James Starks – The last time I can remember James Starks being a relevant name drop was when my buddy Nano and I went down to this girl’s party in Newton, MA in 2010. While we ran the ‘ruit table, some herb was chatting about the University at Buffalo football program, pretty obscure, unless of course you’re the girlfriend of the logo designer for this site. Naturally, I knew saying “James Starks what up” to the kid, would provide him with an instant football orgasm. Sure enough, he talked about how much of a beast Starks was while at Buffalo. That year, while playing in relief of Packers starter Ryan Grant, Starks capped his rookie season with a Super Bowl ring and set the Packers rookie record for most rushing yards in a post-season game with 123. Three years later and Starks seems to be all the rage this week on the waiver wire.
After relieving concussed Eddie Lacy this week, Starks became the first Packers RB to rush for over 100 yards in a game since Oct. 10th, 2010. With the Packers bye week approaching in week 4, it looks like Lacy will sit out this week as Starks is primed to get the start in Cincinnati. While Lacy’s status remains hazy, look for the Packers to trend towards more of a time-share when both backs are in the lineup, to minimize the hits on their rookie.
The Bottom Heist: If Starks continues to perform, he will sculpt his own permanent role within the Packers offense, making him at the very worst, a top handcuff in a high-powered offense.
Jacquizz Rodgers – Much like Starks, and is often the case for off-the-radar fantasy backs, Rodgers’ value is contingent upon an injury to the Falcons starter, Steven Jackson. However, contrary to the situation in the Green Bay backfield, ‘Quizz has more than enough time to play himself into a role. For the last few years now, the pass-heavy Falcons have looked for Rodgers to be a dynamic threat in the pass game, coming out of the backfield. Not doing himself any favors with the opportunities he has been given, Rodgers maintains the shiftiness that many offensive coordinators covet from their scat back. For PPR and/or leagues that count return yards, Rodgers is a legitimate flex play for the interim. While the numbers haven’t been there in the early-going, the touches are firmly laid out in the on-deck circle.
The Bottom Heist: With S-Jax a candidate to return after ATL’s Week 6 bye, Rodgers has more than enough time to prove to the Falcons coaching staff that he deserves a role in the offense. He’s worth a look in 12+ team leagues.
If you were anything like me last Sunday night, you were staring the bottom of your drink in the face, excited for one of the most explosive, young runners in football to take the stage in primetime. With the Cowboys’ front-four missing two of their starters, the stage couldn’t have been more perfect.
10 beers later, I had to wonder if it were the two fumbles or the booze, depicting David Wilson as a reincarnation of Rashaan Salaam circa 1995 (see ’95 fumbles total). Needless to say, Wilson’s 2013 debut was more prime-tim than primetime.
Wilson’s pathetic 7 rushes for 19 yards have pushed owners to hit the panic button more prematurely than Herb Donaldson on a goal line carry. Don’t get me wrong, anytime a top round pick puts up the same number of points as the temperature on a December day in Alaska, it’s pretty sobering. However, given the dynamic running-ability and acrobatics of the former Virginia Tech star, the odds were greater that he’d go off for 150 and 2 TDs, rather than putting it on the ground twice and riding the pine in his 2013 debut.
It’s not quite déjà vu, although Wilson also fumbled in week 1 of 2012, only to go 127 straight touches without coughing it up.
One year removed from being a 1st-round pick, let’s not forget the potential recipe for a breakout year. “D-dubs” is the cog in an offense that’s committed to establishing the run with no other serious suitors to tote the rock (if you picked up Brandon Jacobs this week, I hope you grabbed Reuben Droughns as a handcuff).
Fantasy analysts and noobs alike, we all knew coming into this year that Wilson was an unpolished, raw talent who hadn’t yet performed at a consistent level. Yet, Wilson still shot into the early rounds of drafts once Andre Brown went down with a fractured leg.
If you buy a new BMW, the second you drive it out the lot, it loses value. But, it seems some “tim”id fantasy owners don’t quite grasp the difference between paying a premium for a car and paying a premium for a player in fantasy.
If you spend a top 30 pick on a player (largely appealing because of the upside), you won’t know the value until you put some miles on it.
I live by the fantasy adage of never selling-low early in the season for a player you paid a premium for. Before you go overboard on David Wilson, remember, you could be unloading a 2014 1st-round pick in fantasy drafts.
After drafting Le’Veon Bell in seven of my current ten leagues, it’s no secret that I’m high on the guy. It’s also no secret that my moniker is the Heistman and now I’m letting the cat of the bag:
Le’Veon Bell gets some reps at Steelers training camp.
Le’Veon Bell is the biggest heist in current fantasy drafts.
Currently ranked 95th overall in ESPN leagues and 98th in Yahoo leagues, Bell could wind up flexing hard for savvy (shout out to Marc Savard) fantasy owners.
Not too shabby for a Rookie RB expected to shoulder the load for a competitive AFC team who emphasizes the running game.
Watching Bell play at Michigan State, I wasn’t overly impressed. Rather it was Giovani Bernard who caught my attention as the most impressive all-around back in college football last year. But there’s a lot to love about Le’Veon Bell, including his recent injury that seemed to cripple fantasy owners who had drafts prior to two weeks ago.
I know what you’re probably thinking – I’m just as bad as those insensitive Chiefs fans for when they cheered Matt Cassel getting injured. It’s just that since the news of Bell’s injury, it has made him more toxic than the radiation waves from Seabrook, New Hampshire. Except, Bell’s aroma resembles something more along the lines of Blake Lively’s perfume and not the power plant fumes from a historically incestual New England town.
In the NFL, it’s as much about the organization you’re drafted by as it is the opportunities you get or talent you have, and Bell is the beneficiary of all three.
The Steelers are a team looking to re-shape their identity. Coming up one drive short of a Super Bowl victory with backup Center Doug Legursky filling in for injured Maurkice Pouncey is a strong testament to the Steelers aptitude for running the ball. It’s no secret that the Steelers will look to revert back to their ground and pound offense this year, especially with the departure of Mike Wallace. The organization, led by GM Kevin Colbert, happens to be one of the best evaluators of talent, which is important when considering Guard David DeCastro will return this season after missing nearly all of last season with ACL and MCL injuries.
A few weeks ago, I was salivating over the prospects of landing Bell as my RB2 or Flex. Most owners aren’t recognizing there’s a diamond in the rough between rounds 8-10, whereas I’m drinking the Kool-Aid like it’s a fifth of fireball. Many owners closed the door on Bell’s rookie campaign, once Bell had apparently suffered what was originally diagnosed as a dreaded Lisfranc injury.
The initial conclusion was that Bell would miss 6-8 weeks. It was his fantasy death wish for prospective owners – but not for me. Monitoring Bell’s situation closely, it turns out the injury was considered more serious than it actually is. Speaking on the injury yesterday, Mike Tomlin reiterated his optimism with Bell’s progress, even hinting at Bell being able to participate in practice on a limited basis. Hearing the chances Bell returns around week two or three has been music to my ears.
As Yahoo! Sports’ Brad Evans pointed out back in July, if you give him a shot, your fantasy team could end up getting “Saved by the Bell.”