2:15 pm, September 21st, 2012
We’ve enlisted the help of a man who knows his fantasy, RotoExperts.com’s managing director Scott Engel, an inaugural member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association’s Hall of Fame, to identify the players you should stay the hell away from each week. Follow his advice, and you should be golden.
No matter what your record is, a win this week seems very pivotal and can build a positive outlook going forward. If you move out to 3-0, you’re feeling like a kingpin. If you go to 2-1, it feels real nice to get above .500. If you win your first game, then there’s a great sense of relief. So don’t let these guys ruin it for you. (We’re looking squarely in your direction, Tennessee Titans O-line.)
1.1. Peyton Manning, QB, Broncos
Manning did not look to be in vintage form against the Falcons, and you can’t expect him to be what he used to, either. He doesn’t throw the downfield pass with same oomph he once had, and he is still getting his timing down with his new teammates. Manning has never faced the challenge of having to adjust to an entirely new stable of teammates before, especially with less ability than he had in the past. Manning will rebound to respectability, but not this week against the Texans, who have the AFC’s best defense.
2.2. Chris Johnson, Titans
This one is not as obvious as it may seem to some of you. Some owners are going to roll with Johnson again, figuring things just have to get much better. Well, that’s just not gonna happen. There is no way the moribund Titans can handle the Lions, and they will fall behind and have to abandon their running game. And as long as they stick with Jake Locker over Matt Hasselbeck at QB, Johnson will see absolutely no openings. Hasselbeck can make defenses respect the passing game and will move the offense better. Johnson suffers as long as Locker stays at QB.
3.3. Andrew Luck, QB, Colts
You have to like what you have seen from Luck so far as an NFL quarterback, and you may be motivated to start him over a seemingly riskier pick like Jay Cutler. When you look at the scoreboard and see he faces the Jaguars, you may want to lock him in for sure. But too frequently, Fantasy players judge matchups by a team’s reputation or record rather than looking deeper into the real facts or trends. Yes, the Jaguars will not win many games, but it won’t be because of their defense, which is very respectable and will limit Luck’s statistical upside.
4.4. Mikel Leshoure, RB, Lions
Leshoure is finally on the verge of seeing some real regular season action for the first time in his career. It looks like he will make his true NFL debut this week against the Titans, a seemingly ultra-easy opponent. But it isn’t about the matchup here. It’s about exhibiting some patience. Leshoure could be on a limited snap count after not playing at all in 2011 and serving a suspension over the first two weeks. He may not be quite ready to get into the full flow of the offense, but you should prepare to use him soon after this week, as he could take the starting RB job from Kevin Smith.
5.5. Brian Hartline, WR, Dolphins
He had a breakout game against the terrible Oakland defense last week, and was a hot pickup, one even recommended by us. But it’s not time to start Hartline yet. Now that he has served notice to the league that he finally has a decent QB, opponents will give him more defensive attention. That means he will likely draw Darrelle Revis in coverage against the Jets this week. Even the most fair-weather Fantasy player knows Revis may as well be Latin for “bench him.”
6.6. Julian Edelman, WR, Patriots
The Pats have lost top TE Aaron Hernandez, and Edelman seems to be moving into a more prominent role in the passing game. Well, I’m not buying it just yet. We’ve seen Edelman flash some promise in the past, only to disappear seemingly longer than a third-string Patriots QB. Though there is talk of looking to phase Wes Welker out of a primary role in the passing game, Edelman may not be the one to assume a larger role in the offense if that is indeed attempted. Plus, there is always the chance that Tom Brady gets Welker involved again this week and ignores Edelman often.
7.7. Cedric Benson, RB, Packers
Benson looked good against the Bears last week, but the Seahawks present a much tougher task, especially in their loud house. You may consider turning to Benson if you are desperate, but hopefully, you are not, and there still may be a better option out there. The Seahawks were able to stifle DeMarco Murray last week, and their very stout run defense is simply too much for the adequate, but not outstanding Benson to overcome.
8.8. Andre Roberts, WR, Cardinals
Larry Fitzgerald has been getting so much attention from secondaries in the first two weeks, that everyone else in the Cardinals passing game pretty much had an opportunity to step forward and catch balls. Enter Roberts, who has been mentioned as a potential upside performer since last year. This week, though, he will get more defensive respect from the Eagles, who have played very good overall in the first two games. Roberts made some key catches against the Seahawks in Week 1, but now Philly will see him on film and should be ready to return Roberts to anonymity.
9.9. Kenny Britt, WR, Titans
Are you sensing a theme here? Sure you are. Stay away from the Titans if you can. Still, based on his name alone, some will try to get cute and roll Britt out there. We’ve warned you about him before, and we have to do it again. Britt is damaged goods, coming off two knee scopes, and he is progressively being eased back into the gameplan. Until you see true signs of promise again, keep Britt reserved. Again, a switch to Hasselbeck is needed, as he worked so well with Britt last year for a brief period before the WR was injured.
10.10. Owen Daniels, TE, Texans
Daniels has shown he can still be an adequate Fantasy player if needed, but don’t expect much from him in terms of stats this week. The Texans will need him to help keep Denver pass rusher Von Miller off Matt Schaub this week. Daniels will have to stay in and block, and Schaub can start to locate his crew of young WRs that need to get into the mix when Andre Johnson is not open.
11.11. Indianapolis Colts Defense
Choosing a starting defense is not just about the lack of potency of the opponent, it’s also about the defense itself. Those who used the Oakland Raiders against the Dolphins last week learned there are some units that should not be started no matter who their opponent is. That certainly goes for the Colts, who take on the Jaguars. The team is in transition and without Dwight Freeney as it adjusts to new schemes and packages. And the Jaguars still have Maurice Jones-Drew, who may prove he has fully put this season’s holdout behind him this week. MJD plays Fantasy Football, and he sees a great opportunity to put up points for himself.
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