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The fantasy playoffs rolled into Championship Week as the Steelers smoked the Panthers in another Thursday Night dud.
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Having players go in the Thursday night games gives you a little bit of an advantage. If your players do well, you can perhaps be a little more cautious with your team. If your players failed to put up good numbers, perhaps you will want to take a bigger risk, hoping to make up some ground. You also get a feel for your matchup depending on how your opponents players did. Let’s take a look at how fantasy owners will be feeling about their players.
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Quarterbacks:  Big Ben (320 yards, passing TD, 2 rushing yards, rushing TD) had a great game. If he’s your fantasy quarterback, you’re in excellent shape. If you’re going up against him, you have your work cut out. If you used Jimmy Clausen (72 yards, INT), you were likely playing in the toilet bowl.
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Running Backs: There were three possible running back choices in this one. Rashard Mendenahll (83 total yards, TD) delivered. Big Ben’s one yard touchdown would have been nice on Mendenhall stat sheet, but you can’t complain with the start he got you. James Stewart (80 total yards) was not a recommended play by most, but he had a solid showing for those forced to use him. Mike Goodson (26 total yards) is officially off the fantasy radar. Isaac Redman (45 total yards) was likely only used in 16+ team leagues.
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Wide Receivers:  Mike Wallace (104 yards, TD) had a real nice performance. 16+ points from your receiver is a great start. Hines Ward (38 yards) and Steve Smith (17 yards) were busts. David Gettis (5 yards) was a non-factor. Emmanuel Sanders (54 yards) was decent enough, but wasn’t likely in many lineups.
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Tight Ends: Heath Miller (73 yards) had a very strong performance. Odds are those who used him got much more than they anticipated. Still, it wasn’t enough to alter any remaining fantasy decision.
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Kickers:  Shaun Suisham kicked two field goals (26, 29) and had three PATs in a modest performance. John Kasay managed one short (27) field goal.
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Defenses:  Pittsburgh dominated. Plain and simple.  They only allowed three points, forced two turnovers (fumble, INT), and racked up four sacks. They be one of the highest scoring defenses this week so if you started them, you’re in good shape.
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Image courtesy of Icon SMI
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I love the original Steve Smith. He’s undersized, but is as fiery as he is talented. He has been one of the best receivers in the game since help establish the third-year receiver rule back in 2003. I think he may be a little overrated though.
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He’s had a couple of monster seasons where he went over 1400 yards, but has just five 1000 seasons in his  ten year career. He has reached double-digit TDs just once. He’s had just one 90 catch season.
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It’s not all his fault though. He hasn’t exactly been blessed with quality QB play the past few years. He has managed to be productive in spite of inept QB play. He also hasn’t had many seasons in which he had a legitimate WR on the other side to take the pressure off. Plus, Carolina has been a run-first team for the majority of his tenure.
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Those circumstances may explain his career numbers, but they don’t help your fantasy team. While David Gettis and Brandon LaFell looked good last week, I wouldn’t go so far as to declare them legitimate threats that will take attention away from Steve Smith.
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While Matt Moore torched the Niners for 308 yards and a pair of scores, I wouldn’t hang my hat on him just yet. It was his first good game this year, and only third good game of his career.
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The Rams (Carolina’s Week 8 opponent) aren’t a good defense, but they are much better this year. They rank 18th with 221.9 passing yards allowed and tied for 8th (with six other teams) with 8 passing TDs allowed.
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Is Smith’s ankle 100% healed? Probably not. It’s good enough though. With the questions at quarterback, and their offense in general, it makes it tough to count on Smith this week. I’ve seen him ranked in the top 15-20 making him a WR2 for the week. Personally, I have him at 30 (click to see WR rankings), making him a WR3.
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Would I start him this week? Sure. However, he is not a must start. Until he and the rest of the Carolina offense show they can move the chains and score some points, I will be hesitant to trust Smith.
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Also check out:

  • Week 8 Get ‘em or Don’t Sweat ‘em Waiver Wire Advice
  • Week 8 Fantasy QB Rankings
  • Week 8 Fantasy RB Rankings
  • Week 8 Fantasy WR Rankings
  • Week 8 Fantasy TE Rankings
  • Week 8 Fantasy K Rankings
  • Week 8 Fantasy DEF Rankings
  • Week 8 Fantasy IDP Rankings
  • Week 8 Start/Sit Advice
  • Week 8 Sleepers
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    There are plenty of WRs that came into the season with high expectations. While the following WRs have not been productive, it’s not because they aren’t on their quarterbacks radar. When you’re being ignored in the passing game, you have a problem. When you are getting your looks, there is hope. Here are some players to be patient with if you own them, or try to trade for them if you don’t.
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    Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona Cardinals:  Fitz is third in league in the league with 35 targets. Sure, he’s only caught 12 passes, but you have to at least be encouraged by the effort Arizona is making to get him the ball. This may be lowest his stock is all year. Be aggressive if you want to get him. Make them overwhelm you if you own him.
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    Terrell Owens, Cincinnati Bengals:  T.O. probably isn’t happy with his 14 catches on the year, but he can’t have a gripe the 33 targets he’s received, which is just one short of Ocho’s. He has yet to score a TD this year, but is a good bet to score #145 this weekend against Cleveland.
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    Calvin Johnson, Detroit Lions:  Megatron has caught half of his 28 targets this year. He has just 151 yards and has just 1 TD, though most would argue he should have two. Losing Matthew Stafford didn’t help matters, but he should be returning soon. He hasn’t topped 56 yards in a game this year. Get him while he’s low. continue reading »


    Image courtesy of Icon SMI

     

    Hakeem Nicks had a solid rookie season for the Giants last year. He caught 47 passes for 790 yards (16.8 ypc) and 6 TDs. He had 411 yards after the catch, which is an impressive number given his relatively few receptions. He is big at 6’0″, 215 lbs with good speed, making him difficult to bring down. He should turn in another solid season, but are people drinking a little too much of the Giants’ Kool-Aid?

     

    Nicks has an ADP of 53 (19th WR) according to Mock Draft Central. I have him as my 24th WR (click to see my WR rankings), but I wouldn’t be comfortable taking him quite so early. I prefer the likes of Dwyane Bowe, Percy Harvin, Vernon Davis, Jermichael Finley, Pierre Garcon, and others that have lower ADPs. If Nicks is on my team, it will be as a WR3. I don’t see that happening based on this scenario.

     

    It’s not that I dislike him, but I am going to temper my expectations. I am predicting 65 catches for 950 yards and 6 TDs. Not bad numbers, but not numbers you expect out of the fifth pick of the fifth round in fantasy drafts either. Not unless they are coming from a tight end.


    The problem is the Giants have a lot of options in the passing game. Steve Smith is the clear #1. Mario Manningham figures to see at least as many targets as Nicks. Kevin Boss and Ahmad Bradshaw, provided they can stay healthy, should also have decent roles in the passing attack.


    I’m also expecting a more balanced attack this year. The Giants attempted 542 passes to just 443 running plays. I would expect fewer attempts from Manning and more carries from Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw. Andre Brown, if he can recover from his Achilles injury, could formulate the three-head monster the Giants used with great success in 2008.


    If the Giants are running more and passing less, it stands to reason the G-men WRs will suffer, especially considering how many quality options they have. Throw in his injury history from last year, and I just can’t trust him quite at 53.


    What are your thoughts on Hakeem Nicks?

     


    Steve Smith broke his arm over the weekend playing a flag football game at his football camp. It’s unfortunate that he sustained the injury while giving back to the community. He could miss a good chunk of training camp, but isn’t expected to miss any regular season action. I would bump him down a slot or two, but I think he remains a quality WR2 in fantasy circles.

     

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    The G-Men had question marks at WR and turned out three that had solid seasons. The running game took a step back. I see the running game bouncing back at the expense of the air attack.

    Fantasy Playoffs Schedule:  Difficult
    First they have to travel to Minnesota in Week 14. They return home to face the Eagles. Then they travel to Green Bay in the fantasy championship.

    Five Star Fantasy Options
    None

    Four Star Fantasy Options
    Eli Manning – Manning had an impressive season throwing for 4021 yards, 27 TDs, 14 INTs, a 62.3 completion percentage, and 93.1 passer rating. All of those numbers, except for the INTs, were career bests. He is a decent starting fantasy QB, but as I said, I expect the Giants to utilize the rushing attack more.

    Steve Smith – Smith came out of nowhere to deliver for the G-Men in a big way. He had 107 catches for 1220 yards and 7 TDs. I expect a step back from Smith, but he still should be a solid WR2.

    Three Star Fantasy Options
    Brandon Jacobs – His 835 yards and 5 TDs were a far cry from the 1089 yards and 15 TDs he had in 2008. He suffered through injuries last year, which have been a problem most of his career. If he can stay healthy he can approach double-digit TDs. I wouldn’t bank on 1000 yards for him though.

    Ahmad Bradshaw – Bradshaw almost certainly will have more total yards than Jacobs. Health could be a concern for Bradshaw as well, but he is very talented.

    Hakeem Nicks – Nicks had fewer catches (47) and yards (790) than Steve Smith and Mario Manningham, but he offers the most upside. He has big play ability. Consistency could be an issue.

    Giants Defense/Special Teams – They had a myriad of injuries in the secondary, but should be improved in that department. They are always a good bet to pile up the sacks.

    Two Star Fantasy Options
    Mario Manningham – Manningham was second in receptions and yardage last year, but is likely to be the third receiver this year. There will be times that you want to use him, but he’s more of a depth option at this point.

    Kevin Boss – Boss had 567 yard and 5 TDs last year, which is solid, but I don’t seem much room for improvement. He’s a high-end TE2, but I wouldn’t want him as my starter.

    One Star Fantasy Options
    Andre Brown – What will Brown do for you? He’s coming off a serious Achilles injury so you will have to see his progress before you consider him. He’s probably at least a  year away (if he ever makes it at this level).

    Click here for additional 2010 NFL Team Previews.

    The Panthers once again were led by the 1-2 punch of DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart. They both ran for over 1100 yards, with 5.0+ yards per carry, and a combined 17 TDs. Perhaps with Steve Smith can return to form with Matt Moore under center for a full year (assuming he holds off Jimmy Clausen all year).

     

    Fantasy Playoffs Schedule:  Moderate
    There don’t appear to be any cupcakes on the schedule for the Panthers as they face the Falcons and Cardinals at home and the Steelers on the road. Weather should be fine for the first to games. Week 16 in Pittsburgh could be a different story, but the running game should be fine. Steve Smith is good enough to play in bad weather. You shouldn’t be relying on Matt Moore in a fantasy Super Bowl.

     

    Five Star Fantasy Players
    DeAngelo Williams & Jonathan Stewart –  This duo has put up two monster seasons. There is no reason to believe they can’t do it again in 2010. They actually keep each other fresh. If one were to miss a significant amount of time, you could be looking at top five production.

     

    Steve Smith – Smith failed to reach 1000 yards for the first time since 2004, but should bounce back. In weeks 13-16 with Moore at the helm Smith averaged  94.5 yards with 3 TDs.

     

    Four Star Fantasy Options
    None

     

    Three Star Fantasy Options
    None

     

    Two Star Fantasy Options
    Panthers Defense/Special Teams – The Panthers will miss Peppers, but they’ll still have some spot starts (Bucs twice, Rams, Browns).

     

    One Star Fantasy Options
    Matt Moore – If the Panthers struggle you could see Clausen get some work. I wouldn’t want Moore as a backup fantasy QB at this point, especially without many options in the passing game.

     

    Click here for additional 2010 NFL Team Previews.

    Time for another Fourth & 1 Roundtable Debate.   Kurt Turner of www.top-fantasy-football.com came up with this week’s topic.  Click here to see the full article.

    This week’s question: What are your top two buy low / sell high candidates headed into week four?

    Buy Low
    There are a number of good Buy Low options as several stars have yet to score a TD. Running Backs Matt Forte and Steve Slaton are candidates, but prying a Running Back that was selected in the first round away from someone is a tall order.

    A player that I would target is Carolina’s Steve Smith, who shockingly is becoming the “other” Steve Smith. He has just 190 yards through three games. What’s worse is 131 of those yards came against Atlanta in Week 2 meaning he has just 59 yards in his other two games. A reason that Smith could be acquired is the horrific play of his Quarterback, Jake Delhomme, who has 7 INTs and 2 Fumbles through three games. His poor play has caused people to question Smith’s value, which opens the door for you to swoop in and nab a WR1 for below market value. Smith is too talented not to come around.

    Sell High
    Everybody expected Matt Ryan to make a huge leap this year, but it’s the other Sophomore Sensation Joe Flacco that’s lighting up the league. Flacco is seventh in passing yards with 839 and tied for 4th with 6 passing TDs. Drew Brees, Peyton Manning, and Matt Schaub are the only other guys with at least 800 yards passing and 6 TDs. I don’t see a major fall from grace, but I don’t see him keeping up his top five fantasy QB ranking either. His fantasy value will likely never be higher. The weather is fine now, but later in the year when it gets cold and sloppy, the Giants will rely more heavily on their ground game.

    Another player I’d consider moving is Mario Manningham. His value is also extremely high as teams scrambled to grab him as a waiver wire gem. There are a few things that will be going against him going further. Hakeem Nicks and Domenik Hixon will be returning from their injuries. They won’t take his starting gig, but they well likely take some of his targets. Also, if you check your calendar it’s October. It’s nice nice, but once the weather gets cold and sloppy the Giants will shy away from the passing game a bit and utilize their powerful rushing attack.

    Panelists
    Junkyard Jake of www.junkyardjake.com
    Ryan Lester of www.lesterslegends.com
    Paul Greco of www.fantasypros911.com
    Bryce McRae of www.kffl.com
    Kurt Turner of www.top-fantasy-football.com
    Eric Stashin of www.rotoprofessor.com
    Lee of www.footballjabber.com
    Smitty of www.fantasyfootballxtreme.com

    Time for another Fourth & 1 Roundtable Debate.  Junkyard Jake came up with this week’s topic.  Click here to see the full article.

    Every year there are Wide Receivers that get off to quick starts. The key is sniffing out if they are contenders or pretenders.  The obvious choices early on are the Giants duo of Mario Manningham and Steve Smith and St. Louis’ Laurent Robinson.  I would endorse those three, especially the Giants duo first and foremost, but I decided to dig a little deeper.

    A name that comes to mind is Seattle’s Nate Burleson.  He started the season with a bang with 7 catches for 74 yards and a TD in a win over St. Louis. He followed that up with 4 catches for 46 yards in a loss to San Francisco. Aside from the production, the encouraging aspect was the number of targets.  He led the Seahawks in targets both games, with 11 and 10 respectively.

    The key for his continued success is his health.  Though Matt Hasselbeck is questionable with a fractured rib, Seneca Wallace is a capable replacement. With T.J. Houshmandzadeh and John Carlson receiving most of the defensive focus, Burleson makes a solid fill-in player during the bye weeks.

    Panelists
    Junkyard Jake of www.junkyardjake.com
    Ryan Lester of www.lesterslegends.com
    Paul Greco of www.fantasypros911.com
    Bryce McRae of www.kffl.com
    Kurt Turner of www.top-fantasy-football.com
    Eric Stashin of www.rotoprofessor.com
    Lee of www.footballjabber.com
    Smitty of www.fantasyfootballxtreme.com

    A couple of star receivers got banged up today.

    Tampa Bay WR Antonio Bryant will miss the rest of the preseason after injuring his knee.  He tore the meniscus in his left knee.  He will have his knee scoped ASAP in hopes that he’ll be ready to go when the Bucs open their season on September 13th against Dallas.  Bryant had a career year last year with 83 receptions for 1248 yards and 7 TDs.  This is a blow to Bryant’s fantasy value as he won’t get time to work on a rapport with newcomer Luke McCown, who is likely to land the starting QB job. 

    In other injury news, Carolina stud WR Steve Smith injured his shoulder in a collision with Cornerback Chris Gamble.  X-Rays are his shoulder were negative and it’s unclear at this point how long Smith will be out of action.


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