Let the hype machine begin: Tim Tebow is back in the minds of football fans and fantasy owners. Just when you think the guy is finally going to fade into the sunset, the Tebow monster rears its ugly head one more time. Love him or hate him, Tebow is a gamer. His mechanics may be awful, and he may have only an elementary understanding of what he is actually supposed to be doing in the offensive scheme, but he simply plays with more heart than just about anyone else. Of course, winning on the field matters little in fantasy football. Statistics are king, which is why Tebow merits discussion in fantasy land. In just one half of football, Tebow threw for only 79 yards, but also tossed a TD and rushed for 38 yards and another TD. While 79 yards in a half is not that great, he still hit nearly 17 points in standard Yahoo! league scoring. And that was no fluke. In every game last year in which Tebow saw significant playing time, he had at least mediocre passing statistics and padded his fantasy scoring totals with one rushing TD. He also averaged 66 yards rushing. In standard scoring leagues, that’s an average of about 12 bonus points per game from Tebow’s legs.
At this point, its not clear that Tebow will be the starter when Denver returns from a bye. Its also not clear if he can hold up to the weekly NFL beatings. However, the potential upside is enough that Tebow merits strong consideration if you are desperate for quarterback depth or if you happen to have a bench spot you are wasting on a player with little upside.
Pierre Garcon, Indianapolis, WR – I’ve been a Colts fan for a long time and am not quite sure what to make of the sudden Garcon explosion. Garcon has shown flashes in the past, but he is currently on pace to break his career TD high this week. I can only chalk it up to spectacular chemistry with Curtis Painter. Given that the Colts have some reasonably favorable matchups in coming weeks and Reggie Wayne’s presence is drawing off top defenders, I think the best thing to do is to play out the hot hand and not ask questions.
Victor Cruz, New York Giants, WR – I discussed Cruz a few weeks ago and thought he merited a spot on watch lists until Mario Manningham’s return. Well, Manningham has returned and Victor Cruz still seems to be staking his claim to a major role in the Giants’ offense. If he is still available, I would certainly pick him up for the long-term and consider starting him if needed against an average Bills fantasy defense.
Darrius Heyward-Bey, Oakland, WR – A week after reporting that Heyward-Bey was, in fact, still alive, I believe he may be turning into a viable fantasy option. After doing absolutely nothing thus far to merit his high draft selection, he had his second solid game in as many weeks. If you need a bye week fill-in, you could certainly do worse than taking Heyward-Bey, particularly in his matchup against Kansas City in two weeks. If he plays well, certainly hold on to him for the long-run.
Jake Ballard, New York Giants, TE – While last week’s recommendation Jermaine Gresham may still be a better option given his matchup with the woeful Colts, Ballard has suddenly emerged in New York with scores in each of the last two weeks. Ballard merits some caution, since Eli Manning has been spreading the ball around in New York, but he will be facing a Buffalo defense that is giving up nearly a TD a game to TEs.
In addition to the short-term starters above that merit hanging onto for the long-term, the following players likely merit a bench slot:
Jackie Battle, Kansas City, RB – Based on transaction trending, the fantasy world seems to be going gaga over Battle. Battle did have a solid game and should certainly take carries away from 95-year-old (in running back years) Thomas Jones. If you have room on your roster, he probably merits a pickup. However, bear in mind that he was playing against the Colts, one of the worst rushing defenses in the league for at least the past half-decade. Accordingly, I would be careful about dropping too much talent to claim Battle.
James Jones, Green Bay, WR – Jones had a big day in Green Bay, but until he proves otherwise he should probably be considered Aaron Rodgers’ flavor of the week. Much as Randall Cobb had a great game early in the season, different WRs will have solid performances in Green Bay any given week as Rodgers exploits particular matchups. While I would keep an eye on Jones, I probably would not burn a roster spot until I see more.
Doug Baldwin, Seattle, WR – Baldwin had his third solid game of the year and second in a row on Sunday. He is putting up good yardage totals, and he found the end zone for the first time since Week 1. My enthusiasm is a bit tempered for several reasons. (1) Seattle is on a bye this week. (2) He plays for Seattle. (3) Mike Williams was out for Sunday’s game, which might mean a dip in production for Baldwin when he returns. (Two of Baldwin’s three good days came in either Sidney Rice’s or Mike Williams’ absence.) Accordingly, I would personally prefer to keep an eye on Baldwin, but I can certainly see an argument for taking a chance on him.
Delone Carter, Indianapolis, RB – Carter is by far the biggest long-shot on this watch list. Joseph Addai may be injured, leaving some carries open for Carter, who may have the most upside right now in the Colts’ shaky backfield. Carter will still have to split carries with Donald Brown. However, the Colts really have nothing to lose at this point (except possibly Andrew Luck if they actually win a couple games), so they might as well let Carter get some experience to see what they have.
Marshall has over ten years fantasy football experience and maintains a fantasy football blog over at Sunday Morning Legend (In My Own Mind).
Want to write for the Cafe? Check out the Cafe's Pencil & Paper section!