<
>
Insider

Week 3 decision time on Hightower, Cassel

9/25/2009

Sometimes the decision-making process in fantasy football can be swayed by the slightest things. Check out this quote from Arizona Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt, explaining why he's making rookie running back Beanie Wells carry a football around all week, even encouraging his teammates to knock the ball out. Every time Wells fumbles, he has to pay $200 to charity, even if he loses the ball in a hallway.

    "He's gotten a lot of attempts in the building, walking around with the ball, and he's done pretty good with that. ... He's keeping [the ball] high and tight like we talked about. But it remains to be seen if he can do it in a game."

Well, that's about all I need to read in determining that Tim Hightower is a better play than I thought. I moved him up in my Friday rankings as a result. The Cardinals host the Indianapolis Colts, a team that can't stop the run, and it sure looks like Wells, who fumbled twice in Week 2 and got benched, isn't in line for major work. Hightower, on the other hand, is off to a good start this season. Yep, that's all it took. I might even activate Hightower over Darren Sproles at my flex spot in one league. Thanks, Ken.

Just like the first few weeks, here are some of my key Friday decisions, and maybe some of them are similar to yours ...

• My late-week rankings changes: I decided that as a Philadelphia Eagles fan, I'm more scared of the matchup against the Kansas City Chiefs than I had originally believed. Dwayne Bowe is a safe play, and I moved Matt Cassel into my top 25 quarterbacks. Not a great play, but if you need someone, I could see Cassel throwing a ton and filling up the box score. I also gave a little bump to Jake Delhomme. I think in a month we're all going to be trying to play our wide receivers against the Dallas Cowboys' defense. At running back, I kept LaDainian Tomlinson out, because his recent quotes don't inspire confidence that he'll dress. I did not, however, move Sproles up. In fact, I might regret not moving him backward. Tashard Choice got a big bump, from 41 to 31, as I remain convinced he'll get double-digit touches against the Panthers, whether Marion Barber plays or not. Not much doing at wide receiver, where I already had ranked Wes Welker, who looks as though he'll play. I switched the ranks of Johnny Knox and Earl Bennett, so that Knox is 30 and Bennett 35. One colleague didn't rank Knox at all, and two left Bennett out. Guess I don't believe in the Seattle Seahawks' secondary.

• My key lineup decisions: On my 0-2 team -- yes, it happens to us as well -- I see Donovan McNabb, Tomlinson and Anthony Gonzalez on the bench. Doesn't feel so good. That wasn't a straight draft, but I picked up an expansion team, and those three guys plus Steven Jackson was the best I could do before the real draft. I thought it would be competitive. Well, I guess not. I'm sticking with Kyle Orton there, and Derrick Ward is my RB2. Also doesn't feel so good. I refuse to let a fellow ESPN employee make me overpay for Eli Manning. Frankly, it's not so easy to make this team better, since free agency has nothing and my tradable assets are hurt, or in Jackson's case, at their low point. This week is winnable with what I've got, though. Jackson needs to go nuts. On another team, I went with Willis McGahee over Ronnie Brown; hey, our projections back it up, and I think Brown is someone to sell high, but I admit I didn't think I'd ever be making that substitution, certainly not by Week 3. Every fantasy owner should be willing to go against conventional wisdom -- and their own beliefs -- if they are convinced otherwise.

• Decisions in our other fantasy games: Well, stick a fork in my Elimination Challenge entry. I'm eliminated. Toast. It's over. How sad. A few years ago I made it all the way through the season. This season, the Houston Texans won in Tennessee and the dream gets stomped on. I'll still make weekly picks, however. Everyone should. Maybe I can get it right the next 15 weeks. Anyway, I'm not going with the Washington Redskins against the Detroit Lions. Nor would I go with the Lions. Seems awfully risky to me. I would have thought everyone would be picking the Redskins, but it's only 7.3 percent, with four teams more popular. That's because the Redskins were the No. 2 popular pick last week against the St. Louis Rams. Many people have used them already. The Baltimore Ravens and Philadelphia Eagles are the top choices this time, getting more than 40 percent of the public's picks. I used the Ravens in Week 1 against the Kansas City Chiefs. I don't like going with road teams, so Pittsburgh Steelers over Cincinnati Bengals and Green Bay Packers over St. Louis Rams scares me. I went Eagles, but I expect that to be a close game.

In Pigskin Pick 'Em, I come off a lousy week with seven wins. I took more underdogs this week than normal, taking the points with the Bengals, Lions and Rams, as well as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Cleveland Browns and Jacksonville Jaguars. Underdogs were outright winners -- not just points, but in real life -- in nine of the 15 Sunday games. Finally, in Gridiron Challenge, I'm doing well, in the 93rd percentile. It helps having locked Drew Brees, Adrian Peterson and Marques Colston in early. Imagine where I'd be hadn't I used Tom Brady and Ray Rice both weeks. I dumped Brady for the cheap Byron Leftwich; he's No. 3 among quarterbacks in this game but 19th in price. He'll continue to get late-game trash numbers against the Giants. And I replaced Rice with Fred Jackson; the Bills running back is fifth in points yet 23rd in price. And as I wrote in Tuesday's blog, I don't think Jackson is going away just because Marshawn Lynch returns. I had extra money after these transactions, so I bought a cheesesteak. OK, but I did bolt Terrell Owens for the Panthers' Steve Smith.

Have a great weekend. Only 14 more weeks to go.