Is it just me or is trying to guess what fully independent adults’ will do against other fully independent adults on Sundays getting more difficult? It seems like those who drafted well are getting punished this year as mid round guys and waiver wire wonders are ruling the roost while early round studs are either getting injured or letting us down. Wouldn’t fantasy football have been great/predictable if it were around in the 70’s? You would know who was getting the ball every week with few surprises, there would be fewer injuries, and you wouldn’t have to worry about running backs by committee. Anyway, I digress. Let me give you some idea as to who you want to pull the trigger on, and who you had better stay away from.
Upstart Players to Watch
Louis Murphy/Darrius Hayward-Bey-The two headed monster of mediocrity got a shot of respectability when backup Bruce Gradkowski stepped in. Hayward-Bey, the black hole of the black hole is finally showing signs of life. He led the team with 13 targets and he also got a look in the redzone two weeks ago, finishing with six catches for 80 yards. This week he was once again targeted a staggering 13 times (4th in the NFL) including three red zone targets. Pal Louis Murphy, the #1 receiver who has shone promise in the past, commanded only six targets but had a better statistical game (5 for 119 to Bey’s 3 for 49). Darrius has now caught as many passes this year as he did all season. Bey’s upside is more enticing than Murphy’s and my advice would be to add Bey if you have room and are looking for a potential stud down the line. But if you need a buy week stopgap next week, Murphy is doing more with his targets at the moment and he has a great matchup against the Housten Texans, A.K.A. the worst pass defense in the NFL.
Any Broncos Receiver-two weeks ago it was Thomas who allowed owners to say, “I told you so” but here were are again with huge games out of Gaffney and Lloyd. Gaffney, the ageless wonder, led the way with 14 targets, making good on 12 of those for 140 yards. Lloyd snagged 10 targets, catching six balls for 169 yards a score. Royal stole 9 targets and Thomas garnered only six but had a good red zone look at the end of the game. Lloyd looked a lot like former big play maven Brandon Marshall last week but beware before you commit to starting one Bronco wideout. Orton has been spreading it around like Country Crock and the upstart Broncos are looking like a poor man’s Saints (or are the Saints looking like a poor man’s Broncos? Hmmm). However, much like the Saints you never really know who is going to get the ball. Obviously, any one of those guys is a viable bye week option and personally I like Gaffney again this week against a tough Titan secondary that won’t give up big plays. The waters are cloudy with Lloyd, Royal, Gaffney, and Thomas receiving significant targets so patience kimosabi; time will tell who will play the role of Marques Colston or Devery Henderson.
Nate Washington-Washington was targeted five times this week which is right around where he has been all year. Clearly he seems to be the best option in a haphazard Titan passing game but I would wait on Washington. The question marks in the Tennessee passing game should prevent you from starting him with confidence and it’s possible that the young gun Britt has finally awoken from his slumber. After snagging 42 receptions last year for over 700 yards and three scores, Britt looked promising early in the summer, but “adjustment issues” landed him on the bench week one. With seven targets including three in the red zone two weeks ago, Britt was able to come down with five passes for 41 yards and a two point conversion which could be the start of something special, or it could be P.B.O.G.T. (performance based on garbage time). This past week, Britt was targeted twice but caught both passes, one for a touchdown. The lack of consistent targets is a concern but either way, Britt, not Washington is the guy I would pay attention to. However, I still wouldn’t waste a claim on him. Britt is a good guy to pick up if you have an extra spot, but inconsistency and a low ceiling of potential production prevents me from taking Washington. Despite a soft pass defense in Denver, I wouldn’t start any Titan wide receiver this week.
Jacoby Jones-Jones has more total targets this year than Jennings, Bryant, Crabtree, Colston and Knox. His nine target, six catch, 53 yard and a score performance week 2 was just what Jones owners have wanted to see. He had similar numbers last week catching five passes on five targets for 51 yards. Jones is reasonably big (6-2 210) and very fast, and that combination can be very dangerous. He is a big play guy in a big play offense and a guy I like a lot going forward (more than Kevin Walter). He shouldn’t be available in your league but I like Jones as a guy you can get as part of a trade as he likely has not been in many peoples’ starting lineups yet. He is facing the number two ranked pass defense in Oakland this week but as a slot receiver, I like his chances.
Buster Davis-yeah that’s right, Buster Davis. Before you stop reading my column altogether, I’ll tell you that I won’t advise you drop anything for him, but he is a guy to keep an eye on. I think it’s becoming clear that Floyd is the number one receiver and the guy that Rivers looks for in the end zone, but with a stale running game, Rivers will continue to air it out. In fact, it was Davis who garnered the most targets (6), and the most red zone targets of any SD receiver (2) in week two. He also received most of his looks in the 2nd and 3rd quarters, squashing those of you of think it was a PBOGT. Floyd regained the top spot last week with 10 targets but Buster made the most of his three targets, catching all three passes for an astounding 82 yards. Davis may be an unknown now, but he was a first round pick out of LSU back in 2007 and he finished last season with a six catch 52 yard game in week 17 against the Skins. Davis is worth more attention in a PPR league as he is a sharper route runner than Floyd or Naanee but it will be interesting to see if Davis begins to take on a larger role in a the pass happy Charger offense. You never know, he could end up being the Steve Smith (NYG) for the Bolts this year. You heard it hear first. P.S. his ten total targets in week two tied him with Dwayne Bowe and puts him ahead of Mike Williams (SEA), Mike Wallace, Devin Hester, and Robert Meachem to name a few.
Josh Cribbs-the face of Cleveland is starting to make waves as a legitimate receiving threat. Cribbs led Browns receivers with eight targets last week, catching five passes for 58 yards. His 23 total targets dwarfs vowel boy Massaquoi who is second with 11. His ten receptions for 143 yards in three games is nothing spectacular, and Del’s injury concerns hurts things a bit, but Cribbs is a guy to keep an eye on. You know he has the elusiveness to get away from defenders; he simply needs to get the ball in his hands.
Mario Manningham-Super Mario is back to conquer the koopas in 2010. Mario is clearly the number three receiver in New York but he has stopgap potential this week against a weak Bears secondary (28th ranked pass defense). His nine target, six catch 78 yard effort last week was impressive.
Austin Collie-start him. 16 targets is ridiculous. It’s clear now that Collie is not just a convenient option; he is a stud. His 12 catch 171 yard and 2 touchdown game was the highlight of the week (sorry Peyton Hillis). The Jags are as bad as it gets so don’t think about sitting him this week.
Dez Bryant-after a monster week one in which Bryant was targeted 12 times, the lone star receiver was left lonely with only two targets in week two and six targets in week three. This act of complete and utter neglect has to be chalked up to insanity, as even the bumbling Wade Phillips must know that keeping Bryant on the sidelines was a mistake. Despite his two targets, he still managed to gain 52 yards which is emblematic of his playmaking ability and evidence that Dallas needs to feed him the ball. Last week, despite his meager four catches for 50 yards against the weak Houston D, Bryant basically had two touchdowns called back. Williams stole the show but was targeted only six times and Bryant is still the better guy to own. Keep an eye on his rib injury, but I expect he’ll heal nicely with an extra week off before facing Tennessee in week five. For now he is a guy I would try to get via trade from an impetuous owner who is in desperate need of a win.
Greg Jennings-The Packers aren’t quite firing on all cylinders which could provide some explanation for Jennings’ lack of targets and production. Another reason however, could be the rise of some new Bay area talent in Jermichael Finley and James Jones. Either way, Jennings’ three catch 36 yard performance week two and his dismal two catch 18 yard performance on six targets in week three must have been devastating to Jennings owners. It’s tough to sit Jennings, especially against a pitiful Lions secondary in week 4 but the bevy of weapons in cheese city is leaving Jennings a bit stale.
Mike Sims-Walker-I, along with other MSW owners, am pulling my hair out as he’s managed only 12 catches for 139 yards and one touchdown in three games this year. Sims-Walker is tied with Mike Thomas for total targets (22) and the kitty cat cry fest that is the Jacksonville Jaguars is partially to blame for MSW’s lack of production. MJD simply can’t get it going and Garrard has been so flaccid that the front office claimed Trent Edwards off of waivers. Ouch. Things can only go up from here and his matchup against the Colts is favorable to say the least.