StrategyOctober 6, 2009

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WaCoug’s Weekend Wrap-up for Week 4

By Michael Stephens

Detroit Lions v Chicago Bears

See what happens when you constantly bang on guys for not playing well on Sundays? Eventually they play well, and then you (and your fantasy team) can take all of the credit, feeling secure in the fact your guys played better because you berated them in the Game Commentary forum one extra time – hey, everyone wins, right? Though we fantasy owners don’t have this system perfected to function as consistently as gravity (yet), it makes us feel better when we see another “W” in the standings instead of an “L”! In Week 4, many stars with shaky starts either broke out with big-time performances (thank you Matt Forte, finally) or continued a trend they started last week. When we get to this point in the season, meaningful trends start to show up, and when backed up by a month’s worth of stats are very hard to ignore. In this week’s Weekend Wrap-up, we’re going to take a slightly different approach than breaking things down game by game (though I’ll still do this some weeks), and since I am a man of many lists, you’ll have all sorts of top-10s to dig through, which pertain both to last week’s performances and the coming weeks of the season – so without further ado, let’s dig into those lists already!

Oh wait, there’s one more thing: Good fantasy owners are always churning the bottom of their rosters, constantly looking to gain a little bit of an edge over their league mates. Whether that happens through free agency, waiver wire pickups (be sure to check out this week’s Live Wire) or buying high/selling low for the future, that means you really should be making a move or two almost every week. These next three sections will deal with guys who fit all of those criteria, and most of them got to this point based either on good or bad performances last week that speak to a larger trend. So, to make a long story short, these are all guys you should either have queued up on your league’s “watch list”, or you should have jettisoned them into the fantasy atmosphere already. This is all true unless you’re one of those lunatics who plays with a bigger bench than your number or starters, or you still like eight-team leagues, and that’s a whole different story…

San Diego Chargers v Pittsburgh Steelers

Top 10 performances from Sunday/Monday:

    Rashard Mendelhall (RB, Pit) – 31 touches, 181 yards, 2 touchdowns
    Antonio Gates (TE, SD) – 9 catches, 124 yards, 2 touchdowns
    Steve Smith (WR, NyG) – 11 catches, 134 yards, 2 touchdowns
    David Garrard (QB, Jac) – 323 pass yards, 3 touchdowns
    Ronnie Brown (RB, Mia) – 115 rush yards, 2 touchdowns
    Brett Favre (QB, Min) – 271 pass yards, 3 touchdowns
    Mike Sims-Walker (WR, Jac) – 7 catches, 91 yards, 2 touchdowns
    Jermichael Finley (TE, GB) – 6 catches, 128 yards, touchdown
    D’Qwell Jackson (LB, Cle) – 14 tackles (13 solo), forced fumble
    Jared Allen (DE, Min) – 7 tackles, 4.5 sacks, forced fumble

• On the outside looking in (though no one is complaining): Matt Forte (RB, Chi), Kevin Smith (RB, Det), Heath Miller (TE, Pit), Phillip Rivers (QB, SD) and Eli Manning (QB, NyG).

Mendenhall ran like a man possessed on Sunday night, amassing a career high in total yardage and scoring twice. I know, I know, it’s his first start in relief of the injured Willie Parker, but what’s not to like here? Gates has not disappointed in a game this season, but it’s sure nice to see the big man find the end zone twice, since I honestly think that (unlike most receivers who claim this) he is open on almost every play! Garrard and Favre highlighted a week with many useful quarterback performances, each throwing exactly infinitely more touchdown passes than Drew Brees this week. The Giants’ version of the Steve Smith receiving machine is really rolling now and he is clearly the favorite of Eli Manning this season – one thing to keep a watchful eye on this week is the status of Smith’s injured signal caller, as his value will surely dip a bit with David Carr under center.

Cincinnati Bengals v Cleveland Browns

Ten guys who showed signs of life but can be bought cheaply:

    Jerome Harrison (RB, Cle) – In his two starts for Cleveland, he has 237 all-purpose yards, and those came against two solid defenses in Baltimore and Cincinnati. I’m just sayin’…
    Chris Cooley (TE, Was) – Now has gone over eight fantasy points in three of four games, with two scores.
    David Garrard – He’s averaging over 24 fantasy points per game since facing Indy’s stingy pass defense in Week 1. He has a new favorite target in Mike Sims-Walker and the Jags are throwing plenty.
    T.J. Houshmandzadeh (WR, Sea) – Had his best game of the season (8 catches, 103 yards), with the Jags Swiss cheese pass D this week. Yes, please!
    Knowshon Moreno (RB, Den) – He has at least nine fantasy points in three straight games. He has a rough schedule in the short term, but will be epic in the fantasy stretch run. Mark my words!
    Glen Coffee (RB, SF) – He didn’t knock your socks off with his 3.1 yards per carry on Sunday, which makes him a perfect buy low if you have receiver depth to trade and need a guy to cover some byes before Frank Gore returns. Oh by the way, he faces Atlanta, Houston and Indy next – all defenses you can run against if/when you want to.
    Ryan Grant (RB, GB) – Grant went over 100 total yards to the second straight game, and more importantly he caught four balls in the passing game. He has two cupcake games against the Lions and Browns before Green Bay hosts Minnesota on Nov. 1, and by then his value will be way too high – buy him right now.
    Nate Washington (WR, Ten) – With touchdowns in three straight games (and Justin Gage not getting as many passes as rookie Kenny Britt many weeks), Washington could be a nice grab as your third wide receiver or bye-week cover.
    Lofa Tatupu (LB, Sea) – In his first truly healthy game this season, Tatupu made 11 tackles (7 solo) for the beleaguered Seahawks defense. He should have about as many tackle opportunities as Wal-Mart has “sales” going forward – and since we all know what that means, you need to trade for him right now!
    Sir Thomas Brady (QB, NE) – Yeah, I bet you thought you’d never see him on a list like this, huh? With only three total touchdowns in his last three games, and some easier matchups down the road, this is the best possible time to buy Brady on the cheap. You’ll still have to find the right owner, but play up the fact that the Pats are slipping and will be running the ball more (hey, you have to try, right?), and you’ll have yourself a top-five quarterback going forward. I’m not convinced he will play anything like he did in 2007, but I’d still take him over anyone not named Peyton or Drew. Wouldn’t you?

• All five of these fellas are worth a shot too: Sidney Rice (WR, Min), Brandon Marshall (WR, Den), Steven Jackson (RB, StL), Brandon Jacobs (RB, NyG) and Jason Witten (TE, Dal)

San Francisco 49ers v Minnesota Vikings

Ten guys worth trying to claim from the waiver wire:

    Jerome Harrison (RB, Cle) – I promise I’m not gushing about him just because he went to my alma matter. He’s a hard-working guy with a great opportunity in front of him, and more importantly, he has very little (if any) competition in the near future.
    Sidney Rice (WR, Min) – That’s two straight games with at least 11 fantasy points, and Rice will only get more comfortable with Brett Favre as things go forward. You can have your Percy Harvin, I’ll gladly take Rice off the wire and enjoy superior production!
    Mohamed Massaquoi (WR, Cle) – In his first game with Derek Anderson under center full time, Massaquoi caught eight passes for 148 yards. That won’t happen again, but he should still be owned for a couple of weeks to see what happens.
    Antonio Bryant (WR, Tam) – He’s been dropped in over 20 percent of most leagues, and with his first sign of life last week (four catches, 44 yards, touchdown) and a new quarterback under center, now might be the time to get Bryant back if you dropped him or have been watching closely. Tampa Bay is dreadfully bad, but they will have to pass early and often, and I like Bryant’s chances a lot more than Michael Clayton and Co.
    Michael Bush (RB, Oak) – With Darren McFadden sidelined for the next couple of weeks, now is Bush’s chance to shine in the Oakland running game. With its passing attack striking about as much fear in opposing defenses as the vampires in Twilight, he will face a lot of eight-man fronts, but he still has significant value as the only reliable Raider going forward.
    Justin Fargas (RB, Oak) – We’re talking about a serious garbage-time pickup here, but Fargas might be in line for some work inside the 20s, and his experience and ability to score from in close make him worth a pickup in deeper leagues.
    Kenny Britt (WR, Ten) – After a career high in catches (7), yards (105) and targets (11), he’s worth a pickup in deeper leagues for sure. He also has over five fantasy points in three of four games this year too.
    Sammy Morris (RB, NE) – It’s only a matter of time each season before the RBBC rears its ugly head in New England, and Morris is almost always the beneficiary. I don’t trust him any farther than I can throw him, but he’s available in many leagues, and his 56 total yards and a touchdown are enticing numbers for a bye-week fill-in.
    Josh Morgan (WR, SF) – Many people had given up on Morgan in the last couple of weeks, but now is the time you should grab him. Though his numbers have been rather pedestrian so far, Morgan scored his first touchdown of the season Sunday, and with only Vernon Davis stepping up in the passing game, someone has to be the number two guy. The Niners will have to pass to win some games down the road, and Morgan will be your man – don’t miss out.
    Marcedes Lewis (TE, Jac) – This is more of a short-term pickup, but Lewis is coming off a nice game (76 yards, touchdown) and is facing a Seattle defense that allows plenty of points through the air. It should be noted that the Jags face the Rams, Titans and Chiefs after that, so Lewis could make for a nice de-facto tight end bye week cover in the weeks to come.

• Five others worth a look: Ryan Moats (RB, Tex), Derek Anderson (QB, Cle), Austin Collie (WR, Ind)
Sean Ryan (TE, Kan) and Brandon Pettigrew (TE, Det).

Green Bay Packers wide receiver Greg Jennings runs towards the end zone on a 50-yard touchdown reception against the Chicago Bears in Green Bay, Wisconsin

Five guys you should sell before their name recognition is on par with that of K-Mart:

    Greg Jennings (WR, GB) – He could turn it around, but it could be too little too late. Try to get Mike Sims-Walker and a serviceable RB2 and consider yourself lucky.
    Eddie Royal (WR, Den) – I’m officially worried. With eight catches for 58 yards in four games, you should be too.
    Terrell Owens (WR, Buf) – Three exclamatory words: I’m not sold!
    LenDale White (RB, Ten) – Just hope your would-be trading partner doesn’t check the stat sheet (82 yards and one TD in four games).
    Zach Miller (TE, Oak) – He’s now going to miss time with a concussion, and considering the fact that JaMarcus Russell’s completion percentage wouldn’t even win an A.L. batting title, I am done with Miller. It’s not his fault, but that doesn’t really matter…
Washington Redskins v Detroit Lions

Ten guys you can cut loose:

    Maurice Morris (RB, Det) – Never mind that though from last week, Morris sill be getting in about as much work your boss’ boss going forward. Detroit showed remarkable dedication to a slightly banged-up Kevin Smith, and so should you.
    James Davis (RB, Cle) – Just in case you live in Andorra and were without internet service last week, Davis was placed on injured reserve with a shoulder injury, effectively ending his 2009 season. I thought twice about mentioning this, but he’s still owned in like four of my leagues.
    Donald Lee (TE, GB) – Even though he had a season-high four catches Monday (and a critical dropped TD pass), it’s clear he isn’t going to be tight end of the Packers’ future.
    Robert Royal (TE, Cle) – I promise I’m not just picking on unassuming tight ends (that just sounds wrong, doesn’t it?), but Royal’s value is officially back below sea level. After a great week one, he has four catches for 33 yards in three weeks.
    Devin Thomas (WR, Was) – If you’re waiting for the breakout, keep waiting until 2011. With one catch for seven yards on the season, I am astounded by how many non-dynasty owners have him on their roster with guys like Bobby Wade and Sidney Rice sitting on the waiver wire.
    Darius Heyward-Bey (WR, Oak) – See above. Oh yeah, and because he’s one of many guys NOT catching balls from JaMarcus “scattershot” Russell.
    Robert Meachem (WR, NO) – See above. Also, he’s the fifth or sixth receiving option on his team and he only catches long touchdowns every five or six weeks. Do you really want to try to predict that? Personally, I’d rather watch the Lions play the Browns.
    Devery Henderson (WR, NO) – See above, substitute “fourth“ for “fifth or sixth” and viola, you have an inconsistent fourth wideout with limited upside. Next!
    Chansi Stuckey (WR, NyJ) – for better or worse, Mark Sanchez is throwing to Jerricho Cotchery or Dustin Keller on almost every play. You just don’t have room for a third-fourth receiving option on a run-first team like the Jets.
    Any Packer RB not named Ryan Grant – Green Bay is playing from behind plenty, and isn’t as committed to the run as many people had hoped. Grant will still get his, but Brandon Jackson, DeShawn Wynn and John Kuhn should be free agent fodder at this point.

Well, that does it for Week 4! I’ll see you back here next week so we can recap, reprise and reiterate all over again!

Michael Stephens is an avid fantasy sports enthusiast who writes for the Cafe. He hails from the Pacific Northwest and is a die-hard Seahawk and Mariner fan to the core! You can find Michael in the Cafe's forums where he actively posts under the name of WaCougMBS.
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