Believe it or not, the 2012 fantasy football regular season is now over 20% complete for most leagues! Whether you’re team is 3-0 or 0-3, there are always plenty ways to upgrade your roster on a weekly basis in fantasy football. Our fantasy team of James Morris and Jon Cope tackle some of the key questions facing fantasy owners heading into week 4.
1) Who are the top sleeper RBs going forward?
James Morris’ Selections:
Mikel Leshoure, RB Lions- Mikel “Fo’ Sho” Leshoure is going to be the Lions every down back, and should be picked up in any league where he is available (owned in 71.8 percent of NFL.com leagues).
Andre Brown, RB Giants– Brown made a statement Thursday night in place of the injured Ahmad Bradshaw. You have to add him, but I think people are overvaluing him too quickly. Nobody on the Giants coaching staff has said Bradshaw’s role will change moving forward, which means Brown could be a one-hit wonder. If it were me, and I owned Brown, I’d try and flip him as quickly as possible because Bradshaw hears footsteps and is going to step it up to show the team he doesn’t need another RBBC role.
Cedric Benson, RB Packers– Benson is one back that I like as the winter gets closer is. As the weather changes and the ball becomes harder to move in the air, the Packers will look to grind it out with Benson more than they have in the first 3 games of the season (averaging 15.3 rushes per-game). I don’t see him getting near RB1 value, but a climb to a solid RB2 is well within reach.
Jon Cope’s Selections:
Rashard Mendenhall, RB Steelers– I don’t think I would classify Mendenhall as a true “sleeper”, but since he’s only owned in 48.6% of NFL.com leagues I have to put him on this list. Mendenhall has made a relatively quick recovery from injury, and should be ready to hit the field in week 5 after the Steelers bye week. Isaac Redman and Jonathan Dwyer did absolutely nothing during the first three games, so I would expect Mendenhall to once again be the primary ball carrier in Pittsburgh this fall.
Bilal Powell, RB Jets– Dolphin fans saw it first-hand as Powell received many meaningful snaps late in Sunday’s game against the Dolphins. So far this year, starter Shonn Greene has averaged 2.8 yards per carry and fumbled twice this year while Powell has averaged 4.0 yards per carry and has yet to fumble. I think Powell is could provide some spark to an offense that has sputtered the past two weeks. If you have a spot on your bench, Powell is worth a pick-up now because you may not get a chance after he ascends to the starting role in New York as myself and many others expect.
2) Who are the top WR sleepers going forward?
James Morris’ Selections:
Brian Hartline, WR Dolphins– Hartline is someone I am looking at on the waiver wire for week 4. The Jets secondary is (was) a tough one to throw against for a seasoned QB, let alone a rookie. But, Hartline showed that he has the trust of Ryan Tannehill and is currently ranked #11 for WRs in the NFL with 29 targets. This is no homer pick; I really do think he will provide good value as a WR3 off the waiver wire.
Brandon Lafell, WR Panthers– Lafell is someone I was looking at in the pre-season as a sleeper. Despite only having 10 catches on the season, he has been targeted 18 times by Cam Newton, which accounts for 21 percent of the total targets for the team. Targets are like Novocain… give it time and it always works!
Donnie Avery, WR Colts– The Colts lost Austin Collie for the rest of the season with a ruptured right patella tendon. That means Donnie Avery steps back into the #2 WR role behind Reggie Wayne. Did you know Avery is ranked #16 for WR targets with 16? Andrew Luck is for real, and Avery is owned in just 7.1 percent of NFL.com leagues.
Golden Tate, WR Seahawks– Yes, Tate was a beneficiary of a blown officiating call on Monday evening to give him his second touchdown. However, let’s not forget that Tate was able to blow by Tramon Williams in the 2nd quarter for a 41-yard touchdown reception and Tate led the Seahawks with 7 targets on the night. Also, if you listened to the ESPN broadcast closely, you heard Jon Gruden mention that in talking with the Seahawks coaching staff, Tate was the guy that they really wanted to get the ball to with his dynamic playmaking skills. If he’s not Seattle’s #1 wide receiver now, he will be soon.
Kendall Wright, WR Titans– Wright leads all rookies in receptions with 14, and he also has been targeted far more than any other Titans receiver with 25. Wright hasn’t quite burst on the fantasy radar yet because he only has recorded 102 yards receiving. However, Wright isn’t a possession receiver. He has blazing speed and made numerous big plays during his career at Baylor. The rookie has already become a favorite target of Jake Locker and I would grab him now before he explodes with several big plays in the weeks ahead.
Leonard Hankerson, WR Redskins– check out my thoughts on Monday’s blog to see why I think the future could be bright for the former UM wide receiver in D.C.
3) For fantasy owners who drafted a TE high like Antonio Gates, Jermichael Finley, Jason Witten, etc., should you be looking at TEs like Kyle Rudolph or Brent Celek off the waiver wire?
James Morris: I had Rudolph as a sleeper TE in my draft rankings, so I have no problems whatsoever adding him to your fantasy team. Everyone is getting way too excited about Celek in my opinion. Celek saw just 6 targets for 36 yards in week 3, whereas Rudolph saw the same 6 targets for 36 yards, but made two of them count for TDs!
I wouldn’t cut an underperforming Gates, Witten or Finley for Rudolph, but I would certainly cut that roster bubble player you have for him just in case those guys don’t snap out of their funk.
Jon Cope: the NFL has changed with many tight ends being top options in pass-heavy offenses. This year alone, many tight ends have emerged to be very good fantasy options with Martellus Bennett, Kyle Rudolph, Brent Celek and Dennis Pitta being the most prominent. I would cut Witten because I think his best days are behind him and there are many other options in the Dallas offense. If I owned Finley or Gates, I would definitely add one of the four tight ends mentioned above to my bench and then see how the situation transpires over the next couple of weeks.
4) Chris Johnson… sell or keep holding out hope?
James Morris: It is time to cut bait and run… don’t walk… RUN from CJ2K! His O-Line is terrible and the coaching staff doesn’t seem to want to blame them for the lack of yardage on the ground. There were times in week 3 where Johnson had as many as five (5) defenders in the backfield on top of him!
Seriously, just knock on doors around the league until you find either a Chris Johnson fan or the village idiot, and then get anything you can for him. Fantasy Football is a lot like stock market; you don’t hold a bad mutual fund or stock in the hopes that it will do better. Rather, you get out while you can and try and make up the loss with the NEXT investment.
Jon Cope: James and I agree on many things, but we are worlds apart on Chris Johnson. Yes, he has had 3 awful weeks. Would I start him Sunday vs. Houston? No. But I wouldn’t “sell-low” on him either. Some fantasy owners were ready to give up on Larry Fitzgerald after a pair of bad games to open the season and then he puts up big numbers last week against Philly and everyone remembers why he was a 2nd round fantasy pick. Here’s why I still have some faith in CJ2K- First, all of Johnson’s games have been against teams that rank in the top 11 of the NFL in run defense. Secondly, Johnson is an elite talent who is healthy and is still only 27 years old, while getting all of the carries for his team- there aren’t many backs in the league that fit that description. Finally- Johnson did have 3 runs of 10+ yards against the Lions- this is at least some progress. I’m not advocating trading for Johnson at this point, I’m just saying you’re better off at this point leaving him on your bench and waiting a few weeks until the schedule becomes more favorable and the Titans o-line gels a little bit.
5) How does the loss of Darrelle Revis impacts the Jets fantasy defense. Sell or hold?
James Morris: Revis is a major piece of that Jets defense because Coach Rex Ryan built his defense around the league’s top shutdown corner. They still have Antonio Cromartie, but now Kyle Wilson has to start and that means more big plays for opposing offenses. Personally, I would adopt my college Jon Cope’s philosophy of a floating defense moving forward, and jump ship on the Jets defense.
Jon Cope: As you may know by now, I’m a big believer in playing defensive matchups on a weekly basis unless you have one of the elite fantasy defensive units. With their pass-rush issues, I wasn’t convinced the Jets was worth an every week start WITH Revis and now I would definitely drop the Jets Defense. I would target one of three drastically improved defenses on the waiver wire in many leagues: Seattle, Dallas or Arizona.
Check back on Friday for James’ Week 4 “Start ‘Em & Sit ‘Em” Advice.
For more fantasy guidance, follow James on Twitter here.
The opinions, analysis and/or speculation expressed by The Finsiders Blog represent those of individual writers, and unless quoted or clearly labeled as such, do not represent the opinions, policies or desires of the Miami Dolphins organization, front office, coaches and executives. Writers' views are formulated independently from any inside information and/or conversation with Dolphins officials, including the coaches and scouts, unless otherwise noted.
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