Your eyes are not deceiving you. The Tuesday Top Ten list has officially transitioned from fantasy baseball to fantasy football. I promise not to lock you out. With a quarter of the NFL season now in the books, let’s take a look at the Top Ten fantasy football headlines for October 4, 2011.
10. Ebony and Ivory – As if the New Orleans Saints needed any more help on offense, they are getting one of their best weapons from 2010 back this week as running back Chris Ivory makes his return. He will be joining an already crowded backfield comprised of Mark Ingram, Pierre Thomas and Darren Sproles. Ivory could be good trade bait for other NFL teams in need of backfield help. He is worth a flier in your fantasy league because he should be showcased by New Orleans. Or the Saints could just get bored of the same people scoring and decide they want to let others join in the fun.
9. Abnormal Gates – Do you see what I did there? Instead of saying “abnormal gaits” which refers to an awkward manner of moving or walking, I spelled it with Antonio Gates’ name. That is because the All Pro tight end is still sidelines with a foot injury and may not play for the next couple weeks as well. Fantasy owners who spent an early round pick on Gates are rightfully pissed off as several other tight ends have had stellar seasons thus far, some of whom were not even drafted. Gates is still a top option at the position when healthy, so if you can get by with a backup such as his replacement, Randy McMichael, you should be ok for a few weeks.
8. Steelers Need to be Quick Healers – Both Ben Roethlisberger and Rashard Mendenhall came out of Week 4 with injuries, which affected the outcome of the Steelers game as well as some fantasy games. Big Ben is no stranger to injuries, but he typically guts it out and plays. That should be the same this week as MRI’s confirmed that he did not suffer a broken bone in his foot. Mendenhall is slightly more questionable to play with a hamstring injury. Keep a close eye on both of these players, but try and grab Isaac Redman as a free agent as he should see a majority of carries regardless of whether Mendenhall plays.
7. Forte has Two Forte’s – It is rare when a running back is also a team’s best receiver. Tiki Barber made this a specialty several years ago with the Giants, and now Matt Forte is doing the same with the Bears. Not only has he been impressive running the ball (when allowed by pass-happy offensive coordinator Mike Martz), but he also leads the team in receiving with 26 catches for 310 yards. Those are numbers that most good receivers have at this point in the year. This tells you that Forte is the focus of the Bears offense and should be viewed as a top option at running back. There is no indication that this will change unless Roy Williams suddenly lives up to his hype and a contract he signed. But there is a better chance that Wendell Davis blows out both of his knees on the same play. Oh yeah, that happened.
6. To the Victor Go the Spoils – New York Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz was the subject of one of the most controversial calls in a NFL game this season he laid the ball on the ground after allegedly giving himself up after a catch. Irrespective of the call, the fact remains that Cruz has emerged as a viable fantasy option over the past couple weeks. After stepping in against the Eagles when Mario Manningham was out with a concussion, he responded with two incredible touchdown receptions. This past week, he remained the de facto number two receiver against Arizona when Manningham was activated. Eli Manning has developed some chemistry with Cruz, so look for him to see more targets going forward, especially as teams double-cover Hakeem Nicks.
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5. Welker? I hardly know her. – Maybe that was a bad joke. But I couldn’t come up with a better pun that was worth your time. Just deal with it. The league’s leading receiver has been insane this season with 40 catches for 616 yards and five touchdowns thus far. This weekend, the Patriots host their archrivals, the New York Jets, who are coming off an absolute ass-kicking. But the Jets have the best defensive back in the entire league in Derelle Revis. If Rex Ryan decided to put Revis on Wes Welker, it might be the only way to slow him down. Typically Revis covers the opponent’s best receiver, but it would be interesting to see him covering Welker in the slot and running across the middle. I am not saying you should consider benching Welker, but don’t be surprised if his numbers are limited if Revis is covering him.
4. Andre is a Giant Loss – Superstar wide receiver Andre Johnson will reportedly miss three weeks after undergoing a medical procedure to remove scar tissue which should help accelerate the healing time for his injured hamstring. Johnson went down awkwardly as he grabbed the back of his leg after catching a pass this past Sunday against the Steelers. Johnson, arguably the number one fantasy wide receiver coming into 2011, will be a big loss for both the Texans and fantasy owners. Hold your breath that he is only out for three weeks. Otherwise you should plan on exploring some trade opportunities – just don’t waste your time trying to acquire any of Johnson’s replacements.
3. Megatron Generates 1.21 Jiggawatts – Regardless of Andre Johnson’s injury and Wes Welker’s incredible start to the season, the best receiver in the NFL right now is Calvin Johnson of the 4-0 Detroit Lions. With his two touchdowns in the midst of the Lions’ miraculous comeback against Dallas this past week, Johnson became the first player in NFL history to have two or more touchdowns in the first four games of a season. He is on pace to shatter several NFL records and is one of the cornerstones of Detroit’s renaissance. With Matthew Stafford healthy and playing well, Johnson is an elite option and should be regarded as such. He proved that not even triple coverage can stop him from catching touchdowns. In a pass-happy league, he is arguably more valuable than most top running backs. Oh snap, I just went there.
2. Opening a Cam of Whoop Ass – No one expected the Carolina Panthers to be any good this year. Not even family members of the Panthers’ players. And no one expected much from Cam Newton in his rookie year as fantasy pundits questioned whether he would be an effective NFL quarterback transitioning from college. All Newton has done thus far is put up just under 1,400 passing yards through four games to go along with 133 rushing yards and four touchdowns. The fact he only has five passing touchdowns is the only thing holding him back from being considered an elite fantasy quarterback at this time. Chances are that he will slow down and his inexperience will show through as defenses become more complex against him. For now, his fantasy value is as high as it can be, so he is a valuable trade chip and should be shopped around. The same goes for his favorite target, Steve Smith.
1. A Happy Arian Nation – No my friends, I do not mean “that” nation. I am referring to the legions of Arian Foster fans who truly care about his physical well-being rather than the value he brings to your fantasy football team as its first overall draft selection. Finally healthy, Foster alleviated all fantasy owners’ concerns by busting out for 155 rushing yards on 30 carries, including an impressive 42-yard touchdown. With Andre Johnson going down with an injury, the Texans will need to rely on Foster even more. His burden is increased even more with backups Ben Tate and Derrick Ward injured. After a few weeks of second-guessing yourself for taking Foster with the first overall pick, you can breathe a sigh of relief knowing that Foster will be just fine. And if he does require any further medical treatment, he will post the results on Twitter for your convenience.
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