Friday, September 18, 2009

Studs and Duds

Week Two: Fantasy Studs and Duds

This is my weekly correspondence where I tell you which fantasy players I recommend and which players I would avoid this coming weekend. Matchups and injuries are the main criteria, as well as just gut feelings. The hardest part of writing this was coming up with a cool name. I like the sound of “Studs and Duds;” it is informative and rhyming, and best of all, delightfully concise. I considered “Heroes and Zeroes” but thought it was kind of stupid. This is similar to Matthew Berry’s weekly “Love/Hate” column or the “Start ‘Em and Sit ‘Em” article on, except that my predictions might actually be accurate once in a while. We’ll start with the Studs. But first a precautionary note.

The Cardinal Rule in Fantasy is this: You Never Sit Your Studs. You drafted your best players early for a reason and shouldn’t bench them just because they face a tough matchup. It makes sense. But it’s not always true. If you have particularly excellent depth at a certain position, don’t be afraid to sit your first round pick and roll the dice if your backup has a dream matchup. But, don’t be an idiot and think that Lawrence Maroney constitutes as excellent depth.

There is one exception to the Cardinal Rule: if you have a #1 receiver who is playing the Raiders, bench him, no matter what, even if its Fitzgerald or Megatron. You just don’t throw on Nnamdi Asomugha; he allowed only eight receptions all of last season. Think about that ... eight receptions allowed in sixteen games for a cornerback. Wow. So yeah, Dwayne Bowe of KC is going to find his name on the Duds list this week and be lucky to gain ten yards on Sunday.

Okay, on to this week’s STUDS:

Brett Favre, Bernard Berrian, Percy Harvin
The Vikings are playing the Lions. That’s enough said right there.

Chester Taylor
After AP runs for 200 yards and the Vikings have the game wrapped up in the third quarter, Chester will amass 70+ junk yards and likely a run-up-the-score TD.

Ryan Grant, Fred Jackson
Speaking of playing against horrible defenses, the Packers host the Bengals and Bills play the Buccaneers. This early in the year, it’s tough to know which teams are actually good and bad, and who just had an off-week. But if I know anything, it’s that the Bengals and Bucs have awful defenses. Expect big games by both Grant and Jackson, especially Jackson who might put up 200 all-purpose yards.

Trent Edwards
If you drafted him as a backup QB, this is the week to play him. And if he throws 3 or 4 TDs, next week is the week to trade him.

Lee Evans
I wouldn’t bench TO, but I think Evans is the receiver to love from the Bills this week.

Aaron Rodgers, Greg Jennings, Donald Driver, JerMichael Finley
The first three are obvious plays, but I think this week is the coming out party for the Packers new tight. Remember the name: JerMichael.

Marcellus Bennett
Jason Witten is obviously the star tight end in Dallas, but the ‘Boys love Bennett and want to get him the ball as often as they can. They'll run a lot of two-receiver sets this year, and Witten/Bennett are going to evolve as the best tight end twosome in the NFL.

All your Colts
Going against Miami in Miami, Peyton Manning should have a field day even without Anthony Gonzalez. Wayne and Clark are must-starts, as is Addai. Either Austin Collie or Pierre Garcon will score a touchdown; I’m not sure which one but I’m sure one of them will. I prefer Collie, because it's hard to trust a guy named Pierre. Donald Brown might also score a junk TD.

Josh Morgan
Morgan is the 49ers’ only deep threat and the team's future at WR unless Michael Crabtree finally signs.

Santana Moss, Chris Cooley
Moss put up a big fat zero last week but that doesn’t mean he deserves to be benched this week. Facing the Rams is a whole heck of a lot different than facing the Giants. Cooley should have a monster game. Malcolm Kelly might actually be worth a start too if you’re desperate for a receiver.

Jason Campbell
He gets the Rams Sunday, the Lions the week after, and then Tampa Bay. Pick him up, play him for three weeks, and then trade him once he’s racked up 10 TDs in three games. We’ll see who’s laughing about my love of Washington when they’re 5-1.

Matt Ryan
In his first game at home this year Ryan will have an aerial assault party. You surely can’t bench Turner or Roddy White or Tony Gonzalez either. Michael Jenkins, though, is iffy; I don’t love him now that Gonzo is technically the #2 receiver in Atlanta. .

Torry Holt
The Jags will try to control possession to keep Arizona off the field, and Holt is the ultimate possession guy at this stage in his career. Garrard will likely target Torry at least eight or ten times Sunday for around 100 yards.

Kenny Britt
I just have a feeling that he’s going to be Tennessee’s #1 receiver sooner than later.

Brian Westbrook, LeSean McCoy
With McNabb out, it looks like Jeff Garcia is going to get the nod at QB for the Eagles. Whether it’s Garcia or Kolb, Philly should take it easy and run the ball against the Saints, trying to keep Brees off the field. Westbrook should have a beastly game and I might also start McCoy who always makes the most of his touches.

Jerricho Cotchery
Against New England, the Jets are gonna have to score to stay in the game and Jerricho is Sanchez’s most trusty downfield option. Look for David Clowney to beat out Chansi Stuckey as the Jet’s #2 receiver as soon as this week; Clowney is one of the fastest receivers in the league and might break a big play against a leaky Pats’ secondary.

Devin Hester, Jordy Nelson
Speaking of the fastest receivers in the league, Hester is worth a start against the Polamalu-less Steelers and Nelson (of Green Bay) is a super speedster who will catch a deep TD at some point in the NFL season, and this week against the hapless Bengals is as good a time as any.

Jay Cutler, Earl Bennett
If you read my Week Two Picks you know how I feel about the Bears-Stellers game. Cutler’s got a lot to prove and no Polamalu to foil him. He’s going to have a good amount of yards and neglect the running game as much as he can. (See Forte, Matt under Duds.)

Mark Bradley, Bobby Engram
I’d be surprised if anyone actually starts either of these Chief’s receivers, but I won’t be surprised when one or both of them has 7 catches for close to 100 yards. With Bowe blanketed by Asomugha, someone has to catch the ball against the craptastic Raiders.

Brian Robiskie
I’m expecting a breakout game for the Ohio State rookie. Braylon will be covered closely by Champ Bailey and Brady Quinn will be looking to pass elsewhere. Robiskie has solid skills as a possession guy and a knack for the big-play.

Redskins, Falcons, Bills, Packers, Jaguars, Colts Defenses
Five defenses that will have some up and some down weeks, but have nice matchups this week and should be counted on for sacks, turnovers and possibly TDs. You may not agree about the Jags, who play Arizona, but we’ll see.

Week Two’s Fantasy DUDS:

Matt Forte
Running backs hate playing the Steelers, not only because they are so good at stopping the run but because of all the linebacker blitzes. Forte will have to block on so many passing plays and it’s going to wear him out.

Kevin Smith
I wavered on him as either a Stud or a Dud. The Vikings are impossible to run against up the middle due to the Williams Wall, but Smith isn’t an up-the-middle runner anyway. If the Lions are smart enough to pass him the ball ten times Sunday and toss him some sweep pitches, he might have 100 yards and keep our offense on the field. But I am placing him as a Dud because the Lions coaching staff is too stupid to use common sense.

Chad Ochocinco
Matched up against the Harris/Woodson CB combo, Ochostinko is going to have a long frustrating game.

Dwayne Bowe
See second paragraph.

Randy Moss, Braylon Edwards, Marques Colston
Obviously you play Randy Moss this week and every week, but I don’t like his matchup against Darelle Revis. I think Welker has a much better game. As for Colston and Edwards, I would start them unless you have a really solid WR on your bench. But Braylon is matched up against Bailey and Colston is against Asante Samuel and both are excellent CBs.

Drew Brees
Just kidding.

Phillip Rivers, Matt Schaub, Kurt Warner, Carson Palmer, and Matt Hasslebeck
QBs who are typically fantasy starters, but I don’t like their matchups this week. Actually, never mind about Schaub. He'll do alright against Tennessee.

Darren Sproles
Everybody’s going to think they're real sneaky and play him (since LT is out with yet another injury), but remember: the Ravens haven’t given up a 100-yard runner since 2006. That’s a pretty long time.

Darren McFadden’s “Start of the Week” plays against a crappy Chiefs defense. But, Michael Bush got the majority of the goal-line carries last week and I expect that to continue. Plus how can you trust any player on the same offense as JaMarcus Russell?

Matt Stafford
Speaking of JaMarcus Russell, can we just paint Stafford black and they will essentially be the same person?

Mike Bell
Don’t get cute and try to play Bell again. The Eagles are not the Lions.

Ben Watson
Speaking of not being cute, don’t play Watson this week. He’s not in the top 12 fantasy tight ends or even the top 15 so he shouldn’t even be on your roster, despite having two TDs last week. There are plenty of other TE options out there.

All Eagles Receivers
Until McNabb returns these guys are all on hold.

Cadillac Williams
I know he tore it up last week and everyone is saying he’s “back.” But I don’t trust him after one good week. However, I do like Derrick Ward still.

Jake Delhomme
No explanation necessary.

And last but not least …

Jeremy Shockey
The biggest tool in the NFL is not going to do anything against the Eagles, and I would actually cheer if he suffered a career-ending injury, as long as it wasn't life-threatening.

Enjoy week two everybody! GO LIONS!

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