Fantasy Quick-Hitters: Fitz, Marshall, and more

Larry Fitzgerald isn’t happy with the number of balls being thrown his way. In PPR leagues, Fitz is averaging 16.3 fantasy points through two games, which isn’t bad, but he’s only averaging 53 yards per game, well off last season’s average of 89 ypg. If he weren’t catching TDs, fantasy owners might be a little panicked.

Mike Bell is likely to miss Week 3, at least according to Jay Glazer, who is usually right about such things. Pierre Thomas is coming back from his own knee sprain and was active on Sunday, so if Bell misses, he’ll have a shot to post some nice numbers against Buffalo if the Saints give him his usual workload. The good news for Bell is that an MRI revealed no structural damage.

Troy Williamson is out for the year. The Jags also cut Nate Hughes, so the starting duties are left up to Torry Holt and Mike Sims-Walker (who posted some nice numbers in garbage time on Sunday). Sims-Walker is worth a pickup in most 12-team leagues. Let’s just hope he can stay healthy.

HC McDaniels says that B. Marshall is a rotational player. This is not what we wanted to hear. It’s not clear why McDaniels is rotating his WRs when Marshall and Eddie Royal are far and away the Broncos’ two best wideouts. Royal has been getting consistent snaps, so this looks like some sort of punishment for Marshall. Not good. Fantasy owners can feel free to bench Marshall if they have a better option waiting in the wings. It looks like Marshall’s days of 10-15 targets a game are long gone, at least for now.

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Fantasy Quick-Hitters: Pierre, Jamal, Santana and more

Saints beat writer Jeff Duncan speculates that Pierre Thomas’s injury is worse than the team is letting on. Duncan says that HC Sean Payton comes from the Belichick school of releasing injury information to the media. If Thomas doesn’t play, Mike Bell is a decent start even though the Eagles are pretty good defensively. Philly gave up 72 rushing yards to DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart, and the Saints have a much better passing attack than Carolina does. This should keep the Eagles off balance and open up some running lanes. Assuming Thomas sits, I wouldn’t be surprised if Bell had 80-90 yards rushing and a TD in Week 2.

Jamal Lewis probable to start. Rookie James Davis is still questionable with a shoulder injury, so Lewis should be a serviceable start against the Broncos, who gave up 108 total yards and a TD to Cedric Benson last week.

Redskins’ beat writer thinks the team will take more shots downfield in Week 2. This would be good news for Santana Moss, who is a big-play receiver. The Giants smothered him in Week 1, but he should have an easier time getting open against a sketchy Rams defense.

HC Haley wants to get the running game on track. Well, of course he does. But it’s good to hear that Haley isn’t ignoring the problem. The Raiders really struggled against the run last season, but played better in Week 1 against the Chargers, so we’re not sure LJ is a sure bet for a good game. He’s startable if you’re in a pinch, however.

Matt Schaub is close to 100 percent. The Titans gave up a lot of yards through the air to Ben Roethlisberger last week, so there is a possibility that Schaub could have a bounce-back game this week. I’m not excited about his prospects, but he’s not a terrible start.

HC McDaniels plans to spread the ball around. He doesn’t want to name a WR1 because he doesn’t want to get into the habit of forcing the ball to a guy that’s double-teamed. In Week 1, Marshall led the way with seven targets, while Eddie Royal, Jabar Gaffney and Brandon Stokley had four targets apiece. Expect Marshall and Royal to lead the team in targets this season.

Fantasy Quick-Hitters: Steelers’ RBBC, LT2, Marshall and more

Steelers to use rotation at RB. Willie Parker will get two series and Rashard Mendenhall one until one player gets a hot hand. Mewelde Moore will be in on third downs and in no huddle situations. It was a little more than a week ago that HC Mike Tomlin said that Willie Parker was his running back. A lot can change in a week.

Vikings intent on involving Bernard Berrian more. Berrian should be a nice play this week against the Lions, but he and Brett Favre haven’t had a lot of time to work together and it showed in Week 1 against the Browns.

Knowshon Moreno says he feels 100 percent. He also says that he ran tentatively against the Broncos, but should be ready to go against the Browns, who gave up a ton of yards to Adrian Peterson last week.

Matt Cassel is feeling much better. The Chiefs haven’t committed to announcing him as the starter, but most of the signs point to that being the case. The Raiders are actually pretty tough against the pass, so if you can hold off on starting Cassel, do so.

LaDainian Tomlinson sits out again.
Given the horrible matchup against the Ravens, it would be wise to avoid using LT2 this week. If he doesn’t play and you have Darren Sproles, he could be used as a flex or as a RB2 if you’re in a PPR league.

Brandon Marshall refuses to answer the media’s questions. This could be a sign that Marshall’s attitude isn’t as good as it has seemed over the past couple of weeks and that he’s headed for a meltdown. It could also be a sign that he blames the media for all the problems he’s having in Denver and he’s going to punish them for it. Marshall has too much talent to ignore.

T.O. wants his QB to go deep.
“…Trent has to better assess what he’s seeing out there and take some shots down the field. We’re going to do that, and by no means was that the reason that we lost the game.” That’s not quite the controversial Owens that we saw in Philly and Dallas, but we’ll see if it develops. The Bills should have some opportunities to go deep against the Bucs, who were torched by T.O.’s old team last week.

Fantasy Quick-Hitters: Brandon’s attitude, Pierre’s knee, Dallas RB split and more

HC McDaniels says that Brandon Marshall’s attitude has been “great” since returning from suspension. He went on to say that Marshall could “absolutely” contribute in Week 1. Marshall’s stock is still a little shaky, but this is exactly what his owners were looking for coming out of last week’s suspension. He’s a solid start against a traditionally bad Cincy defense.

Pierre Thomas misses Wednesday practice, likely out for Week 1. I wrote about this yesterday and suggested that owners pick up Mike Bell to start against the Lions on Sunday. It’s a great matchup and Bell proved in Denver that he is more than capable of posting good numbers.

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What do we do with Marshall?

Looking at the Brandon Marshall situation with a purely fantasy eye, his suspension for the remainder of the preseason may create an environment where the troublesome wide receiver becomes a value on draft day.

After news of the suspension broke, a fellow owner in my slow auction league nominated him for bidding. I won him for $21, which was 5% of my total payroll (or about two-thirds his pre-suspension value). Here’s what Joe Bryant (of had to say in a recent email:

Marshall will probably fall out of the top 100 picks in most drafts now. We would still take a chance on him around the 9th/10th round range in PPR leagues, because if this really goes completely sour, you can cut him for the WW flavor of the week, but if he straightens out, he’ll be the rare top 20 WR you can get out of the top 100.

But this hasn’t been the case, at least not yet. According to Antsports, in 12-team redraft leagues from 8/29-8/31, his ADP dropped from the late third into the early fifth. I had a keeper league that drafted this Sunday, and Marshall went in the middle of the sixth. (I realize that in a keeper league, his value will be somewhat higher because of his long-term value in the league.)

Other owners are going to be scared off by Marshall’s ridiculously bad offseason. But the bottom line is that he’s in a contract year, and if he wants to score a big payday, he’s going to need to show up and act like a professional. At least this what I hope his agent is telling him on a daily basis during his suspension.

There are some indications that the Broncos are willing to work with Marshall this year. The suspension itself was only for the preseason, and if he behaves, he could very well be on the field for the team’s opener. This is a clear sign that the Broncos value Marshall and what he can do for the team. They are not yet at the point where he’s too much of a headache to deal with. Moreover, Josh McDaniels spoke about the situation at the most recent preseason game and he seemed optimistic about the WR’s short-term future.

The driving force behind Marshall’s future is Marshall himself. If he wants a fat contract, he needs to shut his mouth and play out his current deal. If he performs up to his usual standard, some team will forget about all of this and will give him the kind of contract he’s looking for. From a fantasy point of view, this makes Marshall a risk, but a worthwhile risk in the middle rounds. If he realizes his situation, swallows his pride, and acts like a professional, he can get the kind of money he wants. This is why I’m optimistic about Brandon Marshall in 2009.

Given what we know right now, his ADP of 5.05 sounds about right. I’d take him after Eddie Royal, DeSean Jackson and Vincent Jackson, but before Santonio Holmes, Antonio Bryant and Santana Moss.

Of course, he could completely flake out and get suspended for the entire season, a la Keyshawn Johnson.

Don’t you love fantasy football?

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