Christian Ponder, Marion Barber and Ricky Williams lead the way this week
It’s playoff time — for most of you at least. Now is the time of year where every move has to be the right one or your fantasy football season is over. Of course this late in the 2011 season, pickings are slim on the waiver wire. But there are a few names out there that could be beneficial as you make your way through the playoffs.
John Beck gets the start at quarterback for the Washington Redskins this week against Carolina.
If you missed out on your waiver wire this week in getting Tim Tebow, Carson Palmer, Matt Cassel or Colt McCoy, go ahead and grab John Beck. With Ryan Fitzpatrick, Tom Brady, Eli Manning and Michael Vick leading the charge of quarterbacks that are on byes this week, Beck has a pretty favorable match up to help ease your pain.
Some of the players listed in Athlon Sports' NFL Fantasy Football Waiver Wire Week 2 may be one week adds, some may be season-long adds and some are listed just for you to keep an eye on or even stash on your roster if you have the space.
Scoring is based on Athlon Sports default scoring which is 6 points for all TDs, .5 points per reception and 1 point PER 25 yards passing, 10 yards rushing/receiving and 40 return yards.
Also, if you have any fantasy football questions for Week 2's Ask Athlon, send them my way @AthlonCorby on Twitter or via email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Ryan Fitzpatrick, Buffalo
The yardage left a bit to be desired (208), but he did throw four touchdowns and did not turn the ball over against what was supposed to be a good Chiefs defense. The Bills play host to Oakland this Sunday, which just surrendered 304 passing yards in the rain to the "run-oriented" Broncos last night.
Rex Grossman, Washington
Cam Newton. Arizona Cardinals. At home. Enough said. Grossman is coming off a game in which he threw for 305 yards, two scores, no interceptions and a fumble against the New York Giants. Now he gets a Arizona defense reeling from the 422 yards and two scores rookie Cam Newton racked up against them in his first NFL start.
Cam Newton, Carolina He will be a popular waiver add this week after what he did against the Cardinals. If you have the room or patience, you might want to add him and sit him. Newton will come off the Arizona high by likely getting brought back to Earth in the most extreme way against the Green Bay Packers. However, in Week 3, Newton and the Panthers get the terrible pass defense that is Jacksonville. So add him now, wait and then use.
Running Backs Earnest Graham, Tampa Bay If he's going to be the third down back, and the Bucs had 14 of those opportunities Sunday, then he might be a worthy PPR-flex add. Graham had nine targets in the passing game, catching eight of them for 58 yards and six carries for 13 yards. That was good for 12.10 points in the Athlon scoring format. Tampa Bay faces a Minnesota team that just forced San Diego into 13 third-down opportunities.
Dexter McCluster, Kansas City
Offense is going to have to come from somewhere after that lackluster performance Sunday against the Bills. McCluster had four carries for 42 yards, caught all five of his targets for 25 yards and added 92 return yards. The Chiefs may get more opportunities on offense as Eric Berry is lost for the year, and they could look for last year's other high draft pick in McCluster to provide a spark. He scored 10.5 in the Athlon format Sunday, and if he could add a TD every now and then, I'd be happy to take 16.5 from the flex.
Darren Sproles, New Orleans Maybe it's because they were down, but Sproles certainly was the receiving threat out of the Saints' backfield. He was targeted nine times in the passing game, catching seven of them for 75 yards. He also had three red zone targets, catching two of them. If you are in leagues that award return yardage, he added 168 yards and a touchdown for a 21.9-point night in the Athlon format.
Ben Tate, Houston Until Foster comes back, and even after that, Tate needs to be on a roster. If he's still available in your league, which he should not be, go get him. He had 24 carries for 116 yards Sunday vs. the Colts - tied for third most in the league in carries Sunday behind Tim Hightower and Cedric Benson's 25. Houston travels to Miami, which possesses a solid secondary, and the Texans may lean on the run game even more.
LaDainian Tomlinson, New York Jets The old man is done. Yeah, right. Until the Jets prove they are committed to Shonn Greene (10 carries for 26 yards vs. Dallas), then LT needs to be on a roster. He had seven targets, six catches for 73 yards and 16 yards on five carries. He scored 12.9 points in our format, certainly worthy of a flex spot.
Cadillac Williams, St. Louis Rams
Steven Jackson (quad) is unlikely to play and the Rams travel to play the Giants on Monday night. Also lost was WR Danny Amendola (elbow). Williams will be a great PPR play. He had nine targets in the passing game, catching five for 49 yards to go along with 19 carries for 93 yards.
Ricky Williams, Baltimore
Williams wasn't the vulture just yet, but he did get 12 carries for 63 yards (5.3 YPC) against Pittsburgh Sunday, the No. 1 run defense in the league. He also received two targets in the passing game, catching one for four yards. If he's getting 13 touches a game, and producing, he's maybe more than just a handcuff if he can start scoring.
Anthony Armstrong, Washington
He has a good rapport with Rex Grossman. He was targeted two times in the red zone, catching both, including one for a score. The Redskins draw the Cardinals terrible pass defense this week.
Arrelious Benn, Tampa Bay
Forgotten by many after his ACL injury and the emergence of Dez Briscoe in the preseason, but Benn is the No. 2 WR on this team. He was targets seven times, catching four for 27 yards Sunday. These are not great numbers at all, but it's worth noting that he was looked at seven times; that's more targets than any game last season.
Malcom Floyd, San Diego
He may be the fourth option in the passing game as he sits behind Antonio Gates and Vincent Jackson and maybe even Mike Tolbert at the rate he was going Sunday. But Floyd did receive the second-most targets (8) against the Vikings against Jackson's three. If you have the room, save a space for Floyd or at least monitor his use vs. that of Tolbert and Jackson's.
Jabar Gaffney, Washington
He is on this list for two reasons: Rex Grossman and Arizona's pass defense. Gaffney and Grossman were teammates at the University of Florida and the Cardinals' defense, or lack thereof, has already been well documented. Gaffney received seven targets from Grossman Sunday, catching three of them for 54 yards and a red zone score.
Brandon Gibson, St. Louis
He was already a starter, but perhaps a draft casualty due to all of us waiting to see just how the Rams' WR corps shook out. Well, the favorite son of the WR corps, Danny Amendola (elbow) is now gone for an what should be an extended period of time. Gibson received five targets, catching three for 50 yards Sunday vs. Philadelphia. Expect his workload to increase.
Devery Henderson, New Orleans
Marques Colston is out for at least a month (shoulder) and Lance Moore is nursing a groin injury. Drew Brees needs pass catchers, and Henderson certainly proved capable with a nine target night Thursday against the Packers, converting them into six catches for 100 yards and a TD. Chicago has the LBs to handle the Saints run game, so New Orleans will need to go to the air for offense.
Jacoby Jones, Houston
Kevin Walter may or may not be out for some time (collarbone) and the Texans face a Dolphins team that just gave up 517 passing yards to the Patriots on Monday night. Jones has never really been a consistent fantasy option, partly because of his play and partly because of the presence of Walter. He is certainly worth an add now, and if he continues his special teams performance (91 return yards, including a 79-yard punt return for a score Sunday vs. the Colts) then consider that icing on the cake. He caught all three targets on Sunday for 43 yards.
David Nelson and Donald Jones, Buffalo
The Bills have to go somewhere else besides Steve Johnson, right? And Chan Gailey's strange Week 1 infatuation with the TE (Scott Chandler catching all five targets for 63 yards and a score) can't be real, right? Maybe Buffalo can go with just these two, considering Fitzpatrick threw for just 208 yards Sunday and won big. Nelson caught four of six targets for 66 yards. Jones caught just two of five targets for a measly three yards but a TD as well. Also to note: Jones had one less target than both Johnson and Nelson, and played more snaps than both — Jones 63, Johnson 59, Nelson 36, according to ProFootballFocus.com. Plus, Marcus Easley (undisclosed illness) was placed on IR Tuesday.
Greg Salas, St. Louis
Danny Amendola was supposed to be the "new Wes Welker" for 2011. Now he's out and someone has to slide into that slot role. Amendola receivied six targets for five catches and 43 yards before the injury Sunday. Salas, a rookie from Hawaii, is taller and bigger than Amendola — 6-1, 210 compared to 5-10, 186 — and he was a scorer in college, registering 22 TDs his final two seasons.
Emmanuel Sanders, Pittsburgh
Antonio Who? Brown, the darling of the preseason, had two catches for 14 yards and 110 return yards for 5.1 fantasy points. Sanders, who was out for a majority of the preseason (foot), resumed his role as the No. 3 WR and garnered just three targets, but more importantly, two of them were in the red zone. He converted one of the two into a touchdown and finished with two catches for 20 yards, the score and nine fantasy points. Consider the Ravens game an anomaly regarding the Steelers' offense; Sanders will play a vital role for the rest of the season.
Jerome Simpson, Cincinnati
Remember him? The stud from the end of last season in Cincinnati? Well, he sort of returned Sunday vs. Cleveland. He was the most targeted player for the Bengals (9). He did little with them (4-44) but keep an eye on him as Cincy heads to play a Denver team that allowed Oakland to rush for 190 yards and might try to shore that up and see if rookie QB Andy Dalton or Bruce Gradkowski can beat it.
Fred Davis, Washington
Even with Chris Cooley in the lineup, Davis had six targets, five catches and 105 yards. And we can't stress it enough: the Cardinals are coming to town,
Ed Dickson, Baltimore
He caught all five of his targets for a total of 59 yards and a score. Two of the five targets and catches came in the red zone.
Tony Gonzalez, Atlanta
Gonzalez did receive seven targets Sunday against a solid Bears LB corps, and turned it into five catches for 72 yards. All of those numbers are above his 2010 16-game average of 6.8 targets, 4.4 catches and 41 yards per game. Three targets came in the first quarter, three in the third and one in the fourth. He had the third-longest day of the play for the Falcons, a 30-yard catch in the first quarter.
Jermaine Gresham, Cincinnati
He was the second-most targeted Bengal against the Browns as the second-year player caught six of eight targets for 58 yards and a score. Only one target came in the red zone, which he scored off of, but he was being utilized outside the 20 as well.
Dustin Keller, New York Jets
It took a while for Mark Sanchez to target Keller (1:51 left in the first half), but he wound up with eight targets, three in the red zone and caught five balls for 61 yards and a score. Sanchez spreads it around, targeting at least four players seven times on Sunday, but Keller should be a red zone favorite. Plus, Jacksonville comes to town Sunday. Yum.
Evan Moore and Benjamin Watson, Cleveland A sleeper in the preseason, Moore caught three of his targets, but two of those targets came in the red zone, which he converted one of into a score. Watson was targeted seven times, catching three for 45 yards, including a 34-yard TD. The Browns get the Colts this week, and if they try to focus on shutting down RB Peyton Hillis, Moore and Watson could feast on a Indy defense that was 11th-worst against the TE last year at 9.6 fantasy points per game.
Greg Olsen, Carolina Olsen kept his solid preseason going into Week 1, catching four of six targets for 78 yards. Carolina gets Green Bay this week, and the Packers have more than enough players to cover WR Steve Smith. Also, assuming the Panthers get blown out, Olsen may find some seams down the middle late in the game to get some late trash points (a la Jimmy Graham for New Orleans vs. the Packers last week).
Leonard Pope, Kansas City Like McCluster, Pope may benefit from the Chiefs needing to find offense from somewhere. Pope stepped in for Tony Moeaki (lost for the year after an ACL injury) and caught three of six targets for 24 yards and had a 19-yard TD catch called back.
We take an in-depth look at the Redskins offense, defense and special teams this year.
Coach Mike Shanahan enters the second year of his building project with a foundation in place but some significant lingering questions. Overshadowing the team’s two-win improvement in 2010 is the disastrous trade for quarterback Donovan McNabb. The ugly, prolonged divorce from McNabb leaves the Redskins with no proven option at the most important position on the field. Meanwhile, the offensive line remains a major weakness, and there’s a lack of proven skill-position players.
• Inside the Locker Room
With Rich Campbell of the Washington Times
Who will be the focus of the Redskins’ offense?
Coach Mike Shanahan wants to establish a running game first and then pass using play-action and misdirection. That means running back Ryan Torain has the potential to pile up yards — if he can stay healthy and if the Redskins can improve their offensive line. Torain averaged 4.5 yards per carry in 10 games last season. Those numbers in 10 games extrapolate to about 1,200 yards and seven touchdowns over a full season. But beware: Very few running backs have remained consistent fantasy options under Shanahan.
Who is Shanahan’s pet project at running back?
Shanahan hand-picked Roy Helu and Evan Royster in the fourth and sixth rounds of the draft, respectively, so he’ll have some options if Torain adds a chapter to his extensive injury history. Helu has better big-play ability and a higher draft pedigree, but Royster could play on third downs because of his pass protection skills. Torain is the choice for now, but as always with Shanahan, keep an eye on the entire committee.
Is DeAngelo Hall still an elite fantasy option at CB?
Hall’s value in 2010 was significantly boosted by his two returns for touchdowns, so the question becomes whether you believe he’ll replicate those scores. Keep in mind they were his first touchdowns since 2007. Hall likes gambling for big plays, and defensive coordinator Jim Haslett gives him the freedom to do so. Because you don’t get penalized when Hall gets burned, be comfortable taking him and enjoy his erratic point explosions.
• Fantasy Playoff Run — Weeks 14-16: NE, @NYG, MIN
The same could be said for the Redskins as the Titans: What will this offense look like come fantasy playoff time? Will it be back to the RB du jour for Mike Shanahan? Who will be QB by that time? All three defenses are respectable against the areas Washington may be good at: RB and TE. So for this fantasy playoff, simply run away.
• Athlon Best Bets
Sleeper: Anthony Armstrong, WR Deep-Sleeper: Evan Royster, RB Overvalued: Ryan Torain, RB Top Rookie: Roy Helu, RB Bounce-Back: LaRon Landry, DB Top IDP: LaRon Landry, DB
• Try to Avoid ANYONE ON OFFENSE
The QB situation is dire; Santana Moss’ value has plummeted without Donovan McNabb; and the stable of running backs is uninspiring and inconsistent. WAIT UNTIL: 8th RD
• Draft Class Fantasy Impact
The Redskins are bringing in a large draft class with a couple of players deserving a look on fantasy rosters. Helu and Royster could challenge for immediate carries, while any of the receivers could work their way into the rotation. Keep an eye on all of the draft picks in keeper formats.