Roundtable - Week 3
Posted 9/18 by Staff, Exclusive to Footballguys.com
Welcome to the Week Two edition of the 2008 Footballguys Roundtable. Feel free to eavesdrop as various staff members share their views on a range of topics in discussion format. This week, they touch on the following:
- Redskins Offense
- Jaguars Offense
- Chargers Offense
- Aaron Rodgers
- Top Turnaround Candidate
- Worst 2-0 Team?
- Best 0-2 Team?
In the first two weeks, we've gotten a Jekyll and Hyde performance out of them. Which version is the real Redskins offense?
Jason Campbell went 24/36/321/1/0 last week in Jim Zorn's new system. Has the light gone on for him?
Portis, Santana Moss, and Cooley also had big days.
Was it a fluke, or a sign of things to come this season?
JEFF TEFERTILLER: I think the Skins offense will struggle. The big difference in the two games is the opponent. The Giants have a great defense. The Saints were below average to begin with and missing three starters. Portis owners should be happy with the TDs and lack of touches by Betts. I would still feel uncomfortable starting Campbell in a fantasy league. It was good to see Cooley more involved.
JASON WOOD: Realistically, the Redskins have: a first-time head coach, a first-time offensive play-caller, a first-time NFL offensive coordinator, a QB learning his seventh offense since the start of college, two rookie WRs who missed time in camp and aren't ready, two veteran receivers who wouldn't start for most NFL teams, a downgrade at defensive coordinator, and a COMPLETE changeover in offensive philosophy, cadence, formation and fundamentals.
That's not a recipe for near term success. I avoided the Redskins like the plague this draft season, save for Clinton Portis who is too good and too undervalued to avoid.
JEFF HASELEY: While I partially agree with Jeff T. about the contrast between the Giants' defense and the Saints' defense, the Redskins executed their plays much, much better in week two. The execution just wasn't there in the loss to the Giants, and that wasn't all due to the defense. The question is, can they keep improving their execution? I don't think it was as much the Saints poor defense that led to the turnaround, but the way Jason Campbell conducted the offense. He's now shown that he can do it; now it's just a matter of how consistent he can be.
MARC LEVIN: Santana Moss will pull his typical routine where he vanishes for two or three weeks, gets benched in most leagues, and then shows up big for one week. Antwaan Randle-El is a solid WR3 option in PPR leagues, and Cooley will be steady but unspectacular in any league format.
I do feel confident that Portis will finish in the top 5-8 range among RBs this year. The offensive line is really blowing open holes for him.
The Redskins' passing offense, I think, will be a lot like it was last year: a lot of teases, with nothing either reliable or spectacular. But I see improvement and consistency from the running game. Jim Zorn appears much more willing to take downfield shots if opponents stack the line against Portis, and that threat will open things up for the running back.
WILL GRANT: Jason had some great points. I'd like to add that the Redskins play in one of the toughest divisions in football this season. The Giants are the defending Super Bowl Champs. The Cowboys made some solid upgrades to a team that had the best record in the NFC and a healthy Donovan McNabb is doing some amazing things with the third and fourth string WRs. The Redskins are going to have a hard time finishing 8-8.
Fantasy-wise, Portis is best of the bunch. As long as he's healthy, He's one of the best fantasy RBs in the league. Moss and Cooley have big game potential but could frustrate you from week to week with their up and down performances. Start them at your own risk.
JEFF PASQUINO: The Redskins performance last week was probably the best they will have all season. They got several fortuitous turnovers off of tipped balls and were facing a Saints team without Marques Colston and without several of their defensive starters.
Washington was playing at home, and had a lot of breaks go their way. They got a great matchup for Santana Moss and hit him with over 50% of their passing yards. The weakened Saints defense couldn't do much of anything to stop Portis, either.
Reading all of that would make you think that it was a blowout, right? It wasn't. The Redskins won by only five and had to score on a bomb to Moss with under four minutes to go.
I agree with everything Jason pointed out as well. The Redskins will be the fourth best team in the tough NFC East, missing the playoffs with 5 or 6 wins.
The Jaguars have scored just 26 points in two games so far, albeit against what appear to be two pretty good defenses.
Neither the running game nor the passing game has been effective in either of the first two games. Is the problem with the offensive line (decimated by injuries), in which case their struggles could continue all season? Or have they just gotten off to a normal slow start against two good defenses, in which case they should be able to turn things around?
JEFF TEFERTILLER: David Garrard is feeling the effect of the lost linemen. Opposing teams will look to take advantage of the middle of the Jags' line. Yes, Jacksonville played two potential playoff teams, but the offense let them down. Jones-Drew has not found the holes between the tackle and guard that he is accustomed. I do think he will rebound, but it might not be until week eight or ten.
JEFF HASELEY: I agree with Jeff T. that Jacksonville's struggles have largely been due to their decimated offensive line. It's only week two and their line is already in disarray.
JASON WOOD: I wasn't as high on Garrard's fantasy potential as most but I still expected he would be a decent QB2 and a viable part of a draft day plan that allowed you to focus on RB/WR/TE early in the draft. But even expecting him to be a viable committee member now seems to have been overly optimistic. No one could've predicted the magnitude of the O-line injuries this early in the season, so I hope too many naysayers aren't out there going "I told you so." Unless they were predicting 3/5ths of the offensive line would be out, it's not fair to look at what the Jags offense has done to date and claim any powers of prediction.
That said, fantasy owners don't care about the whys as much as they care about the outcomes. To that end, I would keep the Jags offensive players firmly on your bench if you've got alternatives. The fly in the ointment is Maurice Jones-Drew; who is probably too high a pick for most owners to simply park on the bench. If you're in a PPR league, I could see sticking with him as a UTIL for now and hoping they get the house in order quickly. But in traditional scoring leagues, you have to have a better matchup for now.
WILL GRANT: I certainly don't buy the 'playoff quality teams' defense for their poor performance. They played well against Pittsburgh and New England in the playoffs last season, and they were some of the toughest defenses in the league. Jeff's point about missing offensive linemen lends a clue as to why their performance has deteriorated over the first two games. That and perhaps the fact that the WR corps is hurting from injuries. The fact that Matt Jones was all but written off by everyone due to his off the field antics this summer and was the leading receiver after one week shows just how desperate the Jaguars are for help.
JEFF PASQUINO: Jacksonville will see a friendly defense this week in the Colts. Bob Sanders is out, which means that the ground game will be a strong option. I expect both Fred Taylor and MJD to have their best games of the season and could combine for 150+ yards on the ground. I understand that the O-line for the Jags is a mess, but the Colts are a defense that yields a lot of rushing yards, especially without Sanders.
Is Matt Jones going to be the team's leading receiver this year?
JEFF TEFERTILLER: The receiving corps will look different when Jerry Porter comes back. Porter should supplant Matt Jones. Jones has played well. It is good to seem him get his career and life back in order.
JEFF HASELEY: No, Jones won't lead the team in receptions. That honor will either go to Maurice Jones-Drew or Reggie Williams or Jerry Porter. I think the return of Porter will squeeze Matt Jones out of consistent production.
JASON WOOD: Hard to imagine Matt Jones leading the team but, then again, none of the other Jags wideouts are all-around players either. I'm going to say "NO" simply because I'm not sure where his head is at or where he sits with the league's substance abuse program.
MARC LEVIN: No. MJD will be the team's leading receiver. Excluding the RBs, I will guess that Reggie Williams or Jerry Porter will still ultimately be the team's leading receiver as they regain their starting roles. I am surprised TE Marcedes Lewis has not been given a more aggressive role in the passing game. He was a first round pick for the team for some reason.
WILL GRANT: I agree with Levin that MJD will probably lead the team in receptions, but that isn't saying much from a fantasy prospective. Last season, Earnest Wilford led the team with just 45 receptions for the season. Reggie Williams had the best statistics with 629 yards and 10 TDs. I think that's about the cap for any WR you're going to see from Jacksonville this year and it will probably be Williams again.
JEFF PASQUINO: It is very difficult to say that Matt Jones is fantasy relevant with a straight face. I can't see myself putting him into a lineup with confidence. Reggie Williams should be their #1 option again this season.
Will Maurice Jones-Drew (generally an early to middle second-rounder) be one of the bigger fantasy busts this season?
JEFF HASELEY: If he doesn't produce in the receiving game, then yes I do think he'll be a bust and because he was a fairly high draft pick, it will be considered one of the bigger ones. Right now he has seven receptions for 62 yards. He'll need to step up those numbers, because it doesn't look like the Jaguars running game will be anywhere near as potent as it was last year. Last year, even with the strong running game, Jones-Drew was known for not being a consistent fantasy threat every week. If the team can't produce big rushing numbers, Jones-Drew will surely suffer. His best chance to save face is to become the face of the Jaguars receiving game, if it continues to struggle.
MARC LEVIN: Nope. He will definitely not be the biggest fantasy bust of the year. Though I always thought that those who were willing to pay an early 2nd round price for him overpaid, bigger fantasy busts this year will be Patriots players and Bengals players drafted in the first 3 rounds. TE Antonio Gates is also threatening bust of the year potential as he keeps playing injured.
WILL GRANT: It's a little early to be writing him off just yet. Tom Brady Owners are not happy about spending a mid first rounder for just one quarter of performance. Steven Jackson owners are waiting for a return on their top five investment. Even Larry Johnson owners are probably wondering if they are going to get the value they expected from their top RB choice.
JEFF PASQUINO: MJD could be a bust if they don't get rolling in the ground game soon. This week will tell us quite a bit about his value going forward. If fantasy owners still believe that the O-line deficiencies will cost him all season long they should be hoping for a strong game this week and then trade him like there's no tomorrow.
Will David Garrard develop into a solid fantasy starter, or does he look like fantasy bench material?
JEFF TEFERTILLER: Garrard's performance has suffered due to a weak running game. He should finish in the QB12-15 range assuming he stays injury-free. The finish will be around his ADP, a decent QB2 or spot starter.
JEFF HASELEY: I have to disagree with Jeff T. here. Right now, I don't see Garrard sniffing the top 15 and let's face it, they don't have a true go-to down field receiver. I agree that the return of Jerry Porter will help some and move Matt Jones further down the depth chart, but will he have what it takes to carry the receiving game on his back and lead the team? Right now I don't think so. The Jaguars are averaging 15.5 first downs per game, compared to 20.5 in 2007. They are not converting their third downs either - 28% in 2008 compared to 46% in 2007. Unless the Jaguars as a team rebound, Garrard looks to be stuck in the middle of an offense that is lacking playmakers down field. As of the way things are right now, it doesn't look good for Garrard this year.
JEFF TEFERTILLER: Good points, Jeff. But the thing about Garrard and other "decent" QBs is that if they stay healthy all year, it is tough for them NOT to be a Top 15 fantasy passer. Even as bad as he has been, Garrard still is around QB20 through two games. When the injuries set in (yes, there should be even more), David Garrard will be in the middle teens. But, to eclipse the Top 12, he will need to improve. The picks are a concern. The schedule will get easier and there will be improvement. Also, I think his effectiveness played off the strength of the running game. When it improves, so will he.
MARC LEVIN: Garrard is a fantasy backup all the way. I have no clue why so many of us rated him as a top-12 fantasy QB unless we assumed he'd be running for his life every week. That team needs receivers and offensive linemen. And it still sports a great defense. Not a good recipe for fantasy QB success.
WILL GRANT: Garrard was a questionable starter-quality fantasy QB coming into the season. His latest performance firmly entrenches him on the fantasy bench unless he starts to improve. If you're banking for Garrard as your starter, you're not going to win a ton of games this season.
JEFF PASQUINO: Garrard is a stable QB. He's only startable for fantasy purposes if you have a strong team and expect to win by a wide margin and don't want a mercurial QB to put up a zero or worse for you that week. He is good for about a TD and 150-200 yards a week with little chance for a 300-yard performance or three touchdowns. His interception percentage is back in line with the league average as well. He's a QB2.
Tomlinson was slowed by a toe injury on Sunday. Darren Sproles was clearly the better player when he was in the game.
Meanwhile, the Chargers relied on the pass more than usual, and Rivers responded with a huge game.
How concerned are you about Tomlinson right now? Would you be shopping him if you had him? What would you need to get in return?
JASON WOOD: I'm very concerned about Tomlinson. He's a tough guy and we know from interviews how hurt he was with the backlash he got after the playoff game; so I can see why he wants to play through the pain. But I always scoff when a player discloses and injury and then downplays it by saying we shouldn't worry. When a player like LT comes out and says he's got turf toe, that's a red flag. For once I'm glad I didn't have the 1st overall pick, and wouldn't be looking to trade for LT right now unless he came at a discount.
MAURILE TREMBLAY: LT owners are in a tough spot. If LT says he's going to play, it's tough not to start him. If you spent the number one pick on a running back, you probably don't have the kind of depth at the position that lets you plug another guy in with more potential than LT (as long as he's going to play). But a few more weeks like he had against the Broncos will kill your fantasy season.
MARC LEVIN: I am absolutely terrified for LT and Gates owners. But, LT has had slow starts before. I think he'll be fine. And once Gates gets healthy, I think he'll be fine, too. Finally, the Charger's offense is solid across the board and talented. They have been set back on defense by the loss of Merriman, but the offense is fine. Rivers appears to be maturing, the receivers appear to be developing with him, and Sproles is clearly an adequate substitute if LT is hurting or needs a breath.
WILL GRANT: When you take a guy like LT in the top 3, you basically lock your team to his performance for the fantasy season. I'm not saying that trading LT is IMPOSSIBLE, but the reality is that a fantasy team that is only 1 RB away from making a playoff run will not be willing to part with their other talent to get him, and having spent a high draft pick on a guy like LT, you will be looking to get some 'reasonable' value for him. You'd be better off riding him out and hoping that he will come around in the Charger Offense.
JEFF PASQUINO: LT2 owners should be concerned, because if there's any consistent issue with him it is his ability to stay healthy. He also doesn't handle pain well it seems, but that is a pretty harsh assessment and easy for a bystander to question. There's no way of knowing just how injured he is, so it is tough to gauge.
If Tomlinson misses any time, would Sproles be able to carry a full load? Or would the Chargers try to limit his touches by getting Jacob Hester involved as well?
MAURILE TREMBLAY: Before the season started, I would have thought that if LT went down, it'd be a committee between Sproles and Hester, with Hester getting the goal line carries, making him the handcuff to have.
With Sproles showing such explosiveness, though, I now think he'd get most of the carries between the twenties. Hester may still get most of the goal line carries, but Sproles can score from anywhere on the field. So I think Sproles is the one to have. He'd be a good fantasy start if LT is out.
WILL GRANT: Sproles seems to be the main beneficiary from LT's injury but Mike Tolbert has shown that he catches the ball well out of the backfield also, and will be a part of the offense in some capacity this season as well. Each may end up hurting the other fantasy wise. I think you're going to see full blown RBBC if LT misses any time.
JEFF PASQUINO: Jacob Hester would seem to get the between the tackles work while Sproles would be used for receiving options. Remember, Sproles is a big special teams weapon, so the Chargers have to keep him fresh for that too.
Are we seeing a shift from a run-oriented offense to a pass-oriented offense in San Diego? From Tomlinson as the main man to Rivers?
MAURILE TREMBLAY: I do think we're seeing a shift from a run-oriented offense in San Diego to a pass-oriented offense. I thought we'd see that even before LT injured his toe. Norv opened up the offense toward the end of last season and in the playoffs, and the team was better off for it.
Rivers is going to have to take the team on his shoulders this season -- I think we'll see numerous weeks in which he'll have 30+ pass attempts. That's good news for Chris Chambers and Vincent Jackson. And for Antonio Gates later in the season, although it still looks to me like he doesn't have his full speed back right now.
WILL GRANT: Well the first two games have certainly shown that. San Diego has been trying to upgrade their passing game the last several years and they may have finally done it with the addition of Chris Chambers and the emergence of Vincent Jackson. Now if only they could keep Gates and LT healthy. That's really the biggest concern if I'm a Charger fan now - when will my stars be healthy? The supporting cast has definitely improved their performances, and if the big guns like LT, Gates and Rivers can stay healthy, the Chargers will be challenging for a playoff spot come week 17.
JEFF PASQUINO: Rivers looked very good against Denver - but there's a lot of questions about Denver's defense. Let's see how he does against the Jets before we start saying that the Chargers are a pass-first team.
MARC LEVIN: I think the real gem in that offense is Chris Chambers. With LT and Gates ailing, Rivers may discover what we DolPhans have known for a long time - Chambers is real good if the ball is delivered properly. Rivers is the best QB Chambers has had in his career. Watch him shine.
Fantasy-wise, where would you rank Tomlinson right now among all RBs going forward?
WILL GRANT: If I were in a draft today for the rest of the season, I'd still be looking at Tomlinson as a first round candidate, but probably near the bottom of the list rather than the very top
JEFF PASQUINO: LT2 is still a Top 10 guy and Top 5 if 100% healthy.
Where would you rank Rivers among QBs?
MAURILE TREMBLAY: I think Rivers has a decent shot to finish as a solid fantasy starter (i.e., top six or so).
WILL GRANT: Rivers has moved up and is probably a 5th round QB or so right now behind Romo, Brees and Manning. Cutler has been on fire and I think he and Rivers would be QB4-5 in most drafts right now. McNabb is probably 6th given his injury history.
JEFF PASQUINO: Wow that's high. Rivers is not consistent enough for me nor is his schedule conducive for me to rank amongst the Top 10. I'd put him in the 12-15 range at best.
Rodgers had a great game on Sunday -- his second in a row. Can he keep it up?
JEFF TEFERTILLER: Aaron Rodgers abused the Lion defense. It was still the Lions, sorry Tony and Bob. But, even the lowly Falcons looked like all stars in week one. Rodgers will need to prove to many that he can stay injury-free for the entire season. One reason the former Cal Bear had better stats was the ineffectiveness of the injured Ryan Grant. If Grant was healthy, I would have expected fewer pass attempts and more runs.
JASON WOOD: Ted Thompson is probably the happiest man in the NFL right now. Rodgers has been terrific (as I thought he would) and the Packers are well on their way to defending their NFC North title. Can he keep it up? Absolutely. He's spreading the ball around, has a talented cadre of receivers and is being well protected. He can get better, in fact.
JEFF HASELEY: I have to admit, Rodgers has more than surprised me so far. So much for him being the next David Carr in terms of times sacked. Rodgers has been sacked only once this season. He has impressed me with his accuracy, especially on the deep ball. More importantly, Rodgers appears to be cool under pressure, both on the field and off it. I hate to say it, but his situation and execution reminds me of Tony Romo when he first got his chance.
MARC LEVIN: Every year, some midrange QB drafted only for depth in most fantasy leagues ends up in the top five. This year, Rodgers looks like the guy. He has a ton of weapons, great offensive line protection, good run support, and a solid defense to rely on if he makes mistakes.
That said, Jeff T. is correct - he performed very well against two very poor defenses. If he plays that well either late in a tight game or against a tough defense on the road, then we can say he has arrived. In fantasy terms, however, I see no reason why he could not have numbers similar to what Favre would have produced in this offense - at least through early fall.
WILL GRANT: I would call the Vikings defense poor. Rogers did well against them as well. He's proven that he can carry the load and manage the team. They key for the Packer Backers will be 'can he win games' and he's proven that he can. He won't put up 320 yard 3 TD games week after week, but he's definitely proven he's a top 10 fantasy QB. Ryan Grant was a super star last season and he's struggling to get out of the gate. When Grant gets going, and the Packer rushing offense gets back on track, Rogers is going to have all the time in the world to pick apart defenses.
JEFF PASQUINO: Let's see, we're looking at a veteran QB that is finally getting his chance to start for a top notch offense with plenty of weapons. He has been in the system for years and has looked over the shoulder of one of the game's best ever QBs since he was a rookie. He can make plays in and out of the pocket and he's also not afraid to run.
Sounds to me a lot like someone named Steve Young (minus the USFL experience).
Several other QBs have gone the same route (Philip Rivers, Tony Romo are recent examples) with pretty good results, but neither quite burst onto the scene like this.
Ted Thompson most assuredly didn't expect Rodgers to play to this level right away, but there had to be a reason that he handed him the job this year. Sure they did draft two QBs this season, but the Packers have had a number of late round QB picks that wound up with good careers in other cities (such as Mark Brunell).
As for expecting this to continue, Rodgers has everything in place to be successful this year. Solid starting WRs, good TE options, RBs that can catch out of the backfield, and a defense that can create a short field with turnovers. Rodgers can also run for a first down or even plunge in for a score, so he could be the steal of the fantasy draft this season.
Does he give the Packers a better chance to win this season than Favre would have?
JEFF TEFERTILLER: There is no way Rodgers can replace the experience of Favre. For this reason, I think Favre would have given the Packers a better shot at the NFC title.
JASON WOOD: Suggesting that Rodgers gives the Packers a better chance to win this season is going a bit too far. Had Brett stayed and avoided the whole retirement debacle, the Packers would've been a heavy favorite to win the NFC, in my opinion.
MARC LEVIN: Rodgers is no Brett Favre. Favre LOVES to play in cold weather - will Rodgers do as well when the weather gets bitter? How about when he has to travel to Soldier Field in the snow? And Favre would have given them a much better chance of deep postseason success this year. Is Rodgers good enough to get 10 wins and a possible playoff spot? Sure. Good enough to win two or three playoff games? Probably not against the kind of defenses he will likely face in the NFC playoffs from teams like the Cowboys, Vikings, Eagles, and Giants.
Fantasy-wise, where would you rank him among the QBs right now?
JEFF TEFERTILLER: Aaron Rodgers should finish in the QB10-12 range if he can stay healthy. He did step into a great situation with three good receivers.
JASON WOOD: I would put Rodgers in the 2nd tier of fantasy starters. Something in the QB8-QB12 mode.
JEFF HASELEY: I'd rank Rodgers in the top six QBs right now. Heck, he's currently ranked #3.
MARC LEVIN: Right now, if I ranked the QBs, I would have it: Romo, Brees, Cutler, McNabb, Rodgers (with Warner creeping up right behind him). So number five.
WILL GRANT: If he can run the play-action half as good as Favre did, he's going to be a top 5 fantasy QB this season.
JEFF PASQUINO: He's top 10, easily. Probably somewhere in the 6-8 range.
What players that have evolved into untouchable players in trade talk? Guys that you just wouldn't trade, no matter what.
JEFF HASELEY: I'm not so sure if there are any untouchable players right now. If the trade is good enough, anyone is expendable. Last year Randy Moss and Tom Brady may have been untouchable regarding trade talks, but in my opinion there doesn't appear to be someone like that this year. Perhaps you could argue that Brandon Marshall is untouchable, but he has only played one game so far. The Broncos appear to have a strong passing game and Marshall is sure to benefit going forward, but is he untouchable? One misstep with the law again and he'll be watching at least four games from home. Now actually might be a good time to trade Marshall, especially if you can get two good players for him.
CLAYTON GRAY: I'm going to say it: Jay Cutler is untouchable. He is at least on par with Tony Romo and Drew Brees and has shown the ability to excel even without his star receiver. Brees struggled in Week 2 without Colston, and it is not a stretch to imagine Romo performing poorly if Owens were to miss time. The Broncos have become a passing team, and Cutler is going to eat up the league this year.
MARC LEVIN: I disagree with Clayton here. As a Cutler owner, I would entertain offers for him. If there's an untouchable player on the Broncos right now, it's the guy Jeff H. mentioned: Brandon Marshall.
Adrian Peterson is probably untouchable right now as well. Just try to pry him from his owner. He doesn't need the end zone if he continues to get 100+ on fewer than 20 carries, and he hasn't even begun to catch the ball. Man, when he starts to find the end zone once or twice a game, watch out.
WILL GRANT: I wouldn't trade McNabb unless I got a completely ridiculous offer. His performance against the Cowboys was flat out jaw-dropping. If he gets his #1 and #2 WRs back, and stays healthy, he could be top fantasy QB this season. I agree with Clayton about Jay Cutler as well.
At running back, Fast Willie Parker is probably impossible to trade for right now. The rumors of Parker's demise are greatly exaggerated. This guy is tearing up the league and it looks like he'll continue to do so.
JEFF PASQUINO: Untouchables for me include Marion Barber, Brian Westbrook and Marshawn Lynch.
QB is always touchable, but you'd have to offer a ton to get McNabb right now.
Sometimes an untouchable includes a guy that has elite capability and is low in value right now like Steven Jackson or even LT2. I wouldn't look to sell either, nor Randy Moss, as I won't get fair value at all.
Top Turnaround Candidate
Two weeks into the season may not seem like a lot, but it's over the next week or two when real values can be had by savvy and active owners. The trick is figuring out which early studs aren't going to maintain their surprising starts, and which duds are going to end up with great numbers when all is said and done.
After two weeks, there are a number of players who haven't come close to living up to their preseason rankings. Which of them have a good chance to turn things around and put together a great season from here on out?
JEFF HASELEY: Joseph Addai is one. He has played two tough run defenses so far in Chicago and Minnesota. The Addai owner may be growing tired of him not producing big numbers so far. The Colts will right the ship, they will play with a lead and Addai will again benefit. Getting center Jeff Saturday back will help matters. Addai should bounce back and now's a good time to get him, especially if you have roster insurance to weather his week four bye coming up. That's another reason why his current owner may pull the trigger.
Braylon Edwards is another. Edwards has been anything but reliable so far. He has had two poor games against two tough opponents (Dallas and Pittsburgh). The national audience and likely his current owner now see him as a bust than a star - he often drops passes, etc. This may be the case in the first two games, but Edwards is too good of a talent to continue this slide. The Browns may not be the playoff contender they were last year, but they'll still continue to pass the ball. The only true talent they have catching passes is Edwards, Kellen Winslow Jr, and possibly Donte Stallworth. Edwards will have plenty of good games this year. It might only take one big game to get him going. He's a great buy low player to target, in my opinion. He'll continue to see plenty of targets, simply because they really have nobody else to turn to, but Winslow. He'll eventually right the ship and when he does, I don't think he'll look back.
MAURILE TREMBLAY: I think Tomlinson will finish strong, but for what you'd have to give up to get him, you'd be sacrificing too much for a guy who may not really help you until half the fantasy (regular) season is over.
I think Randy Moss will have more good games than bad, but I'm not sure how much of a discount he'd go for right now. He's had only one bad game.
I think both Big Ben and David Garrard will be fine at QB, but as fantasy role-players, not every-week starters.
If I had to pick one turnaround candidate, I'd probably go with Ryan Grant. I think the Packer offense will put up plenty of points all season, and when Grant is healthy he'll be getting a decent share of the pie.
JEFF TEFERTILLER: Yes, Ryan Grant is one of the injured backs that I expect to rebound when healthy. He was a top back last year and Rodgers' play should not hinder his production as many feared. When the weather turns cold, expect the Packers to lean on their best back, Grant.
MARC LEVIN: I think the clear choice here is Jeff H's pick, Joseph Addai. He just faced what are likely to be the two toughest run defenses on his schedule. He has a rough schedule, but will be fine as long as he keeps seeing 25 touches and the goal line work. And teams simply can not afford to keep stacking the line once Peyton gets his groove back.
My next choice would be Torry Holt - though the Rams' offensive line doesn't appear to be helping out Bulger at all. Bulger also has only two options in comeback efforts: the deep ball to Holt or dump off to Steven Jackson.
I also like Randy Moss to be OK - not close enough to his average draft position, though, to merit first consideration. I just don't see the deep ball coming from Cassel, and I see Moss getting bored as he is not used much in the game. To go on a rant here - all they have to do is toss it downfield and let Moss chase it, but I don't think Belichick is very willing to do that when they are able to pound the ball as effectively as they have the last two games. With Brady, they could afford possible mistakes downfield, but with Cassel, the window is a lot smaller - one mistake could take the Pats out of the game. They can not afford too much pressure on the defense because the sure-handed ability to march down the field and save the game is gone without Brady. So, I think Moss will get his 1100-1200 yards, and flirt with 8-10 TDs., but he won't have the kind of consistent and explosive production he had with Brady. He will finish in the low end of the every week starters rather than a guy who strikes fear in every fantasy opponent.
WILL GRANT: I think that I need to go with Joseph Addai as well. The Indy offense has been sputtering along the first two weeks (a little rusty Mr. Manning) but they have also been playing two of the tougher defenses in the NFL (Chicago and Minnesota). At some point they are going to get it together and they have some 'softer' defense yet to come. Addai will be back in 2007 form and he will be an excellent turn around candidate given the list that you have here.
JEFF PASQUINO: If I can pick one guy from each position, I'd take Hasselbeck as my QB, Steven Jackson as my RB, and Holt as my wideout.
Hasselbeck has to be introduced to his WRs each week because NOBODY knows who these guys are. Plus the equipment manager has 2-3 extra 80-ish numbered jerseys available to pull someone down from the stands or put a DB out as a receiver once both starters trip off of the bus or on a stadium step before kickoff. Seriously, this isn't Hasselbeck's fault. He needs that bye to come and to get Engram and Branch back - then sparks will fly again.
The Rams stink. Shocking statement, I know. But take a look at who they had to play - Philly and the Giants. That's arguably two of the best NFC teams around, and sure the Rams were roasted. That will not and cannot last all year. St. Louis will move the ball at some point and SJax and Holt will be there to lead the efforts.
Worst 2-0 Team?
Several teams are perfect on the year, but who's a paper tiger?
(Patriots, Bills, Steelers, Titans, Broncos, Giants, Cowboys, Packers, Panthers, Cardinals.)
JASON WOOD: It's tempting to say Arizona but their division is so awful that it won't take much for Arizona to win the NFC West. I'm inclined to say Tennessee because Kerry Collins isn't a good NFL QB anymore (he really never was) and the team obviously isn't ready to trust Vince Young again.
MAURILE TREMBLAY: Yes, I think it's between Arizona and Tennessee. I think Arizona is probably the worse team, but Jason has a good point about the weakness of the NFC West.
Tennessee may have a tough time winning their division once the Colts get on track.
And the Giants and Cowboys can't both win the NFC east. (The Eagles and Redskins could each be in contention as well.) I think the Cowboys will win that division, which leaves me with this thought. I think the Giants are a much better team than the Cardinals -- but the Cardinals may have a better chance to make the playoffs.
JEFF PASQUINO: A case can be made to throw the Giants in here, just because we can't really measure how well they are doing. They beat Washington, but only really played well in the first half. The Rams are no metric at all for how good they really are. The schedule gives them a lot of breaks (CIN, Bye, SEA, at CLE, SF) so they could be 6-0 before the Pittsburgh / Dallas / Philly stretch.
The worst 2-0 team is probably Denver or Arizona. Both are led by their powerful offenses but I'd say that Denver's defense is much weaker.
It's funny, many of the teams that are 2-0 are one-dimensional teams that are led by either a good offense or a good defense. Carolina and Green Bay are the only ones so far that I like both phases of their game.
JEFF TEFERTILLER: I will go with Denver since I think San Diego will win the AFC West. One bad call is the only reason Denver is undefeated. I would think the Broncos and the Cardinals are the two worst 2-0 teams.
JEFF HASELEY: Interestingly enough, I think all of the 2-0 teams can beat New England right now. The Patriots will play five games against the current 2-0 group this season. BUF twice, DEN, PIT and ARI. Ironically, all are home games except the one road game at Buffalo. The Patriots have allowed the most third down conversions in the NFL so far (14) and that's against the Chiefs and Jets. Their defense took a hit in the off season, no Tom Brady - I just think New England is a far cry of what they used to be. Even in their easy schedule, I don't see them winning more than 10 games. I'll probably catch a lot of flack for this, but I think a fairly good team, not even a great team, but a good team can take New England down.
MARC LEVIN: Tennessee by far. While their defense will probably hold them in a lot of games, they have to overcome the second toughest division in football (after the NFC East of course). While both Jacksonville and Indianapolis appear to have fallen back to Tennessee's level, you have to think those teams will get it together - and Houston is better than their 0-2 record. I could see this Tennessee team finishing 8-8 and out of the playoffs again.
Next on my list is the Bills. The Jets and Patriots should still finish ahead of them in the division because both teams match up pretty well against the Bills. That means they are likely on the outside looking in come playoff time.
WILL GRANT: Carolina could easily 0-2 right now. A last second TD against San Diego and a total collapse of the Chicago 'offense' gave them their first two wins. They get Steve Smith back after his two game suspension, but they are far from 'solid' on the offensive side of the ball. I would need to see a bit more consistency on offense from them before I believe that they are really a playoff contender.
Best 0-2 Team?
Which of the teams that are currently 0-2 have the best chance of turning things around and making the playoffs?
(Dolphins, Browns, Bengals, Jaguars, Chargers, Chiefs, Lions, Vikings, Rams Seahawks.)
JASON WOOD: San Diego, Jacksonville and Minnesota were all popular picks by the punditry to win their respective conferences. Unfortunately I think we've seen enough from Jacksonville to rule them out. The offensive line issues and the lack of viable receivers for Garrard are going to make that a tough road to hoe. I suspect Minnesota still has a run in them, if only because Gus Frerotte may be able to move the offense better than Tarvaris Jackson could.
San Diego, to me, should still make the playoffs assuming LT is healthy. They lost a heart breaker to Denver and are clearly a very talented team.
MAURILE TREMBLAY: The Chargers have held the lead in each of their first two games with a minute left. The Panthers and Broncos both made some improbable plays in the final seconds to come away with victories.
The Chargers' offense will be fine. It's the defense that is worrisome. They can't stop the run right now. They should improve in that area when they get Stephen Cooper back. But Jamal Williams is not as dominant as he was a few years ago, and that affects the entire front seven. And without Shawne Merriman, they haven't been able to generate much of a pass rush, which adversely affects how the secondary can play. They've been backing off of receivers instead of pressing -- which is not playing to the strength of either Quentin Jammer or Antonio Cromartie. But without a rush, it's hard to press because there's only so long a CB can stick to his man in tight coverage.
We could see a number of shoot-outs this season reminiscent of the Don Coryell era in San Diego.
Nonetheless, from the list of 0-2 teams, I think the Chargers are the ones with the best shot at making the playoffs.
JEFF TEFERTILLER: San Diego has suffered through ball calls in each game as well as the injury to Tomlinson. I agree with Maurile in that the team does need to generate a pass rush to keep the pressure off of the DBs, and does miss Merriman. I still think the Chargers have a shot to win the division. They play the Broncos again later in the season and would only have to make up one more game. This week's game is HUGE for San Diego. Going 0-3 makes players give up hope.
JEFF HASELEY: I agree with the consensus about San Diego being the best winless team. However, one reason why they are 0-2 is because they have given up a league high 54 first downs. Compare that to 0-2 Jacksonville, who has allowed 32 first downs in two games. If San Diego doesn't fix their defensive woes soon, they could lose more games against strong offensive teams with better defenses. The AFC West of Denver, San Diego, Kansas City and Oakland should be a points fest all year long.
MARC LEVIN: San Diego, Minnesota, Jacksonville, in that order. All three are still capable of making Super Bowl runs, let alone playoff runs. Injuries have decimated Jax and SD, but I think they will adjust and be competitive teams this year. Minnesota has GOT to get some better play down the stretch. I think a QB change will be coming if they lose a third game. The defense and running game are ready to go to the Super Bowl.
The rest of those 0-2 teams can not right their ships in time to make a playoff run.
JEFF PASQUINO: It's almost the Chargers by default, but Seattle is far from dead (or at least everyone but their WRs are). That's just it - they're scouring 2005 depth charts looking for guys to get them to their Week 4 bye week. If Hasselbeck can regroup, Seattle has a pretty good defense and a soft division. Their defense sure racked up the sacks against San Fran, but that was a tough loss in their own division.
The wildcard here is Cleveland. They have played arguably two of the best teams in the league (Dallas, Pittsburgh), but they need to right that ship in a hurry.
WILL GRANT: I think that Minnesota also has a chance to make the playoffs this season. Although they are 0-2, their division is pretty week, and the NFC is still shaping up to be a crapshoot for the wildcard spots. The NFC East is going to beat themselves into the ground, and a team like Minnesota can sneak in if they can string a few games together. Their defense is pretty tough and Adrian Peterson is still one of the best backs in the league. If Gus Frerotte can get any of the WRs involved in the offense, they are capable of stringing a few wins together. They are definitely capable of making a playoff run.
That will do it for this week. Enjoy the games this weekend, and we'll see you back here next week!