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….
Bush seems healthy, had 139 yards and a touchdown last week and is playing against a sub-par Green Bay defense on Sunday. Everything is looking up for him this week.
Victor Cruz (New York Giants wide receiver)
I cannot place much confidence in a Giants offense that was held scoreless against the Panthers just two weeks ago. But the Eagles have an appallingly bad defense on all accounts. This game will be a shoot-out, and warrants playing any relevant starters on both teams, particularly studs like Cruz.
Roddy White (Atlanta Falcons wide receiver)
I am going out on a limb for White this week. He has been nursing an ankle injury for the first four weeks of the season, and has largely been used as only an on-field distraction during this span. But last week White was on the field for all but two snaps, and was targeted nine times. White will finally be himself again beginning this week against the Jets.
Bilal Powell (New York Jets running back)
Wide receivers Santonio Holmes and Stephen Hill could both be out this week against the Falcons. That leaves Powell as the only offensive “weapon” that remains for the Jets. He isn’t great, but he will be heavily utilized, which makes him worth a start in deeper formats.
Andrew Luck (Indianapolis Colts quarterback)
An average quarterback playing against the best defense in the league. Pass.
Any Bills running back
Running back C.J. Spiller’s ankle injury makes him a game time decision this week. Running back Fred Jackson is wearing a brace over his knee, concealing a sprained MCL. The Bills are playing against the best run defense in the league, that of the Cleveland Browns. I don’t want any part of this offense this week, and neither should you.
Dwayne Bowe (Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver)
Bowe has been a huge disappointment this year, as quarterback Alex Smith refuses to look his way more than five or so times a game. This week, the Chiefs are playing a strong Titans defense that hasn’t surrendered a touchdown to a wide receiver in the last two weeks. Bowe might rebound later in the year, but it won’t happen this week.
With over a week of NFL Free Agency in the books there were a number of moves made that will affect fantasy football in 2013. Here is a look at a few players to watch out for as they join their new teams for the upcoming season:
1. Dustin Keller, TE, Miami Dolphins
In eight games last season with a struggling Mark Sanchez leading the New York Jets offense Keller finished with 28 receptions for 317 yards and two touchdowns. Now paired with Ryan Tannehill, a quality young quarterback, fantasy owners can expect Keller to see an increase in red zone targets and ultimately an increase in touchdowns. Also, the Dolphins recent addition of speedy wide receiver Mike Wallace should open up the slot and the middle of the field for Keller giving him more targets and opportunities to improve on last year’s numbers. If Keller can stay healthy he will be a great mid to late round fantasy pick.
2. Reggie Bush, RB, Detroit Lions
Last season with the Dolphins Bush rushed for 986 yards on 227 carries and scored six touchdowns. Bush is definitely not a top-tier NFL running back, but when he is used the right way he can be a great role player and very valuable fantasy player. His new team, the Detroit Lions, has struggled to run the ball and find a consistent running back in the past, and if Bush can carry his solid play into next season fantasy owners should expect the Lions to get him as many touches as possible. In addition, he has only missed one regular season game in the past two seasons, so if he continues to stay healthy he will be a great option for fantasy owners looking for a second or third running back in the middle rounds of the draft.
3. Danny Amendola, WR, New England Patriots
After losing Wes Welker to the Broncos the Patriots made it clear that Amendola is their current replacement for Welker in the slot wide receiver position. Amendola compares to Welker in size and speed so if he can get on the same page as quarterback Tom Brady then fantasy owners should look for his number to increase significantly. We all know how much Brady loves throwing to slot receivers and in that position last season Welker was able to post 1,354 receiving yards; therefore barring any major injuries I don’t see why Amendola wouldn’t be able to record at least 1,000 receiving yards.
A few other notable players
Rashard Mendenhall, RB, Arizona Cardinals: Mendenhall should see a significant increase in touches as he joins a Cardinals team that struggled to run the ball last season.
Greg Jennings, WR, Minnesota Vikings:
With Percy Harvin deciding to leave Minnesota and sign with Seattle, Jennings should become the number one target for young quarterback Christian Ponder.
Jared Cook, TE, St. Louis Rams
Cook has not lived up to his complete potential yet, but maybe a change of scenery and a new quarterback will help turn him into the player he can become.
1. Saintly Struggles
The effects of Bountygate have already impacted the New Orleans Saints, as they fell to 0-3 after an overtime loss to Kansas City. The defense, which was a liability in 2011, has faced even more challenges, allowing 102 points through three games. The Saints run defense ranks last in the league following a 233-yard performance from Jamaal Charles. Although Drew Brees and company can still put up points on offense, the Saints will not only miss the playoffs but struggle to break .500 this year if the defense does not rapidly improve.
2. The Renaissance of Reggie Bush
It’s hard to believe Reggie Bush is entering his seventh year in the league. The one-time phenom who never found a consistent role in New Orleans is now the feature back with the Dolphins. He’s rushed for over 300 yards in the young season and a staggering 6.0 yards per carry, giving Miami a dependable running back to take some pressure off rookie Ryan Tannehill. Concerns about Bush’s durability have followed him throughout his career so it’s not surprising that he is dealing with a knee injury this week.
3. Ref-pocalypse continues
Last week I mentioned the replacement referees hadn’t cost a team a game yet. That claim was quickly brought to rest on the last play of the Green Bay-Seattle game Monday. The debacle, caught on prime-time national television, could not have come at a worse time for the league. The blatantly missed call, Seattle wideout Golden Tate’s postgame comments, the Packers’ response and the public outcry will make for an interesting week at the league offices in New York. If the commissioner has any integrity left for his game, he’ll strike a deal with the referees’ union tomorrow. Until then, chaos will continue on the field. And yes, you will still watch.
Dolphins running back Reggie Bush made a splash against the Oakland Raiders on Sunday, tallying two touchdowns.
With two weeks of NFL games in the books, fantasy football frenzy has once again taken over. To ease the stress of creating a powerhouse starting lineup this week, here are a few players to embrace and a few others to avoid:
1) Reggie Bush, RB, Miami Dolphins
Wow, Bush played a great game against the Oakland Raiders on Sunday, rushing for 172 yards and two touchdowns. The question now is whether or not Bush can do it again this week against the Jets and Rex Ryan’s defense. There’s reason to believe he can and he will. The Jets surrendered a total of 194 yards to C.J. Spiller in Week 1, a player with speed and elusiveness similar to Bush’s. With a rookie quarterback under center for the Dolphins, expect Bush to get the ball early and often.
2) Demaryius Thomas, WR, Denver Broncos
Despite the Broncos’ lackluster performance as a team Monday against the Falcons, Thomas had a solid outing, catching eight balls for 78 yards and one touchdown. Over the span of two games, Thomas has almost 200 yards receiving and is clearly Peyton Manning’s primary target. Although cornerback Johnathan Joseph will challenge him this week when the Broncos face the Texans, Thomas will get plenty of passes thrown his way and should be able to put up big numbers.
3) Matthew Stafford, QB, Detroit Lions
Stafford has been a disappointment up to this point in the season, managing only two touchdowns while tossing four interceptions. In his defense, he faced an improved Rams defense in Week 1 and arguably the best defense in the NFL in San Francisco this past week. Expect Stafford to break out of his early-season slump and throw for several scores against the Tennessee Titans, who allowed three passing touchdowns from Philip Rivers in Week 2.
1) Michael Turner, RB, Atlanta Falcons
Turner’s start to the season had been anything but ideal even before he was pulled over for speeding and drunken driving Tuesday. Turner has managed a measly 74 yards rushing and a touchdown in the Falcons’ two victories, numbers that will make any fantasy owner cringe. Unfortunately for Turner, things are unlikely to improve this week when he faces the San Diego Chargers, who lead the NFL in rush defense.
2) Jackie Battle, RB, San Diego Chargers
Many fantasy owners will be tempted to jump on the Jackie Battle bandwagon following his 69-yard, two-touchdown performance against the Titans on Sunday. However, Battle appears to be fool’s gold and should not be viewed as a reliable fantasy threat. With a healthy Ryan Mathews set to return this week, expect Battle’s workload to diminish significantly outside of a few goal line plays, making him a risky player.
3) Sam Bradford, QB, St. Louis Rams
Bradford torched the Redskins this past Sunday, passing for 310 yards and three touchdowns. Despite this, do not expect Bradford to put up similar numbers Sunday against a tough, physical Chicago Bears defense. Given the Bears’ ability to pressure opposing quarterbacks and the Rams’ instability along the offensive line, Bradford could struggle.
Printed on Thursday, September 20, 2012 as: Starting Bush a no-brainer
It’s week 11 and the start of the home stretch of your fantasy season, so here is some advice on who to start and who to sit.
1. Carson Palmer, Oakland Raiders — Palmer had a bit of a rough start in his first two games in Oakland, but last week against San Diego he came through and led the team to an important division win. His numbers were good. He threw for 299 yards and two touchdowns against a tough Chargers defense. This week Palmer goes against the fourth-worst passing defense in the league Minnesota, making Palmer a smart start or wavier pickup.
2. Reggie Bush, Miami Dolphins — Don’t look now but the Dolphins are playing well, winning two of their last three, and Reggie Bush is a big part of that. He has seen lots of touches in both the running and passing game, and has scored three touchdowns. This week the Dolphins face the Bills, who have a poor rush defense, giving up 169 yards on the ground to Dallas plus passing yards to backs out of the backfield their last time out. So Bush has an excellent matchup this week.
1. Michael Vick, Philadelphia Eagles — The Eagles are reeling and have started off the season 3-6, despite the expectations they accrued in the offseason. On top of that, Vick has a pair of broken ribs to deal with this week, which is painful for any position and especially tough for a quarterback. Don’t expect much from Vick this week — if anything at all — because he might not even play.
2. Tim Tebow, Denver Broncos — The list this week has its share of high profile and overly discussed players on it, but none of the previous three have Tebow level hype. Tebow has performed well in his time as a starter going 3-1, while being an above average fantasy player as well. But this week he comes up against the Jets defense, a much stiffer test than any of the other opponent he has seen thus far. He only completed two passes against Kansas City last week, and going up against a stellar Jets secondary, he might not even get one. Sit him this week.
The 2005 Rose Bowl is a game that will always be a source of immense pride for Texas football fans. But, according to the BCS, one of its participants should not have been there.
The BCS has stripped the University of Southern California of its 2004 National Championship and its title game appearance in 2005 due to the improper benefits given to Reggie Bush and the lack of institutional control displayed by USC’s athletic department. The 2004 title, a win over Oklahoma, will be vacated – no champion will be crowned after it was decided Bush was ineligible during that season. The BCS’ decision comes on the heels of embattled Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel’s resignation, adding to the misdeeds and penalizations that have recently characterized college football.
Consequently, the 2005 Rose Bowl, one of Texas Longhorns’ finest moments and most thrilling games ever, becomes a somewhat tarnished event now that it will also be recognized for the controversy that surrounds it. More than six years later, it has been discovered that one of its superstars, Bush, who was key to making that contest the classic that it was, should have been ineligible.
This verdict, combined with the 30 scholarships the football team will not be able to use over the next three years, the lack of bowl eligibility for the next two and the removal of Bush’s Heisman, should hamper the Trojans’ football program in the near future. That Heisman Trophy, which some believed should have been awarded to Young originally, was vacated by the Heisman Trust last September.
Sanctions were previously handed down by the NCAA on the Trojans’ men’s basketball team for similar violations committed regarding benefits given to O.J. Mayo. However, former USC head basketball coach and Tim Floyd and Mayo, along with former USC head football coach Pete Carroll and Bush, all left the program before it was disciplined.
Until now, the 2005 Rose Bowl was remembered for the unprecedented hype it generated, the superstars that were a part of it, its back-and-forth nature, its thrilling ending and Vince Young’s heroics that made it one of the most celebrated championship contests in the history of sports. Because of the wrongdoing that took place at USC during Bush’s college career, it may now be remembered for something else entirely.