Each week I will be doing a fantasy football post titled “The Porridge Files.” What I will be doing is breaking down the week’s top performers by “too hot,” “too cold” and “just right.” (Playing off of the porridge temperatures from “Goldilocks and the Three Bears.” Do you get it? Hmm? Clever, right? OK, I’m done. I’ll also be giving advice on said players for their matchup in the coming week. Enjoy.
David Garrard – Garrard lit up the Broncos to the tune of 19 points Sunday, something his owners will grow accustomed to from time to time. As a Garrard owner last season, I can assure you he will tease you with solid performances here and there, but is bound to let you down. I don’t think Garrard is a horrible fantasy option if you’re waiting for Ben Roethlisberger to come back from suspension, or foolishly drafted Mark Sanchez as your starter, but don’t expect more than 12-15 points per week from him on a regular basis.
Next Week – Garrard is facing a San Diego Chargers team that held Matt Cassel to six whole points, plus they’re coming off of a loss and will be playing their home opener. I don’t recommend starting him.
Matt Hasselbeck – Hasselbeck threw for two touchdowns and 180 yards against a San Francisco defense that just flat-out did not show up, racking up 18 points in the process. While the yardage is what you can expect, I wouldn’t count on two touchdowns and just one interception from Hasselbeck the rest of the year, especially when this team will likely be playing from behind very often. Additionally, I think Justin Forsett and the running game will get a lot more work in the future.
Next Week – I actually don’t hate Hasselbeck as a starting option in week two. He’s facing the Denver defense that was lit up by the aforementioned Garrard, and could be up for similar fantasy prodution.
Michael Vick – Vick makes this list even if he’s the team’s starting quarterback next week. While he’s still a dangerous weapon, the fact remains that he had success against the Packers for two reasons. 1) The Packers have always struggled against scrambling quarterbacks, specifically Vick. 2) They game planned for Kevin Kolb, a COMPLETELY different quarterback than Vick. I can’t imagine their defense stressed a “QB Spy” formation too often during practice.
Next Week – IF Vick starts (which I think he will, Kolb’s status does not have you optimistic), he has a favorable matchup against the Lions. Expect solid production, but not the 21 points he got in week one.
Arian Foster – I love me some Arian Foster. He single-handidly won me a week in one of my leagues. But come on, we obviously can’t expect 41 points out of him every week. Foster is a really good running back and will be a top five or 10 back all season, so he’s going to become a must-start, but 41 points? I don’t think so.
Next Week – Houston has the tough Redskins, and Foster will obviously be a big focus after his big week one. I expect a big letdown, but after that performance, I DARE you to leave him on your bench.
Matt Forte – Forte’s 30 points came mainly to his receiving efforts, as he managed just 50 yards on 17 carries on the ground. He was also playing the Lions. I do think Forte is due for a bounce back year, and could be a solid fantasy option many weeks, but he won’t perform nearly as well as he did in week one.
Next Week – I think the tough Dallas defense swallows up Forte, and would advise you to leave him on the bench.
Darren McFadden – I’m not sold on McFadden… not yet. He showed signs of being good, but he’s tricked us before, and I’m going to lean on the side of caution until he can put together a solid performance in multiple weeks. But even if he does, I don’t think we can expect 20 points out of him too often.
Next Week – McFadden has a good chance for back-to-back solid efforts. He has the Rams in week two, and is a good starting option.
Hakeem Nicks – Whether or not Nicks breaks out this season is still to be determined, but I still think Steve Smith will eventually go back to becoming Eli Manning’s primary target. Nicks only had four receptions Sunday, but was lucky enough to turn three of those into touchdowns. Don’t expect that too often.
Next Week – Nicks could be a decent flex play this week against a shaky Colts pass defense.
Austin Collie – Collie became known for having weeks like this every now and then last season. But a lot of his success came because Pierre Garcon had the dropsies. Additionally, I still think Anthony Gonzalez is going to work his way into this rotation, and that’ll mean less opportunities for Collie.
Next Week – Collie wouldn’t be a horrible play as your No. 2 receiver or flex play, but he’s not going to get the 20 points he had in week one.
Nate Washington – Washington was a flash in the pan, getting the majority of his scoring on the 53-yard touchdown reception from Vince Young. Justin Gage is still the No. 1 option for a passing game that isn’t that great to begin with.
Next Week – I expect Washington to struggle against the tough Steelers. Don’t start him.
Drew Brees – This list is full of underachievers from week one, and it starts with Brees. While the Saints won, his owners had to be furious at the mere 13 points he earned. I have to think the league’s best fantasy quarterback will get things together, as week one can be tricky for many, especially on the national stage.
Next Week – The 49ers defense got torched by the Matt Hasselbeck. I think Brees can handle them. Of course, it’s not like you’d be benching him anyway.
Aaron Rodgers – Rodgers finished with 11 points, being hurt by two bad interceptions in Green Bay’s win over the Eagles. While you can expect about two touchdowns a game out of him, 188 yards and two interceptions is not Rodgers’ game, and I assume he’ll get it together.
Next Week – Rodgers is playing the miserable Buffalo Bills. I expect he will be the top scoring fantasy quarterback in week two.
Matt Schaub – Schaub’s owner’s loss in week one was Arian Foster’s owner’s gain. His bad performance was less what he couldn’t do, and more what Foster COULD do. The Texans led throughout against the Colts and were able to rely on their running game, taking away Schaub’s performance. He’ll get back on track as Foster comes down to Earth.
Next Week – Schaub actually has another tough matchup against a Redskins defense that looked much improved against the Cowboys. Again, I can’t imagine you’d bench him, but if you have a legitimately better option, it wouldn’t hurt to take it.
Brett Favre – I don’t know if it was the ankle, rust or what, but Favre looked bad against the Saints. No, I don’t think it was his lack of weapons. Let’s not forget, Favre has found success with numerous receivers who were below Pro Bowl caliber in Green Bay. It just takes time. (Ya know, like, training camp time?) Once he gets in synch with the his weapons, I think Favre will be fine. He’s not going to be the monster he was last season, but he’s much better than eight points per week.
Next Week – I actually think Miami will be a tough matchup for Favre, so you can leave him on your bench if you have a better option.
Joe Flacco/Mark Sanchez – These two get lumped together because of their dual stink bomb they laid on Monday Night Football. Let’s remember, both of these quarterbacks are young, were playing on a national stage to start the season, and were playing against really, really good defenses. I like Flacco better than Sanchez going forward, but if you own Sanchez, don’t worry too much. He’s not going to put up 20-25 points per week, but he’ll be much better than the two points he got Monday.
Next Week – Flacco has Cincinnati. Sanchez has the Patriots. I recommend starting Flacco unless you have a better option. Sanchez’s matchup isn’t great, but if you have to start him he could do decent. Certainly better than two points.
Michael Turner – Turner had a bad matchup in week one against the tough Steelers. I don’t think he’ll ever return to his 2008 form, but he’s going to be much better than four points. I expect a solid 12-15 points per week, at least, out of him.
Next Week – Turner has a great matchup against Arizona and should put up big numbers.
Ray Rice/Shonn Greene – This one parallels the Flacco/Sanchez section. Two good running backs who ran into two really good defenses. Both will bounce back, although I have more faith in Rice than I do Greene.
Next Week – I like Rice to start against the Bengals, but would not blame you for benching Greene. I think Rex Ryan might prove a point to him by going with Tomlinson for a lot of next week’s game against the Patriots.
Adrian Peterson – Peterson doesn’t worry me. His coaching staff worries me. He muscled his way to 87 yards and nine points last week, but it took a while for Childress to finally start pounding the ball to Peterson, instead throwing with Favre way too often. If Childress continue to call plays like a buffoon, Peterson could be in trouble.
Next Week – You’re not benching Peterson against anyone, so this doesn’t really matter.
Randy Moss – People are talking about Moss because of his contract status and are worried that his production will falter. I think it will be just the opposite. The Patriots are smart to make Moss earn his contract, and he will be motivated to do so. The five points he earned in week one was a fluke.
Next Week – Even against Darrelle Revis, I’m starting Moss. I think he’s on a mission to prove his worth and is going to tear the league’s best cornerback a new one. I’m convinced.
Brandon Marshall – I don’t know what to make of Marshall last week. The Broncos defense isn’t that good, but he still struggled to gain points. He did catch eight passes though, so was still valuable in PPR leagues. Either way, I think he and Chad Henne will find a rhythm eventually, and Marshall — a notoriously slow starter — will get it together.
Next Week – Marshall has the Vikings and their short cornerbacks, and overall shaky pass defense. I think he will have a big game.
Others guys who you should still start, despite a shaky week one – Andre Johnson, DeSean Jackson, Calvin Johnson, Steve Smith (NYG), Pierre Garcon.
Peyton Manning/Tom Brady – The 29 and 22 points these two earned, respectively, is no surprise. While Brees is the most flashy pick at quarterback, Manning and Brady are the most consistent. You can almost guarantee 20 points out of these guys week in and week out.
Next Week – Start them. Duh. It doesn’t matter who they’re playing.
Jay Cutler – This may surprise some, but I really expect weeks like the 20 points Cutler put up going forward. He has a big arm and is going to be in a lot of shootouts. Plus, he’s in a Mike Martz offense. While Cutler isn’t your ideal starting quarterback in the real world, he’s very reliable as a fantasy option, especially in leagues where you aren’t penalized for interceptions. He’s going to rack up yards and get his share of touchdowns.
Next Week – Dallas isn’t a great matchup for Cutler, but again, I think he’s still going to get a fair amount of points. But if you bought low on him and have him as a backup to Rodgers or someone of that nature, he can remain on your bench without worry.
Philip Rivers – Rivers is a lot like Cutler, just on a better team. You know he’s going to put up big passing yards and get his share of touchdowns, as his team loves to pass first. Plus, if he can put up 19 points by going for 298 yards and two touchdowns in sloppy, rainy conditions, imagine what he can do at home when the sun is shining?
Next Week – “Imagine what he can do at home when the sun is shining?” What smart guy said that? He’s at home against the Jaguars. Start him.
Other guys who were “just right,”except in a negative sense – Alex Smith, Jake Delhomme, Dennis Dixon, Matt Cassel, Matt Moore.
Chris Johnson – Ho hum. Another 26 points from the league’s best running back. The most amazing thing about this performance is that the Titans also got a rushing touchdown out of Javon Ringer early, which probably infuriated Johnson owners at first, but Johnson still got two.
Next Week – Duh.
Jamaal Charles/Thomas Jones – I’m buying into Charles, and this will make Jones owners angry. Charles is the home run threat for the Chiefs, and even if Jones continues to start, he’ll be the pound-it-up-the-middle back that sets up Charles for his long runs. I really think Jones isn’t due for many high scoring weeks (OK, it will be better than 3), but Charles is going to continue to get his touches and have a shot at 15+ points on several occasions.
Next Week – Even against Cleveland, Kansas City is due for a letdown after the emotionally victory Monday night, but you’re still not benching Charles.
Rashad Mendenhall – Nineteen points is something you can expect out of Mendenhall, especially with Roethlisberger out. Granted, 11 of those 19 came on the overtime run, he’s still going to continue to pound the ball with Dennis Dixon struggling.
Next Week – Mendenhall is a must start these first four weeks, and even more so against the Titans and their questionable run defense.
Wes Welker – I’m not a Welker fan, but the Patriots have integrated him into the offense perfectly. He’s going to continue to frustrate defenses with his shiftiness and take advantage to great blockers in front of him. He’s essentially a running back who only catches passes, but is incredibly valuable in the fantasy sense, especially in PPR leagues.
Next Week – You’re starting Welker.
Anquan Boldin – To think Boldin succeeded against a tough defense says wonders about what he can do in the future. He was clearly Joe Flacco’s primary target, and was an absolute beast. Sure, he only racked up 11 points, but on a night where scoring wasn’t at a premium, he still had seven catches for 110 yards. Most weeks, I think he’ll end up in the end zone at least once.
Next Week – Boldin is going to be even better against Cincinnati. He’ll outshine Chad OchoCinco and Terrell Owens.
Legedu Naanee – I highlight Naanee here over the likes of Reggie Wayne, Greg Jennings and Steve Smith (Carolina) for the simple fact that he’s still available in several leagues. He’s Philip Rivers’ primary target with Vincent Jackson going AWOL, and he proved his worth in week one. He also proved his worth in the second half of 2009, so what are you waiting for? If he’s available in your league, pick him up! Now!
Next Week – I’m high on all the Chargers this week, and Naanee is no different.
Positions that don’t matter as much
Tight Ends – Marcades Lewis, Evan Moore, Tony Moeaki.
Defenses/Special Teams – Seahawks, Cardinals, Lions, Chiefs, Bears.
Kickers – Mason Crosby, Mike Nugent.
Tight Ends – Jason Witten, Greg Olsen, Kellen Winslow, Jermichael Finley.
Defenses/Special Teams – Bengals, Raiders, 49ers, Vikings.
Kickers – Nate Kaeding, Garrett Hartley.
Tight Ends – Dallas Clark, Visanthe Shiancoe, Bo Scaife, Chris Cooley, Antonio Gates.
Defenses/Special Teams – Redskins, Jets, Saints, Steelers, Ravens, Colts, Bills.
Kickers – Neil Rackers, Rob Bironas, David Akers.