Week 1 was devastating for all those who put their high hopes on Tony Romo, DeMarco Murray, and Dez Bryant as the Cowboys came out firing on no cylinders. However, a season cannot and should not be judged by one game alone. I've gotten more emails than I can count asking if people should drop players like Romo, Zac Stacy, Andre Ellington, Bernard Pierce, etc. I usually wait a few weeks to go through a sell high – buy low section because we need to see a pattern of usage before we determine true fantasy value. But, of the notable players that may be on the cut list for many owners, the only ones I would seriously consider moving on from is Pierce and Ben Tate. Let me explain:
Bernard Pierce – Pierce was benched after a fumble in the first game of the season, with no previous history of fumbling problems. You have to really look at this and wonder if the Ravens believe that Pierce is the future if all it takes is a slip of the ball to make them turn to journeymen RB Justin Forsett with Ray Rice out (and now gone). Even when asked this week about who would start for the Ravens, Coach John Harbaugh didn't have a clear answer. The uncertainty says more than you think.
Ben Tate – Tate's injury history with the Texans is well documented, making his week 1 injury kind of expected. In his place the Browns got a look at Terrance West and Isaiah Crowell, both of which did well with their touches. Worst case scenario for Tate owners is that West dominates and Crowell shows he can spell (give a breather) West and the RB situation in Cleveland turns into a committee situation with the Browns turning to the hot hand.
If you own either RB and are considering cutting them, I would only do so if the replacement player is legitimate enough to justify the move. West is interesting, but I wouldn't want to cut Tate for him. Cutting Pierce for him is a gamble, but one I may make myself if I am in that situation.
Jay Cutler – Bears: Why people are SO down on Cutler just boggles my mind. The guy has Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery, and Matt Forte on the same side of the field as him every single down almost! The 49ers defense is missing a lot of pieces and the Cowboys did more to make them look good last week than they did to truly solidify themselves as a top-tier defense. I think Cutler has top 5-7 fantasy appeal at the QB position this week for fantasy purposes.
Jake Locker – Titans: Locker gets to face the Cowboys defense this week, and that is fantasy gold. I don't see the Cowboys stopping anyone at any time with their current depth chart on defense, and Justin Hunter has been my sleeper pick at WR since the pre-season. Locker is right there on that QB1/QB2 bubble, and it is hard to justify sitting a legit QB option to play him. But, for those with weak starting QBs or those in cap leagues looking for a cheap QB option, Locker is a sexy pick this week.
Andre Ellington – Cardinals: The Cardinals created a lot of mystery last week around Ellington, and owners who picked up Jonathan Dwyer in the hopes of a waiver wire starter were disappointed. The good news is Ellington's foot responded well after seeing 18 touches last week, and the Giants defense isn't going to slow him down one bit this week. I'd play Ellington as a low-end RB1 or high-end RB2 in all formats.
Zac Stacy – Rams: Stacy is a bit of a double edged sword when it comes to fantasy football. On one hand Stacy is ALL the Rams have on offense to use to score points or move the chains. The QB situation there is as bad as any in the NFL. On the other hand, Stacy is all the Rams have on offense to use to score points or move the chains. The QB situation there is as bad as any in the NFL. With that being said, the Buccs did give up 103 rushing yards and 23 receiving yards to the Panthers last week. I think Stacy will finish with RB2 numbers when you consider rushing and receiving yards together as a whole.
Kelvin Benjamin – Panthers: Let me start by saying I am not a Cam Newton fantasy fan. But, I am a Kelvin Benjamin fan as this kid looks legit! The rookie started his career off with 6 catches for 92 yards and a touchdown against a Bucs defense than I think will end up being a top 10 fantasy defense this year. The Panthers clearly have faith in him as they called his number a lot in week 1, and Cam I Am should help keep the defense honest and allow Benjamin to get open more. Benjamin is someone I would trade for if the price is right.
Justin Hunter – Titans: For all the same reasons I like Locker, I like Hunter this week. I told people I think Hunter is this year's Alshon Jeffery (sleeper WR), and I'm sure the Cowboys will give him every chance possible to have his coming out party on Sunday. I'd play Hunter as a WR3 with serious upside as high as WR1 if things go right for him, and I'd try and trade for him too if the price is right.
Larry Donnell – Giants: This has so much more to do with the Cardinals defense not being able to cover the Tight End than it does about Donnell's skills or Manning's ability to do anything positive on the football field. Donnell is virtually unowned in fantasy leagues, making him an interesting pick-up for Jordan Reed owners. And, those playing in cap leagues can get possible TE1 numbers from a dirt cheap guy and spend that extra cap space elsewhere.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense: I know, I know. How can I say to start Stacy above then say to play the very defense he is going up against? Simple, Stacy is all the Rams have! The Bucs are still my sleeper defense this season and I own them in just about every league I am in, so I'm all in on the Bucs D. The Rams have very real issues in the passing game, and if the Bucs can contain Stacy and shut down the pass, they could be a top 5 fantasy defense this week.
Philip Rivers – Chargers: With 97.0 percent of NFL.com fantasy players owning Rivers, there may be more than a few people with him in their starting line-up right now. The Chargers face off against a Seahawks defense that boasts arguably the league's #1 DB in Richard Sherman. The Chargers have Keenan Allen, but then the drop-off is steep with aging players in Malcom Floyd and Antonio Gates. Running back is a quagmire of band-aids, meaning the Seahawks fantasy defense is probably going to have an amazing game for their owners.
Robert Griffin III – Redskins: It's hard to judge the Jaguars defense when their first game is against the Eagles high-powered offense. But the truth is their defense is better than people think they are, and the Redskins offense has a LOT of question marks about it after RGIII pretty much checked down the entire game in week 1. I'll be honest and say that I think the Bengals struggled offensively more because of Jay Gruden than Andy Dalton. I don't know that RGIII will be the QB people drafted him to be this season with things the way they are on the team.
Justin Forsett – Ravens: Fantasy owners are falling all over themselves to get to the waiver wire and add Forsett in any and all formats. The problem is that for the same reasons Pierce can't be cut, Forsett can't be counted on as anything more than a flex option right now. Coach Harbaugh didn't name Forsett the starter over Pierce, instead saying "Bernard is still on his way to becoming, I would say, a very good player." I wouldn't put Forsett or Pierce in my RB slot this week, and would consider trying to sell high on him while I can.
Lamar Miller – Dolphins: Miller was drafted by 94.8 percent of NFL.com fantasy owners, making it tough to swallow when we see Knowshon Moreno as the clear early-down back for the Dolphins. The Bills aren't as good on defense as they were last year, but they are still good enough to create problems for the Dolphins this week. If Miller finishes with flex type of numbers this week, I think it will be a good week for him. He won't be the RB2 people drafted him to be as long as Moreno is healthy.
Ruben Randle – Giants: Randle was overdrafted in fantasy leagues by overzealous owners looking for lightning in a bottle in the later rounds. The problem is the Giants O-Line is weak, Eli Manning is getting old (33), and there is concern over how much [Eli] Manning is buying into OC Ben McAdoo's offense. To me, Randle is a flex option that people drafted as a WR3, and owners are losing faith quickly as the nearly 40,000 drops on NFL.com signal.
Dwayne Bowe – Chiefs: Bowe was suspended for the first game of the season, so week 2 marks his first chance to disappoint us this year. NFL.com and their fantasy "experts" are predicting 62 yards and no touchdowns for Bowe this week. Did you know that Bowe had 62 or more yards just three times last year? He did score 5 TDs last year, but his season high for yards receiving in a game was 70. In two games against the Broncos last year he saw 21 targets, and hauled in just 7 passes for 113 total yards. That's 3.5 receptions and 56.5 yards receiving. I wouldn't count on Bowe period, and certainly wouldn't trust him in my line-up with everyone healthy and no bye weeks to worry about yet.
Eric Ebron – Lions: I saw FAR too many of those big-box websites touting Ebron as a possible sleeper pick at TE during the fantasy drafting period. Now, if by sleeper they meant a guy with no clear path to playing time and an offense that doesn't feature the TE in the passing game. Then yes, Ebron was most certainly a sleeper. If you own Ebron after last week's 0 catches on 2 targets, then you need to have your password sent to you because you clearly forgot your login info and haven't checked your team in a while!
Kansas City Chiefs defense: The Chiefs gave up 26 points to the Titans in week 1, and have now lost LE Mike DeVito and ILB Derrick Johnson for the season with Achilles injuries. And to make things worse, SS Eric Berry is dealing with a nagging heal injury. The Chiefs travel to Denver to play their division rivals, and I truly believe that it would be better to not play a defense at all rather than play the Chiefs defense this week. A zero (0) is better than negative points if Peyton Manning unloads on this ailing unit.
Question of the week
Q: So it appears that I couldn't even get through week 1 without needing your help. Jordan Cameron has gone down and I did not draft a backup TE so I need to pick one up. I actually like the team I drafted so I hate to drop anyone for a TE but it is what it is. My question is which TE do I pick up and who do I drop to do that? Players to possibly drop: Trent Richardson, Lamar Miller, DeAndre Hopkins, James Starks. Thanks as always. - Daniel Cyriacks
A: Starks has the least value of the bunch really since he is a true back-up to Lacy. He will start week 2 if Lacy can't go, but Lacy is moving through the concussion protocol pretty rapidly. If I was picking a guy who has the least appeal to me, I'd say it is Richardson. He is just not a fantasy RB. The Colts don't trust him or know how to use him, and he is just killing [fantasy] people every time they put him in and play him.
I would cut Richardson and let someone else deal with the headache to be honest. As far as TEs go... I'd rank the possible FA's as: