The Fantasy Hit List
Another Sunday, another NFL weekend filled with blowouts.
The Packers, Chargers, Colts, Patriots, Jets and Bengals put up monster fantasy numbers en route to outscoring, respectively, the Browns, Chiefs, Rams, Buccaneers, Raiders and Bears 228-33. As you no doubt have already assumed, Vegas took a beating thanks to those teams.
In addition, those six winning teams combined to outgain their opponents in total yardage 2,563-1,396. Is it any surprise that the six losing squads are a combined 7-34 on the season?
These numbers just go to show you that, when in doubt, drafting and starting fantasy players from reliable offenses is the best strategy. This sounds simple enough, but several owners used first-round draft picks on Rams running back Steven Jackson. S-Jax may be ranked third in the NFL in rushing (635 yards), but he has yet to find the end zone and is ranked outside the top-10 in scoring among fantasy running backs (standard scoring rules).
MBP Award (Most Beastly Performance)
Carson Palmer, Cedric Benson, Ricky Williams and Miles Austin are all very deserving, but this week’s MBP Award goes to San Francisco 49ers tight end Vernon Davis.
Davis has taken a lot of heat (especially from me) for being an underachiever since entering the league in 2006. Prior to this season, he had scored just nine touchdowns in 40 games. Man, how things have changed.
Thanks to new offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye, Davis is experiencing a breakout season like none other. Sunday’s performance (seven receptions for 93 yards and three touchdowns) brought the 49ers back from the dead in Houston and gave them a chance to win the game late.
Davis is currently ranked second among fantasy tight ends in scoring and is averaging an impressive 11.6 fantasy points per week. The good news is that even if quarterback Shaun Hill loses his job to former No. 1 overall pick Alex Smith, it’s nothing for owners to be concerned about. All three of Davis’ touchdown receptions Sunday came from Smith.
Players on the rise
Steve Slaton Running Back Houston Texans
For all the haters out there, do you feel better now?
Slaton opened up his sophomore season averaging just 6.3 fantasy points and scoring zero touchdowns through his first three games. This, of course, led to my email inbox being flooded with hate mail about how Slaton was a bust and we had him ranked too high.
Four games later, the shifty rusher is back in business. Slaton has five touchdowns in his last four outings and is averaging 17.0 fantasy points per game. It should come as no surprise that Slaton went from 15.6 touches per game the first three weeks of the season to 22.2 touches the last four.
We recommended him as a great buy-low option three weeks ago in the Total Access Pass. Hopefully, many of you made a move.
Lee Evans Wide Receiver Buffalo Bills
With Trent Edwards at quarterback: five games, 12 receptions, 159 yards, one touchdown
With Ryan Fitzpatrick at quarterback: two games, 9 receptions, 143 yards, two touchdowns
In addition, Evans has been targeted 20 times since Fitzpatrick stepped under center. In the five games prior to Fitzpatrick’s arrival, Evans saw just 28 total targets.
It’s not rocket science, Buffalo. Throw the ball to you studs and let them make plays.
Joseph Addai Running Back Indianapolis Colts
He’s averaging just 3.3 yards per carry, but Addai’s role in the Indianapolis offense could be increasing in the coming weeks.
Rookie running back Donald Brown exited Sunday’s 42-6 win over the St. Louis Rams early due to what’s currently being called a sprained shoulder. While no timetable has been set for his return, any missed time by Brown will result in an increase in touches for Addai.
Addai has found the end zone in five of six games and is currently ranked in the top 15 in scoring among fantasy running backs. Add in the fact that he has the pleasure of playing on the same offense as Peyton Manning and you’ve got a very reliable starting running back for the remainder of the season.
A few more who continue to climb…
Hakeem Nicks New York Giants: Four touchdowns in his last four games.
Beanie Wells Arizona Cardinals: Posted career-highs in carries (14), yards (67) and touchdowns (1) Sunday night against the Giants. Look for his role to increase in the coming weeks.
Alex Smith San Francisco 49ers: After tossing three touchdown passes in relief of Shaun Hill on Sunday, Smith will likely be a hot waiver-wire pickup this week for owners in deeper leagues.
Falling down the boards
Eli Manning Quarterback New York Giants
After throwing for nine touchdowns and just one interception from Week 2 to Week 5, Manning has cooled off considerably. The Giants signal-caller has thrown just two touchdowns to four interceptions over his past two games and is averaging a mediocre 210.5 passing yards per game during that span.
In addition, his 6.6 yards-per-attempt average in Sunday night’s loss to the Cardinals was his second-lowest YPA average in a game this season (his lowest was a 5.7 YPA average in Week 6 against the Saints). Hopefully for Eli owners and Giants fans, his poor performance wasn’t because of the wind at the Meadowlands. Those swirling gusts in northern New Jersey are only going to get worse in the coming weeks.
Greg Jennings Wide Receiver Green Bay Packers
In Week 1 against the Bears, Jennings caught six passes for 106 yards and one touchdown. Apparently, that was the point he decided to shut it down.
In the five games since he posted an elite wide receiver stat line, he has…flat lined (eat that, Jay-Z), catching just 16 passes for 250 yards and no touchdowns.
The problem here is coverage. Jennings is the best wideout on a very explosive Green Bay offense, so opposing defensive coordinators are rolling coverage in his direction, which is also the main reason Donald Driver has been posting some impressive numbers this year (27-479-3).
In any event, Jennings just isn’t getting the job done.
Michael Turner Running Back Atlanta Falcons
He found the end zone against the Cowboys on Sunday but averaged just 2.8 yards per carry and was outrushed by backup running back Jason Snelling 68-50. In addition, Snelling averaged 9.7 yards per carry.
Turner has been slow to the hole and lacks the burst and tackle-breaking ability that made him such a lethal force in fantasy leagues last season. The two big concerns for owners at this point regarding Turner are his yards-per-carry average and rushes-per-game average, both of which are down from 2008.
Turner is picking up just 3.4 yards per carry (down from 4.5 YPC in 2008) and is carrying the ball only 19.6 times per game (down from 23.5 carries in 2008).
At this point, the only thing keeping Turner afloat is the fact he’s found the end zone seven times in six games.
A few more who are dropping…
Pierre Thomas New Orleans Saints: Was outrushed 80-30 on Sunday by Mike Bell, who handled the majority of the second-half carries against the Dolphins and was much more effective.
New York Giants D/ST: They’ve given up an average of 390.5 yards and 36.0 points over their last two games, both losses.
Cleveland Browns: They’re averaging just 7.6 points per game over their last three outings and don’t have a single viable playmaker on their offense.
Monday nig ht mania
Since we got such a solid response from you guys last week over the free T-shirt giveaway, I’m pretty much forced into giving everyone another opportunity.
If you want a chance to win a free NFP T-shirt, it’s simple: Leave a comment in the comments section (tricky, right?) with the team that will win tonight’s game and the total number of points that will be scored.
Example: Philadelphia and 45 points.
Whoever is closest to the total points AND picks the winning team wins an NFP t-shirt.
Note: Be sure to check the comments section Tuesday afternoon because that’s where I will post the winner.
Tonight’s game: Philadelphia Eagles at Washington Redskins
Hit me up on Twitter: @JoeFortenbaugh