Monday - May 20, 2019

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Fantasy Football ZOMBIES

When deciding on whom to build your team around, play it smart and don’t roll the dice. Don’t build your team around a “what if” or “maybe when” kind of mentality. There is always the changing of the guard in football. Every season a once-great player steps down and a younger player steps up to take their place. This season is no different. Don’t let the fantasy “zombies” destroy your team just because you’re looking at the big-name status. Make sure to leave the past behind in certain cases and skip over the zombies, letting them destroy someone else’s team. Grab your pitchforks and light your torches because here come the 2010 fantasy football zombies.

Brett Favre

He’s the leader of the zombie army. No body expected Favre to come back this year and surpass or even equal last year’s totals with Minnesota. But to come out and play like he has so far this season definitely wasn’t expected either. Favre is the definition of a zombie. He’s got one leg, one arm, a bloody face and he’s still crawling out onto the field. The Vikings are obviously more about preserving Favre’s streak than they are about winning football games.

Not that Favre has ever needed a reason to walk away from the game, but if he did this is it. He’s got problems with his elbow, problems with his ankle, problems with his head coach Brad Childress, problems at receiver and problems on the offensive line. That is an awful lot of problems. Favre shouldn’t have been drafted where his numbers last year could have dictated. If you were expecting 33 touchdowns this season then you deserve the zombie bite. But don’t make the mistake of thinking that things will get better any time soon. Randy Moss is gone, Percy Harvin is constantly dinged up and will now see double coverage with Moss gone.  Visanthe Shiancoe has been limited as a threat due to having to stay home and help the offensive line handle defensive ends and Sidney Rice hasn’t played a Sunday yet.

Mix this with his issues off the field and it leads to a goodbye wave from Favre. Cut him loose this season and don’t expect him to be around at all next season. Even if Favre comes back again next season, like a zombie, he may look the same but he won’t be the same. Look for Philip Rivers to cement his place in the Top 5 quarterback conversation for the next decade, permanently supplanting what used to be Favre’s usual spot.

Randy Moss

Never in the history of football has a player gone from golden to roasted in such short order, or with such strange circumstances. Moss is like a zombie from the remake “Dawn of the Dead.” We don’t know exactly know what happened, but he’s definitely not the person he once was. His value for this season is at an all-time low and next season could be even worse.

I was shocked to hear that the only team to put a claim in on Moss was Tennessee. With the Titans, Moss will be more of a decoy than a producer. His presence alone will require defenses to shift coverage, thus allowing Chris Johnson to operate with more room. Vince Young is certainly not a wide receiver friendly fantasy quarterback, although Kenny Britt did manage put up some noticeable stats. Moss still is a big red zone threat, but so is Johnson.

Please don’t roll the dice on Moss in hopes that he ends up on some wide receiver needy team next season. There is the chance that he could end up playing with Donovan McNabb, Jay Cutler or Aaron Rodgers, but there is an equal chance of him playing with Charlie Whitehurst, Max Hall or Jake Delhomme. Regardless of the future situation, no team in football trades a third-round pick for a player and then cuts him within a month. In the past 30 days, two teams have said that they’ve had enough of Moss’ antics. He is a premier talent that has seemingly pushed his way out of two very fantasy friendly situations. And like the expression “where the rubber meets the road,” the opportunity needs to meet the talent. Moss is getting older, and as age increases athleticism decreases. As the athleticism decreases the situational benefits need to increase to preserve value. That means that Moss is on the down end of both measurements in terms of age and situation.

Hold onto him for the rest of the season. Not because I expect him to burst back onto the scene with the Titans, but given that you probably used a second-round pick on him, do the honorable thing and go down with the ship. As Moss steps out of Top 10 consideration from here on out, expect Calvin Johnson to move into his spot in the Top 3, and for Hakeem Nicks to replace Calvin’s previous slot in the Top 10.

Steve Smith (Carolina)

I think that there are two truly wasted talents in the NFL. One of which being Lee Evans. The Buffalo Bills have been struggling for years to find a solid quarterback for him, and by the time that they finally do he’ll be on the decline of his career. The other sad but true story is Smith. Smith has had everything that can possibly happen to one player over the course of a career happen. And this season has been no exception. The thing about Smith is that he’s a premier talent and he’s still only 31 years old. He could have as much as three solid years of Pro Bowl talent left in those bones. He certainly hasn’t been a complete loss, having scored two touchdowns with average yardage. But in terms of looking into next season, he could have yet another setback.

Jimmy Clausen is the future of that franchise. Clausen may not be ready to take the reigns just yet, but expect to see his face again towards the end of this season and at the beginning of next year. It was obvious that Smith and Clausen didn’t have a dynamic chemistry, which leads to a not-so-bright future outlook. Smith still has the potential to go for more than 100 yards and a touchdown with Matt Moore behind the wheel of the offense. But once Clausen is plugged back in, expect to see that blank-faced, arms straight out, stumbling zombie walk while in triple coverage from the “S.S. Carolina.”

He was arguably a borderline Top 10 wide receiver going into this season. His ranking won’t drop out totally due to a lack of true value available at the position. Still, I would expect Jeremy Maclin to unseat him on the borderline Top 10 rankings.

Ricky Williams

Much like Favre, anyone that drafted Williams based on last season gets what they deserve. There was no question that while Ronnie Brown was available that the running backs would kill each other’s value. Not only is this zombie’s value dead, but he’s feeding on Brown’s at the same time.

Williams needs Brown to get injured to reach his total value, and the same from Brown’s perspective. Brown, however, is far younger than Williams. Brown still has potential while Williams is on the decline. Unless you are hard up due to injuries mixed with bye weeks, there really isn’t any reason as to why Williams should be in your lineup. And next season could be even worse than this one. Chad Henne is throwing to Brandon Marshall often. The Dolphins are sure to use Marshall as their focal point because that’s why they paid him the big bucks this offseason. The passing game will mature along with Henne, decreasing the value of both running backs even more so.

Given his age and current situation, it’s time to say goodbye to Williams. Keep him in hopes that Brown gets hurt for the 30th time in a row, but as of next season he could go directly from the draft board to the free agent list.  Williams was arguably a projected Top 20 running back going into the season but now becomes an afterthought next draft day. Look for LeGarrette Blount to move ahead of Williams into the Top 20 running back projections for next season.

Felix Jones

Wasn’t the issue with his production supposed to hinge on his health? Well, he’s healthy, and he still isn’t getting it done. Dallas has become a “Night of the Living Dead” graveyard in terms of running back value. Just a few seasons ago, Marion Barber was a second-round draft pick projected to run wild and find the end zone more often than not. And now look what’s happened.

The backfield’s value is so dead they even turned on Tony Romo and devoured his fantasy worth. I know it was the fullback that missed the block, but he’s still a member of the undead backfield. Much like the Dolphins’ situation, either Barber or Jones needs to miss considerable time for the other to capitalize. But unlike the Dolphins’ situation, there is another undead running back waiting for his turn to blindly stagger around the new Cowboys stadium in Tashard Choice.

As long as Barber remains the goal line back, Jones will continue to be unimpressive. Jones will probably hold onto his ranked running back position from 2010 going into 2011. But let someone else waste their pick. After a while the word “potential” is eventually replaced with “bust.”

Matt Hasselbeck

Not that anyone was selecting “Matty Ice” as their top fantasy quarterback this season, but even still, his value has sank lower than ever before. Hasselbeck could have been viewed as a nice bye week filler if the matchup were to be favorable. But even if you have Peyton Manning on a bye and Hasselbeck playing the Washington Redskins, I’d still try to find another option.

Hasselbeck lost the majority of his value right after the Super Bowl loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. He really hasn’t played at the level he used to since then. In his defense though, it’s not solely his fault. The Seahawks waited far too long in trying to find a replacement for the once-great Shaun Alexander. Maybe they have something now with the combination of Justin Forsett and Marshawn Lynch, but the open void still puzzles me. The San Diego Chargers went out and grabbed Ryan Mathews the same season that LaDainian Tomlinson left. That’s good planning. The Seahawks should have made a similar move but neglected to do so.

Perhaps Hasselbeck was a victim of the real zombie in Alexander. Once Alexander’s value died out, he began draining the life out of Hasselbeck like a hungry flesh eater. Regardless of how the chain of events played out, Hasselbeck drops even further and perhaps even behind Charlie Whitehurst for next season depending on how things go this year. Even if your league allows you to keep 10 players and you want to keep a backup for your premier quarterback there will be far better options next season in the draft. Look for Josh Freeman to step up and replace Hasselbeck as a high up side bye week filler quarterback from here on out.

Some of these guys like Moss and Smith could possibly be keepers depending on how their owner’s roster looks. Unless you are truly without any value or future potential you should be looking in a different direction. As far as the others go, part of playing in a dynasty league is being able to keep promising and productive players. There is a chance that Freeman could be a Top 10 quarterback down the road while Hasselbeck’s chances are much smaller. Be sure to note which players are staggering off into the mist with their mouths open groaning “brains” and which players are just starting their climb up the rankings. Unlike some zombie stories though, I do know the source of the problem. I can’t tell you who the head zombie is but I’ll give you a hint. He looks the part and owns the Oakland Raiders.

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