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1st and 10: Thoughts from the Fantasy Football Champs

Posted Oct 11, 2012

Each week in 1st and 10, I empty out the drawer of my fantasy mind, with 10 thoughts to consider as your season progresses.

Week 6 of the NFL and fantasy football season is the beginning of a key window where teams can take steps to make or break their entire season. No one should be out of the running for their championship. The Week 6 to Week 11 window is a time where your teams can make a bold move to turn around their season, or a small move to give them an edge or bolster their fantasy football team depth chart.

Most trading deadlines are around Week 11 and Weeks 6-11 are the major bye weeks where teams need to be savvy and not let a week slip away. At FFChamps.com, Week 6 to 10 is where we dig deepest for our members to ensure they aren't missing a key waiver pick up, are handcuffing the right players and are being proactive and trade away players that became overvalued early in exchange for those that may be undervalued or discounted due to a slow start or injury.

FFChamps.com's Rest of the Way Rankings --different from our FFCPI weekly rankings -- are the way we assess players for the rest of the season. Our Strength of Schedule tools and formula also begins to weigh in heavily to the rankings, as by Week 6 we now have accurate data on which defenses are the toughest to run or pass against. The bottom line is, whatever guidance you follow, this is the time to pay attention to details, and bring home your fantasy football trophy.

By now many of you may have seen the news release Wednesday night on Big Ben's TD pass. Last week, Big Ben threw what on replay appeared to be an obvious TD pass to Rashad “I am Back” Mendenhall. The refs called it a lateral and Mendenhall was given a rushing TD. Personally, this cost me a game so I was infuriated. The NFL has now changed this and scored it a passing TD for Big Ben, a move that I have not seen happen too many times over my many years of playing fantasy football. Big Ben gets the passing TD, I steal a win. It was the right decision as it was clearly a forward pass. While on the topic of the Steelers, we believe they have some strong offensive performances ahead but it is important to note that we especially see good weeks ahead for Mendenhall, if he stays healthy, as well for Heath Miller. According to our strength of schedule analysis at www.ffchamps.com, the Steelers play against weaker run and TE-stopping defenses over the next several weeks, including, surprisingly, the Ravens, who have struggled vs. the run and tight ends. We still like Big Ben, always a fantasy football overachiever, and Mike Wallace and Antonio Brown but just note they have some tough match-ups, including the Ravens secondary twice.

The Patriots offense is starting to come alive but as noted in this column last week, the emergence of the terrific trio of Ridley, Bolden, and Woodhead has brought to harvest a running game stronger than any time since Corey Dillon toted the pigskin for the Pats. Also note that the Patriots play Houston and SF in weeks 14 and 15, many leagues' playoff weeks. I wouldn't run out and trade Tom Brady but if the right opportunity was there, and you could get incredible value coming off a great week, it is something to look at and at least explore. I also wanted to note that Wes Welker is back to being a PPR beast, with 13 catches this past week vs. Denver.

It is once again time for my broken record moment. Atlanta's offense continues to shine. Players from great offenses win fantasy football championships and Atlanta is clicking on all cylinders, from Matt Ryan to Roddy White and Julio Jones, to tight end sleeper of the year Tony Gonzalez, a TD machine, all the way to kicker Matt Bryant. With that said, I would still keep an eye on Jacquizz Rogers. He is an explosive player and slowly becoming more involved in the offense, especially inside the 20 yard line for screen passes. If Michael Turner needs a rest or were to get banged up, Rodgers will come in and be a fantasy beast. While he still has not done much, he could be huge down the stretch.

I wanted to note some other offenses that are heating up or could get going over the next few weeks. The Saints record makes their stud players like Brees, Graham (keep eye on his ankle injury) and Colston undervalued but their offense will be explosive most weeks. Other offenses to keep an eye on are KC, which I know will surprise many of you. KC plays Carolina, Cleveland, Oakland and Indy in Weeks 13-16. Regardless of who is at QB, these are juicy match-ups for the red hot explosive Jamal Charles and Dwayne Bowe.

Another way to bolster your team for the rest of the season is to look deep into the mine for hidden gems. Three players to keep an eye on and who could still be on your waiver wire are Jahvid Best, Vincent Brown and David Wilson. According to the Lions, Best is going through the mandatory tests to be cleared to play Week 7and he is in the best shape and as healthy as any point in his career. He is an explosive back on a team desperately in need of one. Vincent Brown is the Charger's “designated for return" player. He is eligible to rejoin the active roster anytime after Week 8. Brown was awesome in pre-season before getting hurt, with 112 yards and 2 TDs. If he returns, he will immediately be the No. 1 WR for Phillip Rivers. David Wilson finally had the opportunity to showcase the same talent he did all pre-season, with a 44 yard TD in Week 5. Andre Brown is banged up, Wilson is now out of the dog house and Ahmad Bradshaw rarely stays healthy. I have this hunch that Wilson could be down the stretch what Clinton Portis was his rookie year way back in 2002. In that year, Portis carried me to my FF championship, emerging as a stud for the Broncos in the final weeks of the season.

Peyton Manning is starting to get very comfortable in the Broncos offense and his connections with and to Demaryius Thomas is incredible to watch. This tandem will be threats each and every play the rest of the season. This will also strengthen Eric Decker, Brandon Stokely, Jacob Tamme and Willis McGahee. The Broncos match up vs. Tampa, Oakland, and Cleveland in Weeks 13-16. Peyton will pick these teams apart and put up 300 and 2-4 TDs a game, with Thomas being almost unstoppable with his size and speed.

I am concerned about having players from the Rams, Seahawks, Jaguars, Titans and Jets. These offenses are relatively stagnant. That does not mean I recommend giving away MJD or Marshawn Lynch but just be aware that these are very struggling offenses. However, there is an exception in Rams rookie sensation kicker Greg Zuerlein, who is leading all fantasy football kickers in scoring as the Rams cannot convert well in the red zone and the kid doesn't seem to miss. While Oakland is not an overly exciting offense, they have a favorable schedule so Darren McFadden should do well through the rest of the season.

Each week I list five players I am worried about. Last week these were: Ryan Fitzpatrick, Ahmad Bradshaw, Hakeem Nicks, Demarco Murray and Mike Vick. Bradshaw had a great Week 5 and looks good for now but the others are still on this list this week. Murray and the Dallas offense are worth watching. If they start to perform, Murray may come off this list.

This week's five to worry about: Steven Jackson, who is on an offense that is not strong enough to bring it consistently each week, coupled with the emergence of Daryl Richardson, who is getting more involved and taking carries and passes from Jackson; Shonn Greene, whom I hope is not any more than a flex for anyone but is on a sinking ship offensively; Marshawn Lynch, who will have some superb weeks but so long as Russell Wilson struggles, teams will key on Lynch and be able to contain him; Chris Johnson, who is on a terrible offense, is the only weapon and is struggling to get going yet again; the Green Bay running game. Someone may emerge, and it bears watching, but with Cedric Benson out for several weeks or more, we just do not know if it will be Alex Green, James Starks or Brandon Saine. And will Green Bay even run much anyway?

Each week I list five players I'd love to have. Last week these were Michael Turner, Larry Fitzgerald, James Jones, Trent Richardson and Greg Olsen. No change this week and note that James Jones had yet another TD for the Packers. He may now be the go-to guy. This week's five players I'd love to have: Rashad Mendenhall and Demaryius Thomas, and as explained earlier, Willis McGahee, who has a great fantasy football playoff stretch schedule and is involved in the running and passing game; Dwayne Bowe, who will benefit from his red zone presence, KC often playing from behind and their easy match-ups; Brandon Marshall, who is now living up to his pre-season hype while Jay Cutler starts to also come on strong.

Tweet us your questions @ffchamps or Visit www.ffchamps.com for around the clock rankings, strategy, and one on one advice, all the way through your Fantasy Football Championship. FFChamps.com: Extraordinary Results for Fantasy Football Dominance.

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