James Morris hails from Rio Rancho, NM and has been playing fantasy sports for just over 15 years. Not only does he write the Bengals fantasy section, but he also does the Jacksonville Jaguars fantasy section. Crossing over, Morris writes the fantasy sections for the Boston Celtics, Indiana Pacers and Minnesota Timberwolves in the NBA. Just send him an email and he will reply back the same day with your answer.
As if things couldn't get any worse for fantasy owners, the injury bug bites again. This time it is Andre Johnson, who is believed to be out until at least Week 7. The first thought for many owners would be to run out and grab Jacoby Jones or Kevin Walter, but that is not the thought on my mind. The reality is that the Texans are going to lean heavily on Arian Foster and pass to set up the run. I think Jones has more value than Walter, but Jones' value lies more in the WR3 range, and even that is a bubble call. Walter isn't really on the radar as his stats are erratic and he goes catchless more than I like for a WR that actually plays.
I've received several emails asking about Mike Tolbert. Look, the simple truth is now that Ryan Mathews is healthy, Tolbert becomes a Jerome Bettis in the final years kind of RB. He may get a handful of yards, but he could get you a TD or two when the Chargers get in the red zone. Tolbert is definitely a sell-high player and I would do it sooner rather than later.
Matt Ryan: Ryan has the weapons to be a QB1 every single week, but he just can't seem to find the end zone enough to make a reliable QB1. This week he draws the Packers and they are allowing a league worst 28.2 PPG to opposing QBs. Maybe he can Falcon-up and combine his Week 3 yardage (330) with his Week 2 TDs (4) and come through for his fantasy owners.
Cam Newton: Newton is a guy that took the league by storm early in the season, but the problem is that he wasn't drafted in too many leagues and that makes him a waiver wire pickup. So, now owners are stuck with their drafted QB(s) and Newton off the waiver wire and they don't know who to play from week-to-week. This week Newton is a top 5-7 fantasy QB against a Saints defense that gives up 22.0 PPG to QBs.
Isaac Redman: As you will see later, Rashard Mendenhall is on the sit list. So, that makes Redman the starter for the Steelers this week. I am not going to say play him as an RB1/2, but I think he makes a fine flex play for those in need. He is a risky play since he hardly touches the ball, but he certainly makes the most of his touches with a 4.9 YPC average so far this season.
Ryan Mathews: As I mentioned earlier, Mathews looks healthy and is going to get a bulk of the touches from here on out. This week he gets a Broncos defense that hasn't allowed a rushing TD to opposing RBs this season, but I think that streak comes to an end. I'd play Mathews as an RB1 all day long this week.
Julio Jones: Jones started the season off slowly by catching just seven passes for 100 yards in his first two games. But, in the next two he proceeded to rack up 17 catches for 242 yards. He still hasn't reached the end zone, but this week he plays the weak Packers pass defense that is allowing WRs to score 30.2 PPG on them, third worst in the NFL. Look borderline WR1/WR2 numbers from him this week.
Santonio Holmes: Playing anyone on the Jets offense is always a risky call, but this week I like Holmes since he matches up against a Patriots defense that leads the league in fantasy points allowed to WRs (32.3 PPG). His success is all on Mark Sanchez's shoulders, but I think he can make Holmes into a fine WR2 play.
Jermaine Gresham: Here is some real love Bengals fans! Gresham looks like a guy that could break TE1 numbers this week since last week he hauled in four passes for 70 yards and a score, and the Jaguars defense is allowing the second-most fantasy points to TEs this season (13.0 PPG). If you own Dallas Clark or Aaron Hernandez, give Gresham a look.
San Diego Chargers Defense: The Chargers defense is still available in about 35 percent of leagues, and this week they draw an anemic Broncos offense. I'd play them as a top-tier defense this week over some heavy hitters like the Eagles, Packers and Bears.
Matt Hasselbeck: Did you know that Hasselbeck is actually ranked 7th for QBs in standard scoring formats this season? Did you also know that he is only owned in roughly 55 percent of fantasy leagues? While I think you should pick him up if you own Josh Freeman or Joe Flacco, I wouldn't play him this weekend since the Pittsburgh Steelers are allowing just 12.5 fantasy PPG, No. 3 in the NFL right now.
Jay Cutler: If you watch the games, you can see that the hits Cutler is taking from the Mike Martz offense is making him a little gun-shy with passing. Basically, you can see him looking more at the rushers and less downfield, so he is checking down or making poor throws altogether. This week he faces an underrated Lions defense that is only getting better with the debut of No. 12 overall pick Nick Fairley.
Stevan Ridley: The problem with fantasy RBs is that the ones who can be counted on each week can be counted on using just your two hands. And, once a waiver wire RB has a good game, owners scramble to their computers to pick him up. Ridley ran for 97 yards and a score last week, which is amazing considering he is a New England Patriot. However, it was just one week and the Patriots still have BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Danny Woodhead ahead of him on their depth chart. I'd wait and see how the touches pan out before picking him up, let alone thinking about playing him in the flex.
Rashard Mendenhall: From everything I read, Mendenhall is going to miss this game with a bad hamstring. When he does, Isaac Redman is going to fill his spot and becomes a low-end RB2 or a good flex play.
Reggie Wayne: Kerry Collins is out, and Curtis Painter is now in for the Colts. I personally had Wayne on my Do-Not-Draft list for this specific reason: he is without a fantasy QB. I wouldn't look at Wayne as anything more than a WR3 moving forward, and I'd see if I could get a half-eaten box of Skittles and Eric Decker for him!
Dallas Clark: Why do you still own him? The man hasn't even broken the 50-yard make in a game yet, but is still owned in almost 90 percent of fantasy leagues. I would personally cut him in favor of Gresham or even Ben Watson.
New England Patriots Defense: Can you believe the Patriots are owned in nearly 70 percent of leagues, but are ranked closer to 25th in standard scoring formats? Much like Clark, I'd cut the Pats in favor of a defense like the Redskins (No. 4 ranked fantasy defense) or Titans. Fantasy value isn't the same as NFL value.
This week I wanted to share a conversation that I had with a loyal Bengals fan named Mike D. Malone.
I live in Indianapolis currently; previously in the Dayton/Cincinnati area. My name is Mike Malone and I am a season ticket holder for the Bengals and have been for the past 30 years or so. I did get your name from the Bengals web site. You may find this interesting, but last year I decided that I was not going to renew my Bengals season tickets for the current year. I had all that I could take, the culmination of which was when Carson Palmer basically gave up on the organization and the team and gave Mike Brown the ultimatum "trade me or I retire."
To make a long story short, my wife called the Bengals in April of this year (before the draft) and requested that they remove us from all future correspondence from the Bengals to renew our season tickets. The marketing department wanted to know if my wife or I would like to talk to Mike Brown. I suppose because we had been season ticket holders for a long time. My wife gave the marketing department my cell phone number and Mike Brown called me on the following Saturday morning at her request and Mike and I talked for 30 minutes.
It was a great phone call and conversation, and I had my say with Mike and Mike took the time to talk to me about a variety of Bengals matters, including his desire to win, scouting, indoor practice facility direction, and the meeting/discussion that he had with Carson Palmer at the end of last season, to name a few of the topics. In summary, I appreciated the call and he convinced me to renew my season tickets again. He didn't press me to renew, he simply wanted to thank me for my past support and wanted to try to answer any questions that I had.
I am a huge football fan and I have been a huge Bengals supporter for many years and hope that the Bengals have a very successful year (this year) and the fans return. If Mike had the time and talked to each of his season ticket holders in the manner that he did with me, most of the season ticket holders that did not renew would have probably renewed, but I realize that is not possible.
I do believe that Mike cares about the fans and he wants the team to be of championship caliber. At one point during our 30-minute conversation, he said something like, "It really bothers me when long-time supporters like you and your wife are not going to renew your tickets." That told me that deep down he truly cares about the fans and the Bengals. He did not have to spend 30 minutes with me on a Saturday phone call.
For what it is worth, I am glad that Carson Palmer is not with the Bengals anymore; the Bengals will be a better team in the long run. I do hope that Mike will trade Carson and get some return for our team in the coming draft. I also know that Mike is often criticized for not hiring a GM, but agreeing to a trade for Carson would be a positive move since I think he has point by now. Just imagine if Carson were to suddenly appear at the Bengals doorstep ready to practice and play; it would further alienate the fans and certainly be a dynamic that would or could divide the locker room.
Thank you for talking to a diehard Bengals fan and letting me tell my story.