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How is it possible no one else sees this?
Patriots, schmatriots. And I'm gonna help Fantasy owners find another quarterback, OK? So, clearly, the biggest subplot of the Tom Brady injury saga is what becomes of him and Gisele! Tom's out for the year. And that means a lot more time with nothing to do, hangin' around the house, you know?
What if he's super annoying? What if, given lots of time with Tom when they're not dressed to the nines, smiling at photographers on the red carpet, making small talk with other good-looking celebs, Brady is really kind of a dullard? What if, left to their own devices, Gisele learns Tom does nothing but ask her to "pull his finger." That he has an annoying laugh? Or smacks his lips before every bite? That maybe, just maybe, he's not putting up with her "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition"-watching-and-crying crap and the TV is staying on the UFC, dammit?
Because a single Tom Brady gives girls hope, OK? And when I am out on the town in Boston, the last thing I need is hopeful girls. I think we all agree that what I need is girls who have lost all hope. Girls who have lowered expectations. Girls who, given no other options than the TMR, are willing to make the best of a bad situation.
And that's where many of us Fantasy owners find ourselves this morning. I lost Brady in one league. I lost Nate Burleson in two. I have Fred Taylor in a league and the Jaguars just lost two of their starting offensive lineman; one for the year, one for at least two months. Add injuries to guys I own like Dallas Clark and Darren McFadden, plus I'm in a league where you get points for how bad your quarterbacks are and Brodie Croyle was my first-round pick. It was a rough opening week for me and a lot of owners.
So with that in mind, we get to the
Here are some players that have seen a spike in value and may be available in your league. I've listed them in the order that I feel you should pick them up, but obviously every team need is different, as is every scoring system. In other words, if you lost Tom Brady, your big need this week isn't a running back, so you can ignore my first selection. Ownership in ESPN.com standard leagues is listed in parentheses.
By the way, I've got a secret pickup that's not listed here. Not at all. It's only in the video, so you have to actually watch it to get it. That's what we in the business like to call a "dirty trick." Or a "desperate ploy." I think we all know I'm not above either.
Sammy Morris, RB, Patriots (32 percent): The leading running back on the Pats is available in almost 70 percent of leagues. More touches and more yards than Laurence Maroney on Sunday and he got the touchdown. Just like he did every week before he was injured last year. In fact, since the start of the 2007 season, there have been four occasions in which Morris and Maroney have both started and finished the same game. In those four games, Morris has 41 fantasy points. Laurence Maroney has 29. The injury to Brady only increases the importance of the run game (and counseling for Tom and Gisele, but I digress) and I like me the Sammy Morris.
|DeSean Jackson may be the best wide receiver at QB Donovan McNabb's disposal.|
DeSean Jackson, WR, Eagles (54 percent): Thought you'd see Eddie Royal here, didn't you? Well, we're getting to him soon enough, but I went on record on today's podcast with Nate Ravitz that DeSean Jackson finishes the year with more fantasy points than Eddie Royal. I like Royal a lot, but Jackson is on a team that has no legit No. 1 receiver (sorry, Reggie Brown, even healthy you ain't all that, let alone a bag of chips) despite a stud quarterback on a team that likes to throw. Six receptions for 106 yards in Week 1 for Jackson, on the heels of his solid work in the preseason, where he was fourth in the NFL in receiving yards.
Eddie Royal, WR, Broncos (14 percent): I got asked about Royal a lot in the preseason and to be honest, I mostly dismissed him. I tend not to like rookie wideouts, I consider Denver to be more of a passing team but, with Marshall and Sheffler there, Royal was a third option at best. But like you, I saw that game last night. You know about the nice receptions, the 146 yards and the score. Here's the stuff you might have missed: Royal ran routes crisply, he ran twice for nine yards, he returns kicks and punts and I'm guessing he runs back at least one or two this year and frankly, he should have had two touchdowns but one got called back due to penalty. Now, you've also seen his best game of the season. Brandon Marshall will be back and Royal is now very much on opposing defensive coordinators' minds, and not every defensive back will get burned as badly as D'Angelo Hall. But Royal is legit and very much worth a pickup.
Jon Kitna, QB, Lions (68 percent): An obvious name that may not be available in a lot of leagues, but if he is and you just lost the soon-to-be-ex-Mr. Bundchen, Kitna's the first quarterback you want. Two straight 4,000-yard seasons, that defense is going to keep the Lions playing from behind and I like guys that have to throw a lot to Roy Williams and Calvin Johnson. The sixth-best fantasy quarterback in Week 1, he should be solid in Week 2 at home against the Packers.
Matt Cassel, QB, Patriots (1 percent): Christopher Harris covered Cassel in depth Monday, so I'll just add that of the potential free-agent quarterbacks out there besides Kitna, I like Cassel the best. He still gets to throw to Randy Moss and Wes Welker and the Patriots have attempted at least 500 passes each of the past three years. That's likely to go down a bit without Brady, but I don't think the Pats are about to become a run-first team.
Tarvaris Jackson, QB, Vikings (8 percent): A tough first half on Monday Night Football, but he looked better in the second half, with a score, 178 yards passing, more than 60 yards rushing, and he finishes top-10 in fantasy points among quarterbacks. That's more than Tony Romo, Peyton Manning and Brett Favre, to name a few. Teams are going to make him beat them (rather than Adrian Peterson) and I could see Jackson being a reasonably useful fantasy quarterback this year.
I'll pause here just to rank the rest of the free-agent quarterbacks in my opinion:
Chad Pennington, Dolphins (11 percent): He's Chad Pennington. Not great, but you've done worse. Incidentally, I've used that same line more than once.
|Trent Edwards threw for 215 yards and a touchdown in Week 1.|
Trent Edwards, Bills (9 percent): New slogan: The Bills! Better than you think! Sorta!
Damon Huard, Chiefs (1 percent): Larry Johnson isn't the same anymore and Huard does have Tony Gonzalez and Dwayne Bowe to throw to.
Matt Ryan, Falcons (14 percent): Up his value if you get points for handing off.
Kerry Collins, Titans (0 percent): Has it come to this for you? Have you considered signing up for our free Fantasy Basketball and Fantasy Hockey with free live scoring and auction draft capability? Or, you can also still sign up for a batch of fresh fantasy football teams until Sep. 20. Just sayin'.
Joe Flacco, Ravens (3 percent): He could be OK against Houston this week, though.
Back to more palatable pickups now
Steve Slaton, RB, Texans (29 percent): I was shocked to learn that Ahman Green (65 percent) is more owned than Sexy Steve, who was as trendy a pick in the preseason as there was. He had 49 yards Sunday, which doesn't seem like a lot, but he got 16 touches. That is partially due to Green missing almost all of the preseason and being rusty, but the Texans like Slaton and so do I. Not every defense they face will be as tough as the Steelers' (though I don't like him against Baltimore this week, either) and I think we can all agree that Ahman Green isn't playing 16 games this year.
Andre Hall, RB, Broncos (9 percent): I know, he's the only Denver running back to not get a score, but he looked the best of the three, got the most work and, if I had to start a Denver running back next week, it'd be Hall.
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Ray Rice, RB, Ravens (58 percent): Another obvious name, but since I'm doing this in order of who I would pick up, here ya go. Willis McGahee is going to get back on the field soon and I'm not buying Le'Ron McClain (0 percent), who had a career day against a terrible team. But Rice is legit and as good a backup as there is. Expect him to see at least 10 touches a game even when McGahee comes back, and you have got to love his matchup this week against the Texans.
Pierre Thomas, RB, Saints (13 percent): Twelve touches for 63 yards on Sunday and he plays on a team that has an explosive offense and where the inside runner (Deuce McAllister) isn't exactly an iron man.
Anthony Fasano, TE, Dolphins (4 percent): I mentioned both Fasano and David Martin in my pre-season Love/Hate for the same reason I'm mentioning it here. The Dolphins have no other options other than Ted Ginn Jr. in the passing game, Dolphins head coach Tony Sparano was a tight-ends coach with the Cowboys and a key cog in the development of Jason Witten. Fasano had eight receptions for 84 yards and a score on Sunday.
Tight end is very very deep this year and a bunch of tight ends stepped up this past week. Quickly, here's a list, in order that I rank the free agent tight ends after Fasano, if you are looking.
Matt Jones, WR, Jaguars (1 percent): One of my longtime Fantasy kryptonite guys, I loved Matt Jones for years. And with the injuries to the offensive line, Jacksonville is going to have open it up a bit more to take pressure off the run game. Jones seems motivated after his off-the-field trouble this past offseason. Six receptions, 80 yards on Sunday.
I'm already long in this column (to be expected in Week 1), so I'm just saying
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That Antwaan Randle-El (25 percent) had seven receptions for 77 yards last Thursday.
That there's a lot of very good defenses available. In order: Titans (20 percent), Ravens (21 percent), Buccaneers (42 percent), Cardinals (19 percent).
That Larry Johnson got a lot more touches, but Jamaal Charles (1 percent) looked good. And averaged 5.6 yards per carry.
That there's a lot of other running backs I'd rather have, but if you're in a deep league, Shaun Alexander is worth a flier. As are Keenan McCardell and Joe Horn, considering everything going on in Seattle.
Matthew Berry -- The Talented Mr. Roto -- is ESPN's senior director of fantasy. He was just as surprised as you to find out it's a real job. He is a multiple award winner from the Fantasy Sports Writers Association, including a Writer of the Year award. He is also the creator of RotoPass.com, a Web site that combines a bunch of well-known fantasy sites, including ESPN Insider, for one low price. Use promo code ESPN for 10 percent off. Cyberstalk the TMR | Be his Cyberfriend