Tuesday, October 23, 2012

FAABulous: Fantasy Football Pick-ups Week 8

Pass happy and catch crazy, Vincent Jackson almost had 3 TD's on Sunday. (Getty)

FAABulous will recap the week of football activity and point fantasy owners where to spend their hard earned (not really) FAAB or waiver priority. Players will be owned in at most 30% of Yahoo! FFL. This is the one time where mo' money probably wouldn't mean mo' problems.

The NFL Regular Season is coming up on the half way point this week. A moment of silence as we reflect on a season that, as per usual, always feels like it just started. While it's about that time to make some season declarations (Note: idea for next week's column) we can still focus on the overall scope of the league. As mentioned a couple of weeks back, while running backs have been featured more this year than last, there are some guys that still like to throw the ball around. As such, match-ups are certainly there to be exploited, and with those poor match-ups comes the most volatile position in fantasy football, the wide receivers.

Value of wideouts are always minimized simply because any given week any stick-um-less player that runs routes can haul in 2 TD's and lah-dee-dah you're getting 18 points out of a guy projected for 4.50 - right, Randall Cobb?

In Week 7 there were 6 WR in the top 21 in scoring for the week. The first (#2 ranked scorer*) Vincent Jackson was a yard away from finishing #1 overall. Cobb was the third ranked scorer followed by Victor Cruz (who pulled off a 77 yard TD catch in the last minute of the game), the on-fire Jordy Nelson, and then 44-year-old Santana Moss (thanks for extending my career, RGIII), and Andre Roberts (former Lockration pick-up selection). So out of the top 6 scorers at wide receiver their average projected draft position was 88.3. 
*Per Yahoo! FFL the ranks are dictated not by overall points, but factors in that along with position and probably some other values and calculations that I have no idea about.  Jackson was technically the 4th highest scorer, but since he's a WR he was ranked #2. Make sense? Kind of? Well whatever, my point is going to remain the same.
While declaration time may have to wait a week, the group of QB's and RB's are certainly more solidified than they were earlier in the season. Jobs are less likely to be won or lost (and those jobs that are lost do you really want the new hire - John Skelton and Felix Jones, much?). Wide receivers offer the best opportunity for a big swing in production. It just so happens there are some talented receivers available in many leagues that could boom over the next half of the season. Let's focus on them first, then some RBs. Also, as we move along in the season, match-ups become more and more important, so I'll highlight who the player is playing in the upcoming week. 

As we throw our cash in the air, let's see who's hauling it in.

If Chris Givens is as good as he thinks he is, he can be a playmaker rest of the season. (Getty)

Titus Young, Sr., WR - DET (26%) SEA

Young had his best game of the season Monday night against Chicago, and yes, that is saying something. His 6 receptions tied his season high and his 81 yards set his season high. The only negative was he didn't score a TD, but apparently the Lions don't do that anymore. He had the second most targets behind Calvin Johnson, Young's longest reception was 23 yards, so he earned his 81, and Nate Burleson left the game with an injury. With zero run game to speak of and teams somehow figuring out how to negate MegaTron, it looks like after a rough start, Young could fulfill his sleeper status many experts had him pegged for. Although his talent was never in question, just what goes on in his cranium during the game. 

Chris Givens, WR - STL (6%) NE

Speaking of head cases, Givens does fall into this category. He has, what us Arsenal fans like to call Nicklas Bendtner disease. Basically it's unbelievable confidence in yourself and abilities, while things like sight and video and performance tend to work against your delusions. While some one's mouth can get them into trouble, Givens abilities have started to shine through in St. Louis as a deep threat.

Brandon LaFell, WR - CAR (20%) @CHI

While no one bought the Panthers early proclamation by now injured offensive lineman Ryan Kalil that these Panthers were Super Bowl threats, the wheels have really come off for Carolina. After the arbitrary mid-season firing of their GM, the Panthers are 1-5 and seem to be heading nowhere. For all Cam Newton did last year, he's been largely ineffective in this offense. Steve Smith hasn't continued his renaissance of last year, and the Carolina running backs...well they're nothing to tweet about.  One positive out of the narrow loss to Dallas last week was the delayed emergence of LaFell. He appeared to be the perfect counter to the speedy Smith, but with the Carolina offense in such a rut, who knows how or why things weren't clicking properly. His match-up this week is not good at all, but if you look past this week there are some goodies against Washington, Denver, and Tampa.

Andre Brown, RB - NYG (42%) @DAL

There was potential for a Brown breakout after Week 3, but a concussion and Ahmad Bradshaw have cooled that fire a bit. Brown came back to minimal work last week, but should build on that moving forward. Bradshaw is also battling a foot injury, but as we saw last year, that may not be enough to keep him out of a uniform. David Wilson may be more of the future, but for heavy workload, Brown has shown he can do it. 

Rashad Jennings, RB - JAX (27%) @GB

Here we go again. Maurice Jones-Drew lasted all of two plays last week due to some sort of foot injury. He's already been ruled out this week against Green Bay, and odds are it'll be a couple more weeks after that. Foot injuries aren't only tough to diagnose, they're tough to come back from. After all the contract posturing that dogged MJD in training camp, I'd be sure he'll take his time coming back from this. Now, Jennings is a serviceable replacement level back. But with this team, and this offense, I wouldn't want to own any Jacksonville players. If you're desperate for touches, then shoot for Jennings, but again, some players are back-ups for a reason. They just aren't that good.


LaRod Stevens-Howling (18%) SF  

As mentioned before, we've been down this road. Felix Jones showed us how this usually plays out. In case you're talking yourself into LRS-H simply based on carries let's try to use some facts to dissuade you. 

He is averaging 3 yards per carry. The undersized back plays San Francisco next week, and after that Beanie Wells is supposed to return. The rest of the schedule after that is brutal. I'm not convinced he even still is the primary back with William Powell running well. Last week might have just been going with the hot hand.

He has an up-up-up hill battle to return any kind of fantasy value this year.

THE 1%

Vincent Brown, WR - SD (3%) INJURED

It's not out of the question that when Brown returns from injury around Week 9 that he'll be the best wide receiver the Chargers have. Sure there are issues with that team, but getting reps above Malcolm Floyd and Robert Meachem shouldn't be impossible to do.  For all that ails Philip Rivers this year, the one thing he continues to do is throw the football. Whether it ends up in the hands of a guy with lightning bolts on his helmet or the other team is completely up in the air, but that suits Brown's game very nicely. Good preemptive strike opportunity here.

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