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Deeper & Down

Brandon Tate (WR, New England) 16 percent

This is as much about the impending Randy Moss exodus to Minnesota as the ability he has flashed since joining the NFL.

At 16 percent he’s actually outside the usual 10 percent parameter that we like to set ourselves (because we’re masochistic… and that’s just how we roll), but it’s something that we really just can’t ignore.

The Tom Brady to Moss connection has had a disconnect of late and the smart move is to deal him. The mantra of “opportunity + ability = production” rings true on all counts.

The only fly in the ointment here is that Bill Belichick is no slouch offensively. Would you put it past him to use a shorter and more fluid passing game for the rest of the season? With Aaron Hernandez, Wes Welker, Julian Edelman, Rob Gronkowski and the recent acquisition of Danny Woodhead all give him enough weapons to keep defenses more than occupied without the deep threat that Moss presented.

Is it likely? I’m not convinced. Not yet. If New England struggles with life after Moss, then yes, I’d be quite happy to say “told ya,” but here and now I think the job is Tate’s to lose. This was the guy who managed to keep Hakeem Nicks as the secondary option in the N.C. Tarheel’s offense in college.

Taylor Price hasn’t developed fully yet (give him time) and he’s the only other player on the roster that can play the position – with the possible exception of Hernandez who could play anywhere he likes in the receiving corps and be productive.

Take a flier on Tate if you have room and bye week be damned! If it goes south, trust me … you will have plenty of company on this one!

Steve Johnson (WR, Buffalo) 1 percent

It’s true, Buffalo now has a quarterback that can throw again. He can’t throw it brilliantly, I grant you – but throw it rather than a checkdown on 3rd-and-<insert any number between 8 and 25-plus here> to his running back.

Johnson is a talented, hard-working and humble wide receiver who was drafted three years ago and left Bills’ fans scratching their heads as to why they haven’t tried to integrate him previously or why they thought Terrell Owens could be productive without a quarterback and would serve only to block his development for a year as a starter.

At the moment it’s unclear what the pecking order is in Buffalo behind Lee Evans, but any short-to-intermediate passing option on a team that is going to be playing from behind and can now throw the ball forwards more often than they do laterally or for a loss in terms of production is worth a look.

As a Wildcat at Kentucky, Andre Woodson was a big fan of his red zone capabilities (13 TDs) – something that Ryan Fitzpatrick seems to like also. Aside from undrafted free agent David Nelson and out-of-favor tight end Shawn Nelson (of whom neither is getting the looks he has), he’s their only real red zone target.

That actually might be worth something on a team that gets into the red zone with more regularity, however…

Facing a Jacksonville defense that is talented enough to do a decent impression of both a sieve
and a colander, he’s definitely worth a pickup.

Mike Thomas (WR, Jacksonville) 9 percent

With the tempremental David Garrard under center anything can happen (witness the victory versus the Indianapolis Colts and then compare it to the San Diego debacle).

As with all quarterbacks that have lost or are trying to regain confidence it’s all about baby steps. He has a running game he can lean on, and in Thomas and Marcedes Lewis he has two receivers who can help him build up a rhthym and get his ‘Garrard Groove’ on. Though I fear the Garrard grooove will – some weekends – have as much chance to resemble Iggy Pop as much as it might John Travolta or Will Smith. I’m afraid.

He’s averaging four receptions for 50 yards per game at the moment. That’s not enough to strike fear into your opponent, but it is enough for you to rely on pretty consistent production throughout the season.

Mike Sims-Walker has been as intangible as black matter so far this season and the talk is that he’s lost his roster spot. With a more reliable option opposite him, there is every chance Thomas can build on those numbers.

He’s been mentioned sporadically since last year in this column, but as you can see he’s finally building on that potential.

Christopher Ivory (RB, New Orleans) 6 percent

Ivory’s value is entirely dependent on other factors and as such he’s a borderline play and only of more interest to deeper dynasty leagues …

Pierre Thomas and Ladell Betts are both significant handicaps for his emergent value, but he does have the talent. So much will depend on what he does with his opportunities going forward.

As you can see back in April (aside from James Starks) I also nailed Ivory as potential NFL starting caliber running back. He can do it. He can do it all night long (just ask the waterboy). Will he be allowed to, though?

I like him, he – like James Starks – is a stash, however. Treat him as such and you will only be pleasantly be surprised as Betts is not the long term answer and Thomas has always had injury problems. His time will come now or it will come later, but it will come.

LeGarrette Blount (RB, Tampa Bay) 6 percent

As mentioned last week, as tweeted a fortnight ago, as posted in the tank last month.

Nothing has changed, save that he’s still under-owned in my opinion.

That offensive line isn’t the best in the league, but it’s good enough for the talented but troubled runner to make hay.

No need to add more than I’ve already written in the items previously, so I’ll leave you to go and make the add.

Player Pos Team % Owned Wk 5 Wk6 Wk7 Wk8
Toby Gerhart*** RB MIN 7% @CIN NO StL NE
Kevin Smith RB DET 7% StL @NYG BYE WAS
Nate Burleson WR DET 5% StL @NYG BYE WAS
Arrelious Benn WR TB 5% @CIN NO StL @ARI
Danny Woodhead RB NE 3% BYE BAL @SD MIN
Stephen Williams WR ARI 2% NO BYE @SEA TB
Brandon LaFell WR CAR 2% CHI BYE SF @StL
Brandon Gibson WR StL 0% @DET SD @TB CAR
David Gettis WR CAR 0% CHI BYE SF @StL
Michael Hoomanawanui TE StL 0% @DET SD @TB CAR

Gerhart is sink or swim. He gets in there only if he is makeweight in the Randy Moss deal. No move deflates any speculative value there.

Smith will feature more in rotation moving forwards until Jahvid Best’s turf toe starts to clear up (which probably won’t be until the last few weeks this season, if Best is lucky).

Burleson is coming back from injury and figures to feature, while Benn coming off Tampa Bay’s bye week will also see a lot more rotational playing time.

The Arizona pair will likely struggle through until their bye week. Thereafter they have a couple of nice matchups to enjoy.

The Carolina pair of wideouts also have value – Gettis more so than LaFell at this stage as Steve Smith (whom Lafell is standing in for) likely won’t be out for very long. Nice matchup this week either way.

Dishonorable Mentions:

Dwayne Jarrett (free agent wide receiver) – Cut after his second DWI. Maybe someone didn’t explain to him that you need to put points on the board and not on your license. Either way, you were playing yourself off the team. Thanks for giving the franchise a reason to not look back when the door slammed on your way out the building.

Buddy Nix (Buffalo general manager) – In what seems to be a flashback to A.J. Smith’s mention last week, here we have another gentleman that seems to think because he has a player that other teams might want that he is the only arbitrary factor in setting the price.

Andy Reid (Philadelphia head coach) – How’s that quarterback carousel thing working out? You pick a guy, you stick with him. Now stick with Kevin Kolb. I say “stick with him” but for the next couple of weeks you won’t have any choice. This could be the best thing Michael Vick could’ve done for Reid long term as if Kolb can’t cut it; he knows now. If he can, then they can finally trade Vick for something to Oakland, Minnesota or Buffalo, etc.

Mike Martz (Chicago offensive coordinator) – For still not getting that a quarterback is for the season, not just for pre-Christmas. One day Kurt Warner, Marc Bulger, Jon Kitna, J.T. O’Sullivan and Shaun Hill will all come looking for you. They won’t be able to do much when they find you thanks to the litany of pain they’ve suffered thanks to playing in your infernal offensive system, but they definitely could be a nuisance.

The Bears traded away a large chunk of change in picks, salary and Kyle Orton (who ironically may be a better fit for Martz’s system than Jay Cutler) to get the ex-Denver quarterback. The last thing they need is for Martz get him injured in any way shape or form.

Hopefully Cutler will have a media strop/sulk/hissy fit before that has a chance to happen. The next few weeks will be interesting indeed.

T.J. Ward (Cleveland safety) – Yeah, I get you didn’t lead with your helmet, but neither did you make a play for the ball either.

You’re a better player than that. I love the aggression, but hate the stupidity on this one. Learn from it.

And Finally…

The players union is stepping up its efforts to win public support following news that the onwers have already contacted banks and started to prepare financial packages that cover the potential defaulting of loan repayments due in 2011 in the event of a lockout.

The players union in turn had yet another team vote in favour fo leaving the union if needed in order to deregulate it and give the players more latitude to negotiate a new agreement.

There’s going to be so much posturing over the next few weeks as we roll towards a number of deadlines that it’s going to be hard to avoid.

Here’s hoping that neither side entrenches itself so far that they end up being unable to retract themselves from a lockout or a strike.

No one wins if that happens.

Vaya con dios and best of luck in your matches this coming week, fantasy friends.

James Elvins is a staff writer for FantasySharks

E-mail him at, see his posts as
jamcutpost in the tank or follow him on Twitter

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About Fantasy Sharks began in 2003, disseminating fantasy football content on the web for free. It is, or has been, home to some of the most talented and best known fantasy writers on the planet. Owned and operated by Tony Holm (5 time Fantasy Sports Writer Association Hall-of-Fame nominee,) Tony started writing fantasy content in 1993 for the only three fantasy football web sites in existence at the time.