Fantasy Roundtable - Week 2
Posted 9/14 by Maurile Tremblay, Exclusive to Footballguys.com
Various staff members will share their views on a range of topics each week in discussion format. Feel free to eavesdrop.
Quick Links to Topics:
Surprise tight ends
Jimmy Smith vs. Keenan McCardell
Larry Johnson vs. Priest Holmes
Maurile Tremblay: What a great first week of
football! There were lots of surprises, the biggest perhaps being Willie
Parker’s performance for the Steelers. What kind of role do you guys see Parker
having in the Steelers’ offense one Bettis and Staley
Chris Smith: Jerome Bettis is like an old Dodge with 330,000 miles under the
hood. He is about finished and Staley simply hasn’t displayed the flash he once
had years ago with the Philadelphia Eagles and has a difficult time staying healthy now. At the very
least, I believe we can expect 12-15 touches a game from Willie Parker but his
upside is much greater than that of either of his two teammates. It would be a
great time to trade him though if you are fortunate enough to have him on your
roster and can get an owner to overpay for him after his huge week one.
Jason Wood: Bill Cowher is old school. He believes there are tried and true
ways to run a football team. With that in mind, I believe Fast Willie Parker
will be relegated to backup duties when Staley and/or Bettis
return to full health. That said, Parker showed an
added dimension (speed/explosiveness) that is far too valuable to that offense
to simply put back on the shelf. Ultimately I think IF (a big IF), Staley and Bettis return to full health, Parker
will get 5-10 touches per game.
Marc Levin: I agree.
It's hard to bench a guy who got 200 yards from scrimmage, so Parker will
definitely be used. But I also agree that Staley will regain the starting role when
he is healthy. Another thing is that veterans tend to suddenly get healthy quickly
and tend to have very good production once a young gun like Parker shows his
stuff. I predict that when Staley returns, he will play very well. It wasn't a
one-man Parker show out there; the Steeler offensive
line was blowing open some holes for him, and I think Staley will be able to
take advantage of them like Parker did – not that Staley can get 200 yards from
scrimmage, but he can hit those holes just like Parker did.
David Yudkin: Parker will stay the starter for now even if the other guys
get better. Most opposing defenses will be better than the Titans, however, so
I don’t see another 200 yard outing for Parker any time soon. Once Bettis gets back, he will likely be the short yardage and
goal line guy. Once Staley gets back, I think this will turn into a RBBC
situation with those three and Haynes thrown in on occasion as well, but I
doubt the Steelers will rush Staley back at this point.
Cecil Lammey: Willie Parker had a great debut in week one, although it
was against a poor Titans defense. I am a Steelers homer, so I have to take
this performance with a grain of salt. Parker's performance has ensured him of
another starting role in week two against the Texans. I believe that if Willie
continues to perform, then Cowher will have no choice
but to leave Parker in and spell him with Bettis on
short yardage or at the goalline. Remember, this is
the coach that kept Big Ben in even when Maddox came back healthy last year. If
Willie is helping the Steelers win games then Cowher
will stick with him.
Maurile Tremblay: Brett Favre
looked pretty bad on Sunday. Can we write him off for the year, or will he get
things turned around even without Javon Walker?
Chris Smith: I have been
preaching all offseason that the Packers offense
looks to be in some trouble this season. Will Brett Favre
play as poorly as he did in week one? No. Favre is
too strong of a competitor to slink off into the sunset like that, but I would
be hesitant to rely on any of the Packers offensive skilled weapons this
season. The offensive line was leaky throughout the Lions game, and Favre for once in his career looked flustered. There are
better options for fantasy owners to start going forward.
Cecil Lammey: It was Favre in a dome. More
often than not, Brett struggles inside a dome for some reason. The Packers
O-line is not what it once was, but Favre can make
plays no matter what the protection. Favre simply had
a bad game. I do believe that 2005 will be his final year and he will want to
go out with a bang.
David Yudkin: The Packers have ranked in the Top 10 in points scored in 10
of the past 11 seasons and ranked 11th in the other. They also ranked Top 10 in
passing 9 of those seasons and ranked 13th in the other two. Even without Walker, I don’t see the Packers scrapping the passing game or
struggling for too long passing the ball. In my opinion, the hurricane played a
role in Favre’s poor showing. He’s averaged 29 TD a
season over his career and lost key receivers in the past. Let’s give him a few
more bad games before we start talking about him being washed up.
Dave Baker: You
never know when someone is going to get old quick, but I don't think Walker's injury hurts Favre like many
think. First of all, there remains talent in GB at the WR position, with
Driver, Ferguson, and rookie Terrence Murphy. Secondly, Favre has produced in the past with little at the position.
You can argue how good guys like Robert Brooks, Antonio Freeman, and Bill
Schroeder were, but I'm not sure how much better any of them were than Donald
Driver. Just look back to 2002 when Driver led the team in receptions and Favre had 32 TD's. Even without Walker, I think the Green Bay talent compares to many
previous seasons under Favre.
So if you toss out (at least to some degree) Walker's injury greatly impacting Favre,
it comes down to whether or not you think he got old quick. His offseason workout was too disciplined for me to think this
is the case. Plus, look at some other opening day moments for Favre. Just last year, Favre went
15/22/143 on opening day. In 2003, Favre was
25/41/248 with 0 TD's and 4 INT's
in the opener. Those sound worse to me than this past Sunday.
For me, I put it down to one bad game and against a young and improving Detroit team. If anyone can bounce back, it's Favre. He'll turn it around.
Jason Wood: I agree with Dave. The
loss of Walker is problematic, but Brett Favre
is nothing if not resilient. Donald Driver is a legitimate option and the team
has Robert Ferguson and rookie Terrence Murphy to add to the mix. If Favre can throw for 3,932 yards and 32 TDs
with Bill Schroeder as his number one wideout, he’ll
find a way to be productive without Javon Walker. In
the last five seasons, Favre has thrown 3 or more INTs in 13 different games; he’s going to have his bad
weeks. Don’t panic.
Marc Levin: I
agree as well. Losing Walker will have no effect on Brett Favre
for fantasy purposes, though the Packers will feel the effects of him not being
there. Favre will bounce back immediately from that
poor showing, and Driver and Ferguson, along with Chatman, Franks, Davenport
and Green can keep Brett Favre's numbers from dipping
too low - he's still a top-12/top-15 fantasy QB.
Maurile Tremblay: Is Frisman
Jackson for real, or is he a one-week wonder?
Jason Wood: From what
I understand, Jackson benefited from the Browns running a ton of 4-WR sets after
TE Steve Heiden got hurt. I don’t think the team
plans to use 4-WR sets regularly, nor do I think we can expect Jackson to get
matched up with a defensive end in zone coverage (as he was on his long TD
catch and run), so in answer to your question MT, I’ll say he’s more “one-week
wonder” than “for real.”
Marc Levin: One-week
wonder all the way. I think we will be seeing a
different one-week wonder each week out of Cleveland as the team currently has nothing consistent to rely on
offensively, and it needs to find something. They will be doing a lot of
experimenting to see what works each week until they find something concrete.
David Yudkin: This was the biggest surprise of Week 1 for me, as I had not
even heard of him before. Like the Bengals, now I
have. I’d be inclined to think he was a flavor of the week, but with the mass
changes in Cleveland I guess anything is possible.
Cecil Lammey: I love guys like Frisman Jackson.
Practice Squad players sometimes can develop and turn into the next Rod Smith.
Most of the time, they end up like Chris Horn instead of Joe Horn.
Unfortunately, I believe that Jackson is a one-week wonder. Braylon
Edwards is the future, and Jackson is buried on the depth chart. Let's see how he looks
when he's up against some better cornerbacks.
Chris Smith: I will admit
that Frisman Jackson surprised the heck out of me
this past weekend but he has ‘One-Week Wonder’ written all over him. The Browns’
offensive attack doesn’t exactly look explosive and I will pass on starting
Jackson although I may try to scoop him up off the waiver wire in deep fantasy
Maurile Tremblay: Who will have a better season this year: Chris Baker, Alex Smith, Courtney
Anderson, or Ben Watson?
Jason Wood: Great question. I think
the easy answer is Chris Baker because unlike the rest of these guys he caught
a bunch of passes. And while I think Baker is now worth picking up off waivers
as your backup, I am particularly intrigued Alex Smith. He’s more of the mold
of the tight ends we’ve seen burst onto the season. He’s athletic, a natural
pass catcher, and is also intelligent. Jon Gruden is
going to chuck the ball around and Smith could benefit from that. If I had to
handicap the situation I’ll rank them: Baker, Smith, Watson, Anderson,
with all four being spot starters but not top 10 tight ends at year end.
David Yudkin: Watson probably has the most talent and could have the best
stat later in the year, but over the course of the entire season, I doubt he
will have the best total numbers. Like Baker, he will share time with at least
one other TE, so I’d rule them out first. It’s tough to call this one; as a lot
will depend on who gets the red zone TDs (like Anderson got vs. the Pats). I’d probably say Anderson followed by Smith, but that’s more of a hunch than a confident
Cecil Lammey: I'll go with the rook, Alex Smith. He was a great player
in college at Stanford and he proved on Sunday that he can take it to the next
level. Chris Baker has a struggling QB. Courtney Anderson is about 4th in the
progression. Ben Watson has a great team around him, but he's on an offense
that spreads the ball around too much.
Maurile Tremblay: Did Reuben Droughns show enough yesterday to be the lead in an RBBC
when Suggs gets healthy, or will Suggs get the majority of the carries? Is it
safe to count William Green out now?
Cecil Lammey: Reuben showed enough to become the lead back, but this
RBBC is far from being dissipated. Suggs still isn't healthy, but when (or if)
he is, he's the most talented back on this team. William Green cannot be
counted out. This battle could go on well into the season.
David Yudkin: Droughns did fairly well in limited use, but it’s hard to conclude
much on only 12 carries of work. Suggs should still be more explosive and
elusive than Droughns, so I don’t think we can take
away much after just one week. I never figured Green to play a big role, but I
guess if the other guys got hurt he might get some additional playing time. No
matter how you slice it, the Browns’ running game is not one I would covet for
Chris Smith: Lee Suggs is
a game breaker and he will still get every opportunity to lead the Browns when
he returns from injury. What we did learn in the first game though is that
William Green is a ‘pretender’ and this appears to be a two-horse race once
Suggs returns. I would expect both players to see significant playing time
going forward with Suggs perhaps earning up to 65% of the playing time (if he
can stay healthy; obviously that is a huge ‘if’).
Jason Wood: I don’t
think 12 carries when his main competition (Suggs) is hurt is enough to
confidently project Droughns as the primary ball
carrier. This is a situation I purposely avoided and see no reason why that
should change after Week One’s developments.
Marc Levin: I've
been a staunch supporter of Droughns as the better
fantasy option in the Browns' backfield, but I never thought he'd be the
"feature" back in that offense. I believe a healthy Lee Suggs will
create a 60/40 split in his favor for carries, but that Droughns
will get the short yardage and goal line carries. Also, Droughns
is an excellent receiver and has significantly more experience and talent as a
pass blocker, so I would expect Droughns on the field
for almost all passing plays in the Browns' offense - which is another reason I
consider Droughns the better fantasy option. If Suggs
can’t stay healthy, then I do believe Droughns will
be the featured back. It seems clear that William Green is not serious
competition for carries.
Maurile Tremblay: Did Stephen Davis'
performance in week one signal that he'll be the featured RB in Carolina
as long as he stays healthy, or do you see him and Foster splitting time?
Jason Wood: Talk about
a surprising development. Just about everyone (myself included) counted Davis out this year after he had microfracture
surgery. Yet he led the Panthers with 81 yards on the ground and a TD. That
said, he had 13 carries and Deshaun Foster had 9
carries, so I don’t know whether we can say for sure Davis is “the man.” Ultimately, can we count on either of these
guys staying healthy? Another situation I tried my hardest to avoid on draft
David Yudkin: Davis did way more than I thought he would. I think he’s still a ways a way
from getting 25 or 30 carries in a game, so by default Foster will see more
work than a typical backup. Davis will
probably be good enough to start as a flex player and Foster probably won’t see
enough time to be a regular fantasy starter. We’ll have to revisit this should Davis run into health issues.
Chris Smith: While Davis
had a solid week one performance, both he and Foster will likely split caries
going forward. As Jason mentioned, ratio this past weekend was 13:9 in Davis’
favor; and I would expect a similar breakdown throughout the rest of the year
if both players stay healthy.
Cecil Lammey: Davis staying healthy is a big if. Foster too, for that
matter. I can see both of them getting hurt and Nick Goings once again becoming
a big waiver wire guy.
Will Grant: I think
that Foster is going to see the field this season at some point. It’s unrealistic to think that Davis has 300 carries in him anymore. Foster will probably
have 9-10 carries a game as long as Davis is healthy, more if he goes down. Foster is an
unrestricted free agent after this season. The Panthers need to know whether
they can count on Foster for next season, or whether they should let him go and
look elsewhere for a running back. Shelton’s injury only magnifies the need to determine just how
good Foster really is.
Maurile Tremblay: Is it clear that Fitzgerald
is the number one target in Arizona,
or is that something that will differ from week to week?
David Yudkin: All off-season, I urged caution to those pimping Boldin to repeat his rookie season due. Fitzgerald’s
presence makes a difference. When both played together last year, Fitzgerald
had the better fantasy stats. I suspect that part of Fitzgerald’s big first
week had to do with the way the defense played the Cardinals, and I suspect
that Warner will go to the guy who is open. Both should still have big games,
but at this juncture I would be inclined to say that Fitgerald
should be ranked slightly higher than Boldin.
Cecil Lammey: Quarterbacks develop favorites early. I would
still consider Anquan Boldin
the number one target because of his ability as a possession receiver. Right
now we'll call Boldin 1, and Fitzgerald 1A. Just like
Kurt had it in St. Louis with Bruce
Jason Wood: The
biggest X factor is Kurt Warner. Last year Boldin was
the more favored target when both he and Fitzgerald were on the field together,
but in the first week of the “Kurt Warner Era,” Fitzy
was targeted 15 times to Boldin’s 9 times. The fact
that Boldin caught 13 of 15 targets is enough for me
to reverse Cecil’s rankings – I’d call Fitzgerald 1 and Boldin
1A for now. But remember when Warner had Bruce and Holt in St. Louis, they both had their great games and forgettable ones. I
would urge owners not to panic on Boldin, and give it
another week or two to see whether this was an exception or the rule.
Chris Smith: This
situation will likely switch each week depending on how defenses line up
against them. Obviously Fitzgerald is a great target but Anquan
Boldin is also superb while Bryant Johnson could
certainly lead the team some weeks in receiving if defenses attempt to stop the
first two receivers. A great situation for Warner and the passing attack, but I
can see this causing fantasy owners some headaches this season. The good news
for Fitzgerald and Boldin owners is that the running
attack was completely neutralized against the Giants, and the Cardinals may be
forced to throw a ton this year thanks to mediocre offensive line play.
Maurile Tremblay: Who will have a better season this year: Jimmy Smith or Keenan McCardell?
David Yudkin: I’d say Smith—he’s clearly the number one receiving option
in Jacksonville while McCardell will like be the
third option behind Gates and LT. Smith has averaged 9.2 fantasy points per
game over the past 3 years vs. McCardell’s 8.5 points
per game over that same period. If McCardell emerges
as the number one receiving threat in San Diego, I might be inclined to change my mind, but for now I’ll
Jason Wood: Jimmy
Smith. McCardell got off to a great start but the
Chargers didn’t have Antonio Gates in the lineup and LaDainian
Tomlinson didn’t catch a pass for the first time in his career. The Chargers
aren’t going to throw with abandon and will spread the ball around. Jimmy Smith
has been elite more years than not, and his running mates are less compelling.
Cecil Lammey: Both of these aged veterans, and former teammates had a
great opening week. I believe that Jimmy Smith will have the better season
because Jacksonville will throw more as an offense. McCardell
looked great, but as Jason mentioned that was without Antonio Gates. Gates will
put a big dent in Keenan's targets. San Diego also has LT2 to dominate a game. Jacksonville has some great weapons at WR, which really open things
up, but they do not have a dominant running game.
Maurile Tremblay: Will Daunte
Culpepper be a top five fantasy QB this year?
Chris Smith: Are you
kidding me? Look, the fantasy season is not a one-game sprint. It is a marathon
and Culpepper is a proud individual who will come back from this experience
with both guns blazing. The fact is, the Buccaneers strong defense took it to
the Vikings and left them shell-shocked. I don’t expect that to happen to the
Vikings again this season. I will say though that he will finish a good deal
behind in numbers from a year ago.
Will Grant: I have
to agree with Chris here. Let’s not
write off Culpepper just because he came up against a tough defense. Tampa has an excellent defense, and they finished #1 in
passing yards allowed last season. It was a train wreck waiting to happen.
Culpepper will bounce back and probably finish #1 or #2 again this season. Will
he have 4800 yards and 40 TDS? No, but it’s way too early to say he’s not going
to finish in the top five.
Cecil Lammey: Culpepper had one bad game, that's it. People say it's
the loss of Moss. I say it has more to do with the loss of Scott Linehan to Miami. Last year the Vikings played several games without Moss
and put up great offensive numbers. CPepp will bounce
back: he's too much of a gamer not to.
Jason Wood: If he’s
healthy, of course he will be top five. Week One was disappointing,
but the team had no semblance of a running game, and as we saw from Philadelphia,
New York (Jets) and St. Louis, sometimes the best laid plans go awry. If anyone out
there is sensing panic on the part of your league’s Culpep
owners, act quickly and fleece him off your unwitting league mate.
David Yudkin: Culpepper’s prognosis for this year was perhaps the most hotly
debated topic on the message board this off-season. Playing Tampa Bay certainly did not help his cause any. Remember, the Bucs led the league in pass defense last year, allowing
just 161 yards passing per game. In 5 previous starts against Buccaneers, Culpepper
averaged just 249 passing yards, and threw a total of 5 TDs
to go with 8 INTs. He should be fine and should still
be in the Top 3 let alone the Top 5. If people are selling, I’d strongly
suggest buying at this point.
Maurile Tremblay: If you held a fantasy draft
right now, where would you have Carnell Williams ranked? Is he a top ten
overall pick right now?
Cecil Lammey: No. Caddy is not a top ten pick because he had ZERO
targets on Sunday. Let's see him become more involved in the passing game before
he joins the elite. That plus Mike Alstott was put in
at the goalline, even though he did not score. So
whenever the Bucs get within the five, it looks like
Caddy goes to the garage.
David Yudkin: In the leagues I play in, Williams ranked in the Top 20-30
scorers after one week, so I can’t see ranking him in the Top 10 overall. Before
his long TD run in the last two minutes against Minnesota, his YPC for 26 carries was only 2.9. If he had stopped
there, perhaps we’d be discussing how overrated he was. His stock probably went
up some, but not a ton. I’d probably put him in the Top 20 when I had him just
outside a few weeks ago. Let’s see him put up more 20 point games before we
start shooting him up the rankings.
Chris Smith: I already had
Cadillac Williams ranked higher than most heading into the season and have him
on a few rosters. He has a great mix of talent and the only caveat in regards
to him this season is the suspect offensive line in front of him. He is a
play-maker though and he already proved he can find room to run. He will be a
force throughout the rest of the season.
Jason Wood: You have
to be mightily impressed with what Cadillac did out there. Sure, he had a
paltry YPC until that late 70-yard TD run, but the mere fact he was able to handle
the rock 27 times and still have the explosiveness to break free late in the
game is exactly what you want to see as a fantasy owner. He’s clearly got
ABILITY and the 27 carries shows he’s got OPPORTUNITY. What
more could you want? I wouldn’t put him among the top 10 overall picks, far
from it, but I would comfortably move him into the 15th-19th slot among RBs.
Will Grant: Gruden didn’t
spend that high of a draft pick for him to share time with Pittman. Williams is a solid talent and he’s going to be a great
addition to Tampa’s offense. As long as he keeps ringing up the big games,
Pittman isn’t going to see the field. As the Pittman threat still hangs out
there a little, and Williams could tire near the end of the long season, I’d
say Williams would be an early 2nd round pick if you were drafting from scratch
Maurile Tremblay: Is Larry Johnson a better NFL running back than Priest Holmes right now?
Is there a chance he'll be the better fantasy RB this year if both guys stay
Jason Wood: From a touches
perspective, Holmes was clearly the workhorse (22 carries to 9 carries). But
Johnson looked as impressive as a RB can look and likely has earned himself a
liberal part of the carry rotation. With both backs healthy and running behind
that line, KC should be able to win a ton of games on the ground. Could LJ be
the better fantasy back? I would say the number of carries would have to even
out more for that to happen but it’s obviously not impossible.
Cecil Lammey: Both of these backs benefit from a monster offensive line
that is very athletic. Larry Johnson has certainly showed that he could be
incredibly productive. Holmes has a better skill set then LJ and if both are
healthy Priest will outproduce LJ.
David Yudkin: No one has led the charge about the Chiefs RB tandem more
than I have this year, and as I see it Holmes will still be the predominant
back and LJ will get a much smaller piece of the pie. “Better” to me is a
misleading term, as Holmes has proven to be one of the best of all-time and his
numbers have not really suffered any. Johnson has looked fantastic, but one has
to wonder how often he will be able to produce at the level he has been on a
per touch basis. In Week One, Holmes had some plays where he made something out
of nothing while Johnson had holes the size of the Grand Canyon to
run through. I don’t see how either back could be accountable for the blocking
in front of him. If Johnson keeps his production at the level he has, he will
probably earn some more work, but I doubt Holmes will lose the majority of the
workload unless his numbers drop-off severely or he gets banged up.
Maurile Tremblay: LaDainian Tomlinson kept his TD streak going, but
failed to catch a pass on Sunday. What was the deal with that?
Jason Wood: I wouldn’t
read too much into one week, but it’s certainly worth tucking away in the back
of your mind. This was the first time Tomlinson ever failed to catch at least
one pass, but he did catch only one pass three times last year. There’s not
much owners can do now anyway, he was likely the top pick in nearly every draft
and no one is going to part ways with him because he might be closer to last
year’s 53 receptions than the prior year’s 100.
Cowboys were blitzing relentlessly, and LT2 had to stay in to block.
David Yudkin: Tomlinson had a catch in all 63 regular season games and the
one post-season game he’s played in. I’d venture to say that that was a
statistical anomaly that won’t happen again this year. However, if the Bolts’ WRs stay healthy, the Chargers may not need Tomlinson to
get double duty as a receiver out of the backfield. It could be a sign that his
role as a receiving threat may be lessened.
Marc Levin: It used
to be that LT was it for the Chargers on offense; now they are finding other
pieces to their offensive puzzle. As a result, I believe called play passes to
LT will be significantly reduced this year if the Chargers are in a game where
they are able to find receivers (against the 'boys it was McCardell).
That said, LT is an excellent pass receiver and I can't imagine Marty Schott
leaving that talent unused. Cecil mentioned that the Cowboys blitzed a lot,
forcing LT to stay in and block. I think the return of Gates will alleviate
that greatly. One or the other of Gates or LT will be open more often for a hot
read than what happened in the Cowboys game where LT was forced much more often
then usual to pick up a blitzer.
Maurile Tremblay: I agree that it had
something to do with Gates’ absence. Teams won’t be able to blitz the Chargers
so often with Gates available as a hot receiver, so Tomlinson should get into
the pattern more often. I don’t think he’ll have anywhere near the 100 catches
he had two years ago, but he should have around 50 again like last year. Thanks
guys! Same time next week.