Another week, another fourth-quarter comeback by Giants gunslinger Eli Manning.
This morning, it's the story in the NFL: A quarterback who's building an unlikely legend around clutch fourth-quarter performances, a guy who saves his best for when the pressure's at its greatest, who creates belief among his teammates that he'll find a way to win. His latest heroics gave his team control of its own destiny in a division race that looked lost.
Pick up these four guys on your fantasy football team to get you through Cedric Benson's three game suspension
Cedric Benson is a moron. At least that's how his fantasy football owners feel about him right now. Benson, who served five days in jail during training camp for two misdemeanor assault convictions that happened during the lockout.
Just when he started to get his career on track (he was a bust on the Bears), he now can't seem to stay out of trouble. He's now been served a three game suspension for a violation of the NFL's conduct policy.
So what does that mean for your fantasy team? It looks like Benson will miss weeks 4, 5 and 6 (he's going to appeal, but we know how those usually go.) So, if you own Benson, you need to find one or two stop-gap players to get you through his missed time.
If You Own Benson, Pick Up These Players To Get You Through His Suspension
Larod is dealing with a injured hand, but it doesn't seem to be serious. What's more important about the Caridnals backfield is that Beanie Wells missed practice due to a tweaked hamstring. Once Larod's hand is fine (which should be soon), he will step into the starting role there. Beanie has already showed that the Cardinals can move the ball on the ground and if LaRod gets the nod (hey, that rhymes), then he may be a steal that starts for the rest of the year. Week 4: At home against the New York Giants Week 5: At Minnesota Week 6: Bye
From a fantasy perspective, the Redskins backfield is a mess. But Helu is getting more and more touches each week as the current starter Tim Hightower has been passable, but not exceptional. While Helu has looked great in both running and receiving. If Helu keeps getting the ball more and more, he will be getting starter touches by weeks 4-6, and the Skins go against two defenses soft against the run in that stretch (unfortunately, they also have a bye, so you'll need a little more duct tape to make your team work.) Week 4: At St. Louis Rams Week 5: Bye Week 6: At home against the Eagles
This is sort of the "duh" pick as he's Benson's backup in Cincinnati. But you need to go and handcuff him right now because the Bengals are going against three poor teams in weeks 4-5 and could turn into a nice fantasy payoff when a career backup puts up starter numbers. Bernard Scott has never really wowed anyone, but this may be the ideal situation for him to fill-in for Benson and do a little more than tread water. Week 4: At home against Buffalo Week 5: At Jacksonville Week 6: At home against Indianapolis
With Matt Forte being the center of the Bears running and passing game, Barber will not put up huge yardage numbers. But he is coming back from an injury and will be suited up week 4-6. All week Bears offensive coordinator Mike Martz has heard it from fans and media to not abandon the run, so he will be a little more conscious of the Bears running game in the next few weeks. Forte will get the bulk of the load, but Barber is a guy who can come in and steal a few touchdowns from time to time. He would be a gamble play, but if you're desperate for someone, he may be one of your best options who could sneak a few cheap touchdowns. Week 4: At home against Carolina Week 5: At Detroit Week 6: At home against Minnesota
CHICAGO • Inside the Locker Room
With Bobby LeGere of the Daily Herald
Will Matt Forté be on the field more in goal line situations?
There’s a good chance Forté will be on the field more in goal line situations this year after Chester Taylor’s disappointing 2010 season in which he averaged just 2.4 yards per carry and seemed to go downhill in a hurry at age 31. Forté had his best season as a pro, averaging a career-best 4.5 yards per carry. The idea when the Bears acquired the veteran was for Taylor to give Forté a breather without much of a drop-off in performance. That wasn’t the case, and since the Bears have already paid Taylor a big chunk of the money they owe him, he could be cut.
Who will post better fantasy numbers: Earl Bennett or Devin Hester? Keep in mind 40 return yards equals one point.
I’ll go with Bennett. He will very likely catch more passes than Devin Hester, but Hester is the better big-play threat, and even if he is an afterthought in the passing game, he is still the best in the business as a return man. His performance as a punt returner actually seemed to improve as his role in the offense diminished. Bennett is a reliable target and a favorite of Jay Cutler’s, but he will need to get more chances in the red zone to improve his TD total.
Can Mike Martz keep this collection of talent focused and productive?
It would be overly optimistic to expect great improvement from the Bears’ offense barring significant additions in free agency. The draft may have provided some upgrade to the offense with Gabe Carimi, but his presence means another transition on an offensive line that still has below-average talent and will again have to shuffle bodies.
• Fantasy Playoff Run — Weeks 14-16: @DEN, SEA, @GB
If you’re a Matt Forté owner, you have to like these three numbers for your fantasy playoffs — 31st, 21st and 18th. That’s where the Bears’ three fantasy playoff opponents ranked in run defense last season. And if you’re a Jay Cutler owner, the first two weeks aren’t too shabby either, as Denver (25th) and Seattle (27th) were both in the bottom eight in the NFL in pass defense.
• Athlon Best Bets
Sleeper: Roy Williams, WR Deep-Sleeper: Andy Fantuz, WR Overvalued: Devin Hester, WR Top Rookie: Stephen Paea, DL Bounce-Back: Jay Cutler, QB Top IDP: Julius Peppers, DL
• Try to Avoid Marion Barber, RB
Barber has played the “big back” role before and could not do much with it in Dallas. Yes, he will steal a few TDs around the goal line because Forté has trouble knocking it in, but that’s about all you can expect: A mini TD vulture. WAIT UNTIL: Never
• Draft Class Fantasy Impact
With most of its offensive core returning and only five picks in the draft, Chicago’s rookie class won’t be on many fantasy radars. The offensive line has been a questionable unit over the past couple of seasons, but the addition of Gabe Carimi should help bring some stability to the unit and improved pass protection for Jay Cutler. The Bears were already one of the NFL’s top fantasy defenses for 2011, and Paea will bolster the interior of a solid line. Nathan Enderle has long-term upside but is Chicago’s No. 3 quarterback for now.