Jamaal Charles

Fantasy Decisions: Setting a Lineup and Week 8 Rankings

Fantasy football ultimately comes down to one thing over anything else, setting the right lineup.

It doesn’t matter if you have the top three weekly scorers in fantasy if they’re sitting on your bench. Today I want to give you a peak behind the curtains at how I set my lineups. The formula isn’t difficult, it just takes a little time and I really think you can be successful. If you ever want help with your specific lineup, don’t forget to send an email to FantasyDecisions@gmail.com and I’ll give you an answer by the end of the day. 

Here it is:

1.     Start your studs. You didn’t draft Jamaal Charles to sit on your bench. I don’t care if he’s facing the fourth toughest defense in the Rams this week, you start the guy and you don’t regret it. You jumped on board back in September, so as Dido’s hit single goes… “I will go down with this ship”.

2.     Always start the player who will get more snaps. If I’m deciding between Percy Harvin and Mohamed Sanu at WR2 and I hear Rex Ryan saying Percy isn’t going to play too many snaps, Harvin is quickly making a trip to my bench. I want the guy who is going to get the most snaps because more snaps is never a bad thing. However, snaps alone aren’t going to make or break the case for starting. I’m talking about efficient snaps. I say week after week how important targets are for WRs and TEs, and how huge touches can be for a RB. Look at these stats and then look at what kind of snaps your guys are getting. Efficient snaps are key to fantasy success.

3.     Always look at the opposing defenses rank against each position. As an example, this week Carson Palmer is an excellent value/fill-in play at QB. He’s facing an Eagles defense ranked 5th to last in defense against the pass. This is a key stat you can take advantage of.

4.     Rankings can help. Obviously you’re looking here first to see my rankings, but also make sure you check around different websites to gauge other writers’ love/hate for certain guys. Rather than just relying on ESPN or CBS, look at three or four different websites and try to get a sense of where the player’s value lies in the week ahead.

5.     Some consistency mixed with some high ceiling is a good formula. I always try to make all my decisions in fantasy with this in the back of my mind. The best fantasy lineups are mixed with good, consistent guys who have high floors but maybe lower ceilings, and high-risk high reward players. You can take a chance on a guy like Desean Jackson or Sammy Watkins when you’re coupling them with a nice grounded player like Emmanuel Sanders who may not go off for 200 yards but so far this year has been start-able in 5 of the 6 games he’s played. This way, even if the flame burns out on your big risk play, you’ve still got consistent production from somewhere else.

6.     Projections can help but shouldn’t be given too much weight. These are a good starting place to get an idea of what you might be able to expect from your second running back, but projections only go so far. As I was starting this addiction we call fantasy football, I fell into the trap of seeing a huge projection and getting thrilled. You see ESPN projecting Bishop Sankey for nearly 15 points and don’t think twice about starting him. But I’d much rather have Andre Ellington on my team even though he’s projected to get five points less than Sankey. Ellington got a career high 30 touches in week seven and has had at least 75 total yards every single week this year. Sankey is still finding his footing while the Cardinal RB has been one of the most consistent RB options this year. So take those projections with a grain of salt when it comes to setting your lineup.

7.     Go with your gut. This is really an overarching theme when figuring out who to start. I don’t care if a guy is projected for six points, ranked 25th at his position, and is facing the second toughest defense in the league. If your gut is screaming, “Start Matt Ryan against the Lions”, go with it. You’d always rather go with your gut, start the guy, and be disappointed than fight your instincts and watch the guy go off on your bench.

Week 7 Rankings

QB

1.     Aaron Rodgers

2.     Andrew Luck

3.     Peyton Manning

4.     Philip Rivers

5.     Russell Wilson

6.     Drew Brees

7.     Carson Palmer

8.     Tony Romo

9.     Tom Brady

10.  Cam Newton

11. Kyle Orton

12. Matthew Stafford

13. Jay Cutler

14. Nick Foles

15. Alex Smith

16. Matt Ryan

17. Ryan Tannehill

18. Ben Roethlisberger

19. Ryan Fitzpatrick

20. Joe Flacco

RB

1.     Arian Foster

2.     Matt Forte

3.     Marshawn Lynch

4.     DeMarco Murray

5.     Le’Veon Bell

6.     Ben Tate

7.     Eddie Lacy

8.     Jamaal Charles

9.     Lamar Miller

10. Giovani Bernard

11. Andre Ellington

12. Jerick McKinnon

13. Branden Oliver

14. LeSean Mccoy

15. Shane Vereen

16. Joique Bell

17. Justin Forsett

18. Chris Ivory

19. Mark Ingram

20. Alfred Morris

21. Ahmad Bradshaw

22. Darren McFadden

23. Ronnie Hillman

24. Tre Mason

25. Bishop Sankey

WR

1.     Jordy Nelson

2.     Dez Bryant

3.     Demaryius Thomas

4.     Jeremy Maclin

5.     Antonio Brown

6.     Julio Jones

7.     Randall Cobb

8.     Golden Tate

9.     Brandon Marshall

10. A.J. Green

11. Alshon Jeffery

12. Mike Wallace

13. Emmanuel Sanders

14. T.Y. Hilton

15. Vincent Jackson

16. Julian Edelman

17. Andre Johnson

18. Michael Floyd

19. DeSean Jackson

20. Kelvin Benjamin

21. Steve Smith

22. Sammy Watkins

23. DeAndre Hopkins

24. Kendall Wright

25. Eric Decker

TE

1.     Rob Gronkowski

2.     Julius Thomas

3.     Greg Olsen

4.     Jimmy Graham

5.     Antonio Gates

6.     Jordan Reed

7.     Martellus Bennett

8.     Travis Kelce

9.     Owen Daniels

10. Zach Ertz

11. Dwayne Allen

12. Heath Miller

13. Delanie Walker

14. Jordan Cameron

15. Jason Witten

D/ST

1.     Dolphins

2.     Chiefs

3.     Texans

4.     Bills

5.     Cowboys

6.     Patriots

7.     Vikings

8.     Browns

9.     Jets

10. Seahawks

Flex

1.     Arian Foster

2.     Matt Forte

3.     Marshawn Lynch

4.     Jordy Nelson

5.     Demarco Murray

6.     Dez Bryant

7.     Demaryius Thomas

8.     Le’Veon Bell

9.     Jeremy Maclin

10. Rob Gronkowski

11. Ben Tate

12. Eddie Lacy

13. Antonio Brown

14. Jamaal Charles

15. Lamar Miller

16. Giovani Bernard

17. Andre Ellington

18. Julius Thomas

19. Julio Jones

20. Randall Cobb

21. Golden Tate

22. Jerick McKinnon

23. Branden Oliver

24. Brandon Marshall

25. A.J. Green

26. LeSean Mccoy

27. Shane Vereen

28. Greg Olsen

29. Alshon Jeffery

30. Mike Wallace

31. Joique Bell

32. Jimmy Graham

33. Justin Forsett

34. Emmanuel Sanders

35. T.Y. Hilton

36. Vincent Jackson

37. Chris Ivory

38. Mark Ingram

39. Alfred Morris

40. Julian Edelman

41. Andre Johnson

42. Michael Floyd

43. Ahmad Bradshaw

44. DeSean Jackson

45. Darren McFadden

46. Kelvin Benjamin

47. Steve Smith

48. Sammy Watkins

49. Ronnie Hillman

50. DeAndre Hopkins

Good luck in week 8!

Send in your lineup questions, waiver wire wonders, or trade help to FantasyDecisions@gmail.com

Fantasy Decisions: Week 7 Rankings and the Flex

The flex spot in your lineup can be one of the most infuriating positions on this planet.

In most leagues, you’re given the choice between starting a running back, a wide receiver, or tight end. For years, I followed the philosophy of absolutely always using a running back in that flex unless bye weeks forced me to throw in a wide receiver for the position. Running backs have always seemed like the safe play to me. I rationalized all this in my head saying, “Running backs are always going to get carries! You never know if Alex Smith is going to throw to Dwayne Bowe or Donnie Avery. How am I supposed to figure out whether Matt Hasselback has a good connection with T.J. Houshmandzadeh this week?”

But as the league turns more and more towards an aerial attack, suddenly many teams are using a wide receiver in a flex spot once reserved for RBs only. The two positions are quickly becoming near-equivalents for fantasy purposes. As of this morning, there are 29 running backs that have averaged at least eight points a game this season. And wide receiver? Well, there are 30 in the same category.

Here’s another stat for you. Of the top 40 flex options this year (based on average scoring per week): 17 are RBs, 17 are WRs, 6 are TEs.

Just remember your flex spot is a FLEX spot! It is not a RB3 spot. Receivers are being more utilized every passing year, so now is the time to jump on the bandwagon. Yes, wide receivers may seem more sporadic but in reality, you’re looking at the same stats as the running back position. So use that flex spot for the receiver you keep ignoring; he just might surprise you.

As we look forward to this weekend, don’t forget the Philadelphia Eagles and Tampa Bay Buccaneers are both on bye so feel free to let Mike Glennon and Riley Cooper hang out on your bench. Lastly, the Patriots take on the Jets tonight in an AFC East battle. Set your lineups accordingly. Onto the rankings!

WEEK 7 RANKINGS

QB

1.     Aaron Rodgers

2.     Philip Rivers

3.     Andrew Luck

4.     Peyton Manning

5.     Jay Cutler

6.     Tom Brady

7.     Russell Wilson

8.     Drew Brees

9.     Carson Palmer

10. Cam Newton

11.  Colin Kaepernick

12.  Matthew Stafford

13.  Brian Hoyer

14.  Joe Flacco

15. Kirk Cousins

16.  Matt Ryan

17.  Tony Romo

18.  Jake Locker

19.  Ben Roethlisberger

20.  Eli Manning

RB

1.     Arian Foster

2.     Demarco Murray

3.     Matt Forte

4.     Le’Veon Bell

5.     Marshawn Lynch

6.     Jamaal Charles

7.     Giovani Bernard

8.     Eddie Lacy

9.     Ben Tate

10. Andre Ellington

11.  Branden Oliver

12. Lamar Miller

13.  Alfred Morris

14.  Justin Forsett

15.  Andre Williams

16.  Ronnie Hillman

17.  Frank Gore

18.  Shane Vereen

19.  Fred Jackson

20.  Joique Bell

21.  Fred Jackson

22.  Chris Ivory

23.  Mark Ingram

24.  Bishop Sankey

25.  Jonathan Stewart

WR

1.     Demaryius Thomas

2.     Antonio Brown

3.     Julio Jones

4.     Jordy Nelson

5.     Dez Bryant

6.     Alshon Jeffery

7.     Brandon Marshall

8.     Randall Cobb

9.     Steve Smith

10.  Golden Tate

11.  Emmanuel Sanders

12.  Andre Johnson

13.  Kelvin Benjamin

14.  Mike Wallace

15.  Mohamed Sanu

16.  Julian Edelman

17.  T.Y. Hilton

18.  DeSean Jackson

19.  Michael Floyd

20.  Percy Harvin

21.  DeAndre Hopkins

22.  Pierre Garcon

23.  Reggie Wayne

24.  Rueben Randle

25.  Keenan Allen

TE

1.     Rob Gronkowski

2.     Julius Thomas

3.     Greg Olsen

4.     Jordan Reed

5.     Antonio Gates

6.     Martellus Bennett

7.     Jordan Cameron

8.     Delanie Walker

9.     Travis Kelce

10.  Larry Donnell

11.  Vernon Davis

12.  Dwayne Allen

13.  Jason Witten

14.  Jared Cook

15.  Heath Miller

D/ST

1.     Seahawks

2.     Bills

3.     Patriots

4.     Texans

5.     Browns

6.     Cardinals

7.     Lions

8.     Broncos

9.     Ravens

10.  Bears

11.  Cowboys

12.  Chargers

13.  Titans

14.  49ers

15.  Packers

Flex

1.     Arian Foster

2.     Demarco Murray

3.     Matt Forte

4.     Le’Veon Bell

5.     Marshawn Lynch

6.     Demaryius Thomas

7.     Antonio Brown

8.     Jamaal Charles

9.     Giovani Bernard

10. Julio Jones

11.  Jordy Nelson

12.  Eddie Lacy

13.  Dez Bryant

14.  Rob Gronkowski

15.  Ben Tate

16.  Andre Ellington

17.  Branden Oliver

18.  Julius Thomas

19.  Alshon Jeffery

20.  Lamar Miller

21.  Alfred Morris

22.  Brandon Marshall

23.  Randall Cobb

24.  Justin Forsett

25.  Andre Williams

26.  Steve Smith

27.  Golden Tate

28.  Emmanuel Sanders

29.  Ronnie Hillman

30.  Frank Gore

31.  Shane Vereen

32.  Andre Johnson

33.  Kelvin Benjamin

34.  Mike Wallace

35.  Mohamed Sanu

36.  Greg Olsen

37.  Julian Edelman

38.  Fred Jackson

39.  Joique Bell

40.  T.Y. Hilton

41.  DeSean Jackson

42.  Chris Ivory

43.  Mark Ingram

44.  Bishop Sankey

45.  Jonathan Stewart

46.  Michael Floyd

47.  Percy Harvin

48.  Jordan Reed

49.  Antonio Gates

50.  DeAndre Hopkins

Send in your lineup questions, waiver wire wonders, or trade help to FantasyDecisions@gmail.com

 

Fantasy Decisions with Bradley Maddox: Fantasy Marriageā€¦and Weekly Rankings

This time next year, I will have been married for 4 months. Yeah I’m that kid: the one who gets married halfway through college. She’s a beautiful nursing student who, thankfully, will be graduating in December of 2015. But until then, as Alan Jackson puts it, we’ll be “living on love”…and very little else. Being newlyweds will be exciting as we learn more about each other everyday and experience a brand new life together. We’ll be two college students joined in wedded bliss.

            Now you’re not reading this to know about my personal life, you’re waiting to get to the fantasy analysis. Well, I challenge you to look back at the wonderful football marriages that took place this offseason and the beautiful impact they’re now having on your fantasy lineup. Remember when Gary Kubiak and Steve Smith were brought together as one? Yeah we’re not talking about marriage in the traditional sense, we’re talking about the ever-important marriage of new offensive coordinators and their new toys. Let’s take a quick look at just how big of an impact three new offensive coordinators are having on your roster.

 

 

·      Gary Kubiak and WR Steve Smith

o   When Kubiak was let go by the Texans this past offseason, teams around the league quickly inquired about the former offensive coordinator. He was always more of an offensive mind in Houston, leaving the defense up to his staff. Now in Baltimore, there may be no one happier than former Panther wide receiver Steve Smith. Upon leaving Carolina, Smith quickly became the ‘X factor’ receiver in Kubiak’s offense. For years, none other than Texan star receiver Andre Johnson held this prominent role. During his time in Houston, Kubiak made Johnson the first, second, and third option in the passing game. Secondary receivers weren’t important because they weren’t utilized. Kubiak had one receiver he cared about and that was going to be his guy through thick and thin. All this to say, we should have seen this breakout coming from Smith. Through three weeks, the former Panther has been targeted a staggering 32 times and has reeled in 18 of them. The next most targeted receiver is Torrey Smith, targeted only 18 times (or almost less than half of Smith). If an owner in your league is letting Smith ride the pine, see what kind of deal you can put together to grab him while he’s still available. As long as he holds down the ‘X’ spot, Smith is a viable WR2 in most formats.

·      Hue Jackson and RB Giovani Bernard

o   Hue Jackson is in a much different situation then Kubiak. Rather than moving teams, Jackson was promoted from Bengals running backs coach to offensive coordinator upon Jay Gruden’s exit to Washington. Having coached the team’s running backs, Jackson was smart enough to know what he had in the dynamic Gio Bernard. In 2013, Gruden was still focused on splitting the carries between Bernard and BenJarvus Green-Ellis. But today, Green-Ellis finds himself a free agent looking for a job while Bernard shines in Cincy. This fantasy marriage has done wonders for the young back. Last season, Bernard had more than 13 carries in just two games. This year, he’s already surpassed that number, averaging more than 18 carries a game. This doesn’t even include his role in the passing game, having already accumulated 19 targets through 3 weeks. Gio is the real deal and his owners are grateful for this marriage of coordinator and star running back.

·      Ben McAdoo and RB Rashad Jennings

o   In the last of our three marriages, we look at the beautiful chemistry between former Packers assistant McAdoo and Giants running back Rashad Jennings. McAdoo was brought into New York to spark life in an offense that ended in the bottom-five in offense last season. Having run the West Coast offense while in Green Bay, the coordinator quickly transformed the Giants into this system. West Coast offenses are known for short passes near the line of scrimmage and a hurry-up mentality. The Giants brass hired McAdoo hoping he could raise Eli Manning’s career 58.5% completion rate (hasn’t topped 60% in a season since 2011). What they didn’t expect was the massive role Jennings would play in the new scheme. Through week 3, Jennings has carried the rock 68 times for nearly 300 yards. In the current age of football, it’s hard to find many bell cow running backs. You need not look any further to find one. Having ceded just 19 carries to backup Andre Williams, this backfield is all Jennings. Expect more of the same in the coming weeks as McAdoo and Jennings take their marriage and turn it into wedded bliss (in the form of many, many fantasy points).

 

Week 4 Rankings:

            Here are my week 4 rankings broken down by position. I’ve also included my top 50 flex for those who can’t decide if they need to start a RB, WR, or TE in that flex spot. On to the rankings….

 

QB

1.     Drew Brees

2.     Andrew Luck

3.     Phillip Rivers

4.     Aaron Rodgers

5.     Matt Ryan

6.     Matthew Stafford

7.     Jay Cutler

8.     Kirk Cousins

9.     Cam Newton

10. Colin Kaepernick

11. Jake Locker

12. Ben Roethlisberger

13. Tony Romo

14. Nick Foles

15. Tom Brady

16. Eli Manning

17. Blake Bortles

18. Teddy Bridgewater

19. Joe Flacco

20. Ryan Tannehill

 

RB

1.     Demarco Murray

2.     Le’veon Bell

3.     Matt Forte

4.     LeSean McCoy

5.     Rashad Jennings

6.     Arian Foster

7.     Jamaal Charles

8.     Lamar Miller

9.     Donald Brown

10. Eddie Lacy

11. Alfred Morris

12. Matt Asiata

13. C.J. Spiller

14. Fred Jackson

15. Doug Martin

16. Ahmad Bradshaw

17. Frank Gore

18. Stevan Ridley

19. Pierre Thomas

20. Lorenzo Taliaferro

21. Shane Vereen

22. Reggie Bush

23. Darren Sproles

24. DeAngelo Williams

25. Chris Ivory

 

WR

1.     Calvin Johnson

2.     Antonio Brown

3.     Dez Bryant

4.     Julio Jones

5.     Jordy Nelson

6.     Vincent Jackson

7.     Jeremy Maclin

8.     Alshon Jeffery

9.     Randall Cobb

10. Brandon Marshall

11. Kelvin Benjamin

12. Andre Johnson

13. Michael Crabtree

14. Keenan Allen

15. Desean Jackson

16. Victor Cruz

17. Cordarrelle Patterson

18. Cecil Shorts III

19. Julian Edelman

20. Roddy White

21. Brandin Cooks

22. Steve Smith

23. Marques Colston

24. Sammy Watkins

25. DeAndre Hopkins

 

TE

1.     Jimmy Graham

2.     Rob Gronkowski

3.     Greg Olsen

4.     Vernon Davis

5.     Martellus Bennett

6.     Larry Donnell

7.     Travis Kelce

8.     Antonio Gates

9.     Delanie Walker

10. Niles Paul

11. Zach Ertz

12. Owen Daniels

13. Jason Witten

14. Heath Miller

15. Charles Clay

 

D/ST

1.     San Diego Chargers

2.     Miami Dolphins

3.     New England Patriots

4.     Houston Texans

5.     Pittsburgh Steelers

6.     Detroit Lions

7.     Carolina Panthers

8.     Atlanta Falcons

9.     Chicago Bears

10. Baltimore Ravens

11.  San Francisco 49ers

12. New Orleans Saints

13. Oakland Raiders

14. Indianapolis Colts

15. Washington Redskins

 

 

Kickers

1.     Nick Novak

2.     Stephen Gostkowski

3.     Shaun Suisham

4.     Justin Tucker

5.     Blair Walsh

6.     Dan Bailey

7.     Robbie Gould

8.     Adam Vinatieri

9.     Matt Bryant

10.  Cody Parkey

11. Mason Crosby

12. Phil Dawson

13. Dan Carpenter

14. Sebastian Janikowski

15. Randy Bullock

 

 

Flex

1.     Demarco Murray

2.     Le’Veon Bell

3.     Calvin Johnson

4.     Matt Forte

5.     LeSean McCoy

6.     Antonio Brown

7.     Dez Bryant

8.     Julio Jones

9.     Rashad Jennings

10. Arian Foster

11. Jamaal Charles

12. Jimmy Graham

13. Lamar Miller

14. Donald Brown

15. Vincent Jackson

16. Jeremy Maclin

17. Alshon Jeffery

18. Eddie Lacy

19. Alfred Morris

20. Rob Gronkowski

21. Matt Asiata

22. C.J. Spiller

23. Randall Cobb

24. Brandon Marshall

25. Kelvin Benjamin

26. Andre Johnson

27. Michael Crabtree

28. Fred Jackson

29. Doug Martin

30. Greg Olsen

31. Ahmad Bradshaw

32. Frank Gore

33. Stevan Ridley

34. Keenan Allen

35. Desean Jackson

36. Victor Cruz

37. Cordarrelle Patterson

38. Cecil Shorts III

39. Pierre Thomas

40. Vernon Davis

41. Lorenzo Taliaferro

42. Shane Vereen

43. Reggie Bush

44. Darren Sproles

45. Julian Edelman

46. Roddy White

47. Brandin Cooks

48. Steve Smith

49. Marques Colston

50. DeAngelo Williams

 

 

 

Feel free to send in your lineup questions, waiver wire thoughts, or trade help to FantasyDecisions@gmail.com

 

This tool is free and I promise to get back to you by the end of the day you send in your question. Send away!

 

Good luck to everyone this week!

 

This has been another edition of Fantasy Decisions with Bradley Maddox. Always remember: An elite owner stays ahead of the curve

 
Photo Credit: The Associated Press

I’ve done a few baseball blogs in a row, and now it’s time to get back into football mode. Former Texas Longhorns players had a pretty nice showing in the NFL’s Week 6. Here are a few standouts from Sunday’s games.

Marquise Goodwin (Buffalo Bills, wide receiver) 

Goodwin is finally back for the Bills after fracturing his hand in Week 1. Whenever he plays, he not only gives the Bills a dangerous deep threat, but also has home run ability on kick and punt returns. On Sunday, at home against the Cincinnati Bengals, Goodwin was targeted three times and hauled in two passes for 51 yards and a touchdown, including a 40-yard touchdown reception. On special teams he was even more lethal, gaining a total of 94 yards on four returns. Although the Bengals won 27-24, the speedy Goodwin left his mark on the game.

Jamaal Charles (Kansas City Chiefs, running back)

Charles had another relatively inefficient day on the ground on Sunday. He needed 22 carries to gain 78 yards, but he got the ball in the end zone twice for the Chiefs. He contributed five receptions for 50 yards. Charles played no small part in continuing the Chiefs’ perfect season with a win at home over the Oakland Raiders, 24-7. While he hasn’t quite been the explosive runner we are used to seeing, he is contributing much more in the passing game. He’s always had good hands for a running back, and that makes him even more valuable.

Kenny Vaccaro (New Orleans Saints, safety)

Vaccaro and the Saints’ defense played well against Tom Brady and the Patriots on Sunday. Vaccaro helped limit the still-potent Patriots’ offense to just 376 yards on 83 plays. Brady was flustered all afternoon, as Vaccaro and the Saints’ tight secondary coverage paved the way for the front seven’s five sacks. In typical fashion, Brady engineered a last-minute drive to steal the win at home, 30-27. The Saints’ defense isn’t the first victim and certainly won’t be the last of Brady’s clutch gene.

Photo Credit: Cody Bubenik | Daily Texan Staff

Did you see that Alabama-A&M game? Yeah, it was weird for me to root for the Aggies. With the NFL and college football in full swing, it’s hard not to bring the two together. With that in mind, this week’s fantasy starters all have something in common: they’re from the Lone Star State and played their college ball in Texas, too.

Start:

1) Andy Dalton, QB, Cincinnati Bengals


The former TCU Horned Frog has been lighting it up this year, exceeding expectations and stymieing the always dreaded sophomore slump. Dalton looked polished and efficient last Sunday against the Giants, tossing four touchdowns and no interceptions in a 31-13 drubbing. With the Chiefs’ generous defense up next on the schedule, Dalton should have a fine day through the air.

2) Danny Amendola, WR, St. Louis Rams

After missing the last three games with a shoulder injury, the Texas Tech alumnus returned in a big way against the 49ers’ stout defense, snagging 11 catches for 102 yards. Not only is he fully healthy, he is clearly Sam Bradford’s favorite receiver. No other receiver was targeted more than three times last week. Although the Rams face a Jets defense that is stingy against opposing wideouts, Amendola will be looked for early and often by Bradford, which bodes well for fantasy owners.

3) Jamaal Charles, RB, Kansas City Chiefs

The ex-Longhorn has been anything but consistent this year, rushing for a combined 83 yards in his previous three games before breaking out for 100 yards and a touchdown against the Steelers. Although it’s risky to expect Charles to produce two weeks in a row, the Chiefs would be crazy not to keep feeding him the ball this week against a Cincinnati defense that is nowhere near as good as Pittsburgh’s.

Sit:

1) Nick Foles, QB, Philadelphia Eagles

Set to make his first career start against the Washington Redskins on Sunday in place of a concussed Michael Vick, Foles is no doubt a hot commodity on the fantasy waiver wires. However, expecting the local product from Westlake High to produce in his first start might be asking a bit much, even if it is against a bad defense.

2) Anquan Boldin, WR, Baltimore Ravens

Boldin has not earned double-digit fantasy points since Week 4 against the Browns and has not scored a touchdown since Week 1. Even last week in the Ravens’ 55-20 embarrassment of the Raiders, in which Baltimore’s punter scored a touchdown, Boldin was held to 38 yards on four catches. With Pittsburgh’s physical defense up next, Boldin should be in for another quiet game.

3) Danny Woodhead, RB, New England Patriots

Woodhead was everywhere last weekend against the Bills, rushing for a touchdown and catching a touchdown pass. While fantasy owners are understandably happy with his recent production and a favorable matchup against the Colts Sunday, don’t expect lightning to strike twice, especially in a New England offense that loves to spread the ball around.

The NFL’s third batch of games was filled with surprises, from the Saints blowing a lead at home to fall to 0-3 to the Vikings dominating the 49ers. Sunday’s games provided plenty of fantasy football shockers as well, both good and bad:

Studs:
1) Jamaal Charles, RB, Kansas City Chiefs

Just when fantasy owners think they have it all figured out, they don’t.

Following back-to-back subpar outings to start the season, many were wondering if Charles had fully recovered from the torn ACL he suffered in 2011. However, the former Longhorn proved all his doubters wrong Sunday, breaking out for 233 yards rushing as well as 55 yards receiving to go along with his two touchdowns. Any fantasy owners who had Charles on the bench Sunday were kicking themselves in frustration.

2) Torrey Smith, WR, Baltimore Ravens

Smith’s performance Sunday against the New England Patriots was one to remember. He took the field less than 24 hours after he lost his brother in a fatal motorcycle accident. Smith played incredible resilience, racking up 127 receiving yards and two touchdowns in what was by far his best game of the season.

3) Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Pittsburgh Steelers

Entering the season, new Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley vowed that Pittsburgh would get back to running the football more. Through their first two games, that was certainly the case, causing Roethlisberger’s fantasy production to suffer. However, all that changed in Oakland on Sunday, when Big Ben aired it out for 384 yards and four touchdowns against the Raiders.

Duds:

1) Tony Romo, QB, Dallas Cowboys

Following Eli Manning’s 500-yard performance against Tampa Bay last week, Romo and the Cowboys were licking their chops when the Buccaneers came to Dallas Sunday. However, Romo flopped against what was thought to be a porous defense, throwing an interception and losing two fumbles while failing to throw a touchdown pass.

2) Rob Gronkowski, TE, New England Patriots

With fellow TE Aaron Hernandez sidelined with an ankle injury, many people expected Gronkowski to have a monster game against the Ravens Sunday night. However, Gronkowski was almost invisible, catching only two passes for 21 yards and failing to get into the end zone for the first time this season.

3) Chris Johnson, RB, Tennessee Titans

Johnson solidified himself as the biggest bust in fantasy football so far this season, managing a paltry 24 yards rushing against the Lions on Sunday. Sadly, that is the most yards he has totaled this season. Considering Johnson produced such low numbers in a game where the Titans put up 44 points in an overtime victory, he cannot be considered a fantasy starter until he proves otherwise.
 

Stat Guy: Why Malcolm Brown might bust loose this weekend

Texas running back Malcolm Brown is having a great freshman year thus far, and will look to have a great third game against UCLA, like former Texas greats.
Texas running back Malcolm Brown is having a great freshman year thus far, and will look to have a great third game against UCLA, like former Texas greats.

As the Texas football team prepares for its trip to Pasadena this weekend, all the commotion is surrounding the new signal callers, Case McCoy and David Ash. Questions about how the duo will follow their coming out party against BYU fill a number of message boards and newspapers alike. With all the hype surrounding the quarterback position, a freshman running back is, rather quietly, preparing to take the reigns of the Texas backfield.

On Monday, Malcolm Brown was listed as the co-starter at running back alongside Fozzy Whittaker after registering 14 carries for 68 yards on Saturday. Brown will be the first true freshman running back to start at Texas since 2005 when Jamaal Charles averaged an astonishing 7.4 yards a carry, ranking third among the top-100 college running backs.

When did Charles get that first start, you may ask? The answer is Texas’ third game of the season against Rice, a night which he rushed for 189 yards and three touchdowns, one of the best performances of his career.

While Brown’s situation differs from Charles’ in that he’s taking the stage in Pasadena against UCLA and not at home against Rice, history shows the third game of the season has been kind to freshmen running backs at Texas and beyond.

Let’s look back at the stats. In 2001, Cedric Benson rushed for 75 yards on a mere 14 carries, tallying one touchdown against Houston. A few years prior, in 1995, Ricky Williams posted 73 yards on 15 carries against Notre Dame.

While the yardage numbers aren’t eye-popping, that’s 5.4 and 4.9 yards per touch, respectively. Williams went on to become the second Texas player to win the Heisman Trophy. Benson went on to become a first-team all-American, rushing for 5,540 yards, winning the Doak Walker Award (for the nation’s top running back) in 2004.

Actually, freshman running backs all over have chosen the third game to break out. Georgia’s Herschel Walker, arguably the greatest running back in college football history, rushed for 121 yards on 23 carries versus Clemson in 1980. Walker went on to set the all-time rushing record at the time, tallying 1,616 yards.

Last season, Marcus Lattimore of South Carolina rushed for 97 yards and a score against Furman. Lattimore, like Brown, was the top running back of his class.

This season, Brown has seen most of his work in the second half of games. Without missing a beat, the freshman has come in and rushed for 154 total yards, averaging 5.1 yards a touch.

With the shake-up at quarterback taking the full notice of Longhorn fans, Brown has a great opportunity to show off his innate talent.

My prediction? Look for Brown to eclipse 100 yards rushing for the first of potentially many times in his career. Come Saturday afternoon, he might be on his way to joining some elite company.

Printed on Wednesday, September 14, 2011 as: Brown next in line? Running back could run wild in Week 3.

The Stat Guy: Joe Bergeron could turn heads

Every football fan loves them — the shiny little stars next to their highly touted recruit. It’s a point of pride for fans to boast about how good their running back or receiver is going to be, based upon their respective rankings in recruiting databases.

While many highly praised high school athletes continue their domination into college, a lot of overlooked players have been stealing the spotlight the past few years. LaMichael James, Oregon’s Heisman-hopeful running back, has amassed 3,277 yards rushing, averaging 6.3 yards per carry during his first two years in Eugene. His ranking coming out of high school? Four stars and the 12th-best running back in his class.

While that’s not terrible, it’s not like he was the most coveted guy in the country. Same for Jamaal Charles, Texas’ best recent running back, who was a four-star recruit coming out of Port Arthur. Charles finished his Longhorn career early averaging 6.3 yards a carry. Now, he’s being selected as the No. 1 pick in many fantasy football leagues.

This season’s recruiting class offers us a similar situation.

While many fans are anticipating the debut of the five-star, 9.9 yards-a-carry running back Malcolm Brown (and they very well should be), another freshman running back is rapidly gaining momentum.

Joe Bergeron, a three-star running back out of Mesquite, could be this class’ diamond in the rough. He averaged 6.5 yards a carry in high school, runs a 4.4 second forty-yard dash and he weighs 215 pounds. Somehow, he was overlooked. Bergeron has already been said to have knocked Kenny Vaccaro on his back in practice and is currently on the two-deep depth chart for the Rice game tomorrow.

“He’s difficult now to bring down,” said co-offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin. “He’s a strong, powerful guy, and from just the knowledge standpoint of protections and all the different things we do with our backs, I thought he did a great job of handling those things.”

Could Bergeron be the next underrated recruit to turn heads on Saturdays? We can only wait and see.

Printed on Friday, September 2, 2011 as: Star rating doesn't predict potential.

Football Notebook

F

Photo Credit: Trent Lesikar | Daily Texan Staff

The days of NFL-caliber tailbacks in the Texas backfield effectively ended with Jamaal Charles’ departure following the
2007 season.

After three years of a lackluster running game, Texas now appears poised to return its once prominent backfield to
national recognition.

The rebuilding effort would not have been possible without Texas’ young, new co-offensive coordinators, Major Applewhite and Bryan Harsin.

This fall, top-rated running back prospect and Brenham native Malcolm Brown, who was heavily recruited by Applewhite, will look to reinvigorate the Texas ground game. Brown will get some help along the way in 2012 with five-star recruit Johnathan Gray — the Longhorns’ top target in the class of 2012 — who announced Friday that he will sign with Texas.

While Applewhite also primarily recruited Gray, the Aledo High School product said the new schemes Harsin is installing from his days conducting the high-scoring Boise State offense enticed him to come to Texas instead of Texas A&M or TCU.

With Brown and Gray in the fold, Applewhite and Harsin should have more weapons at their disposal than ever before — another reason why Harsin left a successful Boise State program to come to the 40 Acres.

Gray ran for eight touchdowns in the school’s Class 4A Division II state title game win over La Marque last year and finished the season with a state-record 59 touchdowns to go with 3,223 yards. He told reporters Friday at a news conference announcing his decision that he’s positive he made the right choice with Texas.

“I feel like that’s where I want to be,” Gray said. “That’s my home.”

Though Gray still has one season left in high school, it isn’t stopping him from looking ahead to donning a Texas uniform alongside Brown in 2012.

“I think we’ll do great,” Gray told the Austin American-Statesman. “He’s a dominant back and I’m a dominant back. You just put two and two together, we’ll make each other better and just try to win a national championship.”

<strong>Big 12 gets new TV deal</strong>

It looks like the Big 12 is here to stay after all.

While there were doubts about the conference’s future after Nebraska and Colorado jumped ship and left the league with only 10 schools, a new television deal with Fox Sports Media Group should preserve the Big 12.

The 13-year deal calls for Fox to televise 40 football games beginning in 2012. The deal’s financial terms were not released, but the Sports Business Journal reported that it could bring in as much as $90 million a year.

“This puts the conference in a great place, not just a good place,” Texas men’s athletic director DeLoss Dodds told the Austin American-Statesman.

“They’re ecstatic.”

Fox, per its current agreement with the conference, already pays $20 million per year to broadcast roughly half as many games as allowed in the new cable rights deal.

The Big 12 also has a network deal with ABC/ESPN that runs through the 2015-16 season worth $480 million. Since that deal is already in place, ABC/ESPN has priority for choosing which games to televise, meaning Fox will choose from second-tier Big 12 matchups — most will be broadcast on Fox Sports Net’s regional networks.