Fred Jackson is a top-20 back, not a top-10 back. In week 1, he ran for 112 yards. He followed that with a 117 yard, 2 score performance in week 2. And I mentioned last week that Jackson is a low-end RB2. But don’t get carried away. He will be very productive, but if an owner in your league wants to offer top-10 compensation, take it.
Matthew Stafford is ready to make the leap. He’s got a cannon attached to his arm. He’s got arguably the most gifted receiver in the game. And he’s got a defense that will allow the offense to do whatever it wants. Stafford is showcasing the talent that made him a #1 overall pick. He’s a QB1 (with injury risk), and in leagues where I have both Stafford and Big Ben, I’m starting Stafford if all things are equal.
The Chiefs are dreadful, and it’s only going to get worse. It was already pretty bad when they had one of the most electrifying backs in the league in Jamaal Charles. But early in their game against the Lions, Charles tore his ACL. I know that owners will wonder what to do. Unfortunately, neither Thomas Jones nor Dexter McCluster really has his skill set. Jones will get the majority of carries, and McCluster will be worth more in a PPR league. Kansas City appears to be a black hole, so it may be better to look elsewhere anyway. Sorry…
Cam Newton can play. Seriously. Week 1 we chalked up to a terrible Cardinals defense. But when he throws for even more yards against the Packers, we have to take notice. He can play, and perhaps more surprisingly, Head Coach Ron Rivera and his staff are putting him in a position to make plays. Even though he threw 3 interceptions, they know he’s their best shot. Newton is easily a matchup play, and is slowly making his way up the boards. He’s at least a top-15 QB, if not higher.
Vincent Jackson is scary good. Against the Patriots on Sunday, Jackson caught ten balls for 172 yards and 2 touchdowns. He’s an absolute stud, and playing for that offense with that quarterback, he’s a top-10 guy, easily. Philip Rivers is clearly looking for him, and he was unbelievable against a shaky Patriots’ pass defense. He’ll get more attention in the weeks to come, but he’ll still produce.
Darren Sproles is the Saints running back you want. Mark Ingram and Pierre Thomas may get more publicity, but the Saints are a passing team. Sproles is dynamic out of the backfield, and if Brees finds him in space or on a screen, it’s a big gain. He has 15 catches, over 100 yards, and a score in 2 games. While the others look like they may get more touches, it’s Sproles who looks to be more dependable.
Roy Helu is going to take over as the feature back in Washington. Mike Shanahan is up to his old tricks again. Tim Hightower was fantastic in week 1. Hightower wound up with twice as many carries as Helu, but Helu ran more efficiently, averaging 7.4 yards per rush. He is also a decent option out of the backfield. I don’t know when it will happen, but I’d wager that by Week 7, Helu will be “the guy.”
Willis McGahee can still play. Actually, he’s probably a better fit than Knowshon Moreno for the offense that John Fox wants to run. Moreno may find himself part of a platoon when he’s finally healthy. If you’ve got McGahee, you can ride him while he has the full-time gig. He’ll have value regardless, especially since Moreno will probably get hurt again.
Eric Decker is no longer a sleeper. Coming into the year, Decker was a sexy sleeper pick. With Brandon Lloyd inactive and Eddie Royal getting hurt, Decker took over as Kyle Orton’s main option. He answered the call with five catches, 113 yards, and a pair of touchdowns. His versatility will keep him in lineups, and his playmaking will hopefully keep Orton looking his way. Grab him if you can.
David Nelson is better than we thought. He caught ten passes for 83 yards and the game-winning score. Ryan Fitzpatrick has developed into a very good fantasy quarterback, and Stevie Johnson is attracting attention. With Nelson working opposite him, Fitzpatrick has two very capable targets on the outsides, and the Bills will probably end up being in plenty of shootouts.
Drew Magyar is a FantasySharks.com staff writer and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.