We all make mistakes. At the end of the day, we so-called experts make some good calls and some bad calls and the hope is that, playing the percentages, we give you a lot more good advice than bad.
On a personal note, this week I ignored some of my own advice to my peril. I saw a couple of matchups I felt would be golden for guys on my bench, matchups I advised others about, but when Sunday morning came, I stuck with the "dance with the ones who brought you" approach even though it was Week 2. Lesson learned. This early in the season, you cannot simply assume that guys who "should" be automatic starts will really give you top production. I’m not saying drop your first-round pick. I’m just saying that your starters should not be set in stone, and we all need to accept the possibilities early on that top picks like Chris Johnson and Larry Fitzgerald really might not have anything going for them this week.
Fitzgerald is on my team and his complete lack of production greatly cost me this week, but it isn’t like I wouldn’t have started him in retrospect, especially given how many passing yards the Patriots usually give up. Who would have thought Fitz would get 4 yards and the Cardinals would still WIN that game?
No, my mistake was more subtle. On my own fantasy team, I have three bench guys I have been touting in War Rooms and I like them as guys to draft late because they will eventually be starters for you: Brandon LaFell, Danny Amendola and Brent Celek. Well, I did start LaFell, but I was so giddy about Maclin being active that I ignored the fact that Amendola (40 points in my league this week) had a way better matchup than Maclin, who was probably still somewhat injured. Further compounding my error was my desire to spread my targets around and play Brandon Pettigrew over Celek (28 points) at tight end. I would have won this week had I started just one of Amendola or Celek. Alas.
But this isn’t about my team. It is about the premise that fantasy football involves some risk-taking. Sticking with the same starters week in and week out can be pretty narrow-minded. If you see what you think is a great matchup for the first guy off your bench, then maybe he shouldn’t be on your bench that week.
In other news, being two weeks into the season should mean we’ve learned nothing in terms of studs and duds or who was overhyped and who ended up being a good value. But suppose we wanted to try anyway. What have we learned?
For starters, Mike Gallagher on SB Nation looks extremely prescient for dropping Fitzgerald out of his top 10 WRs, lower than any expert on any website I’ve seen. I, however, was loud wrong, listing Fitzgerald — after Megatron Calvin Johnson — as the top guy (barely, but I still said it) in a sizable list of players who could be the second WR off the board. Of course, he could come back into the list of top guys — he has been a late starter before. But minimal production in one game and none in a second is not a good trend.
Other players who were drafted high but are looking less and less reliable include Dez Bryant and Marques Colston, both of whom may be buried in a list of other offensive options. In addition, popular sleeper picks of Darrius Heyward-Bey and Justin Blackmon are stuck on bad teams, and while those teams need to pass a lot, it is getting harder to imagine them making much fantasy impact even though it is only Week 2.
On the other hand, mid-late pick players who have provided real value include the aforementioned Amendola and LaFell, as well as Lance Moore. I also continue to believe that when he is not injured, Pierre Garcon should start on most fantasy teams most weeks. Of the likely undrafted guys you can pick up on waiver wires, take a special look at Andrew Hawkins and Donnie Avery. I’ve also been impressed by the likely undrafted Brian Hartline, but I can’t say I have confidence in that yardage production to continue.
The running back front has not had nearly its share of surprises. Fred Jackson is 31, which says to me that C.J. Spiller is the Bills' running back now and for the indefinite future. He’s been the top running back by a mile these last two weeks, and if he keeps this production up, he should easily keep the job even when Jackson gets back. Other than Spiller, there is no one in the top 10 that is an outrageous surprise. Maybe Willis McGahee, but with Knowshon Moreno in Denver as well and Peyton Manning running the offense, I can’t put too much stock in his first two games. Even though I did not expect quite this production out of them, I loved Stevan Ridley and Reggie Bush going into this season.
The other top 10 running backs like Arian Foster, Ray Rice, and LeSean McCoy obviously are all performing as they are supposed to. Clearly, the major disappointment to the point of fantasy owners debating whether to sit him going forward (wasting a first-round pick) is Chris Johnson. He is 55th in the league in rushing yards despite being supposedly healthy. Unfortunately, there’s a very good chance his struggles continue against the Lions next week. We will forego discussing Jamaal Charles and Darren McFadden for the moment, but they each need to have break-out games this coming week or we will be debating them soon as well.
Last note—I usually don’t pump up kickers, but I was at the Eagles' game this weekend and the Ravens' kicker, Justin Tucker, looked amazing. He hit two 50+ yard field goals that would easily have been good from record lengths. If you need a kicker and he’s available, he would make a nice pick up in leagues with good long FG bonuses. Another Raven that impressed me is tight end Dennis Pitta, certainly worth picking up if he’s available in your league, and he will be in some but not most. He leads all tight ends in targets, and it isn’t like the Ravens have a spectacular wideout, so it looks like he has a good shot at putting up an 80+-catch year.
That’s it for this week. May you all win next week — even if you play each other.