The great (and probably drunk) Dan Lauth and I decided to choose three fantasy football players a week and offer our fantasy opinions on whether an owner should start or sit those players.
We chose three guys that we disagreed on and offered our insight as to why they should be started or sat. If you are looking for a definitive 'yes' or 'no' you probably aren't going to find it here. I guess you could just pick the argument you like the most and roll with that one. Or you could ignore us completely and do whatever you want. After all, who the hell knows what is actually going to happen anyway. We are still trying to find the Grays Sports Almanac that Biff used in Back to the Future II. But don't worry. When we do find it, we won't tell you about it.
RUSSELL WILSON (QB1)
The Houston Texans’ defense is second against the pass and ninth against the run, yet they have given up an average of 27.3 points-per-game. Through the first three weeks the Texans have played the Chargers, Titans and Ravens. The latter two certainly aren’t the most prolific pass offenses to say the least. However, Philip Rivers did throw for four touchdowns during the opening week of the season, so passing TDs can be had. Add that to the fact that Marshawn Lynch is probably at the top of the Texans’ ‘people to stop’ list and Wilson should be chucking it around a bit this week.
If you are in an eight-team league then I could see sitting Wilson for a better matchup. But if you are in a ten-team league or greater, you probably don’t have an option that is that much better than Wilson. I would easily start Wilson over RG3 (@ Oak), Rivers (vs. Dallas), Dalton (@ Cleveland), and maybe even Vick (@ Denver) this week. That might be pushing it, but given Vick’s health and the Broncos’ great defensive play thus far, it might not be an entirely bad idea. Still, I doubt most people have both of those QBs on the same team.
You knew Wilson wasn’t going to throw for 300 yards when you drafted him. His 220 yards-per-game average is fine, especially if you are in a standard league. Odds are you picked him in the middle rounds after you snatched up two good RBs and a stud WR. So if he throws for two TDs this week, which I think he will, you are looking at an easy double-digit week to go along with your stars. Plus, not many QBs give you the possibility of a rushing TD to boot.
This second-year QB has had a great start to his NFL career as one of the young, mobile QBs who can still sling it while in the pocket. He has had a good three weeks to start this season, but I feel he will run into a defense that is looking for some revenge from last weekend's blowout loss to the Ravens. The fact of the matter is that Wilson, even though he has been great, turns into an average QB when playing on the road. Last year he had a TD/INT ratio of 17/2 at home, but on the road it became much more average at 9/8. Wilson's play on the road last year is what made this team the 5-seed and having to go on the road to Atlanta instead of a 3-seed and hosting a couple playoff games.
This year he started off on the road against a very good Carolina defense and needed a late fourth quarter TD to secure the win by the score of 12-7. His other road start this year doesn't count as it was against the lowly Jaguars. This week I see Houston having an advantage up front and in the secondary. Seattle will be missing their stud LT in Russel Okung again and I think that Ed Reed getting healthy in the secondary will help the backend hold down the average to slighty above average WRs in Seattle. To me, all of these factors will limit Wilson's effectiveness in this game and you should consider sitting Wilson for another QB. Fact of the matter is, if you drafted smartly and Wilson is on your team then you should have a capable backup option, as Wilson was ranked as the 10th overall QB in most leagues, which equates to a borderline QB1 starter. Sit Wilson and thank me when he has an underwhelming performance against a good Texans defense on the road.
CHRIS JOHNSON (RB2)
Dan will probably tell you how good the Jets’ rush defense is. They seem to be, as they are sixth in rushing yards allowed (239) and third in yards-per-carry average (3.2).
I have had CJ2K in the past and am familiar with his boom-or-bust capability. He has been getting the rock a ton so far this year (tied for second in carries at 69) and has a decent amount of yards to show for it (256 – tied for sixth). Yes he hasn’t gotten into the endzone, but with Shonn Greene out and Jackie Battle a much inferior back, CJ2K would be my back of choice at the goalline. He is going to score eventually.
Not many RBs today get 90 percent of the carries. CJ2K does. Add in the fact that he can take it to the house on any given play and you almost have to roll with him regardless. It only takes one play for him to get you a possible nine-to-13 points. Other than AP or Shady McCoy, you can’t say that about many other guys. I see CJ2K only has two receptions as well. I expect that to change this week.
The Jets offense isn’t a juggernaut, so I don’t expect the Titans to get behind and have to play catch-up. I expect CJ2K to get 15-20 carries and about four catches. Sure he could run for 30 yards, but he could also pop one or take a screen and reel off a 60-yard touchdown at a moment’s notice.
One site currently has Moreno, Richardson, Miller, Powell, Bradshaw, Sproles, Bernard and MJD all ranked ahead of Johnson. If it were me, I would start him ahead of all eight of those guys based on workload and big-play ability alone.
Johnson has had three good but not great games so far this year against the Chargers, Texans and Steelers. He has yet to reach the end zone in 2013 even though he has been getting 20-25 carries each game. This week he goes up against the Jets whom everyone in the media loves to hate on and make fun of. The fact of the matter is that their run defense is very good. They held Doug Martin to 65 yards on 24 carries in week one, Steven Ridley to 40 on 16 carries and held the Buffalo Bills duo of RBs to 81 total yards, which included a 59 yard run on 17 carries. The media can make jokes about this team, and most of them are justified, but their run defense has been great through three weeks this year. This has always been a strength of Rex Ryan teams and this year is no different. The defense does have its flaws in the secondary and with penalties, but I see them doing a great job at limiting CJ's effectiveness this week. Bye weeks do start this week so you may have fewer options, but I would sit CJ in favor of someone else. Maybe even a player like Bilal Powell on the other side of the field.
HAKEEM NICKS (WR2)
Realize this right now. Last week was a mirage. Nicks will not catch zero balls again this year barring he doesn’t roll his ankle of the first play of the game. Or Eli Manning goes 0-for-13 with 13 INTs – which I guess is possible.
Nicks had 15 total targets the first two weeks and ended up with 197 yards. If he got one target and zero catches last week, the law of averages say he is bound to bounce back this week. One has to figure the Giants are going to come out with the greatest sense of urgency. Not to mention they haven’t been able to get the ground game going through three games, so I would start Nicks and Cruz with confidence because of those two hunches alone.
Kansas City has been sacking people at will so far. To counter that, I expect the Giants to run a lot of quick-hitters this week. The Cowboys’ defense was based on the same principles in week one and the Giants had Nicks run a lot of slants. They are three-step drops for Eli so he can get the ball out quick, and Nicks is physically big enough to beat the corner and get to where he needs to be.
Tony Romo threw for 298 yards against the Chefs (no typo) in week two, so the yards are out there. On top of that, the Giants’ D is giving up a league-worst 38 points-per-game. I expect the G-Men to be playing from behind and will be in dire need to throw the ball. And to not let their season be over after week four.
Nicks will catch at least six balls for 75 yards.
This year has been an absolute disaster start for the New York football Giants. They are 0-3 and are coming off the most lopsided loss in the ten-year Tom Coughlin era, a 38-0 shellacking by the Carolina Panthers. The fact of the matter is I wouldn't consider starting any Giants players this week, let alone Nicks as a WR2. The Giants have had no running game this year and a horrible offensive line which has led to no time for Eli to find his WRs down the field and has led to many sacks and TO's. The Giants have already committed 13 TO's this year and Eli has already been picked off eight times and sacked 11 times through three games. The Giants have to travel to Kansas City this week to play a very good and underrated Chiefs defense. They have two great defensive ends in Tamba Hali and Justin Houston and lead the NFL with 15 sacks. They also have two great cover corners in Brandon Flowers and Sean Smith and a ball hawking safety in Eric Berry. This is a team that just held down the vaunted Chip Kelly offense in Philly last Thursday night. I don't recommend starting any Giants players until they can prove that they can consistently block some on the line and not turn the ball over numerous times. Go in a different direction than Nicks this week.