Photo Credit: Dave Hogg
Calvin Johnson is an elite WR and that doesn’t figure to change in 2012. However, the owners who paid the high price for his services on draft/auction day should be concerned about the return. Paying the high cost for Johnson was like spending top-dollar on the best prostitute money can buy. You know you are getting a sure thing that won’t hurt you, but you could’ve paid a lot less for a similar hole and used the rest of the money on shit you actually need.
Yes it’s early and Megatron still has an un-scoffable 14 catches for 205 yards through two weeks. Still, the fact that he’s been held scoreless and is watching a slew of cheaper alternatives put up better fantasy totals is disconcerting. The biggest reason for his “slow” start is Matt Stafford. The Lions QB has been erratic as hell, and while he should play way better as the season goes on, a repeat of 5,000 yards and 40-plus TDs is not a slam dunk. Plus, Stafford has actually been targeting Johnson a lot less on deep balls to start the season. Granted, the 49ers took the deep play out of the equation with their safety positioning Sunday night, but the fact that Johnson hasn’t been put in situations to make monster plays downfield isn’t a good sign.
A big reason people were all over Johnson on auction day was the fact that he posted career-highs last year in catches (96), yards (1,681), and TDs (16). However, with Stafford having to go on a torrid pace to match last season’s production, Johnson is already behind in matching anything close to his 2011 totals. Don’t get it twisted: Johnson will be a hands-down WR1 this season, but that’s not what we are discussing. Think about what the cost was this year in drafts and auctions. Can you honestly tell me that the price was worth it considering the points I just made and the fact that the WR position is the deepest it’s ever been? The answer is a resounding “no.”
More “NFL Real Talk” after the jump:
Speaking of elite WRs who are underperforming, Larry Fitzgerald put up a crappy line in Week Two and will continue to shit on fantasy owners. Like ‘Tron, he’s a WR1 who deserves to start every week. Like ‘Tron, he wasn’t worth the price.
Prior to the season, your boy Stat Bundles believed Brandon LaFell had all the makings of an every-week fantasy starter. Not only is he a talented deep-play threat with after-the-catch ability, but he has great hands and draws a lot of single coverage opposite Steve Smith. The only concern going into Week One was whether the targets would be there, and so far they have been. Keep him glued to starting lineups.
Just one week after everyone was on the “Suck Off Joe Flacco” Express, he’s back to being a middle-of-the-road fantasy QB who is more suited for platoon duties. You can say that the Eagles had a smart game plan by taking away the deep ball, but I can just as easily say that the receiving personnel in Baltimore isn’t good enough to make Flacco a bonafide QB1 in 12-teamers. It’s still a run-first team, and all the “this is Flacco’s offense now” talk we heard before Week One now sounds hollower than a Jake Locker vote of confidence.
It was believed that a zone-blocking scheme would be a great fit for Darren McFadden, but with the offense struggling to adjust to the new style of running the ball, the sledding has been tough for DMC. McFadden will pick up his play as the season wears on, but considering his health is a ticking time bomb, it very much feels like we’ve wasted a considerable amount of “on-the-field” McFadden with these two wack performances. He’s not a bad buy-low candidate depending on how desperate the owner is (0-2 people tend to panic), but no need to overspend on a player likely to sit out a game… or six.
It’s tough being a Jamaal Charles owner these days. Not only is he sharing the ball with Peyton Hillis, but he just doesn’t have the same burst he showed two years ago. Those of you who own Charles really have no choice but to keep trotting him out there (unless you somehow snagged a bevy of RB depth), but odds are that if you miss your league’s playoffs, Charles will be one of the big reasons why.
Michael Vick sucks. I could give two shits about how versatile a player he is. Yeah his legs add to his fantasy value (66 rushing yards, TD), and he’s notched two 300-yard games through the air already. Good for him. He still fucks up a lot at QB and he’s got some very volatile variables working against him. Not only is he a big injury risk because of his style of play, but his two best receivers are also fragile weapons. If I was a Vick owner (thank god that isn’t the case), I’d be pressing hard to include him in a trade. At the very least, you need a capable backup as a Plan B for when Vick eventually misses time.
Martellus Bennett should really be owned in more leagues. The Giants are doing everything in their power to make him involved in their explosive offense. Considering Bennett has a world of talent and is playing on just a one-year deal, he should be an easy top 12 fantasy TE this season.
We talked about Donnie Avery last week, and he killed it Sunday. It’s clear OC Bruce Arians is using Avery the right way, and he’s reaping the benefits. Avery will have his share of slow weeks, but he’ll be worth starting more often than not if his health holds up.
Danny Amendola is officially an every-week starting option. Not only are the targets there (25), but he’s also proving to be a sure-handed option for Sam Bradford (20 receptions). Amendola isn’t a big-play guy and his value is strictly tied to the volume of passes thrown his way, but who cares? Point is, he’s a certifiable low-end WR2/high-end WR3.
Part of the reason Robert Meachem isn’t about to materialize into a reliable fantasy option is because Philip Rivers is really only looking his way deep. While that doesn’t sound like a problem to some slower fantasy owners, it really limits his versatility. Sure “Little Meach” might have a couple of weeks where he just goes off by simply hauling in a few bombs, but for every boom, there will be many busts.
A whispering eye should be kept on one Golden Tate. He’s never lacked talent, and he has a pretty competent QB for the first time in Seattle. Though Russell Wilson only threw the ball 20 times, he looked pretty damn good doing so and the low pass total was largely due to the fact that the ‘Hawks were playing with a lead all game. He’s even worth picking up right now for owners looking for WR depth as one strong performance could vault him into the spotlight (and you know what that means, Yahoo! making him a front page cover boy on their site with the headline “Golden Jerry!” that forces your league mates to try to claim him en masse).
Since I’ve been waiting to say this all offseason and finally have an opportunity after his TD this week, I have just one question for fantasy owners: do you have a hankering for some (Leonard) Hankerson?
We’ll close out this edition of “NFL Real Talk” by naming three early season success stories you should try to sell-high on:
1) Andrew Hawkins (potential is there, but more value as trade bait right now since the Bengals have a bevy of young talented WRs to throw to and could mix-and-match all season)
2) Stevan Ridley (still got 20 touches last week, but I’m a believer that he’ll end up being a role player in a pass-heavy offense)
3) Vernon Davis (great player, but is used a lot in blocking situations and is bound to go through some frustrating dry spells)