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By Dan O'Shea
First, an apology of sorts: Last week, I recommended picking up Julian Edelman, he of the rare QB/WR eligibility, primarily based on the likelihood that he was about to become New England's third-busiest receiver (which is like being the No. 1 receiver on some teams). However, later in the week, it was revealed that Edelman had suffered a broken arm in the previous game, ruling him out.
Why it took several days for this news to come out I have no idea, though New England Coach Bill Belichick is notoriously stingy with even the most obvious injury information. In any case, scratch Edelman until further notice.
And, while we're on the subject of unloading dead weight, Week 8, the traditional (if no longer actual) halfway point of the season is a good time to start cleaning house. It may be time to give up on early-round disappointments and borderline sleepers who just haven't paid off. On the other hand, a couple guys out there who haven't been delivering may still have a chance to wake up. Here are out Fantasy Fix Action Ratings to give you a few ideas what to do in each case.
Player: Roy Williams, WR
Comment: A pre-season top 50 sleeper who was supposed to have a breakout year, Williams was done in by the rise of fellow WR Miles Austin and the struggles of QB Tony Romo. Romo looks to be back on track, but Austin has become the big-gain threat Williams should have been.
Player: LaDainian Tomlinson, RB
Comment: Nothing new here as another former fantasy stud limps toward insignificance. Now is probably the perfect time to trade him because he had season-high rushing yards last week (though only 71 yards, if you can believe it). He still gets the most touches, but fellow San Diego RB Darren Sproles is more valuable as a fantasy points prospect.
Player: Steve Smith, WR (Carolina)
FFAR: Another good-timing trade opportunity, as this pre-season top 20 player and top five WR caught 99 yards worth of passes last week, though Carolina's problems at QB have left him without a score and inconsistent output is likely to continue, as Carolina has two RB studs hogging all the chances.
Player: LenDale White, RB
Comment: He was a chic sleeper pick after he lost a bunch of weight in the off-season (by quitting tequila, he said), but Chris Johnson has been fantastic as the busier RB for Tennessee, and the Titans' otherwise woeful play has afforded him few chance to do much. He's also injured at least for this week.
Player: Michael Crabtree, WR
Comment: He's more than 70 percent-owned in Yahoo!, so many owners must have been patient, and that patience will really pay off in the second half of the season. Even with San Francisco switching QBs this week, he should get a steady feed of passes in weeks to come.
Player: Matt Forte, RB
Comment: A huge disappointment, with little hope for a big rushing game in the second half, but hold him if you can because he will probably be seeing more Jay Cutler passes for two reasons: 1) The Bears are committed to getting him involved somehow, and 2) With interceptions piling up, Cutler will be assigned to throw more short passes in the second half.
Player: Darrius Heyward-Bey, WR
FFAR: PICK UP
Comment: Sounds crazy with Oakland in complete disarray, but if you can afford the roster spot, shelve him for a couple weeks. Oakland may put the ball in his hands more often via both pass and hand-off/pitch to give their fans a bit of hope for next year.
* FantasyFootball Today notes that Washington TE Chris Cooley is out for the foreseeable future after breaking his tibia on Monday Night Football. He was the Redskins' busiest receiver, so a reliable source of TE fantasy points.
* Bleacher Report has Week 8 waiver wire advice, including a recommendation to pick up Beanie Wells. He was MIA earlier this year as Arizona ignored him and stuck with the ineffective Tim Hightower and a pass-first-then-pass-again mentality. But, he just had a big game Sunday night, and seems to be getting more touches than Hightower.
* FanHouse has still more adoration for Dallas WR Miles Austin. The cat's out of the bag and already across the border, but I mention this if only because FanHouse's post also mentions forgotten Dallas WR Patrick Crayton. With Romo on track and Austin now on the radar of opposing defenses, I wonder of Crayton, rather than Williams, actually may benefit from a few more looks. Might be worth watching, as he's only 36% owned in Yahoo! Leagues.
We have to admit we are way behind this year as the season is about to get started. Is it me, or is there just a lack of potential post-top 20 treasures this year?
Second-year players usually can be counted on for some fireworks, but after big-man Brook Lopez, you've got guys in the sophomore class like Derrick Rose and Kevin Love, who are injury concerns. Michael Beasley is a character nightmare. Will O.J. Mayo break out? Jerryd Bayless? Danilo Gallinari? Russell Westbrook? None is screaming "pick me early" this year.
If you are going to find sleepers this year, I think you need to look deeper into that second-year class. A few names come to mind, the first one fairly obvious:
D.J. Augustin, PG/SG: He was left out of many drafts because he wasn't going to start, but it looks like he'll be busy as a sixth man and occasional starter. He contributes everything you want to see at his position - steals, three-pointers and assists.
Roy Hibbert, C: He was mostly ineffective as a rookie because his propensity to foul left him with little playing time, but his pre-season blocks-per-game of almost four suggest he could finish on Dwight Howard-Brook Lopez-Marcus Camby territory. Any other production is a bonus.
Anthony Randolph, PF: Another big-time shot blocker who is already something of a chic circa-fifth-round pick. His offensive production is a work in progress, and out of a PF, you need more than the six rebounds-per-game he delivered in his rookie year, but a decent shooter percentage-wise and a busy ball-stealer.
Ryan Anderson, PF/C: He didn't do much with New Jersey last year, but moved to Orlando in the off-season, where he will now start at PF. He has rare three-point potential from his position, and should get a lot of Dwight Howard's missed shots to slam home.
Dan O'Shea's Fantasy Fix appears in this space every Wednesday. Tips, comments, and suggestions are welcome. You can also read his about his split sports fan personality at SwingsBothWays, which isn't about what it sounds like it's about.
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