• Fantasy Frenzy: Week 10

    Chris Johnson of the Tennessee Titans
    Chris Johnson of the Tennessee Titans

    Week 10 of the fantasy season is upon us, so here are the players you should start and those you should sit.

    Start:

    1. Chris Johnson, Tennessee Titans — It’s hard to believe that anyone would ever consider sitting Johnson after his fantasy performances his first three years in the league, but 2011 has been terrible for him. Johnson has been the biggest bust of the year for fantasy owners, averaging only three yards per carry. However, last week he showed signs of his past form against Cincinnati, rushing for 64 yards, which included a 20 yard run. This week he takes on the 26th-ranked rushing defense the Carolina Panthers. He is a must start.

    2. Percy Harvin, Minnesota Vikings — Harvin has been riddled with injuries much of the year. Combine that with a rookie quarterback throwing him the ball, and he has been an ineffective player all season. But this week, the Vikings go against the high-powered Packers. Expect the Vikings to fall behind quickly and throw the ball to catch up, making Harvin an intelligent play this week.

    3. Tim Tebow, Denver Broncos — He certainly doesn’t look pretty throwing the ball, but he is effective as a fantasy player, averaging 19 points a game. While the majority of his points come from his running ability, as an owner, they’re points either way. Tebow is a must start in any league.

    Sit:

    1. Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals — He has been scorching as a quarterback early on in his career, leading the usually terrible Bengals to a 6-2 start. But this week he will face his biggest test so far, in the form of Pittsburgh Steelers defense. Unfortunately for his owners, it’s hard to expect him to fare well against that particular defense the first time he faces them — sit Dalton this week.

    2. Darren McFadden, Oakland Raiders — The early season rushing leader has been out with a foot injury the last few weeks, and he was expected to be back tonight to face the San Diego Chargers. However, he has yet to even test out his foot and is highly doubtful to play. Sit McFadden tonight before the game, and if you can, play his backup Michael Bush.

  • Stat Guy: Bergeron stacks up well with other backups

    Texas true freshman Joe Bergeron’s 191 yard three touchdown performance on Saturday was one of the best games by a Texas backup or for that matter a backup in NCAA history.
    Texas true freshman Joe Bergeron’s 191 yard three touchdown performance on Saturday was one of the best games by a Texas backup or for that matter a backup in NCAA history.

    Texas running back Joe Bergeron’s 191-yard, three-touchdown performance certainly solidified his place in the Longhorns’ offensive rotation, as evidenced by him being named a co-starter at tailback alongside Fozzy Whittaker for the Missouri game this Saturday.

    It’s not often that backup running backs get to showcase their talent — even when they do, the game is usually already decided. But with Malcolm Brown sidelined for the Texas Tech game with turf toe, Bergeron got an opportunity, put the Texas offense on his back and turned in a game for the ages. How does that performance stack up against past second-string running backs in college football? Let’s take a look at — what else? — the stats.

    Former TCU and current New York Jets running back LaDainian Tomlinson split time with Basil Mitchell in the ’97 and ’98 seasons posting respectable numbers. When Tomlinson got his chance to start a game in 1999, he rushed for a single-game NCAA record 406 yards versus UTEP. Tomlinson carried the ball 43 times and registered six touchdowns in his record-breaking performance.

    In 2001, Auburn running back Carnell “Cadillac” Williams entered the season as the No. 3 option on the depth chart. Similar to Bergeron, Williams got a chance to start the eighth game of the season against Arkansas. Williams carried the ball 19 times for 177 yards and one touchdown. Cadillac went on to becoming one of the most prolific running backs in Auburn history, rushing for 3,831 yards and 45 touchdowns.

    In 2005, Arkansas running back Darren McFadden entered his freshman season third on the roster behind senior De’Arrius Howard and sophomore Peyton Hillis. After McFadden carried the ball 31 times for 190 yards versus Georgia, he never relinquished the starting role at Arkansas. McFadden finished his career with 4,590 yards, second-most in SEC conference history (Hershel Walker, 5,259 yards).

    Also in 2005, Texas running back Jamaal Charles got his first career start in the Longhorns third game versus Rice. Charles rushed for 189 yards and three touchdowns in Texas’ 51-10 victory. Charles ended his career as the fourth-leading rusher in school history with 3,328 yards.

    And recently, in 2009, Virginia Tech’s Ryan Williams took over for an injured Darren Evans and posted sensational numbers: 1,655 yards and 21 touchdowns.

    Bergeron’s performance against the Red Raiders on Saturday is similar to many great college running backs first performances. With Malcolm Brown still hobbling, Bergeron has a great opportunity to solidify himself as the go-to-guy the rest of the season. 

    Printed on Wednesday, November 9, 2011 as: Bergeron's day stacks up with greats

  • Fantasy Frenzy: Rookies Jones, Dalton proving to be productive fantasy options

    After a hamstring injury kept Julio Jones from playing for nearly a month, the No. 6 pick from this year’s NFL Draft caught three passes for 131 yards and two touchdowns in a 31-7 Atlanta’s win over Indianapolis. The Falcons traded five picks, including two first-rounders, to Cleveland so they could move up 21 spots and pick Jones, who has already notched three 100-yard games this year.
    After a hamstring injury kept Julio Jones from playing for nearly a month, the No. 6 pick from this year’s NFL Draft caught three passes for 131 yards and two touchdowns in a 31-7 Atlanta’s win over Indianapolis. The Falcons traded five picks, including two first-rounders, to Cleveland so they could move up 21 spots and pick Jones, who has already notched three 100-yard games this year.

    Here’s a list of who’s hot and who’s not after Week 9 of fantasy football.

    HOT

    Julio Jones,
    Atlanta Falcons

    After the Falcons traded a bounty of picks to move up and select the talented Alabama star, people everywhere praised the move that gave Matt Ryan a much needed second option. But up until this week, the trade hadn’t worked out. Jones has been injured much of the season and had yet to produce. On Sunday, however, he made the Falcons management look like geniuses as he went off for 131 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Jones gives Atlanta the deep threat they need to complement Roddy White. Expect solid fantasy numbers from him the rest of the season.

    Andy Dalton,
    Cincinnati Bengals

    Cam Newton has stolen all the headlines this season as far as rookie quarterbacks go, but Dalton is quietly having a very good year for the 6-2 Bengals. He is hitting open receivers and showing a poise that some veteran quarterbacks struggle to find and he also puts up solid fantasy numbers. This weekend against the Titans, he threw for 217 yards and three touchdowns, good for 20 fantasy points in ESPN leagues. If you’re in a two-quarterback league or just need a bye week fill-in, look for Dalton to be a solid option the rest of the season.

    Laurent Robinson,
    Dallas Cowboys

    He had another solid week for Dallas with nine fantasy points in ESPN leagues. This is after being signed off the couch seven weeks ago to give the team some receiver depth. Now he is Dallas’ established third string wideout and, on the heels of another Miles Austin injury, he should see even more balls thrown his way. Expect Robinson to be a top-20 fantasy receiver until Austin comes back. He is available in 98 percent of ESPN fantasy leagues, so he is also an easy wavier pickup.

    COLD

    Indianapolis Colts
    The race for Andrew Luck seems to have a front-runner in the Colts as they are off to a 0-9 start. Without Peyton Manning, they have struggled mightily on offense and there is no reason to ever start a Colts player on fantasy at this point. This was exemplified in a 31-7 loss to the Falcons, where they just looked inept on offense. Sadly for the Colts, this kind of performance is now the norm. Stay away from playing any Colts player the rest of the season.

    Ryan Torain,
    Washington Redskins

    He was the starter in Washington at the beginning of the year but only received one carry Sunday as he falls farther and farther into Mike Shanahan’s doghouse. Roy Helu got the bulk of the work with 10 carries and 14 catches out of the backfield for over 150 yards from scrimmage. Helu has earned the starters job for now, so if you have Torain on your roster you might want to consider dropping him in favor of the first-year back. 

  • Stat Guy: Triumphant defense will be put to the test

    The Texas’ defense has been very effective this season at holding quarterbacks bellow their averages.
    The Texas’ defense has been very effective this season at holding quarterbacks bellow their averages.

    Texas’ 43-0 shutout of Kansas on Saturday marked its most impressive defensive outing of the season and, arguably, the past decade. The Longhorns haven’t kept a team off the scoreboard since 2005 against Baylor, the year they won the national championship.

    Despite the fact that the Jayhawks are Big 12 cellar dwellers, they came into the game with a respectable offense that was averaging 30 points a game. So it’s really no small feat that Texas held them off the scoreboard.

    We could see signs of an improving defense in mid-October when the Longhorns held Oklahoma State quarterback Brandon Weeden to 218 yards passing, 158 yards under his average up to that point in the season. While Texas lost the game, the defense proved it could hang with a top-tier passing offense.

    This past weekend, first-year defensive coordinator Manny Diaz’s defense held Kansas quarterback Jordan Webb to 46 yards through the air, 155 yards under his average. However, OSU and Kansas are at two different spectrums in the college football world, the Texas secondary held the Jayhawks to 374 percent fewer yards.

    “We were seeing the improvement in the last couple weeks,” Diaz said. “We had mainly been playing passing teams, and last week we just hadn’t seen that kind of running yet. It was nice to see our guys being disruptive and making plays on the ball.”

    Freshman cornerback Quandre Diggs added to his “Diaper Dandy” resume with his second interception of the season, while the rest of the secondary broke up three passes. Overall it was a performance that places the Texas pass defense at No. 21 in the nation, allowing 192 yards a game.

    Let’s not forget about the front seven though. Coming off a week where it allowed 202 yards and three touchdowns on the ground to the Cowboys, the Texas front line more than compensated for its dismal showing. The Jayhawks rushed for -2 yards on 20 carries. To put that in perspective, Kansas had been averaging 188 yards a game, a statistic that would rank it in the top 30 today. Defensive ends Alex Okafor and Jackson Jeffcoat silenced their critics who were saying they weren’t getting to the quarterback enough, registering two of the Longhorns’ three sacks. After holding the Jayhawks to negative yards, the rushing defense improved to No. 18 in the nation, giving up a stingy 104 yards a contest.

    Right now, the Texas defense sits at No. 13 in the country (296 yards a game), a fair spot coming off the grueling mid-October stretch the team faced. Texas Tech travels to Austin this Saturday bringing with it the No. 8 total offense in the nation (508 yards per game) and the memory of a huge win against Oklahoma in Norman. The Red Raiders are for real, so it should be a good test for the improving Texas defense.

    “They can stretch you vertically down the field, and of course, they’ll have you spread out so they can stretch you horizontally as well,” Diaz said. “It’s quite a challenge.”

    Printed on Wednesday, November 2, 2011 as: Defense holding QBs under their average

  • Fantasy Frenzy: McCoy torches Cowboys to lead Eagles’ NFL-best rush offense

     Week 8 of the fantasy season is now complete, so here are a few players that knew how to compete and those whose expectations they did not meet.

    Hot

    1. LeSean McCoy, Philadelphia Eagles
    Quick: Name the NFL’s leading rushing team? Done guessing? Well I’m willing to bet that none of you chose the Eagles, a historically pass-happy squad that has had a change of heart in 2011, averaging a 179.9 yards on the ground. The bulk of those yards have been gained by a lightning quick second-round pick from Pittsburgh, LeSean McCoy. McCoy had been the best running back in football this season, averaging more than 100 yards a game, even before this weekend’s performance. He cut through the top-ranked Dallas run defense like butter for 185 yards and two touchdowns.

    2. Maurice Morris, Detroit Lions
    Jahvid Best is hurt and that means someone has to get the carries in the Motor City. That person is Maurice Morris, who had a good game on Sunday as Best’s replacement, rushing for 58 yards on 13 carries and a touchdown. Morris, who is available in 86 percent of ESPN fantasy football leagues and should continue to see touches even when Best comes back to keep him healthy, is a solid pickup.

    3. Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh Steelers
    The Steelers have always been known as a run-first offense, but they have an All-Pro quarterback behind center and they have decided that throwing the ball is the best way to win ball games, which makes Pittsburgh receivers viable fantasy options. While you will not be able to pick up the Steelers No. 1 option, a solid No. 2 is still available in Antonio Brown, who has had more than 10 points in each of the past two weeks and is the Steelers’ most targeted wideout. He is still available in 76 percent of leagues and is a solid wavier pickup this week.

    Not

    1. John Beck, Washington Redskins
    Whenever your team gets shut out, it will be a rough week for the quarterback. For one that is competing for his job, it could be devastating. This is exactly the situation Beck is in after the Bills shutout the Redskins 23-0 on Sunday. Beck threw for only 208 yards and added two interceptions. After that performance, it remains to be seen if the quarterback carousel in the nation’s capital comes back to Rex Grossman this coming Sunday.

    2. Blaine Gabbert, Jacksonville Jaguars
    Rookies will take their lumps and Gabbert took his on Sunday against the Texans. He threw for only 97 yards and two interceptions on a 10-of-30 passing performance in a 24-10 loss. The Jaguars’ league-worst offense was held to only 174 yards in this game.

    Printed on Tuesday, Novemeber 1, 2011 as: McCoy runs over Cowboys, remains top fantasy player

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