Posted on: October 1, 2010 2:11 pm

Inside the New York Jets

MIAMI GARDENS -- Things couldn't be going any better for the Jets heading into Week 4. They're 2-1 with back-to-back wins against the Patriots and Dolphins, and most of their offensive stars are playing well.

They're even talking about their Fantasy value.

Coach Rex Ryan raved about tight end Dustin Keller after the win at Miami. Keller scored two touchdowns with six catches for 98 yards, and Ryan had a message for Fantasy owners.

"We laughed about it when we said to the Fantasy leaguers that they should take Dustin Keller in training camp," Ryan said. "He really is a nightmare to cover. He is such a weapon."

Maybe we should have listened to Ryan. He boasted about the Jets offense being more explosive and Mark Sanchez taking the next step as a quarterback, but most of us expected to still see plenty of ground and pound. We couldn't have been more wrong, especially the past two weeks.

Sanchez has six touchdowns and no interceptions against the Patriots and Dolphins, and he's turning Keller into a Fantasy star. Braylon Edwards has two touchdowns over that span, and LaDainian Tomlinson looks like a rookie all over again. The only one struggling is Shonn Greene, but that could easily change in Week 4 against the Bills, who have one of the worst run defenses in the NFL.

It's a fun time for the Jets, and Fantasy owners are jumping on board.

"There's no stopping us now," Sanchez said. "We're not going to plateau. We're going to keep building."

Sanchez has seen his ownership rise on to 83 percent heading into Week 4, and he's passed for 476 yards the past two weeks. He's showing confidence in his receivers, and he looks like a future star. We don't expect him to post overwhelming stats against the Bills because this is a good game for the running backs to shine, but he can easily be a bye-week replacement if you need a starter.

Ryan has been impressed with Sanchez, who is only in his second year. He struggled as a rookie with 2,444 passing yards, 12 touchdowns and 20 interceptions, but he's easily going to surpass those stats.

"We kept telling everybody that would listen that this kid has learned, and his offseason was as impressive as it gets," Ryan said. "I think you are seeing the dividends of that hard work right now."

The best connection for the Jets has been Sanchez to Keller, who has 13 catches for 213 yards and three touchdowns in his past three games. He has emerged as a No. 1 Fantasy tight end after a disappointing game in Week 1 against Baltimore with two catches for 13 yards.

Keller wasn't aware of Ryan's statement on his value, but he obviously keeps an eye on his status in the Fantasy world.

"I probably got dropped by a lot of teams that first game," Keller said. "Bad move by them."

His ownership is now up to 93 percent, and it likely won't dip below that if he keeps playing at this level. After the Dolphins game, Sanchez gave Keller a "gold star" for his performance.

"Him and I are really growing up together," Sanchez said. "I'm starting to feel his routes and know exactly where he's going to be. He's fun to throw to, and he's tough for guys to defend."

Edwards has also re-emerged as a viable Fantasy wide receiver. He wasn't drafted in 12 percent of leagues, but his ownership is now up to 85 percent. In his past two games he has seven catches for 132 yards and two touchdowns, and the Jets were impressed with his demeanor following the off-field mistake with the DWI prior to the Dolphins game.

He expressed remorse, was benched and then he played well in a key AFC East matchup.

"He's just a big play guy," Tomlinson said. "He always seems to make a big play for us."

We consider Edwards a No. 3 Fantasy wide receiver going forward. Jerricho Cotchery has been nonexistent for the most part, and Santonio Holmes (suspension) will return in Week 5. That will cut into the production for all the receivers, including Keller, but we'll see how they adjust.

We're also waiting to see how Tomlinson and Greene adjust as the year goes on. Greene has struggled to start the season, but Tomlinson is playing like a star with 37 carries for 208 yards and a touchdown and nine catches for 60 yards. He's our Start of the Week heading into Week 4 at Buffalo, and he's all business right now.

Here's our exchange after the Dolphins game:

Me: How would you describe your play so far this year?

L.T.: Solid. Pretty solid.

Me: Are you surprised at all with the way you're playing?

L.T.: Nope.

Me: Is there room for you to improve?

L.T.: Absolutely.

Tomlinson at some point will slow down. He has a lot of mileage on his body, and he's 31 years old. You should use him as a starter in all leagues when he's going well, but eventually Greene will return as the No. 1 option. He's too talented.

So far, Greene has just 30 carries for 106 yards and two catches for 17 yards, but he said the best is yet to come. And he could have a breakout game this week against the Bills.

"I don't think I'm playing bad or anything," Greene said. "You just have to keep chipping away at it. It will be all right."

We still have faith in Greene, and he will become a starting Fantasy running back again. But even with Greene struggling, it's hard to find fault with the Jets right now.

They are flying high and having fun. And Fantasy owners are catching on that the Jets, at the moment, have some fantastic options.

Posted on: September 30, 2010 7:26 pm

Week 4 extended sleepers

Every week I'll dive into some sleepers beyond what we write in Start 'Em and Sit 'Em to help some of you in deeper leagues. Some weeks will have more guys than others, but this should be helpful for those owners in 14- and 16-team leagues.


Kyle Orton (at TEN): Orton only has four touchdowns on the season, but he's throwing the ball so much you have to take your chances with him most weeks. He's averaging 359 passing yards per game, and even though he faces a tough secondary in Tennessee, he's still worth using as a low-end No. 1 Fantasy option. But the Titans pass defense stats are slightly inflated since they've faced Oakland (with Jason Campbell) and Pittsburgh (with Dennis Dixon and Charlie Batch) before Eli Manning threw for 386 yards against them last week. If he didn't try to throw a touchdown left-handed, he might have had better stats. Orton will stick to his normal throwing hand in this matchup, and he's still a quality starting option.

Matt Hasselbeck (at STL): Hasselbeck hasn't been great so far this season, but he has posted at least 17 Fantasy points in two of his three starts. That's something to consider when he faces the Rams this week. St. Louis has played better than expected on defense, but O.J. Atogwe (thigh) is banged up, which could hurt the secondary. Hasselbeck has six touchdowns and two interceptions in his past five games at St. Louis, and he could be a bye-week replacement this week if you're without Tony Romo, Josh Freeman, Brett Favre or Matt Cassel in leagues where you start two quarterbacks.

Sam Bradford (vs. SEA): The Seahawks have struggled in pass defense the past two games with Orton and Philip Rivers each accounting for more than 20 Fantasy points. Granted, Orton and Rivers are miles ahead of Bradford in terms of experience, but Bradford does have three touchdowns and two interceptions in his past two games, including his first NFL win against the Redskins. He also has a favorable matchup this week, and we expect Mark Clayton to shine as a must-start wide receiver. Bradford, like Hasselbeck, can be a useful bye-week replacement in two-quarterback leagues. The Rams might be throwing more than usual if Steven Jackson (groin) is out.


Kenneth Darby (vs. SEA): I'm not expecting Jackson to play this week, which should open the door for Darby to get the starting nod. He'd be going against a Seattle defense that has allowed at least six Fantasy points to four running backs (Frank Gore, Knowshon Moreno, Correll Buckhalter and Mike Tolbert). If you're stuck with Jackson out, Darby could sneak in there as a No. 2 running back in deeper leagues or as a flex option. Of the potential injury replacements this week, Darby might be the best of the bunch based on his matchup.

Laurence Maroney (at TEN): The Titans run defense is better than it has shown so far this year with Darren McFadden and Ahmad Bradshaw each posting double digits in Fantasy points in two of three games, but Maroney has the chance to play well if Knowshon Moreno (hamstring) is out again as expected. Maroney will likely get around 15 carries, and I could see him gaining around 60 total yards and a touchdown. Remember, he faced the Titans last year with the Patriots and had 123 rushing yards and a touchdown and three catches for 10 yards. He won't be that good, but as a low-end No. 2 running back or flex option, he could be useful with Moreno hurt.

Chris Ivory: (vs. CAR): There's a chance Pierre Thomas (ankle) could be out since he's a game-time decision, and Ivory is worth adding in all leagues. The Panthers have allowed double digits in Fantasy points to Bradshaw and Cedric Benson, and we would consider Thomas a must-start Fantasy running back if he's 100 percent. But if he's out, the majority of his touches would go to Ivory, and he could be considered a low-end No. 2 running back or flex option. Keep an eye on Thomas' status Sunday, but grab Ivory now in case he misses the game.

Jonathan Stewart (at NO): Stewart found the end zone in Week 3 against the Bengals, and hopefully it's a sign of things to come. He's facing a Saints defense that is No. 30 against the run, and Stewart has a touchdown in three of four meetings with New Orleans. DeAngelo Williams should get going this week also as Carolina will lean on the run game to take pressure off rookie quarterback Jimmy Clausen, and Stewart is worth using as starter in deeper leagues and a flex option in standard formats. Hopefully his injured Achilles' tendon is close to 100 percent because Stewart has the potential to be a weekly starter when he's getting enough carries.


Davone Bess (vs. NE): If you're looking for a sleeper in deep point per reception leagues then Bess is your guy. He already has 13 catches for 149 yards, and he has a solid history against the Patriots. In his past three games against New England, Bess has 21 catches for 260 yards and a touchdown. The Patriots secondary is a mess, and Brandon Marshall will draw a lot of attention from the defense, opening up holes over the middle for Bess in the slot. If he scored more then he'd be a solid option in all leagues, but consider Bess in larger formats that reward a point per catch.

Blair White (at JAC): Anthony Gonzalez (ankle) is already ruled out, and Pierre Garcon (hamstring) could miss his second game in a row. That would open the door for White to see increased action, and he played well in relief for Garcon last week against the Broncos with three catches for 27 yards and a touchdown. Keep in mind, anyone catching passes from Peyton Manning is a useful Fantasy option, and this is a great matchup since the Jaguars are No. 29 in pass defense. In one of my 14-team leagues, I'm starting White ahead of Michael Crabtree if Garcon is out.

Johnny Knox (at NYG): Knox has yet to score a touchdown, but his production continues to increase each week. He had five Fantasy points in Week 1 against Detroit, eight in Week 2 at Dallas and nine in Week 3 against Green Bay. The Giants have allowed five passing touchdowns, and you know the Bears will be throwing all day. He's not a clear-cut starting option in the majority of leagues, but in leagues where receptions count he can be a No. 2 Fantasy wide receiver. He's a favorite of Mike Martz and Jay Cutler, and that's going to lead to plenty of production each week.

Lance Moore (vs. CAR): No Reggie Bush means lots of Moore, who had seven targets and did well playing in the slot last week against the Falcons with six catches for 149 yards and two touchdowns. With Bush out for at least six weeks, Moore can be a useful Fantasy receiver. He's not going to play like that every week, but he did have 79 catches for 928 yards and 10 touchdowns when Bush and Marques Colston were dealing with injuries in 2008. It's clear that Drew Brees has faith in Moore, and you should also. In two games against the Panthers in 2008, Moore had 11 catches for 101 yards and two touchdowns. He's a good No. 3 Fantasy option this week.

Category: NFL
Posted on: September 25, 2010 1:14 am

A look at quarterbacks with an expert

Some of you know Steve Beuerlein as an analyst for NFL games on CBS. Others remember Beuerlein from his playing days as a quarterback for the Raiders, Cowboys, Cardinals, Jaguars, Panthers and Broncos from 1988-2003. He also was a quarterback for Notre Dame.

But aside from all of that, Beuerlein is a Fantasy fanatic just like you and me. And he knows how to draft a team and pick a winner. His roster this year includes Drew Brees, Arian Foster, LeSean McCoy, Calvin Johnson and the Steelers DST. As you can imagine, he's off to a good start this year.

And when we spoke this week, he was eyeing a key free agent -- Mike Tolbert of the Chargers, who is expected to start Sunday at Seattle for the injured Ryan Mathews (ankle).

"When he had those two runs against the Chiefs in Week 1, that sold me," Beuerlein said. "He's built to last. I'm trying to get him in my league. He could be a factor for the rest of the season."

We agree with Beuerlein on Tolbert. We also know he has an eye for good (and bad) quarterback play. With that in mind, we wanted to pick his brain for some analysis on the quarterbacks who are questionable starters each week.

Here's what Beuerlein had to say on Matt Ryan, Eli Manning, Donovan McNabb, Brett Favre, Joe Flacco, Carson Palmer, Kyle Orton and Josh Freeman. We would have asked him about more quarterbacks, but he was in a rush to get to the waiver wire to add Tolbert.

On Ryan: "I do like Matt Ryan. He's a solid second-tier starter. He'll have good days and not so good days. He's not in the Top 8-10 quarterbacks, but he's in that 10-15 range. He's a guy that I like. As long as Roddy White and Tony Gonzalez are on the field, he'll be consistent with his numbers."

On Manning: "Eli has always been kind of an enigma. I always thought physically he was better than Peyton. But he's light years behind Peyton in terms of his mental approach and knowledge of the game. He has good weapons in Hakeem Nicks and Steve Smith. He's one of the guys that you can put in there for big numbers, but you never know what you're going to get week in and week out. He's just not going to be a consistent performer. But the upside is there."

On McNabb: "I think he looks great. The more the coaching staff there knows him and knows his strengths, the better he'll be. He didn't pick up the offense in training camp as much as they'd like, but they put packages in place to make him successful. He only has Chris Cooley and Santana Moss, but he's put up numbers with no receivers in Philadelphia. He's a solid player. I know Mike Shanahan will give him a chance to make plays. And he'll make those guys around him better."

On Favre: "As soon as Sidney Rice went down I didn't expect him to come close to his numbers from last year. It's hard to live that magical life that they lived last year. He's just not going to come close to that level again."

On Flacco: "I love that kid. He's the kind of guy that's going to come out smoking. I believe he'll come out hyper-motivated this week. He has great weapons, and they're still learning each other. He played poorly last week, but he probably needed a wake-up call. He's going to be a very good quarterback this year. I love his demeanor."

On Palmer: "The last couple of years he hasn't produced. But this year he has the weapons, and I expect him to get that passing game going. You'll see him start to get going. He'll turn things around."

On Orton: "I've been impressed. And I'm not a Kyle Orton fan as a stat-producing quarterback. I've always looked at him as a game manager. But he's had good numbers for two games in a row, and we'll see if he can keep this up."

On Smith: "That game (against New Orleans) helped him. I was impressed with him last year. I don't worry about the first game at Seattle. The first game is always the toughest of the year, and the 49ers just got caught off guard by Seattle. I expect Alex Smith to produce throughout the year. They're going to have a good passing offense."

On Freeman: "He's shown me he's a competitive dude. He's going to find a way to beat you. His confidence is soaring right now. He's a big guy who can move. He's the type of quarterback we're going to be talking about down the road who can carry a team. He gets the job done. I've been impressed. He's been solid."

Category: NFL
Posted on: September 23, 2010 11:04 pm
Edited on: September 25, 2010 1:28 am

Week 3 extended sleeper list

Every week I'll dive into some sleepers beyond what we write in Start 'Em and Sit 'Em to help some of you in deeper leagues. Some weeks will have more guys than others, but this should be helpful for those owners in 14- and 16-team leagues.


Sam Bradford (vs. WAS): You're not going to start Bradford in the majority of standard leagues, but he is a good option in formats where you start two quarterbacks. The Redskins have been abused through the air to start the season with 779 passing yards, four touchdowns and one interception against Tony Romo and Matt Schaub. Granted, those are two of the best quarterbacks in the NFL, but Bradford could finish as a Top 20 Fantasy quarterback this week. So far this season, Bradford has 420 passing yards, three touchdowns and four interceptions against Arizona and Oakland, and this is another game where he can continue to improve in his rookie year.

Kyle Orton (vs. IND): I don't view Orton as a Top 12 Fantasy quarterback this week, but he should be considered a Top 15 option since he could be throwing a lot against the Colts. Through two games, Orton has passed for 602 yards, three touchdowns and one interception, and his receiving corps has been a pleasant surprise with Eddie Royal, Demaryius Thomas, Jabar Gaffney and Brandon Lloyd. The Colts secondary hasn't been tested yet, and that could happen in this matchup. Orton passed for 277 yards, two touchdowns and one interception last year, and we'll find out this week if he can do it again.


Willis McGahee (vs. CLE): McGahee, like most of his teammates, have struggled so far on offense this year, but they faced difficult opponents with the Jets and Bengals. This week, things get a lot easier with the Browns, and McGahee can be used in garbage time or near the goal line. He only has 2 total yards from scrimmage and a touchdown against the Jets in Week 1, but he has a solid history against the Browns. He has four touchdowns in his past five games with the Browns and at least 64 rushing yards over that span. Ray Rice remains the starter in Baltimore, but McGahee can be considered a flex option in Week 3.

Donald Brown (at DEN): Joseph Addai showed up on the injury report with a knee injury, although he's expected to play. But he might not be 100 percent, which could open the door for Brown to see an increase in touches. He played well in Week 2 against the Giants with 88 total yards and a touchdown, and the Colts appear willing to share carries with Addai and Brown. Even if Addai is at full strength you can still consider Brown a flex option with this matchup.

Darren Sproles (at SEA): It looks like Ryan Mathews (ankle) is out for this game, which means Mike Tolbert and Sproles will see an increase in touches. Tolbert is the running back to target in standard leagues, but Sproles will be a quality running back in leagues where receptions count. He played well in Week 2 against Jacksonville with five carries for 37 yards and four catches for 63 yards. He's capable of that type of performance most weeks as long as Mathews is out, and this ankle injury could linger.

Correll Buckhalter (vs. IND): With Knowshon Moreno (hamstring) out, this opens the door for Buckhalter to start, and he has a favorable matchup against the Colts. The Colts have struggled in run defense with Arian Foster's big game in Week 1 (231 rushing yards and three touchdowns), and Ahmad Bradshaw ran well against them last week with 17 carries for 89 yards. Buckhalter, who scored a touchdown against Seattle last week, is expected to share carries with Laurence Maroney, but Buckhalter is the running back to target if you're adding one off the waiver wire. He has the potential to be a No. 2 Fantasy running back this week in deeper leagues and a flex option in standard formats, especially if you're without Moreno.


Dez Bryant (at HOU): As we said in Start 'Em and Sit 'Em, we're fond of Bryant this week as long as his ribs are OK since he has a great matchup. The Texans have allowed four wide receivers in two games to gain at least 88 yards receiving with Austin Collie, Reggie Wayne, Santana Moss and Joey Galloway. The Cowboys are struggling to run the ball so look for Tony Romo to come out throwing to Miles Austin, Jason Witten and Bryant. We would use him as a No. 2 Fantasy wide receiver in deep leagues, and he's a definite starter in leagues where you start three receivers.

Louis Murphy (at ARI): Murphy had a great game in Week 2 against the Rams with six catches for 91 yards and a touchdown, but the best thing was he was targeted 10 times. He should play well with Bruce Gradkowski as the starter, and Gradkowski is even a sleeper in deeper formats. The Cardinals have already allowed three touchdowns to opposing wide receivers, and three receivers -- Mark Clayton, Roddy White and Brian Finneran -- have reached at least nine Fantasy points. Murphy is a good No. 3 Fantasy wide receiver or flex option this week.

Johnny Knox (vs. GB): Knox is a solid No. 3 Fantasy wide receiver this week, and he played well against the Packers last year. In two games, Knox had seven catches for 165 yards and a touchdown, and he's started off playing well this season with seven catches for 138 yards. The Bears passing offense is clicking right now, and Knox is the most consistent wide receiver. Look for him to play well since Charles Woodson will likely line up against Devin Hester. That should take pressure off Knox, and Jay Cutler will probably feed him plenty of targets.

Category: NFL
Posted on: September 18, 2010 10:58 pm

Week 2 extended sleeper list

Every week I'll dive into some sleepers beyond what we write in Start 'Em and Sit 'Em to help some of you in deeper leagues. Some weeks will have more guys than others, but this should be helpful for those owners in 14- and 16-team leagues.


Josh Freeman (at CAR):
Freeman played well in Week 1 against Cleveland given that he missed so much time in the preseason with a thumb injury. He had 182 passing yards, two touchdowns and one interception, and the Bucs less-than-stellar receiving corps looked better than expected. This week, Freeman faces the Panthers, who gave up three passing touchdowns to the Giants. Freeman could be a decent replacement if you're without Kevin Kolb (concussion) or Matthew Stafford (shoulder). Last year, Freeman passed for 321 yards in one meeting with Carolina with 30 rushing yards. Unfortunately he had five interceptions, but he'll do better this time around. And once again, Mike Williams is worth starting in deeper formats.

Matt Cassel (at CLE): Cassel was terrible last week against the Chargers when he passed for just 68 yards and a touchdown in a rain storm. But he's better than that, and he should show it in this matchup. Last year against the Browns, Cassel passed for 331 yards and two touchdowns. The Browns struggled with Tampa Bay's passing game, and Kansas City should also take advantage with Dwayne Bowe, Chris Chambers and Dexter McCluster. With some weak quarterback options this week and the injuries to Kolb and Stafford, consider Cassel a Top 15 option in all leagues.


Cadillac Williams (at CAR): The Giants ran over the Panthers in Week 1 with Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs for 120 yards, and Williams will get plenty of touches this week. In their final meeting last year, Williams had 106 total yards against the Panthers, and he ran well in Week 1 against Cleveland with 22 carries for 75 yards and two catches for 23 yards. Williams is only being started in 47 percent of leagues on, which is too low, and he's a great flex option in this matchup.

Thomas Jones (at CLE): Jamaal Charles remains the No. 1 Fantasy option in Kansas City's backfield, but this is a week where Jones could be worth using as a flex option. The Browns defense will again struggle this year, and Jones could end up finding the end zone. He didn't run well in Week 1 against San Diego with 11 carries for 35 yards, but this is a much easier matchup. When the Chiefs have matchups like this, Jones will continue to have upside as a potential starter.

Jerome Harrison (vs. KC): You remember what Harrison did against the Chiefs last year -- 34 carries for 286 yards and three touchdowns -- so put him in your lineup as a No. 2 running back in deeper leagues or as a flex option. The Chiefs did a solid job in Week 1 of containing Ryan Mathews and will have revenge on their mind against Harrison, but he's also motivated after wanting more carries in what turned out to be a 50-50 split with Peyton Hillis in Week 1 against Tampa Bay. Hillis has value in leagues where receptions count and could again work at the goal line, but Harrison should get more work in this matchup. This is a good time to consider Harrison a starter.

Brandon Jacobs (at IND): We like Ahmad Bradshaw this week, and Jacobs should be considered safe also after seeing what Arian Foster did against the Colts. The Giants are going to try to run the ball all game against Indianapolis to keep Peyton Manning off the field and have the same success as Houston did in Week 1. Bradshaw is clearly the better option in New York's backfield, but Jacobs could find the end zone with about 50 yards rushing. You'll take those 11 Fantasy points in most standard leagues.


Greg Camarillo (vs. MIA):
Former player gets to play that team less than a month after being traded is something we like to see. You're not going to start Camarillo in the majority of leagues, but he does have some value in deeper formats. Brett Favre will rebound from his Week 1 performance at New Orleans, and he should get Camarillo more involved. Consider using him in deep point per reception formats since Favre could try to give him some extra targets.

T.J. Houshmandzadeh (at CIN): Sticking with the theme of former player going up against his former team, Houshmandzadeh is making his return to Cincinnati after he left there prior to 2009. Joe Flacco could give Houshmandzadeh some extra passes, and he played more in Week 1 against the Jets than most people expected. The Ravens will likely be throwing in this game, which is why we like Flacco as our co-Start of the Week. And he will get Anquan Boldin, Derrick Mason, Ray Rice, Todd Heap and Houshmandzadeh involved a lot. Consider Houshmandzadeh a good option in leagues where you start three wide receivers.

Devin Aromashodu (at DAL): None of the Bears receivers might ever become consistent starting Fantasy options, but Aromashodu showed in Week 1 he might have the most upside. He saw the most targets (10) of any Bears wide receiver, and that speaks volumes to how Jay Cutler still values him ahead of Johnny Knox and Devin Hester. We're not big fans of Cutler this week based on the Dallas secondary and pass rush, but Aromashodu could be worth using as a No. 3 wide receiver in deeper leagues. If he continues to see a hefty amount of targets then his value will continue to rise.

Louis Murphy (vs. STL): Dave Richard and I made a friendly wager on our podcast/video Friday where I said Murphy would outproduce Mark Clayton. Murphy just has the better matchup. The Rams just allowed Steve Breaston to catch seven passes for 132 yards, and Larry Fitzgerald scored a touchdown. While Clayton is struggling with Nnamdi Asomugha, Murphy should run free in that Rams secondary. Consider using him as a No. 3 wide receiver in deep leagues in Week 2.

Legedu Naanee (vs. JAC): The Jaguars might shake things up in the secondary for Week 2 after they struggled at home against Denver in Week 1. We like Malcom Floyd this week, and Naanee isn't far behind. He scored a touchdown in Week 1 at Kansas City, and the Chargers are still feeling out their wide receiver corps with Vincent Jackson out. Naanee could again play well in this matchup since the Jaguars gave up plenty of production to Jabar Gaffney, Eddie Royal and Brandon Lloyd last week.

Category: NFL
Posted on: September 17, 2010 12:40 pm

Steve Breaston - Breakout

Steve Breaston just had the game of his life, but he wasn't concerned with his stats. Instead, he was focused on the play that helped his team win.

In Week 1 at St. Louis, Breaston had seven catches for a career-high 132 yards, but he also helped the Cardinals escape with a 17-13 victory with a defensive play. Rams defensive lineman Clifton Ryan recovered a Derek Anderson fumble, but Breaston chased him down and stripped the ball just shy of the goal line. Arizona center Lyle Sendlein recovered in the end zone for a touchback, and Breaston said Thursday he's been hearing about the play all week.

It all worked out for Breaston and the Cardinals in the first game without Kurt Warner and Anquan Boldin. Anderson played well with 297 passing yards and a touchdown, and Breaston looked like he's ready for a starring role.

But being in the spotlight is something Breaston will have to get accustomed to since he feels like he constantly has to prove himself. Breaston was a fifth-round pick out of Michigan in 2007, and he was drafted as a punt returner. He has turned himself into a quality wide receiver, but he is still looking for respect.

"Very few people expect me to do much," Breaston said in a phone interview. "I have a chip on my shoulder to get the job done. That's why I play hard every play. I try to work hard so I can always reach my potential."

Breaston had a breakthrough season in 2008 with 77 catches for 1,006 yards and three touchdowns when he was the No. 3 wide receiver for the Cardinals behind Larry Fitzgerald and Boldin, but some viewed that year as a fluke. He then battled injuries in 2009 and finished with respectable stats of 55 catches for 602 yards and two touchdowns, but it didn't help his on-field image that he took a step back in production.

This year, the Cardinals showed plenty of faith in Breaston by trading Boldin to Baltimore, allowing him to step into the starting lineup. After one week, he has made that decision look like a genius move.

"I go off what my coaches tell me, and they expect me to play at a high level," he said. "They put a lot of faith in me, and that's all I can ask for."

Breaston was excited to help the team open the season 1-0, but he knows Week 2 will be tough at Atlanta. He believes the Cardinals are ready for the challenge, and he also expressed confidence in Anderson.

There was a lot of speculation how Anderson would do after he beat out Matt Leinart for the starting job and trying to replace Warner. Breaston said Anderson is off to a great start.

"He is doing a great job," Breaston said. "He has been making progress since he got here, and he's only going to get better. He's still new. The best thing about him is he's still learning."

Fantasy owners who were concerned about the Cardinals' passing attack should breathe a sigh of relief, at least for one week, based on the performance against the Rams. Sure, St. Louis doesn't have the greatest secondary in the NFL, but Anderson had a solid debut, Breaston had a career performance and Fitzgerald scored a touchdown.

Will they all play at a high level week in, week out, including Sunday at Atlanta? Probably not. But all three remain viable Fantasy options, with Fitzgerald a guaranteed starter in all formats as long as he's healthy.

Before the season started we called Breaston a breakout candidate, and he looked like it with his Week 1 performance. It's too bad he also won't get credit for his defensive prowess because Breaston is an all-around player.

If he continues to play like this then maybe then he will get the respect he deserves. Breaston is on the verge of becoming a star, and he's going to continue to work hard to make that happen.

Category: NFL
Posted on: September 16, 2010 6:05 pm

Twitter mailbag

I'll do my best to answer questions here once a week. We'll call it Jamey's mailbox. Feel free to follow me on Twitter @jameyeisenberg to submit your questions.

Don't drop anyone for Jackson yet. If you must, go Driver. @clance_man Limited to 4 WRs, start 2. Have AJohnson, Marshall, Harvin, Driver. Who do I drop for VJax?  

Go with Addai and Aromashodu. Thank you. @jyountchi Quick questions for Week 2: Addai or Best? Berrian or Aromashodu? Thx, you're the man.

Hillis has the most upside based on his matchup. I also like Carlson. @WackAttack85 hey Jamey. Who has more upside as a flex this week: LT, meachem, Jacoby Jones, Hillis, John Carlson? I thnk I knw the answer

I'd go with Williams here. You might see him in a future blog. @JuanH88 who should I start as my 3rd wr? Naanee, Royal, M. Williams (TB), or Aromashodu?

You should start Santana and Welker. Those are your best two this week. @rushiv who should I start as my 3rd wr? Naanee, Royal, M. Williams (TB), or Aromashodu?

Stick with Nicks and go with Addai and Cadillac. @ralphortiz Pick 2. M. Bush, J. Addai, J. Best, C. Williams, P. Hillis. Also would you start either over H. Nicks as flex?

Charles and Bowe are the way to go. Those Chiefs should do well. @Swagger_81 Ahmad Bradshaw over Jamaal Charles? Dwayne Bowe over Mike Williams (TB)? Thanks Jamey.

No, stick with Barber and Jacobs. For now. @CockyMF Would you give up either Marion Barber or Brandon Jacobs for Peyton Hillis?

I'd stick with Ward. @jbizzle518 who should I start in the slot this week? Robert meacham or Hines Ward?

Not sure which Taylor you mean. Don't like Chester or Fred this week. I'd go with Clayton. @MikeBenningJr I had Ryan Grant and didn't get jackson... I'm left with McCoy and Foster... Who should I start for flex? clayton or taylor?

If you can afford to trade Jackson then yes. Jackson this week. @rumsfield78 would you trade S-Jax for Schaub? Should I bench Foster this week for S-Jax?

Category: NFL
Posted on: September 10, 2010 4:48 pm
Edited on: September 10, 2010 4:53 pm

Week 1 extended sleepers

Every week I'll dive into some sleepers beyond what we write in Start 'Em and Sit 'Em to help some of you in deeper leagues. Some weeks will have more guys than others, but this should be helpful for those owners in 14- and 16-team leagues.


Kyle Orton (at JAC):
There's a reason why we like Jabar Gaffney so much, and that's because the Jaguars secondary should struggle. Orton has the chance to post decent stats here, but I'm curious if the Broncos give Tim Tebow some playing time, especially with some potential goal-line work in his return to his hometown.

Josh Freeman (vs. CLE): With Mike Williams and Kellen Winslow, Freeman has quality targets against a weak opponent in the Browns. If his wrist weren't a concern he'd be higher in my rankings, but he has the chance to make plays in this matchup. And keep in mind this is Winslow against his former team, so he wants to play well, which will help Freeman. Consider Williams a sleeper also in this matchup.


Ricky Williams (at BUF):
The Dolphins should be able to run all over the Bills, and Ronnie Brown, who is a great start this week, won't do it all by himself. Williams played well against the Bills last year and was likely drafted as a No. 3 or 4 Fantasy running back. If you're looking for a flex player in Week 1, Williams is a solid option.

Peyton Hillis (at TB): Jerome Harrison is the Browns running back to use this week, but Hillis has the chance to work at the goal line and catch passes out of the backfield. Tampa Bay's run defense will improve this year with the additions they've made at defensive tackle, but Hillis has plenty of upside this week now that he's clearly the No. 2 running back for the Browns with Montario Hardesty (knee) out for the year. Hillis is worth using as a flex option in deeper leagues, especially PPR formats.

Tim Hightower (at STL): Hightower has the chance for a big week if Beanie Wells (knee) doesn't play in this game. And even if he does, Hightower will likely get the majority of touches so Wells isn't asked to do much. The Rams aren't going to stop the Cardinals on offense, and Hightower is a great choice as a flex player in leagues where receptions count.


Nate Burleson (at CHI):
As you read in Start 'Em and Sit 'Em (you did read it, didn't you?) I'm very fond of the Lions offense this week and this season. Matthew Stafford, Jahvid Best, Tony Scheffler and that other guy who plays wide receiver, Calvin Johnson, are all worth starting this week. And Burleson might join in the fun since he'll get plenty of single coverage with the Bears focusing on Johnson. In deeper formats, consider Burleson a No. 3 Fantasy wide receiver.

Anthony Gonzalez (at HOU): Last year's season opener didn't go too well for Gonzalez, who injured his knee against Jacksonville and was lost for the year. Something tells me Peyton Manning will be looking for Gonzalez as a feel good play. This is just a hunch, but the Texans also have a rebuilding secondary and are without Brian Cushing (suspension). It will tough to find someone good enough to line up with Gonzalez in the slot.

Mike Williams (vs. SF): Seattle cut T.J. Houshmandzadeh for a reason, and Matt Hasselbeck still has to throw to someone. That could be Williams since John Carlson will get plenty of attention. We're not talking about Williams as someone to consider in standard leagues, but he does have the chance to make some plays if the Seahawks are chasing points as expected.

Jeremy Maclin (vs. GB): DeSean Jackson is going to see plenty of Charles Woodson, which means Maclin will likely line up against Tramon Williams. I'll take my chances with Maclin in this matchup, and the Eagles will likely be throwing most of the game. Maclin is worth using as a No. 3 Fantasy wide receiver in most formats.

Steve Breaston (at STL): We're finally going to see what the Cardinals offense looks like with Derek Anderson now the starter and Larry Fitzgerald back after injuring his knee in the first preseason game. With Fitzgerald on the field, Breaston will see plenty of single coverage against a weak secondary. Like Maclin, Breaston can be considered a No. 3 Fantasy wide receiver in most formats.
Category: NFL
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