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NFL Barometer: Rising Saint

Dalton Del Don

Dalton Del Don

Dalton Del Don writes about fantasy sports for RotoWire.

RISERS

Jahvid Best, RB, DET – Best totaled 232 yards and scored three touchdowns last week, giving him five scores already. It remains to be seen if he can stay healthy over a full NFL season, but since he is so involved in the passing game, Best can be plenty productive even with 15-20 carries a game. It’s huge that he has already locked down the goalline work, and few players in the league can match Best’s speed. He looks like a truly special running back who would be a borderline first-round pick if a draft were held today.

Michael Vick, QB, PHI – Vick picked apart a poor Detroit secondary last week, throwing for 284 yards and two touchdowns while not committing a turnover. He continued to show improved accuracy (61.8%) and renewed speed, rushing for 37 yards as well. Vick’s fantasy day could have been even bigger had LeSean McCoy (another player who deserves an upgrade) not scored three times on the ground. As a result, Vick has been named the Eagles’ starting quarterback, sending Kevin Kolb to the bench. Vick has tremendous weapons around him and is in a terrific system, so he needs to be considered a QB1 in fantasy leagues. Even in games that he struggles throwing the ball, his ability to run keeps his floor high enough; and Vick’s ceiling is quite high.

Demaryius Thomas, WR, DEN – Thomas caught eight passes for 97 yards and a score during his NFL debut Sunday, which is highly impressive for a rookie wide receiver who has yet to see real game action. It looks like Thomas’ foot injury is behind him, and while his targets will likely be inconsistent week-to-week, Thomas’ talent is apparent, and he’s already the most dangerous weapon on Denver’s offense. Kyle Orton has quietly become a more than competent NFL quarterback, completing 67.6% of his passes while averaging 8.9 YPA this season, which also bodes well for Thomas moving forward. With game-breaking speed, an easy schedule, and little competition for looks (downgrade Jabar Gaffney), Thomas is set up for success, even as a rookie coming off an injury and coming from a gimmicky college system. Burn your FAAB to get him.

Pierre Thomas, RB, NO – Thomas has run for just 3.2 YPC so far this year, but more importantly, he has averaged 24.0 touches per game and has been far more involved in New Orleans’ offense than he was last season. Thomas’ schedule really eases up now moving forward, and the loss of Reggie Bush (leg) should lead to even more touches. Safely consider Thomas an RB1.

Jason Snelling, RB, ATL – Thanks to Michael Turner’s groin injury, Snelling was given an opportunity Sunday, and he more than took advantage of it. Snelling totaled 186 yards and scored three times against a helpless Arizona defense. Snelling will be mostly an afterthought when Turner is healthy (he is expected to play in Week 3), but with Jerious Norwood out for the season, he’s clearly the second option in Atlanta’s backfield. It’s a good offensive system, and Snelling has proven to be quite skilled in his own right. Few backup runners in the NFL have his upside, so he must be owned in all fantasy leagues.

Josh Freeman, QB, TB – Over the first two games of the season, Freeman has posted a 4:1 TD:INT ratio and a 95.0 QB rating. Accuracy issues remain, but that’s quite impressive for a QB, coming off a thumb injury, who didn’t get much work over the preseason. The bigger news for fantasy owners is that Freeman has also gained 77 yards on the ground already. Freeman continues to develop on an improved team, and with rookie WR Mike Williams looking like a star in the making, Freeman could prove to be a sneaky fantasy option. He won’t be worth using over the next two weeks (facing Pittsburgh and then a bye), but the schedule looks favorable after that.

Keiland Williams, RB, WAS – With the release of Larry Johnson, Williams suddenly looks like the top backup in the Redskins’ backfield. He has yet to receive a carry, but Williams was used extensively in passing situations last week later in the game, so the team must trust his blocking ability. Clinton Portis scored twice last week, but he is averaging an ugly 3.1 YPC on the season and is dealing with a wrist injury. Portis has surpassed 2,200 career carries and has lost all burst, so he’s a back in major decline. In an offense that looks invigorated with Mike Shanahan and Donovan McNabb in town, Williams could be a difference maker once he’s given an opportunity.

BenJarvus Green-Ellis, RB, NE – Maybe New England’s backfield remains a committee throughout the season, but Laurence Maroney was recently traded to Denver and Kevin Faulk has been lost for the season with a knee injury. Fred Taylor is dealing with a toe injury (he was barely used at all during the second half last week) and is 34 years old. Sammy Morris is 33 years old. Green-Ellis might be worth stashing.

FALLERS

Maurice Jones-Drew, RB, JAX – There hasn’t been any news of his meniscus bothering him, and it’s usually best not to overreact to a two-game sample, but Jones-Drew is killing fantasy owners who spent such a high pick on him. He totaled just 48 yards in a blowout loss last week and watched from the sidelines as backup Rashad Jennings played better over most of the second half. Jones-Drew lost a fumble and has not been utilized as a receiver like he was in the past. This is not a good Jaguars team. I’d easily take Ray Rice, Frank Gore, or Michael Turner over Jones-Drew. Probably even Arian Foster.

C.J. Spiller, RB, BUF – After an impressive preseason, Spiller has been a fantasy bust over the first two weeks of his NFL career. It’s obviously not all his fault - Buffalo gave Spiller just one carry last week after using the ninth pick in the draft on him. There’s plenty of talent here, but he’s unusable in fantasy leagues until he starts seeing a big increase in touches. It should come eventually.

Matt Moore, QB, CAR – Moore lost his job to rookie Jimmy Clausen after just two games. The same goes for Jason Campbell and Kevin Kolb, who are all obvious downgrades. Carolina’s run blocking has been terrible compared to last season, so Jonathan Stewart needs to be on fantasy benches as well until further notice.

Dwayne Bowe, WR, KC – Could Bowe be a bust for the second straight season? Again, it’s not time to panic, and in Week 1 the Chiefs played in conditions not conducive for passing, but it would be nice if Bowe showed a pulse soon. Four catches for 45 yards against the Browns won’t cut it. The targets haven’t been there.

Brett Favre, QB, MIN – Favre is regretting coming back for one more season, that’s for sure. Minnesota looks nothing like the team that nearly went to the Super Bowl last season, with a collapsing offensive line and a WR corps that has been ruined by injuries. Percy Harvin also deserves a downgrade.

Robert Meachem, WR, NO – Meachem was targeted just one time Monday night and was often on the sidelines. The game plan called for mostly screens and underneath routes to tight ends, and while better days will certainly be in store, it looks like Devery Henderson is clearly New Orleans’ WR2. Part of the problem may be a lingering to injury, but Meachem can’t be safely used in fantasy lineups right now.

Brandon Jacobs, RB, NYG – After again looking sluggish and being taken out of the game, Jacobs flung his helmet into the crowd Sunday night and didn’t see the field thereafter. New York’s backfield is Ahmad Bradshaw’s now, and with a run-blocking unit that no longer looks elite, Jacobs has little fantasy upside at this point. Maybe a change of scenery will be for the best. Last year’s disappointing season can no longer be blamed on the knee injury he suffered in Week 1; Jacobs has never looked slower even though he is now seemingly healthy.

Devin Aromashodu, WR, CHI – Last week I had Aromashodu as an upgrade. Whoops. Where did this come from? He is apparently in the coaches’ doghouse, for whatever reason (he had three drops in Week 1, but he was also targeted heavily and looked like a big part of Chicago’s offense), and it might not even be a one week deal, as Earl Bennett has apparently passed him on the depth chart. Johnny Knox is the Bears receiver to own.