Monday, September 19, 2011

2011 Fantasy Football: Tuesday Takeaways

Every Tuesday The Source takes a look back at the weekend (and Monday night) that was in the NFL. Here are The Source's ten takeaways from week two.

1) Kansas City is the latest franchise to enter the Andrew Luck sweepstakes. The Detroit Lions destroyed the Chiefs on Sunday 48-3. The worst part of that loss for the Chiefs, their all-world running back Jamaal Charles (pictured) tore his ACL and is done for the season. If you're looking for a replacement for Charles, here's a list of guys in line to replace him for the Chiefs (in order of pick-up): Dexter McCluster, Le'Ron McClain and Thomas Jones.

2) Cam Newton is great for fantasy football owners, but not so good (yet) for his real team. In two games, Newton has thrown for over 800 yards and has four total touchdowns (3 passing/1 rushing). While those numbers are great for fantasy, his three interceptions Sunday against the Green Bay Packers doomed the Panthers again. Newton may not be ready to lead Carolina to close-game victories, but he's ready to lead your fantasy team. If he's still on the waiver wire, pick him up.

3) The future looks bright in Cincinnati after rookie quarterback Andy Dalton nearly led his team to victory over the Denver Broncos on the road on Sunday. Dalton looked in command most of the game, especially at the end. Fellow rookie A.J. Green was spectacular as well catching 10 passes for 124 yards and a touchdown (which was amazing by the way). Dalton also found a groove late in the game with WR Jerome Simpson, who caught 4 passes for 136 yards. Dalton is the opposite of Newton right now, good for his team, but not necessarily for you fantasy team. As for Simpson, give him a long look if you need a wide receiver replacement. If you have Green, make sure he's in your lineup weekly.

4) Mike Tolbert, Ryan Mathews, Mike Tolbert, Ryan Mathews - this is going to be a tough to sort out all season. Tolbert was great in week one, Mathews was great in week two, that makes for a fantasy football dilemma. The thought after week one was that Tolbert would be the lead man in San Diego. However, after a dud of a performance Sunday against New England, Tolbert isn't the clear-cut favorite anymore. Mathews looked like the better runner in week two, he ran tough, he was more decisive and he caught the ball nicely. Tolbert still has value, but after watching him get stuffed (multiple times) at the goalline and lose a costly fumble, one can only wonder if the pendulum has swung back in Mathews' favor. Keep both in your lineups this week as the Chargers host the lowly Kansas City Chiefs.

5) MVP voting after two weeks: 1) Tom Brady 2) Everyone else

6) The Buffalo Bills erased an 18-point first half deficit on their way to a 38-35 victory over the Oakland Raiders on Sunday. The Bills are now 2-0 this season and QB Ryan Fitzpatrick is the main reason for the early success. Fitzpatrick is the most underrated quarterback in the NFL and now has a seven touchdowns on the year (30 TDs in his last 15 games). Fitzpatrick has brought stability to Buffalo's offense and he's made a star out of WR Steve Johnson (and maybe WR David Nelson and TE Scott Chandler). Fitzpatrick turns 29 in November so his career still has some legs. The Bills need to do the right thing and reward Fitzpatrick with a new contract for his solid play. Fitzpatrick has several good fantasy match-ups coming up, against teams with shaky pass defenses. That's good news for Johnson, Chandler and Nelson (who you should be picking up this week). Side note about the Bills: RB Fred Jackson is leading the NFL in rushing. Their offense is pretty good.

7) The Minnesota Vikings are off to a 0-2 start, but don't blame WR Percy Harvin. The team's most talented wide receiver has played well this year, despite being on the field only a fraction of the snaps as his fellow (less talented) wide receivers. ESPN1500's Tom Pelissero did his weekly breakdown of the Vikings game and the tape doesn't lie - Harvin is being grossly under-utilized by the Vikings. According to Pelissero, Harvin played just 30 of the team's 68 offensive snaps in Sunday's 24-20 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. That means that Harvin was on the sidelines (55% of the plays) more than he was on the field (45% of the plays). Despite his lack of playing time, Harvin still led a below-average wide receiver group in catches and yards (7 catches for 76 yards). Also according to Pelissero's report, Harvin's not being used in the red zone either, in fact the numbers are much worse. Against the Bucs, Harvin was on the field for just three out of the Vikings 17 red zone snaps. It doesn't take a genius to figure out the Vikings need to get Harvin on the field more, which is good news for Vikings fans considering early returns suggest new Vikings offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave is not a genius.

8) The Green Bay Packers have the offensive fire power to outlast most opponents, but their defense has some major flaws. A year after ranking near the top of the league in total defense, the defending champs are near the bottom after two weeks this year. They're giving up nearly 500 yards a game and they've surrendered back-to-back 400-yard passing games to start the season (Drew Brees and Cam Newton). Things won't get easier for the Packers after it was revealed this week that Pro Bowl safety Nick Collins will miss the entire season with a neck injury. The Packers defense is still a solid fantasy play because of their big play potential, but in reality, they have major issues.

9) It's time to show some respect to Dallas Cowboys QB Tony Romo. After getting lambasted by virtually every fan and member of the media after the Pokes week one loss to the New York Jets, he led his team to victory over the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday with a broken rib and a punctured lung. Physicians will tell you, doing anything with a punctured lung can be potentially life-threatening. So let's back-off Romo a little bit and give the guy his due. If you have him on your fantasy team you'll want to monitor his progress throughout the week and prepare for him to be out. Just because he played through the pain Sunday, doesn't mean he'll be good to go Monday night against the Washington Redskins.

10) The Tennessee Titans gave in to RB Chris Johnson's demands for a new contract, but he's hardly repaying them on the field. In the first two weeks, Johnson has 77 rushing yards on 33 carries, that's a 2.3 yard average and to make matters worse for Johnson owners, Titans head coach Mike Munchak now says he wants back-up RB Javon Ringer to get more touches. There are two ways to approach this situation if you own Johnson in your fantasy league: 1) Stand pat and hope he regains his form or 2) trade him. I recommend holding on to him - but only because his trade value is so low right now.

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