RaiderDamus is back for another exciting edition of the Fantasy Foretelling, wherein I tell you what to do with the real-life players on your make-believe team. It is bye-week time and so fantasy owners actually have to work for their victories. Up this week for the Raiders are the once-hapless Cleveland Browns. They are currently in last place in their division and are getting shredded on the ground this year. That's not generally a good recipe for success against a strong rushing team like the Raiders, but let's look ahead to see where the hidden gems might be uncovered.
We'll start with the Browns today. They have a long and storied history of being awful, just like every other Cleveland team, which is why people love Ohio State and hate LeBron James. Ohio State is in Columbus, where the mere whiff of Cleveland is in the air but is not strong enough to infect them. LeBron James is from Akron, which sucks too but if he were actually from Cleveland he would only play two quarters instead of three. Now he's in Miami, where he will never play basketball again, ha ha ha.
That being said, the Browns had a very good preseason and actually have a good quarterback in Colt McCoy, the winningest QB in NCAA history until later this year when Kellen Moore takes that title from him. Let's start with him.
Colt McCoy- Bench him. He has issues this week. His all-pro Cal Bear graduate center, Alex Mack, recently had an appendectomy and his status is the dreaded game-time decision. This is bad because Richard Seymour is better than Alex Mack anyway and he's a damn sight better than whatever poor scrub (apparently his name is Steve Vallos) replaces Alex Mack at center. McCoy will probably be running for his life all day and throwing to oh wait Josh Cribbs is questionable too. Hmm. Mohammed Massaquoi then. I hope that works out for McCoy. I predict 200 yds passing, 1 TD, 2 INT.
Peyton Hillis: A good play this week. It's hard not to root for Peyton Hillis. He was cast aside by the Broncos when he was their best rusher and now he is succeeding in Cleveland, a feat heretofore deemed impossible. Every time he breaks a big run, there should be a caption on the bottom of the screen that reads "LOL Knowshon Moreno". The Raiders will try to keep him in check like they kept Arian Foster in check last week, but Hillis is his own goal-line back and may get a short yardage TD. 80 yds rushing, 1 TD.
Mohammed Massaquoi: A decent play if you have him on your team, which you probably don't. Criminally underrated coming out of the University of Georgia, Massaquoi is a really good young receiver who is developing a rapport with McCoy. I like his upside, and against the Raiders he will put up a decent game. 90 rec yds, 1 TD.
Ben Watson: Bench. This guy couldn't be a star playing TE for Tom Brady and he won't do much against the Raiders, who have been very good this year shutting down opposing tight ends. 40 rec yds.
Cleveland defense: One of the crappiest run defenses in the NFL faces the second best rushing offense. This is a mismatch. The Browns defense doesn't deserve to be owned in any leagues. To compound that, their best cornerback Joe Haden may miss the game. Avoid at all cost.
Now on to the good guys:
Jason Campbell: Bench. Not because he isn't good, but it's just that if Jason Campbell has to attempt more than 25 passes I'll be shocked. Campbell needs to use play action a lot to keep the Browns off balance and hit the open man every now and then. There will be lots of open receivers in this game. Also, he needs to not throw the ball to the other team like Matt Schaub did. If he does not commit any turnovers, despite how much yardage he gets it will be deemed a successful outing. I predict 175 passing yds, 1 TD, 0 INT.
Darren McFadden: Start him, he's the best play in fantasy this week bar none. You may say "What about Adrian Peterson?" and to that I say, the Bears gave up a billion yards to Cal Bear graduate Jahvid Best on Monday night and they will want to atone for that travesty by putting ten men in the box against the Vikings. This will work because Donovan McNabb is old and terrible. Anyway, Darren McFadden is better than AP this week and he will destroy a weak rush defense, running up and down the field with nobody to stop him. He will also catch a lot of passes, maybe five or so. He may wind up as Oakland's leading receiver when all is said and done. 200 rush yds, 2 TD; 80 rec yds, 1 TD.
Michael Bush: Again, you know the drill. If the ghost of Tim Couch manages to push DMC out at the goal line before he scores, you know who gets the call. 30 yds rushing, 1 TD. Start him if your primary RB2 or flex is on a bye week.
Darrius Heyward-Bey: Steadily blossoming into a number one receiver before our eyes. Of course, on the Raiders a number one receiver translates to about the 40th best receiving option in fantasy, so he's probably not even owned in your league unless some Raider homer (this means you if you are reading this) scooped him up after the Texans game. In any case, with the possibility of no Joe Haden lining up for the Browns DHB is a solid play this week for whatever team scraped the bottom of the barrel and came up with him. 90 rec yds.
Denarius Moore: Bench unless you have the bye week blues. I forgot to mention him last week, but that's okay because he did nothing against the Texans. He will have exactly one catch against the Browns but it will be a big one. 50 rec yds.
Kevin Boss: Bench unless your starting TE is off. Boss has good games and games where he is a blocker with no passes thrown his way. It's nearly impossible to tell which of these any upcoming game will turn out to be. My guess is that we will try very hard to establish the rush game, exploiting the Browns' weakness, and that means lots of pancake blocks for Boss and no catches. He will be great for the Raiders and terrible for you.
Sebastian Janikowski: Best kicker in football without question. I underestimated him last week, saying he would hit one fifty yard field goal. He hit three. Start him at all times.
Raiders defense: It's hard to trust a group like this. They have played well every game except Buffalo (the Patriots game does not count) but still give up a lot of points and don't force a lot of turnovers. Holding teams under 20 points and forcing turnovers are what makes a fantasy defense good. The Raiders defense will probably not give up a ton of points to the Browns, but they probably will drop some easy interceptions that better defenses would secure. You should start them only if you have a terrible matchup or a bye on your other defensive team.
So, there's that. My question for Raider Nation this week: Judging purely by the first part of this season, if you held a redraft in your league today, what do you think the first round would look like? It is usually occupied by runningbacks only, but Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady (and Cam Newton, for that matter) have been extremely valuable- enough to warrant first-round consideration. Who are your top ten or twelve in fantasy?