When the Kansas City Chiefs claimed Kyle Orton on waivers two weeks ago after he was dumped by the Denver Broncos, it was assumed that Orton would step in for injured starting quarterback Matt Cassel faster than fast.
So why has K.C. head coach Todd Haley come out publicly and said that the erratic and under-talented Tyler Palko is still the starter? Is Haley being coy? Does Orton have a harder time learning playbooks than Chad Ochocinco? Or is this Haley’s way of scaring some sense into Dwayne Bowe?
Fantasy owners really do not care if Orton learns only one-tenth of Kansas City’s playbook by this Sunday. Orton needs to start because Palko is quickly destroying the fantasy values of every Chief on the offensive side of the ball.
In his two starts, this is what we learned about Palko:
1. He has the arm strength of Alex Smith, the accuracy of Mark Sanchez and the innate ability to throw mindless interceptions like Rex Grossman. Yet he is nowhere near as valuable fantasy-wise as any of those three are. And he is no Tim Tebow in terms of running ability, either.
2. The only receiver he can connect with on a semi-regular basis is Bowe, and still not enough in the red zone for Bowe owners to be overly confident about using him. In the last two games, Bowe has 14 receptions for 156 yards and zero scores. Not great, not bad. Meanwhile, Jon Baldwin and Steve Breaston have done little as well.
3. With Palko as starter, Haley has gone to a three-headed, running-back-by-committee rushing attack where Jackie Battle, Thomas Jones and Dexter McCluster split the carries and thus have no individual fantasy worth.
Orton could solve a lot of problems for the Chiefs and fantasy owners. We know he can throw judging by the 7,455 passing yards and 41 touchdown he compiled between 2009 and 2010. That would bring Bowe and the other receivers’ fantasy values back to normal and would take pressure off the running game, where defenses are stacking the box against Battle and Co.
Plus Orton would give fantasy owners a solid quarterback to pick up on the waiver wire. With starting signal callers dropping every week, owners do want to head into their fantasy playoffs relying on Palko, Caleb Hanie or Tarvaris Jackson if they can choose Orton.
Let’s hope Haley is all smoke and mirrors with trying to con the public into thinking Palko might start against the Chicago Bears this weekend. Let’s hope he is not actually telling us the truth.
Run and Shoot:
Three Guys to Pick Up This Week:
Peyton Hillis, Cleveland Browns
Hillis pulled a double surprise on fantasy owners last weekend. Not only did he play after looking like he was certain to miss another game, he started and received almost all of the rushing attempts, running 19 times for 65 yards against the Cincinnati Bengals.
It appears Hillis will indeed be the workhorse no matter how healthy Montario Hardesty and Chris Ogbonnaya are, probably because Cleveland wants to know once and for all if they should sign Hillis to a long-term deal or let him leave in the offseason.
If someone dropped Hillis in your league when he was injured, it would not hurt to pick him up. Just know this—four of Cleveland’s final five games are against the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers.
T.J. Yates, Houston Texans
Fantasy owners like playing third-string quarterbacks as much as the Roots like playing sincere songs for Republicans, but if you were a Matt Schaub and/or Matt Leinart owner and desperately need a starting QB this week, pick up Yates.
Yates threw better downfield and did a better job of finding Andre Johnson than Leinart did last Sunday, that’s for sure. His tenure as the starting signal caller might be shorter than the The Playboy Club’s run on television since Houston just signed Jake Delhomme, but Yates should be safe for a week or two. At least until Delhomme learns the Texans’ intricate offense (hand the ball to Arian Foster 90 percent of the time, play-action passes off fakes to Foster the other 10 percent).
Yates has a good matchup this weekend, about as good as a third-stringer can get. Houston hosts Atlanta, whose 23rd-ranked pass defense has not struck fear into many passers this season. Look for Yates to scrounge up 170 passing yards and a touchdown.
Johnny Knox, Chicago Bears
Jay Cutler’s favorite target was Earl Bennett, but it seems that Caleb Hanie’s go-to guy is Knox. The speedster had 145 yards and a touchdown in Hanie’s first start last week, which came on the heels of his 97-yard, one-TD performance the week before.
Knox is averaging 22.2 yards per catch and goes as deep as Gloria Allred chases ambulances. Hanie is no Cutler in terms of arm strength and overall talent, but he might make Knox’s fantasy value rise more than Cutler ever did.
Three Guys to Worry About:
Laurent Robinson, Dallas Cowboys
Robinson may have caught seven touchdowns over Dallas’ last five contests, yet the elephant in the fantasy room is that Miles Austin could come back this week or next week, which means Robinson’s catches and yards would go down as soon as that happens.
With Jason Witten, Dez Bryant and Austin ahead of him on the Tony Romo target chart, Robinson’s Cris Carter routine will probably be ending in a matter of games. He has still been one of the best waiver-wire pickups in fantasy football this season, though.
Jermichael Finley, Green Bay Packers
Finley owners (and Finley himself) have to be frustrated with how New Orleans’ Jimmy Graham and New England’s Rob Gronkowski are putting up titanic numbers at the tight end position while Finley, who has just as much talent in the open field and is as uncoverable, is Green Bay’s version of Jake Ballard.
Take away Finley’s monster game during Week 3 and has he been any better than pedestrian tight ends like Carolina’s Greg Olsen, Buffalo’s Scott Chandler or Pittsburgh’s Heath Miller? No, his stats fall in line with theirs for the most part.
Finley only has six receptions and zero touchdowns over his last three games. If Finley cannot find the end zone or rack up 60-plus yards against the New York Giants this weekend, a team who cannot cover tight ends to save their lives, then Finley owners have to doubt what he will give them during their fantasy playoff weeks.
DeSean Jackson, Philadelphia Eagles
If Andy Reid doesn’t know what to do with this guy, how are fantasy owners? Jackson’s alligator arms and 10-cent brain are ruining his fantasy worth at the most inopportune time.
Jackson should be cleaning up and seeing more passes while teammate Jeremy Maclin is sidelined. Instead he is being benched for quarters or whole games and is dropping sure touchdowns when he actually plays.
I cannot wholeheartedly say you should use Jackson this week. He will be facing a below-average Seattle Seahawks secondary that made Anthony Armstrong look like Lynn Swann last week, but who knows how long Jackson will stay on the field and if he will catch the balls thrown to him?