DON’T BE AFRAID OF CALVIN JOHNSON
Happy Halloween week! Whether you’re seeking tricks or treats for your Fantasy lineups, RotoExperts is here to help. We know that there are some players that you should be afraid of and there are some that you shouldn’t be scared of this Halloween. And while there certainly are some inconsistent players that you are afraid to start, that’s not what we are referring to here. These are the guys in your lineup that get the points. They can win you a week and they’ve been racking up the points for you. If you are a Fantasy owner that is playing against these guys, be afraid. And then think about what you can trade for them. On the not afraid list? Players that have been underperforming and when you see them in an opposing lineup, you’re not nearly as afraid as you might have been eight weeks ago. See if you can find an owner to unload them to.
[caption id="attachment_27162" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Calvin Johnson's one TD so far is something for owners to be scared of. Photo Credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/68264951@N05/">The Macomb Daily</a>"][/caption]
Who I’m Afraid of This Halloween:
Chicago Bears D/ST
While it may vary by league scoring, it probably is standard across the board: the Chicago D/ST has the most Fantasy points through eight weeks so far this year. That includes the bye week that Chicago has already had as well. They are tied with the New York Giants for the most interceptions (16). They have 23 sacks, tied for third in the league. They are also tied for third for fumble recoveries with seven. However, where they truly lead the league is in defensive touchdowns. Chicago D/ST has six. Washington and Houston are below them with four. They have also allowed the fewest points in the league (94), although that may change as San Francisco is behind them with 103 and on a bye this week. No matter how you look at it, the Chicago D/ST is going to get you points. Potentially, lots of ‘em. And even better news, if you make it to the Fantasy championship game in Week 16, they play Arizona. Do you think you’ll get a few sacks from that matchup? Yeah, me too.
New England Patriots offense
From a Fantasy perspective, the New England offense has been a goldmine, especially for the studs. Tom Brady has thrown the fifth most touchdowns in the league with 16 and has thrown for the most yards with 2,408. However, they are on a bye this week, so he may be passed by Drew Brees (2,310) or Eli Manning (2,301). He’s thrown 320 passes so far this year (Brees is at 315 and Eli is at 294). The beneficiary of those passes? Mainly Rob Gronkowski, with 43 receptions for 580 yards and seven touchdowns. Aside from his Week 3 stinker (2/21/0 stat line), Gronk has been providing Fantasy owners with excellent numbers, even while battling a hip injury. While Fantasy owners were worried after Week 1, Wes Welker has shown that he’s a locked-in WR1. He had a string of five games with over 100 yards. While the touchdowns aren’t there like they were last year, he’s still putting up excellent numbers, especially in PPR leagues. One of the reasons for New England’s success is the emergence of a running game. Stevan Ridley is currently fourth in the league in rushing yards (just one yard behind Alfred Morris) and is on pace for 300 carries for around 1,500 yards and double-digit touchdowns. See if you can target him during New England’s bye this week.
Atlanta Falcons passing offense
At the beginning of the season, I said Matt Ryan would have the most passing touchdowns in the league. Okay, I said that last year, too. But this year! This year I have a chance at being right. Ryan is currently tied for third with 17. Ahead of him are Drew Brees (20) and Aaron Rodgers (21, but hasn’t had a bye week yet). Ryan wasn’t drafted with the top tier quarterbacks, so Fantasy owners are likely quite pleased with their QB through eight games. He’s thrown a touchdown in every game so far and hasn’t had fewer than 215 yards in a game. Except for the three interception game against Oakland, he hasn’t had more than a single turnover per game either. The good news for the rest of the Falcons passing game: when Ryan does well, so does Roddy White, Tony Gonzalez and Julio Jones. Sure, there will be some weeks when one receiver does better than the other, but all three have potential to have an excellent Fantasy week every week. For the most part, they all are likely to have a good Fantasy week each week. And in a league of inconsistency, that’s the best you can ask for.
Green Bay passing offense
Aaron Rodgers, as mentioned above, has the most passing touchdowns in the league through eight games. Surprisingly, it’s not Greg Jennings that is the beneficiary of those touchdowns. He has one, while Randall Cobb has four, Jordy Nelson has five and James Jones has seven. As Nelson is battling a hamstring injury, Jones and Cobb are close to being WR1’s. Rodgers has certainly proven that regardless of who his receivers are, he can get them the ball in the end zone. With Jennings is likely out for the rest of the regular Fantasy season, be sure that these three other receivers are owned in your league. (Side note: Jermichael Finley is not included in the “be afraid” passing offense, with his one touchdown and inability to top 60 yards in a single game so far this season).
Who I’m NOT Afraid of This Halloween:
Last year’s standout is, although he doesn’t want to hear it, going through a sophomore slump. Most analysts predicted it, and sure enough, it’s true. In his first seven games in 2012, he has 1,701 yards with five touchdowns and eight interceptions. He’s rushed for 310 yards and three touchdowns. Last year, in the first seven games, he threw for 2,103 yards and eight touchdowns and nine interceptions. He had 266 rushing yards and seven rushing touchdowns. As predicted, the rushing touchdowns have decreased, and with that, his Fantasy value decreases as well. While he looks to be a good start this week against Washington, sell high if he does have a good game.
Who would have predicted that halfway through the season, Romo would lead the league in interceptions? When you compare him to interception machines like Jay Cutler and Carson Palmer, no one would have thought that Romo would have 13 interceptions. That’s three more than the next highest quarterback group – Brandon Weeden, Andy Dalton and Matt Cassel have 10 interceptions. You want to really cringe? Weeden has thrown for the same number of touchdowns as Romo (nine). Now, no one is saying drop Romo for Weeden by any means, but be aware of the category of quarterback you’re dealing with. Sure, Romo’s receivers have been banged up, but there really is no excuse for that many interceptions. Michael Vick is getting a lot of press for his turnovers, but he’s on par with Romo. Vick has eight interceptions and five fumbles. He’s also thrown nine touchdowns and rushed for one. Someone might still take Romo based on the name – and not the numbers.
We all wondered if the Madden curse would strike Megatron. Well, he – knock on wood – hasn’t been injured, but the touchdowns certainly aren’t there. His 41 receptions and 638 receiving yards are on par with last year; however, his one touchdown through seven games is disappointing. Through seven games in 2011, Johnson had 41 receptions and 679 receiving yards. He also had 10 touchdowns. Defenses obviously are finding ways to shut him down, and Fantasy owners have also watched him drop easy passes. Whether it’s the nagging knee injury or the concussion in one game, something is bothering Johnson, and owners hope he fixes it in time for the Fantasy playoffs.
Pittsburgh Steelers D/ST
Many owners decide in the 11th or 12th round of their Fantasy draft that it is time to get a defense. Well, if you drafted the Steelers D/ST, you likely are disappointed in that choice. They have had three interceptions all year, second-lowest in the league (only Indianapolis is below them with two). Sacks are usually Pittsburgh’s specialty, and even in that category, there are only five teams with fewer sacks than the Steelers. Their 12 sacks on the year is tied with San Diego, New York Jets and Baltimore. Even more disappointing is they have scored zero defensive touchdowns. That’s not going to win you any weeks. At this point, they are droppable to play a better D/ST with a favorable matchup.
New York Jets D/ST
Much like the Steelers D/ST, the Jets have been a disappointment to those that drafted them. Sure, injuries have affected both teams, but that doesn’t mean that you need to hold on to the defense. The Jets D/ST have actually scored four touchdowns, which helps a bit, but the seven interceptions doesn’t exactly bring in the points. There is no reason that you need to hang on to this D/ST through their bye week. Drop them for a better option and don’t think twice about it.
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