Fantasy football roundtable (cont.)
3. Which Week 1 breakout players are you targeting on the waiver wire this week?
Beacom: A trio of young receivers looks good (and, no, not one bit of interest in Dallas' Kevin Ogletree). The Packers used Randall Cobb in a variety of sets on Sunday to create favorable matchups with linebackers and safeties; the result was a team-high nine catches (Cobb also scored on a 75-yard punt return). Jets rookie Stephen Hill caught five of the six balls Mark Sanchez threw to him, including two for touchdowns. And Washington's Aldrick Robinson is also worth a look. With Pierre Garcon out, Robinson became Robert Griffin III's favorite target, and finished the contest with a team-high six targets.
Carroll: I'm not blowing my budget on guys who don't have a clear path to do this again and again. Ogletree is nice, but a healthier Dez Bryant and Miles Austin are still going to be 1-2. Alfred Morris is the latest in a line of RBs Mike Shanahan has had a good week with, but I can't tell you what next week will bring. I'm not buying on Hill or Jeremy Kerley because I think it was more the Bills than Sanchez suddenly clicking. If I needed a running back, I'd look at C.J. Spiller. James Jones is a decent pickup at WR. Marcedes Lewis looked really good and is owned in less than five percent of leagues, so there's your tight end pick.
Mack: Ignore Ogletree, Sanchez, Blaine Gabbert, Alex Smith, Ryan Fizpatrick, Matt Cassel and Cecil Shorts, unless you're thin at those positions. Morris, owned in just 55 percent of CBSSports.com's leagues, is the gem of the waiver wire. He finally made sense of a Shanahan running back mess and he faces the Rams' suspect run defense in Week 2. Jonathan Dwyer (31 percent owned) is a decent flier, albeit not a great start next week against the Jets. Among receivers, Hill looks like a potential star, albeit a bad start against the Steelers in Week 2. Fellow rookie Alshon Jeffery has potential, while Robinson got the most snaps among Redskins receivers. RGIII can make Robinson a worthy start in fantasy leagues. Pick up Morris and Robinson, because RGIII gives the Redskins some serious offensive juice. Even their kicker, Billy Cundiff, should get some adds. At tight end, Lewis and Martellus Bennett could have breakout years.
Sabino: There are three obvious choices: Ogletree is yet the latest productive third wideout for the Cowboys. Hill has joined Calvin Johnson and Demaryius Thomas in the pantheon of quality receivers produced by Georgia Tech. And Morris, who has become the latest to lead the Redskins running back carousel. I'm also high on Dennis Pitta, who is the Ravens' move tight end. He finished 2011 strong and picked right up where he left off against the Bengals. He has a lot of classic Dallas Clark in him and Joe Flacco looked awfully Petyon Manning-like in executing the Ravens' new no-huddle attack.
4. Might the lack of running games in Green Bay and New Orleans filter down to other parts of each team's offense?
Beacom: I don't know that it will be an issue for Green Bay, as the passing game thrived without a ground attack last year. Business as usual there. The Saints have more invested in the backfield and may force the issue more.
Carroll: I still have some hope that Cedric Benson will establish himself with the Packers. They were facing the Niners defense, after all, so I'm not ready to sell there. The Saints, on the other hand, are a clear pass-first team with a bunch of role players. Neither team had a running game last year either. I'm a bit curious about how far down the receiver chart both quarterbacks are willing to go. Spreading targets around is good for football teams, but bad for fantasy owners.
Mack: No. It didn't a year ago, so there should be no reason it will this year. The question is whether those offenses are going to learn they cannot operate one-dimensionally. Sure, they can throw their way back from any deficit, but a running game can help them get and sit on leads. Don't use Benson, Mark Ingram or Pierre Thomas in any fantasy lineups until their game plans begin to include them.
Sabino: A lack of running game in Green Bay is a fallacy. Everyone lacks a running game against the 49ers, who allowed league lows in rushing yards per game (77.3) and rushing touchdowns (three) last season. The Packers will be fine on the ground, and I expect Benson to have a quality season. He's someone to target if you're in the market for a back. In the case of the Saints running game, it's usually dominated more by short passes to Darren Sproles than by actual handoffs. That's how Brees was able to shatter the NFL's all-time passing yardage record. The biggest problem for New Orleans was the absence of Sean Payton on the sidelines helping control the offensive flow. They'll be fine.
5. I have Fred Jackson. Thinking about trading Wes Welker (looks like he has a lesser role) for a RB. Thoughts?
-- Art @AAallday via @SInow
Beacom: Every player is "tradable" for the right price, but I wouldn't be too concerned with Welker's sluggish start. The Patriots jumped out to a 21-3 halftime lead, and in the second half the game plan began to shift (Tom Brady attempted just four passes in the fourth quarter). Unless you can land a top 12 back, keep Welker in your lineup.
Carroll: A lot depends on what you can get for Welker, but yes, you have to consider it given Jackson could miss a couple weeks. Go back to your draft charts and look for an equivalent ADP RB to target. Spiller is an easy one to get, but Welker might be a bit much for him. Targeting a good back who had a bad week -- Richardson, Johnson if you believe in him still, or Jamaal Charles -- might work.
Mack: It is not a bad idea, unless someone is low-balling you on Welker. You don't want to be caught selling low. Clearly, Welker is not as in favor with the Pats out of the gate -- perhaps due to his contract situation. Welker got 15 fewer snaps than Brandon Lloyd and the targets he used to get were going to Aaron Hernandez out of the slot instead. Even Julian Edelman got 23 snaps, which amounts to the time Welker missed. The Pats are really platooning Edelman with Welker? Perhaps so. Be worried until we see someone different in Week 2 against the Cardinals.
Sabino: Covering yourself in Jackson's absence is a great idea and Welker is a reasonable price to pay. Welker's role is diminished with the progress of Hernandez, the arrival of Lloyd and the presence of Stevan Ridley as a lead back. And there are some hard feelings with the front office over unresolved contract squabbles that likely will lead to his departure from New England after the season. It's best to pull off a deal quickly before your opposition catches on.