I hate shopping.
Obviously not all the time, but more often than not, I can’t stand the process. Especially when it’s shopping for clothes. Usually this happens when I’m dragged by my girlfriend somewhere, but even when it’s clothes for me, I loathe the atmosphere. I feel like the bright lights and droning pop music further stress the materialism; and almost every time the majority of shoppers are by themselves and don’t seem to notice any of the people around them. It’s almost as bad as the movie Blindness.
Now, there’s obviously situations and places that I actually do like to shop – usually in smaller, more specific stores. Get most guys into a GameStop (I need to pick up FIFA 12) or into any sports memorabilia or jersey place (I always like to drop in those to see what Brewers stuff they got – go Crew this afternoon!) and they are good to go, knowing what they’re looking to get.
This same process happens in our every day fantasy progressions. As the ladies know, usually it’s the mammoth stores that are bigger than Super Wal-Mart that give them their best deals, but nothing beats the one-of-a-kind discovery at a smaller store that most people aren’t going to find. That’s how I feel about sleepers and risking playing a guy most people wouldn’t dare. If you did start a guy (like the maybe four people in the country that might have started Torrey Smith last week) that makes everyone else scratch their heads and he pans out, you look like a genius. I feel it’s a lot less fun to win your match-up when your first three or four round picks carry your team, but hey, winning with those guys definitely trumps losing.
Again, the sleepers I like for each week are like the smaller stores that may have something to win your matchup, but they may have nothing but a creepy storeowner that scares the bejesus out of everyone. It’s all about context and compartmentalizing the thoughts I lay forth. If you feel you are a lock to win this week, don’t get cute and bench one of your studs. Also, if you’ve had a bunch of injuries and have only one or two “safe” players at your core, don’t bench one of them and make your lineup all the more volatile. But if you’re unsure or feel like you’re overmatched, sometimes rolling the dice is exactly what you need.
Last week went exceeding well for my picks with Daniel Thomas continuing to shine (well he won’t this week – see below) and Ryan Fitzpatrick and David Nelson legit options moving forwards. On the flip side, Danny Woodhead wasn’t as involved as I had thought and Nate Burleson was absolutely brutal. However, every player I said to bench had less than 9-point games (in ESPN standard scoring), so hopefully I helped you out there.
Here are the guys not predominantly started that I like for this week along with guys to think about benching that are started more often than not:
(The percentage numbers listed are players’ percent started in ESPN then percent started in Yahoo)
Michael Jenkins (0.4%, 1%) The anemic Vikings passing game can still support some fantasy relevancy, and with this week’s matchup and coming off last week’s 9-catch performance, I like Jenkins a lot this Sunday. First of all, both he and Harvin have the same amount of targets at 17, and Jenkins has 15 catches off those 17 targets, giving him the highest conversion into catches of anyone with more than 6 targets. He and McNabb actually have a bit of rapport going on, and I don’t see that stopping against the Chiefs this week. Everyone knows the Vikings MO is to collapse in the 2nd half, so the Vikes won’t take their foot off the pedal at any point against the lowly Chiefs. I think another 8 reception, 80-ish yard game with the definite possibility of a score is what you have in Jenkins this week.
Jeremy Shockey (2.9%, 3%) As one of our guest posters wrote about earlier this week, Chicago will feature heavy doses of cover-2, especially to help contain Steve Smith downfield. A lot of people are going to look at Greg Olsen as the big play this week, and while I do think both Panther TEs will have big games, I actually think Shockey is the guy to start this Sunday. The Bears are not going to allow their former guy in Olsen run up and down them, so I think Chicago’s cover-2 will be tweaked in order to help contain Olsen as well. Panthers offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski is notorious for using his tight ends, and if Olsen is schemed against in the Panthers multiple 2-TE formations, look for Shockey to be a big benefactor. Carolina’s got nothing going on the ground right now, and with the cover-2 slowing down the big plays downfield, I like Shockey for at least a 5 catch, 50 yard day with a TD.
Andre Caldwell (0%, 1%) Caldwell was targeted a whopping 12 times last Sunday for 6 catches and 53 yards, and going against the super-charged Bills this week, I could easily see another game with big target numbers. Obviously Andy Dalton and Caldwell are going to have to refine their game, but Dalton is a rookie and I think they improve on their 50% connection rate. Also, we all saw how gashed the Bills secondary can get, and with the Bengals almost assuredly down in this game, I think Caldwell has a monster game as Dalton’s safety valve opposite A.J. Green. With Jerome Simpson still dealing with his nonsense off-the-field issues that are now manifesting into on-the-field issues with home fans booing him, Caldwell is easily the guy to own other than Green. I see an 8 catch, 70-yard game with a TD in store.
Reggie Bush (16.4%, 17%) I don’t think fantasy opinions have changed on any player more than Reggie Bush this year. He had the solid week one performance against New England, scoring a TD to go along with 9 catches, but then fell into oblivion with Daniel Thomas seemingly taking over the lead back role, relegating Bush to an even smaller role than he had in New Orleans. But now Thomas is going to be out for week 4, and Bush has a huge opportunity to have a big game for the Fish. Going against the Chargers, I don’t think Bush is going to have much success on the ground, but since he’ll have much more time on the field, Bush’s prominence in the passing game will once again come to the forefront. I think he could have another 6+ catch game and he’s extremely valuable this week in PPR formats. If you are having RB struggles, Bush is a legit flex play option this week, even with the recently acquired Steve Slaton reportedly getting some work.
Eric Decker (17.9%, 38%) Popular sleeper Eric Decker really broke onto the scene in week 2, but still had a large chunk of work in week 3 even with Brandon Lloyd back in the starting lineup. Going against the Packers, John Fox is going to have to abandon the running game (painfully – I’m sure) and chuck the ball as much as possible to try and keep up. With Charles Woodson mainly lining up on Lloyd, I think Decker could have a huge game as the Broncos try to play catch-up. Another 100-yard game with a possible score is very realistic.
Son of a Bench:
Steve Smith (CAR) (86.3%, 75%) This one definitely pains me a little bit as a die-hard Panthers fan, but I don’t think Smith has a big game on Sunday. As mentioned above, Chicago features a prototypical cover-2 that I think they will fully utilize to specifically limit Smith’s chances downfield. While this week’s game won’t be played in a monsoon, I still don’t think Smith has a big game.
Javhid Best (96.3%, 65%) The run D in Big D has been stifling thus far, and I see another big defensive performance shutting down Best this Sunday. In his matchup against Dallas last year, Best went absolutely bonkers — oh wait, he had 3 carries for 2 yards. Yikes. Well, this year is obviously completely different and Best is healthy for the time being, but I still don’t see a big game at all here. Dallas has shut down the Jets’ run game, the 49ers and Frank Gore, and the Redskins rushing attack so far this year. I don’t see Best and the Lions breaking the mold.
Dwayne Bowe (89.1% 81%) Last week notwithstanding (going against Megatron), Antoine Winfield has had a great season, shutting down both Vincent Jackson and Tampa’s Mike Williams. Now, I don’t think anyone can really cover Calvin Johnson, so let’s just forget about last week and focus on how much Bowe’s going to get blanketed on Sunday. I actually think the Vikings might hold up against a 2nd half comeback for once, and Bowe won’t have a big game.
Peyton Hillis (81.7%, 75%) While Hillis is assuredly playing in tomorrow’s game against Tennessee, he may not be the full-load back he was right away. Some reports are saying Hillis lost over 10 pounds overcoming strep throat that kept him out last week. Montario Hardesty is going to be in the mix, and the Titans have been solid against the run since getting gashed week 1 by Jacksonville, limiting both Ray Rice and Willis McGahee in the ground game in weeks 2 and 3. I think this could be a slow game back for Hillis as he’s eased back into the offense.
Owen Daniels (71.1%, 63%) Daniels is coming off two straight weeks with scores, but even so, he’s still not close to the player he was before blowing out his knee two years ago. Add in to the fact James Casey came out of nowhere to have a big game last week with 126 yards and a score, along with the competent Joel Dreessen still around, and the Texans are starting to look like most of the other teams in the NFL with multiple TE options vulturing fantasy value. Oh, and the Texans get the Steelers on Sunday, who are notorious for shutting down opposing TEs. Definite no go.
If you have any last second decisions, shoot me some comments, or tweet me @jbgilpin. If you’re of the legal drinking age (have to say that due to our legal dept.), join me on Monday Nights for the brand new Twitter “Gruden ‘that guy’ drinking game”
(#GrudenThatGuyDrinkingGame) for the ultimate party game that’s primed to sweep the nation. Good luck to everyone in week 4!