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Athlon looks at which players to stick with and which ones to bail on
The first few weeks of the fantasy season are the most crucial for owners as we wait for the offenses to settle down. Once we get into October most of the solid free agent pickups are gone or everyone that is injury-free is established in their role on the team. So you see a lot of fantasy owners either bail or hold on for dear hope to some of their underperforming players.
Here's a look at who you need to keep and who you can release through two weeks of the 2011 season.
Sam Bradford, St. Louis — The schedule is brutal the first quarter of the season, and he lost PPR-slot target Danny Amendola. But the schedule should ease up just as he gets Amendola back, and he will be a helluva QB for you from Week 9 on.
Eli Manning, New York Giants — His receivers are hurt. He looks confused, always. But he does still find the end zone. He's a low, low end starter and certainly worth keeping as a byr-week replacement right now.
Joseph Addai and Delone Carter, Indianapolis — Someone has to run the ball on a consistent basis for the now terrible Colts. Addai re-signed and will be given that chance, even though rookie Delone Carter could be a vulture. This week will be a hard week to evaluate as the Colts are sent to the slaughter against the Steelers, but Tampa Bay, Kansas City and Cincinnati the next three weeks will be a good sample as to whether we can hold on to any of the Colt backs.
Ryan Grant, Green Bay — Still in a RBBC and one injury away from being the man, who can also catch out of the backfield, in a high-powered offense
Montario Hardesty, Cleveland — The Browns will face some tough run defenses the next two weeks in Miami and Tennessee and then get a bye. It opens up after the bye, and coach Pat Shurmur said this week that starter Peyton Hillis could be spelled by Hillis more often. There's a reason the Browns drafted Hardesty high last season, and they aren't going to let him just waste away on the bench.
Kendall Hunter, San Francisco — This offense stinks, but the dynamic rookie is also one more Frak Gore injury away from getting more touches as a runner and pass catcher.
Mark Ingram, New Orleans — The highest rookie RB selected has had two tough matchups but will still get fed the ball, particularly around the goal line. Darren Sproles' emergence is a buzz kill, but in games the Saints control more, Ingram will be the man inside the 10.
Knowshon Moreno, Denver — Monitor his use and health. All offseason I felt the Broncos were just looking for a reason to make Willis McGahee the bell cow, and last week's hamstring injury that sidelined Moreno may have been it. McGahee carried 28 times, and might have just secured his role as the top back, leaving Moreno as the new Justin Forsett.
C.J. Spiller, Buffalo — Not a huge fan of because the Bills don't seem to be huge fans of even though they used a top-10 pick on him. Like Grant, he is one play away from getting more touches and he has done alot with his 11 offensive touches so far at 8.2 yards per touch, including one score.
LaDainian Tomlinson, New York Jets — The Jets' offensive line is overrated and now Eric Mangold goes out for a couple of weeks. LT still has value as a flex option and is always a threat as a pass catcher.
DeAngelo Williams, Carolina — Can a player that just signed a monster deal in the offseason be just on the fringe of being not fantasy worthy? This was a tough call to keep him on the "keep" list. He has shown nothing in the first two games, and this is with his rookie QB throwing for over 400 yards twice. Maybe lanes will open up as defenses realize Cam Newton can throw, but if he doesn't see production against Jacksonville, it might be time to bail. Better yet, if he does see production against the Jags, trade him.
Danny Amendola, St. Louis — Greg Salas did little and injured his ribs as the fill-in slot receiver Monday night against the Giants. Amendola should be back sooner rather than later, and will resume his role as the go-to target for Sam Bradford.
Austin Collie and Pierre Garcon, Indianapolis — Both get one more week and that's about it. Of course that week is against Pittsburgh and might not be fair, but Collie went from three targets to 10 targets in the first two weeks. That is the only reason he is still on any of my rosters. But he produced just three catches for 24 yards on those 10 targets. If I don't get much more than that after this week, he's gone from all my rosters. Garcon has been targeted 11 times in two weeks, catching six balls for 67 yards. We are hoping there will be a second WR we can count on in Indy, but there is only so long we can wait before we have to find better options.
Marques Colston, New Orleans — He's not out for the whole season. He plays in one of the league's best offenses. And he often plays — at 6-3, 225 — in the slot a lot of the times. His injuries do stink, but you can't give up on a big receiver like that, in that offense.
Malcom Floyd, San Diego — Let's just pretend the Patriots set the blueprint for how to shutout stud TE Antonio Gates, who had no catches in Week 2. If that's the case and Gates starts to gets limited, then Philip Rivers has to go somewhere along with No. 1 Vincent Jackson. He's a big body, who can go up and get a ball, and in this offense receivers are too valuable just to let go.
Jacoby Ford, Oakland — Coach Hue Jackson insisted he was going to be used more this season. He was targeted on the first play of the Raiders' opener, caught it and then fumbled it. He injured his hamstring and missed Week 2. With the injury situation the Raiders are in at receiver, Ford is the last one you need to be dumping. He still should produce for a bad team.
Greg Little, Cleveland — Only because he is a rookie, big receiver in a West Coast offense does Little stay on the "keep" list. He has been targeted just eight times through two games, catching five for 50 yards and no TDs. You have to tell yourself he's a rookie and it will take some time. That had to be the mindset when you drafted him, so hang on.
Lance Moore, New Orleans — He returned last week from a groin injury and did little, but it was the first game back. With Marques Colston out currently and Drew Brees trusting Moore, he is still a good play in PPR formats. Darren Sproles may have stolen some, if not a lot of his thuner, however.
Chad Ochocinco, New England — If he does nothing over the next two-six weeks with TE Aaron Hernandez (MCL) out, then bail. If he does, then you have a good value until Hernandez returns.
Mike Thomas, Jacksonville — He's had two bad matchups against a now-solid Titans pass defense and then going up against the Jets. He has still garnered 11 targets, top 15 in the league throw two weeks. Regardless of the QB situation, you can't release a No. 1 receiver getting that many looks, particularly in a PPR setup. He gets Carolina this week, and also might get rookie Blaine Gabbert as his starter. Again, it's only in PPR leagues he has his greatest worth, so give it a few more weeks before bailing.
Marcedes Lewis, Jacksonville — He's battling a calf strain and the TE class is deep enough to where you can probably pick up and drop them week to week. But Lewis will either have Luke McNown or rookie Blaine Gabbert throwing his way, and he is coming off a 10-TD performance from 2010. He will be targeted.
Brandon Pettigrew, Detroit — He has only been targeted nine times through two weeks, while his QB, Matthew Stafford, has thrown for 599 yards and seven TDs. He may eventually get his so hold on to him for now; but also keep an eye on how the team uses fellow TE Tony Scheffler in the passing game along with RB Jahvid Best and No. 2 stud Nate Burleson.
Matt Cassel, Kansas City — Is there a Chief worth owning now? I couldn't, with good consience, put anyone other than Dexter McCluster, in a PPR only, in my lineup.
Chad Henne, Miami — A 170-yard, 1 TD, 1 INT performance. That's the Henne we've come to know and love. Not the 416 yards, 2 TDs he had against the Pats in the opener.
Peyton Manning, Indianapolis — He's not coming back anytime soon, folks. Why would he? And with everyone under the sun seemingly throwing for 300 yards and two scores these days, you have replacement options.
Marshawn Lynch, Seattle — He plays in Seattle. Enough said.
Ryan Torain, Washington — He's third wheel behind Tim Higtower and rookie Roy Helu. A far fall from the offseason favorite to be the starting RB. Hard to see where he fits in.
Danny Woodhead, New England — I've never been a fan due to the inconsistency. You need a pretty deep bench to have a player like Woodhead, one who has 15 touches for 75 yards in Week 1 and then six touches for 27 yards and a 2-point conversion in Week 2.
Plaxico Burress, New York Jets — A random red-zone threat not consistent enough to be on a roster.
Michael Crabtree, San Francisco — Never healthy. Poor QB play. Poor offense. No thanks.
Braylon Edwards, San Francisco — See Burress and Crabtree.
Lee Evans, Baltimore — Was held without a catch in the opener and had just two catches for 45 yards agains the Titans in Week 2. This is the Evans we've come to know and love.
Devin Hester, Chicago — Had nine targets and caught one in Week 2. There is no consistent Bear receiver to own. Cutler as a bye-week replacement and RB Matt Forte as an absolute PPR stud are all that are roster worthy right now.
Sidney Rice, Seattle — See Lynch. See Mike Williams below. See news of a torn labrum.
Emmanuel Sanders/Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh — Sanders has six targets, four catches, 64 yards and a a short touchdown for 14.4 fantasy points. Brown has 15 targets, catching six for 81 yards and 11.1 fantasy points. Those are hardly numbers you can count on for the a flex option. Maybe you can give them a run against Indianapolis, but if one doesn't emerge after that, it might be time to find a more solid flex play.
Mike Williams, Seattle — See Lynch. Run from all Seahawks.
Zach Miller, Seattle — We all winced when he left Oakland for Seattle and this is why: two games, six targets, three catches, 32 yards and no scores. Bye.
Lance Kendricks, St. Louis — Nine targets, two catches, 44 yards and no scores. That's not going to get it done when the class is this deep.
Todd Heap, Arizona — Some thought there would be a mini resurrection for Heap in Arizona and then Jeff King comes out of nowhere. It was supposed to be rookie Rob Housler stealing the thunder if anyone did. Neither have. Heap has four targets, three catches and 48 yards.
Chris Cooley, Washington — Even when he becomes healthy not many will remember because Fred Davis will have solidified the spot even more than he already has. Cooley's played in both games with five targets, two catches and 21 yards to prove he was there.
— Corby A. Yarbrough @AthlonCorby on Twitter