Turn On The Jets LIVE Twitter Mock Draft

The Turn On The Jets crew held a live Twitter Mock Draft. Here are the results and analysis from Cole Patterson.

As the real deal approaches, we at Turn On the Jets thought we would mix up the mock draft monotony and provide our own unique take. We assigned each of our writers a division and made our picks, live, on Twitter. You can find every pick, analysis, and comments from our “GMs” right here!

Continue reading “Turn On The Jets LIVE Twitter Mock Draft”

TOJ Week 14 NFL Gambling Advice and Picks

Week 13 was a pretty crappy schedule from top to bottom and I didn’t have a very good read on it, so I consider myself lucky to have finished 7-8-1 on the week. This week I feel much better about my chances to have a big week and there are actually a few games I absolutely love. Like, love a lot. Love almost as much as Jeff Cumberland loves  dropping passes… ok, well maybe not that much. Let’s got on with the show. Continue reading “TOJ Week 14 NFL Gambling Advice and Picks”

New York Jets – Looking Ahead to the 2013 Cornerbacks

Mike Donnelly breaks down what is left of the New York Jets cornerbacks post Darrelle Revis trade

Now that Jets fans have had a day to mourn the loss of the greatest defensive player in team history, it’s time to look forward and pick up the pieces that are still here. With perhaps the best defensive coach in the league running the show, and centerpieces like Mo Wilkerson, Quinton Coples, and Antonio Cromartie, the defense is still likely to be amongst the league’s best. But without Number 24 out there in the secondary, the cornerback position will look much different. Let’s take a look at where the position stands now, and how the team will go about trying to replace Mr. Revis. Continue reading “New York Jets – Looking Ahead to the 2013 Cornerbacks”

Turn On The Jets Stock Watch – Super Bowl Weekend Edition

Mike Donnelly is buying and selling New York Jets off-season plans at Turn On The Jets

NFL: San Francisco 49ers at New York Jets

With the NFL offseason about to kick off, there are a lot of issues to deal with here in JestLand. So many in fact, that I think the only way to properly break them all down is with a special edition of the Stock Watch to buy and sell all things Jets as we get ready for the 2013 season.

BUY: Marty Mornhinweg Hire – I’m all in on the Marty M. hire. Aside from an upgrade at QB, the easiest and quickest way to improve an offense is by hiring an excellent offensive coordinator, and Marty was about as good as there was available on the market this offseason. We’ve been over his history of top 10 offenses and his usage of the West Coast Offense plenty of times here, so by now you should know what he brings to the table. We’re going to see a completely different style of offense in 2013, and I expect things to improve drastically. I mean, they can’t get any worse, right?

BUY: Mark Sanchez at QB – (Ducks) Ok, I know saying Mark Sanchez should be the starting QB in 2013 makes many of you want to throw a shoe at the computer, but that’s just the way it is. Joe touched on this yesterday, and everything he said was completely right. I’m not saying Mark Sanchez is going to be the long-term answer at QB in 2014 and beyond, but for 2013, he’s the most likely, and quite frankly, the best option we have. Look at the options we have available other than him: Tim Tebow is a goner, Greg McElroy isn’t the answer, the best cheap free agent options are guys like Tarvaris Jackson and Jason Campbell who both stink, and the 2013 draft class is downright putrid. 2014 is going to be the time where this team will look for their long-term answer at QB, but for 2013 Sanchez represents the best chance to win.

Now I’m sure many of you are saying if Sanchez is the QB, then the season is screwed before it even gets started, but I don’t think that’s necessarily the case. Call me crazy, or call me some disgusting urban dictionary words if you wish, but I think with this new system, some improvements on the line, and some continuity at the receiver position for once, Sanchez has a chance to be the serviceable QB he was before the 2012 catastrophe.

SELL: Trading Revis – We went over this in depth the other day, but it bears repeating. The Jets should absolutely NOT trade Darrelle Revis. We’re not going to get anywhere close to fair value, and trading him isn’t going to darrelle-revis-02magically land us a franchise QB. This is the number one issue with this team heading into the offseason, and we’re going to hear a thousand rumors between now and April, but I hope John Idzik’s first major order of business is to lock up the best defensive player in football long-term.

BUY: Draft a Pass Rusher at #9 – Since there is very clearly no QB worth drafting in the #9 spot of the first round, the Jets need to address their next most pressing need, and that is the pass rush. The team hasn’t had a pass-rushing OLB for years, and this is the time to get one. Our draft staff has done a great job breaking down the prospects in this year’s draft, and there are no less than 5 potential pass rushing options for us at #9. All of our linebackers are either useless, or heading into a retirement home, so we need a guy who can step in and play a major role from day one. Follow that up with at least one solid offensive line pick, and I’ll be happy with this draft.

BUY: Re-sign Braylon EdwardsWide receiver was a wasteland position for the Jets in 2012, but things can look much better in 2013 if Braylon is brought back. First of all, the team is up against the salary cap wall, so giving Braylon a 1-year low money contract makes a ton of sense. It will give Sanchez some continuity at the receiver position for basically the first time in his career, and it will give us four solid wide receiver options in Edwards, Santonio Holmes, Jeremy Kerley, and Stephen Hill. Bringing Edwards back will give Hill time to develop and not force him into a major role, and it gives us two tall receivers who can get down the field. It sure beats having Jason Hill and Mardy Gilyard out there.

SELL: Vlad Ducasse – To be fair, the big oaf wasn’t too awful in 2012, particularly as a run blocker. That being said, he should get zero — I repeat, ZERO — consideration as a starting guard in 2013, despite Matt Slauson and Brandon Moore being free agents. If they want to keep him around as a backup, then that’s fine I guess, but generally the less Vlad we see, the better.

SELL: Mike DeVito – This one pains me to say because I’m as big a fan of his as anybody, but I just don’t see how he can be back in 2013. He’s basically a luxury we can’t afford at this point, and he’s going to be able to get much more money on the open market than the Jets can afford. We drafted Quinton Coples in the first round last year and it’s time to throw him into the fire full-time and let him and Muhammad Wilkerson anchor the line going forward. It’s going to be terrible when he ends up playing for the Patriots next year. Damn it.

BUY: Sione Po’uha and Bart Scott on 1-year deals – Obviously both of these guys and their huge salaries are going to be cut the first chance the team gets, but I wouldn’t mind either one coming back on a minimum type one-year deal. Both can still be useful players, and we can’t replace everyone in one offseason. Po’uha is still a valuable run plugger if healthy, and he can form a nice rotation with Kenrick Ellis. As for Scott, I’m not sold on Demario Davis playing a full-time role yet, and Bart can still be valuable leader for the defense.

SELL: Calvin Pace or Bryan Thomas back on 1-year deals – Both of these guys are either going to be cut or have their contracts expire, but I don’t expect either one of them to be back, no matter how low of a contract they’re willing to accept. Both finished up the 2012 seasons with monstrous forks sticking out of their backs, and it’s time to move on with some fresh blood at outside linebacker.

BUY: Rob Ryan as linebackers coach – I don’t know if the Jets want to bring in Rex’s brother to coach the linebackers, but I would have no problem with that at all. I know lots of stupid fans and even stupider media members would have a field day with a hire like this, but it makes sense. Rex trusts him, he’s a good coach, we have a hole at the position after the horrific Bob Sutton left, and he can provide a valuable resource for new coordinator Dennis Thurman to lean on. And hey, if the season ends up being bad on the field, at least things will be awfully entertaining off of it.

New York Jets – Tannenbaum Must Go!

Mike Donnelly on why the New York Jets must fire GM Mike Tannenbaum

With the Jets once again getting all the headlines for more bad reasons today, it looks like the 2012 season is ready to be flushed down the toilet like the turd that it is. With players speaking up publicly about their frustration with the team’s biggest offseason publicity stunt–uhh, I mean quarterback transaction,Tim Tebow, it sure seems like last season’s fractured locker room has officially returned. Rather than harp again on Tebow and Sanchez or Sanchez and Tebow, let’s take a look at how we really got here. Let’s take a look at the man who led us on this path. Let’s take a look at Mike Tannenbaum.

I tried to warn Mike back in August that this roster he put together simply wasn’t good enough. I used to really like Mr. T and was a staunch supporter, so it upset me the way things were starting to look. I questioned his series of head-scratching moves over the course of the past year plus. I offered him solutions and begged for some sort of explanation as to what the hell was happening to our beloved New York Jets, but unfortunately we never got any answers of any kind. It’s become painfully clear that the reason the Jets as an organization were never able to answer any of our questions and concerns about what was going on was because they didn’t actually have any answers. They knew just as little about this team as we did. There was no plan. There was rhyme or reason to any of these moves. The team was just slapped together with one quick-fix after another, and now those rubber bands and paper clips holding the franchise together are starting to break apart. So how did this happen?

1- Awful Player Evaluation – It doesn’t take a football expert to know that the foundation of a team is built through the NFL draft. You get to add several young and inexpensive players to your roster each year. You re-tool for the next few years, fill holes, and that’s supposed to be your rock. You develop these players, hope to hit on way more than you miss on, and then you complement this foundation with free agent signings, trades, and waiver pickups. It takes 3-4 years to fully evaluate draft classes, but players you draft are supposed to be the heart of your team. Well let’s take a look at Mr. T’s drafts from the 2008-2010 seasons, which should be a major part of our team.

  • 2008Vernon Gholston, the #6 overall pick, is out of the league. Dustin Keller was traded up for at #30, which was a complete reach and a poor trade, despite Keller turning into a solid if unspectacular tight end. Dwight Lowery was a solid player before being given away for a blocking sled to the Jaguars in 2011. Marcus Henry and Erik Ainge are out of football.
  • 2009– In perhaps the biggest move of Tannenbaum’s career, he pulled off a blockbuster trade for Mark Sanchez at #5 overall. I supported the trade-up for a potential franchise QB at the time, and quite frankly, I still do, even if it hasn’t quite panned out. The real indefensible thing with this selection was how from Day 1, the organization seemingly went out of their way to NOT develop him properly. The Jets also traded up to the first pick of Round 3 in order to draft running back Shonn Greene, who is a decent back in a platoon, but hardly a featured player. In round 6, Matt Slauson was added, which was a rare good late round pick.
  • 2010– All you really need to know is that Kyle Wilson was drafted in the first round. The same Kyle WIlson who revolutionized the cornerback position these past few years by showing you can make millions of dollars by never once turning around to track a pass in the air, giving hope to all young terrible cornerbacks out there. Following that up in round 2 was the immortal Vlad Ducasse, who despite being tried at 3 different offensive line positions, still found a way to be equally awful at them all. Rounding out this historically bad draft class was Joe McKnight in round 4 (a running back they don’t allow to play running back), and John Conner, the 1-dimensional fullback whose one dimension happened to be poor run blocking. Imagine if the Jets drafted just ONE useful player in this class. Could that have put them over the top to beat the Steelers in the playoffs? I guess we’ll never know…

With so little talent coming in over the past few years, it starts to make sense as why the team is in such dire straits, especially when you factor in all the reliable players Mike Tannenbaum let go of. Why did he let so many good players go? Because he thought he had some really excellent replacements ready to step in. Which brings me to…

2- Overrating of Own Players / Arrogance – The arrogance shown by this front office the past few years is absolutely startling. In 2010 this was one of the most talented rosters in the NFL, and the success matched it. Since then, the team has arrogantly overrated their own players to such a degree that they allowed reliable players who fit in extremely well to leave, only to replace them with guys Mike Tannenbaum brought in, almost as if to show how much smarter they are than everyone else. You want to see how you go from back-to-back AFC title games and seemingly being on the brink of greatness to… whatever the hell this is now we see every Sunday? Take a look:

At QB, we went from a promising young QB who appeared to be on the rise, to turning him into a shell-shocked, scrambled mess.

At RB, we went from Hall of Famer Ladainian Tomlinson and Shonn Greene in a very effective platoon, to Greene being the bellcow with a whopping 3.7 yards a carry. Backing him up are failed draft choices Joe McKnight and Bilal Powell. Despite spending FOUR draft choices between rounds 3 and 5 between 2009 and 2011 on the backfield, we may still end up seeing a starting backfield of Kahlil Bell and Lex Hilliard soon.

At FB, we went from the excellent Tony Richardson to John Conner to Lex Hilliard. Wow.

At WR, we went from “The Flight Boys” trio of Braylon Edwards, Santonio Holmes, and Jerricho Cotchery to seeing Jason Hill and Clyde Gates play big roles. Sanchez was developing some really nice chemistry with these players and they all contributed to the playoff success. Just as importantly, they all seemed to really like each other and were great teammates. Naturally, Tannenbaum unceremoniously dumped Edwards and Cotchery in favor of Plaxico Burress and Derrick Mason (who are both out of the league), and then this year replaced them with Jeremy Kerley, Chaz Schilens, and Stephen Hill. Kerley has shown promise and Hill is just a rookie, but this has been an extreme downgrade in every aspect. Why not just let Sanchez grow with The Flight Boys?

At Offensive Line, we went from arguably the best Right Tackle in the NFL in Damien Woody to Wayne Hunter to Austin Howard. Woody was willing to return for one more season in 2011, but the team overrated Hunter to such a degree, that they felt Woody was expendable. This was quite possibly the most laughable decision of them all. And while Austin Howard is better than Hunter, I’d still prefer to see Big Wood walk off the ESPN set and throw on a Jets jersey, despite not playing for nearly two years. Beyond the right tackle disaster, no interior linemen were developed or groomed to back up or eventually replace Brandon Moore or Slauson. That’s how you end up with things like Colin Baxter blocking Haloti Ngata last year. Ugh.

At Outside Linebacker, we went from “tail end of their usefulness” – Calvin Pace, Jason Taylor, and Bryan Thomas, to “absolutely useless and washed up” Calvin Pace and Bryan Thomas. Backing them up are Useless Garrett McIntyre and Ricky Sapp. Zero reinforcements were added. Why were no reinforcements added? Because…

3- Complete Lack of a Plan – As far as I can tell, there is just absolutely no plan at all with this entire organization. There obviously was none when it came to developing Mark Sanchez, because they’ve done literally everything wrong with him. I’m pretty sure that if Mike Tannenbaum had a big chart in his office with his grand plan, it would read something like this:

  1. Get Headlines
  2. Draft Terrible Players
  3. Blame Everyone Else to Woody
  4. Get More Headlines
  5. ?????
  6. Super Bowl

Rather than building a team the right way and developing their players, Mike Tannenbaum always appears to be on the lookout for the “next great thing”, and thinks there’s always something better. Well, as we’ve seen, the grass is not always greener on the other side. Rather than letting Eric Mangini build and go forward with Chad Pennington like he wanted to, Mike made the big splash to get Brett Favre for a 2nd round pick. Rather than letting Mark Sanchez grow up with Edwards and Cotchery, he dumped them both in a year where a lockout prevented the offense with new receivers from being able to gel. It’s also worth mentioning his arrogance led to signing Plaxico Burress fresh out of jail without so much as watching him work out. It’s probably a good thing they didn’t work out Burress or Mason before signing them though, because I don’t even know where the hell they’d be able to find a sun dial to time them running.

The list of reasons why Mike Tannenbaum has no plan is seemingly endless. They want to have a ground and pound team, so he loaded up with bad running backs, bad offensive linemen, and didn’t bother to get a single run-blocking tight end. They drafted a top 5 pick QB and then changed his WR’s every year and didn’t get a reliable pass-catching running back after LaDainian Tomlinson retired, even though that was a major part of Sanchez’s game. They wanted to be a defensive powerhouse, yet he didn’t draft or sign a single OLB during Rex Ryan’s tenure other than Aaron Maybin, who was recently cut. Safety was never addressed after dumping Kerry Rhodes, and Dwight Lowery was just given away. They wanted a backup to push Mark Sanchez, so they got Drew Stanton, then immediately changed course and traded for Tim Tebow. They said Tebow could play 15-20 snaps per game and he’d help the short yardage game, and then he isn’t used at all. It’s just one thing after another, after another with this team.

So, it’s come to this with the New York Jets and Mike Tannenbaum. It’s not just the fans and media anymore saying that this is a flawed roster and flawed organization. Now according to the Daily News, we even have Jets players saying the Jets players aren’t good enough. We have Jets officials saying the Jets players aren’t good enough. It’s been obvious for a while now that that has been the case and we’ve all been right. The reason the players aren’t good enough is because the General Manager isn’t good enough. The time has come. Mike must go.

Turn On The Jets Stock Watch – Seattle Meltdown Edition

Mike Donnelly with his weekly Stock Watch, buying and selling after the Jets meltdown in Seattle

There’s nothing quite like New York Jets football, is there? Just prior to the game, we as fans talk ourselves into thinking that this week will be different. This is the week the Jets will get their crap together. This is the week they turn in a solid performance, win, and turn their season around. Then kickoff comes and we spend three agonizing hours breaking down every single play, watching in horror as they find new ways to lose, break our hearts, and then it’s over. We spend the next few days running the full gamut of emotions from rage, to pain, to acceptance, to peace with the situation, and then it’s back to thinking next week will be different again.

I’m not going to get into the whole Mark Sanchez debacle this week, because thinking about how we got from him throwing 3 TD’s in Foxboro during a playoff game to…whatever the hell this is now, physically makes my head hurt. But I will get into the horrible job Mike Tannenbaum has done with this roster that helped usher in this new era of unwatchable football, so don’t worry. Also, believe it or not, there were a few positives from this week’s game, so let’s start with those.

BUY: The Defensive Line – If you just look at the stat sheet, you probably wouldn’t know it, but the defensive line played extremely well this week and has pretty much all year, despite a season-long injury to Sione Po’uha. After a slow start to the season, Mo Wilkerson has been playing like the All-Pro calibre player Rex Ryan talked him up as (which was, of course, a rare instance in which Rex was actually right about one of his guys). According to ProFootballFocus.com, in fact, he’s been the second best defensive end in the entire league this year, trailing only J.J. Watt, who you may have heard is pretty awesome. Along with Wilkerson, Quinton Coples has really started to flash the past few weeks and is good for a few “wow” plays per game. The reason the stats aren’t racking up is because there is literally ZERO pass rush from the edge. So, even though Wilkerson and Coples are pushing the pocket and causing some havoc up front, there is nobody coming around the corner to help out. It’s a good thing Mike Tannenbaum brought in zero OLB’s the past 4 years, huh?

BUY: Bart Scott – I know Bart has lost a step or three the past year or so, but he looked great against Seattle. He’s always been a force against the run, and considering the Jets are going to be facing a ton of runs as the clock gets milked against them in plenty more losses this year, we can’t throw dirt on his playing career coffin just yet. Demario Davis is the future at the position, but he’s still very raw and not ready to take over the role full-time. Plus, Bart Scott is a great veteran to have around teaching these young guys, as Marcus Dowtin referred to in his interview here on TOJ. Bart most likely won’t be back in 2013, and I must say, I’m going to miss him.

SELL: Outside Linebackers – Back to the OLB’s for a second. It blows my mind to see a Rex Ryan team have negative amounts of skill at the edge rusher spots. Calvin Pace is absolutely awful and reaffirmed my hatred of him as he repeatedly blew containment on his side against Seattle. Bryan Thomas plays hard, but at this point all he is, is a constant reminder that we should have drafted Ed Reed instead of him in 2001. Backing those two corpses up on the depth chart are Useless Garrett McIntyre — who is absolutely terrible — and Ricky Sapp, who despite some unwarranted hype prior to the Seattle game, is not the answer. In fact, the only reason I knew Sapp was even playing in that game was because he was unable to recover a fumble deep in Seattle territory that was right in his hands. That being said, I want to see him play more, because the alternatives are just so unbelievably terrible. Let’s keep our fingers crossed. Also deserving more playing time is Marcus Dowtin. I don’t even care where he lines up at this point, I just want to see someone who doesn’t appear to be wearing cement sneakers out there.

Speaking of terrible, in a move that should have shocked nobody, Aaron Maybin was released today. He wasn’t exactly lighting the world on fire out on the field, but I still find it hard to believe he couldn’t offer more to this team than Useless Garrett McIntyre (which should be his new official name). If this team doesn’t bring in a linebacker who doesn’t need to be timed in the 40-yard dash with a sun dial this offseason, then I give up.

SELL: Kyle Wilson & Ellis Lankster – Clearly, Pete Carroll and his coaching staff had a great big laugh watching film of the Kyle Wilson prior to this week’s game. How do I know? Because they attacked him IMMEDIATELY, on their second and third play from scrimmage, which resulted in gains of 18 and 36, the second of which of course being a touchdown. Shockingly, Wilson did not unleash his patented “Finger Wag of Doom” at that time. He waited until much later in the game to show off that nifty little taunt, when he shocked the world and actually broke up a pass. It takes a real special kind of delusional to think you should be wagging your finger in people’s faces when you’ve been worked over all game, but that’s exactly what our 2010 1st round pick does.

As for Lankster, well, the guy is just terrible and somehow manages to get worse weekly. If he’s on the field, it should only be to blitz, because when he’s in coverage it can only result in one of two things: 1) A pass interference penalty; or 2) A touchdowns. In the 3rd quarter against Seattle, he managed to achieve both those things on the same play, which was pretty impressive. Way to go! Aaron Berry must just be completely unable to grasp the playbook or something, because there’s no reason he shouldn’t be out there getting snaps in place of either of these two guys.

SELL: Mike Tannenbaum – I present to you the reason that I have so many complaints about this team… Mr. Mike Tannenbaum! I was going to list a few of the horrible things he’s done the past two years to lead us to this position here in this paragraph, but it wouldn’t be fair to Mike to just gloss over them like that. He deserves a full blown column to really detail the impressive job he’s done in managing to keep his job despite being so completely and utterly terrible at it. (Kind of like my Letter to him, or my evisceration of the roster he built, or even how he couldn’t develop a QB.) I’ll be back tomorrow with more on our wonderful GM, so be sure to check back for that.

Turn On The Jets Stock Watch: 2nd Half Outlook Edition

Mike Donnelly with his weekly Stock Watch, providing a second half outlook for the New York Jets

After the disaster of watching the Jets get absolutely demolished by the Miami Dolphins in person at MetLife Stadium, I, like many of you, was extremely down on this team. In my head I had all kinds of ideas about who I’d be selling in my Stock Watch, what players I’d attempt to publicly complain about some more (Calvin Pace), and already start thinking about who we’d be looking at with our top 5 draft pick. But then, after the disaster of watching the Jets, another disaster hit the area (Screw you, Sandy), and I was unable to do a Stock Watch. Perhaps not being able to write that column was for the best. Now I’m back with a fresh outlook on the team, and I hope everyone out there is safe, healthy, and on their way to rebounding back after the recent disaster… kind of like our Jets. Also, please check out my Jets (and NFL) First Half Awards to get my take on the confusing first 8 games of this season. (Or even if you don’t care about my football thoughts, I’d love to hear what you think about Homeland.)

BUY: 9-7 record and Wild Card Spot – Yes, despite how incredibly down I was on this team, after careful reconsideration, I think a 6-2 record over these final 8 games is not only possible, but it’s going to happen. Every year there are teams that get totally written of and then go on a big run to make some serious noise. Don’t believe me? Ask the 2011 Giants, 2010 Packers, or even our 2009 New York Jets. And I know it’s hard to find many positives with this entire organization right now, but let’s take a look at how this playoff birth can happen.

  • BUY: @ Seattle – Remember, this is the Jets. They’re 7 point underdogs this week and everyone is writing them off. Nobody thinks they’ll be able to move the ball or stop Marshawn Lynch. Well, this is the Jets we are talking about, and they usually do things nobody expects, both good and bad.
  • SELL: @ St. Louis – And this will prove my point. After the win at Seattle, everyone will start the “Maybe the Jets can sneak in there” talk, and then they’ll take a dump all over whatever the hell the Rams call their field the next week, and lose to Brian Schottenheimer in the process. Ugh.
  • BUY: Vs. New England – And then just as we’re all ready to hate the team again, they go out and beat the Patriots at home. They should have won the last matchup in New England, and they won’t mess it up again.
  • BUY: Vs. Arizona – Normally this would be a huge letdown spot where the Jets blow an easy game after a big win, but since they have 10 days to prepare for this game, and they’ll be facing John Skelton and the Cards offensive line, they’ll pull it out. Barely.
  • BUY: @ Jacksonville – Another game that will be much harder than it should be, but the Jets will pull it out over Blaine Gabbert.
  • SELL: @ Tennessee – At this point everyone will be talking the Jets up as a playoff team, and then they’ll go into Tennessee and lose by double digits somehow. I hate this team already and this hasn’t even happened yet.
  • BUY: Vs. San Diego – Norv Turner.
  • BUY: @ Buffalo – And then just as it doesn’t look good, the Jets will go into Buffalo and absolutely drop a hammer on this Bills team that will have already thrown in the towel while Chan Gailey and Dave Wannstedt are making calls at halftime to see if any college teams will hire them.

See, it’s not so far-fetched. You have to figure the Steelers and Ravens will both make the playoffs out of the AFC North, so that leaves one other wild card spot. Nobody from the West is worth a crap besides Denver. In the South, the Colts are 5-3 and are right in the mix of things now, but they’ve been playing over their heads. Such a young team is unlikely to win the tough games down the stretch to secure a playoff spot. They have games @NE, @ Det, and two against the Texans, not to mention a Thursday night game tonight @ Jacksonville, which they will lose. They’re looking at 7-9 or 8-8 at best, and the Jets own a tiebreaker over them. The other team the Jets are competing with is the Miami Dolphins, who sit at 4-4. Unfortunately for them, they have two games against the Patriots, one @ San Francisco, and one @ Buffalo in cold November, which is never a picnic for a warm-weathered Miami team. So keep your fingers crossed. It can happen.

So, how are the Jets players going to be performing in these final 8 games to secure that 6-2 record? Glad you asked!

BUY: Shonn Greene over 1,100 yards – Greene sits at 509 yards rushing right now with 91 receiving. He also has 5 touchdowns. As we all know, Shonn Greene is a perpetual slow starter who really turns it on in the second half of the season. I think we are looking at a final stat line of 1,150 rushing yards, 8 TD’s, and 225 receiving yards. He will fall short of my preseason prediction of 1,500 total yards from scrimmage, but it won’t be by that much. Remember, he’s playing for a contract these final 8 weeks.

BUY: Mark Sanchez 8 starts – Yes, Mark Sanchez will start all 8 remaining games, so you might as well just accept it.

BUY: Mark Sanchez finishing with solid stats – His stat line this year is not quite as bad as many would have you believe, but it’s certainly not Manning-esque or anything. Right now he’s got 1,736 yards, 10 TD’s, and 8 interceptions to go with a 52.9 completion %. By the end of the season I think he’ll be looking at 3,600 yards, 22 TD, 16 interceptions, and 58% completions. Not bad.

BUY: Tim Tebow will score a Touchdown – And I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s more like 3 or 4. If the coaching staff didn’t reevaluate things this bye week and realize Tebow should be taking some carries inside the 5 yard line, then I give up.

BUY: Jeremy Kerley over 1,000 yards – Right now he has 478, and he’s getting better every week. Over 1,000 yards should be in the bag, despite defenses starting to give him more attention.

BUY: Stephen Hill over 500 yards – 196 right now, but he’s missed two games and had some rookie struggles. He’ll be inconsistent the rest of the season, but I definitely see a big game or two in his future that will easily push this number over 500. Not only that but don’t be shocked if he racks up 5 more touchdowns, pushing his total to 8, either.

SELL: Jason Hill over 5 catches – One of the burning questions for all Jets fans the rest of the way. Can the great Jason Hill get to 5 whole catches this year? He has 2 right now, so can Mike Tannenbaum’s prized free agent pickup that I can only assume he found while turning over all those stones looking for talent do it? We’ll have to wait and see! (The answer is no. Jason Hill sucks, and dropping a promising safety like Antonio Allen for him is Reason # 23,529 that Mike Tannenbaum needs to be fired)

SELL: Clyde Gates & Jeff Cumberland – Just reminding you they’re still on this team and that they still suck.

BUY: Quinton Coples over 6 sacks – He currently has 2 sacks, but probably should have 1 or 2 more that he just missed. You can see things are starting to click for the rookie first round pick, and with increased playing time, he’s going to start racking up some numbers. Finishing with 6 sacks would clearly give him the team lead, and even though it’s the Jets and he has no competition, that’s still pretty good.

SELL: Ricky Sapp over 1.5 sacks – Speaking of Coples and sacks, I really, really hope I’m wrong about this one, because Quinton sure could use some help out there. Sapp was a guy I had a lot of hope for entering the season, but he hasn’t been able to stay healthy and put it all together. Please, don’t confuse my pessimism for some kind of hatred when it comes to Ricky Sapp. I 100% absolutely want to see him play and I think he deserves to be in there over washed up bums like Calvin Pace, Bryan Thomas, or Garrett McIntyre. (Actually, McIntyre isn’t washed up, he just moves around like he is.) It’s just that when was the last time a team promoted a guy from their practice squad in week 10 and had him solve their pass rush issues? Prove me wrong, Ricky! Please!

BUY: The Defense – Right now the defense is ranked 16th overall and a ridiculous 29th against the run. Don’t think for one second Rex Ryan doesn’t go to bed every night distraught while thinking about that. Well, that and the fact he can’t finish the second half of that large pizza he was eating because his lap band won’t allow it, but mostly the defensive numbers. There is no way, repeat: NO WAY, that this defense finishes the season allowing 141 yards per game rushing and 347 overall. I fully expect them to slowly but surely make their way into the top 10 overall and start shutting down some running attacks. Rex Ryan is too good of a coach to allow that to continue, and with the infusion of youth and speed making it’s way onto the field with players like Demario Davis, Marcus Dowtin, Quinton Coples, and even Ricky Sapp, things are going to get better before long.

The Homeland Inspired NFL & Jets Mid-Season Awards

Mike Donnelly hands out his mid-season NFL and New York Jets awards, inspired by the TV hit Homeland

While watching the NFL games this past weekend, one of the biggest things that stood out to me was how impressive the Chicago Bears defense was in their dismantling of the Tennessee Titans. What also stood out was how all of the major talking heads on TV were practically jumping out of their chairs trying to tell us, the viewers, how awesome that defense is and that Charles Tillman is the most underrated player in the league. Of course, there were plenty of people saying this all year but most people were slow to catch on. Now that the Bears have clearly cemented themselves as the league’s best defense, everyone has jumped on the bandwagon and raved about the Bears.

This reminded me of when there’s a great new TV show that people aren’t watching. Slowly but surely, those that are watching start spreading the word to everyone they know. They tell their friends, they post on forums, they write blogs about it and before you know it, more and more people are watching. I’m usually one of the last people to join the “cool club” and watch shows like this, but after being told two or three dozen times that something is awesome, I usually cave in and check it out. My most recent case of this happening was with Homeland, which is indeed downright awesome. Everyone was right. It hooked me in so quickly and strongly, that I was completely torn on whether to watch the new episode Sunday night, or watch the Cowboys choke away another late night game. Anything that even made me consider not watching football must be pretty excellent, right? So excellent, in fact, that I decided to honor the show by naming my mid-season NFL awards after it. And since we are all about the Jets around here obviously, I’m handing out the league awards and also Jets team awards, all in one. Heeeere we go…

THE CARRIE MATHISON MVP AWARD

NFL: Matt Ryan (honorable mention: Peyton Manning) – Carrie may not be the greatest agent, but she gets things done, and without her, her CIA team wouldn’t be nearly as effective (although I can do without her crying every single episode). Same goes for Matt Ryan. I don’t think he will end up winning the award at the end of the season, but you can’t deny he’s had an excellent first half in leading the Falcons to the only undefeated record in the league. His stats are not particularly eye-opening, but he’s done everything right, made the big plays, and he narrowly edges out Peyton for the top spot.

JETS: Antonio Cromartie – Sadly, there isn’t even much competition here.

THE ABU NAZIR OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR AWARD

NFL: Brandon Marshall – Nobody on Homeland knows how to go on the offensive or cause more damage than terrorist Abu Nazir, both mentally and physically. Brandon Marshall isn’t a terrorist or anything, but he’s been doing a ton of damage to defensive secondaries this season, and has been the best offensive player in the league. The guy has just ben an absolute monster, racking up 59 catches, 797 yards, and 7 touchdowns through 8 games. Double those numbers to project him over a full 16 game schedule and you’re looking at one of the greatest receiving seasons in the history of the NFL.

JETS: Ummm….. Nick Mangold? – A case can be made for Jeremy Kerley, who has stepped up big time since Santonio Holmes got injured, but it’s clear nobody on this offense should be getting any awards.

THE DAVID ESTES DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR AWARD

NFL: J.J. Watt (honorable mention: Charles Tillman and the entire Bears Defense) – A lot of people don’t seem to like Estes, but I enjoy him and think he does a great job doing a little bit of everything in trying to defend against any and all attacks. In the NFL, nobody has done a better job doing a little bit of everything on defense or been as downright awesome as Texans defensive lineman J.J. Watt. He knocks down passes better than any lineman I’ve ever seen, and he’s destroyed offensive linemen en route to a league leading 10.5 sacks. Oh, and he’s doing that as an interior lineman, which makes it all the more impressive.

JETS: Antonio Cromartie – There hasn’t been much competition here, but that doesn’t minimize Cromartie’s season in any way. The guy has been playing the best football of his career, and ever since Darrelle Revis went down with an injury, he’s been arguably the league’s best cover corner. If he doesn’t make the Pro Bowl, it will be a travesty.

THE SAUL BERENSON COACH OF THE YEAR AWARD

NFL: Bruce Arians – Yes, Mike Smith has his Falcons sitting pretty and undefeated, but no coach has done a better job than Bruce Arians this year. Just like Saul has his hands full dealing with Carrie and all the other things he’s in charge of, Bruce Arians has had to deal with more than any other coach in the league and done an excellent job throughout. After Chuck Pagano was diagnosed with cancer and had to leave the team, it would have been easy for this Colts team to feel sorry for themselves, just pack it in and go 2-14. Instead, Arians has led them to a 5-3 record and they’re right in the thick of the playoff race. Remarkable.

JETS: Dennis Thurman – Again, there’s not much competition here, but I’m giving this one to the Jets secondary coach. Hmm, Antonio Cromartie plays in the secondary, I’m starting to see a theme here with the Jets awards. Other than Cromartie having the best season of his career, the Jets safeties have performed admirably well, and even Kyle Wilson hasn’t been a complete disaster, due in large part to Thurman’s coaching.

THE AGENT QUINN ROOKIE OF THE YEAR AWARD

NFL: Andrew Luck – Yes, Doug Martin is the hot name right now, but this award belongs to Andrew Luck. Just like Agent Quinn in season 2, Luck arrived on the scene and immediately made a strong impact, making those around him better in the process. The Colts were the worst team in the league last year, but now are legitimate playoff contenders thanks to the strong play of their rookie signal-caller. He’s the real deal.

JETS: Demario Davis narrowly over Quinton Coples– Wow, these Jets awards are getting harder and harder to pick. In the long run, I absolutely think this will belong to Quinton Coples, but through the first half of the season, Davis has done a little more, and brought a whole new element to the defense: Speed. He’s also been a major special teams contributor, which gives him the nod. I’m just happy we still have a few rookies that weren’t cut almost immediately after being drafted. Thanks, Mike Tannenbaum!

THE TOM WALKER COMEBACK PLAYER OF THE YEAR AWARD

NFL: Peyton Manning & Adrian Peterson (tie) – It’s nearly impossible to pick between these two. In Homeland, Walker was a forgotten man who came back out of nowhere to show that his skills were as awesome as ever. Peyton Manning and Adrian Peterson did the same things this year. Manning looks as good as ever, as he is on pace for 4,800 yards, 40 TD’s, and a league best 108 QB rating. Peterson, despite tearing his ACL last December, is leading the league in rushing while running for a ridiculous 5.7 yards per carry. Cut this award in half and give it to both.

JETS: Shonn Grenee – Not many options here, so I’m giving this to the beleaguered running back, Shonn Greene. He was completely left for dead by nearly all Jets fans at the beginning of the season, but he has shown serious signs of life the last 3 or 4 games. While he’s not an ideal starting running back, he’s also proven not to be the useless slug many thought he was.

THE DANA AND VP’S SON HIT & RUN SUBPLOT THAT MAKES NO SENSE AWARD

NFL: Ray Rice & Lesean McCoy usage – Just like the out-of-nowhere subplot involving Brody’s daughter and the Vice President’s son getting involved in a bizarre hit and run incident, the usage of these two elite running backs makes NO SENSE. Why The Ravens and Eagles insist on eschewing their stud runners in favor of letting their bad quarterbacks pass the ball more is about as baffling of a coaching move as you’ll ever see. Honorable mention goes here to the Chargers and Norv Turner, who seem to think it’s a good idea to play Ronnie Brown a lot, despite him having a giant fork sticking out of his back.

JETS: Tim Tebow Usage – We’ve been over this time and time again, but the way the Jets have used Tim Tebow this year is completely and totally insane. I have never wavered on my belief that Tebow shouldn’t be the quarterback here in any way, shape, or form, but there is no way he shouldn’t be used more often, especially in short yardage situations, or as a change of pace to spark the offense. What makes it even more confusing to me is how the Jets had their best offensive game of the season in week 1 when Tebow had his most snaps, and then they just scrapped the whole thing. If you aren’t going to use him on 3rd and 1 down by the goalline, when he’s basically UNSTOPPABLE, then what the hell is the point of having him on this roster? I will never understand this. It could turn out that Dana Brody is actually an undercover 34-year-old secret terrorist from Canada plotting to assassinate Mickey Mouse and it would make more sense than Tim Tebow’s usage.

THE “WHO SLIPPED THE RAZOR BLADE?” AWARD (for Guy Most Likely Playing For the Other Team)

NFL: Matt Cassell – So who slipped the razor blade to that terrorist guard allowing him to slit his wrists and avoid further interrogation in season 1? Was it Brody? Was it Saul? Was it someone else? We may never know, but what I do know is if there was a mole in the NFL who was secretly plotting to destroy his team, it would be Matt Cassell. There are few players who could inspire their home fans to actually cheer when he gets hurt, but he managed to pull it off. I guess losing 7 fumbles and throwing 11 interceptions in 6 starts will cause fans to turn on you. Can’t say I totally blame them.

JETS: Calvin Pace – It’s hard to pick just one for this award, but I’m going with the guy who is paid $7.3 million this year to not sack the quarterback. On the bright side, he really seems to have mastered the “run into the offensive lineman, stick arms straight out, and stop” pass rush move, so there’s that.

THE NICHOLAS BRODY MOST POLARIZING FIGURE(S) AWARD

NFL: The Atlanta Falcons – Is Brody good? Is he bad? What about the Falcons? It’s rare you see a team appear to be so good, yet have so few people actually believe in them. They’re undefeated and running away with their division. They’re going to get home field advantage throughout the playoffs. They have the league’s first half MVP and two superstar wide receivers. Yet if you said the Giants or Packers were going to Atlanta in the second round of the playoffs, who would you pick to win that game? Exactly.

JETS: Mark Sanchez – Pretty obvious one here. Just like with Brody, no matter how many bad things Sanchez does on the field, he still manages to do a few things all the time that make you think deep down he’s really great. Just like Brody, Sanchez was dealt a really crappy hand throughout his tenure with the Jets. Maybe he wasn’t quite kidnapped and tortured for 8 years, but he did have to spend plenty of time being taught by Brian Schottenheimer and Matt Cavanaugh, and that’s just as bad. And just like with Brody, I still believe in Mark Sanchez. Perhaps I’m a sap or I’m just hoping against hope, but in the end, I think both are going to do great things and convince a lot of people that they aren’t so bad after all.

Turn On the Jets Fantasy Preview – Keeper League & Week 8 Edition

Mike Donnelly with his weekly Fantasy Football preview. Who should you start and sit, with a special focus on keeper leagues this week

Way back at the start of the 2012 fantasy football season in my 8 Easy Steps to Achieve the Perfect Fantasy League column, I strongly recommended that you get yourself involved in a keeper league with a group of your close friends that you know you’ll stay in touch with for at least the next few years. If you’ve never tried it, you should give it a shot, because it adds a whole new wrinkle to your fantasy season and even helps you keep fantasy in mind during the “dark period”, aka baseball season.

June becomes a whole lot more fun. Did one of your players just get traded or sign with a new team? I drafted him in the 6th round, is it worth it to keep him? Did that increase or decrease his value? Should you still keep him? Do you have a backup running back who is now shooting up the depth chart because the starter just got sent to prison for beating up a cop for the third time? All major things to keep an eye on for keeper consideration. Just as importantly, it forces you to keep trying during the current season, even as your once promising lineup is spiraling out of control toward a 2-11 finish due to injury, poor performance, or both (Damn you, Maurice Jones-Drew and your brittle bones!). In a standard league, at this point in the year if you’re 1-6 and totally out of it, you’re likely to throw in the towel, not pay attention to your lineup, and it becomes less and less fun for the other teams to even insult you.

Well, in a keeper league, that problem is solved. Since you’re going to be able to keep 2 or 3 players (or however many your league decides) heading into next year based on their previous year’s draft value, you can bolster your 2013 lineup while you take it on the chin in 2012. For example, in my keeper league, one team is totally out of it and traded Ryan Mathews and Antonio Brown (two players he had no intention of keeping in 2013) for Trent Richardson. Had it been a standard 1-year league, this trade would have caused death threats in a competitive league. However, since it is a keeper league and Trent could be a superstar, it was a fairly reasonable trade. I still hated it, but I digress. Anyway, today I’m going to throw out a few players you should be looking to target in a trade to build around for next year.

(Keep in mind I’m not going to suggest you keep Ray Rice. That’s obvious. This will be guys drafted in the mid-rounds this year who will provide great value for next year. I’m also going on the premise the keeper rules are you lose a pick in the 2013 draft based on where the player was picked in 2012. So if you took Alfred Morris in the 8th round and keep him next year, he’s put down as your 8th round pick.)

RB – Alfred Morris (drafted between rounds 6 and 8) – Heading into the season, there was great mystery surrounding who would be the Redskins starting running back, but Morris appeared to be the front runner. I personally have a strict “don’t take any Mike Shanahan RB’s” rule because of how he shuffles them in and out, but Morris locked down the role and looks like a stud. Playing with that RG3 fella certainly doesn’t hurt things either. Next year he will likely be picked somewhere in the #25-30 overall range, and that makes him a no-brainer keeper based on his 2012 draft position.

QB – Robert Griffin III & Andrew Luck (rounds 6-10)– This goes without saying, but if you’re the lucky guy who drafted RG3 in a standard league between rounds 6 and 10, well congratulations. If you did that in a keeper league, you can probably go ahead and start thinking about where to put your 2013 championship trophy. Andrew Luck hasn’t had quite the same success this year, but he’s been pretty damn good. And as the Colts surround him with better talent heading into next year he’s only going to get better. These guys are both going to be great.

RB – Stevan Ridley (rounds 5-9) – Ridley’s draft position was all over the board heading into 2012. He got a grip on the starting job late in the preseason and there was some uncertainty there in New England. Well, there’s much less uncertainty now. Ridley is on pace to easily surpass 1,200 yards rushing and score about 10 touchdowns. He averages a shade under 20 carries per game for one of the best offenses in the NFL and he’s only 23 years old. Guys like that don’t grow on trees. If the Ridley owner in your league is looking to upgrade for this year, this is a very solid guy to build around for 2013 with that round value.

WR – Percy Harvin (rounds 3-5) – Readers of this column know Harvin was a guy I was extremely high on heading into 2012 and he’s actually surpassed my expectations. In PPR leagues, he is an absolute stud with 53 catches through just 7 games. Oh, and he also tacks on rushing yards, which is a major bonus. He’s a top 5 receiver going forward, especially as Ponder progresses. If he was drafted any later than the 3rd round in your league, there is major keeper value there for you to try and target.

WR – Kendall Wright (round 10 or later) – Kendall Wright was a solid sleeper heading into the season, and he’s had a very solid rookie year. He’s currently 16th in the NFL in passing targets, and as Jake Locker improves, so will Kendall Wright. If you’re out of it and can trade a guy like Torrey Smith for Wright and get that late round value for 2013, it’s something you should definitely look into.

QB – Peyton Manning (round 5-7) – It’s hard to believe now, but Peyton Manning wasn’t even drafted as a QB1 in a lot of leagues heading into this season due to concerns about his injury. Well, so much for all that. Peyton has been an absolute stud and if the owner in your league has 2 QB’s and could use help at another position, Peyton is an excellent guy to target so you have a top 5 QB for next year. Suddenly, your crappy franchise is looking up!

RB – Rashard Mendenhall (round 9 or later) – Someone in your league likely drafted Mendenhall late hoping he’d contribute by this point in the season. Well, that hasn’t quite happened, and there’s a good chance that team could use some RB help since it hasn’t. Menenhall may not help this year, but since you’re already out of it, might as well swing a trade for him and wait for him to return to full strength in 2013. This is how you have to think when you’re 1-6 and need to rebuild.

Other Late Round Players to Consider Trying to Nab

WR – Stephen Hill

WR – Jeremy Kerley

WR – Josh Gibson

WR – Randall Cobb

RB – David Wilson

RB – Kendall Hunter

RB – Alex Green

QB – Ryan Tannehill

RB – Jonathan Stewart

RB – Daryl Richardson

WEEK 8 RECOMMENDED SITS

QB- Matt Stafford vs. Sea – Seattle has a tough defense, and did you SEE Stafford play on Monday? Ugh. At least he’s playing at home.

QB- Josh Freeman @ Minn – Throwing for 420 yards against the Saints is equivalent to about 215 yards against an average defense. The Vikings are better than average, and Thursday night games have not been kind to QB’s.

RB- Frank Gore @ Ari – Gore is banged up, the Cards have a tough D, it’s a rivalry game, and Arizona is home. Temper your expectations for Mr. Gore. 

RB- Steven Jackson vs NE – The Pats D is an embarrassment, but Steven Jackson is basically useless at this point for your fantasy team. Plus I feel like I’m forgetting something… oh right, SCHOTTY!

RB- Felix Jones vs. NYG – Whether he plays or not, I’d keep him on your bench against the Giants defense looking for week 1 revenge.

WR- Denarius Moore @ KC – The combination of Carson Palmer and Brandon Flowers should really limit Moore this week.

WR- Steve Smith @ Chi – Charles Tillman and the Bears D are playing out of their minds lately. Oh, and Cam Newton stinks.. can’t forget that part.

WR- Mike Williams @ Minn – Williams has been on a nice run lately, but that will come to a halt tonight in Minnesota.

TE- Jermichael Finley vs. Jax – This game could get out of hand early.. oh, and Jermichael Finley sucks. If you own him, you already know that though.

Thursday Night Picks

  • Joe – Vikings (-6.5)
  • Mike D – Vikings (-6.5)
  • Chris G – Vikings (-6.5)
  • Rob – Bucs (+6.5)
  • Chris C – Vikings (-6.5)

Turn On The Jets Week 7 Fantasy Football Preview

Mike Donnelly with his weekly Fantasy Preview, looking at week 7 in the NFL

As we approach the midway point of the fantasy football season, it’s time to evaluate who you should try and trade off while their value is high, and who you should be sticking with as you chase that 2012 fantasy championship. Unless of course your name is Joe Caporoso and you’re sitting in the basement at 1-5 in the TOJ Fantasy league, that is. In that case, your season is already over and you should be mocked publicly, but I digress.

Anyway, for this week’s column I brought in Dan Drobnis, the co-host of the popular weekly fantasy football podcast, The Tebow Sports Show (which can be found here, or on Twitter @TebowSportsShow. His co-host is Jay Ferraro). Dan also doubles as a friend of mine and long-time fantasy league rival, but today we are going to be debating five of the most confusing players in the 2012 fantasy football world. These are guys that have been driving their owners crazy, either due to poor play, injury, or perhaps just that they’ve been playing a little too well and a dip in production is feared going forward. As is usually the case, there are two strong sides to each player, and we’re going to be exploring what you should do with these guys from here on out.

QB: MATT RYAN

Case For (Mike Donnelly) – Don’t be turned off by Ryan’s clunker against Oakland last week. Every quarterback is going to have bad weeks from time to time and that was a clear letdown game for the Falcons against an inferior opponent that they clearly were looking past. Ryan still has the best set of targets of any quarterback in the league with Julio Jones, Roddy White, and Tony Gonzalez and to top it off has quite an easy schedule the rest of the way. He gets to face the Saints and their hilariously bad defense twice, and during the playoff weeks he gets to take on the Panthers, the Giants at home in a dome, and then the Lions in another dome game. Stick with Ryan and expect top 4 QB production as you march into the playoffs.

Case Against (Dan Drobnis) – If you’ve got him, you know how productive he’s been early in the season. But he must have had you scratching your head last week when he threw three picks and failed to reach 300 yards against a Raiders defense that came in ranked 28th in the league against the pass.  The Falcons’ margin of victory has been slim each of the past 3 weeks, and I believe that’s a direct result of the league  starting to catch up to what Dirk Kotter and the Falcons offense has been doing here in early in the season. Being undefeated can have that effect. I’m not saying he won’t be a productive fantasy quarterback the rest of the way, but fantasy owners have already seen the best they’ll get from Ryan, and should move him now while his value is still sky-high. There are not as many cupcakes on the schedule in the second half and his most recent performance hints that there is some regression right around the corner. Give me any one of the other top 5 QBs over Ryan the rest of the way.

RB: CHRIS JOHNSON

Case For (MD) – It may seem odd that I’m going to defend Chris Johnson here since I own him in one of my leagues and I’ve mercilessly trashed him in this column repeatedly, but that’s exactly what I’m going to do. The Titans have quite possibly the worst offensive line in the NFL, but they’ve actually started to play better and last week’s 114 total yard output by Johnson was very encouraging. Looking ahead, Johnson has games against Buffalo and their joke defense, two games againt Indianapolis who just got run all over by Shonn Greene, Jacksonville, Green Bay, and the Jets. I’m not saying he’s an every week guaranteed starter, but he has the opportunity to rack up some very solid games for your squad. Also, with Kenny Britt now healthy, it should help open things up for Johnson as defenses won’t be able to stack the box nearly as often.

Case Against (DD) –  He’s got two juicy matchups over the next two weeks against the Bills and Colts respectively, and then the sledding gets much tougher for the artist formerly known as ‘CJ2K’. Let him build off of what was a solid performance against the Steelers last week and then ship him off to any sucker in your league that’s dumb enough to trade for him. He’s much too hesitant when hitting the hole, and leaves a lot of yards on the field even when he does produce a decent fantasy day. Their O-line doesn’t open up any running lanes for him and Jake Locker and Matt Hasselbeck won’t exactly have defenses scared of the pass. Let him be someone else’s headache, and target a back like a Willis McGahee or Doug Martin who have easier schedules in the second half of the year and have shown they can consistently produce in the early part of the season.

WR: JORDY NELSON

Case For (DD) – Jordy Nelson isn’t going to surprise defenses the way he did in his 2011 breakout campaign when he scored an astounding 15 TDs, and  won fantasy football championships for people all across this great country. But Nelson will make up for the inevitable regression in the TD department with the increased targets he’s seen being as an every-down player in one of the NFL’s most explosive passing attacks. Aaron Rodgers hit Nelson early and often against the Texans last week, and he should see less double-teams and safety help once Greg Jennings returns from a groin injury that has had him on the shelf for most of the season. He does have a tendency to disappear some weeks, as Aaron Rodgers likes to spread the ball around. But as long as you aren’t relying on this guy to carry your team, he should be locked into your lineup each week as Aaron Rodgers’ go-to guy.

Case Against (MD) – Nelson is a prime example of a guy who you shouldn’t be tricked by after one great week. That does not offset 5 weeks of mostly mediocre play, not by a long shot. Aaron Rodgers is not going to throw 6 touchdowns every week, and as we’ve seen this year, he spreads the ball around to many different receivers, so Nelson won’t be the prime target every week — especially when Greg Jennings returns. The Packers offense has not been the same dominant force it was last year as the league has seemingly caught on to their schemes. I’m not saying Nelson won’t have his moments, but I wouldn’t rely on him week in and week out. If you can pawn him off while his value is high right now, I’d recommend doing so.

WR: HAKEEM NICKS

Case For (MD) – Yes, I know Nicks has been a disappointment to those who drafted him this year as he’s missed most of the season due to injury, but there are few receivers I’d rather have from here on out. When Nicks is on the field, he’s always performed really well, highlighted by his 199 yard effort in week 2. He’s always going to be the #1 option on this Giants offense, and with Victor Cruz playing so well, defenses won’t be able to key on Nicks like they have in the past. If you take a look at his schedule the rest of the season it’s extremely promising, as he gets to face the Redskins twice, the Packers, the Steelers, the Bengals and then the Saints, Falcons, and depleted Ravens secondary during the playoff weeks. Nicks is the kind of guy that can single-handedly win you a championship.

Case Against (DD) – I’m calling this one more of a feeling than anything else.  I won’t deny it. Nicks is a beast when he’s on the field, and plays with arguably the best quarterback in the game today in Eli Manning. But he rushed back from a broken foot and aggravated his knee trying to compensate for the foot injury. Not to mention, in the games that he’s already missed, guys like Domenik Hixon and Ramses Barden carved out larger roles in the Giants offense. If Nicks were given time to let his injuries heal, I wouldn’t be so down on him. But this just looks like it’s going to be a down year for one of the most talented, young receivers in the game and a headache for fantasy owners trying to figure out when, if, and how effective he’ll be on Sundays dealing with all of the lingering issues stemming from the preseason foot injury.

TE: TONY GONZALEZ

Case For (MD) – Just like with Matt Ryan, I don’t think you should be giving up on this Falcons offense at all, and quite frankly I’m surprised Mr. Drobnis is so down on them. Gonzalez has been the clear-cut top Tight End this year, and there’s little reason to think that’s going to change going forward. The Falcons simply have too many weapons for defenses to deal with, and with Jones and White getting so much attention, Gonzo has been torching everyone over the middle of the field. Plus, he’s a great red zone target and the opportunity for touchdowns are always there. The only thing to worry about now is if the Falcons run away with the #1 seed and start to rest veterans like Tony down the stretch, but I don’t anticipate that happening. Gonzo is a stud.

Case Against (DD) – As the blueprint for slowing down the Falcons offense gets around the league, you’ll see more and more teams taking away Gonzalez and forcing Matt Ryan to throw into double coverage down the field as he did Sunday against the Raiders. I always like to sell high on players, and with the way Gonzo has produced early on, you’d be wise to shop him around and see what you get. He’s been the #1 fantasy TE through the first 6 weeks of the season, something no one saw coming from the 36-year-old future hall of famer when the season started. With guys like Kyle Rudolph, Heath Miller, and Brent Celek (just to name a few) outperforming their draft-day price tags, there are cheaper options at tight-end that will produce about the same if not more fantasy points than Gonzalez the rest of the way. Put his name out there and see what you can get.

Recommended Bye Week Fill-Ins

QB- Josh Freeman

QB- Brandon Weeden

RB- Felix Jones

RB- Danny Woodhead

RB- Montario Hardesty

WR- Denarius Moore

WR- Randall Cobb

WR- Stephen Hill

TE- Dustin Keller

TE- Dennis Pitta