Welcome to the first installment of our series The Edge of Fantasy where each week we’ll look at the players and situations that fill out the edges of your Fantasy lineup/roster. Any Nostra-doofus can tell about the Tom Bradys and Arian Fosters of the world; it’s uncovering the deep value players that can turn you into a winner as the season goes on.
In those words no young man wants to hear…we’re a little late this week…but we expect to be posting Tuesday/Wednesday in the future to help you get a jump on the necessary waiver wire and lineup juggling that can keep your team ahead of the curve.
QUARTERBACK: This week’s hot waiver pickup is Christian Ponder (vs. Was.), but before you plunge ahead with a matchup-based start there are caveats to consider. First off we admit we haven’t seen anyone devastated thru the air like the ‘Skins since the fire-bombing of Dresden, but that doesn’t make this an automatic start. The Vikings are at Washington and Ponder’s numbers on the road are down considerably compared to those at home. The culprit seems to be Head Coach Les Frazier taking a more conservative approach with his young QB in hostile environments. The key to Christian’s crusade may lie in the status of WR Jerome Simpson and opposing QB RG3. Both are questionable, but if Simpson plays he gives Ponder a field stretching, upside producing deep threat, while RG3 creates the possibility of a stat-lifting shootout. However, if Simpson sits and Kirk Cousins goes at QB for Washington, it could be a conservative ground-n-pound affair in DC…Meanwhile in Arizona, Kevin Kolb is also an enticing emergency start vs. Buffalo. The Bills are second to last in QB Fantasy Points Allowed and have been lit up by the likes of Alex Smith and “Off The Mark-y” Mark Sanchez this year. The only question is the Arizona O-line. The Cards backfield has been penetrated the last two weeks like they were Clay Aiken on a Castro Street bender, allowing 17 combined sacks to Miami and St. Louis. Still Kolb is at home, the run game is second to last in the league and Larry Fitzgerald should find the end zone at least once; meaning you could do worse as a cheap bye-week cover for Brees/Newton/Cutler.
RUNNING BACK: In Arizona Ryan Williams and Beanie Wells are now done. The replacements will be Larod Stephens-Howling and undrafted rookie William Powell. Two guys who couldn’t beat out Williams/Wells in a Committee backfield is akin to standing over the toilet and getting that two stream (left/right) pee, or in other words, there’s no winners there. If you grabbed one and he comes up big vs. the awful Bills D then best to deal high as an upcoming slate of SF/GB/Bye/ATL could prove difficult…Conversely the Jets RBs are seeing less daylight than an Eskimo on the Winter Solstice and will get three of the toughest run defenses (NE, Mia., Sea.) wrapped around a merciful bye in late October/early November. Now, yes, Shonn Greene is like the Roomba of RBs in that he moves slowly, haphazardly and finds things to run into but never over, still if you can get him or Bilal Powell for nothing and stash away for awhile, the payoff could be down the line when the Jet-sons get run porous Jacksonville and Tennessee defenses Weeks 1-2 of most Fantasy playoffs. Depth matters…And finally keep an eye on Vick Ballard/Delone Carter replacing Donald Brown in Indy. Outside of matchups vs. Miami and New England, the Colts run defense schedule looks softer than the placebo control group in an erectile dysfunction drug trial. Bye week fodder to be had.
WIDE RECEIVER: Some coaches are like Rosie O’Donnell backstage at Lilith Fair, in that you can’t keep their tongues in their mouths for long. Detroit’s Jim Schwartz is not one of them. He releases injury info like Mitt Romney releases tax documents, so keep an eye on the Calvin Johnson “concussion” story. In 2009 Schwartz claimed Megatron was fine, only to have him miss six weeks with a knee injury, a supposed game-time decision before each one. If Johnson suddenly can’t go, Titus Young slides into his spot and Nate Burleson and Brandon Pettigrew slide up their respective rankings…The Jags are on bye this week, but stay abreast of the QB situation there. I describe Blaine Gabbert like I describe my dating career: tentative, awkward, and seldom finding the promised land. Backup Chad Henne, on the other hand, is a veteran who has stared down similar difficult situations in Miami. Sure he gets picked more than the Smails kid’s nose in Caddyshack, but his career YPA is just under 7.0, while Gabbert’s resides in the mid-5s meaning Henne can get the ball upfield and into receiver’s hands at a far better rate. If the change comes, Laurent Robinson and Justin Blackmon are bye week/flex options worthy of pickup or low level trade…Oakland goes Dome/Turf this week in Atlanta where they should be playing catchup. Denarius Moore looks like a solid play, but be wary of Darius Heyward-Bey who’s been nailed on the noggin’ more times this year than the $100 question on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire and gets his first post-concussion start here.
TIGHT END: Jermichael Finley’s status is up in the air for Week 6. His backup is second-year man D.J. Williams. Don’t go overboard, however, as the Pack has not topped 30 points this year and with their suspect pass protection Williams could be called on to block more than Paul Lynde on The Hollywood Squares. Mid-level options like Brent Celek vs. Detroit or Jacob Tamme vs. San Diego should probably still get precedent.
KICKER: The only thing we knew about Greg Zuerlein coming into this season is that he kicked for the Rams and probably sat last seat, last row in every class in grade school. Now we also know he has a monster leg, so if your league awards bonus points for 40/50-plus yard FGs grab him if available…We noticed both Robbie Gould and Garrett Hartley were dropped in leagues we’re in due solely to their being on bye this week. This is the type of short-sightedness that makes the lottery a tax on people who are bad in math, but could be a bonus for you. Heck, making room for one of them is better than sitting around each week watching Dexter McCluster try.
DEFENSE: Andrew Luck plays in only the second NFL road game of his short career. Last time, he threw 3 picks and was sacked a similar number of times vs. the Bears. The Jets are waiver fodder at this point, but the Packers got to Luck 4 times last week and with everybody high on the overall #1 off the big upset, it could be time to go contrarian. “Uncle Buck of the Toe Suck” Rex Ryan may have some new packages to throw at the youngster, so NY looks like a decent emergency flier this week.
At this point I’m emotionally spent and morally bankrupt so until next week…Good luck!