Fantasy football roundtable: Rams' Richardson offers intriguing upside
The Rams seem to be phasing out Steven Jackson in favor of Daryl Richardson
Historic 2011 by Rob Gronkowski, Jimmy Graham raised expectations too high
Michael Vick should have best weeks ahead with Eagles' receiving corps healthy
The NFL fantasy season is filled with tough decisions. Join SI's roundtable of fantasy experts each week to help sort through the lineup choices, injuries and waiver-wire options that can make or break a season. Each week, we'll also be featuring a question from our readers, which you are free to submit each Sunday of the season at the @SInow Twitter feed.
1. Daryl Richardson, Felix Jones and William Powell emerged in Week 6 to perform like starters. Whose future is brighter in the next few weeks?
Mike Beacom: Of the three, Jones' future is the brightest, starting next week against Carolina's suspect run defense. No one is sure how much time DeMarco Murray will miss with his fractured foot; Jones will be the guy in Big D in the meantime. Richardson is the most talented of the three, but he's stuck in a time share with Steven Jackson. Powell will likely emerge as the No. 1 back for an Arizona team that has had trouble running the ball, regardless of opponent.
Will Carroll: That people continue to ask about Jones kind of bugs me -- don't we know who he is? Who among us hasn't been burned at least once by Jones' tantalizing speed, drafting him far too high and getting almost nothing in return? With Richardson and Powell, there's at least the mystery of upside. I think Richardson is probably the better play, essentially acting as a mini-me to Jackson. The Rams don't have to change anything about the offense to get Richardson into his talent zone. I liked the little I saw of Powell, but with John Skelton perhaps ready to come back, does that help or hurt Powell? I don't know and that uncertainty tips me to Richardson.
Eric Mack: Jones will have the most value if he starts, which he very well might if Murray misses multiple weeks with ligament damage in his foot. Powell is more certain to get starts and carries over Richardson, because Jackson is still the veteran starter for the Rams. So, Jones is the temporary answer, while Powell is the slightly more intriguing longterm one.
David Sabino: If I had to pick one I'd say Richardson, as Jackson is being phased out of the Rams offense and hasn't produced like a top back. The Rams seem like a better team with Richardson carrying the ball. Jones' success not only depends on Murray's availability but also on how many snaps he can play and how well Phillip Tanner plays when he's on the sidelines. Powell isn't in a great position to succeed on a team that is tied for 27th in rushing.
2. Shonn Greene had his best game of the season in Week 6. Is this the start of a good run or a one-week revival against a subpar Colts defense?
Beacom: Season? It was by far the best game of Greene's career. Even so, it will take more than one good game to get me to hop on his bandwagon. I believe the Jets are committed to getting their power rushing attack going, as Rex Ryan suggested in his postgame conference, but that's always been true. Greene is too inconsistent to keep a smile on Ryan's face. Plus, the Jets' remaining schedule is full of good run defenses: New England twice, Miami, Seattle and San Diego.
Carroll: It was mostly the defense. Joe McKnight and Bilal Powell put up good runs against the Colts, who were missing several starters and had no answers for anything the Jets did. This is the time to trade Greene if you have him, in a perfect sell high move.
Mack: It is a revival of at least some respect for a runner overly criticized amid the disaster around him. Greene has some tough run defenses coming up on the schedule again, after a brutal early schedule, so you have to expect some regression. The good news is he is not done, so he should prove useful through the bye season. And after the byes, when the schedule softens a little, he can be a starter in all leagues again.
Sabino: The Jets are going to stick with the ground game -- they really have no choice -- so in that sense it's good news for Greene, who before his Week 6 outburst was in serious jeopardy of losing touches to Powell and McKnight. However, his three-score performance came against the Colts, who have allowed an average of 159 rushing yards per game. Should Greene have success this week against the Patriots, who held Marshawn Lynch to just 41 yards on Sunday, then I'll be a believer. Until then, the jury's out.
3. Neither Rob Gronkowski nor Jimmy Graham have performed to their lofty draft status. Were expectations too high or are more explosive days ahead?
Beacom: Fantasy owners who expected 2011 numbers from Gronkowski and Graham were kidding themselves. Gronkowski established new single-season records for yardage and touchdowns; Graham had arguably the second-best season ever by a tight end. Neither player is having an awful 2012 (they're both on pace to record close to 80 catches and 8-10 touchdowns) so, yes, expectations were set too high.
Carroll: It's hard to be disappointed in either. Gronkowski has been playing through a hip injury and in a Pats offense that has been out of sync. Graham has been the red-zone target for Drew Brees, but again, the team's one upside has been that the defense is so bad that Brees is having to chuck-and-duck. I still like both of them and if someone else is disappointed, I'd be glad to take them off their hands in a trade.
Mack: Well, we have never seen dominant seasons like that at the tight end position, so we shouldn't have blindly assumed it would be the same this year. With that said, both are still better than they have shown and still rate as must-have and must-start tight ends in all leagues. The fact that they have elite quarterbacks, playing for teams that have been disappointing and still capable of getting hot, bodes well for their numbers in the coming weeks and months. Don't dare sell low. If anyone is selling, buy aggressively.
Sabino: Expectations might have been too high. Also, both have been slowed by nagging injuries, but I'd gladly trade for either or both of them right now and would offer any running back not named Foster, Lynch, Rice, McCoy, Jones-Drew, Peterson or Charles or any wide receiver not named [Calvin] Johnson, Cruz, Green or Julio straight up. In other words, I expect them to break out any time now.
4. What should I do with Michael Vick and his 12 billion turnovers? And if I trade him, what is he worth?
-- Jimmy Miller @miller_jimmy
Beacom: That's the catch: Trading Vick now will not get you much in return, so there is little reason to dump him. Sometimes you're better off riding out the storm, and Philadelphia's upcoming schedule should welcome more passing (Washington twice, New Orleans, Tampa Bay). Hold on to Vick, and keep your fingers crossed that he pulls out of this tailspin.
Carroll: Vick is what he is right now. Maybe he can cut down on the fumbles, but the interceptions are a real issue. He seems to be almost hesitant. This week was especially disappointing. I thought with all his receivers back he would be ready to look like the old Michael Vick. Instead, we got the same one as last week and the week before. I would hold Vick as the QB2 and let my other quarterback carry me. It will be very difficult to get "value" for Vick since so few people will be willing to give up much for a quarterback at his nadir. If you get something that seems like a reasonable offer -- a starter at another position or even another disappointing player like Cam Newton or such, you have to at least consider it.
Mack: Trading now would be selling low. Vick is no longer an elite fantasy option, but he is still better than almost two-thirds of the starting quarterbacks in the NFL in fantasy terms. Vick finally has Jeremy Maclin and DeSean Jackson healthy at the same time, so his numbers should be good enough to slot as your starting quarterback going forward. If you want to trade Vick, you're going to need someone like Eli Manning, Philip Rivers or Ben Roethlisberger in return. That assumes Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, Tom Brady, Matt Ryan, Robert Griffin III, Cam Newton, Matthew Stafford and Peyton Manning are not available.
Sabino: It's hard to say, depending on the size of the league and distribution of the quarterback talent, but hypothetically, if I could secure a running back like Stevan Ridley or Ahmad Bradshaw, plus a quarterback like Andy Dalton, for Vick and a lesser back/receiver I would do it in a heartbeat. Or, if you want to try to trade one problem for another, some more attractive options would include Newton, Matthew Stafford or Darren McFadden.
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