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Breaking the Huddle - Week 2

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For most of America, Saturday is a day of rest and relaxation. Some college football, perhaps we’ll mow the lawn or maybe a round of golf. But somewhere in the back of our mind we are continually processing those gut wrenching decisions of who to start and who to sit. And while 90% of our starting lineup requires little thought, there are a few factors we must consider to maximize our production, along with some players to watch over the weekend.

Friday’s Injury Report

Every lineup decision starts by examining the Friday Injury Report. This is the most accurate depiction of player’s participation in the upcoming game. Sure we are still early in the season, meaning the list is short. However, there are a handful of big names we must account for when cementing our week two lineups.

Any player listed as Probable with full participation in practice is a near lineup lock. Our current list includes; Jamaal Charles, Wes Welker, Daryl Richardson and Owen Daniels. Start them with confidence.….. Watching Dez Bryant’s reaction after last week’s injury I thought he was headed straight to the IR. He was a full participant on Friday and appears ready roll. Start him……. As we know, “out” means out. And doubtful also means out (which never made any sense to me but neither do Thursday night games). Players who will not take the field this weekend include; Le'Veon Bell, Jacoby Jones and Vick Ballard (Ballard was placed on season ending IR)……. When factoring injuries, the players who give us the most trouble are “Game Time Decisions”, or GTD. Players that are either limited in Friday’s practice sessions, and/or are listed as questionable on the Injury Report are considered 50-50 to take the field (see Inactive Report). This week’s GTD are Roddy White, Jermicheal Finley, Cecil Shorts, Larry Fitzgerald, Julio Jones and Kai Forbath. Each are startable should they put on pads, just make sure you have an emergency plan B……. Also note, with the two Falcons’ WRs iffy, Matt Ryan goes on the decline while Tony G, Harry Douglas and S-Jax receive a small uptick in value.

Inactive report

Of course, injuries aren’t the only reason a player doesn’t suit up. Other issues include; missing a team meeting, being arrested for doing something foolish or injured during pregame warmups (or pulled a Kevin Kolb and gets injured stepping out of the shower). Even if your entire team has skirted injury during the week, we must always check the Inactive Report for every player on our roster. Released 15 minutes before kickoff, any player listed on the Inactive Report is a guaranteed zero. Don’t be that owner.

The Weather report

As Thursday’s game taught us, weather isn’t just a winter problem. Numerous cities around the NFL can experience thunder showers popping up just hours before the game (you ever been to St. Louis?). As stated every week, I’m going to give the same advice; make sure to check the wind speed and the Doppler Radar of the city in question on game day. If wind exceeds 12 MPH, start to downgrade players accordingly. If a “significant” moisture cell his headed toward an NFL stadium, downgrade your players significantly (especially QBs and WRs). As of 2:00 AM EST on 9/7 here are the list of cities that should be monitored in order of importance; Kansas City, Tampa Bay, Seattle, Green Bay and Chicago.

Last Minute Lineup advice

Many of the lineup questions I receive revolve around two players who are evenly rated, but have opposite risk/reward. Two prime examples this week are David Wilson and DeMarco Murray. Murray is the more secure play, but facing an underrated KC rush defense, his production will likely be held in check. On the flip side, Wilson is a high risk/reward. One fumble firmly locks him the Coughlin doghouse. No fumble and he could become a low end RB1 with 14-plus fantasy points. My suggestion is to examine your opponents starting lineup. If you’re up against a stiff team capable of putting big points, go with Wilson. If all you need is a solid 8-13 fantasy points, Murray is your guy.

Watch List

For my own amusement, each week I like to rub my crystal ball and try to predict next week’s hot waiver pickups. Fantasy football is notorious for breakout wide receivers in the first two-to-four weeks of the season. While enjoying my adult beverage this Sunday I’m putting my good eye on Marlon Brown, Leonard Hankerson, Eddie Royal, Harry Douglas and Rod Streater. If any of these guys’ tops six targets they’ll likely be on my team next week as a WR4……..…Kenny Stills is a guy I drafted in many leagues after flashing moments of brilliance during the preseason. My hunch was further substantiated by a week one performance including two catches for 86 yards. Also note Brees just missed on a number of deep throws that would have been huge gains. Stash him now if you can.…............ With Terrelle Pryor swooped up in most leagues, our QB watch list carries over E.J. Manuel while adding Ryan Tannehill. Last week Tannehill threw for 272 yards. Amazing considering No. 1 WR Mike Wallace only accounted for 15 of those yards. I’m no mathematician, but adding Wallace to the mix should increase Tannehill’s production (2+2=4)……….. Dallas Clark made a big impression in the opening game of the season. Nobody was a believer as Clark passed through waivers undetected. With Jim Caldwell calling the plays Clark could be a focal point of the game plan. If he garners eight targets this week he’s worthy of flyer as a high TE2.

I Want the Truth!

Many players around the league are in “prove it" mode. Chris Givens is a prime example. I’ll give him a pass for last week facing Patrick Peterson week one, but he has a prime matchup facing the middle of the road Falcons secondary. Another stink bomb could send him back into the player pool.……... Other WRs who need to get their act together include; Greg Jennings, Alshon Jeffery, Kenny Britt and Lance Moore………Does Pittsburgh have any offense? Right now the only Steeler we’re starting is Antonio Brown as a WR3 (who’d a thunk it). Emmanuel Sanders needs to either pick it up or pack it up. Oh how the mighty have fallen at the hands of Todd Haley (just ask Thomas Casale)…..….. How long until the Bengals coaching staff realize Giovani Bernard gives them the best chance at winning? If Marvin Lewis wants to keep his job, he will start Bernard sooner rather than later .......... Every year Michael Vick plays the role of the hero while sacrificing his body. Vick’s reckless play continued in week one. If he keeps up the Superman act he won’t be around in the fantasy postseason. Can you say “trade bait?”

Finally, for those owners who started 0-1 I’ll give you my favorite quote: “It doesn’t matter how many dragons you slay, it’s who goes home with the princess.” Good luck and I’ll see you next week.