Luckily, I don’t have Fred Jackson, Greg Jennings, Jeremy Maclin, or Pierre Garcon on any of my teams. But in one of my leagues, there’s a guy who has Jackson, Maclin, and Garcon. He’s not completely out of luck either, as he’s got a decent roster. However, he handcuffed a running back and is playing the quarterback carousel game on a week-to-week basis, so that eliminates two more roster spots. So he’ll need to decide what to do with his roster.
If you find yourself in this type of situation, or if you find yourself in a situation where the draft just didn’t go how you wanted, you may be able to add some of the guys on this list for a longshot, one-week fill-in. But I suppose that this type of column is more like an airbag, and I hope you never have to use it.
Matt Cassel, Kansas City at Buffalo. I’m still amazed at how many leagues Cassel is available. He’s not nearly as bad as folks in Kansas City will have you believe, as evidenced by his first half last week against Atlanta. Did he continue that strong play in the second half? Well, no. But if you’re already scouring free agent quarterbacks in Week 2, you can’t exactly be picky. For what it’s worth, I think Cassel is a decent quarterback, but he needs to be in a situation in which Jamaal Charles can run effectively, meaning Cassel can manage the game, a la Alex Smith and the San Francisco 49ers. Unfortunately, he ran into the buzzsaw that is the Atlanta Falcons and had to play catchup all game, and that’s not his strength. This week in Buffalo, I expect the game will be a bit more even, and if Cassel isn’t trying to force the ball to receivers, he can put up decent numbers in a pinch.
Christian Ponder, Minnesota at Indianapolis. Ponder was actually OK last week, completing 20-of-27 passes for 270 yards. He didn’t throw a touchdown, but that’s because the Vikings gave it to Adrian Peterson to punch it in on the ground. By the way, is it possible that Peterson is an alien? Or a cyborg? Yeah, a cyborg. Can someone go back and check the tape from last December for sparks or wires or blinking lights or something when he hurt his knee? The fact that he was back on the field performing at that level was kind of crazy. In any case, Ponder’s numbers will always be somewhat pedestrian because of Peterson getting the ball close to the end zone. But Ponder was careful with the football, and still registered decent passing totals. He’ll throw for a touchdown or two each game, and against Indianapolis this week, he should be a decent bet for 15-20 points.
Dexter McCluster, Kansas City at Buffalo. It’s kind of ridiculous that McCluster is still called a running back, since he’s typically split out more than he’s in the backfield. Last week, he caught six of his 10 targets for 82 yards, and it’s not like he broke a 65-yarder or something. If you get 10 targets in a game, I have no problem having you on my team, especially in a points per reception league. And since I’m buying Matt Cassel, I suppose I should be buying his top target as well. Against Buffalo, the Chiefs will try to control the clock, which may mean only eight targets for McCluster, but when he gets the ball in space, he can make things happen.
Curtis Brinkley, San Diego vs Tennessee.
Look, Brinkley is not the savior for your football team. Far from it. But he’s a better runner than Ronnie Brown, and he’s a threat out of the backfield for a few catches. The Oakland defense clogged up running lanes on Monday night and made things difficult for the Chargers running back committee, but Brinkley still looked OK to me. With Ryan Mathews still nursing his broken collar bone, I think Brinkley may be given a chance to run against a Titans defense that gave up 125 yards to Stevan Ridley last week. And I understand that Tennessee was worried about Tom Brady, but Philip Rivers is still the Chargers’ most dangerous weapon, meaning more running lanes.
Danny Amendola, St. Louis vs. Washington. I am a huge Amendola fan, and I have been since he tried out for the Philadelphia Eagles a few years ago. He’s a great possession receiver who has proven to be a trusted target for Sam Bradford. He was a sleeper last season until he got hurt in the first game of the season. The Rams will try to run the ball with Steven Jackson, and I don’t blame them, but Amendola will lead the team in targets almost every week, and this week against Washington should be no different. In a points per reception league, he needs to be owned, but he can provide excellent bye week value as well. I have a feeling he’ll show up in this forum off and on throughout the year.
Emmanuel Sanders, Pittsburgh vs. New York Jets. Sanders is Pittsburgh’s third receiver. Pittsburgh has turned into a passing team. New offensive coordinator Todd Haley loves throwing the ball. Remember, he was the offensive coordinator in Arizona when Kurt Warner and Larry Fitzgerald nearly won a Super Bowl. So Haley will trot out three wide receivers quite a bit, and if you’re terrified of getting beat deep by Mike Wallace, and concerned about Antonio Brown, it’s conceivable that you might overlook the third wideout option. That’s why I like Sanders this week. Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie will match up with Wallace and Brown, leaving the oft-toasted Kyle Wilson to cover Sanders. Sounds OK, huh?
Andrew Hawkins, Cincinnati vs. Clevleland. Hawkins is a guy that you need to see play. If you watched on Monday night, Hawkins was the Bengals receiver that would get the ball and then seem like he was in fast forward. The way he moved reminded me a bit of Darren Sproles’ running style, like he’s taking two or three steps for every step the defender took. It looked as though Andy Dalton trusted him enough, as he caught eight of his nine targets. If you’re in a points per reception league, he makes for an even more interesting addition, but even in standard leagues, his skill set should translate to some points if you need a fill-in.
Jason Avant, Philadelphia vs. Baltimore. Avant is a security blanket. He’s the go-to receiver in a big spot, and the slot receiver on a passing offense. Jeremy Maclin and DeSean Jackson will always get the headlines and big plays, but Avant seems to be the one moving the chains. He supposedly has the best hands on the team, and with Maclin’s availability in question, it may be Avant and tight end Brent Celek that get more opportunities. It’s not a great matchup against the Ravens defense, arguably the best in the league, but the offensive system makes him a bit more appealing.
Good luck in Week 2.
Drew Magyar is a fantasysharks.com staff writer and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. “Rock And A Hard Place” will be posted on Friday mornings throughout the regular season.