Articles By Corby Yarbrough

All taxonomy terms: Chicago Bears, Earl Bennett, Jay Cutler, News
Path: /news/earl-bennett-emerging-top-flight-wr

Earl Bennett is back in the lineup for the Chicago Bears. The receiver saw his first action on Monday night since a Week 2 chest injury sidelined him for most of the first half of the season. Upon his return, Bennett caught all five of his targets for 95 yards and a score.

Now he goes up against the Detroit Lions. What should we expect from Bennett this week?

I would expect more of the same as we saw Monday night.

Quarterback Jay Cutler is certainly no stranger to sacks. He was sacked a league-leading 56 times last season and has already been dropped 21 times this season. And the Lions are certainly no strangers to sacks. They have the fourth most in the league at 24, and sacked Cutler three times and were close on many other plays in their Week 5 meeting.

And Cutler is no stranger to Bennett, dating back to their one season together at Vanderbilt when the freshman Bennett caught 79 passes from the senior Cutler.

That connection will certainly need to be one that is used often if the Bears and Cutler want to survive Sunday afternoon.

Bennett might be more than just the third down threat as the Lions will bring the pressure and Cutler needs to get rid of the ball quickly. Bennett has already caught eight of 10 targets (80 percent) from Cutler this season and caught 46 of 70 (66 percent) last season. No other Bear receiver has that high of a catch rate this year or last.

Bears offensive line coach Mike Tice gave his group a “C-plus” grade after Monday night’s win against Philadelphia, and going up against Detroit doesn’t lead one to believe that grade will rise.

In the Week 5 meeting against the Lions, Cutler completed 28 of 38 passes for 249 yards and a touchdown with the three sacks in a 24-13 loss at Detroit. Now he gets Bennett back and is at home to try and improve those numbers.

Where the concern lies mostly with starting Bennett are the other Bears receivers that can cut into his production. Devin Hester, Roy Williams, Johnny Knox and Dane Sanzenbacher have all lead the team in targets in at least one game this season, and that is when all four were playing. Now you add Bennett back into the mix. Hester is battling a sprained ankle suffered Monday night and is expected to play, but that may open the door a little more for Bennett.

It is a short sample size this season, but Bennett’s fourth year is on pace to be his best in per game numbers. In two full games, (chest injury occurred in first quarter vs. New Orleans) Bennett’s targets (3.5), catches (4), yardage (57.5) and scores (.5) per game are all up.

Detroit has allowed PPR receivers to be successful this season. Last week, Denver’s Eric Decker (6-72-1) and Eddie Royal (6-41-0) produced. A week earlier, Atlanta’s Roddy White (5-52-1) and Harry Douglas (4-62-0) had PPR success. San Francisco’s Michael Crabtree caught nine of 15 targets for 77 yards in Week 6, and in the Week 5 meeting, Sanzenbacher (6-64), Sam Hurd (4-50) and Devin Hester (5-32) were all decent PPR plays. Detroit does not, however, allow many receivers to cross the goal line. The Lions have only allowed five TDs to receivers thus far.

A combination of the pressure Detroit will bring against a still poor Chicago offensive line and the connection Cutler has with Bennett leads me to believe Bennett is a solid PPR play this week. You could take a chance on him as a flex in non-PPR, but I think he’s a solid WR2 in a PPR league.

By Corby A. Yarbrough @Corby_Yarbrough on Twitter

<p> Will Jay Cutler to Earl Bennett be gold each week or just a flash in the pan?</p>
Post date: Sunday, November 13, 2011 - 07:02
Path: /news/cowboys-receiver-laurent-robinson-worth-start

So you’ve picked up Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Laurent Robinson off the waiver wire. Now the question is do you start him this week against the visiting Buffalo Bills.

It depends on which Buffalo Bills pass defense are we going to see?

It has been a tale of two pass defenses for Buffalo this season. Four out of the first five weeks they were terrible, the last three they have been pretty solid.

In Week 1, the Bills allowed just six catches for 51 yards to five receivers in a blowout win against Kansas City. However, the next four weeks, Buffalo gave up some big days to receivers. Oakland’s Denarius Moore went 5-146-1, New England’s Wes Welker went 16-217-2, Cincinnati’s A.J. Green went 4-118-0 and Philadelphia’s Jason Avant went 9-139-0.

The Bills then seemingly put at least a bandage on some of the pass defense’s hemorrhaging when they held a pass-happy New York Giants team to just 11 catches and 164 yards amongst six receivers. Hakeem Nicks led the team that day with four catches for 96 yards.

It kick started a run over the last three games where no receiver has caught more than five balls, no other receiver, outside of Nicks’ 96, has gone over 79 yards and only one receiving TD (Santonio Holmes barely) has been allowed.

With injuries to Dez Bryant and Miles Austin throughout the season and Robinson transitioning in rather smoothly, the Cowboys still have the No. 7-ranked passing attack (279.5 YPG) in the NFL. The Bills don’t bring productive pressure (15 sacks ranked for 25th in NFL) but they do produce interceptions (15 ranked 2nd in NFL).

This week’s matchup is on the shoulders of Romo, who hasn’t thrown a pick in 64 attempts (jinx), and then on the height of Bryant (6-2) and Robinson (6-2) against the height of Buffalo cornerbacks Drayton Florence (6-0), Leodis McKelvin (5-10) and Terrence McGee (5-9).

Robinson already has two five-catch games for the Cowboys and two TDs— each coming in the last two games. He should fill in nicely as a starting receiver for the injured Austin (hamstring). Bryant has been a little flaky this season, but there is no denying his talent. He has 45 catches for 561 yards and six scores this season. Perhaps he will shine when the No. 1 spotlight is squarely on his No. 88 this weekend.

Plus, the threat of RB DeMarco Murray in the Cowboy backfield will certainly open up things for Bryant and Robinson.

All of these factors mean this is a start ’em if you’ve got ’em week for any Cowboys on your roster.

By Corby. A. Yarbrough @Corby_Yarbrough on Twitter

<p> If you picked up Dallas' Laurent Robinson, you should start him</p>
Post date: Sunday, November 13, 2011 - 06:54
Path: /news/should-you-bench-aj-green-today-against-pittsburgh

Can you really send fantasy football’s seventh-best receiver this season to the bench in Week 10?

If I’m an A.J. Green owner, and I am in one league, I am really, really considering doing just that.

The Cincinnati Bengals’ rookie receiver, along with his rookie quarterback, Andy Dalton, will be facing the Pittsburgh Steelers and their Dick LeBeau-led defense for the first time together.

Pittsburgh, against fantasy receivers overall, is the third-best team in the league at defending them. Only six touchdowns (T-8th), 92 catches (11th) and 985 yards (4th) have been surrendered by the Steelers to receivers through nine games. No receiver has eclipsed 88 yards and no receiver has had multiple-TD games.

Here’s the kind of days the most-targeted receiver on the opposing team had against Pittsburgh.

Week 1: Anquan Boldin, Baltimore - Seven targets, four catches, 74 yards, 1 TD
Week 2: Ben Obomanu, Seatte - Six targets, four catches, 35 yards
Week 3: Reggie Wayne, Indianapolis - 13 targets, three catches, 24 yards
Week 4: Andre Johnson, Houston - Five targets, four catches, 36 yards
Week 5: Damian Williams, Tennessee - 11 targets, six catches, 66 yards, 1 TD
Week 6: Mike Thomas, Jacksonville - Six targets, four catches, 36 yards
Week 7: Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona - 10 targets, four catches, 78 yards
Week 8: Wes Welker, New England - Six catches, 39 yards
Week 9: Anquan Boldin, Baltimore - 10 targets, seven catches, 88 yards
All told: 74 targets, 42 catches, 476 yards, two touchdowns (Average: 8.2 targets, 4.6 catches, 52.8 yards, .2 TD)

Green is easily the most-targeted receiver for the Bengals with 65, 12 ahead of Jerome Simpson for Cincinnati. Green has caught 40 of those for 599 yards and five touchdowns.

In Athlon’s half-PPR scoring format, the most targeted receiver averages an 8.7-point fantasy day against Pittsburgh.

And these are just Pittsburgh stats against receivers as a whole. When you break down what defensive back Ike Taylor has done against receivers, it’s even more statistical proof that you might want to find another option not named A.J. Green.

Taylor has been thrown at 56 times this season and allowed just 20 catches (35.7 percent catch rate) for 211 yards and one touchdown, according to Pro Football Focus. The 6-1, nine-year veteran was even stronger up until two weeks ago. He had allowed eight catches against 38 times being thrown at before back-to-back games of allowing six catches apiece on eight and 10 targets. Overall this season, in Athlon’s half-PPR format, receivers are averaging 2.2 catches, 23.4 yards and .1 TD for a 3.5-point fantasy effort.

Any given Sunday, right? But through nine weeks thus far, Taylor has been Revis and Asomugha like. Revis has been thrown at 39 times, given up 13 catches (33.3 percent catch rate) for 204 yards and no scores. Asomugha has been thrown at 24 times, given up 13 catches (54.2 percent catch rate) for 209 yards and one TD.

A LeBeau-led defense, a rookie QB and the play of Ike Taylor will have me leaving Green on the bench this weekend. Be thankful for what you’ve been able to get from Green thus far and will continue to get, but keep in mind that he did have an ADP of 93.5 from over 4,200 drafts. You should have better receivers ahead of him, and everything he gives you from here on out is gravy.

But hold the gravy this week.

By Corby A. Yarbrough @Corby_Yarbrough on Twitter 

<p> Can you really send fantasy football’s seventh-best receiver this season to the bench in Week 10?</p>
Post date: Sunday, November 13, 2011 - 01:17
Path: /news/oakland-receiver-jacoby-ford-worth-start-thursday-night

Oakland Raiders coach Hue Jackson raved about speedy receiver Jacoby Ford in the offseason, saying he had the potential to be a standout No. 1 receiver.

Ford did show his knack for racking up big yards in just a few catches last week against Denver’s suspect pass defense. In Carson Palmer’s first start as the Oakland QB, he targeted Ford six times and the former Clemson standout pulled down five of them for 105 yards and a score.

The two get another solid matchup Thursday night as San Diego has allowed the second-most points per game to fantasy receivers over the last three weeks and fourth most to QBs in that time.

Sunday was the breakout game of the season for Ford, who had battled a hamstring injury earlier in the season and entered the game having a total of 114 yards on 11 catches in five games of action. His performance against Denver is what we want to see more of but we’re just not sure which Oakland receiver will show up and lead the charge from week to week. Will it be rookie Denarius Moore, the guy trying not to be a first-round bust in Darius Heyward-Bey or will it be Ford?

All we know is Ford is a playmaker.

He broke out as a rookie in the middle of last season with games of 6-148 and 4-108 in Weeks 9 and 12, but had no more than three catches, no more than 47 yards receiving and no scores in the final five games.

You hate to say “I want to see more from Ford before I start him,” but with this week’s matchup you will find yourself saying “I’m glad I went with the numbers and started Ford.”

The Chargers, after allowing two receiving touchdowns in the first five weeks, came out of the Week 6 bye and have allowed seven in the last three games. Only Green Bay’s Jordy Nelson has gone over 100 yards, but the Chargers are being spread out.

Nelson went 5-105-1 last Sunday, while teammate Greg Jennings posted a 6-46-1 line. In the previous week against Kansas City, rookie Jonathan Baldwin had his coming-out party with five catches for 82 yards and a score. Teammates Dwayne Bowe (4-62) and Steve Breaston (3-42) were also able to make a fantasy dent. And in Week 7, the first week off the bye, New York Jets receiver Plaxico Burress had just four catches for 25 yards, but three of the four catches went for scores against San Diego.

I see Ford performing more like Nelson.

 Both San Diego and Oakland allow over 19 points per game to fantasy receivers and over 20 points per game to fantasy quarterbacks for the season. San Diego is strong against the run (fifth-best against fantasy RBs for the season), and that means Ford MUST produce in the passing game for the Raiders to succeed. He also gives you return-yardage potential in leagues that award such points.

And if you are looking for a shootout, the Raiders have allowed at least one TD pass in five of their eight games, and have surrendered two in one game on three occasions. It is worth noting that no one receiver has two TDs in a game against Oakland.

I’m expecting a shootout, and I think Ford will be at the forefront of that for the Raiders. Start him with confidence, and don’t be the owner who’s waiting for him to put it together before he’s in your lineup. The matchup says play him now.

By Corby A. Yarbrough @Corby_Yarbrough on Twitter

<p> Will the speedy Raiders receiver live up to his hype?</p>
Post date: Thursday, November 10, 2011 - 14:34
Path: /fantasy/michael-bush-or-mike-tolbert-thursday-night

The first Thursday night game of the NFL season is just a day away, and there are plenty of early choices you need to make about your fantasy rosters this week — namely Michael Bush or Mike Tolbert in the battle of No. 2 running backs.

Bush, the No. 2 RB of the Oakland Raiders, takes the lead against San Diego on Thursday night as Darren McFadden has already been ruled out. Tolbert, the No. 2 RB for the Chargers (although that is debatable) might have to split time with No. 1 Ryan Mathews, who is battling a groin injury.

Mathews will likely have the dreaded “game-time decision” tag associated with his name as San Diego is preparing for the game on a short week and Mathews missed playing in Sunday’s game against Green Bay entirely. But would you trust Mathews even if he were in the lineup? I find it hard to at this point.
With that said, let’s look at which Mike to start — Bush or Tolbert.

The Chargers are the second-best team in the league when it comes to fantasy point production per game from the RB position. The Raiders are third, just four-tenths a game behind. San Diego is up that high thanks to 72 catches for 686 yards and two scores against Oakland’s 43 catches for 423 yards and four scores from RBs. The Raiders have rushed for 1,040 yards and seven scores to 862 yards and eight touchdowns for the Chargers. Both teams have run the ball 203 times.

It is not as even on the defensive side. San Diego remains near the top of the league in points allowed to fantasy RBs, ranking fifth. Meanwhile, Oakland is on the complete opposite end at 30th in the league against the position. The teams are separated by 8.4 points per game.

The Chargers have surrendered 30 catches for 219 yards and a score this season to running backs, which probably does not affect Bush. The five-year veteran has just 11 catches on the year. Bush will have to rely on getting in the end zone to produce, and that is something San Diego has allowed just three times to RBs this season.

Oakland has allowed backs to catch 37 balls for 434 yards and two TDs, and it is coming off a game where Denver’s Willis McGahee (20-163-2) and Tim Tebow (12-117-0) combined to rush for 280 yards and two scores.

Tolbert already has 32 catches for 290 yards and two scores. He has been targeted nine times in three games, including Sunday’s loss to Green Bay; he also added 83 yards rushing on 19 carries in the loss.

Both San Diego and Oakland allow over 19 points per game to fantasy receivers and over 20 points per game to fantasy quarterbacks. I see this one being a QB game, and that is where Tolbert certainly edges out Bush with his pass-catching ability. He had six catches for 47 yards the last time he played the Raiders.

Whether it’s legit called passes to Tolbert or check downs, he is producer out of the backfield via his receptions. And it is for that reason, even if Mathews were to play, that I would go Tolbert over Bush this Thursday night — in any scoring format.

By Corby A. Yarbrough @Corby_Yarbrough on Twitter

<p> Which back up running back will do better on the first Thursday night NFL game?</p>
Post date: Wednesday, November 9, 2011 - 17:48
Path: /nfl/fantasy-football-waiver-wire-week-10

We take a bye from the byes for one week before the final four teams get their week off next Sunday. We have our first Thursday night game of the season (Oakland-San Diego) in Week 10. Here are quite a few names you should be able to get off the waiver wire to help you in your efforts to make a playoff push over the final four weeks of the regular season (if you’re postseason begins Week 14).

Matt Moore, Miami
Who expected a 22-point fantasy day from Moore in Kansas City on Sunday? Not many (read: any) of us. He had a consensus ranking of 29 on, but produced a three-TD game against a Chiefs team that hadn't allowed a QB to throw a TD in three games and just four TDs in the last five. Moore is probably not the first choice you'd pick up off the waiver wire and want to send out there at QB, but if you are really in a pinch he could produce. If your fantasy playoffs start in Week 14, here's the schedule for Moore leading up to that point: Washington, Buffalo, Dallas and Oakland. Washington has allowed at least one TD pass in all but two games and 200-plus yards in all but one. Buffalo has allowed just four touchdown passes the last five games and 200-plus yards in every game after Week 1. Dallas has allowed two TDs per game in all but three games and 221-plus passing yards in all but two games. Oakland has allowed at least two passing TDs in all but two games and 215-plus yards in all but the last two games.

Sam Bradford, St. Louis
Bradford, whose status was up in the air all week, ended up playing through the ankle sprain and doing very little in Arizona. It's about par for the course for Bradford's year thus far. Plus, he lost his second slot receiver this season when Danny Amendoala's replacement, rookie Greg Salas, broke his leg. Bradford is available on the waiver wire in 71 percent of Yahoo leagues, but you'd be pretty hard up if you're starting him at this point. The preseason optimism can only go so far that he is finally going to break through. He has just two double-digit performances this season, capping at 16.74 points in Athlon's 6 points for everything format. The Rams draw Cleveland and Seattle the next two weeks (both top 13 fantasy defenses against QBs).

Carson Palmer, Oakland
I told you he would be a top-12 fantasy QB in Week 9 with his matchup against the Broncos. Leading into Monday night's Philadelphia-Chicago game, Palmer had the fourth-best week amongst QBs with three TDs, three INTs and 332 yards. Next up is San Diego, who Aaron Rodgers threw for 247 and 4 TDs against on Sunday. Palmer's no Rodgers, but the Chargers have allowed 681 yards, eight TDs and three interceptions against Matt Cassel, Mark Sanchez and Rodgers in the last three weeks. I would think Palmer comes out somewhere abouve the average of those three. So you're looking at 227 yards, 2.6 TDs and an INT for Palmer next week. The Raiders then get Minnesota, Chicago and Miami leading up to Week 14; all three are bottom six against fantasy QBs this season.

Andy Dalton, Cincinnati
Steady as she goes would describe the rookie from TCU. He's not going to give you much great but he's also not going to kill you. He had games of 7.2, 21.6 and 4.8 the first three weeks, since then he's never dipped below 13 points or gone above 21. The schedule certainly stiffens the next five weeks with Pittsburgh twice, Baltimore, Cleveland and Houston. All four are top five defenses against fantasy QBs. He does draw St. Louis (22nd) and Arizona (23rd) in your semifinals and finals.

Christian Ponder, Minnesota
The rookie quarterback certainly has a favorable fantasy QB schedule over the next month to help lead you into the postseason. Here's a look at the teams he gets over the next month and their rank against fantasy QBs. Green Bay (31st), Oakland (25th), Atlanta (20th) and Denver (32nd) is the schedule leading up to the postseason. There are very few schedules that favorable to a QB going down the pre-playoff stretch. But get it while you can because his postseason schedule certainly tightens up with Detroit (7th), New Orleans (15th) and Washington (10th).

Roy Helu, Washington
The rookie got the start against San Francisco, you know the best fantasy defense against running backs. So of course we all inserted Helu into our lineup. All Helu did was rushed for 4.1 yards per carry (10-41) and catch 14 balls for 105 yards. The 49ers had surrendered 33 catches over the first seven games and Helu got nearly 50 percent of that in 60 minutes. Well now we will all run to the waiver wire to add him, hope he reproduces his first start each week and we will all be happy. But there are a couple of things to remember. First, he's a back under coach Mike Shanahan so we never know when/if he will get his number called. Second, how often can we expect a reception day even remotely clost to that from a Redskins RB? No Washington back had more than five catches all season heading into the 49ers game.

Donald Brown, Indianapolis
He's been the bulk carrier the last three weeks, carrying 35 times for 150 yards and a score compared to rookie Delone Carter's 23 carries for 143 yards and a score. Brown is a pick up only because of opportunity. He's not hitting it out of the park, and draws some tough defenses against fantasy RBs in Jacksonville (8th), Carolina (11th) and New England (16th) in the three weeks leading to the fantasy postseason. If you are really just looking for someone who touches the ball a majority of the time, then pick up Brown; otherwise, look elsewhere.

Ben Tate, Houston
The Houston defense is playing well enough to continually get the ball back to the offense. And the Texans are the second-best rushing offense in the NFL (155.1 YPG). Tate has gone from just a mere handcuff to a great flex option after 41 carries for 302 yards and one score the last four weeks, including 27 for 219 and a score in two of the last three games.

Chris Ogbonnaya, Cleveland
Peyton Hillis and Montario Hardesty have already been ruled out for Week 10 against St. Louis. Ogbonnaya was a dud against Houston's No. 4 run defense (91.4 YPG). He carried 13 times for 28 yards and caught just one pass for 13 yards and lost a fumble. But he could be a solid play against the Rams in Cleveland this week if the Browns use him the right way (i.e. take advantage of his pass-catching ability). The Rams' rush defense has tightened up the last two weeks after DeMarco Murray gashed them for 253. They have faced six backs in the last two games, but surrendered just 89 yards on 32 carries. But St. Louis has allowed backs to catch 16 balls for 107 yards in that same time. Don't waste a priority spot on Ogbonnaya, but if you think the Browns might actually utilize his skill set out of the backfield then he'd be a decent PPR play.

Kendall Hunter, San Francisco
Frank Gore suffered an ankle sprain against Washington (x-rays negative), so Hunter has the potential to do something this week against the Giants and their bottom 10 rush defense (127.1 YPG). The 49ers are the No. 6 rushing team (137.6 YPG) in the league heading into the Monday night game. Don't waste a priority claim on Hunter, but monitor Gore's status and pounce on the rookie from Oklahoma State if Gore looks gimpy at all.

Laurent Robinson, Dallas
Just as DeMarco Murray was a few weeks ago, Robinson is easily the No. 1 waiver priority claim of the week. Miles Austin is expected to miss 2-4 weeks after re-aggrevating his hamstring, and Robinson was already cutting into both Austin and Dez Bryant's production before that. The Cowboys are the seventh-best team when it comes to production from fantasy receivers. Robinson has been a steady producer since his debut in Dallas in Week 3. He has 33 targets for the season for 24 catches, 368 yards and touchdowns in each of the last two games. Robinson was the leader in targets two weeks ago when the Cowboys got destroyed by the Eagles, pulling eight targets for five catches 103 yards and a score, and this was with Austin and Bryant in the lineup.

Jacoby Ford, Oakland
It's hard to tell which Oakland receiver you are going to get from week to week. But we can only hope that coach Hue Jackson was telling the truth in the preseason when he said they needed to use Ford much, much more. Ford is healthy after battling injuries throughout a good chunk of the season, and if he and Palmer can get a good rapport going, Ford will be a helluva play the remainder of the season.

Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh
I've been telling you about him for weeks. He was good with Hines Ward was in the lineup. H was good when Hines Ward was out of the lineup. He was good with Emmanuel Sanders in teh lineup. He was good with Emmanuel Sanders out of the lineup. Brown continues to get the most targets of the Steelers receivers over the last three weeks (35) and he has turned it into 21 catches for 278 yards and one score in that time.

Josh Cribbs, Cleveland
I'm not sure if I would trust any of the Browns' receivers, but Cribbs has been getting targets all season long. Cribbs has 40-plus yards receiving in five games this season and has posted a touchdown in back-to-back weeks. The Browns still pass the ball a lot, and if Cribbs is the emerging receiver alongside Greg Little, who's doing nothing with the targets he receives, then he's worth a look. Little has eclipsed 40 yards just twice this season and is still scoreless. I wouldn't waste a waiver claim, but just assess your roster as the week goes along and see if you want to make the move to pick up Cribbs.

Steve Breaston, Kansas City
Do you trust him as a receiver on a run-based team with an emerging rookie in Jonathan Baldwin starving for targets? A week after going 3-42 on four targets, third in targets on the team., Breaston went 7-115 with 11 targets as the leading target guy on the Chiefs. Here’s why Breaston is worth a look, at least for the next two weeks: Denver and New England. He draws the Nos. 1 and 3 worst fantasy defenses against receivers that are actually decent against the run (15th for Denver, 20th for New England).

Torrey Smith, Baltimore
Paging Cris Carter. Paging Cris Carter. All the rookie Torrey Smith does is catch touchdowns. Well, not really, but four of his 20 catches have gone for scores, including the game-winner against Pittsburgh Sunday night. That has to build some trust with QB Joe Flacco after Smith had struggled with drops earlier in the game. Smith has been targeted XX times, catching 20 for 397 yards and the four scores. He has seen nine targets in each of the last two games after having seen five apiece in the previous two games.

Jerome Simpson, Cincinnati
A.J. Green is a bad, bad man as a rookie. And the more he emerges the more Simpson has the chance to shine and be the receiver he was in the final three games of last season. Of course the consistency with which the Bengals use Simpson is hair-pulling. He had 10 targets Sunday against Tennessee, catching three of them for 43 yards and a score. This is a week after catching one of two targets for 14 yards and a score. In the two games prior to the 10 and 2 targets were games of nine targets, 6 catches, 101 yards and seven targets, four catches and 40 yards.

Austin Pettis, St. Louis
With Greg Salas breaking his leg on Sunday, fellow rookie Pettis steps into the slot. We are still waiting for this position to be the “next Wes Welker” position under OC Josh McDaniels. It has shown flashes, but no consistency perhaps due to the injuries and inexperience. Sam Bradford has lived well below expectations, but in PPR leagues, Pettis could be a nice grab for you as the Rams try to get some life into the passing attack.

Jake Ballard, New York Giants
I've told you for three weeks to go pick up the Giants' TE. It is a position that QB ELi Manning loved when Kevin Boss was there, and Manning's still looking that way. Ballard has been targeted seven times the last two weeks and was targeted 12 times in the three games before that. And over those 26 targets in the last five games, Ballard has caught 19 of them for 308 yards and three scores. He's the tight end to have off the waiver wire and has been for a while now, yet he's still available in 67 percent of Yahoo leagues.

Anthony Fasano, Miami
He caught two of his three targets and turned both into TDs against Kansas City on Sunday. But he has been targeted just 12 times for six catches and three scores with Matt Moore at the helm. If there's such a thing as a poor man's Scott Chandler, it's Anthony Fasano. And I'd leave both on the wire.

Jacob Tamme, Indianapolis
Dallas Clark (leg) may be done for the year. But weren't all Colts pass catchers really done for the year when we learned Peyton Manning would be out for an extended period of time? Tamme was a complete stud when he stepped in for an injured Clark last season. But that was with Manning at the helm. Now he may step in with Dan Orlovsky under center. Orlovsky replaced the benched Curtis Painter at QB. The ONLY solace you could take from this pairing of Orlovsky and Tamme is that they have probably been working together on the practice field as back ups and could have some rapport as long as they are on the field together.

Visanthe Shiancoe, Minnesota
I already told you about QB Christian Ponder's schedule against fantasy QBs over the next four weeks: Green Bay (31st), Oakland (25th), Atlanta (20th) and Denver (32nd) is the schedule leading up to the postseason. Well, the Vikings are the 24th-best team at using fantasy TEs and the same four defenses, save for Green Bay, are pretty good against the position: Green Bay (29th), Oakland (16th), Atlanta (5th) and Denver (4th). However, in the three games Ponder's seen significant action, Shiancoe has been targeted 19 times for 12 catches, 127 yards and a score. He might be worth a shot against Green Bay and Oakland to get you through the Week 11 bye, and then see how he is still working with Ponder to see if you hang on to Shiancoe. 

<p> Laurent Robinson, Matt Moore and Roy Helu are the names to get in week 10</p>
Post date: Tuesday, November 8, 2011 - 07:58
Path: /news/wes-welker-will-play-and-must-start-against-giants

New England Patriots receiver Wes Welker will go Sunday against the New York Giants.

The receiver is listed as questionable with a neck injury but practiced both Thursday and Friday and is still a must start in Week 9. He is fantasy’s No. 2 WR behind Calvin Johnson. A PPR machine, Welker has a league-high 57 catches and is second in the league with 824 yards.

Welker, who injured his neck late in last week’s Pittsburgh game, has slowed as of late in the yardage department. He has had six catches each of the last two games, but just 45 and 39 yards to show for it. He also has one score in the last two games. Prior to the last two games, Welker had 45 catches for 640 yards and five scores.

But this week the Patriots get a Giants team that allows the 10th most fantasy points to receivers. New York has allowed five receivers to grab at least six balls in a game this season and it has allowed 60-plus yards to eight different receivers. According to, the Giants are 18th in the league in pass coverage.

New England is the league’s No. 2 passing team at 324.7 yards per game and No. 4 with 18 touchdowns. That should make this a high-scoring game.

And New England will certainly need the efforts of Welker to help it stay in today’s game thanks to a porous pass defense.

The Patriots are last in the NFL in pass defense (323.1 YPG, which is 34.2 yards more than the next team), are giving up the most points per game to fantasy quarterbacks and receivers. New England also surrenders the third most passing attempts per game (40.7). has the Pats has the 29th ranked team in pass coverage. 

By Corby Yarbrough @Corby_Yarbrough on Twitter

<p> The Patriots wide receiver should be in everyone's starting lineups today</p>
Post date: Sunday, November 6, 2011 - 11:38
Path: /news/sit-san-diego%E2%80%99s-ryan-mathews-regardless-if-he%E2%80%99s-active-or-not

Ryan Mathews (groin) is listed as a game-time decision for today’s Week 9 game against visiting Green Bay. He didn’t practice Friday, which is usually a death nil for playing two days later. It completed a week in which he saw no practice time.

Fantasy football’s eighth-best running back is constantly an injury risk just a year and a half into his NFL career. San Diego Union-Tribue Chargers beat writer Kevin Acee tweeted on Saturday that he thought Mathews would play today, but said it was “just a feeling.”

What if Green Bay gets out to a big lead? What will Mathews’ role be then? What if Green Bay gets out to a big lead? Why would the Chargers leave Mathews in there? What is Green Bay gets out to a big lead? What would the use of the San Diego running game be then?

Taking Mathews’ groin injury into consideration, his not practicing all week and his injury history altogether, there is no way I am throwing the Chargers’ running back into my starting lineup. I would never take the risk of knowing I could loser my RB1 when he shouldn’t be in the game in the first place.

Mike Tolbert, listed as probably with a hamstring injury, should take the lead at running back for the Chargers. And he could actually be a good play in PPR leagues. The Chargers are certainly struggling on offense, but Green Bay, despite being the eighth-best team in the league against fantasy running backs, is giving up 6.4 catches and 58.7 yards per game to backs. Tolbert will be a good check down option for quarterback Philip Rivers. Tolbert has 28 catches for 231 yards and two scores this season.

Curtis Brinkley, who stepped in for both Mathews and Tolbert when they were out with injuries last week, will also see some production, but not enough to be fantasy worthy if Tolbert can go the whole game. He suffered a concussion in the Kansas City game Monday night and just took to the practice field for the first time on Friday. Receiver Malcom Floyd (hip) is also questionable and is a game-time decision. Receiver Vincent Jackson is probably with a hamstring injury. And then what Antonio Gates are we going to get?

This has all the makings for another dud of a fantasy game for the San Diego Chargers, save for Tolbert in a PPR.  

By Corby Yarbrough @Corby_Yarbrough on Twitter

<p> Ryan Mathews is not a strong play today, even if he suits up</p>
Post date: Sunday, November 6, 2011 - 05:08
Path: /news/peyton-hillis-out-heres-why-chris-ogbonnaya-good-start-ppr-leagues

If you are in a pinch at running back in Week 9, you could do worse than Chris Ogbonnaya.

It’s not the most resounding endorsement, but injuries, bye weeks and opportunity are all you need at this point of the season. With backs like Darren McFadden, Ahmad Bradshaw and Mark Ingram on the shelf and others like Ryan Mathews, Willis McGahee, Beanie Wells, LeGarrette Blount, Daniel Thomas and Joseph Addai all nursing injuries to the point of either being questionable or how much you’d get out of them even if they did play, this is when you look to names like Ogbonnaya.

Ogbonnaya gets the start today at Houston because Peyton Hillis (hamstring) and Montario Hardesty (calf) are out of the lineup.

There three instant problems with the matchup against Houston. First, the Browns are third worst in the league when it comes to production from fantasy running backs. Second, the Texans are sixth best in the league against fantasy running backs. Third, Houston should cruise in this matchup perhaps negating the Browns’ running game.

But this is where opportunity and skill set give the edge to Ogobonnaya if you need help.

The Browns love to pass the ball, and they particularly love passing it to their running backs. Through seven games, they have targeted running backs 56 times to the tune of 40 catches for 274 yards. The 40 catches has them tied for eighth-most in the league. Houston has allowed backs like Darren Sproles (6-50), Ray Rice (5-60) and Chris Johnson (6-27) to have success in PPR formats thanks to their pass-catching abilities. Ogbonnaya, who began this season with the Texans, in just two games of limited action this season already has 10 catches for 67 yards. During his college career at the University of Texas, Ogbonnaya had 75 catches for 792 yards and three scores.

So for a Cleveland team that will probably be trailing, already has the fourth-most passing attempts in the league (267) this season and has a pass-catching back at its disposal, Ogbonnaya may be just the guy, particularly in PPR formats, you’re looking for to help you notch a W this week. 

By Corby Yarbrough @Corby_Yarbrough on Twitter

<p> THe Browns running back situation isn't ideal, but you could do worse on a bye week</p>
Post date: Sunday, November 6, 2011 - 03:29
Path: /fantasy/hakeem-nicks-out-heres-why-mario-manningham-and-victor-cruz-must-start-wrs

Hakeem Nicks is battling a hamstring injury that has ruled him out of the New York Giants Sunday tilt at New England.

But even if Nicks was in the lineup, this is a start ’em if you’ve got ’em game at the receiver position for the Giants. That means if you were debating between Mario Manningham and Victor Cruz, both of them need to be in your starting lineup this week when Big Blue takes on the worst (or best) defense a fantasy receiver and quarterback can face through eight weeks this season.

The Giants’ receiving corps is the fourth best in fantasy points per game. Nicks received 10 targets for six catches and 67 yards last week against Miami, but his two counterparts were right behind him. Cruz had nine targets for seven catches, 99 yards and a score; Manningham also had nine targets for six catches 63 yards and a score. Cruz has caught 28 of his 42 targets this season for 497 yards and four scores. Manningham has caught 24 of his 45 targets for 290 yards and Sunday’s TD was his firs of the season.

Giants QB Eli Manning certainly trusts all three, and you should too against this New England pass defense.

The Patriots are last in the NFL in pass defense (323.1 YPG, which is 34.2 yards more than the next team), are giving up the most points per game to fantasy quarterbacks and receivers. New England also surrenders the third most passing attempts per game (40.7)

Manning has scored 18-plus fantasy points in four of the last five games and 21.6-plus in three of the last five outings. Plus, the Giants are also without RB Ahmad Bradshaw (foot) and you never know what Brandon Jacobs you are going to get. Behind Jacobs are veteran D.J. Ware and rookie Da’Rel Scott.

The Pats have been relatively decent against fantasy running backs. They go into this week’s game as the 12th best team against the position in fantasy. No back has rushed for more than 83 yards this season against New England and only four rushing touchdowns have been surrendered.

So it goes back to riding Manning’s hot hand. He has attempted 30-plus passes in all but one game, thrown for 220-plus yards in every game and thrown for at least two scores in all but two games (no TD passes in Week 1 or Week 6). New England has allowed two touchdown passes in five of seven games.

The Patriots might stink against fantasy quarterbacks and receivers, but the offense is still high powered. They are the No. 2 passing team at 324.7 yards per game and No. 4 with 18 touchdowns. That should make this a high-scoring game, one in which Manningham and Cruz will have plenty of opportunities to shine. 

By Corby Yarbrough @Corby_Yarbrough on Twitter

<p> Whoever plays wide receiver fro the New York Giants today should put up big numbers.</p>
Post date: Sunday, November 6, 2011 - 01:44
All taxonomy terms: Chris Johnson, Tennessee Titans, Fantasy
Path: /fantasy/cry-all-you-want-chris-johnson-still-not-worth-dropping

Chris Johnson gets all the heat for being a first-round fantasy bust, and rightfully so.

Johnson has been downright terrible. The use of the lockout is long gone. The excuse of the contract holdout is long gone. He has just been awful at giving fantasy players a return on their investment.

In Athlon’s half-PPR scoring format, the Tennessee RB has hit double-digits just twice (against Cleveland and Pittsburgh) and is ranked 24th in scoring among fantasy running backs.

When the Titans played host to Indianapolis and its 31st-ranked rush defense Sunday and Johnson came away with just 34 yards on 14 carries, that was the last straw for many in the fantasy world. Yes, his offensive line is consistently poor at creating space for Johnson. He is getting killed in the backfield when he gets the ball, he is finding no lane to run in when they run to the right or left. But that doesn’t mean anything for fantasy owners. It is the back they are looking to the points for, not the offensive line.

Johnson has been held to 34 yards or less in four games, had 53 and 51 in two others and eclipsed 100 just once when he ran for 101 on 24 carries against Cleveland. His two longest runs are 25 (against Cleveland) and 21 (against Pittsburgh). The 27 receptions for 160 yards are the ONLY things saving Johnson from being nothing more than a bye-week replacement or a flex play you hesitate to plug in your roster.

For the first time since October 2009, CJ saw his backup have more carries than he had. Javon Ringer, who seems to find running room that Johnson can’t. Ringer went from 21 combined carries over the first five games to 14 in Sunday’s win. He rushed for 60 yards and added five catches for 42 yards.

Both backs are averaging under 4 yards per carry. Johnson is 107-for-302 at 2.8 per carry, while Ringer is 35-for-122 at 3.5 yards per carry.

Coach Mike Munchak has not said the Titans will promote Ringer to No. 1 or even go with a straight RBBC, but it’s worth noting it was Ringer in there in the fourth quarter against Indianapolis and he was the back that started on two of the team’s scoring drives.

So what do we do with CJ?

He is not worth dropping, but he’s also no better than the lowest end RB2 (as evidenced by being ranked 24th in scoring). Yes, he is pitiful as a first-round pick, but he’s still playable as am RB2 or flex. That ranking of 24 will drop quickly, however, if there becomes more of a committee in Tennessee. But I just don’t see the Titans benching a $53 million man.

The schedule does lighten up for the Titans, particularly for their running backs. Of course, that is still a week away.

The Titans face a Cincinnati team that is fifth best against fantasy backs and has allowed just one 100-yard rusher and only six rushing touchdowns. Starting in Week 10, Tennessee plays Carolina (32nd), Atlanta 16th ) and Tampa Bay (22nd), all teams in the bottom half of the league against fantasy backs. 

By Corby Yarbrough, @Corby_Yarbrough on Twitter

<p> This year's biggest first round fantasy bust poses a problem for owners, but he's still roster-worthy</p>
Post date: Wednesday, November 2, 2011 - 07:17
Path: /nfl/fantasy-football-waiver-wire-week-9

It is Week 9, the fifth week of bye weeks, and some big names go on vacation this weekend. You need to find someone on the waiver wire to step in and hold down the fort for a week, or maybe more in some cases.

WEEK 9 BYES: Carolina, Detroit, Jacksonville, Minnesota

Cam Newton and Matthew Stafford are the only viable fantasy quarterbacks on bye this week. This is the week of desperation at the quarterback position. If you are looking for just enough points to get by, to be respectable at the position, perhaps max out at about 15 points then this is the list for you.

Curtis Painter, Indianapolis
Atlanta allows the 11th most fantasy points per game to quarterbacks, and there’s no reason to think the Colts won’t be trailing the Falcons in their game this week. Painter scored 15.9 fantasy points after throwing for 250 yards and two picks against the Titans on Sunday. He has scored at least 15.9 points in three of his five starts.

Matt Hasselbeck, Tennessee
The Titans play host to a Bengals team that is fifth best against fantasy quarterbacks. But this is how you have to look at the Titans after Sunday’s game against Indianapolis: Throwing is the only way they are going to have success. If the ground game couldn’t get going against the porous Colts run defense then when is it going to get going. Javon Ringer and Chris Johnson are good receiving options out of the backfield (read: easy points for Hasselbeck) and the receiving corps and Jared Cook are solid enough to help you out for a week. Hasselbeck has had his worst two outings of the year in back-to-back weeks, scoring 6 and 12 against Pittsburgh and Indy.

Andy Dalton, Cincinnati
Tennessee is 14th worst against fantasy quarterbacks. The Titans have allowed at least 15 points per game to the position in every game since Week 3. Cedric Benson will be back from his suspension and the Titans have not been that great against the run in recent weeks. While Tennessee looks to shut down Benson, Dalton will be getting you the 15-plus points you need.

Colt McCoy, Cleveland
If you are really desperate to find a QB this week, then McCoy is your man. He continues to put the ball in the air, although he doesn’t get much for it. He has scored at least 13 fantasy points in all but one start (Seattle). This week, the Browns travel to play a Houston team that is fourth best against quarterbacks, allowing the 13 points per game that McCoy is good for.

Carson Palmer, Oakland
OK, the debut was terrible. But he was on a couch watching the NFL seven days prior and the next Sunday Palmer was the QB for the Raiders. He had a bye week to try and get acclimated to the playbook and with the numerous weapons he will have at his disposal. Now the Raiders return to play Denver, the 32nd ranked team against fantasy quarterbacks, in the Black Hole. Palmer is still available in 73 percent of Yahoo leagues.

WEEK 9 BYES: Carolina, Detroit, Jacksonville, Minnesota

Adrian Peterson and Maurice Jones-Drew are the only backs of note that are on byes this week. The rest of the waiver wire will be the players that have emerged lately via injury or opportunity.

Javon Ringer, Tennessee
He split carries with Chris Johnson against Indianapolis and got more production then the $53 million man. Ringer seems to have more room to run when the ball is in his hands, whereas the line of scrimmage completely collapses when CJ gets his hands on the ball. But if they are going to be splitting carries for a team that is built to run (not built well), then Ringer is the one to have instead of CJ.

Reggie Bush, Miami
He just ran for 103 yards on 15 carries and added four catches for 17 yards against the hosting Giants. Now the Dolphins travel to Kansas City, which is a bottom 10 fantasy defense against running backs. If Daniel Thomas (hamstring) is out again, then Bush gets the workload again. Bush is as frustrating as they come, but the Chiefs are also bottom 10 against receivers. So there is the opportunity for the Dolphins to keep up in Kansas City.

Donald Brown, Indianapolis
This is a complete flier. Brown scored against Tennessee on Sunday as a goal line back on 4-yard TD run. If Joseph Addai (hamstring) is still bothered by the injury, then Brown gets to continue the split with rookie Delone Carter. There is also the fact that the Colts are playing an Atlanta team coming off its bye; and teams coming off the bye this season are playing poor football, particularly against the run.

Chris Ogbonnaya, Cleveland
The Browns draw the No. 3 team against fantasy running backs this week in Houston, so again, this is another flier. If Peyton Hillis (hamstring) is out again and Montario Hardesty (calf) is hampered by his injury then Ogbonnaya is next man up. You’d have to be desperate, but he did score 8.6 points against San Francisco’s No. 1 rush defense on Sunday. He carried 11 times for 37 yards and caught four balls for 16 yards.

WEEK 9 BYES: Carolina, Detroit, Jacksonville, Minnesota

It’s a light week for losing receivers. So you should be pretty good with what you have already. Gone this week are Steve Smith and Calvin Johnson.

Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh
He was spectacular on Sunday, catching nine balls for 67 yards and a score. And if you have return yards in your league, he gave you 93 of those. He is a trusted receiver for Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger, so say the 15 targets against the Patriots. And he will certainly be called upon this week as the Steelers try to avenge the Week 1 loss to Baltimore.

Emmanuel Sanders, Pittsburgh
Sanders did a fine job as a flex play against the Patriots. He was targeted eight times, catching five balls for 70 yards. Monitor Hines Ward’s (ankle) health this week as Sanders is not as viable with the veteran in the lineup. But like Brown, Sanders will probably be looked at often to help the Steelers try and upend the Ravens this week.

Torrey Smith, Baltimore
Still just a deep threat, but when the pass is on he is one helluva deep threat. The rookie caught three balls for 57 yards on nine targets, including the deep pass that setup the Ravens’ game-winning field goal. If you are content with playing the big-play guy and hoping he produces, Smith is a really, really poor man’s DeSean Jackson or Mike Wallace.

Dezmon Briscoe, Tampa Bay
Briscoe had 10 targets, catching six for 73 and a score against the Bears in London. The Bucs spread it around too much to depend on a single receiver, but Briscoe was an emerging talent in the preseason and pushing for the No. 2 spot at the start of the year. The Bucs get New Orleans, Houston and Green Bay as the first three games off last week’s bye. Those are three games I expect them to be out of early, increasing the chances Briscoe could produce in fantasy garbage time. He is available in 99 percent of Yahoo leagues.

Doug Baldwin and Ben Obomanu, Seattle
Baldwin went 5-for-73 and bounced back from a zero-point effort against Cleveland to score 9.8 against Cincinnati. Obomanu caught four balls for 107 yards against the Bengals. Now the Seahawks get a Dallas team that was just blown out of the water and are a bottom 10 fantasy defense against receivers. If you are really struggling, look to pick up one of these two. But I just find it hard to trust any Seahawk right now.

Damian Williams, Tennessee
He was tied for second on the team with five targets against the Colts. He caught four of them for 60 yards. As I said earlier, the Titans are going to have to rely on the pass and Williams is the No. 2 option behind Nate Washington. He is inconsistent, but he has had 20 targets, 11 catches for 131 yards and a score the last three games. Tennessee plays a top 10 fantasy defense against receivers when the Bengals come to town this week, but Williams could be a good option in deep leagues.

Austin Collie, Indianapolis
He caught five balls for 44 yards. In a full-PPR league that’s a 9.4-point day. The Colts came out firing quick passes and if they continue to do the same, Collie could help you out as a PPR threat only.

Steve Breaston, Kansas City
He had scored at least 8.9 fantasy points in the last three games leading up to Monday night’s San Diego game. Breaston and the Chiefs will play host to Miami this week, the eighth worst fantasy defense against receivers. The Dolphins allowed three Giants receivers to combine for 19 catches 229 yards and two scores.

Early Doucet, Arizona
His double-digit scoring streak stopped at two weeks, but he did score nine fantasy points against Baltimore thanks to a TD on two catches for 20 yards. The Cardinals get the Rams next, 29th against fantasy receivers.

Greg Salas, St. Louis
He is still just a full-PPR threat only, but five catches for 47 yards against the Saints was good for 9.7 points. I’d take that from a flex as crazy as this season’s been. Now the Rams travel to play an Arizona team that is 28th against fantasy receivers.

WEEK 9 BYES: Carolina, Detroit, Jacksonville, Minnesota

Another position where the bye doesn’t really kill you. Gone are Greg Olsen, Jeremy Shockey, Brandon Pettigrew and Visanthe Shiancoe. These are neither pillars of the position nor models of consistency.

Brent Celek, Philadelphia
Is he finally going to be relevant again? If so, he picked a great time to re-emerge. After a 7-94-1 line against Dallas on Sunday, Celek and the Eagles draw a Bears team that is the worst in the league against the tight end position. Chicago has allowed 14 catches for 108 yards and a score to the position in just the last two weeks.

Jake Ballard, New York Giants
He had seven targets against Miami, catching four of them for 55 yards. This was the first time in a month he hasn’t posted double-digit fantasy numbers. The Giants travel to New England this week and the Patriots have allowed double-digit days to Jason Witten and Heath Miller in the last two games.

Heath Miller, Pittsburgh
The Steelers threw all over the Patriots on Sunday, and Miller was a big beneficiary. He caught seven balls for 85 yards and posted back-to-back double-digit weeks for the first time this season. If Hines Ward is still out, then Miller becomes more of a target. So monitor Ward’s health this week before moving in on Miller. Plus, the Steelers this week draw the Ravens, No. 1 against fantasy tight ends. The Ravens have allowed no scores and no more than three catches to the position this season.

Scott Chandler, Buffalo
Is he back? Remember this no-name when he caught four touchdowns on nine catches and 12 targets in the first three games? Well, he was back against Washington, scoring two times on two catches and two targets. He’s had just six targets in the last four games, catching all six for 44 yards and Sunday’s two scores. But you might want to hold off this week for two reasons: 1.) You can’t count on his consistency. 2.) The Bills play a Jets team that has surrendered just one TD this season and that came to Antonio Gates.

Ed Dickson, Baltimore
He went 6-for-46 against Arizona on Sunday and now gets a Steelers team that is middle of the road against fantasy tight ends. It’s hard to tell what Ravens offense you are going to get from one week to another, but if you are really struggling at filling the position this week, then you could do worse than Dickson. Keep in mind also, Dennis Pitta is in the mix at the TE position. He caught six balls for 44 yards against the Cardinals, his most productive day of the season in the Ravens’ comeback win. 

By Corby Yarbrough, @Corby_Yarbrough on Twitter

<p> Carson Palmer, Antonio Brown and Ben Obomanu lead the list of names this week</p>
Post date: Tuesday, November 1, 2011 - 07:37
All taxonomy terms: Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers, Fantasy, News
Path: /fantasy/what-wrong-philip-rivers-can-chiefs-cure-him

Remember when Philip Rivers did a lot with a little a season ago? Where’s that Rivers been?

Hopefully, fantasy football players (at least the one with Rivers on their rosters) will see his re-emergence Monday night in Kansas City.

The San Diego stud is currently fantasy’s 18th best quarterback with 45.14 points. He has not scored above 21 points all season long and has had two sub 10-point performances. Rivers had no single-digit games last season and was plus-21 in nine of the first 15 games.

He had two multi-interception games a season ago, he already has four this season. Rivers has thrown two picks in four games, one against Denver and only came out of a game unscathed against Miami.

Last season, Rivers was without all-world tight end Antonio Gates for six games and without No. 1 receiver Vincent Jackson for the basically the first 14 weeks. Rivers still finished as the eighth best fantasy QB with a hodge-podge of receivers and just 1,400 yards rushing from the top two backs combined.

This season, Gates was completely shutdown by New England in Week 2 and has missed three games with the lingering foot issues he’s battled with. He has 13 catches for 128 yards and one TD. Jackson has been hobbled by a hamstring and has four games under 10 fantasy points. As a result, Gates is the 34th best fantasy TE and Jackson is the 16th best WR (thanks to a 34.2-point game against the Patriots).

The Chiefs are tied for 26th in the league with 12 passing touchdowns allowed, and after allowing eight touchdowns in the first two weeks, it has given up four in the last four weeks. They are also third in the league with 11 interceptions and are 10th in the league in completion percentage allowed (57.7). In a year in which 300-yard passing games have become the norm, Kansas City has not surrendered one yet.

This will be the second meeting of the season between the AFC West rivals. In Week 3, without Gates, Rivers threw for 266 yards on 24-of-38 passing with no scores and two picks.

Gates and Jackson appear to be healthy for Monday night’s game against a resurgent Kansas City squad.

So what Rivers are we going to get?

Probably the same one we’ve seen most of the season.

The Chiefs are surging. Their defense is playing well, just ask the Raiders’ quarterbacks. Their offense, although in flux most of the season, is playing adequate enough to keep them in the game. They are at Arrowhead in prime time.

It’s doubtful that you have many better options at quarterback on your roster. You drafted Rivers high. He is healthy (according to what he says) and he still has Gates, Jackson and a pass-catching back in Ryan Mathews. You go with Rivers this week, but I’m not expecting the Rivers of old to show up this week.

I sure am hoping I’m wrong, however. 

By Corby Yarbrough, @Corby_Yarbrough on Twitter

<p> Where's the Philip Rivers of a year ago?</p>
Post date: Sunday, October 30, 2011 - 09:39
Path: /fantasy/hines-ward-out-emmanuel-sanders-and-antonio-brown-should-shine-pittsburgh-steelers-week-8

No Hines Ward for the Pittsburgh Steelers may mean a bigger day for two of the talented wide receivers we liked in the fantasy preseason and hoped we would have heard more from by now -- Emmanuel Sanders and Antonio Brown.

And their potential emergence as consistent receivers could not have come at a more perfect time as the Steelers draw the New England Patriots in Week 8.

Ward is looking doubtful to play in Sunday’s game after injuring his ankle in Week 7. Sanders would start in his place and Brown’s role would grow even more than it has.

Brown has been quite a favorite of QB Ben Roethlisberger this season. He is second behind Pittsburgh’s No. 1 WR, Mike Wallace, in targets, receptions and yards. Brown has 48 targets, 25 catches for 364 yards. Sanders has 27 targets, 13 catches for 173 yards and two scores. Wallace leads the way with 51 targets, 36 catches for 730 yards and five scores.

Brown has received eight-plus targets four times, including his best week of the season against Arizona last Sunday. He was targeted nine times, catching seven balls for 102 yards. Sanders received his highest target total of the season last week against Arizona and it produced his best week so far (5-46 and a TD).

Roethlisberger bounced back from a poor outing against Jacksonville by throwing for 361 and three scores against the Cardinals. He has thrown for eight touchdowns and just one interception in the last three games after throwing for three scores and five picks in the first four games.

Chances for a shootout this week are high.

The Patriots are last in the NFL in pass defense (322.2 YPG, which is 33.3 yards ahead of the next team), are giving up the fourth most points to fantasy quarterbacks and the most points allowed to fantasy receivers per game. However, New England is 11th best against fantasy running backs. The Pats also possess the best passing offense in the NFL and the Steelers are ninth. The Steelers do have the No. 2 pass defense in the league (171.9), but Tom Brady has had plenty of success against them in the past.

If you had given up on Brown or Sanders over the past few weeks, that is understandable. They have not necessarily been the most dependent. But the combination of Ward probably missing the game, the hot streak Roethlisberger has been on and the fact the Steelers are playing the Patriots’ defense makes this too appealing a match up to not have either of them on and active on your fantasy roster for Week 8. 

By Corby Yarbrough, @Corby_Yarbrough on Twitter

<p> The two Steelers wide receivers are must starts against a weak Patriots secondary</p>
Post date: Sunday, October 30, 2011 - 09:24
Path: /news/matthew-stafford-will-play-week-8-heres-why-hes-not-good-start

Matthew Stafford has battled a sprained right ankle injury that he suffered on the final offensive play of last week’s loss to Atlanta. His status for Sunday’s game at Denver has been iffy all week long, but it looks like he will be a go for the Week 8 contest. He was a full participant in Friday’s practice after being limited the previous two days.

And even if he is a go, you might want to look somewhere else despite the Detroit Lions playing a Broncos pass defense that has been very friendly to opposing fantasy quarterbacks.

The Lions have a bye after Sunday’s game and they certainly need it to get some of the kinks worked out. Three of the last four weeks for Stafford have been sub par fantasy performances.

After having scored 23-plus fantasy points in the first three weeks, Stafford began a run of three out of four games at 16.5 points or less, including last week’s 11.32 effort at home against Atlanta.

The lack of a running game for the Lions has certainly hurt their offensive performance. They are 27th in the NFL at 92.7 yards per game with just three rushing scores. It’s pretty easy for defenses to key in on Stafford when they don’t have to respect the ground aspect of Detroit’s game.

Stafford is sixth the league in pass attempts per game at 38.4, and after having been sacked six times in the first five weeks (five coming in Week 3 against Minnesota), Stafford has been dropped eight times in the last two weeks.

Luckily for fantasy owners, Stafford has not turned the ball over the last two weeks, but you just wonder when it all will catch up with the Lions. The last two weeks, he has completed 56 and 46.9 percent of his passes, and four times altogether this season he has completed 59 percent or less.

He may get a reprieve this week vs. Denver‘s suspect pass D, but the Broncos are a different team when defensive back Champ Bailey is in the lineup.

The Broncos are 14th in the NFL with 16 sacks, but have just three interceptions. They are allowing opposing quarterbacks to complete 68 percent of their passes (ranking them 31st in the league), throw for 247.5 yards per game and are tied for 20th in the league with 11 touchdown passes allowed.

Then there’s Bailey.

He missed Weeks 2-4 with a hamstring injury. In that time, the Broncos allowed Cincinnati to have two double-digit fantasy receivers, Tennessee to have one and Green Bay to have three. San Diego No. 2 receiver Malcom Floyd caught three balls for 100 yards and a score in Week 5 while Vincent Jackson was held to 3-for-34.

With Bailey in the lineup, the Broncos allowed Jason Campbell to throw for 105 yards and a score in Week 1, Philip Rivers to throw for 250 yards and a score in Week 5 and Matt Moore to throw for 197 yards and a score in Week 7.

So is Stafford going to play like Campbell and Moore or like Rivers?

Well, the ankle injury, the lack of a running game, only one consistent threat at receiver in Calvin Johnson, a Broncos team which is also solid against tight ends (only two scores and 19 catches all season) and it being a road game, I would look away from Stafford and seek a better option if available.

Bye weeks may not make that possible, but Denver’s a different Denver with Bailey and Stafford’s a different Stafford then he was a few weeks ago. 

By Corby Yarbrough, @Corby_Yarbrough on Twitter

<p> The Broncos' Champ Bailey will make it hard for Stafford to pile up points</p>
Post date: Sunday, October 30, 2011 - 09:21
Path: /fantasy/jackie-battle-montario-hardesty-and-4-other-running-backs-avoid-week-8

Due to injuries and due to byes this week there are a number of fantasy owners scrambling to find a one-week waiver wire replacement in their lineups for Week 8. Nowhere does this seem as prevalent as at the running back position.

And just because they are out there, just because they are perhaps going to get the bulk of the work, there are plenty of running backs whose match ups this week just aren’t worth the headache.

Here’s a look at the names I left off of the Week 8 Waiver Wire story and why you should avoid them, too.

Montario Hardesty, Cleveland (at San Francisco)
There is still question as to whether Peyton Hillis and his bad hamstring will get the bulk of the work or whether it will be Hardesty. It took Hardesty 33 carries to get to 95 yards a week ago against Seattle. Now the Browns travel to face the top defense against fantasy running backs. The 49ers have not allowed more than 64 yards rushing to a single back this season (Cedric Benson 17-64), and have allowed no touchdowns to a running back. Cleveland has the 29th-ranked rushing offense in the NFL (91.2 YPG) with just two scores.
Advantage: San Francisco

Bernard Scott, Cincinnati (at Seattle)
Scott is not a workload back. He has averaged 4.5 touches per game and has just 98 yards of offense this season. Cincinnati is 21st in rushing offense (105.3 YPG) with four rushing scores. Now the Bengals travel to play a Seattle team that’s No. 11 in the NFL against the run and seventh best against fantasy running backs having allowed just four scores and no back to reach 100 yards.
Advantage: Seattle

Jackie Battle, Kansas City (vs. San Diego)
Despite having allowed two 100-yard rushers in the last two weeks, the Chargers are still No. 8 in the NFL against fantasy running backs. They are holding that position because they have allowed just two rushing touchdowns this season. This will be the second meeting against the Chiefs. In Week 3, Kansas City was limited to 80 yards and no scores on 26 carries from four backs. He is probably the safest of the replacement players you would need this week, but his small bit of success has come against a Colts and Raiders rush defense that has been generous to fantasy backs all season long.
Advantage: San Diego

Maurice Morris, Detroit (at Denver)
The Lions’ ground game has been non existent for pretty much all but one game. They are ranked 27th in the NFL at 92.7 yards per game and three rushing touchdowns. Morris still has Keiland Williams to contend with for carries, and neither will be focused on enough to be fantasy worthy this week. And now the Lions travel to play a Denver that has actually been pretty solid against fantasy running backs. The Broncos are X against fantasy running backs. They have surrendered 100-plus yards twice (Week 1 vs. Darren McFadden and Week 5 vs. Ryan Mathews) but have not allowed a rushing TD. Morris is no McFadden or Mathews.
Advantage: Denver

Donald Brown, Indianapolis (at Tennessee)
The Colts are ranked 25th in the NFL at 94.1 yards rushing per game with four rushing touchdowns and are 30th in points scored by fantasy backs per game. With Joseph Addai hobbled by a hamstring injury, Indianapolis has leaned on rookie Delone Carter more than Brown. His TD two weeks ago against Cincinnati is the only thing that made him a blip on the fantasy radar again. Yes, the Titans have been gashed the last two weeks by running backs. But that was the Texans and Steelers. The Colts do not possess the run game of either of those two teams. Advantage: Tennessee

LaRod Stephens-Howling, Arizona (at Baltimore)
Beanie Wells has been taking limited reps this week, but it’s still uncertain whether he and his knee will be healthy enough to play at the Ravens this week. Alfonso Smith will get the starting nod against the NFL‘s No. 3 rush defense (85.8 YPG). Baltimore is the No. 2 ranked fantasy defense against fantasy running backs; they have allowed just one touchdown rushing and only Maurice Jones-Drew last week, on 30 carries, has eclipsed 100 yards. The Cardinals are ranked 24th in the league in rushing (98.0 YPG) with seven scores. But Stephens-Howling gets his production through the air, and it’s too sporadic to be counted on. The 5-7 back has carried five times for 16 yards and has four catches for 87 yards and a score this season. Advantage: Baltimore
By Corby Yarbrough, @Corby_Yarbrough on Twitter

<p> Just because a running back gets playing time doesn't mean you should start him.</p>
Post date: Friday, October 28, 2011 - 12:09
Path: /nfl/cj-spiller-finally-fantasy-relevant

Fred Jackson is the No. 1 running back in fantasy football right now. We all expected that, right?

No, when we all drafted in August we thought it may be a nightmare of sorts with last year’s first-round pick, C.J. Spiller, at least getting enough reps to make the Bills’ backfield situation an annoying one like Green Bay’s currently is.

It certainly has not turned out that way. Jackson has 601 rushing yards and six scores and 279 yards receiving on 24 catches. Spiller has been virtually invisible, scoring no more than 8.6 fantasy points in a single game this season (Week 1’s 41-7 blowout of Kansas City).

Fantasy players have pleaded that Buffalo can’t possibly let a first-round, versatile talent like Spiller sit on the bench, and it looks like the Bills and coach Chan Gailey found a way to appease us.

Spiller has been moved to receiver with Donald Jones (high ankle sprain) expected to be out until the middle of next month.

That means Spiller, a RB, can now be used in that slot when he is playing as a WR. Spiller could be a perfect candidate to help you fill up a RB spot that is either on a bye, is dealing with an injury or is underperforming.

While Jackson is the top back in fantasy currently, the Bills are still a passing team at 34 pass attempts vs. 22 rush attempts per game. Spiller almost eclipsed his season totals in targets (6) he had the first five weeks with five in his first game at receiver in Week 6.

He turned it into five catches for 39 yards. In a full PPR he just gave you 8.9 in his debut at the position.
Spiller is a playmaker, and with his move to WR while still qualifying as a RB, it may be just the player you need to help you through the bye weeks.

Plus, if he is still at receiver come playoff time, the Bills play Miami (16th) and Denver (28th), currently two of the worst teams against fantasy receivers, in Weeks 15 and 16.

By Corby Yarbrough @Corby_Yarbrough on Twitter

<p> The Buffalo Bills all-purpose back may have fantasy worth as a wide receiver now</p>
Post date: Thursday, October 27, 2011 - 03:21
Path: /fantasy/why-bernard-scott-isnt-worth-waiver-wire-add

Cincinnati Bengals running back Cedric Benson has finally been handed down his suspension and it has gone from three games down to just this week’s game at Seattle.

Weeks ago, the suspension was supposed to be three games...and it was supposed to commence weeks ago as well. That left fantasy owners either scrambling to potentially replace Benson in their lineups with Bernard Scott or other fantasy owners simply picking up Scott to bogart the back up for themselves.

My advice to both types of owners: just leave it be.

Why do we think when a starting running back goes out that his back up will just slide right in and have fantasy value himself? He's a back up for a reason.

And particularly in the Bengals' case, neither the starter nor back ups have done anything of significance this season. Benson has 62.7 fantasy points through six games — 10.45 points per game. Scott has barely sniffed any action — he has 18.3 fantasy points total over six games — this season and is not seen as an every-down back by his team to begin with.

So let other fantasy owners add and play Bernard Scott to their lineups this week against a Seattle team No. 11 in the NFL against the run and seventh best against fantasy running backs having allowed just four scores and no back to reach 100 yards. Rashard Mendenhall (13.8), Isaac Reedman (11.5) and Michael Turner (20.8) all reached double digits thanks to touchdowns, not yards as all three were held to 70 yards or less. It took Montario Hardesty 33 carries for Montario Hardesty to reach 95 yards on Sunday. He added two catches for 27 yards.

Benson is 13th in the league in rushing yards per game with (76.3) despite being No. 5 in attempts at 19.5. He has just two touchdowns and five catches for 24 yards leaves him as the 22nd-best fantasy running back in the Athlon format through six weeks.

When we first thought the suspension was going to happen — after Week 3 — Scott had 23 yards, no catches and with the addition of Brandon Tate, was no longer part of the return game. In the three games following, Scott’s rushed 22 times for 62 yards (3.1 YPC) with one score, and added five catches for 13 yards after having no catches the first three weeks.

For a Bengals team that is 22nd in the league in total offense at 326.5 yards per game, and 21st in rushing offense (105.3 YPG), I find it hard to believe Scott is the one that will get that turned around in a week. He averaged 6.1 and 4.5 touches per game his first two seasons. This season, under new offensive coordinator Jay Gruden, Scott is averaging 4.5 touches.

Add all this in with the fact that Brian Leonard is still there, probably in a time share to make up for the loss of Benson, and the emergence of receivers A.J. Green and Jerome Simpson and tight end Jermaine Gresham, where will Scott fit in for just one week?

Bottom line: Don't waste your time with Scott if the Bengals aren't making time for him themselves.

Click here for our Week 8 Waiver Wire.

By Corby A. Yarbrough @Corby_Yarbrough on Twitter

<p> Cedric Benson's suspension is finally here, so you should pick up Bernard Scott, right? Wrong.</p>
Post date: Wednesday, October 26, 2011 - 14:11
Path: /columns/waiver-wire/fantasy-football-waiver-wire-week-8

It is Week 8, the fourth week of bye weeks, and some big names go on vacation this weekend, so run to the waiver wire for some much needed help. You need someone to step in and hold down the fort for a week, or maybe more in some cases.

WEEK 8 BYES: Atlanta, Chicago, Green Bay, New York Jets, Oakland, Tampa Bay

At quarterback the biggest name in the game is idle as Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers take the week off. Also out are Matt Ryan, Jay Cutler, Mark Sanchez, Carson Palmer and Josh Freeman. Outside of Rodgers, it is unlikely any of the other quarterbacks on a bye this week are the main cog of your fantasy roster.

John Beck, Washington
Beck scored 19.16 fantasy points after throwing for 279 yards an interception and a score and running for another touchdown. The loss of WR Santana Moss (hand) for perhaps the next month doesn’t help, but Beck was able to manage without Moss for much of Sunday’s game against Carolina. The Redskins are at Buffalo (in Toronto) this week — ranked 30th against fantasy quarterbacks at 24.9 points per game — then they get San Francisco and Miami, which are also bottom 12 fantasy defenses against quarterbacks. He is still available in 90 percent of Yahoo leagues.

Tim Tebow, Denver
Tebow is the quarterback you plug into your lineup and then make sure you don’t watch him play. Just check the box score the following day and know that he got it done somehow, someway. His performance against Miami on Sunday was the epitome of fantasy vs. reality. He is not a good NFL quarterback, but he finds a way to get it done. For how long will this go on? We don’t know; I doubt not much past this season, but I am not concerned about next season. He scored nearly 23 fantasy points against Miami. Detroit comes to the Mile High City this weekend. It’s hard to gauge what you will get out of Tebow each week as a passer or runner, but it’s worth noting the Lions have allowed at least 13 fantasy points to the last three running backs and an average of 19.4 points against the last five quarterbacks they have faced. Tebow is still available in 46 percent of Yahoo leagues.

Carson Palmer, Oakland
OK, the debut was terrible. But he was on a couch watching the NFL seven days prior and the next Sunday Palmer was the QB for the Raiders. He gets a bye week to try and get acclimated to the playbook and with the numerous weapons he will have at his disposal. Plus, when the Raiders return in Week 9 they get Denver, the 31st ranked team against fantasy quarterbacks, in the Black Hole. Palmer is still available in 60 percent of Yahoo leagues.

Christian Ponder, Minnesota
The rookie made his first start, and the big TD to Michael Jenkins to start the game certainly helped pad his stats. But Ponder finished with 17.86 points against a Packers team that is third worst in the league against fantasy quarterbacks,. Ponder went 13-for-32 for 291 yards, two scores and two picks and added 31 yards rushing on four carries. Ponder is still available in 91 percent of Yahoo leagues.

Alex Smith, San Francisco
The 49ers travel to Washington this week to take on a Redskins team that has allowed at least 250 yards passing on an average of 18.75 completions against four of the six quarterbacks they have faced. Cam Newton threw for 256 yards on 18-of-23 on Sunday. Smith will have Frank Gore and Kendall Hunter at his disposal in addition to Michael Crabtree, the return of Braylon Edwards and stud TE Vernon Davis. If you are in a bind this week, Smith should be a good play.

WEEK 8 BYES: Atlanta, Chicago, Green Bay, New York Jets, Oakland, Tampa Bay

The Nos. 1, 7 and 8 backs in fantasy are idle this week in Chicago’s Matt Forte, Oakland’s Darren McFadden and Atlanta’s Michael Turner.

DeMarco Murray, Dallas
Of course he was easily the No. 1 waiver pick up of the week going into last week’s waivers and he did not disappoint. He posted 31.3 fantasy points on 253 yards rushing and a 91-yard TD. With Felix Jones expected to miss this week at Philadelphia (ankle) as well, the rookie should have another solid week. The Eagles are 29th in the league against fantasy running backs. He is still available in 42 percent of Yahoo leagues.

Delone Carter, Indianapolis
He was the lone bright spot with his 89 yards on 10 carries in a blowout loss to New Orleans. He added a TD and a 42-yard second-quarter run. Now the Colts get a Titans team that cannot stop the run. Arian Foster scored 43.9 fantasy points against them on Sunday; Ben Tate even had 10.4 points. Tennessee, ranked 28th in the league against fantasy backs, has surrendered 382 yards to the position in its last two games. Carter is available in 80 percent of Yahoo leagues.

Knowshon Moreno, Denver
Willis McGahee broke his hand in the win over Miami. Whether he will miss time due to the injury is unknown, but Moreno could be a good replacement in his sted. With Tim Tebow’s affinity to roll out of the pocket and freelance, Moreno could benefit as a pass catcher out of the backfield. The Broncos play host to the Lions this week, and they give up an average of 6.1 receptions for 31.9 yards per game this season to running backs. Moreno is available in 54 percent of Yahoo leagues.

Ryan Torain and Roy Helu, Washington
The Redskins and Mike Shanahan have certainly antagonized fantasy footballers in how they handle the team’s running back situation. Well the situation may have cleared up a bit with the news that Tim Hightower was lost for the year with an ACL. Torain has been a starter this season and the rookie Helu has been used sparingly. Torain should be a good start this week against a Buffalo team that is 27th against fantasy running backs. Keep an eye on how the Skins use Helu against the Bills. Torain is still available in 43 percent of Yahoo leagues, while Helu is available in 85 percent.

Alfonso Smith, Arizona
A bone bruise for Beanie Wells is expected to sideline him for a couple of weeks. Chester Taylor was a healthy inactive against the Steelers Sunday. LaRod Stephens-Howling can’t handle a starting workload. The leaves Smith if you are desperate. He is an inside runner and basically last-man standing of those expected to get consistent touches. Here’s the problem with this week: The Cardinals travel to Baltimore, a run defense they probably won’t crack. But the following week Arizona plays host to the terrible run defense that is the St. Louis Rams. He is available in 99 percent of Yahoo leagues.

Pierre Thomas, New Orleans
The Saints’ backfield is another frustrating one. Mark Ingram left Sunday night’s game with a heel injury after having scored 10.2 fantasy points. Thomas had 57 yards on 10 carries and five catches for 68 yards and 15 fantasy points in the blowout of the Colts. Darren Sproles was also a monster for the Saints, racking up 27.78 fantasy points in a half-PPR format. Now the Saints travel to play a St. Louis team that just allowed a rookie RB on an average running Cowboys team rack up 253 yards. Monitor Ingram’s status (X-rays came back negative on Monday), but even if he plays I would go get all Saints runners this week and reap the rewards against the lowly Rams. Thomas is available in 50 percent of Yahoo leagues.

Leon Washington, Seattle
Marshawn Lynch was a scratch against Cleveland after his back spasms would not subside in pregame warm ups. Washington went on to score 9.38 fantasy points in an ugly 6-3 loss. The Seahawks take on another AFC North opponent when Cincinnati comes to town. Washington had 39 yards on seven carries and 10 yards on four receptions. If you are in leagues that award return yards, Washington is a good play. He had an 81-yard punt return for a score called back in the Cleveland loss. Monitor Lynch’s status this week, and if he goes then you need not go anywhere near Washington. He’s worth a look, but don’t waste any waiver priority on him.

WEEK 8 BYES: Atlanta, Chicago, Green Bay, New York Jets, Oakland, Tampa Bay
Say good bye to Roddy White, Greg Jennings, Jordy Nelson, James Jones and the Chicago, Oakland and Tampa Bay flavors of the week as they are all idle for Week 8.

Michael Crabtree and Braylon Edwards, San Francisco
The 49ers are playing well, Alex Smith is playing well and so too is Crabtree. He had 15 targets two weeks ago, catching nine for 77 yards. Maybe he's finally going to emerge as a dependable player. He's still available in 62 percent of Yahoo leagues. Edwards (knee) should be healthy again after the bye. Plus, Josh Morgan is out for the year. It's all about opportunity. Edwards is available in 83 percent of Yahoo leagues.

Jerome Simpson, Cincinnati
He was on a bye last week, and many of us thought he would be on an extended bye after the marijuana-at-the-house incident. Apparently the Bengals are impervious from suspension this season, and Simpson is garnering attention from QB Andy Dalton. He led the team in targets, catches and yards two weeks ago against Indianapolis, scoring 13.1 fantasy points. He’s available in 82 percent of Yahoo leagues.

Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh
If Hines Ward (ankle) is sidelined then Brown becomes the receiver opposite Mike Wallace. Brown has been a solid playmaker for the Steelers, but the crew of Brown, Ward and Emmanuel Sanders has made it frustrating for fantasy owners. Even if Ward plays this week, Brown might be a good add and play as Pittsburgh travels to a New England team that has certainly been generous to fantasy wide receivers this season worst in the league as a matter of fact. Brown had nine targets on Sunday, catching seven for 102 yards. He is available in 70 percent of Yahoo leagues.

Demaryius Thomas, Denver
Can any receiver be counted on with Tim Tebow freelancing back there? I’m not sure. Thomas, in his season debut, was targeted a team-high 10 times, catching just three of them for 27 yards but one was for a score. So there’s the positive that Tebow looked Thomas’ way the most. That and the fact that the Denver defense is terrible is perhaps a formula for Thomas being successful. Don’t waste this week’s waiver priority on him, but if you have the space then stash and hope, Thomas is available in 91 percent of Yahoo leagues.

Davone Bess, Miami
Man, do the Dolphins stink. But one old PPR favorite re-emerged Sunday. Bess had 12 targets from Matt Moore and caught seven of them for 52 yards. If you are in a full PPR and need a WR this week, look Bess’ way as the Dolphins play a Kansas City team that is 13th worst against fantasy receivers. He is available in 72 percent of Yahoo leagues.

Steve Breaston, Kansas City
If San Diego jumps all over the Chiefs on Monday night, Breaston will have some value. He had scored in double digits before Sunday’s blowout of Oakland (still scored 8.9 fantasy points on nine targets, seven catches for 64 yards). Certainly worth an add if you think the Chargers will make it a passing affair. He is available in 71 percent of Yahoo leagues.

Early Doucet, Arizona
He has scored in double digits the last two weeks and now the Cardinals will travel to Baltimore without their starting RB. Do you see Arizona staying in this game for long? I don’t. The Ravens are middle of the road against defending fantasy receivers and Doucet has the luxury of playing opposite Larry Fitzgerald. He is averaging seven targets, 4.3 catches and 56.5 yards per game with two scores. Doucet is available in 78 percent of Yahoo leagues.

Jabar Gaffney and Anthony Armstrong, Washington
These are strictly matchup and opportunity based. Gaffney will have to step his game up to replace the injured Santana Moss and Armstrong has returned from a hamstring injury and will have to serve as the No. 2. The schedule against the pass is very favorable for the Redskins over the next few weeks. I would not waste a waiver priority against either of these receivers. I would monitor the news on both of these players as the week goes along, see who’s getting the hype and lean his way come Sunday.

Plaxico Burress, New York Jets
That’s the big target we expected Burress to be when he came to the Jets. Mark Sanchez threw for just 173 yards on 18-of-33 passing, but Burress was there to pull down three touchdowns of those 173 yards. Perhaps the bye week will help iron out some inconsistencies in the passing game, and Burress could continue his hot streak. When the Jets come back they get the Bills (currently ranked 23rd against fantasy receivers), Patriots (32nd), Broncos (28th), Buffalo again, Redskins (12th), Chiefs (20th) and Giants (27th). Burress is available in 37 percent of Yahoo leagues.

Dezmon Briscoe, Tampa Bay
Briscoe had 10 targets, catching six for 73 and a score against the Bears in London. The Bucs spread it around too much to depend on a single receiver, but Briscoe was an emerging talent in the preseason and pushing for the No. 2 spot at the start of the year. The Bucs are on a bye this week but get New Orleans, Houston and Green Bay as the first three out of the bye. Those are three games I expect them to be out of early, increasing the chances Briscoe could produce in fantasy garbage time. He is available in 100 percent of Yahoo leagues.

WEEK 8 BYES: Atlanta, Chicago, Green Bay, New York Jets, Oakland, Tampa Bay

Gone this week are Tony Gonzalez, Jermichael Finley, Dustin Keller, Kevin Boss and Kellen Winslow. It’s not a killer week for losing the position, but Gonzalez and Finley have been plug and plays that you will need to find a replacement for if you don’t carry two tight ends.

Jake Ballard, New York Giants
Ballard posted has three straight double-digit fantasy weeks, and now he gets a Dolphins team that allowed over 13 fantasy points per game to the position. He’s available in 88 percent of Yahoo leagues.

Aaron Hernandez, New England
Since his return in Week 5, Hernandez has scored 8.1 and 15.8 fantasy points. Tom Brady loves targeting those tight ends. So this is more a public service announcement, that if you see someone dropped Hernandez due to the Patriots' bye, go grab him and enjoy the rest of the year.

Fred Davis, Washington
He is not available in as many leagues as he was last week (he went from 58 percent availability to 32) after scoring 17 fantasy points against Carolina. Now with no Santana Moss (hand), no Tim Hightower (ACL) to go along with no Chris Cooley (finger), Davis’ stock is rising rapidly. Now he gets a Buffalo team ranked 12th against fantasy tight ends.

Daniel Fells, Denver
I told you to go get Daniel Fells last week because he was playing the Dolphins and their love for giving up points to the position. It took him a while to get going, but he grabbed a beautiful pass from Tim Tebow to set up the last TD, Fells then scored the touchdown. He finished with two catches for 31 yards and the score. After the great catch near the end and the late TD, plus with Tebow’s lack of accuracy perhaps he starts looking Fells’ way more. He’s available in 99 percent of Yahoo leagues.

Visanthe Shiancoe, Minnesota
Rookie quarterback + tight end are usually a good combination, right? Well, in his first career start, rookie QB Christian Ponder helped Shiancoe to his best day of 2011. Shiancoe scored 12.5 fantasy points on five catches for 45 yards and a score. If you need a one-week fix, Shiancoe could be a good one against a Carolina team that allows an average of 4.6 catches for 69.3 yards, including Fred Davis’ 6-for-80 and a score performance on Sunday. He’s available in 81 percent of Yahoo leagues.

Evan Moore, Cleveland
Moore had potential earlier in the year but has been in a time share with Benjamin Watson. Watson suffered a concussion against Seattle Sunday and his status for this week’s game San Francisco is yet to be determined. The 49ers are stout against the run, meaning the Browns will have to find a way to move the ball through the air. The Brown offense is certainly lackluster, but Moore could find some success against a 49ers team that is middle of the road against fantasy tight ends. Plus, he plays with a QB in Colt McCoy that attempts 42 passes per game (of course he produces a paltry 5.5 YPA). He’s available in 98 percent of Yahoo leagues. 

By Corby Yarbrough, @Corby_Yarbrough on Twitter

<p> Alfonso Smith, Leon Washington and Dezmon Briscoe lead this week's waiver wire pickups.</p>
Post date: Tuesday, October 25, 2011 - 01:15
Path: /news/sam-bradford-out-against-cowboys-dont-give-him-season

Sam Bradford has been downgraded to out against the Dallas Cowboys due to his high ankle sprain. But, while you may want to, now is not the time to give up on the Rams quarterback.

The two reasons to keep him are 1) the addition of Brandon Lloyd and the Rams' remaining schedule. Will these two things make a difference for your fantasy team?

Yes, but it is still going to take some time. You are probably teetering on giving up on Bradford because he has failed miserably to live up to expectations this season, but hold on a little longer.

The trade for Brandon Lloyd with the Denver Broncos brings a receiver Rams’ offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels certainly brought out of nowhere last season when he was head coach in Denver. St. Louis also activated Mark Clayton from the PUP list this week, a receiver that Bradford clicked with instantly last season. A knee injury last year sidelined Clayton to this point. Danario Alexander seems to be a reliable deep threat after having battled with his own injuries. And rookie Greg Salas has become a favorite target in the slot role where we all expected someone, either Danny Amendola to be the new Wes Welker.

Bradford has underwhelmed us this season to say the least. He is the 31st ranked quarterback heading into Week 7, scoring just 59.28 points in Athlon’s scoring format (6 points all touchdowns and 1 point per 25 yards passing). He has just one game in the teens which was a 19.74-point effort against a depleted New York Giants secondary.

One of the caveat’s about owning Bradford this season was the fact the Rams had a tough schedule the first half of the year. But if he can stay healthy (currently battling a high ankle sprain and may not play this week) and get acclimated with the new targets, that schedule against the pass certainly lightens up.

After Dallas, the Rams play six of their seven games against teams currently in the bottom half of the league against fantasy quarterbacks, including New Orleans (24th), Arizona (22nd), Cleveland (5th), Seattle (17th), Arizona (22nd), San Francisco (19th) and Seattle (17th). Keep in mind when your fantasy schedule matters most, the final two playoff weeks 15 and 16, the Rams play two of the top teams currently against fantasy passers in Cincinnati (3rd) and Pittsburgh (2nd).

But back to this week.

As a sidebar, if you are VERY desperate, A.J. Feeley may be a decent spot start in Bradford’s sted as the Rams should be trailing and due to Dallas’ track record against fantasy quarterbacks thus far. 

Dallasv has allowed all but one opposing QB to score 19-plus fantasy points (Mark Sanchez (22.7), Alex Smith (20.26), Matthew Stafford (19.5), Rex Grossman (13.6) and Tom Brady (21.26).

By Corby Yarbrough, @Corby_Yarbrough

<p> Sam Bradford won't be playing this week. But he should be in your lineup for the rest of the season.</p>
Post date: Sunday, October 23, 2011 - 09:16
Path: /news/time-find-replacement-sebastian-janikowski

It is not that often that fantasy kickers get any glory as we always tell you to wait until the last or second-to-last pick of your drafts to select the position. But Sebastian Janikowski brings what no other kicker in the league does on a consistent basis - the long ball. If your league awards bonus points for distance kicks, then Janikowski is the man to have. Through six weeks, he already has five 50-plus field goals and 12 field goals altogether.

The Raiders play host to Kansas City this week and then go on their bye. So if you are a fantasy player that doesn’t hold two kickers on your roster you were probably set to dump him next week anyways. But if you like the consistency he has brought you with the long ball over the years and 2.6 PATs per game he is averaging this season, you might have considered holding on to him through the bye week.

Janikowski was added to the injury report on Thursday, and the Raiders were trying out kickers on Friday.

It doesn’t help as a fantasy player that some of the better kickers are on bye weeks themselves. David Akers (3rd), Mike Nugent (9th), Stephen Gostkowski (9th), Rian Lindell (11th), Alex Henery (14th) and Lawrence Tynes are all idle this week.
Some of the top-20 options available are Tampa Bay’s Connor Barth, Minnesota’s Ryan Longwell, Miami’s Dan Carpenter, San Diego’s Nick Novak, Indianapolis’ Adam Vinatieri and Jacksonville’s Josh Scobee.

All of the aforementioned have scored at least 44 fantasy points this season (in Athlon’s format), and here is a breakdown of their Week 7 match ups.

Connor Barth (52 fantasy points) vs. Chicago (in London)
The Bears are 17th in the league at eight points allowed per game to kickers. It could be a soggy field, could bog down the offenses. This could be a field goal kicker kind of day.

Ryan Longwell (47 points) vs. Green Bay
The Packers are 4th in the league at six points per game to kickers. I don’t see much work for Longwell as rookie Christian Ponder gets the start against the Super Bowl champs.

Dan Carpenter (46 points) vs. Denver
Carpenter has the most potential as the Dolphins face a Denver team that has allowed a league-leading 10 points a game to kickers.

Nick Novak (46 points) at New York Jets
The Jets are middle of the road at 16th, allowing 7.8 points per game to kickers. I see this as a pretty good match up for Novak and the Chargers. They should be able to move the ball, but if they can’t punch it across the goal line in steps Novak.

Adam Vinatieri (44 points) at New Orleans
The Saints are 23rd in the league at 8.2 points per game to kickers. It’s indoors, so that’s always good. I doubt the Colts can go toe to toe with the Saints offensively, but they might move it enough to make Vinatieri relevant.

Josh Scobee (44 points) vs. Baltimore
The Ravens are No. 1 in the NFL against kickers, surrendering just 4.6 points per game. Say no to Sco.

If I’m on the waiver wire to replace Janikowski this week (and I am in three leagues), then I go Carpenter first then Novak, Barth and Vinatieri. 

By Corby Yarbrough, @Corby_Yarbrough

<p> It was being reported Friday that Sebastian Janikowski, fantasy football’s second-best kicker, may have to sit Sunday and several weeks thereafter due to a left hamstring injury.&nbsp;</p>
Post date: Saturday, October 22, 2011 - 02:02
Path: /news/john-beck-appealing-fantasy-add-thanks-washington-redskins-schedule

If you missed out on your waiver wire this week in getting Tim Tebow, Carson Palmer, Matt Cassel or Colt McCoy, go ahead and grab John Beck. With Ryan Fitzpatrick, Tom Brady, Eli Manning and Michael Vick leading the charge of quarterbacks that are on byes this week, Beck has a pretty favorable match up to help ease your pain.

Despite having the NFL's 11th ranked pass defense (219 YPG), four of the six QBs Carolina's faced have scored at least 19 fantasy points. Blaine Gabbert (9.8) and Jay Cutler (2.3) were the only ones to falter.

In fact, Beck, if he remains the starters for the next month or so, could be in line for some decent numbers altogether. In addition to Carolina this week, he gets some of the most favorable teams against fantasy QBs in the NFL. Buffalo (23rd), San Francisco (17th), Miami (31st) and Dallas (18th) are all in the bottom half of the league against QBs, allowing at least 18 fantasy points per game.

Beck played 22 snaps in relief of Rex Grossman against Philadelphia. In those 22 plays, he was 8 of 15 for 117 yards, was sacked once, did not turn the ball over and scored a rushing touchdown. So in 22 snaps, he registered 12.08 fantasy points. He would have been on pace to score 33 fantasy points had he played all 60 of the Redskins' offensive snaps.

Of course the Redskins were playing from behind and Beck came in late in the game, but he still has a decent stable of pass-catching running backs, a tight end in Fred Davis that has the job all by his lonesome thanks to Chris Cooley's finger injury and a receiving corps that is a bunch of no names, but has yard after catch ability.

You could do better than Beck, but you could also do worse. So if you missed on the waiver wire, are in dire need of a QB or just want to take a flier for a QB with a favorable schedule, Beck is worth the add to your fantasy roster. 

<p> John Beck gets the start at quarterback for the Washington Redskins this week against Carolina.&nbsp;</p>
Post date: Wednesday, October 19, 2011 - 14:43
Path: /news/carson-palmer-goes-raiders-do-you-go-him

Carson Palmer was the 13th best fantasy quarterback in 2010, averaging 17.6 points per game. He was the 15th best fantasy QB in 2009 at 15.9 points per game. That gives one optimism that he can still be serviceable. Just how serviceable is what we all want to know.

What we do know is that the Raiders are a run-based offense and have Darren McFadden to lead that attack. Oakland has attempted the second-most carries in the league this season (160) and the 10th-fewest pass attempts (179).

The Raiders’ receiving corps, due to injuries, due to it being a run-based offense, due to their abilities, has been an inconsistent bunch. Only three times has an Oakland receiver scored in double digits this season (Denarius Moore in Week 1 and Darrius Heyward-Bey in Weeks 4 and 5).

We also know that Palmer has not played since the end of the 2010 season. So we don’t know what kind of football shape he will be in. We know his arm is not what it once was. We know that he has a penchant for throwing interceptions, averaging 12.5 per year.

Will he play this week against a Kansas City team that is 12th worst against fantasy quarterbacks? Doubtful. Even if they do roll him out there against the Chiefs, would you take the chance?

The Raiders have a bye in Week 8, and we will probably see Palmer’s debut Nov. 6 against Denver. So he could serve as a bye-week replacement for those losing QBs in the final two bye weeks (Weeks 9 and 11). Assuming his debut is against Denver, Palmer will face five teams currently in the bottom 12 against fantasy QBs to close out the fantasy season, including Miami (26th), Green Bay (30th), Detroit (6th) and Kansas City (21st) in the four playoff weeks.

Bottom line: Pick him up if you have the room. A combination of a legitimate running game, a number of playmakers, albeit inconsistent, and a favorable schedule make him a good back up that could emerge as a 16-25-point guy per week and even more in the playoff weeks. Plus, if you have the room, hoard him for now and see if you can use him as trade bait later on. 

By Corby Yarbrough, @Corby_Yarbrough

<p> So Carson Palmer is the Oakland Raiders’ quarterback now. What does that mean for fantasy players?</p>
Post date: Tuesday, October 18, 2011 - 21:37
Path: /columns/waiver-wire/fantasy-football-waiver-wire-week-7

By CorbyYarbrough, @Corby_Yarbrough

It is Week 7, the third week of bye weeks, and some big names go on vacation this weekend. You need someone to step in off the waiver wire and hold down the fort for a week, or maybe more in some cases.

WEEK 7 BYES: Buffalo, Cincinnati, New England, New York Giants, Philadelphia, San Francisco

At quarterback, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Andy Dalton, Tom Brady, Eli Manning, Mike Vick and Alex Smith are all on byes.

John Beck, Washington
Rex Grossman was pulled after throwing four interceptions against Philadelphia and in stepped beck. He threw for 177 yards and ran for a score. But are we going to see Grossman back in there? Will the QB be the new RB for Mike Shanahan? Will we see rotation everywhere? The matchups are favorable for the Redskins QB to get you through the bye weeks — at Carolina, at Buffalo, playing host to San Francisco, at Miami (in Week 10 where there are no byes) and playing host to Dallas. If none of the QBs below are available in your leagues, I would consider adding Beck, but I wouldn't waste my No. 1 waiver wire priority on it.

Matt Cassel, Kansas City
After a terrible start to the 2011 season, Cassel took advantage of a great match up against the Colts in Week 5, throwing for 257 yards and four touchdowns. He and the Chiefs passing game get another favorable match up this week in Oakland. The Raiders are allowing the fourth most fantasy points to QBs and just surrendered 21 points to Browns QB Colt McCoy on Sunday. The Chiefs are coming off their bye, and Cassel should have a full compliment of receivers, including rookie Jonathan Baldwin. If he's on your waiver wire, go get him.

Colt McCoy, Cleveland
McCoy has only dipped below 16 points once this season and is coming off his best fantasy game of the season — 21.2 points against Oakland. He is the epitome of a bye week replacement that could become a dependable starter come season's end. Two other factors making McCoy appealing — the Browns are 29th in the league in fantasy points by RBs (15.6) and the second-year QB is averaging 43 pass attempts per game. Sounds like opportunity to me. This week's Cleveland plays host to Seattle, which is middle of the road when it comes to defending fantasy QBs (18 PPG).

Tim Tebow, Denver
In case you didn't add him from last week's waiver wire with the Broncos on their bye, go get him now. Tebow is fantasy vs. reality. He doesn't have to be a good NFL QB, he only has to be a good fantasy QB. In leagues where QBs get only 4 for passing TDs, Tebow is a bonus with his seven career rushing TDs in 12 games. The loss of Brandon Lloyd may hurt a bit, but Tebow seems to freelance his way to fantasy points anyhow, no matter who's out there with him.

Oakland's next QB
These are the just-in-case QBs that could be your next starter for Oakland. Monitor if any of these players get added to the Raiders' roster to replace the injured Jason Campbell (collarbone). I'm avoiding Kyle Boller unless he has his wife with him.

Kyle Orton — The Broncos' former starting QB has been supplanted by Tebow and should get moved before today's deadline — at least fantasy players are hoping he is. He's obviously the most game-ready QB out there, and Oakland has plenty of weapons for him to play with.

Terrelle Pryor — The suspension is lifted, he is part of the active roster and with the success as fantasy players that Tebow, Cam Newton and Vince Young early in his career had, why couldn't Pryor be a productive fantasy player before there's too much tape out there of him?

Carson Palmer — Very risk as a pick up. His arm strength is meh and he hasn't played in nearly a year. However, if he could get the ball to the Raider weapons with short passes and let them do the work, you're still getting the fantasy points for the YAC they produce.

Fred Jackson, Cedric Benson, Ahmad Bradshaw, LeSean McCoy, Frank Gore and the Patriots' flavor of the week are all on byes, so you need to find some bodies to stick in there for a week.

DeMarco Murray, Dallas
I dropped him in an IDP keeper league because I was impatient and should have known the Felix Jones injury was coming. At least I got Haloti Ngata as the reason I dropped him. But I digress. Jones has a high ankle sprain and is out indefinitely. The Cowboys' bye has already happened, so there's no time to rest and if they are smart, no reason to rush him back into action. Tashard Choice may be shipped out as the trade deadline is today, but even if he isn't I would grab Murray and expect him to be the lead back.

But don't expect the moon. Keep in mind the rookie RB was drafted in the third round to help bolster a Cowboys run game that was 16th in the NFL last year. Now Dallas is 30th in points per game from fantasy RBs. Murray has rushed 24 times for 71 yards (3.0 YPC) and has four catches for 23 yards. He has no TDs thus far. Favorable matchups the next few weeks make him enticing — St. Louis, Philadelphia and Seattle — but the stats and the Cowboys' offensive line speaks for itself. If Choice stays and Phillip Tanner gets some snaps, it could make for a complete mess in Dallas. So just temper your expectations.

Jackie Battle, Kansas City
He's got a great match up this week. The team comes off a bye week and now gets an Oakland defense that is third worst against fantasy RBs and just lost its QB on offense. Battle may have been the flavor of the week against a bad Indianapolis team when he ran for 119 yards two weeks ago, and Dexter McCluster and Thomas Jones might steal some thunder. But with six teams on bye and a great match up, picking up Battle, could be a great one-week play.

Earnest Graham, Tampa Bay
Graham got it done on the ground in relief of LeGarrette Blount (MCL) with 109 yards on 22 carries. He only caught two passes for 22 yards. It was the passes that PPR players were excited about, so the 109-yard effort helped offset the lack of receptions. Graham should probably get the nod once again for the Bucs as they go against Chicago in London this week. The Bears have allowed at least 10 fantasy points to the No. 1 RB in the first six games this season, and Graham's PPR abilities should help him reach that and be a decent flex play in Week 7.

Montario Hardesty, Cleveland
This is nothing more than a bye week replacement suggestion. Peyton Hillis is dealing with a hamstring and may miss or at least be limited. But Hardesty has done little with the opportunities he has had. The Browns play host to a Seattle team that is top 10 against fantasy RBs and coming off a bye. However, every opposing No. 1 RB has scored at least 11 fantasy points against the Seahawks. If you need Hardesty as a flex play, go for it, but don't expect consistency.

Maurice Morris, Detroit
Jahvid Best suffered his second concussion of the season on Sunday. If it knocks him out for any amount of time, Morris will probably get the call. According to Mike Clay of Pro Football Focus, Morris played 25 snaps in relief of Best on Sunday to just two snaps for Keiland Williams. The Lions play host to Atlanta this week, and the Falcons are allowing the eighth most points per game to fantasy RBs. Detroit has the 12th-best fantasy running game at 20.8 points per game. Again, these few weeks are about finding bodies to fill in bye week, injuries and good match ups. Morris won't light up the turf, but it is a good match up.

Thanks, byes. No Steve Johnson, David Nelson, A.J. Green, Wes Welker, Hakeem Nicks, Victor Cruz, Mario Manningham, Desean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin or Michael Crabtree this week. Here are a few names to help you in these troubling times.

Danario Alexander, St. Louis
I really wanted to like him. His knees don't seem to be a hindrance this year. He is a good deep threat. Then the Rams go out and trade for Brandon Lloyd. The Rams have been so terrible this year, I think some combination of Lloyd and Alexander play with Greg Salas in the slot. St. Louis is not going to get any better on defense, and the receivers should have plenty of opportunities to see the field.

Nate Burleson, Detroit
He will never be consistent, but he does get targeted, and the Lions do get two of the worst defenses against fantasy WRs the next two weeks — Atlanta (9th at 32 PPG) and Denver (2nd at 35.7 PPG). After the bye, Chicago, Carolina, Green Bay and New Orleans are up. The schedule is just begging for a consistent fantasy receiver to emerge opposite Calvin Johnson.

James Jones, Green Bay
He is still available in 52 percent of Yahoo leagues. He has scored at least 10 fantasy points the last three weeks. He is a perfect bye week replacement player. On a week-to-week basis you can't count on him to be a consistent receiver, but when bye weeks leave you scrambling, a track record like Jones' is good to lean on. Also, the Packers travel to Minnesota this week. Minnesota was pushing hard for Jones' services in the offseason before he shunned them to return to Titletown, USA. Maybe he shows the Vikings they should have pushed a little harder.

Greg Little, Cleveland
He stepped into the starting role against Oakland and lead the Browns in targets, catches and yards en route to a 10.2-point fantasy effort. Both he and Colt McCoy are serviceable for the remainder of the year as Cleveland's bye has passed. Plus, their rapport should only get better and be more dependable as the season goes along.

Greg Salas, St. Louis
We're always looking for the next Wes Welker, particularly in PPR leagues. Danny Amendola was supposed to be it in St. Louis before his season-ending injury. Rookie Greg Salas had not stepped into that role until Sunday for the Rams. Yes, they were getting killed by the Packers, but Salas put up a very common slot-PPR line — eight catches, 77 yards, no scores. The Rams are going to stink all year on defense, giving the offense plenty of chances. With the addition of Brandon Lloyd on the outside, perhaps Salas can roam around now and pull down those cheap nine-yard catches that we all love from our PPR receivers.

Torrey Smith, Baltimore
Lee Evans is still bothered by his ankle injury, having not made it back to play in the Ravens' first game after their bye. If Evans is not back for the Monday night game at Jacksonville then Smith is assured significant playing time. He is obviously a solid deep threat, but the Jags have not been too shabby against the pass this season. They are seventh best against fantasy WRs. But if you are desperate for a replacement for Week 7, he's always good for a deep ball he could take to the end zone.

Demaryius Thomas, Denver
The Broncos could complete the youth trifecta if they trade away Eddie Royal along with Brandon Lloyd already being shipped to St. Louis. If Royal's gone then Demaryius Thomas steps in to give Denver second-year players starting at WR (he and Eric Decker) and QB (Tim Tebow). A broken foot hindered his rookie season — both pre-draft and last season — and a finger injury has sidelined him this season. In limited action last year, the 6-3, 225-pound Thomas caught 22 balls for 283 yards and two scores. He also averaged 24.9 yards on 16 kickoffs.

Damian Williams, Tennessee
Something tells me Chris Johnson and the offensive line are not going to get it together this year and Matt Hasselbeck will continue to sling it around the yard. Williams will be the deep threat unless Donnie Avery surprises. With the way Hasselbeck was tossing it, getting his deep threat would be a solid stash-and-hope play.

Jerome Simpson, Cincinnati
He's on a bye this week, and many of us thought he would be on an extended bye after the marijuana-at-the-house incident. Apparently the Bengals are impervious from suspension this season, and Simpson is garnering attention from QB Andy Dalton. He led the team in targets, catches and yards Sunday against Indianapolis, scoring 13.1 fantasy points. This is one of the "waiver a week ahead" type plays this week just in case injuries are killing you if the byes aren't first.

Michael Crabtree and Braylon Edwards, San Francisco
The 49ers are playing well, Alex Smith is playing well and so too is Crabtree. He had 15 targets on Sunday, catching nine for 77 yards. Maybe he's finally going to emerge as a dependable player. He's still available in 58 percent of Yahoo leagues. Edwards should come back healthy after the bye. Plus, Josh Morgan is out for the year. It's all about opportunity. Keep an eye on him.

What a frustrating position this has been. I guess that's what comes with this being the deepest fantasy tight end class perhaps ever. And this week, thanks to byes, we lose the Patriots' duo of Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez, Cincinnati's Jermaine Gresham and San Francisco's Vernon Davis.

Aaron Hernandez, New England
He's on a bye this week and may get dropped again as a I saw in a number of leagues happened when he suffered his Week 2 injury. But since his return in Week 5, Hernandez has scored 8.1 and 15.8 fantasy points. Tom Brady loves targeting those tight ends. So this is more a public service announcement, that if you see someone drop Hernandez due to the Patriots' bye, go grab him, stash him and enjoy the rest of the year.

Jake Ballard, New York Giants
He's on a bye this week, but the Kevin Boss replacement is officially here for the G Men. Ballard posted his third straight double-digit fantasy week, and when he gets back he faces the worst team in the league against the TE — the Dolphins at over 16 fantasy points per game to the position. This might be one of those moves you make in advance of next week so you don't have to use a priority claim. Perhaps let the wire run through this week and then pick him up once all claims have been processed if you have the room.

Fred Davis, Washington
Available in 58 percent of Yahoo leagues, Davis got back into double digits on Sunday with a 13.5-point effort against Philadelphia. Chris Cooley broke his finger, and other injuries that have plagued him should open up the door for Davis to be the exclusive TE on the team.

Ed Dickson, Baltimore
He has had good match ups each week it seems like, but just doesn't produce on a consistent basis. He gets on this list this week for two reasons — you may need a TE for a bye week quick fix and he gets a Jaguars team that is fourth worst against fantasy TEs, having given up over at least 10 points to the primary TE in the last four games.

Daniel Fells, Denver
Brandon Lloyd is gone. Tim Tebow is a young QB. The Dolphins are the worst team in the league against tight ends. Sounds like a good day to play Fells, who has scored 5.2, 8.9 and 7.2 fantasy points in his last three games.

Kellen Winslow, Tampa Bay
The Bucs travel to London to play a Bears team that is second worst against fantasy TEs at nearly 16 points per game to the position. Winslow has not had the effort from a year ago, byt he has scored 5.8, 7.9, 6.5 and 7.9 fantasy points the last four games. It always seems like it's a soggy field when the NFL goes to London, and that could be good news for the short passing game.

<p> DeMarco Murray, Tim Tebow and Maurice Morris lead the list of must pick-ups in week 7</p>
Post date: Tuesday, October 18, 2011 - 07:48
All taxonomy terms: NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /columns/winning-game-plan/fantasy-football-rankings-week-4

We rank enough players at each position to appease everyone from those in 8-team leagues to 16-team leagues, those that can start two QBs, two TEs, three RBs and four WRs. We cut out the rest, because if you're looking at who the 50th-best running back or the 17th-best kicker is for that week, you need more help than any Website can give you. Click here for all of our fantasy football rankings each week.

These rankings are our suggestions, but of course as always: You are responsible for setting your own lineup.

2011 NFL Week 4 Fantasy Football Rankings

Running Backs
Wide Receivers
Tight Ends
Defense/Special Teams

Athlon Sports Week 4 Waiver Wire

Athlon Sports Week 4 IDP Waiver Wire

Athlon Sports Week 4 Start and Sit

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:

All touchdowns are 6 points
1 point for 25 yards passing
1 point for 10 yards rushing/receiving
Receptions are .5 points
Interceptions/fumbles are minus-2 points

0 points allowed = 12 points
1-6 points allowed = 10 points
7-13 points allowed = 8 pts
14-20 points allowed = 6 points
21-27 points allowed = 2 pts
28+ points allowed = 0 points
Safeties = 2 points
Fumbles recovered = 2 points
Interceptions = 2 points
Sacks = 1 point
Defensive/Special Teams TDs = 6 points

PATs = 1 point
39 yards and under = 3 points
40-49 yards = 4 points
50-59 yards = 5 points
60+ yards = 6 points

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Post date: Sunday, October 2, 2011 - 08:00