Remember when you were a kid? What was the worst thing your parents could have said to you?
OK, so it’s probably, “We’re sending you to a Calcutta orphanage,” but aside from that, what’s the worst thing they could have said?
“We are sooo disappointed in you.”
You could make them boil with rage, scream like a banshee stuck in traffic, flail their arms around with crazed abandon … and you’d get over it. But the last thing you wanted to do was let them down.
And while NFL players don’t care if they let you down, they sure can leave you disappointed.
There are several August superstars who have started the season off like 10th round draft picks. But are they just slow starters or is something really wrong?
Let’s find out by using the power of speculation, shall we.
1: C.J. Spiller, RB, Bills: When offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett said the Bills were going to run Spiller until he “throws up,” he really meant until his fantasy owners throw up. The electric back with the career 5.2-yards-per-carry average is slogging around averaging 3.8 yards and getting outplayed by 32-year-old Fred Jackson. Should you worry? Yes, a little. His career pattern is to play in Jackson ’s shadow until the older back’s inevitable injury, and then become a fantasy stud. If that’s the case again this year – and I think it will be – you’ll have a nice RB for the stretch run. If that’s not the case … grab a barf bag. WORRY-O-METER: 6
2: Doug Martin, RB, Buccaneers: After Adrian Peterson, Martin was the consensus No. 2 pick in the draft. It was expected he’d build on a great rookie season and take the step into superstardom. And, in fairness to him, he’s done his part. Problem is, his offense is falling apart around him. Should you trust him going forward? Yes. He’s second in the NFL in rushing and he’s the best chance Tampa has to rebound offensively. Look for him to get move involved in the passing game as well. WORRY-O-METER: 4
3: Tom Brady, QB, Patriots: People have gotten used to the “fantasy god” Tom Brady — the guy who routinely put up 38 TD passes and flirted with 5,000 yards. But that Tom Brady had big-time weapons at his disposal. How easy we forget that the Brady who won Super Bowls didn’t put up mind-numbing stats. He just won games. The 2013 Patriots don’t have the horses for a high-powered offense, and as a result Brady’s fantasy stock is probably going to stay where it is now – the 250 yards, 2 TDs per game level. He’ll still be a winning QB, just not an upper-tier fantasy winner. WORRY-O-METER: 8
4: Roddy White, WR, Falcons: White’s been playing through a high ankle sprain and its completely sapped his production. While that kind of injury can linger, the bigger concern for his fantasy prospects is the expected emergence of Julio Jones. Everyone knew the uber-talented Jones would eventually become the Falcon’s best receiver and that’s what he’s become. White’s injury has kept him from being the high-end No. 2 guy he was expected to be. The good news: Atlanta’s bye is coming up and the extra rest will help. The bad news: The schedule isn’t doing the Falcons any favors with some top defenses looming. He will play better, but not up to the level fantasy owners expected. WORRY-O-METER: 8
5: Ray Rice, RB, Ravens: Rice went down in Game 2 with a hip injury that’s likely to keep him out today in Buffalo . But even when he comes back, there’s real concern about how productive he’s going to be. The Ravens’ offense does not look like the same team that won the Super Bowl. Even on that team, there were signs Rice’s role was being slightly reduced. When healthy, he still has a lot of value, but you drafted him to carry your fantasy team and it just doesn’t feel like he’s that kind of player anymore. WORRY-O-METER: 7
QUICK HITS FOR WEEK 4
Start ‘em: With Aaron Rodgers and Cam Newton off on byes, you are lucky if you have Jay Cutler as your backup. A Bears-Lions game under the dome in Detroit sounds like the makings of a 34-31 ballgame.
Bonus start: Watch the status of Raiders QB Terrelle Pryor. IF he plays against the Redskins and you can get him in your lineup, do it. Problem is, the game is a 4 p.m. start and you may need to make a decision sooner than that.
Of course you’re going to start Colts RB Trent Richardson. But be prepared for his best game of the season. He’s had some time to learn the offense, his main competition for the job is injured and Indy gets to face the Jaguars. Sounds like a big lead with an emphasis on running out the clock.
Somehow, the Steelers found an offense last week and WR Antonio Brown found himself a big game. Now, this might not be the case every week, but against a Vikings defense that can’t seem to stop anyone, ride Brown for one more week.
Sit ‘em: Did you actually pick up Browns’ QB Brian Hoyer after last week’s game against the Vikings? Good for you. Did you realize he played against Minnesota ? A defense that has given up 34, 31 and 31 points the first three weeks? The Bengals are not the Vikings.
If you’re waiting for Titans RB Chris Johnson to have a breakout game, you might want to wait a bit longer – like until after their Week 8 bye. A tough stretch of defenses awaits the next few weeks starting with an underrated Jets squad today.
Andre Johnson, WR, Texans. He’s been battling injury and he gets to face the hellacious Seahawks defense. Yeah. Sucks to be him.