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The times, they are a-changin’. Change is everywhere around us lately. The leaves on the trees are going from green to brown and every color in between. One day this week it was 30 degrees and snowing, then 3 days later it was sunny and 70.
A change is brewing in the fantasy football world as well. This seems to be the season where several players that in the past would have been considered “fantasy studs,” are quickly turning into “fantasy duds.” Gone are the days when guys like Terrell Owens, Larry Johnson, and LaDainian Tomlinson could be considered among the fantasy elite. Instead, now we are left scouring the waiver wire to be the first to pick up the next Mike Sims-Walker, Miles Austin, or Rashard Mendenhall.
And so now is the time, more than ever, to do your homework before each fantasy week. You can’t rely on the same big name veterans that you could two or three years ago. It’s time to get acquainted with the new standouts of the fantasy world, and finally accept that some of your favorite reliable players have officially turned into “has-beens.”
Looking back at last week, points were plentiful around the NFL for Week 6. We had the shootout in the bayou, with New Orleans shredding the Giants, while up here in the wintry October weather, the Pats were able to score at will against the beleaguered Titans. My picks for Week 6, dare I say, were Brady-esque if I do say so myself. Not the “whipped husband in a clean designer suit Brady,” but the “throw 5 TDs in a quarter and set all sorts of records Brady.” You know, the Brady we actually love and respect.
Here now a check on last week’s High Five and Low Five…
Ben Roethlisberger: 23 of 35 passing for 417 yds. (most in the league last week), 2 TDs with 1 INT (boo-yah!)
Kurt Warner: 32 of 41 through the air for 276 yds., 2 TDs and 1 INT (old gray beard is at it again!)
Ryan Grant: over 100 all-purpose yds., including 24 carries for 90 on the ground, no TDs (good enough for me!)
Cedric Benson: 16 for just 44 yds., but had a trip to the end zone (TDs are good things, I’ll take that from him)
Donnie Avery: just 1 catch before a hip injury, but it was a 17-yd. TD grab (can’t predict injuries, so I’m considering this one a wash)
Brett Favre: 21 of 29 for 278 yds. and 3 TDs (When will this guy break down? I keep praying it’ll happen…someone answer my prayers!)
Larry Johnson: no TDs, but did run for 83 yds. (he’s starting to hear Jamaal Charles’ footsteps)
Terrell Owens: just 3 catches for 13 yds., no sniff of the end zone (at least he’s got the T.O. Show, right?)
Antonio Bryant: 2 grabs for 37 yds., no TDs (is Tampa the worst team in the NFL? Maybe…)
Visanthe Shiancoe: just 4 catches, but 2 of them for TDs (ok, consider this my one big screw-up of the week…I’m human!)
All in all, another successful week for yours truly. Can it be topped? I sure as hell am going to try.
I haven’t yet highlighted the Texans’ signal caller, but Schaub is quietly sitting atop the NFL’s ranks as the leading touchdown passer in the league with 14 in just six games, including four in last week’s game. This week he faces a San Francisco defense that has already given up big games to other opposing QBs, like Matt Ryan and Brett Favre. Look for Schaub not to be stumped this weekend.
Roethlisberger hooked me up with a monster game last week, so I am riding the hot hand and predicting big things for Big Ben in this week’s matchup against undefeated Minnesota. The Vikes’ defense has been suspect against the pass, ranked 24th in the league, and they will likely be without Pro Bowl cornerback Antoine Winfield, who has been sidelined this week with a foot injury. Ben and the Steelers have a big day on Sunday, and will end the Vikings’ undefeated run, you’ve heard it here first!
There’s little to say about any running back who gets to face the St. Louis Rams, as that should tell the whole story right there. Addai and the Colts are also coming off a bye week, so look for a well-rested Addai to run rampant over the Rams.
Who ever thought we’d see Maroney as a viable top fantasy pick this season? Well, with Fred Taylor and Sammy Morris out, the workload falls to the 4th-year back, as Maroney will likely be heavily featured on Sunday at Wembley Stadium in London. Tamp Baya gave up an astonishing 250+ yards on the ground last week to Carolina, while Maroney is coming off his biggest game of the year, rushing for 123 yards and a score vs. Tennessee. If there was ever a week to love Laurence, this is it. He’s a must-start. (Did I really just say that?)
You’re obviously starting him in your lineup if you’ve got him, we know that already. But look for Gates to put up that monster stat line this week that you’ve been waiting for out of him. Gates has at least 5 catches in every game this season, and Kansas City has given up 10 passing TDs so far, 5th most in the league. That all adds up to Gates being a “fantasy stud” you can still rely on, week in and week out.
You know all that stuff about change I was talking about earlier? Well last week, Warner was one of my top QB picks, and he didn’t disappoint, throwing the ball 41 times in a win over Seattle. This week, my opinion on Warner has done a total 180-degree turn.
Warner and the Cardinals take their show eastbound to face the Giants at the Meadowlands, in what should be a very cold Sunday night game. Not a good sign for a quarterback who has made his money throwing indoors for the majority of his career. The Giants are looking to rebound from their first loss of the year last week, look for them to take out their frustrations on their former teammate on Sunday.
The Eagles were shocked by the lowly Raiders on the left coast last week, losing in dreadful fashion 13-9. Now McNabb has to get his act together against a Washington team that has had his number as of late. The ‘Skins, who through all their struggles this season, still boast the league’s third rated pass defense, and didn’t allow a TD pass from McNabb in their two meetings last season. With the Monday Night Football spotlight shining down on him, expect McNabb to struggle this week.
While New York has the top pass defense in the league facing Warner, Arizona’s rushing defense is tops in the league as well, meaning bad things for Brandon Jacobs, who is still looking for his first 100-yard performance of the season. He’s also losing touches to teammate Ahmad Bradshaw more and more each week, meaning the days of Jacobs being a top-tier fantasy RB could be all but over.
The highly touted rookie receiver will finally make his NFL debut this week, after a much publicized holdout to begin the year. Nothing but nice things have been said about Crabtree’s preparation in practice over the past two weeks (SF was on a bye last week). But as prepared as he may be, Crabtree still has a suspect QB in Shaun Hill, still has competition at the position in Isaac Bruce and Josh Morgan, and still is facing a Texans squad that has given up only 6 TDs through the air this season. Only six teams have given up fewer than that. Crabtree’s future looks bright, but don’t expect Sunday’s performance to wow you just yet.
On paper, the Dolphins may look like a viable option. They are coming off a bye week and they’re the 10th ranked defense in the league. But then you look across the field and see Drew Brees and the high flying Saints offense this week. New Orleans has averaged a whopping 38.4 points per game so far and there are no signs of that stopping any time soon. The ‘Fins have some playmakers on D, but the Saints will likely march all over them come Sunday.