Two weeks in the books and still a lot is up in the air when it comes to the 2011 fantasy football scene. Guys like Cam Newton have busted upon the scene and been a boon for anyone who either drafted him or jumped on his waiver availability last week.
However, many more of us are left in shambles after a slew of injuries have left the prognosis for 2011 muddier than a puddle in a daycare playground. If you were struck with the season-ending injury to Jamaal Charles or reeling from other dings, bruises or ineffective play, it’s time to re-assess the early season buy-low candidates.
Antonio Gates, SD. The Chargers defense used to be fairly predictable. Gates would get the ball time and time again. However, this season, Gates has been anything but dependable from a fantasy standpoint, failing to even register a single reception in Week 2 action.
However, this is more fluke than anything else as Gates was double-teamed most of the game. There are too many decent weapons on the Chargers roster for that to continue and Gates should have a major breakout game sooner rather than later. My bet is this week versus the bumbling Chiefs.
Arian Foster, HOU. This mention comes with a caveat … Foster is a buy-low candidate depending solely on how low you can buy him now.
Sidelined with hamstring issues, Foster’s situation is dicey on a week-to-week basis. Hamstrings can linger, especially for running backs. And Ben Tate has shown his mettle in filling in for Foster. These are all points you should make to the Arian owner in your league.
On the flip side, however, the season is still very young and the Texans will be in the thick of the playoff push all year. People stuck in the present will worry about Foster’s current situation and figure his hamstring will be an issue for the foreseeable future.
Forward-thinking people, however, are looking at the late-season schedule and licking their lips. There are few running backs with better matchups than the Texans when it comes to running back potential. Week 14 they face a Bengals defense that just allowed Willis McGahee to find the fountain of youth. Then, during the fantasy playoffs, Houston draws Carolina and Indianapolis.
Roddy White, ATL. A receiver that absolutely dominated PPR leagues last year, White currently is 28th among receivers after two weeks. Much of that has to do with a Week 2 output of just three catches and 23 yards – an early TD salvaging just a little respect. Remember, though, that this came against an Eagles defense that is loaded with elite secondary talent.
Many were worried heading into the season that Julio Jones would eat a substantial part out of White’s pie, but that hasn’t been the case so far. Jones was limited to just two catches for 29 yards this past week. Tony Gonzalez, who was the most prolific of pass-catching options for the Falcons in Week 2, won’t be a consistent drain on Roddy’s numbers.
Expect a full rebound by White as early as this week against the Buccanneers.
Ben Roethlisberger, PIT. He has ample weapons and has been an underappreciated fantasy option for years now under center. But through two weeks so far in 2011, Big Ben has been disappointing by most all accounts.
Of course, that came against a Ravens defense that keyed on him from snap No. 1 and frazzled him enough to lead to an uncharacteristic three interceptions.
Last week, the Steelers dominated from the opening drive and Big Ben’s services morphed into clock-killing handoffs.
Two games, two fluky situations that won’t be repeated throughout a schedule that has a lot of fantasy potential for Big Ben and the Steelers passing game. Indy, Houston, Tennessee and Jacksonville are next on the docket. A Week 8 showdown with the Patriots and their extremely shoddy secondary should lead to a scoring bonanza. Not to mention the four-game stint to end the fantasy season against, in order, Cincinnati, Cleveland, San Francisco and St. Louis – the last two games falling smack-dab in the middle of your fantasy playoffs. Yum.
Rashard Mendenhall, PIT. I am a Mendenhall owner and have been considering moving him in a dynasty PPR league after a slow start to 2011. Of course, I’m panicking in that league because I’m 0-2 in a very challenging division.
I’m sure other owners who expected mid-first round to late-first round production out of Mendenhall are similarly frustrated and worried, especially if they are nursing an 0-2 start to their respective seasons, too.
Also worrisome is Isaac Redman, who vultured a TD away from Mendy last week and seems to be headed towards a bigger role this season.
Of course, Redman’s presence will help preserve Mendenhall’s health for the full course of the season and if you didn’t read my blurb on Big Ben above (shame on you!), you can’t deny that Mendenhall’s schedule is uber-savory, especially during the final four weeks of the fantasy season.
Float some offers. You may be surprised at what you can work out.
Brandon Lloyd, DEN. The breakout performance by Eric Decker may have many Lloyd owners shaking in their boots, especially if they are short-sighted enough to look at Lloyd’s 6-for-89 overall stat line through two games and think that he’s on the decline – especially after so many experts set off the sirens during the preseason about Lloyd being ripe for a 2011 letdown.
And I agree he won’t match last year’s amazing breakout, but he is still Orton’s favorite toy in an offense that passes more than anyone expected. Sure, Decker won’t totally fall off the map now that Lloyd’s groin is allegedly healthy enough to return him to game action. But Lloyd will still be Orton’s top target, and despite the presence of the run-heavy John Fox, the Broncos will be passing plenty as they attempt to keep up with better teams throughout the season.