Don't Be a Fruit Fly: Go Against Grain With These Tips, Win Your League!

John ZaktanskyCorrespondent ISeptember 17, 2009

PITTSBURGH - JANUARY 18:  oe Flacco #5 of the Baltimore Ravens turns to hand the ball off against the Pittsburgh Steelers during the AFC Championship game on January 18, 2009 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Steelers won 23-14.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

It only took about five minutes for a cloud of fruit flies to find the cantaloupe rind I had placed on the kitchen counter.

Which got me thinking some very important thoughts.

Such as...where do the fruit flies come from? There wasn’t a single fruit fly in the house one moment, and suddenly a wave of insects became an instant paparazzi and my melon rind an incoherent Brittany Spears.

And...where do the fruit flies go when the fruit is removed? How quickly do they find the next over-ripened banana or half-eaten pear? Is there any insect or animal more obsessive or overzealous as the fruit fly?

And then it dawned on me...the one truth I had been searching for as I prepared to write my Week One recap:

Fantasy football owners are the fruit flies of the sports world.

Want proof?

Joe Flacco threw for 307 yards and three touchdowns in the Ravens’ season-opener last week against Kansas City. Suddenly, like that cantaloupe sitting on my kitchen counter, Flacco was flooded with attention from fantasy owners in leagues of all shapes and sizes. He was picked up in favor of many slow-starting QB options. In one of my leagues, actually, someone dropped Ben Roethlisberger for Flacco. This after Roethlisberger proved his own worth against an otherwise stingy Titans defense last Thursday. Flacco does deserve some attention, but let’s be reasonable here. He still is throwing to a mediocre receiving cast and his huge stats came against the Chiefs’ defense.

Another young QB that many are trying to snag after Week One is Mark Sanchez. Those who were ahead of the curve (like those who read my sleeper QB column a few weeks ago) were able to avoid the Black Friday-esque fight to get Sanchez off the waiver wire. As I mentioned in the column, Sanchez has the “it” factor that will help him excel at the NFL level. Even though his receivers are fairly unknown, they are really reliable, if non-flashy, options.

Cadillac Williams is also a now-hot commodity in fantasy circles after a 97-yard, one-TD performance against Dallas. While he’s the flavor of the week in the Bucs’ backfield, remember that Tampa has a stable of able backs (Earnest Graham and Derrick Ward to name a few) and talk is that the Buccaneers will keep Cadillac around 15 or less carries a game. He’s worth a roster bench spot if you have room, just don’t expect consistent fantasy production from him.

Don’t be just another fruit fly

How are you handling your waivers and team management after week one? Are you going with the masses and trying to snag every player who scored a few fantasy points in hopes that it is the start of a trend? Or, are you going against the grain?

While the rest of the fruit flies buzz to the waiver wire for the flavor of the week pickup, why not throw a few offers at league owners who are panicking after just one week? There are plenty of players who were horrific in week one that you may be able to fish away from someone else in your league. Some players to consider:

Andre Johnson. OK, landing him may take a small act of God, but you may be surprised how many people are looking at the Texans right now and wondering if the sky is falling in Houston. Many forget that the Jets defense was really solid at the end of last season, and made some major strides this offseason to be even more dominant. On the flip side, the Texans next face a Titans defense that allowed the Steelers to light it up through the air. Expect Johnson to bounce back to reality sooner rather than later...and this may be the lowest value he’ll be the rest of the way.

Chris Johnson. Johnson was mediocre at best last Thursday against the Steelers. Plus, I’m not totally sold that Johnson will be a fantasy beast again in 2009. However, his Thursday stats were against the best defense in football, and next he’s playing against a Houston team that allowed the Jets to run amok in Week One. Here’s another Johnson whose value will increase significantly this weekend.

Clinton Portis. See Chris Johnson. A mediocre week one against an incredibly tough defense (as predicted here) followed this Sunday by a cakewalk matchup (against St. Louis). Portis has the added bonus of rushing against the Detroit Lions in week three. Again, like with CJ, I’m not sold on Portis this year for the long haul, but he’s a player who could be the most productive back over the next two weeks of play and will be a hot commodity when dangled before week four to the fruit flies in your respective leagues.

Matt Schaub. Hard to stick up for a guy who killed my chances for a “W” in many leagues last week, but as long as Schaub can stay upright, he’ll be a viable fantasy option. The Titans defense allowed Roethlisberger to look like Dan Marino, and Schaub may use the same matchup to bounce back into the limelight.

Matt Forte. The Bears offense looks like a mess at the moment. Cutler wasn’t exactly a superstar last week against the Packers. However, Forte and company will bounce back. Possibly not this week, against the Steelers run defense, but after Week Two, Forte’s value may be the lowest you’ll see it moving forward.

Michael Turner. A guy I was afraid of going into the season due to his exceptionally high workload last year, Turner still has a lot more to offer than his 65-yard, zero-TD performance last week.

Steve Smith. Three catches and 21 yards is nothing to write home about, but the Eagles defense had Jake Delhomme’s number from the start. Some QB controversy is brewing in Carolina, but no matter who is throwing the ball, Smith’s stats will even out sooner rather than later.

Roddy White. Another WR with many expectations but many disappointments in week one, White is too talented, his QB too talented and his supporting cast too talented for the numbers to continue being in the doghouse.

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