So, without further ado, here's our list of fantasy disappointments to date, with this underwhelming group divided into three sub-categories:
The Droppables (gone in 12-team leagues) 1. WR Robert Meachem, Saints 2. QB Kevin Kolb, Eagles (for obvious reasons)3. RB Fred Jackson, Bills 4. RB Darren Sproles, Chargers 5. QB Jason Campbell, Raiders 6. RB Steve Slaton, Texans 7. RB Laurence Maroney, Broncos 8. QB Vince Young, Titans (more on him later)9. WR Bernard Berrian, Vikings (no surprise here)10. WR Devin Aromashodu, Bears
The Benchables (temporarily removed as starters) 1. QB Brett Favre, Vikings 2. WR Michael Crabtree, 49ers3. RB Jonathan Stewart, Panthers 4. RB Shonn Greene, Jets 5. RB Felix Jones, Cowboys 6. WR Dwayne Bowe, Chiefs 7. RB Ricky Williams, Dolphins 8. RB Brandon Jacobs, Giants (mentally unprepared for sustained success)9. WR Terrell Owens, Bengals 10. TE Heath Miller, Steelers
The Unbearables (struggling stars who are simply too good to bench) 1. WR Randy Moss, Patriots 2. RB DeAngelo Williams, Panthers 3. RB Ryan Mathews, Chargers 4. WR Calvin Johnson, Lions (tough call here, given his Week 1 robbery)5. RB Beanie Wells, Cardinals 6. WR Marques Colston, Saints 7. TE Brent Celek, Eagles 8. WR Steve Smith, Panthers 9. TE Kellen Winslow, Buccaneers 10. TE Tony Gonzalez, Falcons (Week 3 bounce-back was highly predictable, but will it last?)
Within this judgmental exercise of castigating players after just three weeks, it's proper to list a few notable failures on my part. In no particular order ...
WR Devin Thomas, RedskinsI had great success in predicting stellar numbers for Sidney Rice (83 catches, 1,312 yards, 8 TDs) in the 2009 preseason and had the amazingly athletic Thomas on a similar fast-track for fantasy greatness. But after three games, the healthy Thomas is still looking for his first catch. All hope is not lost, though, considering Thomas' strong finish to last year and the Redskins desperately need a second receiver to take the heat off Santana Moss. I dumped Thomas in just about every 12- or 14-team league, but I still believe he'll be fantasy-relevant at some point in the near future.
RB Jonathan Stewart, PanthersOh sure, three games does not a season make, especially with a perennial slow-starting/fast-finishing club like Carolina (at least in the John Fox era). But there's no rationalizing Stewart's pedestrian start -- 68 rushing yards and one touchdown. Even worse, a supposedly healthy J-Stew is averaging only seven carries per game. Of course, this also represents the perfect time to buy low on him and DeAngelo Williams in trades. QB Jimmy Clausen is not the short-term fantasy answer for the Panthers, so their only recourse for avoiding a 2-14 campaign is riding the capable legs of Stewart, Williams and, to a lesser degree, Mike Goodson.
QB Vince Young, TitansI was extremely high on four backup quarterbacks in the preseason (12-team leagues): Matthew Stafford, Chad Henne, Kyle Orton and Young. And even though Young's club is 2-1, it's hard to see any tangible improvement, outside of completion efficiency (30 of 43 passes). In any fantasy league, in any scoring format, 386 total yards is not going to cut it.
WR Michael Crabtree, 49ersI cannot think of a greater disappointment than Crabtree. In fact, here's all you need to know about his disastrous start, both personally and team-wise: Mike Thomas, Jacoby Jones, Jabar Gaffney, Eddie Royal and Danny Amendola have registered more targets than Crabtree; and Brandon Tate, Brian Hartline, Jason Avant, Nate Washington, Earl Bennett and Roscoe Parrish, among countless other replaceables, have more receptions than the all-world talent from Texas Tech, widely hailed as the next great receiver just 17 months ago.
1. Peyton Manning @ Jacksonville 2. Drew Brees vs. Carolina 3. Aaron Rodgers vs. Detroit 4. Eli Manning vs. Chicago 5. Philip Rivers vs. Arizona 6. Tom Brady @ Miami 7. Chad Henne vs. New England
Here's a list of the 20 best available free agents for 12-team, standard-scoring leagues: 1. RB Ben-Jarvus Green Ellis, Patriots 2. WR Brandon Lloyd, Broncos 3. WR Roy Williams, Cowboys 4. TE Dustin Keller, Jets 5. WR Jabar Gaffney, Broncos 6. RB Ryan Torain, Redskins 7. WR Lance Moore, Saints 8. WR Darrius Heyward-Bey, Raiders (more on him later)9. TE Tony Moeaki, Chiefs (had one of the greatest catches you'll ever see)10. QB Sam Bradford, Rams 11. QB Bruce Gradkowski, Raiders 12. D/ST Seattle Seahawks 13. TE Tony Scheffler, Lions 14. RB John Kuhn, Packers 15. QB Josh Freeman, Bucs 16. PK Graham Gano, Redskins 17. D/ST Kansas City Chiefs 18. WR Davone Bess, Dolphins 19. PK Mike Nugent, Bengals 20. D/ST Tennessee Titans
This is a reminder to everyone that I'll be hosting a two-hour chat on Facebook at 11 a.m. EST on Thursday -- just like last week, and just like I'll do every week until mid-December. Just to clarify, I can still be bothered with lineup-related 4 a.m. Tweets during the week. But for the Facebook chat, you're guaranteed to get an answer within five minutes of the question going public -- or your pizza's free!
1. Rashard Mendenhall vs. Baltimore 2. Frank Gore @ Atlanta 3. Chris Johnson vs. Denver 4. Cedric Benson @ Cleveland 5. Peyton Hillis vs. Cincinnati 6. DeAngelo Williams @ New Orleans 7. Maurice Jones-Drew vs. Indianapolis 8. Arian Foster @ Oakland 9. LeSean McCoy vs. Washington
Starting next week, you'll see some changes to Fantasy Clicks. Beginning Oct. 10, the Sunday Revelations will read like a top-25 listing of off-the-cuff, but thorough rants, instead of going game-by-game. And astute observers will notice my Wednesday Clicks being slightly longer, and that my Friday Clicks no longer exist (Dave Komer will handle that slot now).
One last thing: The Week 4 Sunday/Monday Revelations will be authored by Will Carroll, Mr. @Injuryexpert himself, while I try to escape the NFL universe for one day and celebrate my wedding anniversary. So, please be cordial to our substitute teacher.
If given a complete do-over, here's how we'd rank the starting quarterbacks before the August drafts: 1. Aaron Rodgers, Packers 2. Drew Brees, Saints 3. Peyton Manning, Colts 4. Matt Schaub, Texans 5. Philip Rivers, Chargers 6. Tony Romo, Cowboys 7. Tom Brady, Patriots 8. Kyle Orton, Broncos 9. Jay Cutler, Bears 10. Matt Ryan, Falcons 11. Eli Manning, Giants 12. Donovan McNabb, Redskins 13. Joe Flacco, Ravens 14. Kevin Kolb, Eagles (few could've predicted Michael Vick's meteoric rise)15. Chad Henne, Dolphins 16. Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers (reduced suspension certainly helps ranking)17. Brett Favre, Vikings (sluggish ... like a wet sponge, but far from a bust) 18. Mark Sanchez, Jets 19. Matthew Stafford, Lions (resumed lightly throwing, could be back by Week 7) 20. Sam Bradford, Rams (his rookie poise is commendable -- there, I said it!)21. Matt Hasselbeck, Seahawks 22. Josh Freeman, Buccaneers 23. Jason Campbell, Raiders (Bruce Gradkowski's promotion to starter isn't that shocking) 24. Matt Cassel, Chiefs 25. David Garrard, Jaguars
@TheRealJRosatosays: I traded Mike Wallace/Cadillac Williams for Marques Colston in 14-team PPR. I already have RoddyWhite/Jeremy Maclin at WR and Maurice Jones-Drew/Ronnie Brown/Ahmad Bradshaw at running back. What do you think?
Answer: Bolstering your starting lineup with Colston was certainly a coup, especially since I have Drew Brees pegged for 17-19 passing TDs in October alone (a five-game stretch against Carolina, Arizona, Tampa Bay, Cleveland, Pittsburgh). But I suppose there's a certain regret with missing out on Wallace's potential numbers once Ben Roethlisberger re-enters the mix with the Steelers. Of course, it's quite possible that Owner B would not have made this trade if Wallace hadn't already gone loco on the Bucs in Week 3 (3 catches, 100 yards, 2 TDs). So, I guess it all balances out in the end. Solid move!
@jworkman52 asks: Could you help me pick two tight ends among Brent Celek, John Carlson and Dustin Keller?
Answer: I'll assume you're talking about the whole season -- not just Week 4. If that's the case, you have to ride Celek and Keller, by a long shot. As much as I love Carlson's prospects for Seattle home games (the Seahawks are woefully inconsistent on the road), Celek (9 catches, 101 yards in '10) is a top-10 tight end with Michael Vick at QB ... and a top-3 guy with his buddy Kevin Kolb calling the shots in Philly. Either way, that's great potential. As for Keller, he's been an absolute menace in the last two weeks, catching 13 balls for 213 yards and three TDs. Cha-ching!
@SportsLitUp -- Should I trade Jamaal Charles for Calvin Johnson?
Answer: I could give an answer that benefits either side. But my favorite two sayings in fantasy football -- "You can never have enough RBs" and "When in doubt, go running back" -- are both applicable here. As much as I love Calvin, and as optimistic as I'll be once Matthew Stafford returns, I cannot trade away a megatalent like Charles (327 total yards, 1 TD to date), who's merely scratching the surface of his immense potential for the next 3-5 seasons.
@jsmarts333 wonders: I need a WR for Week 4 since both have byes. Who do I grab amongst Kenny Britt, Darrius Heyward-Bey, Davone Bess, Lance Moore, Derrick Mason, Devery Henderson?
Answer: As well as Moore (6 catches, 149 yards, 2 TDs) and Bess played last week, as great as it was to see Britt make a very athletic catch in the end zone against the Giants, I would still favor Heyward-Bey overall. I know, on the surface, this sounds ridiculous, but DHB has been targeted an eye-popping 24 times in the last two weeks -- which indicates that Jason Campbell and Bruce Gradkowski have supreme confidence in throwing to a first-year bust who looks great running routes in Year 2. Of course, I realize not everyone shares my enthusiasm for Darrius. In that case, the safe move here is probably 1) Bess 2) Moore 3) Derrick Mason.
@B4himi13 asks: Who's the better WR the rest of the year, Legedu Naanee or Jabar Gaffney?
Answer: When it comes to two similar talents with similar potential, I always let "Targets" settle the tie. In this case, Gaffney (17 catches, 189 yards, 1 TD to date) has been targeted 26 times in three games, whereas Naanee (10 catches, 177 yards, 1 TD) has been targeted 19 times. The differences may seem razor-thin at this point -- which allows one to flip a coin or simply ride your gut on the call -- but I'm leaning toward Gaffney. Thanks!
@Onekumar poses the question: What do you think of this offer: I give up Ryan Mathews/Jeremy Maclin FOR Greg Jennings/LaDainian Tomlinson?
Answer: I would prefer the Jennings/LT side of the deal, although it's hard to ignore Mathews' potential and Maclin's chemistry with Michael Vick. In the last two weeks (both road games), Maclin has 13 targets, seven catches, 109 yards and three touchdowns. Let's hope Jennings can develop a few hot streaks like that during the year.
1. Rian Lindell vs. N.Y. Jets 2. Rob Bironas vs. Denver 3. Stephen Gostkowski @ Miami 4. Nate Kaeding vs. Arizona 5. Josh Brown vs. Seattle 6. Graham Gano @ Philadelphia
A receiver is only as good as his quarterback and the number of opportunities he gets to make a catch; and these "Targets" should factor heavily with owners when choosing to snag (or drop) a talent in PPR leagues. It goes without saying, owners must bookmark this link and refer to it every week. Here are the wideouts averaging at least 7.66 targets per game: 1. Roddy White, Falcons -- 41 targets 2. Brandon Marshall, Dolphins -- 38 3. Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals -- 34 4. Chad Ochocinco, Bengals -- 34 5. Terrell Owens, Bengals -- 33 6. Austin Collie, Colts -- 32 7. Santana Moss, Redskins -- 30 8. Miles Austin, Cowboys -- 29 9. Anquan Boldin, Ravens -- 29 10. Andre Johnson, Texans -- 29 11. Steve Smith, Giants -- 29 12. Calvin Johnson, Lions -- 28 13. Mark Clayton, Rams -- 27 14. Malcom Floyd, Chargers -- 26 15. Jabar Gaffney, Broncos -- 26 16. Darrius Heyward-Bey, Raiders -- 26 17. DeSean Jackson, Eagles -- 26 18. Reggie Wayne, Colts -- 26 19. Hakeem Nicks, Giants -- 24 20. Eddie Royal, Broncos -- 24 21. Wes Welker, Patriots -- 24 22. Danny Amendola, Rams -- 23 23. Donald Driver, Packers -- 23 24. Louis Murphy, Raiders -- 23
• Patriots WR Randy Moss is conspicuously absent from the above list. In Week 2 against the Jets -- the famous 'Slouch' grudge match with CB Darrelle Revis -- Moss caught only two passes (with one TD) from 10 targets (20 percent efficiency rate). And in Week 3 against the defensively casual Bills, Moss was targeted only three times, with two catches and two TDs (a sparkling 66 efficiency rate ... but a depressing number of targets). With that knowledge, it's now fair to ask if the Hall of Famer-to-be is no longer a threat for more 10-catch, 142-yard, 2-TD games.
• Grab Darrius Heyward-Bey, by any means. His poor rookie year aside (9 catches, 124 yards, 1 TD), Jason Campbell and Frank Gradkowski chased DHB an eye-popping 24 times in Weeks 2-3 -- which screams that Heyward-Bey (10 catches, 140 yards) will become a mini-dynamo in fantasyland, sooner than later. And yet, he can be found on any 12-team waiver-wire right now (except ones involving me and members of the Heyward-Bey family).
• Here's how I know why Kyle Orton (476 passing yards last week) will be a fantasy force all season: In a Week 3 clash against the Colts -- a game the Broncos never trailed by more than 14 points -- receivers Jabar Gaffney (14 targets), Brandon Lloyd (10 targets) and Eddie Royal (9 targets) all finished among the top 13 in targets. And let's not forget about rookie WR Demaryius Thomas, who might've cracked the top-15 if he hadn't sustained a leg injury on a red-zone target. Of course, none of this passing success guarantees that I'll be able to predict the pecking order of Denver wideouts, from week to week. It's an impossible task and one that deserves a default Twitter response, whenever pressed for rankings involving Lloyd, Gaffney, Royal and Thomas.
One Bronco will tally 130 yards each and every week, but I don't have the divine power to know who that'll be. Thank you.
1. Reggie Wayne @ Jacksonville 2. Brandon Marshall vs. New England 3. Steve Smith vs. Chicago 4. Marques Colston vs. Carolina 5. Larry Fitzgerald @ San Diego 6. DeSean Jackson vs. Detroit 7. Louis Murphy vs. Houston 8. Roddy White vs. San Francisco
The League has gone up a few notches in Year 2. Amazing stuff, Jeff Schaffer!