Fantasy football roundtable (cont.)
3. After finally breaking out of the doldrums with 141 yards rushing in Week 4, is it time to sell high on Chris Johnson or bet that he has found his groove?
Beacom: Sell. This was not Johnson's last big game, but fantasy owners will never know if next week has 141 or 14 yards in store. Why go crazy guessing week to week?
Carroll: Hold for one more week, then sell high. I've been advocating trying to buy low on Johnson, but the market can switch just like that. Johnson had a nice game, but the evidence we have is three weeks of bad games and one week of good, adding to a bad 2011 season. Johnson's not reliable now, even if we get glimpses of the 2,000-yard talent. With Jake Locker likely out next week, Johnson could get more touches and edge his value up more. Don't get too greedy.
Mack: Sell! Sell! Sell! Johnson's team is a mess and he still faces some elite run defenses going forward. This isn't just a good time to sell, either. It might be your last chance to sell at a decent rate. Johnson likely frustrated you for three weeks in your starting lineup and Sunday on your bench. Consider this a blessing in disguise to get you some value in return.
Sabino: It's pretty clear to me that he's someone to sell high on. Take this golden opportunity while you have it and cut bait as long as you can get real value for him. I've heard of some owners willing to take just about anything to rid themselves of C.J., but I wouldn't go that far. If you can strengthen another position while not putting yourself out at running back, then make a deal. If not, then gamble that the upward trend will continue.
4. Brandon Bolden played tag-team with Stevan Ridley in the Patriots' backfield in Buffalo. Will the trend continue for Bill Belichick?
Beacom: Yes, because Bill Belichick doesn't care about the norm or fantasy football. Heck, Danny Woodhead could lead the team in carries once or twice this year. I expect the unexpected with Belichick. And that's why fantasy owners with Ridley should not rely on him to be anything more than a spot starter.
Carroll: I think Belichick is the new Mike Shanahan. Now that the Redskins are locked in on Alfred Morris, trying to figure out which back will get the most carries in New England is the new guessing game. I don't play that, which means I can't play any of these backs, including Ridley, who I had high hopes for coming into the season. Most weeks aren't going to be like this one, with yards and touchdowns enough to go around for two backs. I'm not sure whether Bolden is even worth a stash at this stage.
Mack: Running is a trend that will continue, yes, but understanding how much each back runs will be a question left with an open answer. Ridley is going to remain the primary back, so continue to consider him a starter in fantasy leagues -- even against a tough Broncos run defense next week. Bolden should be owned, but starting him outside of being a low-end flex right now is a big risk. This is still a pass-heavy Tom Brady offense.
Sabino: Bolden is a ball-control, between-the-tackles type of north-south runner. Ridley is more east-west, faster, able to get around the corner. Together they are a formidable tandem. The Patriots love to have options to keep the opposition guessing and this is right up their alley. It surely will mean strife for fantasy owners, but if you guess correctly, both are worth owning.
5. What is up with Doug Martin?
-- Grant Stevenson @GStevenson3
Beacom: As is common with rookie backs, preseason expectations were set way too high. People bought into Greg Schiano's "run early and often" offense and overlooked the fact that Martin still needed time to adjust. Moving forward, fantasy owners can expect a few big days, just not consistency. And like all first-year rushers, Martin is a candidate to hit a wall come December.
Carroll: 24. 20. 19. 8. If this was one of those number puzzles where you have to find the next number in the sequence, I'm not sure what it might be, but the pattern is clear. Martin is getting fewer touches, got a touchdown poached and isn't putting up yards or points. I'm not sure it's Martin; the Bucs are running less and that's a chicken-egg issue. Are they running less because Martin is ineffective or is Martin ineffective because they're running less? Greg Schiano needs to spend a little more time in practice figuring out the running game than he does worrying about kneel downs.
Mack: The game circumstances have limited Martin of late. First, D.J. Ware has taken over third-down back duties, and LeGarrette Blount has apparently wrested the goal-line back job away, too. That leaves merely 15-20 carries and 80-to-90 yards rushing a game for Martin going forward. That is unexpected, because coach Schiano wanted a feature back doing everything, but he might have asked too much from Martin too soon, because he's involving others now. Martin remains someone to own, even through his bye week, so don't give up on the rookie just yet.
Sabino: This week with his team on a bye you'd better believe that Schiano and offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan will be asking, and hopefully solving, the same question. Martin debuted with a bang against Carolina but has been much more pedestrian of late (and really, doesn't everyone run well against the Panthers?). Part of that has been Josh Freeman's reliance more on the passing game and part of it stems from Ware and Blount getting more involved in the offense. Either way I wouldn't panic on Martin yet, at least until the Bucs play a couple of games after the bye.
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