The Talented Mr. Roto: Pick up Graham in earnest
Donna Summer does not rock.
What may seem like an obvious statement to you is not to Jann Wenner and the nominating committee for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. I actually like John Mellencamp a lot more than I should (own every album, it's a bit sad frankly), so I'm fine with him being in there. And whatever you think of Madonna or the Beastie Boys, both were pioneers, so while not technically rock, you can make the case. Certainly for Madonna.
Then, it starts getting nutty. The group Chic? As in "Le Freak" Chic? I'll dance to that song every single wedding I attend, but that speaks more to the open bar and my lack of shame than it does to rock and roll immortality. The list of omissions is weirder than the the list of nominees? Where's KISS? Or Genesis? What about Neil Diamond, the Jewish Elvis?
(For the record, I love Neil Diamond. Seriously, pick up his 40 greatest hits package and listen once. You don't even realize it, but you know every song. I've seen him in concert four times and each one was awesome. That's actually not a joke. The hip kids know where it's at. Neil Diamond rocks. As does Super Diamond, a fantastic cover band featuring the Surreal Neil.)
OK. Back to Donna Summer and her lack of rocking. She's on the list. Yes. You heard me. She's a nominee for this year's Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. And, as those of you know, I'm not a huge stickler for details, but, very simply, any artist who records a song called "Back Off, Boogaloo" should be ineligible for induction. No discussion. Period. End of story. (Note to Donna: when chosing a song written by a former Beatle, maybe go with John, Paul or George before Ringo?)
Now, the subject of whether a woman who once opined that "She Works Hard For the Money" is worthy of inclusion brings us to free agents in your football pool, and what makes someone worth picking up. (Hah! Didn't think I could make that segue work, did you?)
And the answer is you have to think for yourself. Only you know your league, your team and your needs. There are some weeks when you are better served by staying put and not wasting a high waiver claim. If you're loaded at wide receiver, you don't need a guy like Bobby Wade. But if you're in a 14-team league that plays three wideouts and you've got some byes coming up, yeah, he's worth a flier.
So I tend to write my pickups for a 10-team league, which is shallow for some, I know, but is the ESPN.com standard league. If you are in a 12 or 14 or deeper league, look at the names in my "On the Sidelines" section.
With that, let's get to it, and I'll try a more streamlined version this week.
Here's a list of players who have seen an increase in value and might be available in your league.
Earnest Graham and Michael Pittman, RBs, Buccaneers: Both guys were mentioned last week and now, they are back again, the most obvious of names. With Cadillac Williams out for the year, Graham will split carries with Pittman but get the goal-line chances, so he's the one I like best. Graham has three touchdowns in two games and a last name that reminds me of a tasty cracker. Mmmmm, Graham crackers. Oh yeah, Pittman's been around forever, you know what you get with him. He looked solid, with 90 yards on 15 carries and the Bucs get a roughed-up Indy next week. You can run on the Colts.
Patrick Crayton, WR, Cowboys: I was all over him in the preseason, as soon as Terry Glenn went down. In fact, he's mentioned in my preseason Love/Hate before the Glenn injury. Then he hurt his finger, disappeared and I jumped off. Now I'm back on the bandwagon like everyone else. You'll never see a game like that again, but he has skills and Dallas does get Buffalo next week on "Monday Night Football."
Correll Buckhalter, RB, Eagles: Philadelphia is on a bye this week and we don't know the severity of the Westbrook injury, so this might be a moot pickup. Then again, it's not, because the odds of Westbrook being hurt again are decent. And even against a defense that was playing well, Buckhalter had a solid game against the Giants. If you're speculating and have the bench space, why not?
Vernand Morency, RB, Packers: Someone's got to run the ball there. And both Morency and Ryan Grant are now in the mix. It's not a great matchup this week against the Bears, but someone is going to emerge as the starting back for Green Bay and it's a reasonable assumption that it might be one of these two. Again, if you have the space and feel like speculating.
Joey Harrington, QB, Falcons: Four touchdowns in two games and suddenly, Joey Harrington is bye-week worthy. I don't like him as much as, say, Jason Campbell (who gets Detroit this week), but in leagues where you're scrambling for a quarterback, he plays the Titans in Week 5 and Tennessee is 24th against the pass.
Others receiving votes
Here are some more names to consider.
If Marvin Harrison is going to miss any time, Anthony Gonzalez would make a nice pickup. With the signing of Keenan McCardell by the Redskins, some are saying this means Santana Moss is more banged up than folks realize and may miss some time. All the more reason to grab Antwaan Randle El, who faces Detroit and its No. 30 pass defense. I don't think they get 12 sacks again or anything, but the Giants' D/ST is now fantasy ownable, especially if you have Minnesota on a bye this week. Giants get the Jets at home and should be a solid start.
It looks as though LaMont Jordan is going to be fine and the Raiders have a bye week (and then San Diego in Week 6), but if you wanted to handcuff Jordan, I like Justin Fargas (and his 179 rushing yards versus Miami) more than Dominic Rhodes, who is eligible to return for the San Diego game. If Javon Walker is going to miss more time, Brandon Stokley could put up solid numbers against a Chargers secondary that is surprisingly 27th in the NFL in terms of passing yards allowed per game.
Here are some players who have seen an increase in value and might be available in shallower leagues or leagues where you play with morons.
Chester Taylor came back and had 40 yards on eight carries. Minnesota's on a bye this week, but expect Taylor to get at least 40 percent of the carries going forward on a team that will be run oriented. Now do you believe me on Dwayne Bowe? He has a touchdown in three straight games and is the rookie wide receiver I want the most. And yes, that includes Calvin Johnson. Selvin Young should already by owned by every Travis Henry owner, but on the off chance he isn't, you want him in a big way. Selvin continues to have value (80 yards on Sunday) and if Henry's MRI comes back showing damage (due later this week) then Young is a must-start, even against a tough Chargers run defense. Another good game for Andre Davis of the Texans. We mentioned him last week and he'll continue to get looks while Jacoby Jones and Andre Johnson are out. Looks as if Muhsin Muhammad will have some life after all in the Brian Griese era. and while you can't ignore five touchdowns, don't fall all over yourself trying to get Daunte Culpepper. The Raiders have a bye in Week 5 and, according to the Sacramento Bee, head coach Lane Kiffen has not fully endorsed Culpepper as his guy.
Here are some players whose value has recently taken a spike and whom you should keep an eye on, but not necessarily pick up, except in deeper leagues.
It's not that I love Kelly Holcomb, but he does give the Vikings a more legit passing game and it's worth noting that Bobby Wade now has 14 receptions in his past three games. I like him more than Sidney Rice but remember, the Vikes are off this week. Trent Edwards actually looked solid for the Bills Sunday. He went 22-of-28 for 234 yards and a score. He might win that job outright and if you needed a bye-week fill-in in a deep league, he's a name to keep in mind. Bryan Fletcher is the Colts' tight end not named Dallas Clark, and he got some looks when Harrison went down, with Ben Utecht banged up. I don't believe in Ike Hilliard, but I should mention that he did have seven catches for 114 yards in Week 4. Drew Bennett has done absolutely nothing this year, but if Isaac Bruce were to miss any time, you have to figure the Rams can't be this bad, right? Adrian Peterson, Bears edition, had only 37 total yards on Sunday, but he needed only five touches (or 7.4 yards per touch). Cedric Benson had 74 yards on 20 touches (or 3.7). Cedric's job is not safe, kids, nor should it be. Finally, I like Donald Lee if you need a tight end. Obviously, the Packers are going to be throwing quite a bit and Lee already has 16 receptions for 172 yards, third best on the team. He also has a score.
See you kids on Thursday for Love/Hate.
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