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THE FIRE SALE: Week 4

Remember back in the old days when I would start off “The Fire Sale” with something I believe in and most of you would skip it to see if I liked Donté Stallworth that week? Well, I’m going old school.

I want to say something about player safety. There’s a misconception that older tough guys like me who grew up idolizing Jack Tatum, Ronnie Lott and Chuck Cecil are against protecting players. That couldn’t be further from the truth.

I have two sons. One plays flag football and the other will too one day. My greatest fear is seeing them laying on that football field.

I understand there’s still some idiots out there who think players should still be able to hit with their heads like they’re being shot out of a cannon. As I always say, you can’t fix stupid.

However, most people are in favor of player safety. I’m in favor of protecting quarterbacks. The NFL stinks when guys like Aaron Rodgers and Andrew Luck are out. I agree with the rule that you can’t go after a quarterback’s knees because it’s practical and makes sense. I don’t want to see those guys injured.

Football is the most violent team sport in America. We can’t run from that. Most of us are open to making the game safer with modern technology and rules. Yet, when a defensive player can no longer sack a quarterback with a textbook tackle, it’s time for those old, out-of-touch billionaire owners to go back in a room, pour some of Jerry Jones’ 50-year-old scotch and fix the problem.

And if the owners really gave a damn about player safety, we wouldn’t have a four-game preseason. The owners only care about money and anyone who thinks different is either naive, stupid, or both. Take your pick.

God, I miss Chuck Cecil.

If you like fantasy football, gambling or Chicago sports, follow me on Twitter @ThePigskinGuy. Besides writing the Fire Sale, I’m an editor @BetChicago1. I respond to all questions/comments because I’m a remarkable human being.

Now, on with the Fire Sale 

Going Up

Jared Goff, QB, L.A. Rams

One guy who perplexed me this summer was Goff. He was going in Round 11 or 12 in fantasy drafts on average. I just didn’t understand why because he’s the quarterback in Sean McVay’s offense. That’s good for fantasy, by the way.

Goff has passed for 354 yards in each of the last two games. He only has six scores because of that touchdown hog Todd Gurley. However, I’d be perfectly happy to have Goff as my starting quarterback for the rest of the season. He can win owners a fantasy title.

Austin Ekeler, RB, L.A. Chargers

Ekeler continues to have standalone fantasy value in points per reception (PPR) leagues. On Sunday, Ekeler caught three passes and totaled 71 yards. In his first three games, Ekeler has put up 126, 98 and 71 total yards as Melvin Gordon’s backup. So Ekeler is the new Danny Woodhead.

Ekeler will be an RB1 if Gordon goes down but, in the meantime, don’t be afraid to start him in PPR leagues. He should be owned in most leagues at this point.

Mike Williams, WR, L.A. Chargers

Williams is still available in a few leagues. This will be the last week we’ll be able to say that after he caught four passes for 81 yards and two touchdowns Sunday. Williams only has six receptions in the last two games but three went for scores.

I feel liked I should have been on Williams more this offseason. He’s a high draft pick and physical freak who didn’t make an impact as a rookie because of injuries. Now that he’s healthy, Williams is the perfect complement to Keenan Allen.

While his fantasy value is largely touchdown-dependent right now, expect that to change in the coming weeks. Williams should be owned in all formats.

Coming Down

Rex Burkhead, RB, New England

Burkhead left Sunday night’s game with neck pain. That makes sense because he’s starting to become a pain in my ass.

When you have strong opinions like me, sometimes you’re just wrong. I prefer to be way off than knowing Tyler Boyd is a great receiver but for some reason Marvin Lewis is mad at him and sticks him on the bench for Brandon LaFell, who is currently Oakland’s ninth receiver.

I was just wrong about Burkhead and I own him in a bunch of leagues. Well, let me rephrase that, I did own him in a bunch of leagues. I’ll obviously be dumping him this week. I’ve always been a Burkhead fan since his days at Nebraska but the truth is he’s a JAG (Just a Guy). He’s never going to have a significant role in an offense because he’s a glorified special teams player who can’t stay healthy.

I also didn’t realize that the New England offense was going to run through Sony Michel. Apparently, Bill Belichick thinks Tom Brady is getting old because Michel is now their main offensive weapon. Sorry coach, that pick stinks and it always will stink.

Go ahead and feel free to drop Burkhead like I’m going to do in five leagues this week.

Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Arizona

Everyone knows Fitzgerald is great and I have no problem ranking him as the second-best receiver in my lifetime. When you look at every receiver and the quarterbacks they played with throughout their careers, Fitzgerald has done more with less than arguably any receiver in NFL history.

As great as Fitzgerald is, he doesn’t have much of a chance on his current team. At 35 years old, it’s hard for Fitzgerald to play with a rookie and never-was at quarterback. Fitzgerald has just five receptions for 37 yards in his last two games. I’d bench him until the Arizona offense shows some signs of life, if that day ever comes.

Amari Cooper, WR, Oakland

One week after catching 10 passes for 116 yards a week ago, things returned to normal for Cooper on Sunday with just two receptions for 17 yards. The world makes sense again.

In his last 17 games, Cooper has failed to reach 60 yards receiving nine times. He’s failed to reach 10 yards six times. If you’re starting Cooper you must be in a bizarro fantasy league that awards money for last place.

Waiver Wire Pickup of the Week

Tyler Boyd, WR, Cincinnati

Another “Fire Sale” sleeper delivers with Boyd. Boyd caught six balls for 91 yards and a touchdown two weeks ago. However, owners didn’t really buy into him because Boyd is still available in over 80 percent of fantasy leagues. Perhaps his six catches for 132 yards and a touchdown against Carolina will change people’s minds.

A.J. Green left Sunday’s game with a groin injury and that could push Boyd into the No. 1 receiver role. While that sounds good, I’m actually hoping Green returns because Boyd is better suited to be the team’s second receiver. Either way, get Boyd now before it’s too late.

Sneaky Starts: Week 4

QB: Ryan Tannehill, Miami – What if I told you Tannehill is 10-1 as the Miami’s starter. Would you believe me? I double-checked the stat and I still don’t believe it.

RB: Aaron Jones, Green Bay – Jones is clearly Green Bay’s best running back but who knows when overrated Mike McCarthy will figure it out. Here’s McCarthy’s halftime speech from last week: “Aaron, do something. I gotta take a piss.” Maybe the most overrated coach in NFL history.

WR: Ryan Grant, Indianapolis – He’s clearly Indianapolis’ No. 2 receiver. That’s something.

TE: Dallas Goedert, Philadelphia – As a Dallas fan, I just like this guy because he was named after the Dallas Cowboys. Then again, Landry Jones was named after Tom Landry and we saw how that turned out.

D/ST: Indianapolis – The Indianapolis defense looks much-improved to me. Of course, I liked Trent Taylor to catch 60-plus balls, so what the hell do I know?

About Thomas Casale

Thomas began playing fantasy football back when owners had to mail in their starting lineups and work out trades over the phone. He started writing The Fire Sale in 1998. Since then his articles have appeared on numerous web sites sites including Fantasy Sharks, USA Today and SI.com.