George Banko

George Banko

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Saturday, 27 September 2014 00:00

Buy low, sell high candidates for Week 4

Editor's note: This article was written by guest writer Casey Bass and is the first of a two-part series. Part I covers quarterbacks and running backs.

Monday, 22 September 2014 00:00

Episode 16: First Aid (Week 3)

George and Scott break down two games and give fantasy value out on both sides of the ball for each one. First, Eagles vs. Redskins. Second, Packers vs. Lions. They also hand out their weekly awards and preview tonight's game between the Chicago Bears and New York Jets.

Saturday, 20 September 2014 00:00

Prospect: Allen Robinson

Fresh out of Penn State, drafted in the second round and equipped with a crazy 42-inch vertical leap, a 6'3, 220lb frame that's all juiced up with 4.47 40 speed, Jacksonville Jaguars receiver Allen Robinson has officially landed on the fantasy radar. Based on his recent performances, it's looking like the 21-year old rookie could be in line for solid WR3/flex production going forward.

Owned in just 2 percent of Yahoo! Leagues, Robinson first hinted at his potential in Week 2 against the Washington Redskins. Though Jacksonville played poorly, Robinson led the Jaguars in receiving with 75 yards on four catches and tied for a team-high six targets. He totaled seven fantasy points, and while it's not much, it's still solid considering most WR3's in deep leagues give you less production than that. Also, most potential WR3's aren't available in 98 percent of Yahoo! Leagues.

Robinson played in just 60 percent of the team's snaps in Week 2, which paled in comparison to fellow rookie Allen Hurns, who was on the field for 96 percent of them. Another rookie, Marqise Lee, played in 74 percent of snaps against Washington. Still, Robinson was the more productive player despite seeing less time on the field. Though his biggest catch of 51 yards came in garbage time, fantasy points are fantasy points. When the game ended, it was a sign that Robinson could be in line for more looks going forward.

Robinson's first start

With Lee sidelined due to a hamstring injury in Week 3, Robinson made his first start and didn't disappoint. He tallied 7 receptions for 79 yards which led the Jags. He also totaled 10 targets, the most he's had all season.

Looking ahead, Lee is expected to miss Week 4 as he battles that same injury, and while Hurns managed to turn his only catch against the Colts into a 61-yard touchdown, he wasn't the most sought after player in the Jags' offense with only three targets. It's likely Robinson will continue to remain the focal point of the offense and see anywhere from 10-12 targets consistently from here on out.

His versatility

Another point of intrigue for fantasy owners is how Robinson showed a little bit of everything against the Colts last Sunday. Quarterback Chad Henne targeted Robinson in both the short and deep passing game. Robinson caught slant passes for short yardage, quick screen passes and also showed off his YAC ability after spinning out of a tackle off a curl route  which resulted in his biggest gain of the day of 21 yards. Henne took some shots at Robinson down the field as well, and although he couldn't reel the one deep bomb Henne chucked his way due to double coverage, fantasy owners have to be excited about a player that has that kind of range in terms of the variety of routes he can run.

The fact that Robinson is being targeted in a variety of ways shows he has the potential to be the most complete wide receiver on the Jaguars. As of now, no receiver possesses more physical gifts on the Jags. Shorts is more of a possession receiver who lacks elite speed, as evidenced by his 11.8 yards per catch average last year which ranked 70th in the league. His fellow rookie, Lee, is more of an undersized burner at 6'0. Lastly, Hurns stands a lengthy 6'3 but lacks the size of Robinson at just 194 lbs and while he burst onto the scene early against Philadelphia, hasn't really shown much since and dropped a key touchdown against Washington in Week 2.

Bortles Combat

Down 30-0, the Jaguars handed the keys over to rookie Blake Bortles, who immediately slung the ball all over the field recklessly in his first outing. Robinson was one of his go-to guys early on, as Bortles took two deep shots at Robinson early. One went for an in completion while another was intercepted.

Based on Bortles first performance, he's looking like a guy who puts a lot of trust in his arm. His bold decision making (as with most rookies) will likely lead to some mistakes as he learns the playbook, but could also result in big plays due to his ability to throw it deep. One thing's for sure, he likes Robinson as his throws accounted for the majority of Robinson's targets.

Final verdict

Jacksonville faces two middle-of-the-road passing defenses in San Diego and Pittsburgh next. There will be plenty of chances for Bortles to develop a chemistry with Robinson that isn't marred by tough matchups. Between his talent, the injury to Lee and Blake I-know-I'm-a-rookie-so-I-can-make-big-throws-and-blame-my-interceptions-on-inexperience Bortles, that elusive touchdown is coming for Robinson. He should be owned across all leagues. As Lloyd told Harry when they approached those folk-singing hitchhikers in their sheep dog van, 'pick em up!'


View Clint Mickel's flickr page here

Friday, 19 September 2014 00:00

Week 3 pickups: Part II

Injuries, surprise suspensions and poor performances, oh my!

The emotions of fantasy football owners have been shoved into a blender and turned on high more times than could ever be expected in 2014, and we're only two and a half weeks into the regular season.

Matt Asiata is now a household name due to the suspension of Adrian Peterson, and any sliver of fantasy production he could give in Week 3 can be considered a blessing given the obvious talent drop-off between the plodding Asiata and arguably the best running back of this generation in AP. Fellow Vikes backup Jerick McKinnon is another boom or bust fantasy option this week, with his boom being bigger than Asiata's but his bust being big as well.

Injuries have already begun to play a vital role this season as well. Before the first matchup of Week 3 commenced between the Atlanta Falcons and Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Thursday night, a few key players were de-activated due to injury concerns, with the two main ones being Falcons No. 2 wideout Roddy White and Buccaneers running back Doug Martin.

The results of their substitutes varied, as veteran receiver Eric Weems relished an uptick in targets and churned four catches for 69 yards out of it. On the Bucs side, backup running back Bobby Rainey struggled in the rushing game, finishing with 11 carries for 41 yards. He did, however, make up for it in the receiving game with seven receptions for 64 yards, though most of those catches came in garbage time when the Falcons had already built an insurmountable 56-0 lead.

The point is, with all this unpredictability going on, taking risks through acquiring players on the waiver wire and having them pay off for you is what makes fantasy football fun. So here is one more crop of players who could surprise in Week 3.

Davante Adams, WR Green Bay Packers (owned in 6% of Yahoo! Leagues)

Why he's a good pickup: Through two games, Adams has outplayed fellow No. 3 option Jarrett Boykin in Green Bay. Through two games, Adams caught five of his seven total targets for 50 yards, and is looking more and more like he'll be the more relied upon player going forward. He caught a nice slant pass late in the first half against the New York Jets last week that almost went for a score. A second-round pick in 2014, Adams has displayed better hands than Boykin (who had a crucial drop down around the end zone in the first half and wasn't looked at much after that). Adams was on the field more as well, as he played in 43 total snaps compared to Boykin's 39 in Week 2.

We're not totally out on Boykin yet considering he displayed good ball skills last year after several Packers' receivers went down, but right now Adams is the better option. The Packers face a tough defense in Detroit this week, but they have easier matchups ahead with the Bears and Vikings coming up. It wouldn't be surprising if Adams snags a touchdown in one of those games. He's a solid WR3 going forward.

Latavius Murray, RB Oakland Raiders (owned in 1% of Yahoo! Leagues)

Why he's a good pickup: If the Oakland Raiders' coaching staff want to keep their jobs (and who knows if they do at this point), then they'll give this young guy a shot. Darren McFadden and Maurice Jones-Drew have combined for just 63 rushing yards through two games. Rookie quarterback Derek Carr has 57 yards on five rushing attempts. You know your running game is bad when your quarterback has just six rushing yards less than both your starting RBs on half the amount of attempts.

Adding Murray to your roster is more of a wait-and-see stash at this point, and he shouldn't be started until he sees more carries. Still, he showed good talent in the preseason as he led the Raiders in rushing with 94 yards on 23 carries (4.1 YPC) and finally got one whole carry against the Houston Texans in Week 2, which went for six yards. It's a travesty the Raiders haven't given him the ball more, but he's got the talent and the fresh legs at age 24 to be a factor. If you're in a deep league and are hurting at running back, Murray is worth an add.

Jarvis Landry, WR Miami Dolphins (owned in 1% of Yahoo! Leagues)

Why he's a good pickup: The rookie Landry had a quiet coming out party in Week 2, but it was still somewhat noteworthy. After seeing zero targets in Week 1, Landry was targeted six times against Buffalo and caught five of them for 46 yards. Brian Hartline saw eight targets and caught five of them for 36 yards.

The Dolphins utilized Landry in the screen and short passing game more so than on long passes in Week 2, a strategy that usually translates to more efficient numbers so long as Landry's hands are reliable. Landry is also averaging a respectable 22.6 yards per kick return as well, so if your league gives out points for special teams play, he's superior than Hartline in that regard. 

Hartline is still the starter and sees the most snaps, but there's a lot of upside to Landry as the season goes along. Dolphins No. 1 wideout Mike Wallace has overachieved through two weeks with two touchdowns. One has to expect his numbers will go down, which will leave the door open for another receiver to produce. Landry worth stashing on your roster just to see if he remains as efficient as he was against Buffalo. The Dolphins arguably have the easiest schedule for the next month in terms of defenses they're going against, as they play injury-riddled Kansas City followed by Oakland, Green Bay, Chicago and Jacksonville.

Tuesday, 16 September 2014 00:00

Don't worry about him: Brandin Cooks

Editor's note: This is our first edition of 'don't worry about him.' The goal of this article is to shed light on players that pose a good chance to post better numbers than they currently are over the next stretch of the season. This should influence you to either make a trade for a buy low candidate.

Monday, 15 September 2014 00:00

Episode 15: First Aid (Week 2)

Correction: This podcast recaps fantasy football for Week 2, not Week 1 as George says in the beginning. We apologize for the confusion.

The podcast kicks off with a recap of two 1 p.m. games and their fantasy implications.

Washington Redskins vs. Jacksonville Jaguars

After a decent Week 1 defensively against Philadelphia, the Jaguars seemed like they could do some damage to a Washington team that only managed six points in its opener against Houston, but nothing could've been further from the truth.

The Redskins dominated the game in every sense of the word. They sacked Chad Henne an incredible 10 times. They dominated in the run game with 119 rushing yards in the first game. Alfred Morris rushed for 85 yards on 22 yards and two touchdowns. Kirk Cousins played well in relief of Robert Griffin III, who left the game with a dislocated ankle.

As for the Jaguars, RB Toby Gerhart rushed 7 times for 8 yards (1.1 yards per carry), giving the 56% of fantasy owners who started him zero points. With two poor performances to start the 2014 season, Gerhart should be relegated to your bench at this point.

Redskins' tight end Niles Paul played in well in the absence of the injured Jordan Reed, registering 8 catches for 99 yards and a touchdown. He's a solid TE2 until Jordan Reed returns.

Atlanta Falcons vs. Cincinnati Bengals

Biggest story of this game was the injury to A.J. Green, one of the top fantasy wideouts in the league. Luckily for A.J. Green owners, it looks like the injury is minor and the Bengals have a bye week coming up, which should give Green time to rest. He'll likely miss the next game against Tennessee, but should be back by Week 5 against New England.

The injury to Green also showed how bad the Falcons' defense is, as Atlanta allowed 472 yards despite the Bengals missing their biggest offensive weapon. They gave up a 74-yard touchdown to Mohamed Sanu, a guy who will be one of the top pickups this week

The Falcons struggled against a good defense in Cincy. Matt Ryan threw just one touchdown and the Falcons run game was non-existent. The Bengals, on the other hand, moved the ball well on the ground. Running back Giovanni Bernard totaled 169 yards combined rushing and receiving in addition to one touchdown. Jeremy Hill also got in on the action, rushing 15 times for 74 yards and one touchdown of his own.

Kansas City Chiefs vs. Denver Broncos

Attention Jamaal Charles owners, his ankle injury may be mild, so don't drop him just yet. It was another tough day for owners of players on Kansas City, but there is some light at the end of the tunnel. Tight end Travis Kelce came out of the woodwork with four catches for 81 yards. Knile Davis filled in nicely for the injured Charles, rushing for 79 yards on 22 carries and one touchdown. He should be owned in all leagues going forward.

Alex Smith played much better than last week, but still didn't light the world on fire. He avoided the interceptions that plagued him in Week 1 but threw zero touchdowns. The Chiefs moved the ball well on the Broncos but struggled in the red zone as they scored on only 2-of-4 trips.

As for the Broncos, it was just another day at the office for quarterback Peyton Manning. He tossed three touchdowns and zero picks on 21-of-26 passing for 242 yards. Emmanuel Sanders led all receivers with eight catches for 108 yards and Demaryius Thomas scored his first touchdown of the season. Julius Thomas had a touchdown sniped by fellow tight end Jacob Tamme but still finished with a respectable four catches for 39 yards. All players just mentioned aside from Tamme are startable at their respective positions going forward.

Seattle Seahawks vs. San Diego Chargers

The Chargers came out and surprised everyone with a convincing win against the defending Super Bowl champions. Phillip Rivers reminded those who stash him on their bench as a QB2 to think about upgrading him to a QB1 going forward. He threw three touchdowns in the game and 34-year-old tight end Antonio Gates was the recipient on all three of them. Gates hadn't had a multiple touchdown performance in nearly two years before Sunday, so this was as big a surprise as you'll see in fantasy football. Gates also led the Chargers in receiving with seven catches for 96 yards.

The Chargers run game was less than stellar though. Ryan Mathews never really got going and finished with just 31 yards on 11 carries. Danny Woodhead ended up leading San Diego in rushing with 32 yards on eight carries. Neither player registered a touchdown.

Despite the loss, Seattle played well and gave no indication they still aren't a great team. Quarterback Russell Wilson threw for two touchdowns on 17-of-25 for 202 yards and two touchdowns. He remains a QB1 in 12-team leagues. Running back Marshawn Lynch was a bit quieter with only 36 rush yards, but made up for it in the passing game with a receiving touchdown and four catches for 27 yards. Wide receiver Percy Harvin led the team in rushing with two carries for 45 yards and remains the most versatile fantasy player in that offense.


Friday, 12 September 2014 00:00

Week 2 pickups: Part II

What a difference a matchup can make. Fantasy owners surely took a lesson from the Baltimore Ravens' victory against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Thursday night, and that lesson was that a bad defense and the pace of a game can have a dramatic impact on fantasy numbers. After Week 1, Baltimore appeared destined to be a quarterback-driven team after Joe Flacco tossed a truckload 62 passes in a 23-16 loss to Cincinnati. 

Less than a week later, Flacco approached the Steelers more methodically in the team's Thursday night home game. He opted to hold a dink-and-dunk clinic, averaging just 5.7 yards per pass. While it wasn't as aggressive an approach as Week 1, it was much more efficient. Flacco threw for two touchdowns and zero interceptions, going 21-for-29 with 166 passing yards. It was far from the 345 yards he threw against Cincy, but it resulted in a convincing 26-6 victory and that's what NFL teams care about most.

Even the Ravens usually average running game was efficient. Bernard Pierce recorded a respectable 96 yards on 22 carries (4.4 YPC) and Justin Forsett rattled off a nice 41-yard run. These players aren't considered fantasy juggernauts, but they played a bad defense and their team held the lead for most of the game which allowed for some nice garbage-time yards

When it comes to the waiver wire, looking for not necessarily the best player but instead choosing an average-to-above-average player with a great matchup can a lot of times prove to be a better play. That's why it's important to follow the ebb and flow of a season and know which defenses aren't playing particularly well and which ones are so you know which offensive player to use at the right time.

Here's another plate of potentially fruitful waiver wire pickups for Week 2.

Andrew Hawkins (owned in 31% of Yahoo! leagues)

Last week's stats: 8 receptions, 87 yards (against Pittsburgh)

Why he's a good pickup: All Browns' fans are ready to rejoice as it's looking like Josh Gordon will play at some point this season. But until he does return, Hawkins looks like the best receiving option in Cleveland. He led the team with 10 targets last week, plus Jordan Cameron missed practice all week and is questionable for Sunday against New Orleans. Speaking of New Orleans, the hyped Saints were shredded for 445 passing yards by Atlanta Falcons in Week 1. Not comparing Brian Hoyer to Matt Ryan, but the Browns weren't exactly slouches on offense in Week 1 either, as they scored 27 points against Pittsburgh and Hoyer marched the ball down the field effectively in the second half. Hawkins is a good WR3/flex guy in deep leagues.

Ahmad Bradshaw (owned in 38% of Yahoo! Leagues)

Last week's stats: 3 carries for 15 yards (5.0 yards per carry), 5 receptions for 70 yards

Why he's a good pickup: The Colts weren't lying when they said they wanted to throw the ball more in 2014, as Andrew Luck tossed 53 passes against the Denver Broncos. Of course, the situation of the game warranted so many passes since the Colts played from behind, but it's worth noting just how ineffective the run game was also. Starter Trent Richardson's struggles continued, as he plodded for just 20 yards on six carries with his longest run going for seven yards. The Colts offensive line continues to have problems blocking, and their poor play is what makes Bradshaw more valuable. Bradshaw is more elusive than Richardson, which makes him more likely to create holes for himself with his lateral quickness. He's also better in the pass game as evidenced by his 70 receiving yards last week. His traits just work better in the offense. He'll likely be the most productive RB in Indy going forward.

Jacksonville defense (owned in 3% of Yahoo! Leagues)

Last week's team stats: 5 sacks, 3 fumbles forced, 1 interception, 34 points allowed (against Philadelphia)

Why they're a good pickup: The Jaguars looked surprisingly effective in the first half on the road in Week 1. Linebackers Paul Posluszny and LaRoy Reynolds were quick to get off the ball and held top running back LeSean McCoy to under 100 yards. Aside from a lapse which was mostly due to Chip Kelly, who rushed the Eagles' offense to the line and caught the Jags off guard enough for a 41-yard cake touchdown run by Darren Sproles, oh and a coverage lapse that ended up in a 68-yard touchdown pass to Jeremy Maclin, the Jaguars weren't that bad. They got after Nick Foles, created turnovers and suffered no injuries on the defensive side.

In Week 2, the Jaguars are slated to play a Washington team that struggled to score against Houston and could be without starting tackle Trent Williams who's nursing a shoulder injury. Tight end Jordan Reed is also a long shot to play.

While this is definitely a risky play since the Jaguars' defense is still young and will make mistakes, there is some talent there as evidenced last week. Plus, with the Redskins already looking depleted on the offensive end, you could do a lot worse than starting the Jaguars here.

View Mark Kortum's Flickr page here.

Stop traffic, the Philadelphia Eagles offense managed to not score in the first half, everybody panic. That was the general consensus after the first half of Philadelphia's Week 1 matchup against the Jacksonville Jaguars at home last Sunday, and it wasn't without good reason.

Dubbed as one of the most potent fantasy football offenses heading into this season, Eagles quarterback Nick Foles didn't exactly instill faith for the team's fantasy value in the first half. He looked hesitant, tried to force the ball to the now-healthy Jeremy Maclin too much, and when he didn't do that, he held the ball for too long, which was a trait that plagued him last season from time to time. Foles' inability to pull the trigger led to several blindside sacks which resulted in two lost fumbles. He was lucky enough his performance wasn't worse at times, as a few interceptions slipped through the hands of Jacksonville defenders.

After he posted a record quarterback rating last season, it was odd to see Foles perform in such a way to start the season. Other than his lackluster performance against the Dallas Cowboys in 2013 where he was suffering the after effects of a concussion, this was easily one of the most puzzling outings for Foles. This is his first full year as a starter, however, so he's not exactly a veteran at this point in his career.  

But all wasn't bad. Foles later showed the hallmark trait a lot of successful quarterbacks possess — a short memory. He bounced back in the second half, hitting Zach Ertz on a seam route for a 25-yard touchdown in the third quarter. Ertz fantasy owners should get used to seeing that as Ertz ran that route several times during the game and Foles finally delivered the ball on the money.

Foles capped his performance off on a too-good-to-be-true wide open Jeremy Maclin in the fourth quarter for a 68-yard score. While that play looked to be a gift after the Jaguars blew their coverage, Foles weathered the storm and finished with a solid 322 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. He finished with 18 total fantasy points, which isn't bad considering he had -3 fantasy points when you combine the fumbles after the first half.

Other general thoughts from the game

— Though LeSean McCoy was limited by his standards, he's still a human joystick out there and posed the threat to take the ball to the house on several plays. His 19-yard cut back run where he rushed to left before shifting gears and coming all the way back to the right showed he's just as explosive as last season. He carried the ball a healthy 21 times for 74 yards and zero touchdowns, which isn't a bad line considering he didn't feel like much of a factor in the actual game. His six catches for 41 yards also helped him grab a respectable fantasy score. The touchdowns will come, so owners shouldn't panic too much.

— Darren Sproles looked rejuvenated in an Eagles uniform and his 49-yard untouched touchdown served as the spark Philadelphia needed to crawl back into the game. It's worth noting that the result of that play had as much to do with Chip Kelly rushing the Eagles up to the line before Jacksonville got set as it did Sproles' running ability. It was good to see from Sproles, but he really benefited from the call and was almost dragged down before he reached the end zone. Not trying to discredit Sproles, just doubting the likelihood of that kind of play happening again this season.

Sproles' 11 carries weren't much, but he nearly matched McCoy in rushing yards with 71. He's still one of the all time great PPR fantasy receivers, as he caught four balls for 14 yards. Sproles was also a dynamic on special teams, averaging 15 yards per return. It's only one game, but if Sproles continues to play like this, the Eagles will be forced to keep him on the field. He's a worthy flex guy at this point in deep leagues in addition to PPR.

— Jordan Matthews' first catch as a rookie came on a 30-yard grab. He saw four targets and was open on a lot of them but Foles missed him a few times. As long as he can catch the ball consistently, there's no reason to believe this guy won't turn in the occasional 100-yard game, especially when teams focus on Maclin. He should only be owned in 14-team leagues however, as his inconsistency due to the volume of talent on Philly's offense will drive owners crazy.

— Riley Cooper doesn't make a lot of plays, but has a knack for making the spectacular catch. He nearly came down with a one-handed grab in traffic which would've went for huge yardage. His eight targets were second only to Maclin's 11, so he's still a focal point in the receiving game despite his limited speed. He's a WR3 in deep leagues until proven otherwise.

— Zach Ertz played fantastic with three catches for 77 yards and a touchdown. He's a TE1 going forward even though he only saw 4 targets.

Next week's matchup

The Eagles get an extra day's rest before they play a Colts team that surrendered 31 points to the Denver Broncos, including a 3-touchdown performance from tight end Julius Thomas. This could be a very fruitful matchup for Ertz.

Monday, 08 September 2014 00:00

Episode 14: First Aid (Week 1)

On Monday's edition of First Aid, Scott and George assess the damage to fantasy teams and recap Week 1 in fantasy football. They highlight two games in detail, hand out several awards to players, and give a quick preview of Monday night's matchups.

Week 1 has arrived and fantasy owners need to know who to start and who to bench. As always on every NFL Sunday, there's a handful of players who may or may not play in addition to certain players who may be better starts than others. You hear fantasy advice all the time from a variety of great sources, allow us to give you our two cents.

Start Ladarius Green, sit Antonio Gates

For those lucky/smart enough to snag both Green and Gates, you're better off going young here with Green. Gates landed on the Chargers injury list this week after tweaking his hamstring in practice and in all likelihood won't be the top guy in Week 1. The Chargers are facing the Cardinals, a team that hasn't defended the tight end position well in the past.

Dating back to last season, the Cardinals gave up a touchdown to a tight end in four out of their last five games. And in that one game they didn't give up a touchdown to a TE (which came against the St. Louis Rams), tight end Jared Cook still led the team in receiving yards.

If you recall, rookie Philadelphia tight end Zach Ertz broke out against the Cardinals last season when he caught 5-of-6 targets for 68 yards and two touchdowns. The Cards also gave up touchdowns to Zach Miller in Seattle, Vernon Davis in San Francisco and Delanie Walker in Tennessee. On the upside scale, Green has to be licking his chops. He's equivalent to the Incredible Hulk who's slowly getting angrier and angrier and just needs one more spark to push him into a beast. There's a perfect storm brewing with the injury to Gates and the Cardinals' weakness against the TE. Go Green this week.

Start Jonathan Dwyer, sit Andre Ellington

While there's still rumblings that the explosive running back will be healthy enough to play on Monday night, Dwyer is still the safer play given Ellington's injury status. Nursing a bad foot, there were reports Ellington could be out anywhere between 4-6 weeks, then there were reports that the offensive coordinator is optimistic about his chances to play this Monday. Simply put, there's too much inconsistency in the reporting on Ellington to make him a safe play this week. Like a hot girl with a bad personality, we don't want to see you emotionally invest in this guy only to have your feelings hurt. It's best to steer clear of him for at least this week.

When it comes to starting Dwyer, you won't be getting an explosive back but you'll have a more reliable one. A plodder in every sense of the word, Dwyer showed consistency when called upon in Pittsburgh, rushing for 4.0 yards per carry in 2012 and 2013. Among the Issac Redman/Dwyer tandem that backed up then-injured Rashad Mendenhall in 2012, Dwyer was simply the more consistent ball carrier. He's not a guy you'd want in your starting lineup for more than a few weeks since he lacks the big-play ability to generate significant points (he's only rushed for more than 100 yards in a game twice in his career), but he's a good band aid for Week 1. The Chargers defense ranked in the middle of the pack last year in rushing yards allowed, so there's worse teams out there Dwyer could be facing.

Start Andrew Hawkins, sit Miles Austin

Miles Austin was a non factor in 2013 after battling numerous hamstring injuries, and a comeback is always difficult for somebody on the wrong side of 30 of age.

Even though his rehab has gone well, it's rare for a player to burst back onto the scene and immediately make an impact at his age in addition to his injury history. Keep in mind, even Adrian Peterson was slow out of the gate in 2012, which was the year he ended up seven yards short of the single-season rushing record after returning from a torn ACL. Of course, an ACL tear is much more severe of an injury than a bad hammy, but it's worth noting that it takes a certain amount of momentum to generate production in the NFL, and Austin doesn't have that right now.

Now, if you're pondering starting Hawkins, we hope you're in a deep league considering he's not the best option either. He'll likely be matched up with Steelers' cornerback Cortez Allen, who recently inked a new deal with Pittsburgh and has built a reputation for causing havoc in the pass and run game. But although Hawkins is undersized (5'7), he does possess decent speed (4.34) and doesn't have the injury questions that Austin has which makes him a better WR4/5 option. Tight end Jordan Cameron is poised to be the target monster in the offense, but that doesn't mean Hawkins can't contribute even if it's a smaller amount.

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We believe Fantasy Football success comes down to two things — opportunity and talent. You will have Fantasy Football mastered once you understand how good a player is and how good of an opportunity he has to gain yards and score touchdowns. The thing is, you'll never master Fantasy Football. But you can get pretty darn good at it when you have even a slightly better understanding of opportunity and talent than the average Joe. That's what Fantasy Football Helpers is dedicated to doing.

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