By Dan Holzhauer
Jake Delhomme has quickly joined JaMarcus Russell and the benched Brady Quinn as QBs you don’t want within a mile of your fantasy team. You can include Quinn’s replacement Derek Anderson, and his negative fantasy points, on that list, too. But after Delhomme’s 5 INT, 1 fumble performance against Arizona in the playoffs, Jake went undrafted in most fantasy leagues. But as many fantasy owners have quickly found out, Delhomme is wrecking their team from the waiver wire. But could Carolina coach John Fox really be behind the plot to unravel your championship dreams?
Delhomme has thrown the Carolina offense out of whack and it’s effecting the production of Steve Smith and DeAngelo Williams. Smith was a top 5 fantasy WR last year with over 1,400 receiving yards and 6 TDs, but he has struggled to be the #1 receiver that players drafted him as this year. The veteran receiver has 190 yards and 0 TDs through the first three weeks. He racked up 131 of those yards in one game. So far this season, Smith’s QB has completed less than 60% of his passes for just 6.6 yards per reception. Delhomme’s longest completion of the season was a 32 yard pass that went to TE Jeff King.
Smith was draped by two Cowboys defenders all Monday night in Dallas, and the 4 time pro-bowler was visibly angry on the sidelines. He caught just 4 passes for 38 yards; none of which moved the chains. Perhaps more importantly, the frustrated Smith broke off of a slant route in the 4th quarter that resulted in the second of Delhomme’s three turnovers.
But the most troubling of Delhomme’s statistics are his 91 pass attempts. That’s a lot of passes for a QB that was benched before the end of the first game and has thrown 12 INTs in the last four games. In comparison, DeAngelo Williams, who ran for over 1,500 yards and 18 TDs last year, has had just 41 carries.
Williams has totalled just 15 carries in the second half; even though the Panthers trailed by just one score in the second half of their last two games. He has averaged just 4.4 yards per carry, but he has averaged 5.3 per carry in the first half. Williams averaged 6.3 yards per carry in the first half Monday night, but coach John Fox gave Williams just 4 carries in the second half of a game they led 7-0. Williams has managed to carry some of his fantasy weight with 264 total yards and two rushing TDs. But the first half of Monday night’s game had the look of a breakout game for Williams, who had 44 yards on just seven carries against a defense that came in allowing 135.5 rushing yards per game.
After an 0-3 start, the Panthers are not where they expected to be for their bye week. With any luck, coach Fox will find the offense that was 3rd in the NFL in rushing in 2008. Fortunately, the fantasy gods have smiled upon the Carolina Panthers, as they can get healthy in weeks five and six against Washington and Tampa Bay, who are a combined 1-5.
With bye weeks upon us, your bench is as important as ever. The Panthers, Eagles, Cardinals and Falcons will be watching week 4 at home. Here are some pickups that may save your week:
Steve Smith, NYG WR:
Late in 2008, the Giants struggled to find a replacement for Plaxico Burress. Through the first three weeks of 2009, Eli Manning has spread his 59 completions over ten receivers. The most consistent of those receivers has been ‘The Other’ Steve Smith. Still underrated by many fantasy players, Smith is sixth in the league with 277 receiving yards. Add in his two touchdowns, and 23 receptions for PPR leagues, and Smith has been a top 5 fantasty receiver. With defenses under constant threat from Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw out of the backfield, look for Smith to continue bringing home big points for whoever grabs him off the wire.
Glen Coffee, SF RB
The rookie out of Alabama was not very impressive in his 25 carries against Minnesota. But not many people have been able to run against the Vikings, whose defense led the league in 2008 with 76.9 rushing yards allowed per game. According to the 49ers Twitter, Frank Gore is out with multiple strains of his right ankle. For now, Glen Coffee is the man in San Fran. Coffee has a favorable matchup at home against the 0-3 Rams in week 4, and he should be in the starting lineup at least until the 49ers come back from their week 6 bye.
Mike Sims-Walker, JAX WR:
The Jacksonville Jaguars do not have a ton of offensive weapons. Maurice Jones-Drew leads the team in both carries and receptions. But lost in the shuffle of the first three weeks of the season is Mike Sims-Walker. The young receiver out of Central Florida has caught 12 balls for 187 yards in the last two weeks after not making the stat sheet in week one. Sims-Walker has the skill to be the team’s #1 receiver for the rest of the year. The loss of QB Matt Hasselbeck has Seattle fans concerned, but fantasy players should not see much of a drop off with Seneca Wallace under center.
Pierre Garcon, IND WR:
With Anthony Gonzalez out for an unpredictable length of time with a knee injury, fantasy points are up for grabs on the Indy bench. Peyton Manning still has his most trusted targets in veterans Reggie Wayne and Dallas Clark, but he has found a playmaker in WR Pierre Garcon. The second year receiver out of Mount Union College has grabbed a touchdown in each of the last two games, including the game winner in Miami on Monday Night Football. Although Garcon has only caught seven passes, his touchdowns have gone for 48 and 53 yards.