Welcome back to Fantasy Football Friday here at Buffalo Rumblings. We're quickly nearing the end of September and the time when most fantasy squads begin proving whether they are contenders or not. It's about the time when we start learning whether all those pre-season fantasy projections and rankings were legit, or just random hopes.
The Buffalo Bills will be facing the New Orleans Saints this Sunday in a game that will be rich in fantasy starters. It's a great matchup for the Bills players who are fantasy-worthy - one of the best they'll have all season. Can they live up to our hopes for a big statistical performance and victory? Let's dive into this week's individual fantasy players of note for the Bills and Saints, and my random advice, after the jump.
Drew Brees - If ever there was an every-week starter, Drew Brees is it. I can't imagine anybody ever sitting Brees unless you lose points for success. Brees is the best QB in fantasy right now, and unfortunately, there's no reason to believe the Bills will shut down Brees this week. Unless you're one of those Bills fans who never starts an opposing player on your fantasy roster, Brees will be there piling up points for you this week. Verdict: Start 'Em
Trent Edwards - Edwards has a juicy matchup this week with New Orleans' 29th-ranked passing defense. Normally, I'm not one who would ever consider starting Edwards in a non-bye week or non-injury fill-in, but if I owned him I'd probably be getting ready to move him into the starting lineup. If the Bills get down early or get down big, Edwards will be throwing to make the game closer. If they control the clock and sustain drives, there should be plenty of opportunities to put a couple balls in the end zone. The Saints will bend all day and aren't an intimidating defense. After seeing the way our RB has chewed up chunks of yards this season, I'm guessing the Saints will be daring Edwards to beat them. He should do a good job of that and is in line for some gaudy stats this week. Whether that will be good enough for a Bills victory, who knows, but that's irrelevant for this discussion. Donovan McNabb owners should be happy to have Trent as their backup this week. The only thing that should hold owners back from starting Edwards this week are the matchups the top QBs face this week. Of those normally ranked ahead of him, only Kurt Warner (vs Ind), Tony Romo (vs Car) and Matt Ryan (@NE) face defenses ranked in the top half of the league in defending the pass. Warner might be the only one I'd consider benching for sure, but even then, that game is likely to be a shootout. Edwards may not get many starts simply because of the other matchups around the league. Verdict: Start 'Em in deep leagues and two-QB leagues.
Pierre Thomas - It's looking more and more like Thomas will start this week after missing the first week and only playing special teams last week. His knee is not yet 100%, but it's darn close. He's looking to wear a smaller, less bulky brace, and has practiced all week. My guess is he starts and gets 12-15 touches. He's been productive whenever he's been in the lineup, so if by Sunday he's a definite go, then he'll likely be a solid RB2 this week. I would definitely start him as a flex option this week. If his status is still up in the air, or the Saints don't plan on working him too much, keep him on the bench. Verdict: Start 'Em if he's a definite go, RB2/flex
Reggie Bush - I really hate Reggie Bush as a running back. Every time I watch the Saints, I wonder why they don't just call him a WR. He lines up enough in the slot and he runs the ball exactly how you'd expect a WR to take a handoff. Expect him to get his normal 7-10 carries and another 5-7 receptions. As always, Bush is a much better option in PPR leagues and as a flex. Going up against Bills LBs Kawika Mitchell and Keith Ellison in coverage - a group that has allowed RBs to catch 18 passes for 125 yards and a touchdown in two games this season - Bush will be plenty active and have a chance to put up better-than-usual numbers. Verdict: Start 'Em in PPR leagues or as a flex
Mike Bell - Bell is currently 4th in the NFL in rushing yards with 229 on 45 carries. However, he's probably not going to play after spraining his MCL. He would have lost touches to Thomas anyways. Keep him stashed on your bench and hope he gets a shot again when he's healthy. Verdict: Sit 'Em
Lynell Hamilton - Unless you're a Saints fan, you're probably saying..."who?" With Bell likely out and Thomas still a bit iffy, Hamilton is next in line for touches. More on him later. Verdict: Pick him up, and keep an eye on Thomas
Fred Jackson - Jackson has been one of the biggest surprises in all of fantasy football so far this year. He's currently second in the NFL in total yards behind Tennessee's Chris Johnson, averaging 164 yards per game thus far. Freddy also leads the Bills in receiving with 11 receptions for 108 yards. Expect another heavy workload this week as the Bills try to control the ball. Look for the screen pass to make its presence felt again. I don't think the Saints' LBs can cover him at all. Jackson is looking like one of the best starts in the league this week; I just wish I had him on my teams. Verdict: Start 'Em
Marques Colston - I think Colston is one of the most underrated wide receivers in the league. He's big, strong, has great hands and makes plays. What more can you ask for? Oh yeah, he scores a ton of touchdowns too. He's an every-week starter, even with Brees spreading the ball around more than fantasy owners would like. I bet he finishes as a Top 5 WR this season, and maybe even No. 1, if he remains healthy for the whole year. He should see plenty of opportunities against the Bills' mediocre pass defense. Verdict: Start 'Em
Lance Moore - During a slow start this season (just 2 receptions), Moore has been battling a hamstring injury he suffered early in last week's game against Philadelphia. He might not even play this week, having missed practice again on Thursday. He's a guy that will produce this season; he just needs to get healthy first. Look elsewhere this week. Verdict: Sit 'Em
Devery Henderson - Henderson is one of those fantasy players that flashes big time potential from time to time, but never puts it together on a consistent basis. He seems to start fast every year, then disappear for long stretches. He's got shaky hands and isn't much of a threat to catch more than a handful of passes each week. He is one of the better deep threats in the league, and Brees loves going downfield to him. The Bills' defense has done a rather good job of avoiding big plays for a couple of years now, so expect them to be keying on Henderson deep. He's got boom or bust potential every week, which is why you should never rely on him. However, with Moore probably missing the game, Henderson will have plenty of opportunities. He's a decent WR3 this week. Verdict: Start 'Em
Robert Meachem - The 2007 Round 1 pick has just 15 career catches after missing his rookie year to a knee injury. He's another big play receiver, as he's averaged over 23 yards per reception on those 15 catches, and scored four times. With Moore likely out, Meachem will see plenty of playing time, but hasn't proven enough to rely on. He should have his best game of the season to date this week, but I'm not sure I'd risk starting him. Verdict: Sit 'Em
Terrell Owens - After spending more time dropping passes than making plays, T.O. was able to get into the end zone in the fourth quarter last week. Hopefully, that's the play that really gets him going. His targets aren't where he wants them to be, and not where we want them to be either. At some point, Alex Van Pelt and Edwards need to find ways to get Owens the ball more. The reverse last week was a good start, but now the underneath looks need to start coming. Derek Schouman has done a good job controlling the underneath passing game for Edwards thus far, but now that he's out for the season, Owens and company need to step up their games. That means stop dropping touchdowns! One of these games, T.O. is going to have a monster game. This week is a good opportunity. Verdict: Start 'Em
Lee Evans - Like Owens, Evans needs more looks, but he also needs to step up his game. He dropped a touchdown last week as well, though it wasn't as easy of a ball that Owens dropped. Edwards started looking downfield more last week, and I expect that to continue as the offense gets more comfortable. Evans will get his chances to make some big plays this week, but the rest of his fantasy game is always so questionable. I think he'll have a nice game this week, and this is probably one of the last times I suggest starting him all year. I'm going against what I'd normally do with Evans, and would start him this week. Verdict: Start 'Em
Josh Reed, Roscoe Parrish, Steve Johnson - Don't bother. Reed has the most value, but isn't worth starting even if a potential passing contest.
Jeremy Shockey - I think he's been one of the most overrated players in the league since he was drafted. His hands will always remain a question mark to me, and his inconsistencies and injury history are too much for me to bother with him on a weekly basis. The Bills' defense has given up a ton of points to tight ends this year. In fact, they've given up the most fantasy points in the league to that position. Yuck. With that said, I still don't like Shockey. I think the Bills will do a good job on him this week, and would guess that most fantasy teams have him as their second TE anyhow. I'd be going with the other, but understand if you roll with Shockey. Verdict: Toss up, but I say Sit 'Em
Shawn Nelson, Derek Fine - With Schouman done, those looks will have to go somewhere. Expect the WRs to start seeing more passes, but Edwards still needs a security blanket underneath. Nelson still doesn't look ready for a full-time workload, so don't expect him to be that guy. I don't think his role will change all that much, yet. By default, Fine could be in line for decent production going forward. He'll be a solid option for Edwards, but not much of a fantasy option. Verdict: Sit 'Em
John Carney - Carney is tied for second among kickers in points scored so far this season. Being the placekicker for the most prolific offense in the league will do that for a guy. Despite being limited with range on longer field goals, Carney will have plenty of chances to put points on the board each week. If you get extra points for longer field goals, you might want to look into a kicker who will get more FG opportunities, but Carney is a kicker that should be started in every league based on the number of points he'll likely score. Verdict: Start 'Em
Rian Lindell - Guess who's tied with Carney for points scored thus far? Since we're talking about Lindell here, I'm guessing you should be able to figure it out (even you, Saints fans!). The Bills have done a good job of putting points on the board, and that should continue this week. Normally, I wouldn't consider LIndell a starting kicker for fantasy teams, but this week he looks like a good bet. Verdict: Start 'Em
New Orleans - The Saints have been a pretty opportunistic defense thus far with 7 turnovers forced, two sacks and a touchdown, but that was done against a pair of quarterbacks making their first career starts. They need to prove it over the long haul, or play the Rams, before I consider starting them, though. Verdict: Sit 'Em
Buffalo - Against the Saints? Are you crazy? Verdict: Sit 'Em
Lynell Hamilton - If Pierre Thomas were to be limited again this week, I'd expect Hamilton to get a good chunk of the carries, and perhaps even the majority of them. He's big (235 pounds) and has taken many of the first team reps in practice this week. At the very least, he could be a solid goal line option for the Saints this week. If you are in a deep league, go pick him up and see how the next couple of days plays out. He could be a good option by the time 4PM Sunday rolls around.
Shawn Nelson - I'm not really sure the Bills have any real sleeper options available, but Nelson could surprise if given more snaps. The team will likely be looking to increase his role in the passing game as the season progresses. With Schouman out, that time frame may have been sped up a bit. He's going to be a red zone option all season for this team, but if he starts getting more looks between the 20s, he might be a solid option going forward. Don't expect huge numbers, but he'll always be a threat for a touchdown with his size.
This could be a fun one for fantasy teams this week. Hopefully, the Saints' offensive players disappoint! As always, use this post as your fantasy open thread. Good luck everyone!