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THE FIRE SALE: Week 3

I don’t have many great moments in my life.

There’s probably been five. The three times the Dallas Cowboys won the Super Bowl and the two days my kids were born. That’s about it. If you’re wondering why I didn’t include my wedding day, you’ve obviously never been married.

I now have a sixth great moment. I’ll never forget the day I saw O.J. Howard outrunning Philadelphia Eagles cornerbacks on his way to a 75-yard touchdown. I almost started crying.

It’s not about me being right so I can get a pat on the back. I don’t give a damn about that. It’s not that I start Howard on all of my own fantasy teams. I’m a simple man. The fact that others listen to me and have been taking my fantasy football advice for 20 years still means something. I want these guys to hit because you all put your faith in me. On Sunday (and Thursday), they hit, especially Howard.

When I release my sleeper list in August, I give you real sleepers. It was a great week with Howard, Keelan Cole, Tyler Boyd and Kerryon Johnson all having good games. Trent Taylor? Not so much, although if you’re looking for a tiny silver lining, Taylor tied for second on the team in targets with two. Yippee.

I know a lot of you who follow me drafted Howard. Hopefully he continues to get more looks and builds on Sunday’s performance. If Howard has a good year, it will almost eliminate the bad taste I still have in my mouth from Montee Ball. Almost.

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

Matt Breida, RB, San Francisco

Breida was a favorite of mine this summer when Jerick McKinnon was still in the mix. I can’t say I predicted Breida would lead the NFL in rushing after two weeks, though.

Breida stole the show for the San Francisco offense. Breida rushed for 138 yards and a score on 11 carries. Alfred Morris got more carries (14) but only accounted for 48 yards. Let me break this down for you: Morris’ days are numbered. Breida will help some owners win a championship if he stays healthy.

Breida is owned in many competitive leagues at this point, however, if he’s still available on your waiver wire, grab him. He is the San Francisco running back fantasy owners want for the rest of the season.

Aaron Jones, RB, Green Bay

I don’t know if Jones can save the Green Bay running game. What I do know is Jamaal Williams isn’t doing much for it.

Jones was drafted in many leagues with owners waiting for him to return from a two-game suspension. That suspension is now over and Jones is eligible to return against Washington. While we still don’t know how big a role Jones will have right away, he showed last year that he’s a more talented runner than Williams.

Williams is averaging just 3.4 yards per carry this year. My son averages more than that for our flag football team and he plays center. Green Bay needs to get a running game going, especially with Aaron Rodgers not 100 percent. Since my son is still too young, expect Jones to start taking over as Green Bay’s primary back soon.

Tyler Boyd, WR, Cincinnati

So, this is a funny story. One of my friends is a huge Cincinnati Bengals fan. After the team drafted Boyd, I hyped him up so much, he spent $300 on a Boyd jersey. He didn’t even use our Chinese connection to get the jersey for $18. I ran my mouth so much about Boyd, he dove in for the real thing.

After Boyd’s first year, we were both excited. Then after Boyd’s nosedive last year, things changed. He stopped texting me. No more invites to his house. He started having “game nights” without me. Actually, I have to thank him for that last one. Those are dreadful.

On Friday morning, I’m dropping my kid off at school after Boyd caught six passes for 91 yards and a touchdown against Baltimore. There’s my buddy in the parking lot wearing his Boyd jersey with a big smile on my face waiving. We’re friends again. I honestly think this was all over Tyler Boyd.

Cincinnati is starving for a second receiver to step up in its offense and while many bet it would be John Ross, it’s Boyd. Just like I predicted three years ago. Never give up.

Coming Down

Jimmy Garoppolo, QB, San Francisco

I just lost a week because I started Garoppolo in one of my leagues, so I’m obviously going to hammer him.

The thing is I was really high on Garoppolo entering the season, that’s why I liked Trent Taylor so much as a sleeper. While Garoppolo didn’t play awful against Detroit, there was something I noticed that concerns me a bit.

Garoppolo reminded me of Dak Prescott on Sunday. What I mean by that is sometimes Prescott doesn’t throw the ball because his receivers are trash and no one is open. However, you can’t put it all on the receivers. Sometimes Prescott just needs to let it rip. I say this as an owner of Dak Prescott jersey ($17.99 version), he needs to have more balls.

Garoppolo was doing the same thing. I saw a couple of open receivers and he didn’t deliver the ball. They weren’t open by much but they were open. Quarterbacks can’t be afraid to throw interceptions. You think Aaron Rodgers and Patrick Mahomes are worried about interceptions? Receivers aren’t always going to be open by 10 yards in the NFL.

It’s still early and Garoppolo could become an every week QB1. He just needs to be more aggressive. I mean, we all know Trent Taylor is open on every play.

Dalvin Cook, RB, Minnesota

I’m a big Cook fan, although there’s a reason I advised drafting him high in the early second round. Sometimes I try to think like I’m running a REAL football team and not a fantasy team.

The Minnesota Vikings believe they’re a Super Bowl contender and they have a good second running back in Latavius Murray. Cook is coming off a knee injury and barely played in the preseason. Why would coach Mike Zimmer give Cook 20 carries a game early in the year? The answer is he wouldn’t.

Cook has been good in two games while averaging 13 carries. Even though I told you not to draft him high, now is the time to buy low on Cook. He’s usage will go up over the next month. Cook is averaging 10 fantasy points a game in points per reception (PPR) formats. His owners are frustrated, knowing they could have drafted Michael Thomas instead. Now is the time to strike.

Derrick Henry, RB, Tennessee

I’ve been a big Henry supporter since Tennessee drafted him and I still believe he can be a great NFL back. I’m sorry, I just can’t watch that offense anymore. Tennessee has Henry playing quarterback, it scores on fake punts. There are certain offenses I completely ban from my fantasy list. Guess what Tennessee Titans offense …

Waiver Wire Pickup of the Week

Austin Ekeler, RB, Los Angeles Chargers

It’s not often that a backup has standalone fantasy value but that’s becoming the case with Ekeler. In the Chargers’ first two games, Ekeler has put up 126 and 98 total yards with eight receptions and one touchdown. Ekeler’s weekly production could come down to game script but he’s making the most of his opportunities through two games.

Melvin Gordon left late in Sunday’s scrimmage against Buffalo with an upper body injury but it doesn’t appear to be serious. Either way, Ekeler is a must-own in all leagues at this point. Not only is Ekeler one of fantasy’s top handcuffs, he’s a flex option in points per reception leagues most weeks as a backup.

Sneaky Starts: Week 2

QB: Matthew Stafford, Detroit – I don’t know, there are like 22 good quarterbacks. Do you really need a sneaky start? Stafford will probably throw for 424 yards in a 45-27 loss to New England.

RB: Matt Breida, San Francisco – It was a nice run, Alfred Morris. Now sit your ass down.

WR: Antonio Callaway, Cleveland – The only thing Callaway runs right now is the go route. That’s good because it’s the only pass Tyrod Taylor can complete. Go deep.

TE: Eric Ebron, Indianapolis – Every time I think I’m out, he pulls me back in.

D/ST: Cleveland – The Cleveland defense ranks 11th in the NFL and leads the league in turnovers. And Hue Jackson still can’t win a game.

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.