Week 2: Player Downgrades

 
 
 
 
Football > Week 02 > Player Downgrades

Week 2: Player Downgrades

The players whose long-term value is falling and should be benched or even cut. This week's picks include Ronnie Brown, Montario Hardesty, Thomas Jones, Ryan Torain, and Michael Crabtree.

Week 1 of the 2011 season was a treat to watch. There were 89 touchdowns scored in total, the sixth most in the history of the NFL. Does it seem like none of your players were the recipient of any of those scores? Well then you might find your player listed below.

For those who need a quick description of this column, Player Downgrades focuses on players that you might consider benching or cutting, and not just for Week 2, but for good.

This isn't for obvious options like guys who go down with long-term and serious injuries, but guys who are playing full-time and aren't getting the job done. Rather than sit around and wait for these guys to turn it around, this column will recommend that you bench a player immediately or dump him. Fantasy football is a game of numbers and if someone isn't putting them up, it's time you put them down.

Since it's so early in the season, Player Downgrades will specifically focus on players most of you probably took in the last four or five rounds of the draft. Guys who you thought might have some sneaky upside, but it was a long shot. It's time to drop those guys and add the players who are actually producing or getting more playing time.

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When Ronnie Brown joined the Eagles backfield, many fantasy owners suspected that Philadelphia wanted someone to regularly spell LeSean McCoy. They assumed Brown might steal a few red zone carries, be able to handle some receiving duties, play on third downs, etc. This assumption appears to be wrong. Both Brown and teammate Dion Lewis split backup duties behind McCoy. Although there will be games that will favor Brown and he'll approach 10 touches per game, he isn't going to handle the ball enough to have an impact. There are more consistent options available on the waiver wire. Brown only rushed for seven yards on four carries against the Rams on Sunday. If he was better, he would have done better.

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The logic, I assume, behind drafting Hardesty would be maybe Peyton Hillis gets injured early on in the year, or maybe Hardesty is a handcuff. If you've drafted him for that purpose, then you can continue to hold him. But if you drafted him with the expectation that he would get 12 to 15 touches per week in order to give Hillis rest, then Week 1 has to be a disappointment. Hardesty was given just five carries and Colt McCoy attempted 40 passes. One of Hardesty's drives was cut short due to a long pass play that went for a touchdown. He would have likely gotten a few more carries if Benjamin Watson didn't break off a 34 yard touchdown. The bottom line though is that the carries just weren't there and Cleveland didn't seem too inclined to get him looks.

In deeper 12-team leagues, it's understandable to hold a player like Hardesty since quality running backs are a prized commodity. Beyond that, Hardesty is a fantasy non-factor and should only be held on a roster if Hillis is injured.

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Kansas City looked awful in Week 1 and if that persists, it destroys the fantasy value of a guy like Thomas Jones. For teams that rely heavily on the running game, jumping out to an early lead helps them stick to their gameplan. With a lead they can play more conservatively, force fewer passes downfield and run the ball to wear down defense. If they lose the lead or even worse, start losing by two or more scores, even the featured back will struggle to establish himself.

Jones' value is predicated on having the luxury of utilizing two backs. In Week 1, Jones was held to only two carries for three yards. Pretty brutal performance, right?

Kansas City isn't going to get blown out by 34 points very often, but they don't look like the playoff-caliber team they were last season. Jones is now 33 years old and given all the young backs out there who can also catch passes on third down, Jones isn't the right fit for your roster. Go ahead and add a new player in order to replace Jones. His stock is low enough that even if he turns it around, you still have a shot at bringing him back into the fold.

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Torain didn't receive a single carry in Week 1. Tim Hightower had 28 touches and rookie Roy Helu only had one carry. It appears that Torain is nothing but a fantasy afterthought this year. From all the reports coming out during the preseason, head coach Mike Shanahan has all the faith in the world in Hightower. This has relegated Torain to the bottom of the depth chart.

The Redskins did look impressive in their win over the New York Giants. Between Hightower, Rex Grossman, Fred Davis and Santana Moss, this team could surprise some people. What would be a surprise is if Torain has anything to do with it. For now, it's time to part ways and find some new running back depth.

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49ers fans thought they were getting the next Andre Johnson or Larry Fitzgerald. Unfortunately for them, they've ended up with Michael Crabtree. This third year wide receiver is still recovering from a left foot injury that forced him to miss all of San Francisco's preseason games. In fact, Crabtree has never played in a single preseason game. Crabtree was only able to play 16 snaps in Week 1, limiting him to what would be the WR3 spot on the team. Needless to say, San Francisco doesn't have the offense to sustain three fantasy receivers, let alone one.

For fantasy owners, you're going to have to sit him on your bench and be patient for at least another month. Crabtree is healthy enough to play, but not back to 100-percent. At 23 years old, Crabtree still has a long career ahead of him and all the talent in the world. He should only be cut in the shallowest of formats.