The gift of Gaff’
Photo Credit: Keith Allison
Kenny Britt. I owned that mu’fucka in just about every league I’m in. “True Britt” started the season in a way championship-caliber fantasy players start off the season... like a champion. Kenny Britt. Gets hurt so bad on a play that he literally throws the football out of his possession like it was a hand grenade. Kenny Fucking Britt.
Since there is obviously no god, let’s just say thank “air” there’s NFL Real Talk.
More after the j-u-m-p:
While Britt’s teammate Nate "It's All About The" Washington is an obvious add (remember when I told you last week that Nasty Nate looked ready for a career-best campaign?), Jabar Gaffney is an under-the-radar option that could prove mighty useful to fantasy owners. Now let’s keep it real, Gaffney isn’t a burner or much of an after-the-catch threat, but he does have a couple of things going for him. His former University of Florida teammate Rex Grossman keeps throwing him the ball (seven targets per game) and Gaffney is even seeing some red zone looks. While you’re more likely to see Chris Berman use his inside voice than witness Gaffney carry you in any given week, these useful “hold it down” options have their place in fantasy. For PPR purposes, Gaffney makes sense as a flex play in 12-team or deeper leagues since his weekly floor will be a lot higher than most. Keep in mind that Santana Moss and Fred Davis will be commanding most of the attention on the field, so you don’t have to worry about him having an unfavorable matchup even against good defenses (in fact, you can argue that Gaffney is a better play against good pass defenses as Moss/Davis will see tougher coverage). We all get swept up by the lure of upside, but being able to bank on at least four-to-five catches for 50-60 yards every week is nothing to sneeze at (especially with bye weeks on the horizon). Plus, if Grossman keeps giving Gaffney some red zone targets, we could be looking at seven-to-eight scores this year. The point is, a lot of dudes getting picked up (pause) off waivers will not have numbers as good as Gaffney.
If you drafted Antonio Gates, you weren’t listening to your boy. Myself and Sleeper listed Gates as the fifth best TE on draft day, which was counter to the rankings of other sites that almost unanimously placed him at the top of the heap. It was never a question about Gates’ ability, but about the deteriorating health of his feet. Lo and behold, he’s now talking about sitting for “three-to-five weeks” in order to heal his hobbled hoof. At a position as deep as TE, there was never a reason to spend what it took to get an injury-risk option as expensive as Gates. If you own him, you have no one to blame but yourself.
Speaking of TEs who aren’t all they’re cracked up to be, it’s time to shop Tony Gonzalez. He has three TDs already, still has very good hands, and is seeing a lot of targets from Matt Ryan, but the emergence of Julio Jones and Gonzalez’s lack of play-making skills after the catch will lead to some very weak performances over the course of the season. Again, the TE position is deep and there are plenty of comparable options (if not as TD friendly) you can replace him with. Gonzalez’s value is as high as it will be all year and the smart thing to do is move him while the getting is good. Because if the getting is no longer good, then um, y-you probably won’t be happy. Yeah.
Scott Chandler is the poor man’s Tony Gonzalez. He won’t see as many overall targets, but like Gonzo, he doesn’t do much after the catch and his QB loves throwing to him in the red zone. The chief difference between Gonzalez and Chandler, one cost a pretty penny while the other can be had for peanuts. I'm a Dolla-menunaire, so of course the price on Chandler makes more sense to me.
Chris Johnson and Jahvid Best. Both are home run hitters in terms of their style of running. Both are struggling big time averaging under three yards per carry. Can either of them salvage their seasons after slow starts? They both are capable, but I still give the edge to “CJ Iller.” Johnson’s O-line hasn’t been as good as it should be, but they will get better. Plus, with Kenny Britt out for the year, the Titans have no choice but to re-emphasize the run. It looks bleak right now Johnson owners, but don’t go selling your top pick for 50 cents on the dollar just because you are behind in the standings. While I’m not as optimistic about Best, the fact that he’s been heavily involved in the passing game early is very encouraging and though his YPC on the ground may be underwhelming, his overall yardage totals should be solid enough to make him an ideal RB2 in PPR formats.
I added Donald Jones to stick in my flex spot (pause) this past week in an 18-team league and homeboy put in work (five catches, 101 yards). He’s still third on the target totem pole behind Steve Johnson and David Nelson, but with bye weeks on the horizon, he’s someone to keep an eye on. Remember, it was Jones, not Nelson, who was getting a lot of love in Bills camp as the second receiver in Buffalo.
Remember that apology from last week regarding the whole Ryan Grant/James Starks business. Yeah, that shit's getting tooken back. After Grant plowed for 92 yards on 17 carries, the Packers are finally starting to see what we've known all along: he is more suited for the feature role. Here’s what coach Mike McCarthy had to say on Tuesday: “He’s a bull. You’ve got to give him the ball, he gets better as the game moves forward. He’s an excellent north and south runner. I don’t think the defensive players probably enjoy tackling him a lot.” Not only does Starks have issues with pass protection and consistency, but Grant is simply a better fit for this offense. He wears down opposing defenses and is a proven NFL commodity. Starks has more upside for sure, but he is still a work in progress. Expect Grant’s stock to rise while Starks sees fewer touches than a fat chick’s snatch going forward.
Willis McGahee is as exciting as hockey (sorry white people), but due to the sheer number of carries he’s getting, dude is a slightly lesser version of Cedric Benson. Only reason Benson gets the edge is because no one is threatening his carries in Cincy when he’s on the field. McGahee, on the other hand, still has Knowshon Moreno still kicking around (although Moreno had zero touches last week despite being active). Bottom line is: you don’t really want to start McGahee and Benson, but you have to just because they are carrying the rock like crazy.
I took some heat for ranking Jay Cutler ahead of Matthew Stafford, a decision based solely on health concerns for Stafford. Of course, Stafford is looking like an elite QB now and Cutler is the one looking like an injury-risk with the way he’s getting raped in the backfield by opposing defenders. That said, now is the perfect time to buy-low on Cutler. Considering how leaky his offensive line has been, the fact that he has thrown for over 300 yards in two of his three games is admirable. He’s also done a good job of spreading the ball around to different receivers. Obviously, Stafford has better weapons around him, so if he stays healthy he’ll have no problem outclassing Cutler in the fantasy ranks. Still, Cutler is no slouch and though he’ll rack up the INTs, he can also rack up the monster performances.
I warned everyone about the problems facing Ben Roethlisberger’s fantasy value a couple of weeks ago, and it appears Rashard Mendenhall is also in line for a disappointing 2011. Pittsburgh’s weak O-line has Mendenhall trying to get cute at the line of scrimmage with steps that stutter worse than an apologetic husband getting caught with lipstick on his collar (and zipper). Mendenhall will be better off than Big Ben since he showed last year that his power-running style can overcome the Steelers’ O-line issues, but expect a regression from last season.
See if it’s possible to get something of value in return for Jordy Nelson. Yes he’s talented and Aaron Rodgers loves airing it out, but when you have Greg Jennings and Jermichael Finley in front of you (and a myriad of Packers WRs also looking for some action), there’s only so many targets to go around. Some people may advise to “buy-low” on Nelson coming off a three-catch, 40 yard effort, but not your boy Kid Clutch.
Brandon Lloyd owners should fear Eric Decker. Some thought Decker’s big Week Two performance was simply the result of Lloyd being inactive, but after seeing 12 targets (compared to Lloyd’s seven), it’s looking like Decker is a force to be reckoned with. Lloyd should remain the top WR in Denver so long as he stays healthy, but Decker’s emergence should make Lloyd more of a high-end WR3 than anything else.
I don’t care what Felix Jones did in Week Three. He’s still an injury-prone, hybrid RB whose fantasy value will never match the hype.
Mark Sanchez is looking more and more like a fine platoon QB in fantasy. The Jets are passing more than ever, thanks in large part to a running game that can’t get anything going. With a bonafide red-zone gem in Plaxico Burress and Santonio Holmes opening up the field, Sanchez is very likely to provide a nice profit on his ADP.
With Thomas Jones showing that his game is as old-fashioned as his name, slickly-named Dexter McCluster is gaining traction. All nine of McCluster’s carries came in the second half and he showed far more effectiveness with his touches than Jones. McCluster’s size will keep him from becoming a feature back, but his versatility and explosive ability make him a very intriguing fantasy weapon. If you need help at RB, he’s not a bad low-risk player to target.
If nothing else, Montario Hardesty showed in Week Two that he will steal some touches from Peyton Hillis. Hardesty is a physical runner who can help out in the passing game, which is exactly what Hillis does. This does not mean that Hillis will be rendered useless. He’s still an ideal goal-line option for the Browns and only missed last week’s game because of strep throat. Still, the team sounds ready to give Hardesty a larger role to keep Hillis fresh, meaning Hillis will likely perform more like a RB2 than the low-end RB1 people were expecting.
Mark Ingram is talented as shit, but he’s in a very unfortunate situation in New Orleans. The team has mad RBs and passes the rock more often than a Baltimore drug dealer. He is worth holding onto for now, but there’s no way you can start him in most 12-team leagues.