, he's pretty fast, huh?

Bush is one of most dangerous guys to face, whether it's fantasy or reality. His NFL record-tying two punt returns for touchdowns (here's No 1, and here's No. 2) were nothing short of electric. On offense, he finished with 93 all-purpose yards and the Vikes' D did a decent job bottling him up. Drew Brees had a nice night throwing the ball everywhere except in the red zone, finishing with 330 yards, a TD and two picks.

Meanwhile, the Vikings found more than a lucky win, they found a quarterback who showed confidence and made some big plays. Gus Frerotte had a throwback night (speaking of throwbacks, show me a more exciting throwback than this one) while going 19-of-36 for 222 yards and a touchdown. Adrian Peterson is still -- arguably -- the best back in the NFL, but the Saints set out to lock him down and succeeded. A.D. rushed for just 32 yards on 21 carries.

In the end, the Vikings moved into range for their final field goal thanks to a pass interference call. The Saints will continue to be an adventure on offense, special teams and -- unfortunately for them -- defense. It was a final defensive mistake that sealed this loss. But for fantasy owners and TV viewers, the show was a lot of fun to watch.

Go Get 'Em

These guys might be available in your league and are worth adding.

  • Bobby Engram, WR, Seahawks. That was one ugly display by the 'Hawks against the Giants, but Engram returned to action, caught eight passes, and will be useful as the schedule gets softer. Deion Branch also made his 2008 debut, but left early with a heel injury and may be out again for a while. If he misses time, it would only make Engram even more valuable.
  • Brandon Stokley, WR, Broncos. Rookie Eddie Royal sprained his ankle on Sunday and will miss at least a week, and probably more. Stokley stepped up against the Bucs to haul in six passes for 52 yards and a score. He could get more trips to the end zone in the coming weeks.
  • Chad Pennington, QB, Dolphins. Don't look now, but the Dolphins are starting to build some momentum. Pennington had a nice day against a tough Chargers defense (228 yards and a TD) and wouldn't be a bad play next week at Houston.
  • Kyle Orton, QB, Bears. If you didn't see Orton's best game of the season coming from a mile away, you obviously haven't been paying attention to the abomination in Detroit. With the 334-yard, two TD performance at Ford Field behind him, Orton's still a good play this week when the Bears take on the pass-friendly Falcons.
  • Devin Hester, WR, Bears. If you think Orton's a decent option, might as well look at Hester, too. He had five receptions for 66 yards and a score against those feeble Lions.
  • Cedric Benson, RB, Bengals. The troubled running back sure looks good in Bengals stripes, doesn't he? Benson tallied 10 carries against the Cowboys on Sunday, running hard for a total 30 yards. Incumbent Chris Perry had a crucial fourth-quarter fumble (his NFL-leading fifth of the year), which could quickly turn the Bengals' backfield into an awkward timeshare. (But it still won't be as awkward as this incredible timeshare between a local news anchor and reporter, shown on SI.com last week. The fun begins around the one-minute mark.)
  • Bo Scaife, TE, Titans. Fellow tight end Alge Crumpler got the touchdown on Sunday, but Scaife hauled in seven passes for 72 yards, both team highs. The Titans are on a bye next week, but the Week 7 matchup against the Chiefs is what you might call friendly.
  • Cardinals, DST. They've been better than advertised all year. Pick 'em up now, but don't use them until Week 8, which is the start of a three-game divisional stretch against the Rams, 49ers and Seahawks.
  • Five Guys I'd Trade Away Right Now

    1) Tim Hightower, RB, Cardinals. He's a nice handcuff for anyone with Edgerrin James on their team. After Tim's Two TDs (sounds a little like the title of a kids' book, no? Maybe?) on Sunday, it's time to see what you can get from a nervous James owner.

    2) DeAngelo Williams, RB, Panthers. Williams had a career day against the hapless Chiefs, totaling 148 yards and three TDs. This is an obvious "sell high," but you should have plenty of buyers in the next few weeks -- the Panthers' upcoming schedule is sweet (at Bucs, Saints, Cardinals, bye, at Raiders, Lions).

    3) Isaac Bruce, WR, 49ers. It's not that I don't think Bruce is a pretty solid No. 3 fantasy wideout, but he's gone for four TDs in his last three games. He's not that good. Now is the time to sell high.

    4) and 5) Selvin Young and Michael Pittman, RB, Broncos. It wasn't a glorious day for the Denver offense, but we've officially reached "just get what you can get" status with this group of running backs. There's probably someone in your league who still believes the Broncos will annually produce a stud rusher. That's the owner to dial up.

    Westbrook Watch

    The Eagles revealed Monday that running back Brian Westbrook suffered two broken ribs in Sunday's loss to the Redskins. Westbrook still might play this Sunday, but he'd almost certainly have his workload limited. It's a tough break (no pun intended) for the versatile back, who was making his return from an ankle injury. Fantasy owners need to get backup Correll Buckhalter on their team immediately, and prepare for a week of speculation about Westbrook's availability.

    You've Got Questions ...
    Felix Jones: Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

    At what point do I play or trade Felix Jones? I drafted him as a handcuff to Marion Barber, and I can't see starting him over Frank Gore or Matt Forte in my other RB and flex slot. What do I do? (and who could I get for Felix)?
    -- Chris, La Crosse, Wisc.

    Sounds like you've got a great situation at running back, Chris, and I'm not sure I'd mess with it. True, Gore and Forte will be your regular starters alongside Barber, but both the 49ers and Bears have bye weeks coming up; the Bears in Week 8 and the Niners in Week 9. In those weeks the Cowboys face Bucs and Giants -- not great matchups, but not so bad that I'd be afraid to start Jones and Barber in tandem. Jones is also an obvious insurance policy in case Barber's hard-charging style ever leads to injury. I guess what I'm trying to say is, unless you're overwhelmed with a trade offer, I'd keep Jones on your team for rest of the season.

    I originally offered Jonathan Stewart, Roddy White and Derrick Mason for T.O. They countered with T.O. for Earnest Graham and Marques Colston. Should I be jumping for joy or running away screaming after T.O.'s good, but not T.O.-like, performances against Washington and Cincy?
    -- Shane, Honolulu

    Aloha, Shane. I'm a little baffled by the amount of mail I see from nervous T.O. owners. He's not going to get you two scores every week, but he's still very much an elite receiver. I'd reject the trade of Graham and Colston for T.O. unless you really need help at running back. I'm not a big Graham guy: He's been splitting touches nearly 50-50 with Warrick Dunn lately, and even though I don't understand it, I can't see an end in sight. If you can get a more established RB, maybe a Marshawn Lynch, a Clinton Portis, or even a Fast Willie, then I'd pull the trigger. In the meantime, don't worry about T.O. He'll finish the season as one of the top three receivers in fantasy.

    In fact, you're in Honolulu, dude. Why worry about anything?

    I just traded away Edge James and Patrick Crayton for Willie Parker and Roddy White. I still have Calvin Johnson, Housh, and Reggie Wayne for WRs, and Matt Forte and Portis as my RBs, some trash as backups. We start 2 WR, 2 RB, and a FLEX in a PPR league. Any suggestions on whom to start from here on out? And who is worth trading?
    -- Hawk, Warminster, Pa.

    Man, I wish I had a cool nickname like Hawk. Anyway, nice trade, Hawk. I think you'll find the Willie/Roddy side of the deal is the clear winner once Willie gets rolling again in two weeks.

    To answer your question, I think Wayne, Forte and Portis are must-starts every week. I'd use Willie as the flex whenever he's healthy, and until then I'd just play match-ups with the last WR slot between White and Housh. Calvin Johnson is the guy to trade -- he's a big name with a ton of talent, but the Lions are a complete mess. I bet you could package him with Willie or Forte and get an even more reliable No. 1 back, like Lynch or Turner.

    Come One, Come All

    At long last, SI.com has a fantasy football game, complete with all of the drafts, waiver wires, stats and analysis you need. Take the grand tour here and sign up a league. Heck, sign up two leagues if you want. We'll be waiting.

    Have A Link, Comment or Question For Us?

    You May Like