Blogs > N-H Fantasy Sports

News-Herald Assistant Sports Editor Kevin Kleps doesn’t just write headlines and stories. He also checks on his fantasy sports teams. A lot. See if the moves and news from the world of sports affect your fantasy teams.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Fantasy football: Week 13 waiver-wire picks

It's Week 13 -- the last of the regular season in most leagues -- and you're looking for help.

Judging by the ownership percentages in ESPN leagues, let's hope you don't need much, because the pickings are at their slimmest of the season.

As always, we select players who are available in more than half of the ESPN formats. This week's batch can be had in more than 71 percent of the ESPN leagues.

1. Jason Avant, WR, Eagles (owned in 4.7 percent of the ESPN leagues): He had eight receptions for 110 yards and a TD last week, and Philly's receiving situation, like its "Dream Team" status, is in shambles. DeSean Jackson was benched late in last week's loss to the Patriots, but is expected to start Thursday at Seattle. Jeremy Maclin likely will sit again because of hamstring and shoulder injuries, leaving Avant and Riley Cooper as Philly's top two receivers when Jackson isn't on the field.

Prior to Sunday, Maclin had a combined four receptions for 35 yards in his previous three games, and he hadn't scored a touchdown all year. So don't expect him to produce as a No. 3 fantasy receiver on a consistent basis. The Eagles' schedule, however, is favorable the next two weeks, making Maclin the most intriguing waiver-wire candidate. Seattle ranks 20th against the pass, and the Eagles' Week 14 opponents, the Dolphins, are 24th.

2. Damian Williams, WR, Titans (6.9 percent): He has three TDs in his last four games and 17 receptions for 250 yards and three scores in his last five. Considering how up-and-down Nate Washington tends to be, Williams might be Tennessee's most reliable target. The schedule is also promising. In the next four weeks, the Titans will play the Bills (No. 22 vs. the pass), Saints (No. 27), Colts (No. 18) and Jaguars (No. 4).

3. Scott Chandler, TE, Bills (27.7 percent): The only reason we didn't list Chandler -- who had five TDs in Buffalo's first seven games -- earlier is he tended to be an all-or-nothing target. Yes, he had the five TDs, but he also had only 21 receptions in his first nine contests. Lately, that has changed, as Chandler has a combined 11 receptions for 121 yards in his last two games. Consider him a low-level No. 1 tight end in a 14- or 16-team league. Buffalo's Week 13 and 14 opponents -- Tennessee and San Diego -- rank 13th and ninth against the pass, respectively, but the Titans and Chargers have combined to allow 36 TD tosses.

4. Andy Dalton, QB, Bengals (28.9 percent): As we wrote, the pickings are slim. Dalton appears to be a great draft selection by the Bengals, and his rookie numbers are impressive (2,509 yards, 16 TDs, 12 interceptions, 81.8 passer rating), but you don't want to start him in the fantasy postseason. Even worse is Cincy's schedule in Weeks 13 and 14 -- at Pittsburgh (No. 3 vs. the pass) and home vs. Houston (No. 2). Still, if you're desperate at QB because of injury, Dalton has thrown for a combined 643 yards the last two games, and he had seven TDs in three contests prior to that stretch.

5. Riley Cooper, WR, Eagles (0.5 percent): We prefer Avant over Cooper, but the latter, after not catching a pass in Philly's first nine games, has been productive with Vince Young behind center. Cooper has eight receptions for 146 yards and a TD the last two weeks. When Maclin returns, his value likely will be minimal.

Past waiver-wire picks who remain undervalued: Matt Moore, QB, Dolphins (owned in 3.7 percent of the ESPN leagues); Roy Helu, RB, Redskins (33.1 percent); Donald Brown, RB, Colts (11.8); Maurice Morris, RB, Lions (32.6); Toby Gerhart, RB, Vikings (21.5); Greg Little, WR, Browns (11.1); Jabar Gaffney, WR, Redskins (44.7); David Nelson, WR, Bills (23.7); Nate Burleson, WR, Lions (16.8); Brent Celek, TE, Eagles (24.5); Jermaine Gresham, TE, Bengals (23.1).

Labels: , , , , ,

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Fantasy football: Week 12 waiver-wire picks

Adrian Peterson is banged up, Chris Johnson is back to not being Chris Johnson, Kevin Smith is a star two weeks after getting picked up as a street free agent ... Just another week in fantasy football.

As always, the waiver-wire picks include players who are available in more than half of the leagues on This week's batch can be had in more than 61 percent of the ESPN formats.

1. Kevin Smith, RB, Lions (owned in 0.8 percent of the ESPN leagues): In his second game since the Lions signed him out of desperation, Smith had 16 carries for 140 yards and two touchdowns, and he caught four passes for 61 yards and another score. Backfield mate Maurice Morris had only eight touches against Carolina, so there is a pretty clear chain of command with Jahvid Best out because of a concussion.

Thursday will be the fifth consecutive game Best has missed, and at this point we shouldn't be surprised if he doesn't play again this season. That makes Smith much more valuable than, say, Toby Gerhart, since there is an opportunity to acquire a player who will start the rest of the season.

Thursday's opponent, the Packers, rank 12th against the run and have allowed only six TDs on the ground -- mostly because they struggle to stop the pass, and many teams have to throw against them after they get down 14 points. That makes Smith a somewhat risky play this week, but he is a decent flex option.

In Weeks 13 and 14, Detroit will face the league's Nos. 19 and 9 run defenses in the Saints and Vikings, followed by favorable matchups in Week 15 (at the Raiders, No. 25 vs. the run) and 16 (vs. the Chargers, No. 23).

2. Toby Gerhart, RB, Vikings (owned in 1.7 percent of the ESPN leagues): Gerhart rushed for 18 yards on seven carries and caught one pass for 7 yards last week, when Peterson was sidelined for the majority of a loss to the Raiders because of an ankle injury. The latter hasn't been ruled out this week, but considering it's the dreaded high ankle sprain, we doubt the 2-8 Vikings will risk having their best player on the field with a bum wheel.

Sunday, Minnesota will play at Atlanta, which owns the league's No. 2 run defense and has given up only six TDs on the ground. All of which makes Gerhart much more ideally suited to be a flex play at best. If you own Peterson, though, you might not have that luxury and will be forced to play Gerhart as one of your two running backs.

3. Matt Moore, QB, Dolphins (owned in 2.8 percent of the ESPN leagues): He has had three touchdown passes in two of Miami's last three games. In that span, Moore has thrown for 613 yards with six TDs and one interception. More importantly, the Dolphins are 3-0 -- thus eliminating themselves from the Andrew Luck sweepstakes.

In the next six weeks, Moore has three very favorable matchups: Week 13 vs. the Raiders (No. 20 vs. the pass), Week 15 at the Bills (No. 24) and Week 16 at the Patriots(No. 32). Thursday's foe, Dallas, is No. 13 against the pass.

If you lost Jay Cutler for the season or you just need a QB, Moore can be an immediate starter.

4. Joe McKnight, RB, Jets (owned in 1.0 percent of the ESPN leagues): With Shonn Greene missing most of last Thursday's loss to the Tim Tebow-powered Broncos because of an injury to his ribs, McKnight was a dual threat. He had 59 yards on 16 carries and caught six passes for 62 yards. His 22 touches were 41 fewer than his total from his first 18 NFL games.

Greene is expected to play this week, but LaDainian Tomlinson could be out a second consecutive game because of a knee ailment. If both are out, McKnight is a must-start against the Bills, who rank 20th against the run and have yielded 12 rushing TDs. If Greene plays, McKnight's value is obviously limited, but he could still receive flex-play consideration in point-per-reception leagues.

5. Earl Bennett, WR, Bears (owned in 38.4 percent of the ESPN leagues): The good news is he has 14 receptions for 251 yards and a TD in his last three games. The bad news is he had become Cutler's favorite target, and now he will be catching passes from Caleb Hanie.

It's too bad, too, because the Bears will play Sunday at Oakland (No. 20 vs. the pass) and have games remaining against the Chiefs (Week 13, No. 14 vs. the pass), Broncos (Week 14, No. 21), Seahawks (Week 15, No. 15) and Packers (Week 16, No. 31).

Cutler's absence means Bennett should be viewed as a No. 4 fantasy receiver, not a No. 3. But you could start him and hope Hanie plays much better than his reputation against a suspect schedule.

Past waiver-wire picks who remain undervalued: Chris Ogbonnaya, RB, Browns (owned in 15.9 percent of the ESPN leagues); Donald Brown, RB, Colts (6.7 percent); Torrey Smith, WR, Ravens (43.8); Jabar Gaffney, WR, Redskins (25.5); Nate Burleson, WR, Lions (15.7); Greg Little, WR, Browns (10.3); Jerome Simpson, WR, Bengals (32.8); Early Doucet, WR, Cardinals (21.2); Brent Celek, TE, Eagles (18.2); Heath Miller, TE, Steelers (34.1).

Labels: , , , , ,

Friday, November 18, 2011

Fantasy football: Will Felix Jones affect DeMarco Murray's value?

The easy answer to the above question is yes.

The more thought-out, worry-free response is "not as much as you might think."

With running back Felix Jones missing the Cowboys last' four games because of a high ankle sprain, rookie DeMarco Murray has rushed for 601 yards on 75 carries, an average of 8.0 yards per attempt, and two touchdowns. Murray has a combined 10 receptions in his last two contests.

He has been among the season's most pleasant surprises -- a stud running back who was available on the waiver wire in mid-October.

This week, Jones has been limited in practice and could be back in Dallas' lineup Sunday at Washington.

The natural reaction is to worry his presence will significantly cut into Murray's role.

I wouldn't.

Murray has proven he is the featured back Jones has shown he never will be.

Jones is better suited to be a change-of-pace, every-three-series replacement.

In the two games this season in which Jones has had more than 15 carries (Sept. 11 and Oct. 2), he has a combined 31 rushes for 101 yards (3.3 yards per attempt). In his other three appearances, he has 152 yards on 31 carries (4.9).

In 2008, Jones averaged five carries in six games, and had a norm of 8.9 yards per attempt. In 2009, he averaged 8.3 carries in 14 games, and had a norm of 5.9 yards per carry.

Last season, his carries increased to 11.6 per contest, and his yards per attempt plummeted to 4.3.

Clearly, this isn't scientific data, but it seems to make sense that Jones is best used for eight to 10 carries a game.

The Cowboys have said Murray is still the top back, and there should plenty of opportunities for him to add to his ridiculous numbers.

In four of the next five weeks, Dallas faces a defense that ranks 18th or worse against the run -- Sunday at the Redskins (No. 18), Week 13 at the Cardinals (No. 21), Week 14 vs. the Giants (No. 20) and Week 15 at the Buccaneers (No. 29). The four teams have allowed a combined 41 rushing touchdowns in 36 games.

We should continue to consider Murray a top-10 running back until we're proven wrong.

(And be thankful it's Jason Garrett, not Mike Shanahan, who is in charge of running-back distribution.)

Labels: , ,

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Fantasy football: Start-and-sit for Thursday's Jets-Broncos game

I know you're Tebow-ed out. We all are.

Here's the thing, though: As ugly as his passing numbers are, as horrific as his Total QBR is (if you're in the dark, that's ESPN's self-serving version of the passer rating), Tebow produces in fantasy.

Yes, he's thrown for only 526 yards in four starts this season. Overall, he's completing 44.8 percent of his passes.

In fantasy, we care strictly about points, and Tebow helps us quite a bit. He has rushed for 282 yards and a TD in four starts, and he has six TD passes, compared to one interception, in that span.

Yes, it's ugly. But Trent Dilfer, Cris Carter, Tom Jackson and every other ESPN analyst have nothing to do with your fantasy team.

Play Tebow. And don't listen to the nonstop, ESPN-manufactured banter.


Jets: RB Shonn Greene, WR Santonio Holmes, defense/special teams, K Nick Folk

Broncos: QB Tim Tebow

Quick slants: Greene should get a significant amount of touches with LaDainian Tomlinson out because of a knee injury. Greene has been disappointing (563 rushing yards, two TDs), but the combination of Tomlinson's absence and Denver's struggles against the run (the Broncos are allowing 129.4 rushing yards in their last five games) are enough to play him tonight. ... Holmes' season stats aren't nearly as impressive as the contract extension he signed, but the former Steeler has three TDs in last five games and caught six passes for 93 yards last week. ... The Jets' defense ranks eighth in total yards allowed (326.8), eighth in passing and 15th against the run. ... Folk has 61 points -- but only 14 field-goal attempts -- in nine games. He should get more chances for field goals tonight. Denver's opponents are 18-for-18 on three-pointers this season (yes, I'm one of the few who misses the NBA).


Jets: QB Mark Sanchez, RB LaDainian Tomlinson, WR Plaxico Burress, TE Dustin Keller

Broncos: RB Willis McGahee, RB Lance Ball, WR Eric Decker, defense/special teams, K Matt Prater

Quick slants: It's a sit-heavy fantasy contest. Sanchez has decent numbers (2,081 yards, 14 TDs, nine interceptions), but he has two TD passes and three interceptions in his last two games. And there's the fact that if you play in a 10- or 12-team league, there is no way he should be considered a starter. ... Burress has six touchdowns, but three were in one game (Oct. 23 against the Chargers). He has had just three games with more than three receptions and none with 80 yards or more. ... Both of Keller's touchdowns were in the Jets' first two games. The tight end had 17 receptions for 249 yards in his first three games, and has 14 catches for 224 yards and zero TDs in his last six. ... McGahee will be a game-time decision because of a hamstring injury. The Jets aren't great against the run (they are allowing 116 rushing yards per game and have given up nine scores on the ground), but the threat of McGahee, should he be active, exiting early for the second straight week outweighs the possibility he will have his second huge game in three weeks. ... I wouldn't play Ball unless you're desperate at running back, but if McGahee sits, he's a much more intriguing option, mostly because the Broncos figure to run much more than they throw. Ball had 30 carries for 96 yards last week and has only one TD on 61 touches this season. ... Decker has a TD in three straight games and has seven scores on the year. With Tebow as Denver's starting QB, however, Decker has 12 catches in four games, compared to 22 in five games with Kyle Orton starting. Then there's this: Decker could be stranded on Revis Island. A quick rule of thumb: When in doubt, sit a team's best wideout when the Jets are the opponent. ... The Broncos' defense ranks 18th in yards allowed (360.7), 29th in scoring (26 points per game), 20th against the pass and 16th vs. the run. ... Prater has only 46 points in nine games. He has missed five of 14 field-goal attempts.

Labels: , , , , , , , ,

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Fantasy football: Week 11 waiver-wire picks

A quick disclaimer before our latest edition of the waiver-wire picks: We wrote about quarterback replacement options late Monday night (sadly, Carson Palmer was the best of the bunch).

As usual, we select players who are available in more than half of the leagues on This week's group is available in more than 68 percent of the ESPN formats.

1. Laurent Robinson, WR, Cowboys (owned in 13.1 percent of the ESPN leagues): He is Dallas' No. 2 wideout with Miles Austin out, and Robinson has responded by catching 13 passes for 208 yard and four touchdowns in his last three contests. He has scored at least one TD in three consecutive games, and the Cowboys' schedule the next three weeks is very favorable. Sunday, Dallas will play at Washington (No. 9 vs. the pass), followed by games against Miami (No. 25 vs. the pass) at home and at Arizona (No. 24). Austin is expected to miss at least another week, and Robinson should be considered a No. 3 fantasy receiver with Austin out and a decent option even when Austin returns.

2. Dexter McCluster, RB, Chiefs (owned in 19.2 percent of the ESPN leagues): Last week against the Broncos, McCluster had eight rushes for 45 yards and six receptions for 48 yards -- his most work since he received 14 touches in Week 3. He is much more valuable in point-per-reception leagues (29 catches on the year), but is still a worthwhile option in standard leagues for owners who are desperate for help at running back. The Chiefs have slowly phased out Thomas Jones, who has had a combined 12 carries the last three weeks, and their schedule the next six weeks features four teams that rank 25th or worse in total defense (No. 32 New England this week, No. 25 Chicago in Week 13, No. 28 Green Bay in Week 15 and No. 26 Oakland in Week 16).

3. Kendall Hunter, RB, 49ers (owned in 5.4 percent of the ESPN leagues): On the season, Hunter has 335 yards on 59 touches (5.7), and last week he had six carries for 40 yards and a touchdown in a game in which Frank Gore left early with an injury. Gore says his bruised knee is fine and he expects to play Sunday against Arizona. If so, Hunter should be a fantasy reserve. If Gore is out, Hunter is a decent No. 2 back in fantasy. Regardless, he should be on your roster if you are depending on Gore to get you to the postseason.

4. Denarius Moore, WR, Raiders (owned in 31.7 percent of the ESPN leagues): Moore had five catches for 123 yards and two touchdowns last Thursday at San Diego, and he had four receptions for 61 yards the week before. As we have learned with Darrius Heyward-Bey and Jacoby Ford, it's difficult to depend on a Raiders receiver from week to week, but maybe Moore (five total TDs) is the best of the bunch. Oakland's schedule the next four weeks certainly should help -- at Minnesota (No. 31 vs. the pass), Chicago (No. 29) at home, at Miami (No. 25) and at Green Bay (No. 31). Moore shouldn't be a starter unless you need help because of bye weeks (this is the last week to worry about that) or injuries.

5. Titus Young, WR, Lions (owned in 2.9 percent of the ESPN leagues): Young has 11 receptions for 140 yards and a TD in his last two games. Last week, he had seven catches for 74 yards, totals that obviously were helped by Matthew Stafford's 63 attempts in a blowout loss at Chicago. Young, depending on your view of Nate Burleson, is Detroit's second- or third-best receiver. Sunday, the Lions will face Carolina (No. 14 vs. the pass), then have favorable matchups against Green Bay (No. 31), New Orleans (No. 18), Minnesota (No. 30) and Oakland (No. 22). Like Moore, he should be a fantasy reserve. Like Moore, many owners will be forced to start him at some point.

Others to watch: Steve Smith, WR, Eagles (owned in 1.8 percent of the ESPN leagues); Harry Douglas, WR, Falcons (0.3); Vincent Brown, WR, Chargers (0.2); Ed Dickson, TE, Ravens (5.7).

Past waiver-wire picks who remain undervalued: Donald Brown, RB, Colts (11.0 percent); Maurice Morris, RB, Lions (12.5); Chris Ogbonnaya, RB, Browns (14.0); Greg Little, WR, Browns (4.6); David Nelson, WR, Bills (27.5); Early Doucet, WR, Cardinals (18.7); Brent Celek, TE, Eagles (16.0); Heath Miller, TE, Steelers (41.4); Jake Ballard, TE, Giants (3.5).

Labels: , , , ,

Fantasy football: Quarterback replacement options

Before we get started, I'll admit replacing Matt Schaub with a Week 11 waiver-wire candidate is similar to benching Arian Foster in favor of Chris Ogbonnaya, but desperate times call for acquisitions of Andy Dalton.

Monday, we learned the Texans' Schaub is out for the season because of a Lisfranc injury, Eagles quarterback Michael Vick has "a couple" broken ribs and Chiefs QB Matt Cassel will need hand surgery and might miss the remainder of the season.

Cassel's injury is minor at quarterback, but it isn't welcome news if you own Dwayne Bowe.

Vick is questionable for this week's game against the Giants, and if you don't have a decent backup, you could stash Vince Young on your bench and make the switch if needed prior to Philly's Sunday night game at New York.

We don't need to tell you the Schaub situation is much more serious, and we don't need to inform you of the importance of drafting two quarterbacks for times such as this.

If, however, your backup is of the Colt McCoy variety, or if you were planning on picking up a fill-in QB for Schaub this week (when Houston is on a bye), here are five names to consider (all are available in more than 74 percent of the leagues on

1. Carson Palmer, Raiders (owned in 25.7 percent of the ESPN leagues): What, you expected Matthew Stafford to be available? I'm not a fan of Palmer, who has thrown seven interceptions in three games since the Raiders overpaid the Bengals to lure him out of retirement, but he has racked up 631 yards and five TDs (with four picks) in his last two games. Last Thursday at San Diego, he actually looked pretty competent (299 yards, two TDs, one interception).

Of the five players on this list, the Raiders' schedule is the most favorable for a QB. In the next six weeks, Palmer will face the Vikings (No. 30 against the pass), Bears (No. 29), Dolphins (No. 25), Packers (No. 31), Lions (No. 4) and Chiefs (No. 16).

2. Andy Dalton, Bengals (24.7 percent): The rookie has thrown for 1,866 yards and 14 TDs with a passer rating of 82.6. In his last three games, Dalton has seven TDs and four picks, and he's thrown for at least two scores in four of his last five contests. Don't get too excited, though, since Cincy's schedule is about to get much more difficult.

Dalton will face four of the NFL's top six pass defenses in the next four weeks (all rankings are prior to Monday night) -- the Ravens (No. 6), Browns (No. 1), Steelers (No. 3) and Texans (No. 2). If you can make it to Week 15 with him, the slate gets much more favorable, as the Bengals will match up with the Rams (No. 12 vs. the pass) and Cardinals (No. 24) in Weeks 15 and 16.

3. Alex Smith, 49ers (15.1 percent): He has been surprisingly effective (1,709 yards, 11 TDs, three interceptions, 95.8 rating) for the 8-1 49ers, but he's also more "game manager" than fantasy stud. Smith has one TD in four consecutive games, and has accounted for two or more scores in only three of nine contests. In the next six weeks, the 49ers will play the Cardinals (No. 24 vs. the pass), Ravens (No. 6), Rams (No. 12), Cardinals again, Steelers (No. 3) and Seahawks (No. 19).

4. Matt Leinart, Texans (0.0 percent): Be among the first to acquire Matt Leinart! Hurry! Time is running out!

Leinart hasn't thrown a pass in a regular-season game since 2009, and he has six more interceptions (20) than TD passes in his disappointing career. Yes, he has more weapons at his disposal than the first three players on this list, assuming Andre Johnson returns after Houston's bye to play in Week 12. But, to be blunt, we don't trust him, and you probably shouldn't, either.

Houston's schedule from Weeks 12 to 16 is as follows: at Jacksonville (No. 5 vs. the pass), home against Atlanta (No. 23), at Cincinnati (No. 10), Carolina (No. 14) at home and at Indy (No. 21).

5. Christian Ponder, Vikings (10.2 percent): Let's just say we were a little more excited about Ponder -- well, at least excited enough to consider him over Leinart -- before he threw for 190 yards, no TDs and one interception Monday night against Green Bay's generous pass defense. Prior to Monday, the rookie threw for 455 yards, three TDs and two picks in his first two starts.

The schedule in Weeks 11 through 13 is favorable -- Oakland (No. 22 vs. the pass) at home, at Atlanta (No. 23) and Denver (No. 20) at home -- but not enough to justify starting Christian Ponder in the final three weeks of the fantasy regular season.

If that's the predicament you find yourself in, good luck. And remember, crazier things have happened (see Ogbonnaya rushing for 90 yards last week).

We'll be back Tuesday night with Week 11 waiver-wire picks. Until then, you can follow me on Twitter.

Labels: , , , , , ,

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Fantasy football: Analyzing the values of Brent Celek and Jake Ballard

Two names we briefly mentioned but didn't go into detail about in Tuesday's waiver-wire picks were tight ends Brent Celek and Jake Ballard.

Celek is owned in only 15.8 percent of the leagues on ESPN. Ballard's ownership percentage is 32.7.

Both are starting options at tight end, and depending on if you play in a points-per-reception league or not, Celek could be a top-10 player at his position the rest of the season.

Celek, who has had seven receptions in each of the Eagles' last two games, is an ideal choice in PPR leagues. You might remember him as a fantasy stud in 2009, when he had 76 catches for 971 yards and eight TDs in his third season, or a fantasy dud in 2010 (42 receptions, 511 yards, four TDs).

With Michael Vick at quarterback, Celek's value suffered -- until the last three weeks. In that span, he has 18 catches and two TDs.

Should Vick continue to look for one of his best receiving options, Celek is a slam-dunk choice as a starter in PPR leagues. Should Vick go back to ignoring him, as he did in Philly's first five games (when Celek had nine catches and didn't reach the end zone), his current ownership percentage of 15.8 would seem inflated.

I don't believe Ballard, despite being owned in more than double the number of leagues as Celek, is as good of an option as Celek.

The rookie from Ohio State has better numbers this year (23 catches for 395 yards and three TDs), but Celek's stats are far superior the last three weeks. In that span, Ballard has a respectable 13 receptions for 203 yards and a TD.

He's a decent choice as a low-level starting tight end in 12- and 14-team leagues. He's also probably a safer choice than Celek, who is at the mercy of the up-and-down Vick.

Labels: , ,

Fantasy football: Start-and-sit for Thursday's Raiders-Chargers game


Raiders: RB Michael Bush, K Sebastian Janikowski

Chargers: QB Philip Rivers, RB Ryan Mathews, RB Mike Tolbert, WR Vincent Jackson, TE Antonio Gates, K Nick Novak

Quick slants: With Darren McFadden out with a foot injury, Bush will be the Raiders' featured back. He ran for 96 yards on 19 carries and caught two passes for 33 yards and a touchdown last week. ... Janikowski has made 13 of 14 field-goal attempts, is perfect on 19 PATs and has 58 points in seven games. ... Rivers has been disappointing (11 TD passes and 14 interceptions), but he's thrown for 2,469 yards, including 754 in his last two. He had four TD passes and three interceptions last week against the defensively challenged Packers. ... Mathews is expected to play after missing last week with a groin injury. He has rushed for 509 yards and has 30 catches for 342 yards in seven games. He hasn't scored a touchdown in his last four games. ... Even if Mathews starts tonight, Tolbert should get about 15 touches. He has six TDs on the year and has reached the end zone twice in his last two contests. ... Jackson had seven receptions for 141 yards and three TDs last week. ... In three games since returning from a foot injury, Gates has 17 receptions for 223 yards and two scores. He had eight catches for 96 yards and a TD on Sunday. ... Novak has been prolific in place of the injured Nate Kaeding, making 16 of 17 field goals and all 17 of his PATs. He is averaging 9.3 points per game.


Raiders: QB Carson Palmer, WR Darrius Heyward-Bey, WR Jacoby Ford, defense/special teams

Chargers: WR Malcom Floyd, defense/special teams

Quick slants: Palmer has thrown six interceptions in two games with the Raiders. ... Heyward-Bey has been productive, but he was shut out last week, and the Raiders' passing attack is too unreliable. ... Ford had five receptions for 105 yards and a TD last week, but he had only 11 catches for 114 yards and zero TDs prior to his breakout game. ... The Raiders' defense ranks 27th in yards allowed per game (386.5) and 30th in points allowed (27.0). ... Floyd is expected to sit tonight because of a hip injury. If he's active, I'd keep him on my bench. ... The Chargers' defense ranks seventh in yards allowed (311.6), but is 27th in points (25.5), tied for 20th in sacks (17) and has forced only 11 turnovers.

Labels: , , , , , , , ,

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Fantasy football: Week 10 waiver-wire picks

I apologize for not writing this piece last week, but real work interfered with the play we so enjoy -- fantasy football.

Without further delay, our waiver-wire selections for Week 10. As usual, keep in mind we select players who are available in more than half of the leagues on

1. Antonio Brown, WR, Steelers (owned in 34.1 percent of the ESPN leagues): Emmanuel Sanders missed last week's game following the death of his mother, and he had knee surgery Monday that is expected to sideline him for a few more weeks. Another Steelers wideout, Hines Ward, missed the majority of last week's game with what the team said was a stinger but certainly looked like a concussion. Enter Brown, who is Ben Roethlisberger's No. 2 target and has 540 yards receiving on the year.

Brown has averaged seven receptions in his last three games, and he has racked up 278 yards in that span. He should be considered a No. 3 receiver in fantasy, and possibly a low-end No. 2 if both Ward and Sanders are out.

2. Early Doucet, WR, Cardinals (owned in 18.8 percent of the ESPN leagues): He has two TDs in his last three contests, and had six receptions for 78 yards last week. Considering John Skelton was surprisingly decent for the Cardinals at quarterback last week (222 yards passing, one TD, 38 yards rushing), maybe it would be best for Larry Fitzgerald, Doucet and company if Kevin Kolb takes his time returning from injury. Doucet is better suited to be a No. 4 fantasy receiver, but he can be a No. 3 if you're desperate for help in a given week.

3. Torrey Smith, WR, Ravens (owned in 24.4 percent of the ESPN leagues): He certainly had his forgettable moments in the Ravens' win at Pittsburgh on Sunday night, but the rookie more than made up for it by catching the game-winning touchdown pass. Smith had five receptions for 71 yards last week, and he has 13 catches in his last four. Like Doucet, he should be considered a No. 4 fantasy wideout.

4. Chris Ivory, RB, Saints (owned in 0.4 percent of the ESPN leagues): Ivory likely will only help you for one week, as rookie first-round pick Mark Ingram might miss one more game because of a bruised heel. Ivory, in his second contest since being activated from the physically unable to perform list, had 15 carries for 67 yards on Sunday -- seven more attempts than Pierre Thomas, who still gained 66 yards on the ground. Darren Sproles, who had four rushes for 42 yards last week, is much more of a receiver than a runner in the Saints' high-powered offense, which makes Ivory a decent flex play in deeper leagues this week -- but only if Ingram is out.

5. Chris Ogbonnaya, RB, Browns (owned in 15.9 percent of the ESPN leagues): Peyton Hillis and the soap opera in which he is starring will miss another game this week, and Montario Hardesty likely will be out, too. That leaves Ogbonnaya as the Browns' No. 1 rushing option, but don't get your hopes up (if you're a Browns fan, you already know that). Ogbonnaya has a combined 24 carries for 65 yards the last two weeks, and he is averaging 2.9 yards per carry on the season. You should only play him for two reasons: 1. You're extremely thin at running back. 2. You're in a PPR league (Ogbonnaya has a combined six catches the last two games).

-- Two others of note (we'll write about these guys later in the week): Jake Ballard, TE, Giants (27.2 percent); Brent Celek, TE, Eagles (15.4 percent).

Past waiver-wire picks who remain undervalued: Roy Helu, RB, Redskins (owned in 16.0 percent of the ESPN leagues); Donald Brown, RB, Colts (2.2); Heath Miller, TE, Steelers (42.3); Jerome Simpson, WR, Bengals (31.7).

Labels: , , , , , , ,