December 18, 2011; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Chargers running back Ryan Mathews (24) runs for a first down during the fourth quarter against the Baltimore Ravens at Qualcomm Stadium. The Chargers won 34-14 Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-US PRESSWIRE

Fantasy Football Mailbag: 9/22/2012

Feb 5, 2012; Indianapolis, IN, USA; New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez (81) celebrates with wide receiver Wes Welker (83) after scoring a touchdown during the second half of Super Bowl XLVI against the New York Giants at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-US PRESSWIRE

Need help with preparing for your fantasy football league? The Fantasy Guru is here once again to give you a few tips on how to play the crazy game of fantasy football.

Today we have a special Saturday edition of the fantasy mailbag and, to make up for being a day later than usual, I’ll be answering two extra questions this week so we have seven questions to get through. So, let’s get on with it shall we?

Q: Aaron Hernandez is out for the season – is now the time to go get Wes Welker? – Jan Young from Minneapolis, Minnesota

A: The situation in New England has been a difficult one to interpret to date. It appears that the contract issues with Welker may have had some effect on his usage and this follows along with the way the Patriots dealt with Randy Moss in 2011. While the Hernandez injury is a major change, for me the most important issue for Welker’s possible usage is the failure of new weapon Brandon Lloyd to get on the same page as Tom Brady despite his familiarity with offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels. Lloyd has seen a vast majority of targets head his way in the first two weeks but there appears to have been a certain disconnect with Brady as while Lloyd has 13 receptions he has had 21 targets – a somewhat poor turnover. If it were just the Hernandez injury, I’d be sceptical. With the issues Lloyd is having, this strengthens the case. I think it’s worth trying to get Welker at perhaps 80% of his draft day value.

Q: Cam Newton looked awful on Thursday night. Is there reason for fantasy owners to be concerned? – Lester Prescott from Little Rock, Arkansas

A: I was watching and commentating on that game and I honestly think there is reason for worry to an extent. There were a few factors against Cam on the night including the constant rush of the exceptional Giants defensive line but also the way his offensive line seemed to collapse at times with several missed blocking assignments. With that said, I saw a number of poor decisions from Cam as at times it looked like he failed to go through his progressions properly even when he had time to and forced passes that just weren’t there. Add to this the fact that this was a Giants team that had serious issues in the secondary and I think there is plenty to worry about with Cam going forward. I wouldn’t sell just yet but I would advise fantasy owners to keep track of the various reports on how Cam looks in games.

Q: Danny Amendola had a monster game against the Redskins last week. Is he a sell high or buy low? – Linc Mastrioni from New Brunswick, New Jersey

A: I saw plenty of this game and I’ll say this – Danny Amendola looked very good out there but I personally think he was helped a lot by poor pass coverage underneath by Washington. I certainly don’t think he’s a sell high yet simply because his value hasn’t gotten that high but I would also urge caution at making him a buy low as often this thinking can give the impression that paying just a little more is fine. I’d look to pay no more than a WR2 for him at this point – someone like Lance Moore is a good comp. My other observation would be that the Bengals are the next to take on the Redskins and that I wouldn’t be surprised to see young emerging PPR threat Andrew Hawkins perhaps emulate Amendola’s week 2 production.

Q: I was offered Aaron Rodgers in a 12 team league this week and all I had to give up was MJD and Tony Romo. Am I being a homer or are people panicking too much? – Michael Williams from Madison, Wisconsin

A: It’s not a bad price for Rodgers but to be honest I do think it’s a silly trade for the guy giving him up. Even the super studs can have bad starts and I am always amazed at how quickly fantasy owners will turn on proven providers who just a few weeks before they had revered. My advice – don’t panic and if someone else is panicking then take full advantage.

Q: Ryan Mathews is on his way back but you still rank him low. Why? – Kevin from Venice Beach, California

A: The answer here is three-fold – I think he’s still coming back from his injury, I don’t think the Chargers offensive line is at all strong and most importantly I’m not that impressed with the kid as a NFL running back. Does he have talent? Sure. Do I trust that talent to shine through every week? No – and especially not against an Atlanta defense that has been pretty decent to start this season. Finally, I have a feeling that the Chargers will be playing from behind this week and Norv isn’t afraid to abandon the run – which may be a decent idea to help keep his “star” running back healthy.

Q: Michael Crabtree looks like he’s ready to be an NFL receiver. Time to call him a legit fantasy starter? – April Kimberley Danzig from Hartford, Connecticut

A: Crabtree is a tough one to judge because we have seen this from him before and then he’s done nothing afterward either due to ill discipline or injury. Word on him is that he’s finally fully healthy and has been getting the reps he needs to develop as a wide receiver. For now, I’ll say he’s a flex play but I would also say the upside is for him to become a genuine fantasy WR1 if he continues to show he has the trust of Alex Smith and delivers quality and consistent production.

Q: Would you rather have a RB thats fallen off early in the season like Darren McFadden, Jamaal Charles or Chris Johnson or would you prefer an emerging RB like Kevin Smith, Doug Martin, and Trent Richardson? – Andrew from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

A: Since the question is fairly broad, I’ll be brief on the individual players before addressing the overall theme. With McFadden and Charles, I have no worries about their production going forward – yet. Ask me in another three weeks. CJ2K on the other hand is a definite worry – not only is he not producing but he is blaming his offensive line for his troubles. Yes, the Tennessee o-line has been much worse than expected but the fact that Johnson is failing to take responsibility concerns me. With that said, I still believe in him and think he’ll come back.

As for the lesser names, I have zero faith in Kevin Smith as an option as he will get hurt guaranteed and I also believe Mikel Leshoure is gonna be the man there. In the case of Doug Martin, he has certainly impressed to start the season but that Tampa Bay offense is so flat and I just don’t trust it to continue producing. Finally, Trent Richardson is a superior talent but I wouldn’t call him an emerging fantasy player yet – he has had only one week of good production – but I will say that I expect some big weeks with some very bad weeks scattered amongst them.

To the overall question I will say this – we have had two weeks of games and that is such a miniscule sample size that making a general statement regarding whether to go with failing studs or emerging players is somewhat erroneous. As with the Rodgers question above, I find the whole notion of panicking about the top players to be amazing and quite frankly it’s amateurish. What makes me stop from choosing that side is that it is also true that you don’t want to be the guy who plays it safe by not taking chances on emerging talents as it is often those who take those opportunities who find themselves winning fantasy championships.


That’s it for another week. As always you can send in your questions to [email protected] for next week’s Fantasy Mailbag. Once again, I will be on Twitter @chrissmithsz in the final hour or two prior to Sunday’s 1pm kickoff so be sure to hit me up then with any last minute fantasy questions while also being sure to check my week 3 rankings.

Until next time, this is the Fantasy Guru signing off.

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