There are a slew of fantasy free agents available this week who may or may not help your team. After two weeks, you’re probably beginning to see the holes on your squad, if, indeed, you have any. Sometimes, you might look at your roster, it is underperforming, but you cannot pull the trigger on a Johnny-Come-Lately who might only be a temporary fix. That’s fine. There is certainly nothing wrong with patience, whether in fantasy, gambling, or any aspect of sports.
In one of my big-money leagues, I am 2-0. I have done it with smoke and mirrors, as the team has underperformed, and is only middle-of-the-road in terms of points. In another league, I am one of the highest scoring teams, and I am 0-2. Sometimes, a little luck helps. In that league, my roster is strong, I don’t see many holes, or guys available on the waiver wire who will help increase production. In fact, adding a free agent would be subtraction by addition.
Look over your roster and make an educated decision. Sometimes, it isn’t prudent to make a move just to make a move. Look at matchups, project a few weeks by looking ahead at the player’s team schedule, and make sure you’re making a good decision before hitting that submit button.
Donnie Avery, WR, Indianapolis: We’ve all been made aware of Avery’s blinding speed, but there is a reason the guy didn’t catch on with the St. Louis Rams. Sure, he had injury issues in the past, but he is looking healthy. Through the first two games, he had a touchdown in one game, and then a 100-yard performance in the other. Beware, however, that it was just Avery’s second career 100-yard game, and first since Oct. 26, 2008, during his rookie season. Don’t expect this to become a frequent occurrence. However, he seems to have jelled nicely with QB Andrew Luck, and is worth adding as a WR4 or ‘flex’ option heading into Week 3 against Jacksonville. The Jaguars rank 17th against the pass so far, but are surprising tied for the league lead by allowing just three pass plays of 20 or more yards.
Andre Brown, RB, N.Y. Giants: Brown entered the Week 2 game with Tampa Bay as a third back, and mostly a special teamer. During the course of the game, Ahmad Bradshaw (neck) left with an injury, and rookie David Wilson fumbled last week, so Brown was given an opportunity. Pun totally intended, he took the ball and ran with the chance. Brown posted 71 yards and a score on 13 rushing attempts, and now could be in line to make his first NFL start Thursday in Carolina if Bradshaw cannot go. Be very careful with Brown, and don’t overvalue him. If you’re desperate for a runner, especially if you own Bradshaw, Brown is worth a one-time start as a low-end RB2 or ‘flex’ option. However, his long-term fantasy outlook is not great, so tread very carefully.
Andy Dalton, QB, Cincinnati: Until this past week against Cleveland, Dalton was actually trending down. In his first eight NFL starts, he won six games to burst onto the scene. However, over his past 10 games entering Week 2, Dalton was just 3-7 with a completion ratio of 56.5 percent, with eight TDs and 10 INTs during the span. He turned that around against the lowly Browns, who were without their best cover man (CB Joe Haden) due to suspension, mind you. Dalton posted 318 yards, three TDs and one INT. Now, he’ll get the Redskins on the road, a team which allowed 300-plus yards to St. Louis Rams QB Sam Bradford in Week 2. If you’re in need of an upgrade for your second QB, or if your primary option is, let’s say, Denver Broncos QB Peyton Manning, going up against the No. 1 pass defense from Houston this week, or perhaps Baltimore Ravens QB Joe Flacco facing off against the New England Patriots, Dalton is worth a look. However, he remains nothing more than a QB2 in most formats.
Brian Hartline, WR, Miami: Kudos to Hartline, as it is always nice to see a player from The Ohio State University doing well. Hartline hung 111 receiving yards, a career-best, on the Raiders in Week 2 in a rare blowout win for Miami. Remember this before investing too heavily in Hartline – the 100-yard performance was the first of his four-year NFL career. He has the chance to be a solid WR4 or ‘flex’ player when the matchup is favorable, but he is probably best left to the waiver wire in most situations.
Andrew Hawkins, WR, Cincinnati: We mentioned Dalton’s success above, but he needs someone to throw to, right? Well, we all know about WR A.J. Green, but the problem has been no secondary receiver stepping up to help out. Well, that is until the surprising emergence of Hawkins, who is a former CFL standout. Hawkins hasn’t done a lot downfield, but he has piled up some impressive numbers in the first two games. He has mostly run very short or intermediate routes, and then done the rest with his quickness and agility. He has averaged 70.1 yards per game through the air, and he found the end zone in Week 2. If I were the Bengals, I’d find a way to get this guy more involved, using him similar to how the Minnesota Vikings utilize WR Percy Harvin. Hawkins has a lot of fantasy potential, so get in on the basement floor, stash him away and hope his role continues to expand.
Daryl Richardson, RB, St. Louis: Richardson, not rookie Isaiah Pead, came on for an injured RB Steven Jackson (groin) last week against the Redskins. Richardson did not have the same pedigree as Pead coming out of college, but he has leapfrogged Pead on the depth chart. Before the season, you were told if you drafted SJ39, add Pead as his handcuff. However, now is the time to swap those out, add Richardson and leave Pead on the waiver wire. As far as Jackson, it sounds like he could have re-entered the game, if needed, so don’t count on Richardson seeing a big workload in Week 3. But hang tight. It’s only a matter of when, not if, the fragile Jackson suffers his next ailment.
St. Louis Rams DST: Again, this is one for those fantasy owners who play the matchups and swap out their DST based on a favorable schedule. The Rams head to Chicago to meet the error-prone QB Jay Cutler. It should be a good chance for the Rams to not only rack up a couple of interceptions, but perhaps take one back. In addition, the Bears offensive line is marginal at best, so look for LB James Laurinaitis, DL Chris Long and the defense to pressure Cutler all day long. It wouldn’t be surprising to see a handful of sacks to go along with a handful of those pick-offs. The Rams host Seahawks rookie QB Russell Wilson in Week 4, before a Thursday game with the Cardinals in Week 5, so there is some long-term appeal for the Rams, believe it or not.
Pierre Thomas, RB, New Orleans: Over the past couple of seasons, Thomas has had a difficult time staying on the field due to health issues. However, when he is 100 percent, he has proven to be a valuable fantasy commodity. Sure, the Saints are stacked at running back, but RB Mark Ingram has also battled the injury bug, and has looked like a bust. Thomas eclipsed the century mark in Week 2, posting 110 yards on the ground at Carolina. That came on just nine carries. It was his fourth-career 100-yard game, and first since Sept. 27, 2009. Look for his touches to be in the neighborhood of 10-15 against the Chiefs in Week 3. Kansas City ranks 27th against the run so far, allowing 142.5 yards per game on the ground. So Thomas might be a nice RB2 or ‘flex’ play in the short term.
Justin Tucker, PK, Baltimore: Tucker has shown off a cannon of a leg, showing everyone why the Ravens decided to part with veteran Billy Cundiff (now with the Redskins) at the end of the preseason. In fact, Tucker already tied a franchise record for the longest field goal with his 56-yarder in Week 2. All three of his field goals were from 48 yards or longer, making him an excellent pick-up in leagues which reward longer distance field goals.
Kellen Winslow, TE, New England*: Winslow gets an asterisk, because as of right now, he has simply agreed to terms with the Patriots, but still must pass a physical. It will take K2 a little while to acclimate, but this is a situation worth monitoring. Winslow will try to step in and ease the loss of TE Aaron Hernandez (ankle), who is expected to be sidelined for at least six weeks. If Winslow can shut his mouth, put his ego aside and play up to his capabilities for once, he could very well re-emerge as a somewhat viable fantasy option. He’ll need to learn the intricate system quickly, but working with QB Tom Brady will easily give him the best quarterback he has worked with during his NFL career.