QUARTERBACKS: We’re at the mid-point of the NFL season and the parity in the league is astounding. The usual suspects are performing at their usual, superb levels; Tom Brady has rediscovered his touch and the team has its swagger back. Peyton Manning continues to assault the AFC and is leading the Colts to another playoff berth. With running back LaDainian Tomlinson looking entirely human, Philip Rivers has elevated his game and developed a brilliant rapport with WR Vincent Jackson, while WR Malcolm Floyd is gaining Rivers’ confidence, and the team has remade itself as a pass first, pass second offense. But the usual suspects are not our quarry. Rather, we seek the bye-week fill-in, those unclaimed gems who can stand-in for your money-man. With the sole exceptions Viking youngster Brett Favre, who is apparently taking Oil of Olay via IV drip (it can help YOU look younger too, ya’ know), no Quarterback of consequence is on bye this week. The Jets and their young gun Mark Sanchez are bye-standers this week, but Sanchez remains a very dicey QB1. In an effort to avoid useless repetition, I am abridging the listings of those athletes that have been covered in previous pieces.
Vince Young:I didn’t need to be “Carnac the Magnificent” to predict that coach Jeff Fisher would sit venerable Kerry Collins and turn the offensive reins over to enigmatic Vince Young. Young boasts mobility Collins last had when Jimmy Carter ran the country, and he provided the team with a boost. VY’s 125 passing yards, 30 rushing yards, and 1 passing TD were integral to the Titans’ first victory of the 2009 season, a 30-13 drubbing of Jacksonville. Young has more value than most waiver wire prospects given the slate of vulnerable secondaries on Tennessee’s slate; Buffalo, Arizona, San Fran’ and St. Loosing. Expect the Titans to be engaged in a fair number of shootouts over the second half.
Alex Smith: His Week 8 line was a pedestrian 198/1/1, but Smith and top target TE Vernon Davis face a still feeble Titan secondary this week. The Niners brag a defense unafraid to bloody an opponent’s nose, and the O runs through bullish RB Frank Gore. Nevertheless, Smith should develop into a viable QB2.
Mark Sanchez:A TD troika Sunday: two by air and one on the ground? “The San-chise” has value. Again. Gang Green pass-catchers Braylon Edwards, Jerricho Cotchery and Dustin Keller all see an uptick in value following New York’s Week 9 rest.
Josh Freeman: With absolutely nothing to lose, Tampa is throwing this year’s first-rounder to the wolves. Josh Freeman has been running the first team offense and will receive additional on-the-job training against the Packers this week. Only the most desperate owners will toss the dice on Freeman. No joshin’.
Ryan Moats:The hands-down hottest ‘Wire pick-up in the Football roto-sphere, Moats received his opportunity due to incumbent RB Steve Slaton losing the football for the fifth time this season. All Moats did with his big opp’? Set a Texan record for finding the end-zone three times in a single game. The former Eagle amassed over 150 yards on 25 touches against the Bills Sunday. Houston isn’t about to kick Slaton to the curb and bruiser Chris Brown will continue to see his 8-12 short-yardage touches per game, but Moats’ effort won’t be a one-game affair. At 5-8/212, Ryan Moats has a low center of gravity, can get lost in traffic and hits the hole much faster than Slaton does. Much to the dismay of those who expended a high pick on Steve Slaton, a running back by committee situation is all but assured. The Texans tee off against the Colts and their 17th-ranked run defense this week. With QB Matt Schaub always a threat to stretch the field, Houston should be able to open up the running game and keep Colt QB Peyton Manning pacing the sidelines in the process. This will be an intriguing week for the Texan skill position players, indeed.
LeSean McCoy: A rock-solid effort Sunday (11/82/1) against the Giants served as a feature back audition for the Eagle first-rounder. Those belonging to Keeper/Dynasty leagues will certainly wish to claim McCoy, assuming he remains available. If not, an owner might be willing to move the current part-timer. McCoy is a worthy start even with Brian Westbrook receiving the bulk of the carries, and that’s assuming Westy goes Sunday.
Jamaal Charles: Possessing additional value in leagues that tally PPR and return yardage, Charles has been named this week’s starter and ranks a roster spot as the team faces off against the Jaguars. With veteran Larry Johnson becoming more disgruntled by the minute and almost certain to be suiting up for another team next season, this is Jamaal Charles’ opportunity to stake a claim to a regular gig and prove his worth to the KC front office.
Justin Fargas:Again, Fargas is the only Raider skill po’ player possessing even an iota of fantasy value. QB-for-now JaMarcus Russell is sapping the life out of the entire offense. In conjunction, the NFL’s investigation surrounding head coach Tom Cable and his history of violent behavior can only serve as an additional distraction to an already dysfunctional franchise. You just can’t make this stuff up. The Raiders are on a bye, but with Oakey’s #1 RB Darren McFadden anything but a sure thing to return for Week 10, Fargas is worth a look.
WIDE RECEIVERS: A number of wide-outs are posting impressive digits this season, and not just the top-tier pass catchers.
Sidney Rice:Another dude worth listing due to the fact that his owners may have cut him due to this week’s bye, Rice is finally blossoming into the difference making pass-catcher the Vikings hoped he’d be when they drafted him with their second-round pick in ‘07. Rice hasn’t scored since Week 4, but he’s been piling up the yardage and blistering opposing secondaries; 20/352 over the last 3 tilts. Minny faces the toothless Lions in Week 10, and the Favre-to-Rice connection should prove productive.
Ted Ginn: Appealing only to those owners in leagues that value return yardage as he has been relieved of pass-catching duties, Ginn was the ‘Phin offense last week. His pair of third quarter kickoff returns for TDs and 299 return yards set a Dolphin record.
Hakeem Nicks: While the Eagles snapped his string of games with a receiving TD at four last week, Nicks is nevertheless a valuable cog in the Big Blue passing machine. The Giants, struggling to find an offensive identity, are passing more and more frequently; far more frequently than they should be and more than head coach Tom Coughlin could have anticipated. Accordingly, QB Eli Manning has been looking Nicks’s way. In a related story, the Giant secondary has been exposed in recent weeks, and this week’s game against the the San Diego Chargers should be a high-scoring affair. Nicks remains under-valued.
Jeremy Maclin: I responded to a fellow Cafe writers’ article last week regarding Maclin’s Week 7 value. I felt, as I write above (in Nicks’ blurb), that the Giant pass defense is not a strength and that Eagle QB Donovan McNabb was prepared to pick Big Blue apart. Accordingly, McNabb utterly demeaned the Giant secondary to the tune of 240/3 and Maclin took one of his four grabs (4/41 last week) into the end-zone. Although the Eagles knock heads with the surging Cowboys this week, Dallas has other concerns. Namely, WR Desean Jackson, TE Brent Celek and a robust Philly ground attack. While starting Maclin is a risk, the payoff could be considerable as he’ll enjoy, and likely capitalize upon, single coverage.
Mike Wallace: In much the same way that Nicks and Maclin have been flying under the radar of opposing defensive coordinators, Steeler No. 3 wide receiver Mike Wallace is being over-looked. Averaging a gaudy 17.5 YPR, Wallace has game-breaking speed and is a threat to go to the house any time he touches the ball.
I'm the Head of Youth Services for the Edgewater Free Public Library; I place great value on education and literacy... hell, I proof-read everything. Ever proof a Chinese Food Take-Out menu? I do, great for a laugh. Anyway- A long-suffering Minnesota Vikings fan... I harbor hopes, however slender, that my beloved Vikes' will claim a SuperBowl trophy during my lifetime.
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