Without anyone paying attention, there would be no point to me writing and publishing this column. I respect all of the feedback and suggestions I receive, and as the column grows I strive to continue making it better. The Twitter following has been growing rapidly, and as promised I will be providing a Cash prize to my 500th follower. Most of you are sweet, caring, and an overall cordial group. However, my other friends over at the Shark Pool, on the FootballGuys.com forum, are a completely different story. I got my fair share of abuse for Week 7, which by the way is welcomed and amusing to me, but more times than not it seems the titles are confusing to some. From this point forward I have decided to be less cute about it, and just keep it simple. It is a recap of the previous week and how it related to Fantasy scores at the premium positions. “Coulda” is the guy who was best left benched, as his performance was not at all what you hoped for. “Woulda” is the guy you wish you had started, as his performance far exceeded expectations. And, “Shoulda” is the guy everyone would take if they could, as he was the best at his position over the weekend. I hope this helped to clarify things, and I really do appreciate all of the comments that were provided. In the attempt to not sound like Berry, I am going to end my introduction now. I am a born and bred New Yorker, I’m sorry I can’t help it sometimes…
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Coulda benched Nick Foles, PHI Eagles. (80 Yards, 0 TD’s)
Maybe a lot of the blame can be placed on his sore groin, which clearly affected him before he got his bell rung. Regardless of the injuries, he had no where near the success he achieved just one week prior. Chip Kelly’s high octane offense was grounded, and a lonely field goal was the only thing that prevented the coach from being shut out for the first time in his career. Having suffered a concussion, Foles status remains doubtful for Week 8, leaving rookie Matt Barkley as the probable starter. Barkley looked so overmatched in his limited time, that the Eagles are preparing to bring Michael Vick back ahead of schedule to start this week against the Giants.
Woulda started Jake Locker, TEN Titans. (326 Yards, 2 TD’s, 1 INT)
Jake Locker has never been accused of being a must own QB in Fantasy Football, yet this season he was suggesting the case be made. After a slow beginning he came on in Week 3, falling 1 yard shy of the 300 yard passing mark. The following week he was off to a torrid start against a challenging Jets Defense, posting 149 yards through the air with 3 Touchdowns. It was in that game he suffered a hip injury, forcing him to the sidelines and leaving way to Ryan Fitzpatrick. News of Locker potentially being ready to start again in Week 7 didn’t excite a lot of fans, outside of Tennessee, but perhaps it is time everyone takes notice. The layoff didn’t produce any rust as Locker threw for over 300 for the first time this season. He may not be a must start yet, but he certainly should be owned.
Shoulda had Andy Dalton, CIN Bengals. (372 Yards, 3 TD’s)
It is now two weeks in a row that the “Ginger Flinger” (chance to stick?) has appeared on this list as the top NFL QB of the week. Besides making me look good for sticking with him during that little rough patch, he now has 709 yards passing, with 6 Touchdowns to 1 Interception since Week 6. The re-establishment of the Dalton to AJ Green connection makes me wonder if there was an ailment to either one, that we were not made aware of. This type of production should be routine for the duo, and look for it to continue this week against a Jets secondary they can take advantage of.
Coulda benched Trent Richardson, IND Colts. (37 Rush yds, 0 TD’s)
If you are like me, you made T-Rich your first round pick and had tremendous expectations for his sophomore season. When he was traded to the playoff ready Colts, you were even more thrilled at what seemingly could be even greater potential than what he did in Cleveland. It has come to the point, that as crazy as it sounds, you have to start to consider benching Richardson. I would not even recommend trading him anymore, because his value is so diminished you will undoubtedly feel used. The best case scenario is that Coach Pagano will use the Bye week to work out any kinks Trent has had since coming into the new system. The worst case scenario is that he remains on your bench beyond the bye week, until eventually you have no choice to cut him to make room for a waiver addition. I am hoping for the former, but these days the latter does not seem impossible.
Woulda started Jaquizz Rodgers, ATL Falcons. (16 Rush yards; 8-46 Receiving Yards, 2 TD’s)
The first of two Falcons that made me look awful on Sunday, Rodgers finished amongst the league leaders at Running Back for Week 7. I advised many to keep him on their bench, and if you just looked at the 16 total yards rushing, I would have been dead on. Fortunately for those who went against my recommendations, Quizz went off in the passing game. The 8 receptions certainly helped more in a PPR league, but the 2 Touchdowns are good universally. Stephen Jackson is looking to make his return in Week 8, but that should affect Jason Snelling before it affects Rodgers. This was the game his owners had been waiting for. Monitor the health of S-Jax this week, and at the very least view Rodgers as a Flex starter.
Shoulda had Matt Forte, CHI Bears. (91 Rush, 3 TD’s; 2-18 Rec)
When Forte decides to retire, I am sure his career will be viewed with much more respect in hindsight, than the credit he gets while currently playing. The man goes out week to week and does his job, and is now the 3rd most valuable RB overall – just inches away from being 2nd. He poses a threat running, as well as in the receiving game, which means he is always a must start. Although owners would probably like to spread them out more, his 3 TD’s this past week brings him to 6 on the season and ties him for second among all RB’s. If you have him on your team rejoice, because you probably got him in the end of the 2nd/beginning of the 3rd round, and he gives you 1st round production.
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Coulda benched Josh Gordon, CLE Browns. (2 catches for 21 yards)
One of my favorite young players in the league, Gordon has been sensational in every game he’s played so far this year. Sunday’s contest against the Packers was a different story, as the WR was clearly bothered by the wet field in Green Bay. Bad traction that led to slip and falls, wet balls that led to drops, you name it and it was present. Gordon was clearly frustrated throughout the game, and clearly his owners were as well. The elements that affected him should be noted, but it should not affect your view of him as a must start each week. If the forecast is for rain or snow maybe this changes, but for now give him a chance to redeem his performance.
Woulda started Harry Douglas, ATL Falcons. (7-149 Yards, 1 TD)
The second Falcon who killed my predictions, but he also killed my personal team as well. When I lost Julio Jones for the season, I along with most of his owners added Douglas. You almost had to, even though his production had been limited. He did have his chances with Roddy White affected by a bum ankle, so expecting a huge performance was highly unlikely. To put it in better perspective, Harry Douglas’ performance in Week 7 was better than all but one of Julio Jones’ all year. And Jones was the top WR in the NFL at the time of his injury! So what should be expected going forward, the answer is unclear. We have seen two sides of Douglas, but this outbreak proves he is capable. He will continue to start and get targets, so I would definitely pencil him into your lineup. I would however contain some enthusiasm until you turn that pencil mark into permanent ink.
Shoulda had Calvin Johnson, DET Lions. (9-155 Receiving, 2 TD’s)
Week 7 produced many candidates for the top spot at Wide Receiver. The aforementioned Douglas and Green, Jarrett Boykin, Vincent Jackson, Eric Decker, and Jeremy Kerley all had stellar performances on Sunday. But none of them carry the nickname “Megatron”. None of them have their own series of commercials starring P.Diddy. And, none of them were drafted in the first round. After a three week hiatus, in which 4 catches for 44 yards was his peak, Calvin finally earned his keep. Hopefully his knee is recovered and will not be a bother for the rest of the season. Whether you own him in Fantasy or not, the NFL is better when Megatron is at full speed.
Coulda benched Timothy Wright, TB Buccaneers. (2 receptions for 15 Yards)
After a solid Week 6, Wright became a trendy and chic waiver wire add. Heading into his Week 7 matchup with Atlanta, many felt he was a solid sleeper due for another productive Sunday. The Falcons did not agree and limited him to just 2 receptions for 15 yards. A case can be made that the blame should fall on his QB, rookie Mike Glennon, for only looking his way three times. Wright has the talent to be effective as a pro, but there will be some growing pains as he and Glennon continue to learn on the job. There are other TE’s that should be available who can provide more stability, but few will offer the upside Wright is capable of.
Woulda started Rob Gronkowski, NE Patriots. (8 receptions for 114 yards, 17 Targets)
The moment so many had been waiting for finally arrived in Week 7. Gronk was back, and Tom Brady looked like he missed him as much as all of his Fantasy owners did. An astonishing 17 balls were thrown Gronk’s way, which is more than a third of Brady’s 46 total pass attempts. Six games is a long time to wait on one player, as it is nearly half of the Fantasy season. But if there was a player worth waiting for, Gronkowski is clearly on that list. He did not appear to be bothered by any nagging injuries, so owners of his should finally be able to breath a sigh of relief and smile. Congratulations, you made it through the storm.
Shoulda had Jordan Reed, WAS Redskins. (9-134, 1 TD)
It took a little while, but the highly touted rookie from Florida is finally making his mark in the league. Having to stave off veterans Fred Davis and Logan Paulsen, Reed had been steadily seeing more action. Week 7 was the culmination of this increased activity and he went off as the teams number one TE for career highs across the board. He had 9 receptions on 9 targets, and all year has only had 4 balls thrown his way go uncaught. He is definitely someone that should be added to your team, if he is still available on waivers. He can be a game changer for a QB and a team that desperately needs one. Do not miss out on a player who can still be had, that has a very strong chance to finish the season in the Top 10 at his position.
Play ‘Em/Pass ‘Em I have come to realize that when I first began this column my intent was to highlight some under the radar guys whom I like and dislike for the upcoming week. The second tier guys, who are not the studs you could put in your lineup week to week with a blindfold on. Fortunately, the audience has been growing and my valued readers have suggested I get back to that. Since I aim to please, and strive to improve with each and every article I write, I hope you will find this week’s segment to be more beneficial to you for Week 8. If you would like to offer up your own suggestions for guys to start and/or sit, please do so in the comment section. I would also like to remind you: It is always better when I am asked to choose between specific players. You can do this by leaving your question in the comment section, emailing me at [email protected], or asking on Twitter. There are six (6) teams on a bye this week, so some slim pickings to choose from.
Week 8 Byes: Chicago, Tennessee, Indianapolis, San Diego, Baltimore, Houston.
Play ‘Em: Geno Smith, NYJ (@ CIN) Expectedly erratic in his rookie year, Smith has seen some pretty big highs, yet limited lows. The improvement continues against a weakened Bengals Defense (Leon Hall), and Smith puts up his first career back to back wins as a professional.
Pass ‘Em: Robert Griffin III, WAS (@ DEN) RG3 has been all kinds of inconsistent this season. Going into a hostile Denver environment leads me to not trust him to have consecutive good weeks. The passing yards may present a pretty total, but I do not expect the TD’s to follow.
Play ‘Em: Mike James, TB (vs CAR) While I do not make a habit of picking RB’s against the Panthers Defense, the job in TB is now fully his with no timetable on Doug Martin’s injury. The fact that the game is on Thursday Night means Carolina has even less time to prepare, which can only help.
Pass ‘Em: Bilal Powell, NYJ (@ CIN) As much as Rex Ryan loves Powell (3 carries Week 7), new Jets GM John Idzik traded for Ivory (34) to be the featured back. Last week the tide turned, and it should continue to go in Ivory’s favor. Powell will play, but his role will continue to be diminished.
Play ‘Em: Harry Douglas, ATL (@ ARI) I do not think he will repeat last weeks numbers, but his opportunities will remain the same which means it is possible. Despite all of their injuries, Atlanta has real Super Bowl expectations. They have a favorable matchup at a reeling Cardinals team.
Pass ‘Em: Brian Hartline, MIA (@ NE) Despite leading the Dolphins in almost every receiving category, Hartline has only scored once on the year which makes his Fantasy production rather pedestrian. If you need a bye week replacement there are worse options, but he should remain on your bench if given a choice.
Play ‘Em: Jeff Cumberland, NYJ (@ CIN) The young Jets Tight End has really started to come on the last three games, receiving more and more targets, while making the most of them. Geno Smith’s trust in him continues to increase, and so will the production in Cincinnati.
Pass ‘Em: Jared Cook, STL (vs SEA) Not only have Cook’s numbers gone down since a remarkable Week 1 performance, but they have not even come close to comparing. Now his team faces arguably the NFL’s best defense, with the inexperienced QB Kellen Clemens under center. Good luck with that.
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Let’s just say Week 7 was my Bye week. Or at least it should have been. If I wasn’t completely wrong on some of my picks it was because I was suggesting guys that wound up injured, and finished with horrible numbers regardless. @Ruebbb in MI hates me now, or at least blocked me on Twitter, for suggesting he Flex CJ Spiller over Harry Douglas. Hey, I’m not right all of the time, but when I bomb I do it with passion. Here are some of the better questions and answers from the past week:
@dthompson15: Start Jay Cutler over Nick Foles
@GrantMarce: Start Erick Decker over Andre Johnson and Ruben Randle
@nemohoes6: Flex Antonio Gates over Hakeem Nicks, Lamar Miller, and TY Hilton
@MrAVOXO: Start Eli Manning and Alshon Jeffrey over Nick Foles and Andre Johnson
@Hutch4416: Start Joseph Randle over Jaquizz Rodgers
@PatrickHuggins: Start Doug Martin over Bilal Powell
@GeofFromTheRose: Start Ryan Matthews over Stevan Ridley
@spoon_w: Start Matt Ryan over Nick Foles
@216Brian: Start TY Hilton and Joseph Randle over Erick Decker and Harry Douglas
@JohnQueensNY: Flex Lamar Miller over Kenbrell Thompkins
Thanks again for the continued and growing support! As for that Cash prize for my 500th Follower, you will be receiving an education in music if you win. If you like the column, please refer a friend – it will make the world a better place. Have a great week and good luck in your games!
Please check out the According2Sources.com podcast. They were nice enough to interview me on their October 4th episode. We discussed my background, how I got into this industry, and some player predictions. It is about an hour long, but it moves pretty fast. Have a listen!
According2Sources October 4, 2013 Podcast