Archive for the ‘Fantasy’ Category

The first game of week 2 is already in the books, and most of week 1’s heroes have already seen a sharp increase in their fantasy ownership. But, there is still plenty of talent available for fantasy owners looking to bolster their rosters headed into the NFL’s second week. Below I’ve compiled a list (in no particular order other than being sorted by position) of players who are still available and have considerable upside for this week and/or the rest of the season. The parentheticals ()() beside each player’s name will give their ownership percentage in NFL.com and ESPN fantasy leagues respectively.

To be included on this list a player must be owned in less than 30% of leagues, though there are sometimes exceptions. If these names go a little too deep for your league or you’re wondering about some of the more popular pick-ups from this week you can check out my previous post, Five players that should be owned in all leagues. All right, enough intro, let’s get to some names:

Karlos Williams, RB, Bills (3.0% on NFL)(17.5% on ESPN) The Bills new coaching staff loves Williams, don’t believe me? They cut fan favorite Fred Jackson before the season to give Williams a better chance at getting on the field early. Follow a season opener that saw Williams log just 6 carries (which he took for 55 yards and a TD) they released Bryce Brown, who had been competing with Williams for the primary backup job. LeSean McCoy continues to be hampered by a hamstring injury and Williams physical running style fits what Greg Roman and Rex Ryan want to do on offense. If you’re counting on McCoy this season, Williams is a definite must own as he will be the guy in a run heavy offense if McCoy misses time, and if he can continues to run well, could become a well balanced dose of thunder to McCoy’s lightning.

Lance Dunbar, RB, Cowboys (2.9% on NFL)(13.7% on ESPN) With Dez Bryant sidelined for the foreseeable future with a broken foot, Dunbar’s Dallas teammate, Terrance Williams, has gotten a lot of the love from fantasy owners. But Williams he won’t be the only one who sees an increase in targets with Bryant on the sidelines. Dunbar caught 8 passes for 70 yards in the opener, clearly establishing himself as the passing down back. The Cowboys next 4 opponents are the Eagles, Falcons, Saints and Patriots, so passing downs may not be as hard to come by for big D as they were last year.

Brandon Coleman, WR, Saints (4.1% on NFL)(35.4% on ESPN) Coleman followed up an impressive preseason with a solid week 1 showing. Saints fans have been excited about the Rutgers product since he was signed following the 2014 NFL draft, and the fact that the Saints traded wide receiver Kenny Stills and cut Nick Toon (both of whom were expected to play big roles in the offense following the Jimmy Graham trade) should tell you how the coaching staff feels about Coleman. No one’s going to confuse him for Calvin Johnson, but at 6’6, 220 lbs. he’s a mismatch for defenses, especially in the red zone and will have value even if he continues to only play in three wide receiver sets. (His ownership on ESPN has spiked out of my usual range, but is still available in nearly all NFL.com leagues, so I figured he’s worth talking about.)

Tyler Lockett, WR, Seahawks (8.3% on NFL)(22.4% on ESPN) Lockett is must own if you’re in a league that counts return yardage. For the rest, he’s still a worthwhile target whose role will likely only expand in the Seahawks offense as he gets more game time under his belt. Lockett is a special sort of playmaker and looking at the impact he’s had so far I can’t help but think: this is the guy the Seahawks thought they were getting when they traded a first and a third round pick for Percy Harvin, this is the guy they thought they were getting when they drafted Paul Richardson in the second round of the 2014, this is the explosive playmaker they’ve been waiting for. Maybe I’m wrong, and he’s just a return specialist who never sees more than a handful of targets in the pass game, but the upside is tremendous and if you’ve got the roster spot, Lockett could be worth stashing for the next few weeks to find out.

Marlon Brown, WR, Ravens (0.1% on NFL)(0.6% on ESPN) It’s easy to make a case against Brown, he’s flashed potential, but never been consistent, the Ravens will likely be run first due to their limited weapons in the passing game, but at some point Baltimore will need someone to step up as a starter alongside Steve Smith Sr. and I think Brown is their best bet. He’s 6’4 with good speed, quickness and solid hands. As it stands he’s just not seeing many targets, but that should change with Kamar Aiken failing to impress in week 1. I like Brown’s chance to catch a TD this weekend if you’re looking for a dart throw player, but i’m more interested in what he could become as the season goes on.

Tedd Ginn Jr., WR, Panthers (0.4% on NFL)(1.8% on ESPN) There’s something encouraging about the fact that Ginn was targeted seven times in week 1…though it is equally discouraging that he caught only two of them for 54 yards…then again that’s a per catch average of 27 yards. I guess what I’m getting at is I really like the opportunity for Ginn, who remains a starter for Panthers, especially in this week 2 match-up with the Texans. It’s a big risk/big reward play to be sure, but if you’re desperate you could do a lot worse.

Jared Cook, TE, Rams (3.4% on NFL)(8.7% on ESPN) Nick Foles likes throwing to his tight end (remember Zach Ertz?) and Cook is one of the best pass catchers on the Rams. Despite their best efforts, the Redskins are still weak when it comes to pass protection in the middle of the field. In his last trip to FedEx Field, Cook caught 4 passes for 61 yards with 2 touchdowns. The Redskins proved stout against the run in week 1, so expect the Rams to be throwing, with plenty of targets going Cook’s way.

One to Watch: 

Ryan Grant, WR, Redskins (0.0% on NFL)(0.1% on ESPN) Okay this is a deep pull, with plenty of caveats, but keep an eye on second year receiver Ryan Grant. With DeSean Jackson missing the next few weeks Grant stands a chance at more playing time, and an outside chance at garnering a start. Andre Roberts is better known in Washington for his drops than his receptions and the team sees rookie Jamison Crowder as strictly a slot receiver for the time being. Grant has also shown chemistry with starting QB Kirk Cousins in the preseason. With Jackson out and TE Jordan Reed questionable, Grant is the ‘Skins next best shot at a reliable set of hands behind Pierre Garcon…it’s just a matter of whether or not the team will see it that way.

 

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This is a waiver wire pick-up column of sorts. Seeing as many fantasy football leagues have already processed their waiver claims for week 2, and nearly all others will have by the time this is published I’m putting these 5 names that exceed my threshold of >30% ownership to qualify for my weekly pick-ups column but are still out there in some leagues. These are guys who’s week 1 success should carry through the rest of the season and as such deserve to be owned in all leagues regardless of size. The numbers I’ve posted are accurate as of Wednesday night, but will likely have changed once Thursdays waivers post. I’ll do my best to update in the morning.

Percy Harvin, WR, Bills (33.6% on NFL)(57.5% on ESPN) – Coming into the season the lack of buzz around Percy Harvin confused me. This is the same guy who was a mid-season MVP candidate a few years ago with Christian Ponder throwing him the ball. He’s the guy who rejuvenated the Jets, Geno Smith led, offense the second half of last season. He followed Rex Ryan to Buffalo. Oh, and he made his young QB look good with a diving touchdown grab. He won’t always score and the numbers won’t always pop off the screen, but defenses will continue to key in on Sammy Watkins ensuring that Harvin maintains fantasy value as a risk/reward flex play.

Terrance Williams, WR, Cowboys (39.7% on NFL)(66.1% on ESPN) With Dez Bryant out for what could be 6 to 8 weeks, Williams takes over as number 1 on the Cowboys wide receiver depth chart. Williams likely won’t see as many targets as Dez would, and certainly should not be expected to put up top 5 fantasy numbers, but he should see enough targets to make him a solid starter. Williams is a talented young player who disappeared into the shadow of Dez Bryant and the power running game last season, so expect him to capitalize on his time in the spotlight, starting in week 2 against the Eagles (though after getting torched by Julio Jones, Byron Maxwell has plenty to prove as well.)

Stevie Johnson, WR, Chargers (13.1% on NFL)(43.2% on ESPN) The difference in ownership on the two sites is a bit staggering, but likely mostly related to bench size. In any case Johnson was targeted 6 times, caught all 6 passes and scored a TD, and that was in a game that saw Keenan Allen catch an absurd 15 passes. Like with Harvin there’s sure to be some games that disappoint, but Johnson is a big bodied target with reliable hands who can move around the formation. He should continue to be a favorite for QB Philip Rivers at least until Antonio Gates suspension ends and even beyond, though a reevaluation may be necessary following week 4. 

Tyler Eifert, TE, Bengals (47.0% on NFL)(70.5% on ESPN) In 2013 it was Marvin Jones, last year it was Mohamed Sanu, and at least through week 1 of the 2015 season it appears that Eifert will claim the role of Andy Dalton’s preferred #2 pass catcher. Actually, Eifert topped even the newly resigned AJ Green, leading the team with 9 receptions on 12 targets for 104 yards and 2 TDs. While it’s possible we’ve already seen Eifert’s best fantasy output of the season he should continue to be a reliable target in the middle of the field and finally have the breakout season analysts predicted for him last year, before his season was wiped out by injury.

Dion Lewis, RB, Patriots (11.5% on NFL)(31.7% on ESPN) A bit borderline for the ‘must own in all leagues’ category, but I don’t think we’ve heard the last of Lewis. He benefitted big time from the absence of LeGarrette Blount in week 1, but given his versatility and Bill Belichick’s penchant for messing with fantasy owners who think they’ve figured out the backfield, I’d expect Lewis to see his share of snaps going forward. Of course I’d be remiss not to mention that Lewis did have a red zone fumble and repercussions may still be to follow.

 

After a week of gang ties, release and resigning the dust is settling around former Eagle turned Redskins’ WR DeSean Jackson. There is, however, still one very important question left to unanswered: What does this mean for my fantasy football team?

It’s no secret that the Redskins were a disaster on the field last season, and in an instance of fantasy imitating reality, any Redskin not named Pierre Garcon ended up with a disappointing season. Robert Griffin put up big numbers early, but was inconsistent and ended the year on the bench, and Alfred Morris had a solid statistical year finishing 14th among running backs, but after being touted as a top 10 back and likely first round pick, finishing behind Ryan Matthews and Fred Jackson was a tough pill to swallow for Morris owners (I should know, I was one of them.) The good news is, Morris and Griffin could live up to last year’s billing this year, at this year’s reduced rate.

The biggest winner here is Robert Griffin III. Rather than dealing with last year’s rag tag receiving corps RG3 now has 3 legitimate receivers, (yes, I consider Andre Roberts to be legitimate, but more on him later) who can all stretch the field, and more importantly do damage when the get the ball in space on screens and slants. Having to account for that much speed, especially if TE Jordan Reed can stay healthy, means fewer defenders focused on Griffin, so even if the defense manages to cover everyone up, he’ll be able to find space to scramble and gain some yards for himself. This, is not specific to the Jackson signing, but I also see Griffin taking a big step forward as a leader this season. I think the 2013 season was a sobering experience for the 2012 rookie of the year, from coming back too early from his injury, to sitting out the last few games of the season. Jay Gruden has already stated he expects a lot out of his QB, and I expect RG3 to take that as a personal challenge to continue improving, to take charge of, and responsibility for this offense. He has the weapons, he has the talent, and if he plays all 16 games RG3 could easily reclaim his place as a top 5 fantasy QB this year.

Pierre Garcon gets the runner up spot for biggest boost based on the signing. The bad news is, Garcon is unlikely to catch 113 passes again this year, but that’s a good thing. Garcon’s high catch numbers were the product of a stagnant offense that had to force the ball to it’s best receiver and Garcon’s yards per catch suffered as a result. Garcon will likely be closer to 80-90 catches on the season, but I still expect him to eclipse 1,000 yards and a more effective offense means more scoring chances and Garcon could conceivably improve on his 5 TDs from 2013. Bottom line: Garcon should replicate or improve upon his 2013 point total, but could be less consistent week to week. Watch the match-ups with better corners as Jackson’s presence could make him easy to ignore. Think of Garcon more like Jeremy Maclin playing alongside Jackson when he was healthy and less like AJ Green playing opposite Marvin Jones last year in Cincinnati.

DeSean Jackson comes out no worse for the wear. He was a beast in Chip Kelly’s offense last year, but even if he stayed in Philly he was never going to repeat his 2013 numbers. Like Garcon, Jackson benefitted from a higher than usual volume of targets in this case caused by an injury to Jeremy Maclin that would end his 2013 season before it began. Expect Jackson to go back to catching around 60 passes per year (instead of the 80 he caught in 2013) but he’ll make the most of those 60, and could reach the 1,000 yard plateau…just don’t expect another 9 touchdowns.

Andre Roberts is probably the only guy I would say is affected negatively by this trade. Before Jackson’s addition I was eyeing Roberts as a sleeper candidate with defenses giving all their attention to Pierre Garcon, but now barring an injury to either Jackson or Garcon it seems Roberts’ fantasy value will be limited. Don’t underestimate his team value though, especially if he ends up as the primary punt/kick returner (a position he held his first two seasons with the Cardinals before being replaced by Patrick Peterson.) Assuming the rest of the special teams unit actually decides to show up this year, that facet of the game should be much improved.

What about Alfred Morris you ask? Well, for him it’s a bit too soon to tell. Jackson’ addition is definitely good for the running game, (more defenders in coverage means fewer in the box) but just how good for Morris in particular? That will depend on how Gruden chooses to use Morris. The good news is, Jay Gruden’s offense runs the ball more than you think: BenJarvus Green-Ellis carried it 220 times last season, the bad news is that’s 50 fewer attempts than Morris had. But back to the good news, Morris averages a yard more per carry than Green-Ellis, and while Roy Helu could fill a Giovanni Bernard-type 3rd down/change of pace back role, Morris’ play could earn him more snaps, and he will get the majority of goal line and clock kill work. Keep an eye on what the Redskins do in the draft at the position and how reps are split in OTA’s, but Morris should be a strong RB2 with RB1 upside if he can crack double digit touchdowns like he did in his rookie season.

Of course, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that any offensive success the Redskins could have this year, will have to be dependent on improved play from the offensive line. Jay Gruden is bringing in a lot of new guys as he switches from Mike Shanahan’s favored zone blocking scheme, to a power blocking scheme. They’ve brought it some decent talent, but I’m hoping they use at least a couple draft picks continuing to solidify what was a porous overall unit in 2013.

I’ll toss in one last disclaimer, since I’m predicting two 1,000 yard pass catchers to a team that finished 3-13 last season. I’m making my predictions based on everyone staying healthy and playing all 16 games at a level consistent with their past production, but the NFL makes no guarantees. If you’re still feeling unsure that the offensive line will hold up or that RG3 will make the necessary strides as a pocket passer might I suggest one week fantasy football leagues? It’s all of the fun without the commitment. Pick up a player when he’s hot and drop him when he’s not.

I’m hoping to do a more complete list at some point as their are a lot of guys I think might be flying under the radar this season, especially at WR and TE, but since I’m already behind here are a few of my favorites:

Quarterback

Alex Smith, Chiefs:

Maybe I’m just the last guy to give up on Alex Smith’s fantasy value, but I think he has a chance to be a consistent fantasy QB this year, and as deep as QB is this year things get dicey after the elite guys, and the biggest question, especially once you pass the top 10 guys is consistency. Smith’s upside is he’s accurate, he’s mobile and he has everything to prove. He also left behind a very run friendly San Francisco offense and now leads Andy Reid’s pass happy attack. He also may have the most complete complement of weapons either coach or player has ever had: Bowe can be a true #1, Baldwin should be primed to produce and Avery, looks to prove he can be a consistent target. Add Jamaal Charles and Dexter McCluster as guys who can really move with the ball in space, and TE Tony Moeaki and Anthony Fasano as red zone targets and what you get is a QB with a high floor and plenty of upside.

Sam Bradford, Rams:

Bradford is a perennial sleeper candidate ever since he teased fantasy owners with a promising rookie campaign, only to fall short of anyone claiming to be sure of his fantasy relevance, but this year might actually be different. Bradford found a connection with last years 4th round pick Chris Givens and while it’s still only preseason Tavon Austin is rumored to be living up to the hype that made him the #8 overall pick in the 2013 draft which means Bradford should have the most complete group of receivers in his Rams tenure. It’s also worth mentioning that Jared Cook adds a big bodied presence in the middle of the field and that Jake Long also figure to be the best blindside protector Bradford’s ever had. This will be Bradford’s first year without Steven Jackson, and with the run game up in the air and the current leader for the starting job (Daryl Richardson) being a talented pass catcher Bradford will be throwing often.

(Editor’s Note: My first draft featured Miami Dolphin’s 2nd year QB Ryan Tannehill rather than Sam Bradford, but I credited a good deal of Tannehill’s sleeper value to TE Dustin Keller who will now miss the entire season after tearing multiple ligaments in his knee.)

 

Running Back

Giovanni Bernard, Bengals:

Been high on Bernard since the pre-draft process, and I like the fit with the Bengals. He’s going to be splitting carries with BenJarvus Green-Ellis, but he’s the more versatile back and assuming he stays healthy he could have the Law Firm relegated to Goal Line and short yard work by mid season.

Daryl Richardson, Rams:

Coach Jeff Fisher has come out and said that Richardson is the leader for the starting job so far and I just don’t see him giving it up that easily. He’s already the more experienced back and he’s making the most of his first team reps. Not to mention Pead still has a one game suspension to serve so unless either Pead or Stacy set the field on fire in the next few weeks, I think Richardson runs away with the job and doesn’t look back. He’s a bargain in the mid/late-rounds and well worth the pick if you end up missing out on an elite runner in the early rounds and are hurting for RB depth.

Wide Reciever

Kenny Stills, Saints:

If you’ve been watching the preseason this shouldn’t come as a surprise for you. The Saints have been giving Stills special attention in games, presumably to help him develop chemistry with Drew Brees. (He had 4 receptions for 64 yards and a TD in game 2 and a few nice catches to go with a few close misses in Game 1) Now of course preseason numbers don’t count for the season, but Still projects to the Devery Henderson role of deep target, and he’s probably no better than the 3rd or 4th option behind Colston, Graham and maybe Lance Moore, but he’ll have some big games and some bad games, but that should make him worthy of a late round flier.

Chris GivensRams:

This should be a no brainer. Givens emerged as a favorite target of Sam Bradford last year and the additions of Tavon Austin and Jared Cook only means more one on one match-ups outside for the second year burner out of Wake Forest. You can draft Givens as a #4 receiver and he has #2 upside. The Rams will be better this year and when all is said and done Givens is going to be the guy Bradford looks for.

Tight End

Jordan Cameron, Browns:

I’ve been high on Cameron since the Browns failed to sign Fred Davis away from Washington, and his stock has shot through the roof since then, but he’s still flying under most people’s radars due to the depth at TE and emergence of the position as a legitimate offensive threat. What’s going to set Cameron apart is earning the trust of his 2nd year QB playing for a team in need of playmakers in an offense that isn’t afraid to showcase the TE. (see Gates, Antonio)

Rob Housler, Cardinals:

Similar to Cameron, I’m not quite as high on Housler, but Larry Fitzgerald can’t do it alone and we learned last year that Carson Palmer likes to check down to his tight end. Not to mention the aforementioned Larry Fitzgerald has praised Housler’s hands. And even at 6’5, 250lbs the third year has plenty of speed to keep up with new Head Coach Bruce Arians vertical passing game. He’s well worth a late round flier and could make a steady stand-in with plenty of upside if you’re also drafting Rob Gronkowski.

Defense/Special Teams

Colts:

Coach Chuck Pagano may have been away from the team much of the 2012, but he’s back on the sidelines, and with another offseason to help build his defense this should be a much improved unit. Remember Pagano is a defensive guy, and the Colts quietly had a very nice offseason. Aubrayo Franklin should be a solid addition at Nose Tackle and could hopefully mentor rookie Montori Hughes. Adding versatile former 49ers Defensive Lineman Ricky Jean Francois is great for depth. The pass rush could be much improved if Erik Walden plays up to his contract and Bjorn Werner plays up to his draft status. The secondary looks to at least be a more physical unit with LaRon Landry coming in at Safety and former Cardinal Greg Toler at Cornerback.

Chiefs:

This is another unit that stands to be much improved after being pretty terrible last year. The offense will be better, which should help keep the defense fresh, and assuming they can stay healthy this is a formidable secondary featuring Eric Berry at Safety, and an impressive trio of CBs in Brandon Flowers, Sean Smith and Dunta Robinson with nearly across the board pro bowl linebackers and what looks to be an improved defensive line. Dontari Poe has a full season under his belt and looks to improve, and adding Mike DeVito at DE could be a difference maker.

Kicker

Kai Forbath, Redskins:

I know, a kickers a kicker to most people, but Forbath seems to have gotten lost behind the emergence of Blair Walsh and Greg Zuerlein, but after taking over full time kicker duties midway through last season Forbath didn’t miss a kick. I’m not saying reach for him, but if your pick is in the later half of the final round he should be sitting there and should be a solid option all season long.

I know it’s not even July yet, but I’m already pumped up off the reports from minicamp. QB looks like it could end up crazy deep this year thanks to an infusion of young talent and league’s growing penchant for pass heavy offenses. I’m considering the rankings to be in flux and will update as necessary.

1. Drew Brees, Saints (2012 Rank: 1): Jimmy Graham is healthy, Sean Payton is back. Still not convinced? LT Jermon Bushrod and WR Devery Henderson are liable to miss New Orleans more than the Saints miss them. I two promising rookies to fill their shoes Combine Hero and owner of one of the NFL’s most fun name’s to say Terron Armstead at LT and Kenny Stills at WR.

2. Aaron Rodgers, Packers (2012 Rank: 2): Even with Greg Jennings doning purple and gold this season Green Bay features one of the better WR corps. Jermichael Finley is still in town and Eddie Lacy and Jonathan Franklin are both adept at catching passes out of the backfield (though they may end up stealing a few TDs.)

3. Peyton Manning, Broncos (2012 Rank: 6)
I’m iffy putting Manning this high, but the addition of Wes Welker gives Manning 3 stellar options in the passing game, and I expect the Broncos may actually run a bit less the year in hopes of easing Montee Ball’s legs into the transition of NFL bell cow back.

4. Tom Brady, Patriots (2012 Rank: 3): Welker left via free agency, Hernandez has been released following his arrest and Rob Gronkowski is still working his way back from injury. But Brady is far from dead in the water: Jake Ballard will likely pick up the slack at TE, rookie WR’s Aaron Dobson and Josh Boyce have the ability to contribute from day 1 and Donald Jones is a previously undrafted 3rd receiver who flashed his potential with a division rival (Bills) before signing with the Pats…If that’s not just the classic Patriots recipe for success I don’t know what is.

5. Matt Ryan, Falcons (2012 Rank: 7): In a year full of QB question marks Matt Ryan is an exclamation point. Atlanta returns all it’s offensive firepower from a year ago minus Michael Turner, but adding Steven Jackson. Going from one of the league’s worst pass catching backs to one of the best pushes Ryan into the top 5.

6. Cam Newton, Panthers (2012 Rank: 4): If the Panthers had Robert Woods or DeAndre Hopkins lining up across from Steve Smith I’d probably have Newton at #3. I like the addition of Ted Ginn, but when OC Mike Shula talks about Cam running less and throwing more I worry about who’s on the other end of those throws.

7. Robert Griffin III, Redskins (2012 Rank: 5): Surgically reconstructed knees and questionable week 1 status could have Griffin drop further, but for now well if Adrian Peterson is Wolverine consider RG3 Deadpool (another comic book character with supernatural healing powers.) Unfortunately Griffin and fellow rookie, RB Alfred Morris made the Redskins O-Line look better than it was last year. Still, I like the weapons and the talent.

8. Andrew Luck, Colts (2012 Rank: 8): The Colts cleaned up the O-Line a bit and brought in Darrius Heyward-Bey to line up across from Reggie Wayne. The thought is that new OC Pep Hamilton is going to reel in Luck’s big play number’s from his rookie season with a more conservative offense in 2013. If that’s true then the speedy, 6’2 Heyward-Bey was the wrong guy to add to the line up. RB Ahmad Bradshaw was a nice add, but make no mistake, he’s not a bell cow back and I expect the Colts to be throwing early and often in Luck’s second year.

9. Colin Kaepernick, 49ers (2012 Rank: 1): If Michael Crabtree hadn’t gotten hurt he’d be higher, like flirting with the top 5 higher. Still Kaepernick has weapons. Anquan Boldin has already established himself as the top target, and I expect TE Vernon Davis will be second, building off the chemistry built in last season’s playoff run. After that it’s all about who you ask with AJ Jenkins receiving most of the praise after taking his rookie year to learn the playbook, but don’t count out this year’s rookies WR Quinton Patton and TE Vance McDonald. It’s important to remember the 49ers still love to run the ball, luckily for Kaepernick he does that pretty well too.

10. Russell Wilson, Seahawks (2012 Rank: 10): The talent is there, but the question with Wilson is opportunity. As a 49ers fan I hate admitting it, but the Seahawks have a top defense and running game. They added an explosive receiver in Percy Harvin, but I just don’t know how many chances Wilson will get to light up the scoreboard like some of his peers.

11. Tony Romo, Cowboys (2012 Rank: 9): While the rest of the NFL was busy googling Travis Frederick, Cowboys GM Jerry Jones was bolstering the Cowboys passing game by adding TE Gavin Escobar and WR Terrance Williams. Escobar has a chance to take over the #2 role vacated by Martellus Bennett two seasons ago and Williams is an ideal fit to play on the outside in 3 receiver sets. Bottom line: Romo will be throwing plenty, and while it won’t always be pretty, he’ll get his numbers.

12. Matt Stafford, Lions (2012 Rank: 11): The much anticipated encore to an impressive 2011 season fell flat. While a sub par line and injuries to the receiving corps may have been a part of that it still wasn’t pretty. Adding Reggie Bush and returning Ryan Broyles will help, but this is still a team with a lot to prove in a tough division.

13. Eli Manning, Giants (2012 Rank: 1): I’m a little torn on Eli. Hakeem Nicks’ injury issues hurt him bad last year, but with Nicks and Cruz both playing for contracts I think Eli could have a big year. Brandon Myers fits what they want to do at TE and 2nd year receiver Reuban Randle’s progress and free agent acquisition Louis Murphy’s quick chemistry with Eli make this a much deeper group at WR. With the defense ailing he’ll be throwing plenty.

14. Andy Dalton, Bengals (2012 Rank: 12): If the Bengals threw more I’d probably like him more than Stafford. Still, despite playing on a run-first team lacking offensive firepower Dalton finished 12th in scoring among fantasy QBs. I love the additions of Eifert as the TE #2 and Bernard as a change of pace and passing down back, but until the Bengals show their willing to put the game in Dalton’s hands this is where he ranks.

15. Ryan Tannehill, Dolphins (2012 Rank: 24): Nine spots is a big jump for a second year QB, but I think Tannehill is in a much better spot this year than last. Mike Wallace is a deep threat to showcase Tannehill’s arm strength. Brian Hartline is one of the best pure possession receivers in the NFL, Brandon Gibson could develop as a threat in the slot and Dustin Keller is also an upgrade at TE. Following all the free agent signings and the Patriots offseason troubles the biggest difference for Tannehill and the Dolphins could be confidence.

16. Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers (2012 Rank: 18): The offensive line is healthy and that’s big. Roethlisberger’s tendency to get dinged up bothers me, but not nearly as much as the fact that I’m not sure he buys in to OC Todd Haley’s short and intermediate passing game and that’s a problem.

17. Sam Bradford, Rams (2012 Rank: 16): Despite playing in a tough NFC West with a lack of offensive talent he finished 16th among QB’s last year. Jeff Fisher likes to run the ball, but until one of the 3 young backs proves he can be a work horse the offense will run through Bradford. Tavon Austin is a play maker in the slot, Chris Givens developed chemistry with Bradford in the second half of last season, Austin Pettis quietly blossomed as a red zone target and Jared Cook reunites with the coach that drafted him on a team desperate for the presence of a big man over the middle (sorry Lance Kendricks.)

18. Matt Schaub, Texans (2012 rank: 20): The offense goes through Arian Foster in Houston, but look for this year’s team to be more balanced. Foster is nursing a calf injury and after carrying the ball 351 times in 2012 scaling back on his work load might not be a terrible idea. After all Schaub now has a plethora of weapons in the pass game to go along with Foster: First round draft pick DeAndre Hopkins joins last year’s rookies LeStar Jean and Keyshawn Martin and offensive staples Andre Johnson and TE Owen Daniels return to give the Texans the weapons to air it out if they so choose.

19. EJ Manuel, Bills (2012 rank: n/a): Okay fine, he has to win the job first, but I think he could be the week 1 starter, and I really like what the Bills have done. Robert Woods is a perfect compliment to Stevie Johnson, Da’Rick Rogers was a steal as an undrafted free agent (I’m hoping he earns playing time on the outside if Stevie is moved to the slot in 3 wide sets) I also think Marquise Goodwin is better than people think and could contribute early. I see Manuel as this year’s Josh Freeman. He won’t and shouldn’t be drafted, but he’ll put up some big number games and be owned in more than a few leagues by the end of the season.

T20. Philip Rivers, Chargers (2012 Rank: 21):
Rivers has become something of a sleeper. The Chargers boast a formidable stable of WRs when they’re all healthy, unfortunately that’s no guarantee. Even 3rd round draft pick Keenan Allen is only recently recovered from injury.  Throw in an aging Antonio Gates and the oft injured Ryan Matthews and you see how things can get bad quickly in San Diego. Former Patriot pass catching HB Danny Woodhead was brought in to spell Matthews and perhaps even serve as the primary back up which I find encouraging, and new Head Coach Mike McCoy is respected for his work with QBs so maybe there’s a decent chance Rivers numbers improve.

T20. Carson Palmer, Cardinals (2012 Rank: 17): Playing in a Bruce Arians offense with Larry Fitzgerald and promising 2nd year WR Michael Floyd is a big upgrade for Palmer. Unfortunately the opposition is getting upgraded too as he’ll trade the spotty secondaries of the AFC West for some of the leagues best in the NFC West.

Finally thought up a clever (read: cheesy) title for a weekly pick-ups column, Woo!

Since I’m already a week late let’s jump right in, starting with TEs. Hernandez went down, Fred Davis needs a road flare to catch RG3’s eye and Antonio Gates has already missed time. Here’s the guys I like.

Martellus Bennett, NYG: in week 2 Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks combined for 378 yards and 2 TDs and Bennett still had 77 yards and a TD. Long story short, the Giants are going to throw a lot and Bennett will continue to benefit from the extra attention Cruz and Nicks will see.

Dennis Pitta, BAL: Flacco is looking for him often, so this is a guy who’s especially valuable in PPR leagues. With Ed Dickson lurking, and questions about Flacco’s consistency you might be leery of him, but Pitta’s going to find himself open over the middle plenty with Torrey Smith pulling the safeties his way.

Kyle Rudolf, MIN, the numbers haven’t been huge just yet, but he’s one of Ponder’s favorite targets and he’ll get lots of red zone looks. Tough match-up with San Francisco in week 3, but he should continue to get solid production after that.

Scott Chandler, BUF: Best known as the TE who dominated week 1 last year the kind of dropped off the fantasy radar. Well he’s back with a TD in each of the first two weeks and some modest yardage (38 and 53 respectively) he had 6 TDs in 14 games last year, and should remain a top Red Zone target, and he’ll have some great weeks, but he’ll have some bad ones too.

Brandon Myers, OAK: He’s been a top target for QB Carson Palmer the first two games, and with Jacoby Ford missing from the slot he could continue to dominate the middle of the field. I think people are afraid to trust Myers because if Darren McFadden can get his groove back it will cut back Palmer’s attempts while simultaneously opening up the outside deep routes with opposing safeties cheating up to contain the run…until that happens Myers will keep producing.

Not much doing if you’re in the market for a running back. But I’ll put some handcuff updates here.

Andre Brown, NYG: took over after Bradshaw went down and could be a guy to target if Bradshaw can’t go next week.

Jackie Battle, SD: Good name to watch as he put up decent numbers in relief of Curtis Brinkley. If the Chargers hold Mathews out Battle might get the nod, if not he should at least get any goal line looks, so if you’re a Matthews owner who’s been trying to make due with ronnie Brown he’s worth a shot.

Daryl Richardson, STL: Now looks like the Steven Jackson handcuff over Isaiah Pead. Jackson left the Redskins game with a groin injury, so if you have Pead stashed on your bench you may want to make the swap.

Kendall Hunter, SF: Still the back-up to a seemingly unstoppable Frank Gore. Gore’s had 17 and 19 touches in weeks 1&2 he’ll likely stay in that 15-20 range most of the season, but Hunter is the one getting the touches Gore misses and he’ll carry the load if Gore misses any time.

Now, Wide Receiver is shaping up to be as deep as promised.

Brandon LaFell, CAR: Is looking good…ranted it’s so far been against two teams who’ve given up a lot of passing yards in both this year’s appearances (Bucs and Saints) but hey, Panthers play the Giants next week, so he should be good for at least one more week.

Andrew Hawkins, CIN: He was a trendy name especially for PPR players after an 8 catch 86 yard week 1. The follow up wasn’t quite so impressive with only 2 catches for 56 yards, but one of them was a TD scamper off a short pass. He’s a home run threat and a security blanket, he’s worth a roster spot especially with an Orakpo-less Washington and Miami next up on the schedule.

Donnie Avery, IND: The Colts will not be ahead in a lot of games. That means Andrew Luck will have to throw a lot and with Fleener and Allen needed to help block and defenses focused on Reggie Wayne look for Avery to continue making plays.

Brandon Gibson, STL: So, if you read my preseason stuff, you saw I had Brian Quick as a sleeper if he could with the Rams starting job…well as it turns out that job went to Gibson, and he doesn’t look willing to give it up. He’s got 50+ yards and a TD in two straight games. The Bears are next up on the schedule, and after the Packers game I’m nervous, and if Danny Amendola is still available in your league he’s the one you want, but Gibson’s performance makes him worthy of at least a look.

Dexter McCluster, KC: Mostly a PPR consideration as I don’t see him reaching the end zone often and his yardage alone won’t be enough most weeks, but Cassel likes him and Jon Baldwin hasn’t been nearly as involved in the pass attack as I’d hoped.

Brian Hartline, MIA: He needs to be mentioned after a 110 yard outing, but don’t get too excited. Hartline will continue to see plenty of targets, but the Raiders defense is bad. The Dolphins get the Jets in week 3 and Cardinals in week 4…I wouldn’t want him in my line up until at least week 9 against the Colts. (actually not a bad schedule the rest of the way after that)

Mohammed Massaquoi, CLE: With Buffalo up next on the schedule, I think he could be interesting if you need some one. He seems to have decent chemistry with Weeden and the Bills have shown you can throw on them.

Oh, and if you’ve been losing games by just a few points, you kicker may be to blame. Here’s the guys you should be looking at.

Justin Tucker, BAL: in just two weeks he’s got 7 PATs and 6 FGs, 5 of which have been from 40+ (two from 50+) and yet he’s owned in only 5% of NFL.com leagues. The opportunity is going to be there. (just for some perspective Tucker currently has outscored Jamaal Charles by 19 points through two weeks)

Greg Zuerlein, STL: Liked this guy since I heard him being talked up during the preseason. 6th round draft pick, the team loves him, and he’s got a strong leg. The Rams offense isn’t the high powered attack the Ravens have but with an improved defense and Sam Bradford playing well they’ll be in field goal range enough for young GZ (clubhouse nickname, not mine) to put up some solid fantasy numbers.

Blair Walsh, MIN: Another guy I got sold on after preseason. I heard the GM talking him up, and after his 16point week 1 I decided to drop Josh Scobee and give him a shot. Walsh outscored Scobee 10 to 1 (in fairness Walsh was against the Colts, while Scobee had the misfortune of playing the Texans D) point is Minnesota, like St. Louis should find itself in scoring position on enough drives to give their rookie ample opportunities.

Connor Barth, TB: like the 3 above he’s got double digit points in the first two weeks. The offense in Tampa should continue to provide Barth with opportunity and according to NFL.com he’s made 20 consecutive kicks dating back to last year (only 5 so far this year)

I’m going to add a D/ST here

Arizona Cardinals: Coming off a big win against the Patriots, they’ll be a trendy add, but they get the Eagles in week 3 and Dolphins week 4. They’re better than you think.

Well sports fans, football is officially back as of Wednesday night and the Kevin Ogletree fantasy sweepstakes has likely already begun, but before you enter your waiver claim I’d like to offer a few words of warning about Kevin Ogletree and the other week 1 wonders who will surface this coming Sunday.

First things first. There’s no denying that Ogletree looked impressive. 8 catches, 114 yards and 2 TDs…it’s impressive. But now let’s give some context. The Giants secondary, at it’s playoff best is spectacular, at it’s regular season best however it is pedestrian (don’t ask me how this works, just look at the numbers and try telling me I’m wrong) Add to that the fact that Ogltree was covered by the 5th best corner on this squad, and owes many of his targets to that fact and you start to wonder just how impressive those numbers are. Add to it the fact that Jason Witten still wasn’t fully recovered and used less in the passing game (2 catches, 7 yards) for that reason and consistency really becomes a big question mark surrounding Ogletree.

Now for the counterpoint. As far as week 1 explosions go, Ogletree will likely be one of the most promising. The Cowboys have been waiting for him to step up and that’s exactly what he did Wednesday night. We also know Tony Romo likes the #3 receivers thanks to Laurent Robinson, and Miles Austin and Dez Bryant are a far cry from the picture of perfect health…I just don’t foresee any consistency with Ogletree going forward. The nickel corners will get tougher, Jason Witten will get better and Miles and Dez will each have their time in the spotlight.

Bottom Line: I want to see Ogletree produce consistently before adding him to my roster, but if you’ve already got that one roster spot you’re not sure about, this is your best chance to snag him. Just remember you draft the guys you draft for a reason and one week does not make a season.

I’ll be back with a pick up column after Sundays match-ups. Good Luck in week one.