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JL's Observation Deck - Week 3

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Let me start by saying I have really enjoyed answering the start/sit question thrown my way the past few weeks I have been getting on twitter @JLanfranca . It is fun for me to see all the different situations various fantasy managers are faced with on a weekly basis throughout the season. Feel free to send me any questions you might have regarding trades, lineups or waiver wire pickups. It’s a sure bet to believe I will have a strong lean one way or the other.

Onto my Week 3 observations. It was a great week of football. The replacement refs don’t bring the enjoyment of watching the game down one bit despite the constant talk about them. Listen, it isn’t these guys’ fault whatsoever. No need to pile on them as many of the commentators do. This is simply about the owners and their reluctance to give the ‘real’ referees what they want. The onus falls completely on the owners and refs NOT on the field, rather than the ones that are administrating the game currently.

With that said, the ending to the Packers-Seahawks game was the epitome of irony. Several very poor calls by the referees ultimately led to the worst call of the NFL season, which directly affected the win-loss record of both the Packers and the Seahawks. That one call might change the course of the entire NFC Conference. Who knows what will be done about this, if anything, but again I must admit even the poorest of officiated games won’t deter me from watching NFL football. Maybe that is part of the problem; the owners know the fans won’t stop showing up or stop watching the games, but hopefully for the integrity of the game they will do the right thing and make sure the best possible product is put on the NFL football field around the country.

I talked in the intro about the never ending pursuit to create the perfect fantasy team. And while it may never quite happen, the quest to get there should never truly end. Adding a player you consider a backup now, could pay big dividends later on in the season similar to how C.J. Spiller influenced many fantasy football playoffs in 2011. You could make the pickup tomorrow that leads to the trade in Week 10 that wins you the league. If you are 3-0, there is work to do. If you are 0-3, well, there is plenty of work to do. No reason to panic or get over-confident in either situation though, just go about your business and realize it is all in a week’s work.

Waiver Options

Jerome Simpson – I touted Simpson in one of my pre-season articles to be drafted late in fantasy drafts around the nation. It is unlikely many people had the luxury to draft a backup that would not play until Week 4, which will most likely lead to him being available right now as the best WR left to be had. Christian Ponder has shown improvements in all areas of his game and with his ability to extend plays, Simpson will be the downfield threat that the Vikings are missing. Don’t fret if Simpson is a bit inconsistent as your WR3, just realize, he can end up being the type of guy who strings together a few big games at the back end of your roster that could make the ultimate difference.

Bilal Powell – Simply put, Powell is a better and more versatile runner than is Shonn Greene. The Jets are going to need to be a more dynamic offense if they plan on keeping pace with teams now that their defense has taken a major hit. Powell has seen his total touches rise from four in Week 1, to nine in Week 2, to 12 total touches on Sunday. The best news to come out of Sunday’s game is that Powell received all of his touches on first and second down. He isn’t just a third down back anymore (although he is the best 3rd down back the Jets have), the Jets coaching staff realizes they need to give him more and more chances in what is a rather stagnant offense. I wouldn’t recommend playing Powell in your starting lineup right away, but he is definitely somebody to grab now and stash for later as his role increases throughout the season.

Mikel Leshoure – I can only hope he isn’t available in your league. If he is, you are either playing in an 8-team league (which I would never recommend), or you are in a league that I wouldn’t consider a high level league. If Leshoure happens to be available though, I am giving you full permission to do whatever it takes to grab him off the waivers. If your league uses a blind-bidding style waiver system, go ahead and back up the truck full of units and dump them to acquire Leshoure for your roster. He is likely the best RB that will be available on the waivers the rest of 2012. And while most RBs that are targeted on the waivers usually only have short term stints due to injury, Leshoure will be the guy moving forward in a Detroit running game that badly needed his attitude. Kevin Smith saw zero touches for a reason on Sunday afternoon.

Andrew Hawkins – It is hard to get excited about a player who only has 16 targets in three games, but this guy is undoubtedly worth an add in all 12-team leagues. He likely garnered attention in your league after his Week 1 performance vs Baltimore when he led the team with eight receptions on nine targets. The thing to keep in mind with Hawkins is that while he won’t be targeted a whole lot, he will make those targets count, catching the ball at a 75% rate thus far in 2012. His electric run after catch ability and the Bengals propensity to get into shootouts make him a definite starter-worthy WR3, especially during the bye weeks looming.

Quick Hits

If you are somebody that does a lot of fantasy football research, Fleaflicker.com is really the place to be. Love their various ways to gather information. One of the only places where you can look at past game logs for individual players, while still looking at their schedule moving forward, all on the same page. Also fun to talk with other fantasy managers in the comment boxes of articles on their site.

Brandon Lloyd’s absence of a single touchdown makes him a wonderful buy-low candidate for the time being. Don’t wait long, this guy is on the verge of breaking out in a big way. I feel like he isn’t getting the same love as other top 15 WR’s, and I don’t really know why. Lloyd is 6th in the NFL in targets, gaining chemistry with Tom Brady at a fast pace and has caught over 65% of the balls thrown his way. Lloyd is one guy I am targeting in trades this week.

If you have a manager in your league that currently rosters Big Ben Roethlisberger, and it struggling at 1-2 or 0-3; now is the time to try and grab him at a discounted price. The Steelers have a bye in Week 4, and that manager will not want to make the climb even steeper for himself by losing again this week. Ben doesn’t play against any defenses the rest of the season that I actively avoid starting a QB against. In fact, in Weeks 6-8, you will be hard pressed to find a QB that has more favorable matchups. The Steelers running game is stalled, Ben is becoming more comfortable in the system, and after his bye week he is likely to keep up his consistent play. QB turnover in fantasy football is higher than most people realize, and Ben might be in the middle of a career year that lands in him the Top 6 fantasy QBs. He would be a great get for managers sitting on Matthew Stafford right about now.

Squeeze that last ounce of fantasy value out of Michael Turner right now. If you want to wait until the Falcons rip up the Panthers defense at home this next weekend, then I am cool with that as well. Just make sure you get a trade done in the next 10 days, or so.  This is your chance to make good on a draft pick that simply has not and will not work out. Don’t be fooled into thinking Turner is starting to get back into his old form. Jacquizz Rodgers is eating into his playing time more and more, and Turner will likely see his high in carries this next week vs Carolina. If Reggie Bush, Matt Forte, C.J. Spiller or Ahmad Bradshaw is set to miss another week of action, target the owners of those players as candidates in your dumping of Turner.

Don’t fret if you are an Aaron Rodgers owner. The game Monday Night showed us a few things about the Packers, and the glaring flaws they have as a team. The good news is, when it is crunch time, it is Rodgers who will make enough plays to put the Packers in position to win. In the first few games, the flow of the game and the defenses he has played against simply have not allowed him to hit the big play and they've done a great job of keeping everything in front of them. Trust me when I say, that game-plan won’t work forever. I still consider Rodgers the top fantasy QB moving forward, starting with a home game vs the Saints on Sunday afternoon.

Enjoy the controversy that was Monday Night Football, it won’t be going away anytime soon. You have to admit one thing; the NFL is never dull… Have a great week and make sure to follow me on twitter @JLanfranca .