I admit it, in my two top-priority fantasy leagues this year, I broke one of my cardinal draft-day rules: avoid creating a quarterback controversy. My theory is that, if you play in a one-QB league, you want your starter to be a no-brainer, so you can spend your time researching and fiddling with your RB/WR rotation. With receivers and backs you can stand to take a little more risk, as you’re typically assembling a combination of five of those players versus the sit-start decision you make at QB, which results in a clear cut right or wrong answer. So…I started off following my rule in drafting QB’s that I deemed to be reliable, every week starters (Drew Brees and Matt Ryan), but then a combination of my homer-ism and having him fall to me where I was comfortable drafting a QB2, led me to draft Robert Griffin III as my back up in both of those leagues.
It’s only been one week, and I may be jumping the gun, but if you own RGIII (either at QB1 or 2), it’s hard not to get excited. Against the Saints he looked poised, sharp and in control. As Chris Brown breaks down in this article, all signs point to this being RGIII’s offense, making his Week One performance much more a sign of things to come than beginner’s luck. So where does that leave me? As I mentioned last week, don’t go betting the house on first week performance, but if you, like me, have RGIII rostered behind an automatic starter, you might be leaving too much on the bench. So start keeping your eye out for trade potential. Identify the teams in your league who might be weak at QB. Do they have anyone that could strengthen your team? Formulate some trade options so you can start laying the ground work, or pounce on a team when they really need it (after an injury or before a bye)–don’t necessarily wait for them to come to you.
On the flip side, there were a number of much-talked-about players who came out of the box with disappointing performances (thanks to injury or otherwise). Without bailing on them right away, it’s prudent to start considering your options, and what you do with them may depend on where you drafted them. For example:
The Early Rounders: Greg Jennings caught 5 receptions for a paltry 34 yards before injuring his groin and was out in Week Two against Chicago. Assuming he plays next week, he faces a solid Seahawks defense. With the Packers offense seeming to have stalled a bit, Randall Cobb as the hot up-and-comer (this year’s Victor Cruz?), not to mention Jordy Nelson and Jermichael Finley competing for targets, if I owned Jennings, I’d be worried his production won’t live up to his draft position. Convince another team you’re selling low out of desperation, and you may be able to avoid a can’t-trust-him-but-can’t-bench-him situation while at the same time upgrading your WRs or another position.
Wes Welker disappointed all his owners and can’t even blame it on injury! Josh McDaniels came out and said that Welker just didn’t fit in to the specific game plan against the Titans, suggesting the likelihood of a rebound, but you have to wonder if McDaniels’ game plan is going to consistently look downfield at Brandon Lloyd, or utilize his two star tight ends more, giving Welker a permanently limited role. Monitor the situation. If Welker gets at least 8-10 targets over the next couple weeks, you can probably feel comfortable with his role as a WR2 (low-end WR1). Any fewer targets, and it may be an indication that his role is changing. If so, try to sell him after one big performance to someone who’s not paying attention to previous weeks, or, if there are any Patriots fans in your league, you’ll always have a bullish buyer.
Fred Jackson suffered arguably one of the most frustrating kind of injuries for fantasy owners. With no definitive timeline for his return from a sprained knee (4-8 weeks), no assurance as to his performance level when he does return, and back up C.J. Spiller filling in quite nicely in his absence (169 yards and 1 TD), it’s hard to decide what to do with Jackson now. You can’t drop him–he has too much value opportunity when he is healthy, and he should be again at some point this season. If you have depth at RB, wait it out. If not, you may have to start shopping him around. In the mean time, consider picking up Knowshon Moreno or someone else who might emerge as useful after this weekend (possibly Lamar Miller?).
The Rookies: To be fair, it’s rare that a rookie debuts with a record-breaking performance, so Andrew Luck’s and even Russell Wilson’s performances should be considered “expected” more than “disappointing”. Still, it’s safe to say that neither lived up to the hype they were getting this time last week. They are both still extremely talented and athletic, and many experts still expect them to start succeeding at some point this season, depending on resolution of other team issues for each. Take a look at your QB1’s schedule. If one of these guys is your back up, and he has an easy match up that week, hold on to him at least until then. If you’re worried about that match up, hold on a little longer and hopefully you can make a decent trade after a few more solid performances.
Your feelings on Trent Richardson may entirely depend on how early you drafted him. In the early part of preseason, Richardson was ranked pretty high, and if you took him in the first couple rounds you’re probably kicking yourself. As injury concern, rookie risk and overall doubts about the Browns set in, Richardson’s draft position began to plummet. If you got him in a mid round as your Flex/RB3, you’re probably not too concerned yet. Give him some time to see which way the pendulum starts to swing in Cleveland, but don’t feel overly confident in starting him until you see more out of Brandon Weeden and their offensive line. In the mean time, if you get any speculative offers for him, seriously entertain them.
The Value Plays: Despite being the #1 receiver in Tennessee, Nate Washington fell pretty far in the draft. If you had to start him last week, you had to be mildly pleased with his performance, in light of his mid-game leg contusion (2 receptions for 53 yards and 1 TD). If he does play this weekend, I would hold off on starting him, if you have that option. Kenny Britt will be back and should start working his way into the offense, Jake Locker is coming off an injured shoulder, and Washington’s injury might slow him down. Though Britt is more explosive, Washington should be the more reliable receiver down the stretch, so hold onto him, but wait and see how the Titans’ offense adjusts through the next couple games.
Jason Witten is typically not who you think of as a “value play,” but after suffering a lacerated spleen during preseason, many were hesitant to draft him. Those who did probably got him at a bargain, and though he was off to a slow start against the Giants last week, Dallas says he’ll be ready to go against Seattle this weekend. His impact may not be immediate, so if you have a better option, bench Witten this week, but look to him to return to his old self by Week Three or Four. Just hope that Ogletree doesn’t cement himself in Romo’s comfort zone in the mean time.
Jacquizz Rodgers was my early preseason target as this year’s break out performer. The pieces are starting to fall into place for that to happen. Though he was under-utilized in Week One (most likely thanks to Matt Ryan being on fire), Michael Turner was completely ineffective, and the Falcons are demonstrating an entirely new offensive system–one that suits Rodgers’ talents far better than Turner’s. If you drafted Rodgers, hold onto him. He’s still not immediately startable, but look for him to get more involvement by October.
So assuming you are holding onto any or all of the above guys, you still want to take a look at your roster and think about who you’d drop to make room for someone more useful. The following players were largely drafted, but can easily be dropped to make room on your team: Daniel Thomas, Isaac Redman, LeGarrette Blount, David Nelson, Doug Baldwin, Alex Green.
Good luck this weekend!