Monday, September 13, 2010

Week 1: Good calls, bad calls

I believe in positive reinforcement. I also believe in constructive criticism. When it comes to fantasy football, there is certainly room for both. As I stated in a previous post, choosing which players to start in week one is a complete crap shoot. Sure you have your no doubt starters (Chris Johnson, Adrian Peterson, Peyton Manning, etc.), but then there are the fringe starters. You know, the guys you start based on which ones have the more favorable match-ups (Lee Evans, Hines Ward, Jabar Gaffney, etc.). In week one I missed big on a few guys, but also hit big on some others. While I work on my free agent list (look for it here Tuesday), here's an early review of week one.

Bad Calls:
Hakeem Nicks – WR New York Giants
If you had Nicks on your bench, you weren’t alone. Nicks was going against a Carolina Panthers defense that gave up just four TDs through the air last year. Also, Nicks has been plagued by injuries in the past, and never emerged as a go-to guy for Eli Manning. On Sunday that changed. Nicks caught three TD passes, and appears ready to fill the shoes of Plaxico Burress. Nicks is a big target, perfect for the Giants red zone passing attack. Nicks is a must start WR right now. Don’t expect him to grab three TDs every game, but certainly expect a red zone target or two each game. I had Nicks ranked #43 among WRs in week one (one slot below Mike Sims-Walker, who was shutout in week one).

DeSean Jackson – WR Philadelphia
Jackson never got started on Sunday and was a non-factor in Philly’s loss to the Green Bay Packers. Perhaps the most concerning about Jackson’s 40 yards receiving is all his yards came with Michael Vick at quarterback. Most people expected Kevin Kolb to bolster Jackson’s fantasy stats (myself included), but after one game that is not the case. I'm convinced Jackson will get his numbers this year, but it could take more time than expected as Kolb settles in at QB. I had Jackson as the #4 ranked WR in week one.

David Garrad – QB Jacksonville Jaguars
On draft night I said I wouldn’t take Garrard if he was the only QB left and I still needed a QB. His three TDs has me re-thinking my stance on the Jags QB. Garrard is like a crafty old pitcher in baseball; he’s not flashy just effective. With Garrard you will never get the big yardage totals, but he will deliver the ball on the spot. Don’t expect three TD passes a week out of him, but as teams crowd the line to stop Maurice Jones-Drew, look for Garrard to exploit defenses. Garrard was on the outside of my top 20 QBs this week.

Other notable bad calls:
-Kevin Kolb, QB Philadelphia – Could there be a QB controversy brewing already in Philly? Kolb was knocked out of Sunday’s game with a concussion and Michael Vick filled in nicely. Before getting hurt, Kolb struggled immensely, often times looking overwhelmed. I had Kolb as the #7 ranked QB in week one.
-Jerome Harrison, RB Cleveland – Many analysts expected he would run wild against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. It turned out Peyton Hillis was the better option. I had Harrison ranked #7 RB option this week.
-Frank Gore, RB San Francisco – Almost everyone expected a big performance from Gore and the Niners against the Seattle Seahawks. Gore's 38 yard rushing is a big concern, and there are some serious problems that need solving in San Fran real fast. Gore was #3 on my RB list.
-Bernard Berrian, WR Minnesota – Favre needs a new go-to WR, and Berrian just isn’t it. One catch for 3 yards should land Berrian on your bench. I had him as the #36 WR in week one.
-Michael Crabtree, WR San Francisco – Starting to think he’s become a distraction in the Bay Area. His two catches for 12 yards is partly his fault, partly to blame on QB Alex Smith. I had Crabtree ranked #19 in week one.

Good calls:
Arian Foster, RB Houston
I have written plenty about Foster heading into the season, and he didn’t disappoint one bit. Foster’s 231 yards and 2 TDs against the Indianapolis Colts was a masterful performance to watch. I have had Foster higher on my draft board than most people (#34 overall). He is in for a big season and you should consider him a #1 RB for the rest of the season.

Jay Cutler, QB Chicago
Cutler still has a problem with turnovers, but he has no problem racking up the yards. With Mike Martz now running the Bears’ offense, it’s clear this is a pass first team. Cutler’s 372 yards and 2 TDs ranked near the top for fantasy points among QBs. Look for more of the same from Cutler as he settles into Martz’s offense. I had Cutler has the #8 ranked QB in week one.

CJ Spiller, RB Buffalo
There was a lot of hype surrounding Spiller heading into the regular season. He made one nice run and everyone was calling him legit. As he would quickly learn in week one, the regular season isn’t like the preseason. Spiller mustered just six yards on seven carries and eight yards on four catches. In fact, Spiller was third among Bills RBs in rushing (Fred Jackson: 19 yards, Marshawn Lynch: 13 yards). Spiller owners should prepare for a long season. I had Spiller ranked #65 overall preseason, much lower than most people.

Other notable good calls:
-Peyton Hillis, RB Cleveland
I have been screaming Hillis’ name ever since Montario Hardesty got hurt in Cleveland. Hillis is a tough runner that will get plenty of work this year for the Browns. I had Hillis ranked #40 among RBs in week one.
-Michael Turner, RB Atlanta
It was a pretty easy call to recognize that Turner would struggle against the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Falcons were on the road, playing against a Pittsburgh defense that needed to play big to win the game, and they did. Turner was a non-factor with just 42 yards on 19 carries. I had Turner ranked #20 among RBs in week one.
-Steven Jackson, RB St. Louis
Week one could be a microcosm of the entire season for Jackson. He rushed for 81 yards, and no TDs. I said it before, Jackson will get his yards, but TDs will remain elusive. I had Jackson as the #9 ranked RB preseason.
-Miles Austin, WR Dallas
I warned people that Austin’s breakout year last season wasn’t a fluke. In week one, he caught 10 balls for 147 yards and 1 TD. I had ranked as the #3 WR preseason behind Andre Johnson and Randy Moss.
-Chad Henne/Brandon Marshall, QB/WR Miami
The Dolphins passing game will not be as prolific this season as many people predicted. Henne never settled into a groove (188 yard, no TDs) and Marshall’s numbers (6 rec./53 yards) suffered because of it against the Buffalo Bills. Look for a lot of these types of games from Miami.

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