One of the biggest traps people get caught up in when playing fantasy football is being enamored with a player’s name. No, I don’t mean keeping guys with funny names like LaDainian or D’Brickashaw for laughs, or even stashing guys with names that are easy to make team names out of (you can safety drop Isaiah Pead despite the catchy last name). I’m talking about seeing a guy with a big name and thinking just because he was an early draft pick or produced in the past that he will continue to help you out. On the flip side, just because a guy doesn’t have a household name and you may not even know how to spell it, doesn’t mean he can’t contribute to your team and become a fantasy force for you.
You want to stay ahead of the curve and cut bait — either by trade or stashing on the bench — with the “big names” who are duds before everyone else catches on, or you keep getting 3 point clunkers week after week. On the other hand, you want to identify the players on other teams that are off to disappointing starts and try to exploit that owner into trading you a superstar for 60 cents on the dollar. So who are these big name guys we should be making decisions on? Lets break it down..
Stay the Course if you have / Buy Low if you don’t
WR – Larry Fitzgerald – Larry has just 5 catches for 67 yards this season. That is not a misprint or his numbers from the one half of a game, those are his total numbers. Things look bleak right now after starter John Skelton appeared to shatter his leg in week 1 and the noodle-armed Kevin Kolb replaced him, but don’t worry too much. After all, Larry has been dealing with terrible quarterbacks pretty much his whole career. If the Fitz owner in your league is already making waves about how down he is on him, I’d make a low-ball offer and see if he bites. Even better, I’d wait until after week 3 against the Eagles, where Larry is again likely to be bottled up. At that point, the guy who has him in your league may be ready to cut bait.
RB – Darren McFadden - Much has been made about Run DMC’s struggles in the Raiders zone blocking scheme, but if you have him, you can’t even think about benching or trading him. He’s a supreme talent, and he’s likely to be the leading receiver on the team as well as leading rusher. Talk up his struggles and injury history to his owner in your league, and see if he takes 65 cents on the dollar.
QB – Matthew Stafford – Yes, he has underwhelmed so far this season, but he had to play a surprisingly solid Rams defense week 1 that took the Lions by surprise and the 49ers in week 2. There are better times ahead for Stafford and the Lions passing attack. Oh yeah, he also gets to throw to Calvin Johnson. That’s pretty awesome. Send out feelers to the Stafford owner in your league.
WR – Julio Jones – This one is tricky because Julio was dominant in week 1, but if you can convince the Jones owner in your league that Roddy White is still the #1 receiver in Atlanta and Julio is expendable, then you make your move. You make that move RIGHT NOW!
Don’t Cut them, But Let Them Think About Things on Your Bench
RB – Chris Johnson – As a Chris Johnson owner in one of my leagues, I think it’s already time other Chris Johnson owners and I form a support group online or something. We can all exchange horror stories about watching him rush for 1 yard per carry and his general “I don’t give a shit” attitude. I hate you, Chris Johnson, I really do. If you have him on your team, I’m sure you hate him equally as much, and if you have even a remotely decent option on your bench to replace him with, do it, until he shows he deserves to be in your lineup. My league is PPR and I’m considering starting Mikel Leshoure or Jacquizz Rodgers over him this week. It’s that bad. And if you were thinking about making the Johnson owner in your league an offer to buy low, take my advice: Don’t bother.
RB – Michael Turner – There are few less fitting nicknames in sports anymore than “Turner the Burner”. A more fitting nickname for him at this point would be “Turner the Slow”, or “Turner who looks like he runs with crap in his pants”. Doesn’t quite roll off the tongue, but it’s definitely more fitting. Turner is a guy I was extremely low on heading into the season and he hasn’t disappointed me. He even took his crappiness off the field and got himself arrested for a DUI. If you can trick someone in your league to take him off your hands, do it now.
WR – Wes Welker - He might have another solid game this week with Aaron Hernandez suffering an injury in week 2, so he deserves a spot in your starting lineups for now. However, it’s clear that once he failed to sign his contract extension, Bill Belichick decided he was done with Wes Welker. Look at the evidence: He seems to have dropped behind Julian Edelman on the depth chart; he was relegated to being the 6th option on the offense behind Edelman, Lloyd, Gronkowski, Hernandez, and Ridley; Kellen Winslow was brought in so Welker didn’t have to play as much after Hernandez’s injury. If you have him, try to trade him now. Like, right now.
WR - Marques Colston – Have you seen Marques Colston play this season? He looks like he’s moving in slow motion, which I’m pretty sure is a bad thing for a wide receiver. I wouldn’t hesitate to get him on the bench right now, and if you were thinking about trying to “steal” him from an owner in your league, get that thought out of your head.
WEEK 3 ONE-LINERS
Players to Start
QB – Ben Roethlisberger @ Oak – The Raiders are awful. Expect Ben to throw all over them and perform as a top 8 QB.
RB – Stevan Ridley @ Balt - A very tough matchup on the surface, but this is the kind of game Belichick likes to establish the run and keep the Ravens pass rush off Brady.
RB – Andre Brown @ Car – A no-brainer here. Bradshaw is out + bad Panthers D – crybaby David Wilson in the doghouse = heavy workload for Mr. Brown and a quality RB2.
RB – Mikel Leshoure @ Tenn – If he’s active, don’t hesitate to get him in your lineup. Jim Schwartz has had nothing but great things to say about his soon-to-be workhorse RB.
RB – Jacquizz Rodgers @ SD – I’m going to keep putting him here until he produces, but this could definitely be the week with Turner’s DUI, especially in PPR formats.
WR – Brandon LaFell vs. NYG – I’ll make this one simple: Prince Amukamara stinks.
WR – Michael Crabtree @ Minn – The Vikings pass defense is awful, and Crabtree has established himself as the #1 WR in San Fran.
WR – Percy Harvin vs. SF – You should never bench Harvin, but I’ve seen people question him this week against the tough 49ers defense. Don’t.
WR – Donnie Avery vs. Jax – As long as Austin Collie remains out, start Avery with confidence, especially with a juicy matchup like this.
WR – Stephen Hill @ Mia – This is more for deeper leagues, but think more about his week 1 performance than week 2. The Dolphins pass D is comical.
WR – Ramses Barden @ Car – Another deep league play. Barden is going to be the benefactor of Nicks’s absence, not rookie Rueben Randle.
TE - Dennis Pitta vs. NE – I’m not sold on the Pats defense, and the most targeted TE in the league through two weeks is a very solid start this week.
TE – Martellus Bennett @ Car – Bennett is becoming a weekly must-start. He’s a threat to score a touchdown every week.
TOJ THURSDAY NIGHT PICKS
- Joe – Car (-2.5)
- Rob – Car (-2.5)
- Chris G (Car -2.5)
- TJ (NYG +2.5)
- Chris C (NYG +2.5)
- Mike (NYG +2.5)