This a big, big bye-week for many teams –
out. That means no Brees, Rivers, Rodgers or Cutler. Not to mention no
Colston, PT, Vjax, Gates, Jennings, Grant, Driver or Forte.
Seneca Wallace (SEA, QB) 5%
I know. Even just typing the name makes me feel like something, somewhere has gone horribly, horribly wrong in the fantasy omniverse. I’m just going to try and get beyond my reflex response though, and so should you if you’re hurting for a QB this week. There’s one thing you should know:
Wallace threw the ball 45 times.
Just to put that into context? Brees threw it 32 times. Brady threw it 32 times. 45? That’s Romo and Rivers country this week.
Any team that goes behind early or by much has reduced options with it’s offensive choices. You hear about teams having to “abandon the running game”. If there were a 2009 football encyclopaedia? The ‘hawks would be listed under “having to abandon the running game”. The SEA defense is currently without a number of key personnel (Tatupu, Hill @ LB, Babineaux and Lucas in the secondary) and has no power running game to lean on (no disrespect intended, Julius Jones).
645yds, 3 TD’s and 2 INT’s. Over 2 games. I’ll take that.
Throw in a home game against a decent offense that will put points on the board (MJD, Sims-Walker, Garrard, Lewis) with a DEF that is joint last against the pass (Yep, JAC we mean you)? I think that reflex reaction is not just starting to calm down, but downright dissipate completely. At least for this week, Wallace is a strong contender to put up highly serviceable if not downright heart-warming numbers.
Josh Johnson (TB, QB) 5%
No Wallace? No problem. The bye week blues for Brees, Rivers, Rodgers and cutler owners couldn’t have happened at a better time, frankly. There are 3 available options – of varying degrees of ability and optimism (one above, one here and one in the
“dishonorable mentions”). Of course, that all depends who you ask…
Now, Josh Johnson is not to be confused with Josh Freeman the 2009 1st round TB pick. Johnson was picked up in the 5th round of the 2008 draft. But just who is Josh Johnson and more importantly, what can he do for you?
Well, for starters? Johnson holds the record for the highest career passer efficiency (176.68) in NCAA football history, as well as being a Walter Peyton awards finalist (previous winners include Tony Romo and Steve McNair). He also finished his final college year with 2,988 yards, 43 passing TDs, 2 rushing TDs, 1 INT and 726yds rushing. Not to mention the school records for completions, TD passes and passing yards. Oh, and he was also offensive MVP at the East-West Shrine game.
Needless to say, the boy can play. Can the 2nd year player play at NFL speed though?
Well, this Sunday he rushed for 41yds on 7 attempts against WAS. So no change there. He threw a TD pass on his first pass in the NFL. So, looking good there too. 13 of 22 for 1TD and 1 INT? Not so great. To his credit though, WAS do have (at least on paper) a very good secondary (Deangelo Hall, LaRon Landry, Fred Smoot, Chris Horton).
The only negative i would put on Johnson is that TB converted only 2 of 15 third downs. Now, whilst some of that is a credit to the WAS DEF, it’s also on the TB OFF.
JJ has at least a solid running game (Carnell Williams – 16 for 77yds and 4 for 22yds this weekend) and at least 2 legitimate aerial targets – Bryant and Winslow – to lean on. A balanced offense can lead to opportunities in the passing game. If you want to know what happens when teams know you cant pass? Watch Oakland with Russell under centre. The opposite also holds true. If you cant run? You’ll just get picked off (see the 0-16 Lions). A balanced offense is a QB’s best friend.
The matchup on paper this week doesn’t look great against PHI, but TB will have to come out and air it as they just won’t be able to stop PHI from scoring – no matter who is under centre – their offense is just far too potent. Johnson will have to fire it up, but you know what? I think he’s talented enough to put up a couple of scores against a PHI DEF that allowed KC to score 2 passing TDs against them.
Wallace might put up better numbers, but make no mistake, IF Joshua J gets a grip on the TB starting job – and it’s his to lose right now – and IF he can keep the chemistry rolling with Bryant, then OC will become confident enough to get Winslow more involved and I think Josh Freeman is going to be on the sidelines for a very, very long time. If you’re involved in a keeper league? This is one you’ll want to watch – decent offense with poor defenses will always post good fantasy figures.
Mohamed Massaquoi (WR, CLE) 7%
Talking of chemistry? Football teams will split their teams during practices, 1st team vs 2nd team. That’s fairly standard. So it comes as no huge surprise when players emerge from the 2nd team with a connection and understanding – or at least it shouldn’t. Massaquoi received a lot of QB lovin’ from Anderson this weekend gone. He was the 2nd highest WR targeted, bringing down 8 catches from 13 targets for 148yds against a succesful CIN secondary. Say what you want about the Bengals, but they are definitely not the pushovers they were in ’08. Ask any of their opponents to date…
Massaquoi played in a college offense alongside Matthew Stafford and Knowshon Moreno, he can play. He’s got good size, decent speed – but more importantly? He runs great routes. I expect him to drop a few here and there, like most rookie WRs, but… DA is playing for his job under centre. Whilst he will hit Edwards often enough, that there exists enough doubt about his ability in being able to catch the ball consistently, that I think Massaquoi will eat into his targets for the forseeable future and that this was no “spike”.
If Harrison can continue to inject the vigour and verve he showed in last weekend’s game as the undisputed RB #1? Then a balanced offense will only create better opportunities for Massaquoi and everyone else involved on that offense.
Temper expectations: It is CLE. However, M&M does get to face an injury riddled Bills secondary this coming week as well as softer defenses in DET, JAC, SD, OAK & KC in weeks to come. He’s not this year’s Braylon Edwards, but being Braylon right now isn’t such a bad thing? Let’s not forget… Even if Edwards isn’t formally charged with assault? He may still miss time as the league policy states that punishment can be handed out for even “the use or threat of violence”. He could very easily become the WR#1…
Josh Morgan (WR, SF) 7%
Michael who? The deadline has already passed for SF to trade Crabtree away to another Franchise. The deadline is now approaching where – if elapsed – means he will not be eligible to play at all this season. So, maybe – with the prospect approaching where he could be unpaid for a whole season looming – it’s unsurprising that Crabtree & his agent Eugene Parker are now sitting down with the franchise to try and thrash something out…
To be frank? Even if he signs today, he won’t be involved much – if at all. It just means he’ll be getting paid to practice. Something i’m sure his team mates will adore, cherish and just simply gush forth with praise on his stand over the issue of “Gettin’ paid”.
In the current economic climate and with so many players not having the opportunity to play? He’s going to have to produce like Rice in the Bay to win people back. Okay, rant over!
At the moment Morgan & Bruce are holding the keys to the WR car. How’re they doing? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? (spurious 80’s movie reference, apologies) They are doing…. “Alright”. Both are currently the very definition of the league avg for receiving yds. (125yds is the average. Bruce 167yds, Morgan 124yds).
It’s hard not to suppress a yawn or two, or the onset of debilitating fatigue when talking about the SF WR’s. They are solid. Unspectacular. Singletary is making good on doing exactly what he said he was going to do. He’s gone “Back to basics” with a run first OFF and a mean and nasty DEF. I’m can’t help thinking that if he didn’t think that the “threat” of an aerial game wouldn’t make the rushing game more effective? He’d do away with it, right?
Wrong. Actually, SF have been running a very balanced offense (27.2 rushing attempts per game with a 4.0yd avg. 26.8 passing attempts per game with a 6.5yd avg). An almost dead-even 50:50 split.
Is it sexy? No. Well, not unless you find terribly unsexy things sexy. In which case the problems of finding a player for this week may well be relatively minor by comparison! But, it’s just very difficult to get excited about the SF offense. Despite that there is no denying that Singletary’s offensive vision is a vast improvement over the Mike Martz offense of last season. It’s more effective and more importantly is catered more towards the personnel that are already in place, rather than trying to force players to be something they are not.
The bottom line: Morgan is the WR#1 on a vanilla-average offense. He’s never going to put up Reggie Wayne-like numbers, but he’s always going to be the first choice at the WR#1 spot this season.
His schedule? TEN, HOU, KC, SEA, ARI, DET & StL all to come.
The bottom line is that he’s a WR #1 on an old-school offense (even if Crabtree signs) with an above average user friendly schedule… You just have to stifle the inevitable yawn when you pick him up.
Shonn Greene (RB, NYJ) 9%
Ahhh, the bitter-sweet taste of expectations unfulfilled (Thomas Jones ’09) and the promise of what is yet to come (Shonn Greene)…
I just want to say from the outset that i make no excuses at all for having a little bit of a man-crush on Mr. Greene.
If you haven’t seen him in action yet? Go and look him up, there are numerous clips of him running through/ running over/ running around/ generally dragging opposing defenders with him in an inexorable push towards the end zone. He & Washington could quite easily be the NYJ version of Jacobs & Ward. Far too easily…
Jones managed a 3.7ypc game against NO this weekend. A figure largely improved by a 15yd scamper in the 3rd quarter for a TD, but Greene? He managed 23yds on only 4 attempts. Maybe that’s a little unfair as NO would have planned for Thomas much more. Maybe…
In 2007, despite rushing for his 3rd consecutive 1,000yd season, Jones still only managed a meagre 3.6ypc. I fully expect things to get messy for the next 3 or 4 weeks as Greene works himself more and more into the rotation before supplanting Jones completely.
At 31, the RB clock is ticking and Greene is the future for NYJ. Rex Ryan has shown he’s far from deterred from dropping rookies into the mix early often (Mark Sanchez), expect Greene to become more involved as a short yardage and goaline vulture. Hes not the fastest, he’s just unstoppable once he finds a crease.
In Keeper leagues & deeper leagues, Shonn Greene is a player you want to stash.
Playing MIA this week, they have the 2nd best rushing defense in the league. When Jones struggles, expect Greene to drag a few MIA players with him towards the goaline. If he manages that? I expect him to run rampant against a Bills defense buckling under the strain of injuries to key personnel the following week.
Daunte Culpepper (DET, QB) 2% – DET have both a decent offense and a dodgy defense. Culpepper reported to camp 15lbs lighter than he’d ever been. This is a guy that has 3 pro bowls to his name and IF (and it’s a huge if, but if..) fit and immersed in the playbook he could easily lead this offense to good numbers. On paper its a tough match against PIT on the table, but PIT are ranked 15th against the pass. Not bad, but not what it is has been in recent years. Watch the Stafford knee injury. If he’s out – Culpepper has better weapons than Josh Johnson, and the NFL experience to back it up.
Vince Young (TEN, QB) 1% – Complete and unadulterated speculation here, but Kerry Collins only re-signed on the premise that he would be the starter. Fisher HAS to say he is the starter. However, if his inability to lead a team – which lets not forget was unbeaten for the vast majority of last season – down the field persists? Then, Young is going to get his day. Last time he came on as relief for a struggling starter he made player of the year and kept them at an 8-8 record. At 0-4? The clock is running out against Collins. Speculative stash.
Sidney Rice (MIN, WR) 14% – His size and athletic ability will always make him a RZ target, but between some conservative plays, a QB carousel and the inevitable rookie teething trouble, he’s not always lived up to his potential. Back-to-back TD weeks are giving hope that there is life here after some spartan years in the WR wildeness. By the way, did we mention Rice had been working out with Larry Fitzgerald over the summer…
Jerome Harrison (CLE, RB) 22% – If this number hasn’t doubled by the time you are reading this then there is something horribly, horribly wrong in toy town. Harrison ran wild through what had been to date a stringent Cincy DEF. Lewis is old, Davis is on IR. The road to fantasy relevancy for Harrison just turned from dirt track to freeway. Hitch a lift if he’s still there, but be quick… 121yds rushing & 31yds receiving says he won’t be there much longer, regardless of Lewis’ injury?
Kenny Britt (TEN, WR) – 11 for 7 (105yds) inc. 1 deep ball
Mike Wallace (PIT, WR) – 3 for 2 (47yds) inc. 1 deep ball
Kelly Washington (BAL, WR) – 7 for 4 (31yds) inc. 1 Red Zone
Andre Caldwell (CIN, WR) – 4 for 2 (26yds) inc. 1 deep ball
Davone Bess (MIA, WR) – 5 for (17yds) inc. 1 deep ball (tied for 1st amongst targets. They just ran all-day long on a porous and banged up Bills DEF)