It’s a love hate relationship. The passion, the craziness, the raw emotion that sports evoke is unparalleled. It’s what draws us to stadiums, to the couch from morning to night on Sundays, or to drop huge amounts of our discretionary income supporting the teams and players we love so much. It’s awesome in a way that if a person doesn’t understand, they probably never will. Then there is the flip side. The line that most of us can see, but need not cross because at the end of the day we know, these are still just sports. Everyone knows what happened on Monday Night Football this week. If you read my COM column on Monday you know that I was passionately rooting for the Seahawks in that game. For that reason, I won’t get into what happened because frankly a win is a win, and if a person doesn’t think we “deserved” to win despite 8 first half sacks, holding a trio of star receivers to their lowest total combined in their history as teammates, and Aaron Rodgers to zero touchdown passes, well again this is sports and said person is certainly entitled to their own opinion. But the vitriol that fans have sent Golden Tate’s way is what I am referring to in this love/hate debate. Does anybody fault a basketball player who gets away with a foul at the end of a game? I don’t know; say like a Lebron James on Kevin Durant at the end of an NBA finals game? Of course not, it’s in the heat of the battle and stuff happens, its part of the game. To call Golden Tate a cheater and other vicious expletives because he pushed somebody in the middle of the most intense game of flyers up you’ve ever seen is saddening. It extends to us fantasy people. For many, we wait all week looking forward to our game on Sunday. We have unrelenting passion for a game that we have essentially no control over. It’s beautiful, most of the time. In the end, everyone has been on the positive side of a supremely fortunate victory and conversely on the porous side of a gut wrenching defeat. The game goes on and there is always next week. We continue to prepare, we continue to talk trash, and we continue to exercise our unrelenting passion for the games that drive us mad. And to aid that preparation, let’s get to this week’s start em sit em!
PS – TJ Lang, really dude? An offensive lineman who helped give up 8 sacks in one half of an NFL football game is whining about deserving to win and about integrity? Look in the mirror home boy.
PSS – A fantasy note of interest going forward in regards to the thankful resolution of the referee lockout. I think this will have a positive effect on all of the quarterbacks that have started slowly. The worst calls game to game were consistently defensive pass interference, defense holding, illegal contact, etc. The game went far too fast for the replacement refs to keep up with what was happening on the back end. I think getting the ole’ vets back in there will do wonders for our studs quarterbacks. Last chance, if you can buy low on the Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Matt Stafford type gunslingers that have started very slow, I think it’s the last chance you will get.
Good luck week 4!
The SUPER studs (Rodgers, Brady, and Brees) – So this might seem like a cop out because most start em sit em columns around the countries always preface their article with the typical, “We will not tell you to start Rodgers, Brady, Foster, etc.” Well after multiple weeks of poor performances (Aaron Rodgers last two weeks combined is a lower total than his lowest last season) many owners may have an up and coming back up they are considering for good reason, but, not this week. Hold off one more week my friends. In addition to my point above about the refs, I think these guys all have great match ups to exploit. Don’t give up yet. Keep these studs going.
Joe Flacco, BAL, vs CLE – The Browns defense is still without elite cover corner Joe Haden and have already given up 8 touchdown passes this season to Michael Vick, Andy Dalton, and Ryan Fitzpatrick. We all have been told over and over by everyone on television that Flacco is taking the reins of this team and if that is true, he should light up the scoreboard on Thursday night football tonight.
Other QBs worth a start – Christian Ponder @DET, Andy Dalton @JAC, Philip Rivers @KC
Ryan Mathews, SD, at KC – Mathews looked solid in his first game back from injury save a big fumble lost inside the 10 yard line. There should be some worry for Mathew’s owners going forward that he may lose a little goal line work to Jackie Battle but for this week Mathews should be back in line ups. The Chiefs are in the bottom 3rd of the league in rushing defense this year and their offense won’t be able to jump out to a big league like Atlanta’s did. Consider last week Mathews’ preseason action and he will be ready to roll this Sunday.
Ryan Williams, ARI, vs MIA- Its show time Mr. Williams! Beanie Wells is out until at least week 12 and the backfield in Arizona pretty much belongs to Ryan Williams now. A popular sleeper coming into the year after an injury wiped away his rookie season, Williams could be the Mikel Leshoure of this week. Leshoure similarly missed his rookie season last year due to injury, and was given the starting nod last week and ran away with the job. Williams could have similar success as the Cardinals continue to rely on tough defense and ground control offense.
Cedric Benson, GB, vs NO – He vultured a touchdown last week against a very tough run D in Seattle and this week gets a defense in absolute shambles. The worst run D in the league by a wide margin to this point in the year and the Packers might be slightly miffed about this past week’s game. I could easily see a 40 spot on the board this week, and Benson should be heavily involved in that.
Other RBs worth a start – Doug Martin vs WAS, Mikel Leshoure vs MIN, Frank Gore at NYJ
Percy Harvin, MIN, @DET – Quietly, Christian Ponder is having a very solid year. The Vikings are finding ways to involve Harvin in all aspects of their game plan and for the first time, he and AP are having success at the same time. Anytime Harvin plays on turf he gets an extra boost, but add that to Detroit’s disastrous secondary and he’s a bonafide top 10 guy. Love Harvin this week.
Kenny Britt, TEN, @HOU – The match up isn’t great, but this is more about my acknowledgement of getting him ready to join that group that we won’t talk about much in these types of columns. Britt is an absolute elite talent and he looks ready to explode. He’s not suspended, and as of right now, he’s not hurt. He had 5 catches on 11 targets last week and was very close to making a couple big plays. The Houston D is a tough match up but with Jake Locker’s confidence rising, I think Britt is on the verge of blowing up and you don’t want to sit the potential for 150 and 2 tds.
Torrey Smith, BAL, vs CLE – Paired with Joe Flacco as mentioned earlier, the Browns have just given up a ton of passing touchdowns. Playing under extremely tough conditions last week, Torrey Smith overcame terrible tragedy to post his best game of the season. He was expected to take over the number one role in Baltimore and even if it wasn’t under the circumstances that anyone would have wanted, perhaps his performance last week is the igniter to that status. He is set up in a good match up to continue that tonight.
Other WRs worthy of a start – Malcom Floyd @KC, Steve Johnson vs NE, Golden Tate @STL
Kyle Rudolph, MIN @DET – Rudolph had a great 2 touchdown performance in week 3 which get set him in motion to being a solid fantasy starter down the line. For now, he is probably your back up or in a platoon situation. If the ladder is true, this would be a good match up for your platoon as the Lions are giving up the second most points to tight ends in the league so far. I already mentioned Percy Harvin and with Jerome Simpson back, the middle of the field should be wide open.
Michael Vick, PHI, vs NYG – He gets the game at home, which makes is slightly more appealing for him, but I don’t like the match up regardless. Typically the Giants front four has given Vick fits and he hasn’t exactly been the best caretaker of the football. Jeremy Maclin is still questionable this week and I don’t think the Eagles have the depth at receiver to exploit the depth problems that hurt the Giants early in the season. They made Cam Newton struggle last week, and I think Vick is going to have a rough time as well.
Jay Cutler, CHI at DAL – Dallas has reigned in Eli Manning, did not allow much to rookie Russell Wilson, and held Josh Freeman to maybe his worst performance as a pro. Jay Cutler on the other hand has not exactly been what we fantasy folks like to refer to as a reliable source of points. His buddy at left tackle only has to deal with Demarcus Ware this week, no biggie. Forte is out and Bush is battling a shoulder injury, which leads me to believe Dallas is coming right after Cutler. That is not a position he usually excels in. No thanks.
Other QBs worth a sit – Tony Romo vs CHI, Peyton Manning vs OAK, Sam Bradford vs SEA
Chris Johnson, TEN, at HOU – If you have just been rolling him out there because he was your first round pick its time do take Mike Ditka’s advice and “stop it!” Maybe this is the week he reaches down into his 2 years ago self and goes crazy but I’ll take the under, especially against the tough Houston defense, in Houston. Whether it’s his o line, his burst, his motivation makes no never mind in the end. The fact remains that the man has 45 yards rushing in 3 games. Looking at that, the fact that we are actually talking about the recommendation to sit versus just doing it may be comical.
Steven Jackson, STL, vs SEA – What got overshadowed in Golden Tategate was an unreal performance by the Seattle defense. They are currently second in the league in rush defense and while not quite on the level of the 49ers, fantasy stars are rarely born against the Hawks. When you also take into account Jackson being in and out of the line up with that ice pack that wraps around his leg, he’s a guy I would be very nervous about starting this week.
Shonn Greene, NYJ, vs SF – Ok, its San Francisco. They haven’t been quite as ferocious as initially stated coming into the season but they are still a poor match up. What makes this worse is the ineffectiveness that Greene has had, in addition to the growing role of Bilal Powell. Powell hasn’t just lit the world on first, but it sure seems like it when you look at Greene’s paltry 2.75 YPC. The Jets’ offense is struggling altogether, but they aren’t doing Mark Sanchez any favors by running out a back who is only netting 2.75 YPC. Don’t start him.
Other RBs worth a sit – Michael Turner vs CAR, Ahmad Bradshaw at PHI, DeAngelo Williams at ATL
Desean Jackson, PHI, vs NYG – The Giants depth in the secondary will not be an issue if the Eagles are short receivers again. In addition, teams that can rush Michael Vick with their front four, like the Cardinals last week and the Giants this week, are able to consistently put a safety over the top of Desean Jackson. This eliminates Jackson’s greatest talent of getting deep. I don’t like Vick this week, and I don’t like Jackson either.
Ramses Barden, NYG, at PHI – Nicks might be back which would be the biggest detriment to Barden’s value but in addition, he will be going up against a tough secondary, at times, who will be much more ready for him than Carolina seemed to be. Barden has size and talent, and should have an expanding role going forward, but to those who picked him up this week in the hopes of getting more of that great production, keep him on the bench unless Nicks is rules out again.
Brandon Marshall, CHI, at DAL – I spoke about Cutler’s struggles and Dallas’ defense against opposing quarterbacks earlier. Now I can let you know about their success against top receivers. Hakeem Nicks was held to 4 catches for 38 yards. Victor Cruz 6 catches for 58 yards. Sidney Rice 3 catches for 33 yards. Vincent Jackson 1 catch for 29 yards. They have done an excellent job taking away teams’ number 1 targets.
Other WRs worth a sit – Nate Washington @HOU, Danny Amendola vs SEA, Santonio Holmes vs SF
Jermichael Finley, GB, vs NO – I think this game will be a shootout and I think Aaron Rodgers is going to have a big, big game. New Orleans hasn’t been able to stop much this season, but one thing they have shut down is tight ends. They have yielded the fewest fantasy points to tight ends which means I think Aaron Rodgers and his wide outs on the outside are going to have a field day. I could easily see a 3 for 38 type day for Finley while Jennings, Jordy, Jones, Cobb, Driver, etc. are all gobbling up catchs.