Fantasy Football Week 2: Sleeper Starts and Weekly Mailbag

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Fantasy Football Week 2: Sleeper Starts and Weekly Mailbag
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When Bleacher Report approached me about facilitating a new weekly mailbag feature, I was both honored and excited.

Many of you out there use Bleacher Report for your weekly lineup advice, waiver wire suggestions, or simply to read the fantasy spin on some of your favorite players. 

This is going to take things to a brand new level.

You will now have the opportunity to submit questions each and every week. I'll answer a number of them in this Thursday morning mailbag feature.

These questions can be about your specific lineup, a player's value in general, or anything else fantasy related. I'll choose the hottest topics and address them here.

Just send a message to my inbox and I'll take it from there!

So, who am I?

Most of you know me from my work on dynastyleaguefootball.com, one of the fastest growing fantasy football sites on the web. I've been specializing in the dynasty aspect of fantasy football for the past nine years, but still have a love for the redraft leagues as well.

I participate in a fantasy experts dynasty league with representatives from ESPN, RotoWorld, FootballGuys, and some of the other industry leaders as well.

I can guarantee you a couple of things with the questions you submit to me for analysis.

First, I'll be wrong on some of them.

I have no problem admitting that. My role will be to give expert analysis, and I'll do that knowing I could steer some people the wrong way. I'm confident enough in my ability to take on that risk and will put enough thought into every question to position everyone for the best chance of success.

Second, I'll be right on some of them, too.

My role here will be to use what I know from a fantasy perspective to give you another resource to help with trades, lineups, and other questions you may have. In the end, you'll make the final decision on the direction of your team, but having an extra voice to steer you one way or another may be what you need.

Since this week consists of the announcement for the new process and no official questions in the mailbag, let's use this week to hit on a couple hot topics.

Weekly Mailbag

Question: Is Arian Foster for real?

Answer: Absolutely. I've followed Foster since he was playing at Tennessee and there's no doubting he has ability. Now, should we expect 200+ yards every week? Absolutely not. The real Foster is somewhere between the runner we saw last year who had some fumbling and injury issues and the guy we saw carve up the Colts into mince meat.

He's a top 15 option right now, but let's not go trading guys named Johnson, Peterson, or Jones-Drew for him quite yet.

Question: Should I panic if I own Mike Sims-Walker or Dwayne Bowe?

Answer: Absolutely not. Every player has some bad weeks now and then, but they tend to get magnified in the early weeks of the season.

Question: Can Mike Williams of Seattle really keep this up?

Answer: I think he can and will. It looks like Williams has finally matured and is flashing the potential that made him a top pick in the NFL Draft. If the Seahawks didn't believe in him, they wouldn't have let TJ Houshmandzadeh go. Many people outside of Seattle believed that release was meant to open the door for Golden Tate, but it was the play of Williams that allowed that to happen.

Question: Is this the beginning of a breakout for Darren McFadden?

Answer: I sure hope so, but color me skeptical. McFadden has a ton of talent, but also has a tendency to get nicked up. I'd give him a few more weeks before drinking the Kool-Aid. It's going to be interesting to see what happens when Michael Bush comes back.

Question: Who needs a big performance the most this week?

Answer: That's a question that's been going around in our forum all week. Names like Shonn Greene, Mark Sanchez, and Bernard Berrian are some popular answers. I actually think it's huge for Michael Crabtree. He's quickly losing the locker room and needs to show up big on Monday night against the high scoring Saints.

Send those questions my way for next week's mailbag!

Twenty Sneaky Starts for Week Two

If you’re like most fantasy players out there, you’re going to be spending lots of time this week looking at all sorts of rankings and projections out there in an effort to make an educated decision on your lineup for week two.

Most novice fantasy players are focusing too much of their time and effort on projecting the numbers they expect from their stars.

Simply put, it’s a huge mistake.

Face it, most sites are going to have some type of a top ten, fifteen, or twenty list and focus too much of the spotlight on players like Chris Johnson, Adrian Peterson, and Maurice Jones-Drew.

If you’re reading this, you know focusing too much time on that information is completely useless. The real decisions have nothing to do with your star players. They have everything to do with your flex players, No. 3 or No. 4 options.

We define the “sneaky matchup player” as a second or third tier player on your team who you’re likely debating against someone else or not considering at all. These players won’t be found in the top 10 for weekly projections or rankings, but have some potential for the week based on a variety of factors.

This column will give you some names to consider adding to your superstars in your lineup. After all, these players tend to make or break a few critical weeks every single year. 

Some of these players will be successful and others will fail. It’s inevitable. In fact, here’s how we did last week withour Twenty Sneaky Plays for Week One.

Five we hit on:

1. Tim Hightower, RB, ARI: 94 total yards, one touchdown
2. Santana Moss, WR, WAS: Six catches, 77 yards
3. Mike Williams, WR, TB: Five catches, 30 yards, and one incredible TD
4. Carson Palmer, QB, CIN: 345 yards, two touchdowns, one interception
5. Josh Freeman, QB, TB: 182 yards, two TDs, one INT, 34 rush yards

Five we missed on:

1. Jerome Harrison, RB, CLE: Nine carries, 52 yards
2. Sammie Stroughter, WR, TB: Two catches, 32 yards
3. Jacoby Jones, WR, HOU: Two catches, 29 yards
4. Louis Murphy, WR, OAK: Four catches, 28 yards
5. Marion Barber, RB, DAL: Eight carries, 39 yards

Without further hesitation, here are this week’s sneaky plays:

1. Michael Vick @ DET

If Kolb sits out as expected, Michael Vick will get the opportunity he’s longed for the past few years. The Lions aren’t as hapless as some tend to think, but Vick’s athleticism and renewed sense of focus and urgency make him a viable option this week. He showed us last week that he still has some of that vintage magic.

2. Brandon Jackson vs. BUF

Jackson is the hottest waiver pick in America this week after the Packers lost starter Ryan Grant for the rest of the season. Don’t be afraid to start him in a good matchup against Buffalo.

3. Peyton Hillis vs. KC

It was Hillis, not Jerome Harrison, who started for the Browns last week. The Chiefs did a nice job containing Ryan Mathews last week, but the Browns look to be very comfortable using Hillis out of the backfield. He could easily vulture a touchdown this week.

4. Seneca Wallace vs. KC

Two Browns on the list? You bet.

If Jake Delhomme sits this week, Wallace will draw the start. While he’s nowhere near a top option, Wallace has the athletic ability to put up good numbers in any league that starts two quarterbacks.

5. Donovan McNabb vs. HOU

The Redskins offense couldn’t get much going last week against Dallas, but give the Cowboys front seven some credit. McNabb reloads this week against a defense that allowed Peyton Manning to throw for 419 yards last week. Yes, much of that was in garbage time with the Colts trying to catch up, but the Texans secondary still has some growing to do.

6. Fred Taylor @ NYJ

Most would just pass by Taylor this week after seeing the Jets on the schedule. I wouldn’t say it’s that easy. While it’s not likely that Taylor could put up more than 10 points, he’s a great play for a team who just needs a safe bet for 6-8 from their last flex spot. Sometimes a nice, safe play is all you need.

7. Reggie Bush @ SF

Pierre Thomas dominated the touches last week for New Orleans, but wouldn’t it just seem fitting to see the Heisman-less Reggie Bush break one in his return to California?

8. Jacoby Jones @ WAS

Jones is going to stay on this list until he breaks through. Maybe it’s this week. Maybe it’s next. Maybe it’s 2011. Regardless, I believe he’s primed to break out.

9. Dwayne Bowe @ CLE

His first game featured one catch for 13 yards. Ouch. Keep in mind it was a very soggy night in Kansas City and the Browns tend to give up some big plays.

10. Eddie Royal vs SEA

He’s back!  Eight catches for 98 yards last week puts Royal back on the fantasy radar. His owners have to be praying this is a sign of things to come.

11. Mike Williams (SEA) @ DEN

The other Mike Williams scored last week. If you weren’t watching, you’d miss the fact this one came one foot away from doing the same. He’s locked in as a top flight option for the surprising Seahawks.

12. Austin Collie vs. NYG

Take out his 73-yard touchdown reception from last week and he STILL had ten catches for 90 yards. He’s taken Anthony Gonzalez completely out of the equation.

13. Mark Clayton @ OAK

We knew he was a hot pickup, but nobody could have expected him to catch ten passes for 119 yards last week. Sam Bradford won’t be throwing the ball 50 times again anytime soon, but Clayton has earned some consideration.

14. Mike Thomas @ SD

We at DLF know Thomas very well since we’re based in the middle of PAC-10 country. It really looks like he’s doing everything possible to prove he’s more than a slot receiver. His six catches for 89 yards last week certainly helped that cause.

15. Davone Bess @ MIN

Many thought Bess would be an afterthought in the Miami offense after the acquisition of Brandon Marshall. He was targeted ten times last week, proving that theory to be false. Expect Miami to pass a lot against a Vikings team that stifles running games in a hurry.

16. Malcom Floyd vs. JAX

Floyd didn’t make anybody forget about Vincent Jackson last week as he posted a very pedestrian 48 yards on three catches. Don’t let that line fool you, though. He’ll get his chances.

17. Jordan Shipley vs. BAL

Shipley’s line from last week (5 catches for 82 yards) is a little misleading after he caught a 51-yard hail mary at the end of the first half. What is telling is the fact he played on more than 80% of the snaps. While the Bengals had to throw a ton in an attempt to get back in the game, it’s obvious Shipley is going to be used a lot this season.

18. John Carlson @ DEN

I still believe.

19. Tony Scheffler vs. PHI

Shaun Hill isn’t nearly as talented as Matt Stafford and will likely look at a lot of short and intermediate options this week. Meet Tony Scheffler.

20. Cadillac Williams @ CAR

Caddy’s 22 carries last week tied him for fourth most in the league. The Bucs have promised to ease his workload, but they really don’t have many options offensively right now.

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