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Fantasy Football 2011: Week 6 START HIM! SIT HIM!

on Tuesday, 11 October 2011.

DAN COMPARES THE VALUE OF A #1 RB TO A #1 WR IN THIS WEEK'S START HIM! SIT HIM!

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This past week, two different owners asked me what I thought about the possibility of trading DeSean Jackson for Matt Forte.  Both owners said they needed a RB more than they needed a WR, so I told them they should do it.  Obviously, Forte has had the better season so far, and he remains the focal point of Mike Martz’s offense with the Bears.  Jackson came up small in Weeks 2 & 3, but has been outstanding in the Eagles’ other three games.  They are comparable talents, as both are undisputed RB1 and WR1’s respectively, so how do you decide who has more value?

 Most would tell you that based solely on how often the ball is in his hands, the running back is more valuable than the receiver.  After all, a starting running back touches the ball twenty-plus times per game, whereas a wide receiver only has five to ten chances to impact the box score. Also, a good running back also receives more chances to score, on average, than a wide receiver based solely on goal line opportunities.

The sheer number of chances a good running back has to impact a game puts the odds in his favor, so how do wide receivers – specifically DeSean Jackson – statistically bridge the gap?

Jackson doesn’t affect the game as often as Forte, but when he does, few players can rival his impact.  Jackson has led the league in yards-per-reception each of the last two seasons and looks poised to challenge for the title again this year.  It’s a tribute to his game-breaking speed and amazing run after the catch ability that makes him the game’s best deep-threat.

He also impacts the game on special teams in a way that few can.  He has four return touchdowns in his career; which helps owners in leagues that reward special teams points.  His average of over 110 yards per season rushing the ball also boosts his value, as do his three career rushing touchdowns.

His real impact is as a game-breaking wide receiver, but if Forte is going to get credit for how much he helps owners in the passing game with his great hands, you also have to look at Jackson’s impact in the other facets as well.

Forte is off to a great start this year and could be poised for a career-year as he is set to enter free agency after the season.  Jackson is in a similar situation; his contract expires after the season.  All things being equal, I would probably rather have Forte for the rest of the year, but the gap is closer for me than it may be for others.

This question poses a potentially larger question for owners:  How much more valuable is a top-flight RB than a top-flight WR?

For me, the answer is: microscopic, if at all.

Take the top scorers at each position as examples.  This year Fred Jackson is the top RB to date and has 480 yards rushing, 232 yards receiving and five total touchdowns for approximately 100 points, depending on how your league’s scoring is set up.

The top WR to date is New England’s Wes Welker, who has amassed 740 yards receiving and five touchdowns to go along with 19 yards rushing.  His total of approximately 105 points this season is very comparable to Fred Jackson’s total, so I ask you: which one would you rather have for the rest of the season?

Jackson has been a consistent fantasy stud this season and sits third in the league in both rushing yards and rushing touchdowns.  Meanwhile, Welker has caught an astounding thirteen more passes than anyone else in the NFL this year; he has 131 more yards receiving than anyone and is second in the league in TD receptions.

I love Jackson, but to me the answer is clearly Welker.  Jackson impacts the game much more frequently than Welker does (109 touches this season compared to 46) but Welker does more with his touches.  You can’t automatically assume that because a RB and WR are on an equal playing field talent-wise that the RB is going to have a greater impact.  Wide receivers are just as capable of taking over a game as a running back is.  Let’s look at some other examples to help illustrate my point:

LeSean McCoy is the #2 running back in fantasy with 553 total yards and seven touchdowns (97 Points).  Calvin Johnson is the #2 WR in fantasy with 451 total yards and nine touchdowns (99 Points).

 Steve Smith is fantasy’s #3 WR and has accumulated 609 total yards and scored three TDs on the year (78 Points).  Fantasy’s #3 RB, Matt Forte, has whopping 785 total yards, but has scored just two times (90 Points).

 Moving a little further down the line: fantasy’s #15 RB this season, Willis McGahee, has 413 total yards and two touchdowns (55 Points).  Meanwhile, fantasy’s #15 WR, Victor Cruz, has 389 total yards and three touchdowns (56 Points).

The point I’m trying to make is that you can’t necessarily say that a running back has more of an impact in fantasy just because they touch the ball more.  Wide receivers have their own ways of influencing the box score and are every bit as important as running backs.  Also, they suffer severe injuries much less frequently than do running backs.  Yes, I realize Andre Johnson is out for a few weeks with a hamstring injury, but ask a Jamaal Charles owner if they would trade him for Johnson at this point.

Admittedly, I’m a fan of wide receivers.  I always seem to stock my teams with as many good ones as I can on draft day.  I just feel they are consistently underrated on draft day, whereas running backs tend to be overrated.

Don’t believe me?  Try trading Chris Johnson or Rashard Mendenhall for Calvin Johnson at this point.  You probably would have snickered at the notion on draft day, but five weeks into the season you would jump at the chance.

Now before we get into Week 6's START HIM! SIT HIM! it’s time to look back at Week 5 and see how I did:

START HIM!

QB Mark Sanchez – Projected * 257 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT (16 Points)
Actual * 166 yards, 2 TDs, 0 INT (14 Points)

From a real-life standpoint, Sanchez didn’t play great, but from a fantasy standpoint, he played well enough.  Getting 14 points from a waiver-wire QB is nice, and although The Sanchize wasn’t able to lead the Jets to victory, he helped get me the win here.

 RB Stevan Ridley – Projected * 94 total yards, 1 TD (15 Points)
Actual * 13 Total yards, 0 TD (1 Point)

The Patriots actually ran the ball more times (35) than they threw it (33) for the first time since Tom Brady originally had short hair on Sunday.  Unfortunately for my prediction, BenJarvus Green-Ellis carried it a career-high 27 times on his way to 136 yards rushing and two touchdowns.  Hard to fault the Patriots for sticking with the effective Green-Ellis, but this obviously goes as a loss for me.  Still, keep an eye on Ridley moving forward, as it’s possible the Pats just went with The Law Firm and his hot hand for this particular matchup against the Jets.

WR Plaxico Burress – Projected * 81 yards, 1 TD (14 Points)
Actual * 42 yards, 0 TD (4 Points)

Despite being targeted a team-high eight times on Sunday, Burress was only able to haul in three passes for 42 yards.  He had some key drops, in addition to a few errant throws by QB Mark Sanchez, while failing to score.  Clearly this goes as a loss for me, and Burress remains a risky play going forward until the Jets are able to generate consistent offense through the air.

TE Greg Olsen – Projected * 73 yards, 1 TD (13 Points)
Actual * 21 Yards, 1 TD (8 Points)

He didn’t have the yards, but he had the TD, and from your fantasy tight end you have to be satisfied with the effort.  Not quite as good as I had hoped, but eight points from Olsen isn’t too shabby.

Bengals' Defense – Projected * 13 Points allowed, 3 Sacks, 3 Turnovers (12 Points)
Actual * 20 Points allowed, 3 Sacks, 2 Turnovers, 1 TD (13 Points)

Solid all-around effort by the Bengals' defense, but the return-touchdown at the end of the game really solidified the win here.  Their defense is better than people give them credit for, and the putrid Jaguars offense played right into their hands in this one.

SIT HIM!

QB Matt Schaub – Projected * 194 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT (9 Points)
Actual * 416 Yards, 2 TD, 2 INT (20 Points)

The Texans trailed for much of the game and went into pass-happy mode in the second half.  A whopping 51 pass attempts, compared to just 25 rushing attempts, allowed Schaub to have a career day against Oakland.  I thought they would run the ball more than they did.  They didn’t and, just like Houston, I took the loss.

RB LeGarrette Blount – Projected * 47 yards, 0 TD (4 Points)
Actual * 34 yards rushing, 31 yards receiving, 0 TD (6 Points)

You simply can’t run on San Francisco.  Until someone has a successful game against the 49ers or the Ravens you pretty much have to sit any RB you have going against them.  LeGarrette Blount never stood a chance in this one as it was a blowout from the very beginning, but San Fran’s rush defense is for real.

WR Marques Colston – Projected * 42 Yards, 0 TD (4 Points)
Actual * 69 Yards, 0 TD (6 Points)

Colston reeled in five of the six passes directed his way, but wasn’t able to score Sunday in Carolina.  He didn’t play a terrible game, but fantasy owners expect more when they put Colston in their lineup.  He probably should be started going forward, but a mere six points earns me the win here.

TE Vernon Davis – Projected * 68 yards, 0 TD (6 Points)
Actual * 39 yards, 2 TD (15 Points)

Davis managed just 39 yards on three catches in San Francisco’s blowout win last weekend, but two of his catches were for red zone scores.  No real gray area here as clearly this goes as a loss for me, and Davis regains his every-week-starter status.

Steelers' Defense – Projected * 23 Points, 2 Sacks, 1 Turnover (3 Points)
Actual * 17 Points, 3 Sacks, 1 Turnover (7 Points)

Pittsburgh’s defense played well, but still managed to force just one turnover against Tennessee.  They showed signs of life as they were able to generate a pass-rush despite the absence of OLB James Harrison, but it wasn’t a standout performance from a fantasy point of view.  Seven points isn’t enough from this unit during a home game against an unspectacular offense, thus giving me the win.  Still, Pittsburgh could be close to becoming the unit we all expected them to be at the outset of the season.  Don’t give up on them just yet.

Last week goes in the books as my third consecutive 6-4 week.  Not great, not terrible, but consistently mediocre.  Those are adjectives usually reserved for describing Mark Sanchez’s career to date, so it’s safe to say I have some work to do.  A 6-4 record isn’t going to cut it, so this week, in honor of the Raiders’ late owner Al Davis, it’s time to just win, baby.

On to Week 6!

START HIM!

QB Colt McCoy – Projected * 252 yards, 2 TD, 1 INT (16 Points)

As we enter the second week of byes in the NFL, owners everywhere need to find a replacement for their every-week starters.  Owners of Philip Rivers, Matt Hasselbeck or Kevin Kolb may want to take a hard look at Colt McCoy as a one-week fill-in.  He’s been rock-solid this season and has a juicy matchup against an underwhelming Oakland pass defense this weekend.  If you are looking for 15-ish points for a spot-starter, you could do a lot worse than McCoy.

SIT HIM!

QB Jay Cutler – Projected * 243 yards, 1 TD, 2 INT (9 Points)

It should be painfully obvious at this point that the Bears just can’t protect Cutler.  If there is one thing the Vikings still do well on defense it’s rush the passer.  Add the two together and you could see a disoriented Cutler throwing balls into the Minnesota secondary as he tries to avoid being hit by Jared Allen and company.  Sit Cutler in favor of McCoy if you can.

START HIM!

RB Ryan Torain – Projected * 112 yards, 1 TD (17 Points)

The Eagles' run defense is an abomination this year.  Their linebacking core’s inexperience has been evident from the first game of the regular season.  They haven’t stopped anyone’s ground attack and Torain should have a field day this week.  Though he hasn’t officially named him the starter yet, he’s the most talented back they have, and Coach Shannahan won’t be able to keep Torain off the field this Sunday.

SIT HIM!

RB Arian Foster – Projected * 56 yards, 0 TD (5 Points)

Yes, I’m serious.  Foster is very talented and is an every-week starter in fantasy… but this isn’t every week.  This week he and the Texans travel to Baltimore to take on Ray Lewis and the vaunted Ravens' defense.  Last week I said to sit LeGarrette Blount because of how good the 49ers rush defense had been and listed some talented backs that had been stuffed by San Fran to date.  I was right about Blount, so here are some names of running backs that have been stuffed by Baltimore:

 

Rashard Mendenhall – 45 yards, 0 TD
Chris Johnson – 53 yards, 0 TD
Steven Jackson – 23 yards, 0 TD
Shonn Greene – 23 yards, 0 TD

Four games and four very good backs without a touchdown between them.  A mere 144 yards combined on the ground breaks down to an average of 36 yards per game.  Truth be told, I may actually be bullish in my projection of 56 yards and no scores for Foster.  I know it takes guts to sit him, but the numbers don’t lie.  As if that wasn’t enough, the Ravens are also coming off a bye and have had an extra week to prepare for Foster this week. He belongs on your bench.

BONUS SIT HIM!

RB Jahvid Best

He gets the 49ers this week.  For every reason I listed last week about why to sit LeGarrette Blount, you sit Best this week.  I love his talent, and he just had a monster game on Monday night, but this is a nightmare matchup for him.

START HIM!

WR Greg Little – Projected * 86 yards, 1 TD (14 Points)

He’s very much under-the-radar at this point, but may not remain there when this week is over.  Little is the most talented WR the Browns have and they just announced they are going to make him the starter opposite Mohamed Massaquoi moving forward.  Little is a big target at 6’3, 231 pounds and could be a real red zone asset for a team that desperately needs one.  Pick up Little this week and get him in your lineups.

SIT HIM!

WR Brandon Marshall – Projected * 42 yards, 0 TD (4 Points)

I thought Marshall would be a pretty obvious choice to sit this week because of his impending vacation to Revis Island on Monday night, but apparently not.  ESPN has Marshall projected for15 points this week and have him slated as a top-10 WR option.  Let’s breakdown the matchup:

1.  His QB this week will be Matt Moore. MATT MOORE!
2.  The man covering him this week is inarguably the best in the NFL at his position.
3.  The Dolphins have no running game to speak of that would keep the Jets' defense honest.
4.  The game is in New York (well…New Jersey, but still) against a fired-up Jets team that desperately needs a win to get back in the AFC East race.
5.  …MATT MOORE!!!

If Marshall gets 15 points this week I pretty much need to stop writing this column, because for the life of me I can’t see how it could happen.  Anyway, one more time everybody, say it with me… MATT MOORE!

START HIM!

TE Visanthe Shiancoe – Projected * 47 yards, 1 TD (10 Points)

To be completely honest, it’s just more of a gut feeling than anything else that he will score this week, but I still think he’s a nice play.  The Bears have had trouble covering the tight end all season and McNabb looks Shiancoe’s way as frequently as anyone else’s, so I think the stars align and he gets the score.

SIT HIM!

TE Greg Olsen – Projected * 41 yards, 0 TD (4 Points)

I was impressed with how well the Falcons defended the uber-talented Jermichael Finley on Sunday night - limiting him to just four catches for 67 yards and keeping him out of the end zone.  Olsen isn’t in the same stratosphere as Finley in terms of sheer talent, so they should do well against him as well.  Maybe he gets a score, maybe he doesn’t, and I realize it’s splitting hairs between him and Shiancoe, but I like the Vikings’ TE this week just a little bit more.

START HIM!

Vikings Defense – Projected * 23 points allowed, 4 Sacks, 3 Turnovers (10 Points)

I swore I wasn’t going to do it again… but I’m doing it again.  Start the Vikings' D.

Anytime one team has a stout defensive front and the other team has, shall we say, “issues” keeping their QB upright, I’m taking the defense.  If the front-four can get to Cutler they should be able to force some turnovers.  The possibility here is strong for a defensive touchdown; so don’t shy away from the Vikes if you’re in a bind looking for a spot-start defense.

SIT HIM!

Eagles Defense – Projected * 31 points allowed, 2 Sacks, 1 Turnover (4 Points)

Remember last season’s coming-out party for Michael Vick on Monday night where he torched the Redskins for 333 yards through the air, 80 yards on the ground and six total touchdowns in a 59-28 rout?  Well, he plays them again this Sunday.

What does that have to do with the Eagles defense?  This game has every component that I listed in the anatomy of a shootout column from Week 3, and it should yield a bunch of points for both teams.  If Vick goes off again the ‘Skins will have no choice but to throw it all over to play catch-up.  Look for a bunch of points on both sides, and stay away from either team’s defense.

Good luck to everyone this week, and especially to anyone going against an owner with Michael Vick.  If he has any Vick Magic left in him it will probably be on full display this Sunday.

START HIM! SIT HIM! Season Record: 30-20

If you have a fantasy football question you want answered, e-mail me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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